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Starting a family in Canada as a newcomer

Starting a family in Canada as a newcomer

By: Callum Denault

Published on: June 7th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Agung Pandit Wiguna (Pexels)

Many newcomers settle in Canada hoping to start a family or provide their already existing family with the many opportunities the country has to offer.

Accessing healthcare, education, and the path to citizenship is essential for any family wanting to give their children a stable future, regardless of where they were born.

Keep reading to learn more about starting and raising a family in Canada and how to access critical resources such as citizenship, healthcare, and education.

Is my child a Canadian citizen?

Any child born on Canadian soil is automatically a citizen, even if neither of their parents has citizenship. The only exception is if a foreign diplomat has a child born here and the child’s other parent is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Canada and the United States are the only G7 countries to offer this birthright citizenship.

Depending on their parents, even people not born in Canadian territory can still be citizens through birthright. As long as at least one of a child’s legal or biological parents has Canadian citizenship, the child will also be granted citizenship. This includes if the child’s parent was born in Canada or if they became naturalized citizens before the child was born.

A birth certificate is required to prove someone was born in Canada or to a Canadian parent. The process depends on which province or territory someone was born in, as each province has different methods for tracking births.

Ontario, for instance, has three types of birth certificates individuals can apply for. This includes a standard birth certificate, a certificate with parental information, and a certified copy of a certificate.

Anyone over the age of 13 can apply, and parents or legal guardians can apply for the certificate of a child in their care. This link includes ways to apply online and gives the addresses of in-person offices in Toronto and Ottawa.

Accessing healthcare in Canada

Access to medical treatment is essential for anyone living in Canada. Canada publicly covers healthcare for its citizens so they can get medical treatment for free or at little cost, and in some cases, non-citizens can get free healthcare, too.

Generally, non-citizens eligible for healthcare coverage include permanent residents, people with a study or work permit, and protected people such as refugees. Unfortunately, uninsured individuals without private or public healthcare coverage may face high treatment costs. Even people with potentially fatal conditions, such as cancer, may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get the treatment they need.

Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia all have a mandatory three-month waiting period before they grant medical coverage to newcomer non-citizens. Asylum seekers and foreign workers who lost their benefits may also be unable to access free healthcare. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 500,000 people in Canada lack medical coverage.

The Canadian government provides advice on accessing healthcare coverage, which can vary depending on the province. The online guideline lists some treatments that are generally not covered by the government. The resource also outlines provincial and territorial ministries of health, enabling newcomers to identify what kind of medical coverage their local government offers.

For example, the government does not cover most dental treatments. Additionally, prescription medications purchased at pharmacies are not covered unless the patient receives government coverage through a specific program.

Patients often must pay out of pocket to get the healthcare they need. This is why it is essential to explore programs and resources that provide support to newcomers requiring medical treatment.

Getting children of newcomers into school

Every child has the right to education, no matter their citizenship status. Canada’s federal government lists various statuses and conditions that must be met for a child to study in Canada. This guideline also details the paperwork they or their caregivers must submit to authorities.

For instance, Canadian citizens merely need to provide a passport, citizenship card, or birth certificate to study in Canada. Permanent residents need a Record of Landing, Confirmation of Permanent Residence, or Permanent Resident Card. Children who are foreign nationals and either arriving alone or with a parent who is not yet a permanent resident or citizen will need a study permit.

Children who are foreign nationals and arriving either alone or with a parent who is not yet a permanent resident/citizen of Canada will need a study permit. This includes foreign national children arriving with a parent who is entering Canada with a work or study permit of their own. Additionally, the government needs proof that anyone under 17 will be cared for in Canada. This can be a legal guardian/parent arriving with them or a custodian who can look after them in Canada.

Those interested in pursuing studies in Canada should be aware of the country’s recent cap on international students. Canada also requires students to have Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs). Make sure to explore the new conditions and policies related to international students to ensure you can achieve your dreams or your child’s dream of studying in Canada.

Overall, Canada is a great place to start a family or embark on a new, exciting chapter with your existing family. With this guide, you can ensure you and your family have access to all the necessary resources to help make Canada feel like home.

Online connections, ghosting, and social media: Navigating modern dating

Online connections, ghosting, and social media: Navigating modern dating

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: May 31st, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @cottonbro (Pexels)

Navigating modern dating can often feel like decoding a complex puzzle. In the digital age, the rules of dating have been transformed, giving rise to new trends and challenges for those in the dating scene. People must now explore new online platforms and societal expectations, reshaping how we seek companionship.

The rise of online dating

Online dating apps have revolutionized how people connect, widening the dating pool beyond one’s immediate social circles and locations. People can explore potential matches with a simple swipe or X, making dating more accessible. However, this easy access comes with drawbacks.

This vast array of choices can lead to increased indecision and dissatisfaction. The abundance of options can create a perception that dating is like a game, with users constantly searching for someone better, resulting in fleeting, surface-level connections.

The ghosting phenomenon

Ghosting, the act of suddenly cutting off all communication with someone without explanation, has become a notorious byproduct of modern dating.

This practice can leave individuals feeling confused, rejected, and questioning their worth, as connections feel more disposable in the digital age. Understanding why ghosting occurs and how to cope with it is crucial for those navigating the dating world.

Ghosting can be hurtful, especially once feelings have developed, creating emotional challenges for the recipient. In the digital communication age, ghosting has become a common way to indicate disinterest in pursuing a relationship, often to avoid uncomfortable conversations. This lack of closure can make it difficult to move on as unanswered questions linger.

It is important to remember that you are good enough, and being ghosting is not a reflection of your self-worth. Ghosting reflects the other person’s emotional maturity and may indicate they were not worth pursuing.

To cope with being ghosted, focus on yourself and other important relationships in your life. Try to shift and boost your mood by pursuing hobbies, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in activities that distract you from the situation.

Also, consider setting boundaries in future relationships to protect yourself, such as communicating your expectations regarding conflict resolution.

The impact of social media

Social media platforms have introduced another layer to the dating landscape, serving as a tool for connection and validation. However, they also create spaces for comparison and insecurity, as the curated lives presented can set unrealistic expectations for relationships.

Social media has also set a high standard for filming romantic moments, sometimes presenting scripted situations that may create the impression that your own relationship is inadequate. This can lead individuals to seek validation through likes and comments rather than genuine connections.

The search for meaningful connections

Despite the challenges, the core desire for meaningful connections remains unchanged. Navigating modern dating requires self-awareness, understanding others’ needs, establishing boundaries, and achieving balance. It’s about embracing the opportunities digital platforms present while recognizing the value of authentic, in-person interactions and relationships.

The digital age has transformed dating, but the search for meaningful connections remains at the heart of the human experience. As we navigate these evolving challenges, remember to have an open heart. Understanding how to navigate online trends can open up endless possibilities. Just be true to who you are, and don’t let the complexities of modern dating deter you from putting yourself out there.

The rise of outdoor fitness in Ontario

The rise of outdoor fitness in Ontario

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: May 17th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Tirachard Kumtanom (Pexels)

In the dynamic landscapes of Canada, with bustling urban areas and serene countryside, Ontario is witnessing a remarkable shift in its fitness culture. With an abundance of natural beauty and expansive parks, people are increasingly ditching the confines of a gym for the boundless benefits of outdoor fitness.

Explore the growing attraction to pursuits such as cycling, hiking, running, outdoor yoga, and more within our natural settings. Discover why these activities are becoming the preferred choice for fitness enthusiasts.

Reconnecting with nature

The surge in outdoor fitness activities reflects a larger trend toward seeking physical and mental wellness in the embrace of the natural world. With its diverse ecosystems, from the Niagara Escarpment to the sprawling wilderness of Algonquin Park, Ontario offers a unique playground for fitness enthusiasts.

Scenic cycling paths, challenging hiking trails, and serene lakeside spots for yoga are attracting more participants than ever before. With the weather warming up and our country’s brief summers, people want to take advantage of those days when they can do their workouts outside.

Influence of social media and research trends

Social media platforms, particularly TikTok, have been pivotal in promoting outdoor fitness. Not only fitness influencers but also those who post for fun are sharing their outdoor adventures!

The rise in outdoor running has skyrocketed through TikTok and has created a sort of virtual support system for new runners alongside long-time runners. Long-time runners can offer guidance and support to beginners while answering any questions they have.

TikTok has also promoted mental wellness by being alongside nature rather than in the confines of an indoor studio gym. Not only this, but many influencers have also created videos and follow-along workouts that can be done in any outdoor space with no equipment needed!

Personal triumphs within the community

The heart of this trend lies in the personal stories of transformation and solace in outdoor fitness. Many individuals like outdoor workouts not only for nature but also for lower-impact activities. Being outdoors does not mean lifting super heavy weights, but being able to listen to your body more slowly.

Joje Solva is a TikTok influencer who was a former pro soccer athlete who now focuses on wellness and fitness. She shares how hiking became her go-to workout because it was low-impact but still challenged her fitness goals. She shares how hiking has helped heal her hormone and gut issues while also easing her anxiety.

Many individuals, influencer or not, have found peace in outdoor activities, high or low impact, which has made this trend grow throughout countries. Not only does it ease the mind, but it can also be an introduction to many different communities of like-minded people.

The future of fitness in Ontario

What does the rise of outdoor fitness in Ontario signify for the future of health and wellness in the province? This movement is not just about physical health; it’s about creating a deeper connection with the environment and building a community around shared outdoor experiences. We have limited time on this earth, so enjoying the outdoors in any way we can should be a priority!

Ontario’s rise in outdoor workouts goes beyond a mere fitness trend; it celebrates the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit. It offers valuable insights for anyone seeking to enrich their fitness journey with meaningful and transformative experiences outside the gym. As we continue to navigate the complexities of modern life, the embrace of outdoor fitness shines as a symbol of hope. It inspires us to connect with nature and each other and shows that you don’t need to go to an expensive gym to be healthy in mind and body. You’ve got the best gym just outside your door.

Feeling good while doing good: Volunteering opportunities in Canada

Feeling good while doing good: Volunteering opportunities in Canada

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: May 13th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @rdne (Pexels)

Volunteering in Canada offers a rich palette of opportunities for those looking to contribute their time and skills towards meaningful causes.

With a vibrant culture of community service, Canada boasts a wide range of volunteering options that cater to various interests, skills, and availability. From environmental conservation to social work, volunteering in Canada can be a rewarding experience.

Keep reading to learn why you should volunteer, the benefits of volunteering, and the many volunteering opportunities available across Canada!

Why volunteer in Canada?

Volunteering in Canada not only benefits the community but also creates personal growth and connections. It is a unique chance to engage with diverse communities and landscapes.

It’s a pathway to understanding the country’s cultural mosaic while making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Volunteers can explore Canada’s natural beauty, interact with different cultures, and gain a deeper appreciation of societal issues. Additionally, volunteering offers personal benefits such as skill development, networking, and a sense of fulfillment.

Types of volunteering opportunities

Environmental conservation

Canada’s vast wilderness and varied ecosystems provide numerous volunteering opportunities for nature enthusiasts. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy of Canada offer programs for conservation volunteers to help in habitat restoration, wildlife monitoring, and public education on environmental issues. These opportunities are perfect for those who love the outdoors and want to contribute to preserving Canada’s natural heritage.

Community service and social work

Many non-profit organizations and charities in Canada focus on social issues like homelessness, education, and health care. Volunteering in these sectors can involve working in shelters, tutoring students, or assisting in community health programs. For example, the Canadian Red Cross relies on volunteers for various services, including emergency response and community health initiatives.

Arts and culture

For those with a passion for arts and culture, many Canadian museums, theatres, and cultural festivals seek volunteers for events, exhibitions, and educational programs. These roles offer a chance to immerse oneself in the artistic and cultural life of the community, supporting arts organizations while gaining experience in the field.

Sports and recreation

Sports enthusiasts can volunteer with their local sports clubs, community leagues, or major sporting events. These opportunities often involve coaching, event planning, or administrative support, providing a way to stay active in the sports community and help promote physical health and teamwork.

Animal welfare

Animal lovers can find volunteering opportunities in animal shelters, rescue centres, or wildlife rehabilitation programs. These roles can include direct animal care, support for adoption events, or educational outreach about animal welfare.

How to find volunteering opportunities

Online platforms

Websites like Volunteer Canada and GoVolunteer are excellent resources for finding volunteering opportunities across the country. These platforms allow users to search for positions based on location, interest, and time availability.

Local community Centres

Community centres often have information on local volunteering needs. They can provide personal guidance and suggestions based on your interests and skills, offering a more localized and personalized approach to finding volunteer work.

Educational institutions

Schools and universities often have partnerships with community organizations and can facilitate volunteering opportunities for students and alums. These institutions may also offer programs that combine volunteering with academic credit or professional development.

Networking

Attending community events, joining clubs, or participating in workshops can help you connect with like-minded individuals and organizations in need of volunteers. Networking is a powerful tool for discovering opportunities that may not be advertised widely.

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteering offers numerous benefits, both for the individual and the community. It provides a sense of achievement and purpose, helps build a network of friends and professional contacts, and can improve mental and physical health. For many, it also offers the chance to develop new skills or enhance existing ones, which can be beneficial for career advancement.

Preparing for volunteering

Assessing your interests and skills is essential. This will allow you to choose a volunteer role that aligns with your passions and abilities, resulting in a more fulfilling experience.

It is also important to understand the commitment you are making. Be clear and realistic about the time and responsibilities involved to ensure you can commit fully.

Additionally, approach volunteering as an opportunity to gain new knowledge and experiences. Ensure that you are prepared to learn and acquire new skills.

Volunteering in Canada is a rewarding experience that offers a variety of opportunities across various sectors. Whether protecting the environment, supporting community initiatives, or engaging in cultural activities, volunteers play a crucial role in building a stronger, more connected society.

By investing time and skills in volunteering, individuals not only contribute to positive change but also enhance their own lives through learning, networking, and personal growth.

Therefore, anyone looking to make a difference while experiencing Canada’s diverse and rich culture should consider the vast array of volunteering opportunities available across our country.

Diets and detoxes: Nutritional myths debunked

Diets and detoxes: Nutritional myths debunked

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: May 10th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Jane Trang Doan (Pexels)

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding nutrition, leading to confusion and often misguided dietary choices.

These myths, particularly persistent ones, influence many individuals’ eating habits and health decisions.

Keep reading to learn more about the myths and misconceptions about nutrition so you can make informed and healthy dietary decisions.

Myth one: Carbohydrates cause weight gain

One prevalent myth is that carbs are the primary cause of weight gain, leading many to adopt low-carb diets.

However, not all carbs are created equal. The issue lies in the type of carbs consumed. Foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are sources of complex carbs that provide essential nutrients and fibre, which are beneficial for weight management and overall health.

In Canada, where access to a wide variety of foods is available, choosing whole-grain products over refined grains can make a significant difference. For instance, swapping white bread for whole-grain alternatives or choosing brown rice instead of white can add nutritional intake without necessarily cutting out carbs.

Myth two: High-protein diets are best for weight loss

High-protein diets are often considered the key to weight loss, but this claim overlooks the importance of a balanced diet. While protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues, excessive protein intake, especially from animal sources, can lead to health issues like kidney strain and increased cholesterol levels.

We should aim for a balanced diet that includes protein sources like legumes, nuts, and seeds, alongside lean meats and fish. For example, incorporating plant-based proteins such as lentils and chickpeas, widely available in local markets, can provide a variety and balance in one’s diet.

Myth three: Dairy products are essential for strong bones

Dairy products are often promoted for their calcium content, which is essential for bone health. However, the belief that dairy is the only or best source of calcium is a myth. Many other foods can provide calcium and other nutrients needed for strong bones.

There are many alternatives to dairy milk that will provide you with the essential nutrients. Some options include fortified plant milk, such as almond, cashew, and oat milk, green vegetables, and fish with edible bones, like sardines and salmon. These alternatives are excellent calcium sources and are especially important for those who are maybe lactose intolerant or have chosen a dairy-free diet.

Myth four: All fats are bad

The idea that all fats are harmful and should be eliminated from the diet is another widespread myth. In reality, fats are a vital part of a healthy diet for nutrient absorption and brain health. The key is to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats.

We are increasingly recognizing the value of incorporating healthy fats in our diets, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and trout, which are readily available in local markets. Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can support heart health and your overall well-being.

Myth five: Gluten-free diets are healthier for everyone

The popularity of gluten-free diets has surged, with many believing that eliminating gluten leads to better health and weight loss. However, unless you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet offers additional health benefits.

The availability of gluten-free products has increased dramatically, especially recently, but consumers need to understand that gluten-free does not necessarily mean healthier. Many gluten-free products are high in sugar and fat to compensate for texture and flavour, potentially leading to weight gain and other health issues if consumed in excess.

Myth six: Detox diets cleanse your body of toxins

Detox diets are often marketed as a way to remove toxins from the body and promote weight loss. However, the body is naturally equipped with detoxification systems in the form of the liver, kidneys, and other organs. There is little scientific evidence to support the efficacy of detox diets, and some detox practices can be harmful.

Supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes through a balanced diet and hydration is more beneficial than following restrictive detox regimes. This is particularly true in Ontario, where access to fresh produce and clean water is plentiful.

These and other persistent myths can lead to confusion and unhealthy choices. Individuals can avoid misinformation and make informed decisions about their diets by researching diets, foods, and nutrition.

Emphasizing whole, minimally processed foods and a balanced intake of nutrients is key to maintaining good health. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians for personalized nutrition advice tailored to individual health needs and goals.

Balancing independence and intimacy in relationships

Balancing independence and intimacy in relationships

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: May 3rd, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @kiera-button (Pexels)

In romantic relationships, balancing independence and intimacy plays a crucial role in determining the health and fulfillment of partners.

It is essential to maintain personal independence, including hobbies and friendships, outside the romantic realm.

Read along to discover how achieving the right balance between independence and intimacy in romantic pairings can lead to a more satisfying and happy relationship.

The importance of independence in relationships

Personal independence within a romantic context refers to the ability to maintain one’s sense of self, pursue individual interests, and engage in self-improvement while in a relationship. This fundamental aspect encourages individual progression, fosters self-esteem, and preserves a distinct identity within the relationship. Independence ensures that each partner can enjoy unique experiences, which can deepen the bond even further when shared with their partner.

Individual identity

Maintaining personal independence allows individuals to make choices and decisions independently, fostering a sense of capability and accountability. This independence is crucial for preserving individual identity, including personal values, interests, and life ambitions.

The ability to stay true to oneself within a relationship minimizes resentment and strengthens mutual understanding. For instance, when your partner has a night out with friends, engaging in your interests or spending time with your friends can create a healthy separation. This time apart provides space for personal growth and enriching shared experiences.

Personal growth and satisfaction

Engaging in personal hobbies, maintaining friendships, and pursuing interests outside the relationship not only provides pleasure and fulfillment but also contributes to individual development. These activities offer opportunities for learning, self-expression, and the achievement of personal goals, which are essential for an individual’s well-being.

They also instill a sense of achievement and confidence, positively impacting mutual respect and admiration within the relationship. This confidence in your life outside of the relationship can boost self-esteem within the relationship. Additionally, having interests outside of the relationship can help channel any feelings of jealousy or comparison into personal goals and achievements.

Photo Courtesy: @katerina-holmes (Pexels)

Intimacy in relationships

While independence is crucial, the essence of a romantic relationship lies in the depth of intimacy shared between partners. Intimacy encompasses emotional, intellectual, and physical closeness, fostering a deep connection built on trust, understanding, and affection.

Intimacy allows partners to share their thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities without fear of judgment, creating a supportive environment that nurtures emotional well-being. This level of emotional support and connection is vital for overcoming life’s challenges together and solidifying the partnership.

Common values and goals

Intimacy also involves aligning on shared values and goals, laying the groundwork for a lasting relationship.

When first entering into a relationship, discussing your core values with your partner is essential. While you do not need to agree on everything, knowing where you both stand on critical issues is still important. Additionally, this will allow you to decide if you can respect one another’s points of view or if your beliefs are too different.

Similarly, it is important to regularly discuss your goals as an individual and as a couple. This will allow you both to make decisions aligned with your collective goals while being supportive of individual ones. 

It requires open communication, mutual respect, and a willingness to work together towards common goals, strengthening the relationship’s durability and sense of purpose.

Balancing independence and intimacy

Striking a balance between independence and intimacy in a romantic relationship is a delicate yet rewarding process that requires continuous attention, communication, and effort. By championing self-independence and nurturing deep intimacy, partners can build a fulfilling and enduring relationship. Such relationships not only withstand the test of time but also offer a rich blend of shared and personal experiences that contribute to a fulfilling life.

Ultimately, the art of balancing these elements lies at the heart of creating and sustaining loving and lasting relationships. Having personal interests, hobbies, and friends is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and heart, both within and outside a relationship.

The reality behind the calming illusion of cigarette smoking

The reality behind the calming illusion of cigarette smoking

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: April 30th, 2024


Smoking is known as an expensive habit with physical health-related consequences, such as lowered immune system function, higher risk for heart attacks and strokes, and various cancers including lung cancer.  

According to a 2021 study in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, people who immigrated to Canada over the past several years contribute greatly to the country’s smoking population. Researchers including Anna Oda, the refugee integration and long-term health outcomes project coordinator at York university in Toronto, Ontario, examined cigarette smoking trends among 1805 Syrian newcomers to Canada. They found that 70 out of 1,309 non-smoking participants started smoking during their first two years here, while the overall number of light smokers in the study also increased.  

“New immigrants experience resettlement stress related to schooling, employment, and absence of social networks and smoking may be used and initiated as a coping strategy to help newcomers reduce their stresses,” says the research team. “Consistent with this, our sample showed that those who were moderate/ heavy smokers seemed to be in difficult circumstances, as they had lower likelihood of employment and high posttraumatic stress scores.” 

While a newcomer might pick up a cigarette to cope with past and present stress, quitting cigarettes, or smoking cessation, is a healthy lifestyle choice that not only saves a person money and reduces their chances of getting sick with the acute or chronic physical conditions. It may also help boost their mental health in the process. 

“Although smokers think that smoking offers mental health benefits, there is a strong association between smoking and poor mental health, and smokers with mental health disorders tend to be heavier smokers and more dependent,” researchers in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) explain. “Three broad explanations have been proposed to explain these associations: smoking and poor mental health might have common causes; people with poor mental health smoke to regulate feelings such as low mood and anxiety; or smoking might cause or exacerbate mental health problems.” 

In 2014, the BMJ researchers searched several databases of published medical literature and, from nearly up to 30 studies, analyzed information that shows mental health changes in continuous smokers and quitters before and after interventions. They found that anxiety, depression, combined anxiety and depression, and stress significantly decreased in majority of the studies. Some quitters experienced these decreased weeks after being studied, while other quitters didn’t feel the positive effects of smoking cessation on their psychological quality of life until several months later.  

Between quitting and seeing improvements in their mental health, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can discourage quitters: “Smokers experience irritability, anxiety, and depression when they have not smoked for a while, and these feelings are reliably relieved by smoking, thus creating the perception that smoking has psychological benefits, while in fact it is smoking that caused these psychological disturbances in the first place.” 

Repeatedly failing to quit can also lead to disappointment. Find local support through initiatives like the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smoker’s Healthline to stay motivated against relapses.  

Why post-secondary students should prioritize sleep

Why post-secondary students should prioritize sleep

By: Alisa Samuel  

Published on: April 29th, 2024


The argument that students shouldn’t regularly pull all-nighters to get their work done isn’t new, but it bears repeating in the context of our ever more digitalized post-covid world. 

“If my students truly understand why sleep is important and how pathology of sleep reflects in how they feel or perform the next day, they will have the power to change habits that are not serving them,” says Tatyana Mollayeva, creator of the University of Toronto Scarborough’s fourth-year health studies course Sleep: Structure, Function, and Pathology, in an interview with Alexa Battler for the school’s website. “Knowledge is the key for students to reflect.” 

According to a study led by Kristiaan B. van der Heijden, professor of clinical neurodevelopmental sciences, lack of sleep weakens students’ ability to remember, limits their attention spans, and slows down processing speed.  

Better sleep means better cognitive function. Better cognitive function means better grades.  

Harvard Medical School says you should sleep well to avoid the serious impact long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can have on your physical health: “Insufficient sleep has been linked, for example, to weight gain and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.”  

Studies led by David Samson, an assistant professor of anthropology at University of Toronto Mississauga and director of the Sleep and Human Evolution Lab, find that an average of seven hours of sleep helps “regulate your immune function, your social function, your ability to process energy and metabolism effectively.” He says insomnia, in particular, causes psychotic experiences and worsens mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety.  

This knowledge, as Mollayeva says, is, if anything, a call to improve your time management skills. Skip the late-night parties, hide your phone in a drawer while you study, and do the hard work of prioritizing your activities. Don’t sacrifice a good night’s sleep for work you should try getting done in the day. When there aren’t enough hours in the day—there are never enough hours in the day—still make an effort to go to bed and wake up at regular times.  

When it comes to matters regarding individual health and academic performance, post-secondary students need to take accountability for themselves, because university life, with all its time-consuming psychological, emotional, and financial demands, doesn’t facilitate a sleep-based lifestyle. 

Here are six tips from the Mayo Clinic, a US health care system deemed to be number one in the country, to help you get a better night’s sleep.  

Humid rainforests and frosted tundras: Exploring Canada’s biomes and ecologies

Humid rainforests and frosted tundras: Exploring Canada’s biomes and ecologies

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 26th, 2024


By: Avneet Kaur (Pexels)

Humid rainforests and frosted tundras: Exploring Canada’s biomes and ecologies

Canada is known for its diversity, which extends to the variety of beautiful environments across its massive landscape. From humid rainforests to frozen tundra, the country boasts a range of different biomes found in various regions.

Physiographic regions: The seven big parts of Canada

According to a map made by the Canadian government, seven major parts of Canada are distinguished by the physical shape of their terrain.

These places are called physiographic regions, and the biggest one is The Canadian Shield, which takes up 48 per cent of Canada’s total size. It encompasses all of Ontario and most of Quebec and Nunavut.

Such large areas are home to a wide array of different biomes, with the Canadian Shield housing several types of grasslands, forests, bodies of water, and other habitats. However, noticeable environmental differences exist between physiographic regions. For instance, the Arctic region to Canada’s north stands out because its very ground is permanently frozen, referred to as “permafrost.”

The west coast region is Cordillera, stretching across British Columbia all the way to the Yukon. While the terrain here varies from flat to rocky, it is most famous for its impressive mountain ranges, some of which were created by volcanoes. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba all share the interior plains, which are made of flat grasslands to the south and forests further north.

Other physiographic regions include the Appalachian region, reserved for Canada’s east coast islands, such as Newfoundland. Additionally, swampy lowlands can be found around large bodies of water, such as Hudson’s Bay and the St. Lawrence River.

Planet Earth’s biggest forest

The boreal forest accounts for one-third of Earth’s forested areas, making up 14 percent of the planet’s entire landmass.

Despite being such a large region, most Canadians live further south and west of the forest. For instance, while most of Ontario consists of boreal forest, most of its people live in cities built in a warmer, flatter area called “mixed wood plains.’

Still, an impressive 3.7 million people live in the boreal zone of Canada, primarily in rural communities. Canada’s forests are especially vital to the nation’s Indigenous people, given that 70 per cent of all Indigenous communities are located in forested areas.

These forests are a major source of freshwater. They also house some of North America’s most iconic animals, such as bears, wolves, caribou, and several different types of fish and birds. Unfortunately, these forests are threatened by loggers, miners, and oil operations that tear down forest areas for industrial use.

The prairies, aka the inner plains

This area overlaps with the inner plains physiographic region, covering a large portion of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Despite being known as a very flat land, the prairies are full of life. Manyanimal species prefer the flat grassy environment of the prairies, such as coyotes, pronghorns, and the appropriately named prairie dogs. Bison, North America’s largest mammal, were almost made extinct from overhunting. However, conservation efforts saved them from being critically endangered, so these magnificent beasts can still freely roam the open plains.

Another feature of the prairies specific to Alberta is its massive oil reserves, a huge economic benefit to the province. This, combined with Alberta’s cultural love of cowboys and its traditionally conservative values, has earned it the reputation of a Canadian Texas.

The temperate rainforests of British Columbia

No list of Canada’s biomes would be complete without mentioning that a country known for its cold weather actually has rainforests, at least temperate ones. British Columbia is home to several rainforests, which make it a popular tourist attraction.

The Great Bear Forest is known not only for its size but also for housing the rare Kermode bear, also known as the spirit bear. Ten percent of the region’s black bears carry a mutation that can give them white fur, making sightings of these unique bears a sought-after experience for many.

Vancouver is considered to have an oceanic environment, given its location next to the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the warmest cities in Canada, making it an attractive tourist destination and a home for many newcomers.

The tundra

Finally, Canada’s most extreme yet arguably most iconic biome is the tundra. Arctic tundra is known for being nearly treeless, and the plants growing here tend to be low to the ground, such as grasses, small shrubs, and lichens.

During the summer, a thin layer of permafrost thaws, allowing plants to dig their roots downwards. This period marks a boom in plant and insect life, which is markedly different from the harsher conditions felt during winter.

Despite this, Canada’s northern territories are home to multiple cities and towns, including Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Iqaluit. The Inuit people also have a variety of traditions that allowed them to not only survive but thrive in the Arctic tundra thousands of years before European settlers arrived.

Finding mental health support in the GTA 

Finding mental health support in the GTA 

By: Meaghan Flokstra 

Published on: April 26th, 2024


When dealing with mental health concerns, it is important to know where you can go to find help. However, it can be daunting to try to search for resources when you’re struggling. 

Thankfully, there is a wide variety of organisations in the Greater Toronto Area that focus on providing mental health services. Many of these places focus on serving specific communities, so there are many options for building a support system that can uplift you and your personal identities. 

Access Alliance 

With three different locations in Toronto, Access Alliance provides a variety of support programs for immigrants and refugees. Some of the available services include access to psychiatrists (through the Toronto Urban Health Alliance) as well as registered social workers and therapists.  

Access Alliance’s mental health services do require a referral from a primary health care provider. Ontarians searching for a health care provider can register for one at Health Care Connect through the Ontario Ministry of Health. 

Across Boundaries 

Across Boundaries offers a wide range of mental health services for racialized individuals, and they emphasise anti-racist, anti–Black racism, and anti-oppression values. Some of the programs available at Across Boundaries include psychiatric consultations, substance abuse services, and support groups. 

Help is offered here in a wide range of languages, including African languages (Shona, Amharic, Harare, Xhosa, Tsonga, Afrikaans, Swahili, Somali, Twi), Central Asian languages (Dari, Phasto, Farsi), and South Asian languages (Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali), as well as Mandarin and some Caribbean dialects. 

Brampton Multicultural Community Centre 

With two locations in Brampton and one in Mississauga, The Brampton Multicultural Community Centre offers a wide range of programs for newcomers to Canada. One of the services they provide is crisis counselling, which can be helpful for learning how to cope with traumatic events. Some possible issues that a crisis counsellor may be able to help with include sudden illnesses, drug abuse and addiction, food and/or housing insecurity, and the death of a loved one. 

Friends of Ruby  

Based in Toronto, Friends of Ruby is dedicated to caring for the needs of LGBTQ+ youth (aged 16–29). They offer access to counsellors that can help tackle areas such as emotional regulation as well as gender and sexuality exploration. Additionally, Friends of Ruby places a specific emphasis on helping to connect LGTBQ+ youth with affordable housing, and they run a transitional home where youths in need can stay while they work toward living independently. 

Hong Fook Mental Health Association 

Meaning “health and felicity” in Chinese, Hong Fook specialises in providing mental health care for those in Asian and other communities. They offer both individual and group therapy, and the intake process is accessible in a variety of languages, including Cambodian, Cantonese, English, Korean, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. Hong Fook has five different offices located throughout downtown Toronto, North York, Scarborough, and Markham. 

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services 

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services has six different locations in the GTA and offers services in over twenty different languages. They run a wide range of programs that aim to help individuals and communities of all cultural backgrounds. Short-term wellbeing counselling is available for free, and they also offer support for those struggling with problem gambling. 

Additionally, they also run the Multicultural Women’s Wellness Program. This program fosters a safe space for women dealing with mental health issues to connect with one another, discuss their experiences, and stay active together. 

Stella’s Place 

Stella’s Place focuses on providing free mental health resources to young adults (aged 16–29) in Toronto. They offer both online and in-person services, including some which do not require an appointment. Some of these drop-in options include counselling over virtual chat, café nights, and weekly music sessions. 

There are some programs at Stella’s Place that do require an appointment, including short-term counselling and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). DBT can help patients achieve goals such as being able to cope with stress and to manage negative emotions. 

Sustainable shopping practices

Sustainable shopping practices

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: April 22nd, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @lara-jameson (Pexels)

In an era where climate change and environmental degradation are pressing global concerns, the importance of integrating sustainable practices into our daily lives has become increasingly evident. The decisions we make while shopping presents a significant opportunity for individuals to make environmentally friendly choices.

Read ahead to learn how to incorporate sustainable practices into your shopping habits, including supporting sustainable brands, understanding eco-labels, and prioritizing quality over quantity.

Supporting sustainable brands

One of the most direct ways to engage in sustainable shopping is to support brands that prioritize sustainability. These brands operate in ways that minimize environmental harm by using eco-friendly materials, implementing energy-efficient production methods, and adopting ethical labour practices. By supporting these brands, consumers can drive demand for sustainable products, encouraging more companies to consider their environmental impact.

Identifying sustainable brands

Identifying sustainable brands requires some research. Look for companies that transparently share their manufacturing processes, supply chain details, and environmental impact assessments. Many sustainable brands are part of environmental advocacy groups or initiatives aimed at reducing carbon footprints and improving labour conditions worldwide.

Understanding eco-labels

Eco-labels serve as guides for consumers to identify products that meet specific environmental standards. These labels can be found on various products, from food items and clothing to electronics and household goods. Understanding what these labels mean is crucial for making informed decisions that align with sustainable shopping practices.

Types of eco-labels

  • Organic: Indicates that the product was produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, GMOs, or sewage sludge. For animal products, it means the animals were raised without routine use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • Fair Trade: Signifies that the product was produced ethically, including fair labour conditions, direct trade, and fair payment for producers and workers.
  • Energy Star: This label indicates that the product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for electronics and appliances.
  • Forest Stewardship Council: This label on paper and wood products means that the material was sourced from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Quality over quantity

The principle of quality over quantity is a fundamental aspect of sustainable shopping. It encourages consumers to buy fewer, higher-quality items that will last longer. This reduces waste and the demand for constant production. Investing in high-quality products can positively impact the environment by reducing landfill waste, decreasing the demand for fast production cycles, and saving money in the long run.

Photo Courtesy: @themarkdalton (Pexels)

Tips for sustainable shopping

There are many different approaches to incorporate sustainable practices into your shopping habits. There is no one size fits all, so try to find what works the best for you and your lifestyle. Some tips include:

  • Research before you buy: Spend time learning about products and brands to ensure they align with sustainable practices.
  • Reusable shopping bags: Reduce the need for plastic bags by bringing your own reusable bag.
  • Buy local: Whenever possible, buy products from local producers and farmers to support the local economy while reducing the community’s carbon footprint.
  • Shop second-hand: Thrifting is a trendy and sustainable way to shop. Buying used items reduces the demand for new products and is often cheaper.

Sustainable shopping practices offer a path to reducing our environmental footprint one purchase at a time. Consumers can make a significant impact by supporting sustainable brands, understanding eco-labels, and choosing quality over quantity. It’s about making conscious choices that consider the long-term well-being of our planet.

As individuals, our shopping habits can collectively drive change toward a more sustainable and equitable world. Embracing these practices not only contributes to environmental preservation but also promotes a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for all.

List of some sustainable brands:

WE ARE TALA

Girlfriend Collective

Patagonia

Organic Basics

Reformation

P.E Nation

Everlane Klean Kanteen

Why walks are so important

Why walks are so important 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: April 22nd, 2024


Photo: Uriel Mont (Pexels) 

Going for walks or strolls around a neighbourhood or city is something that many people do, whether it be a long or short walk. On the surface it may seem like simply a good way to get in some physical exercise, however walks can be much more than that.  

Walks can be a crucial component to improving both your physical and mental health, one that you might not have thought of before.  

Here is some insight into why walks are so important and why incorporating them into your daily life might end up improving your lifestyle in more ways than one.  

A simple task ​​​​​​ 

In all actuality, going for a walk is something that does not take much effort to do.  

All you have to do is put on a good pair of shoes and go out. It doesn’t have to be for long, maybe just a few minutes at a time, but it is something very simple that isn’t difficult or daunting at all.  

Sometimes you may get deterred by a tough task or something that takes a lot of commitment, time, and money, like working out in a gym, but walks don’t require much at all. 

This simplicity plays perfectly into many people’s plans and just incorporating walks into your daily life can help improve your health both physically and mentally.  

Walking every day or making it a regular occurrence in your day-to-day schedule can also make you want to begin exercising and becoming more active.  

A walk can change your mentality in regards to exercising and working out. If you don’t work out regularly, try to start with a walk. Going on walks can motivate you to continue physical exercise and you may find yourself adding a whole workout routine into your daily life.  

Photo: Ron Lach (Pexels) 

Building social skills and relationships 

Among the many things that walking can improve in your life, one of them includes your social life.  

You can invite a few friends to go on a walk with you and chat. It could be a fun way to connect with one another and further strengthen your friendship.  

Walking with friends can also be a good way to share a few laughs and catch up on anything you may have missed, if you haven’t seen each other in a while. It is also a free, low maintenance activity.  

If you are at your workplace, you could invite one or a few coworkers to go on a walk with you during your lunch break. You can then use that time to get to know each other better. Walks are great for physical exercise and also a great way to socialise and learn more about the people around you.  

This in turn could help fortify the relationships you have with your friends and coworkers and help you understand others more. You can find out a lot about someone by just speaking to them, going for a walk is a great way to do so. You may also learn about their interests, and find other activities to participate in together.  

Bringing more fun and creativity to yourself 

Walks are also a great way to bring more fun into your life. If you walk to different areas of the city regularly, it could become a mini adventure and you could learn a lot more about the city around you.  

If you want some ideas to spice up your walks, take a look at this article and try some of the things listed. It could be a great way to add to your walks and try something new.   

Walks can also make you more creative and expand your imagination. They can make you feel free and open your mind up to the world around you. As mentioned before, walks can clear your mind and that goes a long way to fuelling your creativity.  

If you ever feel uninspired or lacking motivation, go for a quick walk and let your mind roam free, it might end up helping you think of more ideas and increase your creativity and originality.  

Photo: Keira Burton (Pexels) 

Improving your mental health 

Walks can change your mindset and show you that you can do and achieve a lot more than you think. They are a great way for you to build confidence and self-esteem and that will take you a long way in your personal life. 

Walking has many benefits for you, both in terms of your physical and mental health. It can help you feel less lonely and isolated. For example, if you walk in your neighbourhood or city, seeing people out and about can bring you a sense of belonging. You don’t even have to interact with everyone, just simply observing other people can make you feel less lonely.  

Walking can also help with bouts of depression and can improve mood. Going for walks can increase your endorphin levels, giving you feelings of wellbeing. It can boost your energy and make you feel a lot better and more accomplished.  

In short, the benefits to walks are plentiful. If you haven’t already scheduled a regular walk into your daily plans, then you should do so as soon as possible, as it could help you in many different aspects of your life. 

Temperatures rising: What is causing the warmer weather and the long-term impact

Temperatures rising: What is causing the warmer weather and the long-term impact

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 19th, 2024


Canada is experiencing its warmest winter ever. While the mild temperatures have ushered springtime in early, these come with unexpected side effects. Ranging from impacts on outdoor sports to changing animal behaviours, the historic change in weather has been felt in a variety of ways across Canada and the world.

Photo Courtesy: Matt Howard (Unsplash)

What is causing the warmer weather?

The recent warm weather has been partly blamed on El Niño, an abnormal system of warm currents in the Pacific Ocean. These climate patterns can affect weather, wildfires, ecosystems, and economies worldwide. El Niño events occur on average every two to seven years, but they don’t happen on a regular schedule.

However, El Niño is not the only cause of warmer weather. While El Niño is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon, it is now happening in the context of climate change. Rising temperatures in the equatorial Pacific region caused by global warming could create stronger El Niño events.

With temperatures already rising due to climate change, an amplified El Niño event could raise global temperatures even higher as it releases heat into the atmosphere. This could result in more severe climate disasters, such as Canada experiencing the worst wildfire season on record.

Some problems caused by a mild winter

Regarding road safety, potholes are forming earlier due to the warm weather. A combination of warm days and cold nights causes roads to break, typically by water seeping into cracks and expanding when it freezes. While the current conditions have made it easier for cities to fill potholes, there is still cause for concern about the effects of the rapidly shifting temperatures.

CTV News reported that Montreal and Kitchener outdoor sports involving ice or snow are also heavily affected by the weather.

Some activities can still be practiced, however the conditions are less than ideal. For example, while cross-country skiing trails have remained open, skiers have admitted that it was harder to ski this year.

Other activities have been rendered basically impossible by the warm weather. Ice fishing is one activity that has been hit particularly hard as warmer temperatures have prevented lakes from freezing. Many ice rinks have also been closing earlier in the season due to premature melting.

Additionally, there are concerns for businesses selling winter sports equipment as they face low sales. Some have been forced to pivot to selling equipment for spring activities in response to the lack of snow.

How plants and animals respond to warm winters

The Canadian government’s agricultural department predicts positive and negative impacts on the ability to grow food.

Opportunities to grow warmer-weather crops may appear during times of the year that are typically too cold for them to survive. On the other hand, the rising temperatures caused by global warming might make spring and summer months less hospitable for edible plants. In particular, the government warns that summers will be hotter and drier for most of Canada.

Moreover, animals that typically remain dormant or at least hidden during winter are now being sighted much earlier than normal.

Due to mild weather, ticks, spider-like, blood-sucking parasites that spread disease, are also being seen earlier than usual. These parasites can be found on tree branches, in tall grass, and even in someone’s backyard if poorly maintained. Bears are also waking out of hibernation sooner than expected, with the Ontario government issuing a warning that black bears might search for food near people’s homes.

Other, smaller animals waking up from hibernation early might face health risks. Because animals usually hibernate to save energy, waking up during a winter that feels like spring could leave these animals skinny and weak.

Warmer temperatures worldwide

Canada is not the only country affected by the warm winters brought by climate change. The U.S. is experiencing many of the same issues, such as an early boom in parasites like ticks and mosquitoes. The U.S. is also experiencing difficulties in farming plants that use the cold winter months as part of their process for making fruit. Likewise, several outdoor sports, including Indigenous traditions going back thousands of years, have been disrupted in parts of the U.S. due to a lack of snow and ice.

Most land regions have been experiencing more hot days, especially in the tropics. Tropical climates could also face more intense stores with heavier rainfall. It is projected that the intensity of tropical cyclones could likely increase if temperatures rise to 2 degrees C.

Looking forward

While the impact of human activities on Earth’s climate to date is irreversible, there are steps we can take to prevent further damage.

There are steps you can take at an individual level, such as adopting a plant-rich diet. It has been found that livestock production contributes approximately 15 percent of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions every year. You can also lower your carbon footprint by switching to brands with sustainable practices.

However, while individual efforts are essential, governments and policymakers must also take action. Some options include investing in sustainable energy solutions and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels. Another solution is to enhance public transit options and increase cycling routes while placing bans or taxes on polluting vehicles.

You can help encourage governments and policymakers to make the necessary changes through peaceful protests. You can also vote for government leaders who take climate change seriously and have actionable plans to address the issues.

We all must do our part to ensure the world is habitable for future generations while protecting the planet that has kept humans, animals, and ecosystems safe for billions of years.

Discussing mental health with teens 

Discussing mental health with teens 

By: Meaghan Flokstra

Published on: April 19th, 2024


Mental health is a tricky subject for anyone to talk about, and it can be especially difficult for teens. Being a teenager can be confusing and frustrating, and it is important to make sure that teens have knowledge and resources on how to deal with mental health issues when they come up.  

Start an open conversation 

One of the most important parts of talking to teens about mental health is to take charge and start the conversation. Mental health can be uncomfortable to talk about, so it can be tempting to avoid the topic until the teen brings it up. Instead, try reaching out first. If a teen is going through a hard time, it is important that they already know there is someone they can trust. 

When starting the conversation, make sure to prioritise being open and genuine. Be willing to talk about your own struggles and also to listen to the teen’s. Avoid passing judgement or dismissing the teen’s concerns. The goal is for both you and the teen to feel comfortable speaking honestly. 

Discuss stressors 

There are many things in teens’ lives that can be particularly stressful. Big life changes, such as moving to a new school or starting their first job, can contribute to mental health struggles.  

When you notice that something is happening in a teen’s life that could be stressful, talk to them about it, even if they seem to be doing fine. Teens might not always want to talk right away, but it can be helpful just to acknowledge that they are going through a tough time. 

Connect over shared interests 

Supporting teens can even look like taking an interest in their hobbies and passions. Paying attention to teenagers when they talk about the things they love is a great way to let them know that you care about them and value their thoughts. 

Additionally, simply spending time with teens can establish trust and help them to feel less alone. Consider fun and relaxing activities such as going for a walk together or playing a game to give them an opportunity to let loose in a safe environment. 

Provide resources 

Teens may find it difficult to talk to close adults in their lives. While it is natural to want the kids in your life to feel comfortable telling you anything, it is also important to make sure they have other people and places they can trust. 

Many schools have a guidance counsellor available for students, which can be a great start. Additionally, Ontario’s Ministry of Health website offers a list of mental health services for youth and children, which includes both regional services as well as remote options.  

Respect their boundaries 

Sometimes, teens will not feel ready to discuss their mental health. When it seems that they are struggling, it can be difficult not to pressure them to talk about what they are going through. However, trying to force the conversation can backfire and instead cause them to retreat even more. 

Check in with teens regularly, but let them set the pace. Mental health is a deeply personal topic, and making sure your teen feels safe and respected is a crucial part of making them feel comfortable enough to reach out when they’re ready. 

How to spot fake news and avoid being tricked by it

How to spot fake news and avoid being tricked by it

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 15th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Joshua Miranda (Pexels)

In the digital age, we can access a wide range of information at our fingertips.

We can actively seek out information via search engines like Google or scroll on TikTok and encounter information delivered through reels. Or we can go the traditional route and read a newspaper or magazine to learn about the latest events.

However, not all information presented on these communication channels is accurate. Some of it is fake news.

Fake news is fake or misleading information presented as news. This information has no verifiable facts, sources or quotes to support the claims being made.

Keep reading to learn more about how to spot fake news and how to avoid being tricked by it.

Misinformation and disinformation

Fake news takes various forms, from exaggerated lies to completely made-up events. There are generally two types of fake news: misinformation and disinformation.

While both are types of fake news, the difference between misinformation and disinformation is the intent of whoever is spreading it.

Misinformation refers to mistakes, such as treatments for the COVID-19 virus that do not actually work. Usually, misinformation is spread by people who mean well but either lack knowledge of the subject at hand or do not properly double-check their sources.

Disinformation, on the other hand, involves lies that are spread with a purpose. That purpose is often to sway political opinions or trick people into falling for a scam.

Regardless of whether it is spread maliciously or by accident, fake news is a growing problem. It is important to be mindful of the information you’re consuming.

The damage fake news causes

The consequences of fake news can be severe, especially because many people have been subjected to falling for false claims presented as factual. One survey found that 89 per cent of Canadians reported having been tricked by fake news on at least one occasion. This survey also found that Facebook was the leading source of fake news.

Fake news stories tend to thrive during political elections, mainly because this is when the bad-faith actors behind disinformation can do the most damage with their lies. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology can be used to make images, videos, and sounds that did not actually happen.

In Slovakia, AI was used to potentially change the results of a national election. A deepfake voice recording of Michal Simecka, leader of the Progressive Slovakia party, was released a day before the election. This fake voice recording was presented as proof that the political candidate spoke to a journalist about buying out voters. Simecka lost the election, and whether the now-debunked audio file was part of the reason for this is up to debate.

Fake news can also pose cyber security concerns. Fake news articles can be entry points for hackers to try and steal your information. A cyber breach can be serious and could compromise confidential data such as your banking information.

How social media spreads fake news

Websites like Facebook and Twitter/X are major sources of both misinformation and disinformation. This is largely because many of us actively use social media on a daily basis, making it a frontrunner for how we access news. It has been found that 53 per cent of individuals get at least a portion of their news from social media.

There also aren’t enough policies and protections against fake news being published and circulated on these platforms. Or policies and protections have been slow to roll out.

A report found that Facebook could have prevented billions of views on pages that spread misinformation about the 2020 American election. The platform later released an update that changed its algorithm, but it didn’t come in time to prevent misinformation and disinformation from being shared.

CBC reported that experts are worried websites such as Facebook will continue to be a major source of fake political news during Canada’s 2024 federal election. This is because social media sites are designed around engagement rather than preventing posts made to interfere in political elections. These platforms are more focused on ensuring users are spending a bunch of time scrolling through posts rather than identifying and preventing fake news.

Fake news websites

It is also important to be on the lookout for fake news websites. Fake news websites are websites that are designed to replicate actual webpages for legitimate news publications such as CTV News. This is another way that disinformation gets spread.

Newsday, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are among publications that have many imitators pretending to be them through fake websites. These copycat websites usually have domain names that are misspelled versions of the real thing, such as The Nrw York Times.

This strategy is known as typosquatting. Outside of spreading fake news, typosquatters may lure in visitors for even more nefarious reasons, such as giving viruses to anyone who clicks on their website.

How to spot fake news

While fake news is a critical concern, there are ways to identify it and protect yourself from it.

Fake media, like deepfakes, usually has signs that you can look for to confirm its validity. Because AI creates images based on existing content, there are errors in how it draws people. Telling signs of an AI-generated person or deepfaked face include unnatural asymmetry, especially around ears or jewelry, and how their hands are shaped.

Audio deepfakes are harder to tell apart, with people generally only recognizing them with a 57 per cent success rate. The robotic qualities of faked speech may be very subtle, especially if the audio quality itself is not very good, such as if it sounds like the person was talking on a phone call.

The best course of action is to be cautious and not reveal any personal information. If it is a legitimate organization phoning you, such as your bank or a government agency, they will conduct verification processes.

There are also a variety of fact-checking websites, including factcheck.org and snopes.com, that can be used to see if major stories are true or not.

Additionally, like all forms of fake news, there are telltale signs that a website is not real. Typosquattors tend to put a lot of pop-ups on their websites, ranging from advertisements to surveys asking for personal information.

Furthermore, these websites can be avoided by refusing to click on any weblink provided through an email or social media account. Real news sites can be visited simply by looking them up through a search engine such as Google and verifying the URL.

Fake news can be scary, but as long as you are cautious and on the lookout, you can protect yourself from falling victim to it.

Wellness education: prioritizing mental health in schools 

Wellness education: prioritizing mental health in schools 

By: Dru Gary

Published on: April 15th, 2024


Mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and addressing mental health issues is increasingly recognized as a priority in Canada. To empower and support students, educational institutions across the country are placing a greater emphasis on mental health education. 

The importance of mental health education  

The pervasiveness of mental health challenges among Canadian youth emphasizes the urgency of addressing mental health education in schools. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are at an all-time high right now. 

These mental health conditions impact academic performance, social interaction, and overall quality of life of Canadian youth. By integrating mental health education into the curriculum, schools can equip students with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to understand and navigate their mental health effectively. 

Inclusivity and diversity considerations 

Many schools are adopting more inclusive approaches to mental health education. This includes recognizing that mental health experiences can vary from community to community and person to person.  

Efforts are made to address the unique needs and experiences of diverse student populations, including those from marginalized communities, LGBTQAI+ students, and students with disabilities. This approach makes certain that mental health education is inclusive and accessible to all students. 

Promoting awareness and reducing stigma  

Mental health education in Canadian schools aims to raise awareness about common mental health issues, foster empathy, and combat stigma. Students are taught about the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, strategies for self-care, stress management techniques, and the importance of seeking help. 

 By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, schools contribute to creating a culture that encourages open dialogue about mental health, reduces stigma, and encourages help-seeking behaviors. 

Provinces and territories across Canada are incorporating mental health education into their curricula, integrating it across subjects such as health and physical education, social studies, and guidance counseling.  

The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including mental health literacy, emotional well-being, coping strategies, healthy relationships, and resilience-building. Schools often collaborate with mental health organizations to develop age-appropriate resources, lesson plans, and activities that engage students in meaningful discussions about mental health. 

Peer support programs 

Canadian schools are incorporating peer support and mentoring programs to create a supportive and inclusive environment for students. These initiatives include training students to become peer mentors who can provide listening, support, and guidance to their fellow students. Peer support programs help normalize mental health issues, make youth feel less alone, create safe spaces for open discussions, and foster a sense of community and connection among students. 

Supporting Students 

Schools are investing more in student support services to provide comprehensive mental health care. Trained professionals, such as school counselors, psychologists, and social workers, play a vital role in identifying and addressing mental health concerns. 

 These professionals offer individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, and referrals to external resources when necessary. Schools also collaborate with community organizations to offer workshops, presentations, and mental health awareness campaigns to promote well-being. 

Schools recognize the importance of involving parents, caregivers, and the wider community in supporting students’ mental health. Partnerships with local mental health organizations, hospitals, and community agencies enhance the range of support services available to students. By working collaboratively, schools can provide a network of resources and ensure a seamless transition for students who require specialized care beyond the school setting. 

As mental health education initiatives evolve, ongoing improvements are essential. Schools regularly assess the effectiveness of their programs and resources, seeking feedback from students, parents, and educators. This feedback helps adjust mental health education to the evolving needs of students, address parts of the services that are not working, and incorporate emerging research and practices. 

Mental health education in Canadian schools plays an important role in equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to navigate their mental health journey and preserve their well-being.  

By encouraging awareness, reducing stigma, and providing access to resources, schools are creating a culture that values and prioritizes mental health for Canadians from young age. Canadian schools are empowering students to develop resilience, seek help when needed, and thrive in their lives. By prioritizing mental health education, Canada is taking significant strides towards nurturing a mentally healthy and supportive society. 

Healthy breathing techniques: Promoting physical and mental well-being

Healthy breathing techniques: Promoting physical and mental well-being

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 12th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @darina-belnogova (Pexels)

Breathing is one of the most essential functions of our body, yet it often goes unnoticed. Poor breathing habits can hinder exercise performance and exacerbate mood disorders like anger and anxiety. Conversely, proper and controlled breathing can significantly enhance both athletic performance and mental well-being.

Keep reading to learn about different breathing techniques for diverse activities and the physical and mental benefits of practicing healthy breathing exercises.

Photo Courtesy: @ketut-subiyanto (Pexels)

Breathing techniques while exercising

Athletes of all levels can benefit from various breathing techniques to improve their performance. While chronic mouth breathing is unhealthy, it is acceptable during intense exercise when the nose alone cannot provide enough air.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is ideal for regular activities, particularly during exercise. The diaphragm, a muscle in the torso, aids in expanding the lungs and chest, allowing for increased air intake.

Proper breathing involves the belly expanding before the chest and the chest expanding outward rather than upward. This not only enhances oxygen intake and carbon dioxide elimination but also promotes good posture.

For those who find it challenging to belly breathe naturally, there are exercises to help learn diaphragmatic breathing. Whether done lying down or sitting upright, the goal is to breathe slowly, encouraging the stomach to rise before the chest and exhale comfortably.

Different exercises require different breathing techniques. Endurance activities like running or cycling benefit from developing a consistent breathing pattern, while weightlifters should focus on controlling their breaths during each lift.

Weightlifters often exhale when lifting a weight and inhale through the nose when lowering it, improving their lifting ability. Deep, calming breaths before a workout can also oxygenate the body effectively.

While professional powerlifters may hold their breath during heavy lifts using the Valsalva maneuver, this is not recommended for most gym-goers due to potential risks. Some potential risks include high blood pressure and stress on the eyes.

Combat sports enthusiasts utilize various breathing techniques for physical and mental benefits. Martial artists, for example, use explosive breaths to enhance speed and power, as well as to aid in psychological recovery after intense bouts.

How breathing can reduce anxiety and anger

In addition to physical benefits, healthy breathing can also promote calmness and focus, benefiting mental health. Proper breathing can help calm anger by slowing down the rapid, shallow breaths associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response. This deliberate breathing can help clear the mind and promote rational thinking.

Anxiety can also be managed through various breathing techniques. Methods like 4-7-8 breathing or box breathing can help regulate breathing and calm the mind. These techniques involve breathing in controlled intervals, encouraging individuals to relax and focus on their breaths. These methods should not cause dizziness or interfere with any medical conditions, making them safe for individuals with diverse health needs.

In conclusion, breathing techniques can significantly improve physical and mental health. By understanding and practicing proper breathing, individuals can enhance their athletic performance, manage their emotions, and promote overall well-being.

How to get medicine for anxiety or depression 

How to get medicine for anxiety or depression 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 12th, 2024


Mental health is as important for your wellbeing as your physical health, and even though it can be isolating to suffer from an invisible disability such as anxiety or depression, you are not alone. In 2013, three million Canadians over the age of 18 said they had a mood and/or anxiety disorder, and these conditions have been more common ever since the early COVID-19 pandemic.  

Medicine can be an effective treatment for mental health problems, although it may not work immediately or for everyone. This article will go over how you can safely and securely look into getting medicine for mental health issues. 

Getting a family doctor 

Family doctors, also known as general practitioners, are doctors who see their patients on a regular basis in order to check on the health of their entire body and mind. General practitioners often serve as a person’s first point of contact for getting medical help, given they are trained to recognize and treat a variety of problems, as well as refer patients to specialists who can give more intense care for more serious problems. 

Several drugs in Canada—including those used to treat depression and anxiety—are prescription drugs, meaning you can only legally get them when a medical professional hands you a prescription telling the pharmacist what type of drug you are allowed to get and in what dose. Medical doctors, dentists, and veterinarians are among the people allowed to write you a prescription, and while these controlled drugs are given to hospital patients free of charge, the laws for prescription medicine access outside of hospitals is different in each province. Here is a list of public programs to help people access prescription drugs in each province.  

The Canadian government has advice on how to find a family doctor, which includes asking people you know or contacting a settlement services provider for help.  

A settlement services provider is meant to help newcomers adapt to life in Canada, such as by helping newcomers find work, a school for kids, language classes, and other useful services. Using this link, you can enter your address, postal code, or city to find a settlement services provider near you. Quebec has its own immigration department in charge of helping newcomers, which includes helping them find a family doctor. Newcomers hoping to find help settling before they physically arrive in Canada can apply for pre-arrival services.  

How antidepressants work and how to take them 

There are several chemicals in the brain which keep people regular and happy, these include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These chemicals—called neurotransmitters—need to be in a certain amount for your brain to be healthy, and if they are unbalanced it can lead to several mental health issues including depression. Antidepressants can fix this imbalance, but only if used properly

If you are suffering from symptoms like sadness, despair, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, lack of energy, lack of motivation, and/or trouble concentrating for two weeks or more, you might want to consider getting medicine. Antidepressants can also be used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety, bulimia, and chronic pain. However, these drugs may have side effects that do not help manage depression, which is why it is best to go to a doctor who can monitor your treatment and give you the best medicine possible. Doctors often start you with a low dose to ease your body into the medication, which reduces the side effects.  

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) says your doctor might also change your dose, tell you to take your medicine at a certain time of day, or put you on a completely different medication entirely. In addition to this, CAMH also suggests ways you can help manage the side effects of antidepressants on your own. This includes regular exercise and a healthy diet with low amounts of sugar and a high amount of fibre (to prevent gaining fat and constipation), preventing dry mouth by brushing your teeth regularly, drinking water, and using sugarless gum or candy, as well as avoiding dizziness by getting up slowly whenever you are sitting or lying down. 

Some people may actually have an increase in suicidal thoughts when taking medication, which is thought to be a result of the medicine making a person more energetic before it gets rid of their depressive symptoms like sadness and self-hatred. This is more common among teens and young patients. CAMH says people should prepare to feel worse before they get better whenever they start antidepressants, and tell their doctor about how they feel on it.  

Your doctor can help you decide if you want to continue a medication despite the side-effects or stop taking it entirely, and they can also help you try a new drug if you feel like the one you are currently taking is not working. Do not stop taking antidepressants without letting your doctor know first, since quitting antidepressants may cause withdrawal symptoms, including an increase in depression or anxiety. Antidepressants are not addictive, but taking them and then stopping means your body is no longer used to regulating its depression under its own power. This is why having a doctor help you along the path of taking and quitting medication is so important, because they know the safest way to do these things.  

Balcony jungles and pesky pests: How to grow a garden

Balcony jungles and pesky pests: How to grow a garden

By: Callum Denault

Published on: April 8th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Neslihan Gunaydin (Unsplash)

Growing a garden can provide various benefits, from the simple pleasure of living near greenery to the practical convenience of a steady food supply.

Gardens do not have to be limited to parks or open farms; when done properly, plants can thrive in someone’s front yard or even inside an apartment building.

Read along for a comprehensive guide to growing a garden — wherever you are!

Making an apartment garden

Like all gardens, any indoor collection of plants will need water, sunlight, and soil to nourish it.  Balconies and rooftops provide the best access to sunlight, but window light can also work. This is especially true when choosing plants that do not require a lot of sun, such as certain salad greens and herbs. Buying a grow light is another option for totally indoor gardens.

A potting mix is an ideal soil since the typical kind of soil used for more open gardens will get compacted when it is put into a pot. This compaction might mean the plant housed in this soil cannot access the oxygen and water necessary for survival.

Watering plants and the soil they grow out of can triple their weight. This is why it is important to check one’s apartment before assuming it can handle a heavy garden. This should also be checked with the building owners or landlord, especially if you plan to grow a jungle of plants off your balcony.

There are several types of plants that are ideal for apartment building gardens. These plants usually share a few common characteristics. Some of these include being low-maintenance, not creating a big mess due to shedding leaves, being small enough to fit indoors, and living for a long time. Some indoor plants are notable for their striking appearance, such as spider plants and prayer plants.

Other indoor plants can provide health benefits, like aloe vera, which can filter out harmful household chemicals, such as fumes from varnish. The gel inside its leaves can also be used to improve digestive health and treat burns. Onions are also extremely convenient to grow inside as they can reliably sprout from the scraps of store-bought onions. 

Succulents, a hardy type of plant that includes cactuses, are particularly noteworthy for how well they grow with little water or care. Many species of these beautiful plants are suitable for indoor gardens. Succulents also tend to go through a dormant period in winter when their water and sunlight levels should be reduced.

Common pests in Canada

As covered in The Newcomer’s guide to Canadian wildlife, some animals, like skunks and raccoons, can tear up outdoor property in their search for food. However, some of the most damaging pests to crops are a lot smaller and less cuddly-looking than these furry bandits.

Gardens can host a huge variety of insects and other invertebrates.

The key to maintaining healthy plans is knowing which arthropods are beneficial to them and which pests should be eliminated. For instance, soil shredders, animals that eat along the surface layer of a garden’s soil, can hurt the roots of crops. Alternatively, they can prevent the spread of diseases by eating the dead plant matter that decays on the top layer of the ground.

Millipedes, sowbugs, and certain types of mites can all help keep a garden clear of rotting, dead plant tissue. Predator species can also be an excellent addition to any outdoor garden since they hunt animals that eat plants. Creatures such as spiders, centipedes, and ladybugs should be left alone so they can keep gardens clear of plant-destroying herbivores.

Outside of letting nature take its course, there are other ways to get rid of garden pests, which often work in combination with each other.

Larger pests can be blasted away with hose water, plucked off by hand, or taken care of by cutting away the affected part of a plant they are nesting in. Cycling through different varieties of crops throughout the year is a good way to keep pests from getting complacent. You can also completely starve out persistent bugs by refusing to grow the crops they are feeding off.

Finally, chemicals can be used to kill pests, and they come in various forms. It is important to check the label of any chemical pesticide. This way, you can ensure it does not have too many serious and harmful side effects and targets the correct type of pest.

Battle burnout: Establishing a healthy work-life balance  

Battle burnout: Establishing a healthy work-life balance

By: Dru Gary

Published on: April 8th, 2024


In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, many working people find themselves dealing with burnout. Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged work-related stress.  

The effects of burnout can affect all aspects of life, leading to issues regarding mental health, personal relationships, and general well-being. With the high cost of living in Ontario, many residents are spending long hours working overtime just to make ends meet.  

The first step in dealing with burnout is recognizing the signs and understanding the causes. Common symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, decreased motivation, and a sense of disillusionment or detachment from work.  

Burnout can stem from factors such as excessive workload, lack of control or autonomy, inadequate support, or a mismatch between personal values and organizational culture. By identifying these triggers, individuals can gain insight into the specific areas that contribute to their burnout.  

It can be tough to prioritize wellness while working a demanding job but there are several ways to find your center and recuperate, even on a time crunch. 

Spend time in nature 

In an increasingly digital world, it is important to make time to connect with the natural world. This is especially important for those living in more urban or metropolitan areas, such as Toronto.  

Seeking out a park or a hiking trail can help with mental clarity and well-being. Even just sitting and eating your lunch or enjoying a book beneath a tree can help disconnect from the quick pace of the working world and just slow down for a second and appreciate the wonder and natural beauty that earth has to offer.  

Taking a moment to slow down and be grateful for what the world has to offer can help to alleviate stress and serve as a reminder that there is much more to life than work.  

Prioritize self-care 

One of the most effective ways to combat burnout is through prioritizing self-care. This includes taking care of physical, mental, and emotional well-being through exercise, eating a balanced diet, and ensuring sufficient sleep every night.  

Practicing stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness techniques can help in calming the mind. Also, setting boundaries between work and personal life, allowing time for relaxation, hobbies, and quality time with loved ones is important. By nurturing oneself, it is easier to build resilience and better cope with the demands of work. 

Establish healthy boundaries and manage workload 

Setting clear boundaries is essential in preventing and managing burnout. It is important to communicate openly with supervisors and colleagues about workload and prioritize tasks effectively and to learn to delegate when possible and seek support when needed.  

Breaking down overwhelming tasks into smaller, manageable tasks can alleviate stress. Practicing time management techniques, such as prioritizing tasks and scheduling regular breaks, to maintain focus and productivity is also a way to make sure your workday is well balanced.  

It is also important to have boundaries around answering emails and calls after the workday is complete. It is ideal to be able to have time in the evening and on weekends to enjoy your life without having to deal with work on your precious time off.  

Cultivate supportive relationships 

It is essential to build a strong support system that can be instrumental in combating burnout. Fostering connections within the workplace by joining employee resource groups or seeking mentorship opportunities can make the workplace feel more supportive and less menacing. 

Engaging in open conversations about burnout with supportive individuals can help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide a fresh perspective on work challenges. Having colleagues that you can speak with openly about your work-related struggles allows company resentment and stress to be expressed instead of bottled up.  

Pursue personal growth and work-life balance 

Finding fulfillment outside of work is essential for preventing burnout. Participating in activities that bring joy and purpose, such as hobbies, volunteering, or pursuing personal interests is important, work is only one part of life. 

Having more time for non-work activities can be achieved by striving for work-life balance by setting boundaries, scheduling downtime, and prioritizing activities that promote relaxation and personal growth as well as regularly assessing personal and professional goals to ensure alignment with values and aspirations. 

Overcoming burnout is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a commitment to prioritizing well-being. Taking steps to maintain a healthy work-life balance will lead to increased overall well-being, as well as healthier relationships in all aspects of life.  

Eating healthy on a budget in Ontario

Eating healthy on a budget in Ontario

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: Apr 5th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Mark Stebnicki (Pexels)

In Ontario, where the pace of life can be as diverse as its population, one common goal is finding ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Many believe eating healthy is inherently expensive, creating a barrier to nutritional wellness. However, with careful planning and smart choices, it is entirely possible to enjoy a wholesome diet that supports both your health and your budget.

This guide will help bridge the gap between nutrition and budget. It offers insights and practical advice for those looking to nourish their bodies without destroying their finances.

Meal planning and meal prepping

Begin by planning meals for the week and make a shopping list based on these plans. Focus on purchasing whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, which are rich in nutrients and can also be more affordable in bulk. This approach also discourages you from taking any detour while grocery shopping that can increase the price at the final checkout.

Meal prepping in advance can also be cost-effective as you need fewer ingredients throughout the week to make the same meal for several days. Additionally, meal prepping ensures that you are maintaining a balanced diet that includes all food groups and practicing portion control.

Seasonal and local produce

Take advantage of Ontario’s rich agriculture that offers a variety of seasonal produce that is not only fresher but also more affordable. Visit local farmers’ markets around the GTA and market stands around the city that offer produce at a lower rate.

Another way to take advantage of local produce is to join your local communities’ Facebook page. Often, members who are going out of town or bought too much produce will post on their community’s Facebook page asking if anyone would like to take some. This a perfect opportunity to secure some fresh produce while helping out your neighbours as well.

Smart protein options

While protein can be a crucial part of any diet, it does not have to be expensive. Some budget-friendly protein sources like beans, lentils, tofu, and canned fish can be added to a meal to provide more density rather than adding more meat.

Although some meat and fresh fish can come with a higher cost, many grocery stores offer discounts on items nearing expiration dates. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a protein source and are shopping the day you plan to cook the item.

Bulk buying and whole foods

Buying in bulk can lead to significant savings, especially for whole foods like grains and legumes. Whole grains like quinoa, barley, and brown rice are not only nutritious and filling but also more affordable when purchased in bulk.

These items can also be used to prepare various meals. Some options include tacos, soups, salads, quinoa bowls, stuffed peppers, and chowder.

Reduce food waste

Food is expensive, and it’s only getting more and more pricey! Minimizing your food waste is a great tactic to spend less when you head to the grocery store. Properly storing produce and creatively utilizing leftovers can help create a whole new meal.

Some meals are designed with leftovers in mind. One example is a casserole, which is a baked dish containing protein, chopped or canned vegetables, and a starchy binder, such as flour, potato, rice, or pasta. Another is a frittata, a type of Italian omelette made with beaten eggs, vegetables, and protein. Using your vegetable scraps for homemade stocks can also stretch your food and your dollar further.

Photo Courtesy: Ella Olsson (Pexels)

Cooking at home

Preparing meals at home is generally healthier and cheaper than dining out. You know what’s going into your food, how much of it is fresh, and who is making it. Going out to eat is always a treat and can fit into your schedule if you have the budget. However, batch cooking and meal prepping can save money and time, ensuring healthy dinner options are on hand throughout the week.

Comparisons and price matching

Sometimes, shopping at only one grocery store can be difficult. A range of mobile applications can be used to compare flyers to see which stores offer grocery items and essentials at a lower price.

You can favourite the grocery stores you frequent, and the application will show you the stores’ weekly flyers. You may also choose the item you are looking for, and the app will show you which store has it at a lower price.

Another option is price matching. Price matching is when retailers match a lower advertised product price from a competing store. Usually, you show the cashier the advertised product price during check-out, and they will process the price match, but some stores may have different policies. Although some stores do not offer this service, it doesn’t hurt to double-check and ask an employee.

Why this matters

In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to overlook the importance of nutrition, especially when financial constraints are at play. Yet, the benefits of a healthy diet extend beyond physical health, impacting mental well-being, energy levels, and overall quality of life. Nutritious eating is within reach for everyone, regardless of budget.

Moving forward

Eating healthy on a budget in Ontario requires a shift in perspective from viewing healthy eating as a luxury to understanding it as an accessible choice for all. The strategies outlined here provide a nutritional wellness roadmap that respects health needs and financial limitations. The journey towards affordable, healthy eating is about more than just food; it’s about making sustainable lifestyle changes that nourish the body, the mind, and the community.

Knowing when to take time for yourself  

Knowing when to take time for yourself 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: April 5th, 2024


In our day and age, it can be difficult to focus on yourself.  

There’s a lot of pressure to be more social, to get out and talk to others, and build connections both for work and for your social life. With the abundance of social media and how often people are connecting with one another, it may be hard to look out for yourself.  

You may feel this constant pressure to continuously make connections and build relationships with others, that sometimes you may end up forgetting your own health and your own interests.  

On certain occasions, we may just need to step back for a moment and take a look inwards. It’s important to have a balance between both a social and personal life,  that’s why it’s crucial to know when you should take some time to focus on yourself.  

Photo: Gary Barnes (Pexels) 

Understanding the importance of your mental health 

Your own mental health is equally important as your physical health and can be a big factor in improving yourself.  

According to Canada.ca, they define mental health as the state of your psychological and emotional well-being. It states that having good mental health can help you enjoy life and cope with the challenges that come with it.  

Your mental health can affect how you interact with others and can be positively or negatively impacted by your relationships with friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else in your life.  

It’s important to have good mental health, because it will not only make you feel better, but also the people around you will feel better as well. Mental health plays a big role in your social life, so it’s critical to make sure you look after your own mental health as much as the other parts of your life.  

Seeing the signs 

It is also very important to understand when you may need to spend some time for yourself and the signs that come before it.  

If you ever find yourself zoning out when speaking to others or not focusing as well as you used to, you likely will need to take a break from interacting with others and focus on your own wellbeing. Going to many different social events or gatherings can be a lot to keep up with and can make you tired or exhausted.  

If you are also stressing about many different things in your life, however big or small, it may be a sign that you should slow things down a little and reassess.  

It may be difficult to find the time to reflect and understand everything that may be bringing you down or holding you back, but if you can notice when these things happen in your own life, then it will be a good step to take towards bettering your mental health.  

Photo: Alex Green (Pexels) 

Taking a step back 

In order to look after yourself, you may need to take a step back from other people. Sometimes you might need a break from socialising with others or from the stresses of work.  

It could take a lot out of you and take up much of your energy to keep up with all the things in your work and social life, so taking a back seat from these things from time to time could end up doing you wonders and help your overall state of mind.  

It’s okay if you need to take a break or step away from others momentarily. Learning to say no is very important in our day and age, and it’s totally fine to do so. This is  especially true if you don’t want to do something or feel uncomfortable engaging in an activity or event.  

Saying “no” helps you focus on yourself and your needs, so practising and being comfortable with setting boundaries for yourself will be crucial in improving your mental health.  

In our society, we may feel pressured or obligated to always say “yes” and agree to everything, but there are always another options and it’s up to you to prioritise what’s best for yourself at that very moment.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Changing the outcome 

At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you to know when to take time for yourself. You know yourself better than anyone, so it’s important to understand your own needs as well.  

Try to incorporate time into your schedule to focus on your own wellbeing and do things that you enjoy doing alone. Taking time out for yourself will help you be more comfortable in your own skin and help you gain confidence. If you are sure of yourself and confident in your interests and abilities, then it will take you far in life.  

Taking some time for self-reflection can also help you learn things you never knew about yourself. You could pick up new hobbies and interests or you could find out more about the things you do and don’t enjoy.  

Examples of things you could do is to treat yourself regularly by going to a restaurant every month or playing a sport you enjoy. You could do something like buy tickets for a concert or show in advance. Making plans for yourself ahead of time can be a way for you to look forward to something, and it could almost be like the light at the end of the tunnel for you during a tough time period.  

Learning to take time for yourself is a process and it takes a while to get going, but it is very important to have that balance in your life. It can help you be more organised and keep your life in a rhythm that you’re comfortable with, especially if you schedule everything and plan everything accordingly. 

Ironically, focusing on yourself and spending time on your own can also help your social skills and how you interact with others. You can try and learn more about other things and broaden your horizons by expanding upon your interests, which in turn will help you relate and connect with others.  

Prevent burnout: Understanding wellness days in the workplace  

Prevent burnout: Understanding wellness days in the workplace

Wellness days explained to newcomers  

By: Josephine Naghavie  

Published on: April 3rd, 2024


Moving to a new country is an exciting and life changing experience. Facing challenges like adapting to new culture, language, and social norms can take a toll on your mental health. There is a strong connection between mental health and physical health, but taking care of only one won’t help you fix both.  

Exercise releases endorphins that can help with anxiety and stress and keeping a nutritious diet and having enough sleep promotes positive emotions which can help with your new experiences in Canada.  

Mental health and mental wellness are relative terms, yet a decline in mental health can be solved by taking care of your wellness. Wellness is a complicated term that means we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Positive lifestyle changes lead to happier lives, missing less work, and being more productive.  

Employee wellbeing in the workplace is a top trending subject in 2023, which has led to wellness days. Many organizations are supporting the well-being of their employees by offering resources to manage stress and work-life balance.  

Understanding wellness days 

Companies are offering wellness days as a result of their employees feeling burnt out, which is a combination of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.  

Signs of burning out:  

  • Feeling detached/alone  
  • Negative thoughts  
  • Self-doubt  
  • Procrastinating or taking longer to get things done  
  • Feeling overwhelmed  

Ceridian’s 2022 Pulse of Talent survey showed that 81 per cent of respondents experienced burnout, with one-third of respondents feeling less focused and 26 per cent planning on taking a leave of absence/sick leave.  

In the past, many companies offered only sick days, but in 2019 the focus on mental health was reviewed and the concept of wellness days was therefore introduced. Employers realized that allowing their employees to take wellness days was helping avoid burnout, late work, or mediocre work.  

Wellness days give you a chance to proactively take care of your mental health. They are designated days, separate from your annual sick days, to take off work so that you may recharge and produce better work for your company, putting yourself in the proper headspace.  

As someone who is new to Canada, or even the workforce, it can be difficult to manage all the new tasks, the hours of work, and everything in between. Wellness days are a great tool to take advantage of for more personal time to either get to know your country, have much needed family time, or anything you need to do to re-energize yourself. Wellbeing looks different to everyone, this can include meditation, journaling, and practicing gratitude.  

Wellness days were previously optional for many companies and organizations, but as time has evolved and mental health becomes a major priority in Canada, almost 93 per cent of the workforce gives wellness days, with their respective individual policies.  

As someone new to a job, it can be nerve wracking to ask if your company has wellness days, but taking this designated time off has a lasting positive impact on work culture and is a critical factor in driving productivity.  

Everyone needs a break now and then. The workplace can stress the mind, making it more difficult to focus on your future work, on yourself, and to be able to think positively. Taking employee wellness days brings clarity not only to your work, but to your mind as well.  

Don’t be afraid to ask your employee for more information!  

Rainy day activities in Toronto

Rainy day activities in Toronto

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: April 1st, 2024


Getting out of your house on those extra gloomy days can be difficult at times, the ideas of possible activities shrinking by the second. Don’t let those rain drops stop you from doing something!  

Below you’ll find suggestions for activities on those rainy days. Don’t be afraid to do something on your own if none of your loved ones are available, solo dating is the new thing!  

Movie theatres  

Catching a movie at your local theatre is the perfect way to stay inside while it’s raining. Whether it’s an independent theatre or one that plays all the biggest new releases. Purchase some of your favourite snacks and drinks and hang out in the dry theatre. Allow yourself to forget, and immerse yourself in the scenes in front of you.   

Arcade bars  

Checking out some of the arcade bars situated around Toronto is a great way to have some fun indoors. Toronto has many arcade bars across the city, including the Rec Room, which is located near the CN Tower and holds many games, including the classics and newer ones. Dave and Busters have many locations around Toronto and have a wide variety of games to play, so be sure to find one that’s near you. There are also many other independently owned arcades across the city that a quick Google search can help you find if that’s more your thing. Enjoy feeling like a kid again!  

Ripley’s aquarium  

Stay dry while being surrounded by water at the Aquarium, located in the core of Downtown Toronto. If you haven’t yet been, now is the moment to go! You will see many different types of exotic fish and sea creatures including sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and jellyfish. The aquarium has many interactive sections that allow you to participate with hands-on experiences. Wear something comfortable because you’ll be moving around the aquarium! Check out their website for the events taking place. It is very kid friendly, has many games to play, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect photo opportunity.  

Art galleries  

Embrace your artistic side on a gray day and check out some of your local art galleries. There are many different ones across the GTA that showcase local and upcoming artists, especially if you hit up OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design). The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is also a great space that holds many events during both day and night, so check out their website to see what they have!  

 Bowling alleys  

Check out your closest bowling alley for a fun activity to do with your friends when the skies are crying. The daytime prices tend to be less expensive than nighttime, and they also allow you to stay a little bit longer when it is less busy. If you’re looking for a more lowkey alley, Playtime Bowl and Bowlarama have some exciting glow-in-the-dark events, so be sure to wear something white! If you are looking for a more upscale and fancier bowling alley, The Ballroom Bowl, located Downtown Toronto, is a great place to sit on some plush couches while you wait your turn to hit a strike!  

 Museums  

Toronto has many museums with so many different areas of interest, so you will be bound to find something that is enjoyable. Whether it be The Ontario Science Centre or The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) there are many different events and interactive activities. They are both very kid friendly, so it is a great place to keep those young ones occupied! You can also find your local lower-scale museums that have other topics of interest dedicated to one subject!  

 Board game cafes  

If you’re tired of playing the same board games at home but don’t want to purchase new ones, board game cafes are a great way to stay occupied on rainy days. Being able to get out of the house and still have fun with your friends and families is always a good breath of air. These cafes are great to play some classic games you already love, or try something you’ve never played before! These cafes also serve other things than coffee. You will be able to order a meal if you’d like to make it a full event. Snakes and Lattes is a great board game cafe that has many locations around Toronto, so be sure to check out your closest one.  

Classes  

If you’re looking to try something new or pick up a new hobby, there are many different classes to take in the GTA on those gray and rainy days. Whatever your interests may be, you will be sure to find something to participate in. Classes can range from pottery, jewelry making, wine and painting (or just painting), technology courses, book clubs, fitness classes, obstacle courses, axe throwing, rage rooms, and so much more. Be sure to check out what you would like to do and the closest location to you. You can find a list of events and classes on eventbrite.  

Indoor golf  

Indoor golf is a great way to spend time indoors when outside feels gloomy. Mini golf is a great experience with friends, family, or even alone! Grab a bucket of golf balls, a golf club and hit the glow-in-the-dark courses full of funky obstacles. Wear closed toed shoes and bring your A-Game. If mini golf is not your thing because you’re more of a professional who is looking to practice their swings, head over to the driving range at Polson Pier near the Docks. The roof of the driving range is covered where you’ll be standing so you won’t get wet! Another option for some indoor gold would be 3D, where the room is entirely indoors and you’ll be able to practice virtually!  

Comedy show  

What better way to spend the day than laughing your way through it. The Comedy Bar is where you’ll be able to see a ton of comedians make their way through their sets. There are daytime shows and evenings ones, all the way to the late-night hours. Second City is another one where they hold local artists, including some special international comedians. There are also many other places like Yuk Yuk’s that have some more well-known comedians if you don’t want to risk it with the newer ones. Check out the closest comedy bar to you so that you can laugh alongside many others. Another great way to spend time with loved ones or by yourself!  

Finding doctors, and accessing medical care and prescriptions in Ontario  

Finding doctors, and accessing medical care and prescriptions in Ontario

By: Dru Gary 

Published on: March 29th, 2024


Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when it comes to navigating the healthcare system. As a newcomer to Ontario, Canada, you may have questions about finding doctors, accessing medical care, and obtaining prescriptions.  

Ontario has a publicly funded healthcare system known as Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). OHIP provides essential medical services to eligible residents, covering doctor visits, hospital care, and certain medical procedures. To access healthcare services, you need to be an eligible Ontario resident with an OHIP card. 

To apply for an OHIP card, you must meet these criteria: 

a. Be a Canadian citizen or have immigration status as a permanent resident. 

b. Physically reside in Ontario for at least 153 days (approximately five months) in any 12-month period. 

c. Make Ontario your primary place of residence. 

d. Be present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after establishing residency. 

To apply, visit the nearest ServiceOntario location and bring the necessary documents, including proof of identity, proof of residency, and immigration status documents if applicable. Once you have your OHIP card, you can start accessing medical care. 

Finding a Family Doctor 

Having a family doctor is quite essential in terms of accessing primary healthcare needs. Finding one may take some time, as there is often a shortage of family physicians. Here are some steps to help you in your search: 

Health Care Connect: This is a government program designed to help you find a family doctor or nurse practitioner. You can register with Health Care Connect online or by calling their toll-free number, and they will match you with a healthcare provider accepting new patients. 

Ask for recommendations: Reach out to friends, colleagues, or other newcomers for recommendations on doctors in your area. 

Local health clinics: Community health centers and medical clinics sometimes have openings for new patients. Visit them or check their websites for information. 

Online directories: Use online resources such as the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons’ website to search for doctors in your region. 

While searching for a family doctor, medical care can be accessed through walk-in clinics. Walk-in clinics are available in many communities and provide healthcare without appointments. However, wait times may vary and can be very long depending on time and day so it is important to plan accordingly.  

Telehealth Ontario offers free medical advice from registered nurses 24/7. They have a toll-free number that can be called at any time and individuals may speak with a nurse about your health concerns, get advice, and determine if you need to visit a doctor. 

If a doctor prescribes medication, prescriptions can be filled at a pharmacy. Most urban areas in Ontario have numerous pharmacies, and some are open 24/7. To purchase medications, there will generally be a co-payment fee which may need to be paid out of pocket, which varies depending on the drug and your prescription drug coverage. 

Ontario offers prescription drug coverage for certain demographics, such as seniors and low-income individuals, through programs like the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB). Other groups, such as those receiving social assistance, may also be eligible for coverage. Newcomers may have a waiting period before qualifying for these programs. 

Some people have private health insurance through their employer or individually purchased plans. Plans like these often cover prescription drugs.  

In Ontario, emergency services can be reached by calling 911. It is important to call this number immediately or head to a hospital with an emergency room (ER). Ontario’s healthcare system covers emergency medical services. Individuals will not be charged for essential emergency care. 

Alternative Medicines 

Alternative medicines are practices and treatments that fall outside the scope of conventional Western medicine. These approaches focus on holistic well-being, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. Some popular alternative therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic care, naturopathy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine. 

In Ontario, alternative healthcare practitioners are regulated by various bodies depending on the therapy. For instance: 

  • Acupuncture: Regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO). 
  • Chiropractic Care: Regulated by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO). 
  • Naturopathy: Regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). 
  • Homeopathy: Regulated by the College of Homeopaths of Ontario (CHO). 
  • Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Practitioners may fall under different regulatory bodies. 

When seeking alternative healthcare services, it is important to do research beforehand to ensure that the practitioner is licensed and registered with the appropriate regulatory college. 

Navigating the healthcare system in Ontario may seem complicated at first, but with the right information and knowledge, you can access medical care and prescriptions effectively.  

Remember to apply for your OHIP card, register with Health Care Connect for a family doctor, and familiarize yourself with walk-in clinics and Telehealth Ontario. Additionally, explore prescription drug coverage options and don’t hesitate to seek emergency medical care when needed.  

How to stay safe during a protest

How to stay safe during a protest

By: Callum Denault

Published on: March 28, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Markus Spiske (Pexels)

There are many protests happening across Canada, tackling various issues from poverty and racial inequality to government corruption, both domestically and abroad.

Ideally, these protests are peaceful, with no participants or police officers escalating things into a riot. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

While speaking up and rising against oppression and corruption is always important, it is also essential to remain safe during protests.

Read along for strategies to ensure your voice is heard while remaining mindful, cautious, and safe during Canada’s many political demonstrations.

The legality of protesting

Knowing the law is vital to attending any demonstration, especially when run-ins with police are likely.

People in a democratic country such as Canada have the right to protest anytime they want. You do not require a permit to hold a peaceful protest on public property, which includes parks, town squares, and government buildings.

However, there are still limitations on how individuals can protest in Canada. Provincial laws and Municipal by-laws may restrict when, where, and how protests are conducted. For example, protestors can not block traffic or physically block access to building entrances. There may also be rules related to the level of noise.

Make sure to check out laws and regulations to ensure your protest remains legal and peaceful. These laws exist to keep people safe and ensure other individuals aren’t disturbed in a harmful or unfair way.

Interacting with police at a protest

It is important to note that police may be allowed to detain, search, use force, or arrest participants during a protest. They can do this if, for example, you commit a crime while protesting. The police may also need to stop protestors from committing non-peaceful activity, such as injuring others or damaging property.

It is also essential to know your rights during police interactions. Police are allowed to ask you questions at any time. However, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7 and Section 11 (c) guarantees Canadians’ right to remain silent. This means you do not have to answer the police’s questions. Remain calm and simply state, “I don’t want to answer any questions.”

Police are allowed to take someone’s smartphone and search through it, but only under specific circumstances. This includes the owner being arrested legally, and the search is incidental to that arrest. Police can only search through phones for what is necessary for the investigation and must take detailed notes of everything they do. However, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7 and Section 11 (c), also protects individuals against providing police with their phone passwords. Police are allowed to try to get around the need for a password if they can prove it is relevant to their investigation.

There are continents to police searching you or your belongings. In most cases, the police can only search you if you give permission, they have a search warrant, they’re detaining you to investigate a crime, or they’re arresting you. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects you from unreasonable search and seizure, meaning police must conduct the search in a reasonable manner.

If the police are charging you with an offence, you must tell them your correct name and date of birth. If you refuse, they can arrest you to figure out who you are. It is also important to remember you can be charged with giving false information.

The police can detain you if they believe you are connected to a crime. However, they must tell you why, and you do not have to answer any questions while detained. If they escalate the situation and arrest you, they must tell you why you’re being charged. Furthermore, they can only search you in a reasonable way and must allow you to speak to a lawyer. You also have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer any of their questions besides your correct name and date of birth.

Staying physically safe at a protest or demonstration

Making a plan and conducting prior research is really important to safely prepare for any demonstration.

It is always a good idea to research whether similar protests have previously turned violent. While making your voice heard is important, you want to ensure you are aligning yourself with groups committed to peaceful protest demonstrations.

You should plan to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes as you may be standing around or marching for long periods. You should also bring water and high-protein snacks to ensure you are not dehydrated and maintain high energy levels. Additionally, it’s a good idea to survey the protest area to identify the nearest exits or bathrooms.

Another good strategy is to buddy up. Try to go in a group or with at least one other person. If one person gets arrested or hurt, anyone they are with can tell others and also film any legal violations nearby police are committing on protestors. This is also why knowing one’s rights is essential and worth researching before joining a protest. It is also a good idea to have a meeting spot if group members get separated or the protest turns violent.

Anyone wanting to bring a smartphone with them should encrypt it and put it in airplane mode. This will allow you to avoid leaving any digital breadcrumbs that could have legal implications if the protest goes poorly. Additionally, it is a good idea to turn off biometric passwords that use the cell phone owner’s body to unlock it, such as fingerprint scanners or facial IDs. These biometric passwords make it easier for police officers to open someone else’s phone.

Finally, it is important to keep an eye on signs that a protest might turn into a riot. Statistically, this is more likely to happen when law enforcement mistreats protestors. However, demonstrators themselves might escalate violence, especially if they feel they are being mistreated or that more peaceful protest options are not enough to impact the government’s decisions.

While there are several issues worth protesting for, it is essential to remain peaceful and to stay safe. No protest is worth getting seriously hurt over.

Inflation-induced prices: Surviving the rising cost of living in Canada

Inflation-induced prices: Surviving the rising cost of living in Canada

By: Callum Denault

Published on: March 22nd, 2024


Photo Courtesy: Tierra Mallorca (Unsplash)

While Canada offers many opportunities to newcomers, living here has its hardships, just like any other part of the world. Real estate, food, and transportation have all risen in price while the average salary of Canadians has struggled to keep up.

While the value of the Canadian dollar is relatively high compared to many countries, basic necessities are generally more expensive than other regions with less booming economies.

Here are some tips on how to live in Canada and survive inflation-induced price rises.

Real estate: Affording a place to live in Canada

For those looking for a place to settle in Canada, comparing the real estate prices of its many different cities can be helpful. While real estate is generally expensive across the country, some parts are much more affordable than others.

Here is a list of the average rent prices in some of Canada’s biggest cities, organized by how much residents should expect to pay monthly depending on their home size. In Ontario, Ottawa is generally a cheaper place to live than Toronto or Mississauga. A studio apartment in Ottawa costs around $1,418 a month compared to other cities, where rents can range from $1,849 to $2,289.

Montreal, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Ottawa are among the cheapest places to rent across Canada, charging around $1,200 to $1,400 for a studio apartment. Vancouver is the most expensive city to rent in Canada, with prices skyrocketing to $2,896 for a studio apartment.

A high income is typically necessary for those wishing to purchase a home in Canada. In this list of average Canadian home prices, the costs can range from as low as $300,000 to over $1 million. The list also estimates how much income is needed to own a home. For example, someone wanting to own a home worth $621,000 in Ottawa would need to make around $128,000 a year to pay for it.

Similar to rent prices, the average cost of a home greatly depends on what city it is located in. Vancouver, followed by Toronto, is the most expensive place in Canada for home ownership. On the other hand, cities like Montreal and Calgary go for around $500,000 a home, while smaller cities like Regina and Fredericton offer the cheapest prices for homes.

Transportation

The average cost of driving a car is arguably the biggest drawback to owning a vehicle. In 2023, a new car in Canada typically would have sold for around $67,000. On top of this, insurance, fuel costs, and maintenance all add to monthly fees.

However, there are ways to save on driving outside of relying on public transportation. For starters, it is suggested that anyone who spends over $1,000 a year on maintaining their car consider buying a new one.

Canada is planning to mostly have all-electric cars in the country by 2035, meaning charging stations will become increasingly common. Not only can electric cars save hundreds to thousands of dollars a year on fuel, but the Canadian government offers cash incentives to anyone driving zero-emission vehicles.

Public transportation is another way Canadians move around. The cost of monthly transportation passes varies between cities. Toronto’s transportation passes are the most expensive at $156 a month, with other major cities roughly charging around $100 for monthly passes.

It is worth keeping track of how much you spend every month on individual trips and if it would be cheaper to buy a monthly pass instead. Passes could help with saving money, especially for those who use public transit on a daily basis.

Food and prescription drugs

Finally, there are ways to save on consumable goods. Different pharmacies charge diverse dispensing fees for prescription drugs, with the average cost being $9. The cheapest pharmacy chain is Costco, which does not require a membership (unlike their grocery store) and only charges $4.50 dispensing fees. A full list of other pharmacy brands and their prices can be found here.

There are also ways to save on groceries, typically by buying cheap yet nutritionally rich foods such as eggs, ground meat, frozen veggies, dried lentils, and milk. Rice and pasta can also be great options to add bulk to meals. Additionally, cooking meals at home is generally cheaper than ordering in. Learning to cook popular takeout meals such as pizza may be a rewarding experience with cost-effective benefits. There are many tutorials available on YouTube that provide step-by-step instructions on preparing various meals.

If you find yourself really struggling to make ends meet, you can visit your local food bank. There are many food banks available across Canada that offer visitors access to free, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods. Each food bank has different processes, policies, and eligibility criteria, with some requiring appointments and client ID registrations. It’s best to visit your local food bank or contact them beforehand to ask about their unique program requirements.

While inflation and the rising prices of necessities have caused hardship for many Canadians, these tips can help relieve some of the financial burdens. Even with the increasing costs, Canada is still a great place to call home for newcomers.

How to grow your own food in Canada

How to grow your own food in Canada

By: Callum Denault

Published on: March 22nd, 2024


For thousands of years, people have grown their own crops rather than buying fruits and vegetables at the local grocery store. In today’s world, it is a fun, rewarding way to save money on food. It is also a Canadian tradition, with Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood being named after the crops that Irish immigrants would grow in their front lawns.  

If you want to learn about other ways to save money on food, check out The Newcomer’s articles on gathering edible wild plants, Canadian hunting and fishing laws, and how to grow microgreens from home. 

Crops you can grow indoors 

There are over 28 different plants you can grow indoors to eat or use in cooking. Some of these are herbs—such as cilantro, oregano, basil, parsley, mint, or black pepper—while others may be fruits, leafy greens, or other vegetables. Some plants that are considered exotic in Canada can be grown indoors, such as dragon fruit. 

Some indoor plants can also be quite nutritious, and easy to grow. Other than microgreens and sprouts, you can cultivate indoor tomatoes, lettuce, and grow several types of peppers on your window, including bell pepper, jalapeños, and more!  

However, not every plant that can be grown indoors is recommended for everyone. For example, carrots require a very specific pH level in their soil to be healthy, celery is a slow growing plant that needs a lot of moisture, and while squash is easy to grow throughout the year, it takes up a lot of space, making it awkward for anyone who does not have a lot of room in their homes. 

Kale and spinach are great options for an indoor garden, as are cherry tomatoes which are smaller than normal tomatoes. The Farmer’s Almanac has advice on how to grow salad greens, which is a large variety of plants that can be eaten raw or cooked.  

Some plants such as lettuce continue growing even after parts of their leaves have been shaved off, and these conveniently harvestable plants are called “cut and come again” in some catalogs. The Farmer’s Almanac also recommends greens are grown using row covers—which keep the plants free—and that these containers are made out of a material that allows the plants to breathe with access to water and sunlight. Spun-bonded polypropylene is the material they recommend. 

Growing plants outdoors 

A good place to start is to look at the crops Canada is known for growing in its big, commercial farms. In order, these are: wheat, canola, potatoes, barley, corn, fruits, and vegetables. Canadian farmed fruits include apples, apricots, and several types of berries, while the most widely grown vegetables in Canadian farms are broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Tomatoes are also popular among home gardeners, and they are the most eaten vegetable among most Canadians. 

On the topic of fruits and vegetables, it might help to know that several “vegetables” are actually grown as fruits. In the kitchen, fruits and vegetables are distinguished by taste, given that fruits are usually sweeter and/or more tart than veggies. Botanists have a scientific definition of fruits which is different from the culinary one: “fruits” are parts of a plant that bear seeds and help that plant reproduce, and berries are a type of fruit.  

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and several other “vegetables” are actually fruits in the scientific sense. This is different from root vegetables, such as carrots, which are vegetables in both the culinary and botanical sense. Root vegetables are grown underground, and that underground part is what people eat. 

While it may seem silly, knowing this difference may help you when growing your own plants. For instance, if you want to grow carrots, all you need to worry about is if your plants are growing big enough. However, if your goal is to grow tomatoes or peppers, you need to make sure that not only is your plant growing, but that it is healthy enough to grow its own fruits so you can eat them.  

Dealing with pests 

Just as you may want to chow down on the delicious plants you grow in your home, there may be a number of animals that also plan on devouring your crops. In order to keep your plants safe, make sure you know how to safely, humanely, and effectively deal with these common garden pests. The Canadian government has a long, detailed guide to pest control for pretty much any animal you could consider a nuisance. They also have a list of pest species, including animals, plants, and diseases.  

When it comes to vertebrate pests such as birds and mammals, your best option is to deter them. Squirrels are too common to even kill, since more will come to your garden, so the best option is to either make obstacles they struggle to navigate or have a squirrel feeder nearby to keep them from wanting to eat your crops.  

There are different foul smells which keep animals away, such as deer which can be kept away with eggs, pepper, scented oil, and/or Irish Spring soap. Rabbits avoid the smell of predators, so getting some dog hair (either from your own dog or a local pet groomer) and sprinkling it on your yard is a good choice. Moles can dig new tunnels if you destroy their old ones, so a better option is to make their existing tunnels undesirable by pouring down castor oil or another liquid they hate the taste of. Dense soil and the smell of cats or dogs (predators) can deter moles as well, as does making sure your lawn is free of grubs which moles like to eat.  

Birds are little complicated and may take multiple different deterrents to fully shoo away. Streamers, noise makers (including wind chimes), and reflective scare tape are common solutions. Scarecrows and owl statues are old tricks to keep away crows. 

When it comes to insect pests, the best options are to keep them from making their home on your property. Mosquitos lay eggs in standing water, so make sure to clean any ponds your garden may have, and get rid of any still sources of water, including rainwater, which may have built up in your gutters or outdoor pots. Wasps and bees like to make nests in dark areas, so light up any garages or sheds you may have, and fill holes in your yard before wasps burrow into them.  

Aphids are small, lice-like insects that eat plants, and can destroy crops in large numbers. Shrivelled, unhealthy plants can be the victim of aphid attack, which like hiding on the underside of plants, and leave behind a distinctive, sticky honeydew after eating. Hosing down your plants and crushing any straggling aphids is a good option to keep your crops healthy, and if that fails you can spray your plants with soapy water every two to three days.  

While pesticides are effective at killing aphids, they are terrible for the environment and come with other risks. There are organic alternatives, such as using horticultural oil or neem oil to repel aphids. You can also plant dill, cornflower or other plants that attract the natural predators of aphids: ladybugs, hoverflies, and lacewings.  

Ants can be kept out of your house by sealing any cracks they come into, including those around doors and windows. They also hate vinegar, dry citrus, cinnamon, peppermint oil, and ground chalk, which can be placed near possible entrances to keep them out.  

Multicultural tapestry: Exploring Toronto’s cultural communities

Multicultural tapestry: Exploring Toronto’s cultural communities

By: Josephine Naghavie  

Published on: March 15th, 2024


In the heart of Ontario, Toronto represents a vibrant mosaic of culture and communities, each with its own personal charm and unique history.

Read ahead to learn more about the communities that make up the multicultural mosaic of Toronto.

Kensington Market: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Kensington Market is not just a neighbourhood but a testament to the cultural diversity in Toronto. Known for its eclectic vibe, this area offers an array of vintage shops, charming cafes, and unique street art. The street art in the neighbourhood also functions as a way for newcomer artists to share their stories of making this market their home.

This area was developed in 1815, and throughout the 20th century, a second wave of immigrants came from different places like Italy, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. People came to this area to live and work in the market, creating the iconic street life that continues today.

Photo Courtesy: Milada Vigerova (Pexels)

Chinatown: A culinary and cultural expedition

North America’s largest Chinatown is right here in Toronto. It is a bustling hub of activity and Chinese culture. Through the streets, one can wander the markets offering fruits and traditional medicines and many restaurants serving authentic dishes that span China’s culinary diversity.

In the early 1900s, Chinese newcomers came to Toronto and settled in the area that we now know as Chinatown. This was caused by the newcomers’ need for survival and translation when first coming to Toronto. Chinatown holds many festivals throughout the year, especially during Lunar New Year!

Koreatown: Flavours and traditions

Koreatown has a very vibrant nightlife that includes karaoke bars, authentic cuisine, and a slice of Korean culture. It’s a place where the aroma of delicious kimchi and the sound of music fill the air. This community is tightly-knit but also very welcoming to people who want to experience Korean culture.

This neighbourhood is also where you will find all the trending Korean beauty supplies, including makeup and skin care. And if you are looking for some amazingly cool stationary, this is the place to head to.

Little Italy: A slice of Italian culture 

In the heart of Toronto, Little Italy has a lively atmosphere. The neighbourhood is famous for its Italian restaurants, espresso bars, and boutiques, creating a central hub where the Italian community’s traditions and languages thrive. Festivals like the Taste of Italy offer a glimpse into their way of life with music, food, and street performances.

Little Portugal: The home of the Nata’s

The Portuguese community has left a mark on Toronto’s cultural landscape, particularly in areas like Little Portugal. This neighbourhood is famous for its bakeries, fish markets, and family-run restaurants, which offer a taste of Portugal’s rich culinary heritage, including its famous custard tarts, Pasteis de Nata.

The Portugal Day Parade and the Santa Cruz Festival are highlights of the year. They showcase dance, cuisine, and traditional music while bringing people from every community together to celebrate and share their heritage.

The Caribbean enclave: A carnival of culture

The Caribbean community in Toronto is situated mostly in the area of Little Jamaica. It is celebrated for its vibrant culture and celebrations, most notably the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, also known as Caribana. This festival is North America’s largest street festival and attracts visitors from all around the world.

It showcases a dazzling display of sparkly costumes, calypso music, and Caribbean cuisine. It serves as a hub where the rhythms of reggae and soca music fill the air, and the flavours of jerk chicken and roti offer a taste of the islands.

Little India: Colours of sights and sounds

Little India, or the Gerrard India Bazaar, is one of North America’s oldest Indian markets. This area is an array of colours, scents, and sounds, offering an authentic experience of South Asian culture. There are many shops that sell a variety of goods, from traditional attire to Bollywood music and movies.

Restaurants in the neighbourhood serve up a range of delicacies from different regions of India. The annual Festival of South Asia transforms the street into a fairground, celebrating their community’s culture, cuisines, and traditions.

Photo Courtesy: Brett Sayles (Pexels)

Greektown: Taste of Greece

In Toronto’s bustling Danforth Avenue, Greektown serves as a vibrant testament to Greek culture, community, and cuisine. Renowned for its authentic tavernas and cafes, this neighbourhood is a culinary haven offering traditional Greek dishes that invite a taste of Mediterranean hospitality.

Greektown is also the heart of many festivals but is most famous for the Taste of Danforth. It celebrates Greek heritage with food, music, and dance. Greektown offers vivid murals depicting Greek mythology to the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, showcasing the historical and artistic contributions of the Greek community.

The communities mentioned above are only some of the multicultural neighbourhoods offered in our big city. Each community contributes a unique custom, tradition, and cuisine to Toronto. Make sure to find the time to explore each neighbourhood and learn more about the cultures that have helped shape Toronto into the diverse city it is today.

Canadian athletes you should know about

Canadian athletes you should know about 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: March 15th, 2024


When thinking of some of the best athletes in the world, you might overlook Canadians. Or you may think we only specialise in winter sports. However, Canada has many talented female and male athletes in a wide range of sports.  

Presently, Canadians have a large presence in global sports and play their trade all across the world. Despite being overlooked, Canadian sports teams have proved themselves in many international tournaments, such as the Olympics.  

Many Canadian athletes are among the best in the world. Here are some Canadian athletes that you should know more about, as they are, or will be, prominently featured in Canadian sports.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Christine Sinclair  

Widely regarded as the greatest Canadian female soccer player, or even greatest Canadian soccer player in general, Christine Sinclair has been the face of Canadian soccer for the past 23 years. 

She has played an integral role in the success of the Canadian women’s national team and has revolutionised the sport in this country.  

Sinclair, 40, is still going strong and currently holds the national team record for most appearances (323) and goals (190).  

Jordyn Huitema 

Seen as the successor to Christine Sinclair, Jordyn Huitema has all the skills and potential to be Canada’s leading female soccer player for years to come.  

At 22-years-old, Huitema already has 64 caps (appearances) for the Canadian national team along with 16 goals for the senior side. She has also already won an Olympic gold medal with Canada during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is an integral part of a new generation of Canadian women’s soccer players who will likely be stars in the near future.  

The fact that Huitema has Christine Sinclair to learn from only bodes well for her future, as she will likely carry the torch that Sinclair lit and become the face of Canadian soccer.   

Jonathan David 

Currently 23-years-old, Jonathan David is a main feature of the Canadian men’s national soccer team and their plans for the foreseeable future.  

Jonathan David was born in New York City and moved to Haiti as a three-month-old, before settling in Ottawa, Ontario at the age of six. His soccer roots come from Ottawa and he credits his high school, École secondaire publique Louis-Riel, for helping him greatly in his progression as a soccer player.  

This past season was Jonathan David’s career best scoring, as he finished as the third top scorer in Ligue 1, with 24 goals for Lille OSC. David can potentially move to a bigger club in the near future, where his development will further improve.  

Tajon Buchanan 

Buchanan is a quick and pacy winger who plays with a lot of heart and fire. He embodies what Canadian soccer is all about. There is no doubt Buchanan will be a big part of the future of Canadian men’s soccer, alongside Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David. 

Buchanan’s elite speed is what separates him from other players and provides another dimension to the Canadian national team. Along with Davies, he’s able to track back and cover when on defence and then spring forward quickly in attack to support the forwards or score a goal himself.  

At 24 years of age, Buchanan will likely feature prominently for the Canadian men’s national team for the next few years; and could play a major role in Canada’s potential successes.  

Photo: Gonzalo Facello (Pexels) 

Denis Shapovalov 

Born in Israel to Russian parents, Denis Shapovalov grew up in Vaughan, Ontario before becoming a tennis pro in 2017. 

The turning points in his career came when he reached a career-high world ranking of #10 in 2020; and had his best finish at a Grand Slam when he reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2021. 

Since then, Shapovalov has dealt with injuries and inconsistency, but at 24-years-old, he remains one of the most electrifying tennis players. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Shapovalov collect some ATP titles or even make a push for a Grand Slam.  

Félix Auger-Aliassime 

Félix Auger-Aliassime remains one of Canada’s best active tennis players. He’s currently ranked #12 in the world and reached a career high ranking of #6 in November 2022.   

When healthy and in good form, it’s clear that Auger-Aliassime has all the talent and ability to beat the best tennis players in the world. He possesses a strong serve, has a great all-round game and plays with high intensity. He embodies all the makings of a player who can be one of the greatest in the sport.  

Similar to Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime burst onto the scene as a young player and is without a doubt one of Canada’s biggest hopes to win a Grand Slam title. 

Connor McDavid 

Arguably the best currently active men’s hockey player, Connor McDavid is truly a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.  

Since entering the NHL in 2015, McDavid (26) has won many individual honours, including five Art Ross trophies, awarded to the player who finishes with the most points (goals and assists) during the season, and two Hart trophies, the NHL’s MVP award. He looks likely to win his third Hart trophy following the 2022-23 season in which he finished with 153 points.  

However, given all his individual brilliance and the accolades along with it, McDavid has yet to win the Stanley Cup or even play in the Stanley Cup Finals. The closest he came to the finals was in the 2021-22 NHL season, when the Edmonton Oilers lost to the eventual champions, Colorado Avalanche, in four games in the Western Conference Finals.  

If McDavid continues at the same pace, it might not be long before he lifts the coveted Stanley Cup and stamps his mark in hockey history as one of the greatest players to ever grace the ice.  

Marie-Philip Poulin 

Marie-Philip Poulin is one of the best women’s hockey players at the moment and will go down in history as one of the best Canadians to ever play the sport.  

Poulin has collected many medals and honours throughout her illustrious career, including three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014, 2022), one Olympic silver medal (2018), and three World Championship gold medals (2012, 2021, 2022).  

Marie-Philip Poulin is famously known as “Captain Clutch” for her ability to succeed in important and high stress games. In four Olympic gold medal games, Poulin has scored seven goals, three being game-winners.  

Photo: Tim Mossholder (Pexels)

Bennedict Mathurin 

Bennedict Mathurin hails from Montréal, Quebec and his successes mean much more given the struggles and difficulties he dealt with in his upbringing.   

Mathurin was raised by his mother Elvie Jeune who worked long hours at a hospital to support her children. When Bennedict was 12, his older brother, Dominique, died at the age of 15 after being struck by a car while riding his bike.   

Bennedict Mathurin was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. In his rookie season, Mathurin finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 16.7 points per game and emerging as a rising star on a new-look Pacers team.  

Jamal Murray 

Since being drafted seventh overall in the 2016 NBA draft, Jamal Murray has remained as one of the best Canadians in the NBA.  

Murray has a career average of 16.9 points per game, but he has gained a reputation as a playoff performer, where his points average goes up to 25 ppg for his career.  

After missing the entire 2021-22 season due to an ACL tear that occurred towards the end of the 2020-21 season, Jamal Murray bounced back. He averaged 20 ppg in the 2022-23 season, enroute to winning the Denver Nuggets’ first ever NBA championship, beating the Miami Heat in five games.  

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

At 24-years-old, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already the franchise cornerstone for the Oklahoma City Thunder and looks set to lead the youngest franchise in the NBA for future seasons to come.  

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a breakout 2022-23 season in which he averaged 31.4 points per game, along with 1.6 steals per game and one block per game. All this culminated in his first All-Star game appearance and an All-NBA First Team selection, while finishing second for the Most Improved Player.  

If Shai continues to improve and makes the most of his potential, he could have many more individual accolades come his way, as well as, potentially an NBA championship and success with the Canadian national team.  

*all basketball stats from basketball-reference 

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels) 

Summer McIntosh 

At the age of 14, Summer McIntosh was part of the Canadian Olympic Swim Team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she made headlines when she finished fourth in the women’s 400m freestyle. That’s all that really needs to be said about McIntosh as a swimmer, but that’s only the start of her story.  

Since making history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh has gone on to win two gold medals at the long course (50-metre pool) World Championships in 200m butterfly and 400m medley. She also won a gold medal at the short course (25-metre pool) World Championships in 4x200m freestyle, and two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in 200m medley and 400m medley  

If Summer McIntosh makes the best of her talents and potential, she could become an athlete who will collect multiple Olympic medals in the future and make history as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. 

Penny Oleksiak 

Penny Oleksiak burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old in the 2016 Rio Olympics when she shocked the world by winning gold in the women’s 100m freestyle final.  

She later went on to win the silver medal in the 100m butterfly final, as well as, two bronze medals in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Oleksiak added another silver and two bronze medals to bring her Olympic medal tally to seven, becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian. 

At the next Olympic Games in Paris 2024, Oleksiak will be 24-years-old and will likely be one of the leaders for the Canadian Women’s Swim Team, and could potentially add to her record-setting Olympic medal tally.  

Andre De Grasse 

Born to Caribbean immigrant parents, Andre De Grasse grew up in Markham, Ontario and later made a name for himself with his speed on the track. For someone who only started competing in track at the age of 17, De Grasse has achieved a lot in his relatively short time in the sport.  

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Andre De Grasse rose to prominence as a then 21-year-old when he won the silver medal in the men’s 200m final, finishing behind none other than Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history. De Grasse also collected two more bronze medals in 2016 in the 100m and 4x100m relay.  

Andre De Grasse’s crowning moment came in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when he won gold in the men’s 200m final, and a silver and bronze medal in the 4x100m relay and 100m final, respectively. De Grasse’s Olympic medal tally of six makes him the joint second most decorated Canadian Olympian.  

At the moment De Grasse is Canada’s fastest man. He will be 29-years-old heading into the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and will look to add more medals to his illustrious career.   

Top 5 parks to visit this summer 

Top 5 parks to visit this summer 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: March 8th, 2024


Summer is almost here and now is the best time to explore the various parks that make up the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Whether you want a place to visit with your family or just want to take in the greenery by yourself, here are some of the most popular parks to visit. 

Downsview Park 

Located in North York, Downsview Park is one of the most frequented parks with over 7000 Google reviews. One unique feature of the park is the mounds erected from the displaced dirt during construction. The mounds are high enough to offer a view of the entire park. Additionally, The Play Zone is the park’s aviation-themed playground that’s perfect for kids to explore. Similarly, the sports field offers fun for youth and adults alike. Best of all, if the weather is too hot, an indoor climbing gym is open, featuring over 1394 square metres of climbable terrain. 

High Park 

Between Etobicoke and Toronto lies the city’s largest public park. The grass fields encompassing the park along the main road make for many ideal picnic spots. High Park also comes with an off-leash area for dogs. Membership is not required to access this area, but owners should make sure they have a valid dog license and their pets are vaccinated for rabies before attending. If you prefer to just view animals, then High Park Zoo includes llamas, buffalo, and capybaras among others for you to explore. 

Scarborough Bluffs Park 

Like its namesake, The Bluffs are known for their steep cliffs along Lake Ontario that span 15 kilometres. No matter where you go, the stunning view of the cliffs is always present facing the ocean. Given its proximity to the lake, yachting is a popular activity. Hundreds of yachts are parked at Scarborough Bluffs and the park is home to several yacht and sailing clubs along the coast of Lake Ontario. Some clubs offer the option of renting a boat, so nonowners can still partake in recreational activities on the water. 

East Point Park 

Due to its proximity to Lake Ontario, East Point Park features meadows, forests, and wetlands, to explore. The beach is perfect to cool off in the summer heat off the shore of Lake Ontario. Bird enthusiasts will love the East Point Park Bird Sanctuary, which documents over 170 species of birds on its steel walls. Accompanying the names are bird cutouts representing each one. Bird watchers can enjoy the view at any designated viewing area. 

Rouge National Urban Park 

Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America and is located in Eastern Toronto. The park offers hiking trails that will take you through several biomes including wetlands and meadows. Throughout your travels, you may encounter wildlife such as beavers, red foxes, and groundhogs. The park also provides a Learn-to-Camp program which offers tutorials on camping. Located near the park is Toronto Zoo, the largest zoo in Canada. Visit over 3000 animals from around the world divided among seven zoogeographic regions. Observe lions, tigers, penguins, giraffes, gorillas, and many more throughout the zoo.  

Canada’s new international student cap law: How to study in Canada

Canada’s new international student cap law: How to study in Canada

By: Callum Denault

Published on: March 6th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @pixabay (Pexels)

Fewer international students will be allowed to move to and study in Canada following the implementation of a new law on January 22, 2024. However, this does not mean Canada will be completely closed off to international students wishing to study here.

Keep reading to learn about the new law, why it is being implemented, and how to achieve your dream of studying in Canada.

Applying to be an international student in Canada

Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that Canada will reduce the number of international students it accepts over the next two years by an estimated 35 per cent. Despite this reduction, around 364,000 study permits will still be granted to international students in 2024, making it possible to study in Canada even with the decrease.

The Government of Canada’s website provides an overview of the new law and the associated restrictions. Most international students must include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) with their application to study in Canada to be approved. 

However, there are exceptions to this requirement. Exceptions include anyone currently studying at a primary or secondary school, exchange students, and individuals with an in-Canada permit to work or study in the country. Additionally, any international student who applied to study in Canada before January 22, 2024, is exempt from this requirement.

Students applying to kindergarten to grade 12 classes are also exempt from needing a PAL, as are those seeking a master’s or doctoral degree in Canada.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

Currently, there is no official way to apply for a PAL because each province is developing its own system. These systems are expected to be in place by March 31, 2024.

However, the federal government has provided guidelines on how to apply for a PAL when it becomes available. Since Canada will only admit a limited number of international students, anyone wishing to study here should have their information ready to apply for a PAL. This way, when provinces start accepting PAL applications, they will be prepared with the necessary information and documents.

According to the Canadian federal government, all PAL applications must be registered online. However, refugees, people with disabilities, those with no fixed address, and non-national residents are allowed to submit paper applications.

The guide linked above has multiple-choice questions to accommodate students of different backgrounds. Some questions include whether students are applying with a family member and what kind of education they are pursuing. It can be helpful to organize all necessary information before visiting the government’s IRCC portal website, where PAL applications are filed.

First-time visitors to the IRCC website must use this webpage to request an invite code, which will be emailed. Repeat visitors to the IRCC website can simply log back into their account using the sign-in link.

Why is Canada limiting the number of international students?

The federal government says it changed the law around how international students can study in Canada to prevent them from being exploited once they arrive to study here. Unfortunately, many Canadian colleges and universities have been criticized for how poorly they treat international students.

While there are many issues, one of the main problems is institutions accused of churning out diplomas without providing a legitimate educational experience. These institutions give students expensive degrees with way less practical education than promised. In many cases, international students find themselves stuck in exploitative jobs in a desperate attempt to cover their expenses. Additionally, international students tend to pay significantly higher tuition fees than domestic students at the same schools. It remains to be seen whether Canada’s decision to limit the number of international students will help save them from being taken advantage of. Regardless, anyone wishing to travel to Canada for their studies should apply through official channels and ensure the school they plan to attend will treat them fairly. Everyone deserves to have a rewarding educational experience and to not have their desire for academic growth exploited.

Toronto city activities  

Toronto city activities

By: Josephine Naghavie 

Published on: March 1st, 2024


Ever want to do something around the city, but not sure what? Here’s a list of some options to get yourself out there and socialize! These things can be done alone or with loved ones!  

Casa Loma  

Toronto’s very own castle. Try the escape games located inside the castle, based on historical facts blended with gaming and fiction. This castle features many exhibitions and events.  

Canada’s Wonderland  

The largest variety of roller coasters and wave pools in North America. This amusement park includes live entertainment, acrobatic shows, games, fun events, and a huge waterpark.  

Go karting  

Experience the thrilling action of go karting as you accelerate around corners like a rocket! If you have a need for speed, want to challenge your friends, or just have some fun, this is the perfect place for you.  

Beaches  

You’ll be able to get your tan on at many of Toronto’s beaches. Relax and enjoy the sun or have a picnic. Many of the beaches around the city offer recreational activities like swimming, spike ball, beach volleyball, and so much more. This is a great social atmosphere. 

Ice skating  

There are many different locations of ice rinks that Toronto has to offer, so grab your ice skates (or you can rent them there). If you’re looking for a fun night out, The Bent way, located underneath the Gardiner, features Friday DJ nights while you’re skating around the loop.  

Food events  

Toronto is home to many famous food events that occur year-round with foods that satisfy every palate. Try new things at Taste of Danforth, Mac and Cheese Festival, Caribbean Night, and so much more. You will love this buzzing atmosphere filled with different cultures.  

Sky Zone  

You and your friends can be kids again at Toronto’s trampoline park with the games that Sky Zone has to offer. You’ll be able to show off all your tricks and flips or land in the foam pit.  

Board game cafes  

Test your gaming skills and challenge your friends to a huge variety of trivia contests and games. Snake’s and Latte’s is a great chain around the city that serves food and alcoholic beverages, and there are many other independent cafes to get your game face on.  

Arcade bars  

Immerse yourself in competition at the Rec Room, Dave and Busters or many other arcade bars. These arcades feature many classic games, as well as new virtual reality games. Have some food, drinks, and entertainment all in one.  

Bowling  

Countless spots around Toronto offer bowling. Whether you’re looking for something fun and relaxing or boutique and upscale. Get the drinks flowing and snacks with their retro environments, weekend discos and glow-in-the-dark events.  

Paddle boarding/kayaking  

On the waterfront of the city, Ontario place is a beautiful area to check out. You can explore the lakes from a different viewpoint by renting a paddle board or a kayak.  

Picnics  

Toronto has a different range of beautiful parks, and what better way to enjoy them than grabbing your coziest blanket, some snacks, and your favourite beverage to enjoy and have a fun hangout.  

Drink tour  

Similar to Toronto’s food events/tours, there are drink tours all around the city, all year round. This is something for everyone, whether it be the cider fest, wine fest, or craft beer festival, you’ll be able to set your heart out to try something new.  

Boat cruises  

The skyline of the city from the lake’s view is something to see, whether it be the sunny reflection off the buildings, or the beautiful pink sky when the sun sets. Many of these boat cruises offer food and drinks, but you may also go on some that are purely for the views.  

Cabana pool bar  

Located on Polson Pier, Cabana pool bar is a little getaway in the city. It is a very social place that plays music while you can chill out on the lounge chairs by the pool, sit at the tables with a drink, or dance to the beats of the DJ. There are many famous DJs and artists that frequent this spot, so be sure to check out who’s coming when!  

Museums  

The city has many selections of museums with different areas of interests, something for everybody. Many of these museums also hold events including DJ nights, full of food and drinks, so you can find a way to enjoy a particular exhibition.  

Sports games  

What better way to cheer on your city than a good ol’ sports game. Sports games occur in the city year-round, afternoon and evening. Enjoy hot dogs, drinks, and a fun atmosphere that’s buzzing with energy.  

Drag show brunch  

Toronto is pouring with beautiful drag queens waiting to perform for you. Check out the village on Church street for a ton of bars and venues that showcase many drag queens from all around Canada. You can also enjoy a brunch with some mimosas at the Gladstone hotel.  

Kensington Market  

Kensington Market features delicious and cultural restaurants, many stores, thrift shops, and outdoor artwork. The market also holds specialty stores including Montreal bagels and specialty meats and cheeses. In the warmer months, you will find outdoor stands with new things to check out, drinks-to-go, and a few tattoo shops.  

Ax throwing  

If you feel like throwing something, ax throwing is a perfect and safe way to satisfy the urge. There are many ax throwing facilities around the city with professionals that will show you exactly how it’s done! There are drinks and food there for you to enjoy, as well as challenges that you can compete with your friends by hitting the target. Get those arms warmed up and ready!  

Distillery District  

These historic cobblestones feature many events throughout the year, winter or summer. The district is most famous for their winter market, including their lights festival, shopping and snack stands, mulled wine, and a ferris wheel that overlooks the city’s lights. In the summer it features live entertainment, an outdoor movie theater and shopping. There are many restaurants and patios that you can enjoy as well.  

Patios  

Whether you’re going for brunch, dinner or drinks, Toronto has countless outdoor spaces to take advantage of in the warmer months. You can sit outside in the sunshine or in the shade, with friends or alone. These patios range from crowded to cozy, dive bar to chic and rustic, there is something for everyone’s liking.  

Comedy show  

Looking to have a laugh with some friends over drinks? A comedy show is a great way to be social and laugh with others, as well as have a few drinks if you’re in the mood! Comedy Bar, Second City, and Yuk Yuk’s all have different locations around Toronto where you can see new comedians and famous ones!  

Concerts  

Concerts are a fun and distracting way to get your mind to just relax and listen to some music. There are bigger venues around the city to listen to your favourite artists or, Toronto holds many smaller, independent venues that offer inexpensive tickets to many new and upcoming bands, so you may not know them, but what better way to discover your new favourite song.  

Puppy yoga  

In need of some cuddles and love? Puppy yoga is a perfect way to feel all that love from a cute puppy who needs socializing. Beware, you might have cuteness overload.  

Canadian National Exhibit (CNE)  

The CNE has many games including, toss the ring, roulette, basketball, and so much more. There are fair rides, shopping stands, indoor and outdoor food venues, and other interesting things to look at! Be sure to check out all the strange food concoctions they have.  

Paint and wine  

Paint and wine night is a perfect way to spend time with your friends. Don’t be afraid to do this if you’re not an artistic person, no experience is needed! The night is guided step by step by experienced local artists to create the exact vision you want to create.  

Stakt Market  

Stakt is a market created entirely out of recycled shipping containers with a mix of shops that change every few weeks, so you’ll never get bored of the same place and you can keep revisiting the spot! The market has the perfect view of the CN tower and city skylines, as well as a microbrewery with a top chef. Stakt features many events throughout the warmer months, so be sure to check out what’s going on.  

The Lockhart  

Whether you are a Harry Potter die-hard fan or not, the Lockhart is the perfect place for you and your friends to enjoy a wizard themed bar/restaurant. It is entirely decorated in a Hogwarts theme. On their menu, all their food is Potter inspired, and it gives you a chance to try the famous butter beer!  

Ice Fest  

Toronto turns their central cultural district into a magical experience of ice sculptures. Walk around the streets of Yorkville and see all the people participating in the ice sculpture carving competition.  

Pottery class  

Explore the art of clay by using your hands in a pottery class. This is a great way to make something with your own hands and be able to bring it home with you after. It is also a fun way to laugh with your friends or your classmates when you make a mess!  

Pursuit OCR  

Be a kid again and let loose with this indoor obstacle course. You will be able to climb, crawl, and hang from bars, but don’t worry, if you fall you’ll land in the huge ball and foam pits.  

Nuit Blanche  

An all-night celebration of contemporary art around downtown Toronto, works from more than 100 artists shown around the city.  

Lipstick workshop  

Need to find the perfect shade of lipstick? Why not just make your own! Bite Lab features a lipstick making workshop where you can design the perfect colour, flavour, texture and look, so you can bring your unique lipstick home!  

Cooking classes  

Explore the art of cooking with Toronto’s many different cooking classes. There are so many options created for everyone looking to explore their skill sets. Classes include, ethnic cuisine, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and so much more! You will be able to learn from top chefs in Toronto.  

Golf  

Professional or beginner, mini golf and driving ranges are always a fun way to practice. Check out the glow-in-the-dark rooms or the open fields.  

Medieval Times  

A show that offers a meal from the past, sipping from your goblet of beer, you’ll get to enjoy a show of knights fighting for their princesses.  

Rock climbing  

Test your climbing skills with an indoor (or outdoor) rock-climbing facility. You’ll be able to test how much higher you can get each time!  

Escape rooms  

Work alongside your friends, or strangers, to find clues and get yourselves out of the locked rooms!   

Chinatown  

Toronto’s Chinatown takes up a huge portion of downtown and is bigger than it seems. Try some Asian restaurants and check out their cultural stores.  

Movie theaters  

Check out what’s new in theaters, grab your favourite snacks, and head over to watch the big screen.  

Music festivals 

Toronto has many music festivals so check out what’s going on, get dressed in your favourite outfits, and spend the day outdoors listening to all types of music.  

Rage rooms  

Need to get something off your chest? Rage rooms are a great experience to get all that anger sorted. Suit up, fasten your goggles, grab a baseball bat, and head into the room to destroy everything in sight.  

The Bubble  

Miss the inflatable castles you had when you were a kid? Well look no further. The Bubble is an entire facility with inflatable castles and obstacle courses for you to enjoy, adult friendly!  

Mixology class  

Ever wanted to learn how to make your favourite cocktail at the bar? Well now is your chance. Take a mixology class and try new recipes, you might find your new favourite drink!  

Toronto Islands  

Take the ferry to the islands and enjoy a sunny day on the beaches, or at the parks. The islands are home to many restaurants, trails and parks to explore  

Ripley’s Aquarium  

Check out all the fancy fish in Toronto’s famous aquarium. Featuring many interactive games, night events with drinks and food. You can pet the stingrays too!  

Harbourfront music garden  

Harbourfront’s park features a music garden with stone steps so you can sit down and enjoy all types of live music, while also enjoying the outdoors.  

Night on the town  

Toronto’s night scene is vibrant and there’s a place for everyone. Check out the entertainment district for a crowded but fun night, or Queen street west for a more chill vibe.  

St. Lawrence Market  

Home to all fresh foods and delicious pastries, you can walk around exploring the stands. Pick some fresh ingredients to make yourself a delicious meal!  

DIY apartment decoration

By: Dru Gary

Published on: February 23rd, 2024


Renting an apartment does not have to mean forfeiting the opportunity to make your space feel like your own. Renting is very common in Canada, especially in Ontario, because buying a home is so expensive. Renting comes with its own unique challenges, one being that you cannot make any major renovations to the apartment itself.  

That does not mean you cannot make the space your own. With creativity, innovation, and some do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit, you can transform your apartment into a personalized haven that reflects your unique style and personality. 

Old Furniture Upcycle 

Put your DIY skills to use by upcycling old furniture pieces. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or reupholstering can breathe new life into tired and outdated pieces. Look for inexpensive second-hand furniture or consider swapping items with friends or family. By adding your personal touch, you can turn these pieces into unique statement pieces that reflect your style. 

Gallery Wall 

A gallery wall is a fantastic way to display your favorite photos, artwork, and memories. Gather an assortment of frames in different sizes and styles from thrift stores or discount shops. Fill them with meaningful photographs, postcards, or prints. Arrange them on a prominent wall to create a visually stunning and highly personalized focal point. 

Homemade Candles 

Create a cozy atmosphere with homemade candles. Purchase candle wax, wicks, and essential oils from a craft store, and recycle old jars or containers as candle holders. Experiment with different scents and colors to match your preferences. These homemade candles not only provide a personalized touch but also emit a delightful fragrance that will enhance the ambiance of your apartment. 

Clay and Ceramics 

Clay and ceramic crafts are both fun to make and design, and are useful. Air dry or baking clay can be purchased at a local craft shop and make little ceramic incense holders, ashtrays, cups, flowerpots, and much more. After the clay is dry, acrylic paint can be used to add some colour to your new creation.  

These clay creations do not have to be based on utility, there are also patterns online that teach you how to make little animals, people, or mythological creatures. These little figures add character and your own unique flair to any space.  

 Customized Shelving 

Take advantage of wall space by adding customized shelves. Invest in affordable floating shelves or make your own with reclaimed wood or sturdy brackets and boards. Arrange your favorite books, plants, and decorative items to create a personalized display that showcases your interests and passions. 

DIY Artwork and Vision Boards 

Create your own artwork to add a personal touch to your apartment. You don’t have to be a professional artist to make something meaningful. Experiment with different mediums like acrylic paint, watercolors, or collage techniques. Frame your creations or use them as unique wall hangings to infuse your space with originality and artistic flair. 

Statement Wall, and Peel and Stick Wallpaper 

Transform a single wall in your apartment into a captivating statement with removable wallpaper, decals, or a bold paint color. Choose a design or pattern that resonates with your style and complements your existing decor. This simple yet effective DIY project can instantly elevate the overall aesthetic of your space and make a significant impact. 

Personalized Textiles 

Give your apartment a personal touch by customizing textiles like pillows, curtains, or table runners. Buy plain items and spruce them up with fabric paints, stencils, or embroidery. You can also buy embroidery kits at your local craft shop and use a pattern to embroider a cute design of your liking onto your textiles. Incorporate patterns, quotes, or designs that resonate with you, creating unique accents that tie your decor together. 

Transforming your apartment into a space that reflects your personal style and taste doesn’t have to break the bank. Affordable DIY projects can infuse your living space with your personal touch and really make your rented space feel like home. 

The newcomer’s guide to Family Day

The newcomer’s guide to Family Day

By: Olivia Matheson-Mowers

Published on: February 19th, 2024


Photo Courtesy: @anna-pou (Pexels)

In most Canadian provinces, the third Monday in February is observed as a regional statutory holiday commonly known as Family Day. For many Canadian newcomers, this holiday may be unfamiliar, and they may not understand how to celebrate.  

Keep reading to learn about the history of Family Day, how to celebrate with your family, and how to celebrate if you are living apart from your family.  

What is Family Day? 

Family Day is a regional statutory holiday celebrated in most Canadian provinces. Family Day was first celebrated in Alberta in 1990 as a way for people to spend time with their families and emphasize the importance of family values. It also offers workers a better work-life balance as this holiday is dedicated to relaxing and enjoying the company of loved ones. Other provinces began following suit, and now the holiday is observed in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan.  

Other provinces also observe the holiday but use a different name to acknowledge the unique celebrations associated with the regions. For example, in Nova Scotia, the holiday is called Nova Scotia Heritage Day. Individuals in Nova Scotia are encouraged to celebrate provincial heroes and landmarks throughout the holiday while also spending time with their families.  

Who gets Family Day off?  

Many employees get Family Day off with public holiday pay. This pay is calculated by dividing the regular wages earned in the four weeks preceding the holiday week by 20. However, there are some exceptions to this.  

In Ontario, provincially regulated employees covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) get Family Day off from work. This includes employees who are working full-time, part-time, and those on fixed-term contracts.  

Family Day is not a statutory holiday for federally regulated employees, as they follow the Canada Labour Code instead of the ESA. Continuous operation employees who work for businesses that operate non-stop, such as hospitals and hotels, also do not qualify for the holiday. Additionally, professions that are exempt from the ESA, such as police officers and taxicab drivers, do not receive the holiday off.  

For more information, you can discuss the holiday with your employer. You can also contact the Ministry of Labour if you believe you qualify for the holiday but your employer is refusing to allow you to take it off.  

How to celebrate with your family  

There are many different ways to celebrate Family Day. Traditionally, the holiday is used to relax and engage in activities. Families can engage in outdoor activities, such as skating and snowboarding, or stay indoors and enjoy a movie night, play board games, or cook a meal together.  

Some families use the holiday as an opportunity for a getaway or a mini-vacation. Ontario is home to many winter resorts, such as Blue Mountain Resort and Bayview Wildwood Resort. These resorts offer families a chance to engage in winter activities such as snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and ice fishing.  

Families can also check out animal attractions, such as the Toronto Zoo, Bird Kingdom, or Ripley’s Aquarium. Many of these attractions are indoors and open year-round, making it the perfect outing for Family Day. The Toronto Zoo also offers the Zoo to You program, a virtual experience that lets you observe wildlife from the comfort of your home.  

Photo Courtesy: @kampus (Pexels)

How to celebrate if you’re living apart from family  

If you are living apart from family right now, it might seem challenging to celebrate a holiday focused on family. Remember that you are not alone, and many other newcomers are going through a similar experience.  

One option is to plan a video call with your family members living in other parts of the world. You can use the video call to catch up, watch a movie together, or play a game. Even if you can’t be together physically, you can still spend time together as a family. 

Family Day can be a great opportunity for newcomers to participate in Canadian culture and build connections with their communities. You can connect with your neighbours, friends, and fellow newcomers to plan a group activity. Some ideas include potlucks, visiting a local landmark, an escape room, or snow tubing.  

You can also use the holiday as a chance to give back to your community. Some options include volunteering at a local charity, visiting a nursing home, or reaching out to your friends and neighbours who may be feeling lonely.  

However you choose to celebrate Family Day, it is an important holiday that highlights the importance of family, community, and relaxation. Even if you cannot be with family, take time to express your love and gratitude to your loved ones while also finding time to relax and recharge. 

Restaurants that are distinctly Canadian 

Restaurants that are distinctly Canadian 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: February 16th, 2024


There are many restaurants all across Canada. According to a statistic from IBISWorld, there are over 79,000 full-service restaurants across Canada. These restaurants come in all shapes and sizes; some are big, well-known global franchises and others are run by families and friends.  

This article will take a look at some of the bigger restaurant franchises that find their roots in Canada.  

When thinking of Canadian foods and restaurant chains, there are a few that stick out and will likely come to mind. So here are some restaurants that are distinctly Canadian and engrained in Canadian culture.  

These are restaurants that you will likely see all around your city, so make sure to stop by from time to time and get a taste of what makes these Canadian restaurants so special.  

Photo: Ahmed Raza Khan Films (Pexels) 

Tim Hortons 

Tim Hortons is quite possibly the most well-known and popular Canadian restaurant chain. Tim Hortons is deeply rooted in Canadian culture and most Canadians have eaten there at least once.  

Tim Hortons offers food for almost every occasion during the day. They offer everything from coffee and doughnuts, to wraps and sandwiches. They even have a large menu of drinks and refreshments, including their popular Iced Capp, an iced cappuccino drink that is great to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.  

Since its founding in 1964, Tim Hortons has been serving Canadians all across the country and has now expanded to over 5,000 locations in 15 other countries around the world, with over 4,000 locations in Canada.   

Wherever you go in cities all across Canada, you are likely to come across a Tim Hortons restaurant. As Tim Hortons has grown over the years, it has become a true staple of Canada and Canadian culture and it doesn’t get any more Canadian than going to Tim Hortons and indulging in their wide-ranging menu.  

New York Fries 

Contrary to its name, New York Fries was actually founded in Brantford, Ontario in 1984 by Jay and Hal Gould and has grown to be one of the leading Canadian fast food franchises.  

New York Fries is known for its wide array of fry options, as well as their poutine and loaded fries. If you’re ever craving fries or want anything fry related, New York Fries should be one of your go-to locations.  

They offer many different combinations of fries and poutine, such as butter chicken poutine and veggie fries, and they also offer hot dogs and other dips and sauces to go along with everything.  

New York Fries currently has over 110 locations across Canada as well as establishments internationally in countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.  

Photo: Sebastian Coman Photography (Pexels) 

Harvey’s 

First opening in 1959, Harvey’s has gone on to become one of Canada’s top fast food restaurants with 291 locations serving Canadians in every province, except for British Columbia.  

Harvey’s offers a large fast food menu including the usual burgers, fries, drinks, and sauces. They also offer many other items such as onion rings, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and cinnamon doughnuts.  

Harvey’s is a restaurant that still offers the same items that made them popular in the first place, but they have also expanded to incorporate many other fast-food items. They still produce the hamburgers that they have been famous for since the beginning, but also offer chicken burgers, shakes and slushies, and even poutine, a true Canadian meal. 

In an industry that is mainly dominated by American restaurants and franchises, Harvey’s represents Canada well through their 64 years in operation. When thinking of Canadian fast food, Harvey’s certainly comes to mind and stands out as one of the most popular Canadian founded restaurants.  

Booster Juice 

In the food industry, sometimes it is difficult to stand out from your competition and come up with original ideas, but Booster Juice has been able to do so by offering very unique drinks to Canadians.  

The first Booster Juice location opened in Sherwood Park, Alberta in November 1999 by founder Dale Wishewan. Since then, Booster Juice has been in operation for 24 years and expanded to 400 locations all across Canada and in other nations around the world.  

Booster Juice offers a large variety of juices and smoothies to customers. Most options are combinations or mixtures of a variety of different ingredients and fruits, such as Mangosicle, a smoothie that includes mango, pineapple, and vanilla frozen yoghurt.  

If you’re ever in the mood for something different to drink or if you’re thirsty from walking or working for a long time, then you should visit the nearest Booster Juice to you and try something that you might not have had before.  

Photo: Erik Mclean (Unsplash) 

Smoke’s Poutinerie 

One of Canada’s most well-known dishes is poutine – a mixture of fries, cheese curds, and gravy – and Smoke’s Poutinerie has been providing Canadians their servings of poutine since 2008. 

Founded by Ryan Smolkin, Smoke’s Poutinerie has grown to become one of the most popular and revered locations for Canadians to get poutine. 

Smoke’s Poutinerie offers traditional poutine, fries, cheese curds, and gravy, but they’ve also added their own twist on poutine and created many different combinations. Their menu offers traditional, chicken, pork, beef, and veggie options with many different variations under each category.  

The creativity and original spin on a traditional Canadian dish is what makes Smoke’s Poutinerie so special. So, if you ever wanted to try one of the dishes that is considered truly Canadian, then pay a visit to Smoke’s Poutinerie and find out what makes poutine so loved by Canadians all over.

What to know about professional sports in Canada 

What to know about professional sports in Canada 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: February 9th, 2024


Sports are a big part of Canadian culture and society. Many Canadians participate in sports or actively watch them. There are many sports fans here in Canada and Canadians can get very passionate when supporting their favourite teams or athletes.  

Around the world, sports can bring people together and also divide them, and that fact is no different in Canada. Many sports moments have united Canadians all across the country, such as the 2010 Olympic Gold medal game in men’s ice hockey, where Canada beat the United States 3-2 in overtime.  

It’s useful to know a bit more about professional sports in Canada, so here’s a quick rundown of some of the big sports across the country.  

Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko (Pexels) 

Baseball 

Currently in Canada there is only one Major League Baseball (MLB) team: the Toronto Blue Jays. The Montréal Expos were Canada’s first MLB team, being founded in 1969, but they folded in 2004 and relocated to Washington, D.C., becoming the Washington Nationals.  

The Blue Jays have a large following across the nation, but especially in Toronto. On days that the Blue Jays have a home game, you can see many people wearing the team’s apparel, such as jerseys and baseball hats. Meanwhile, the Rogers Centre, the stadium the team plays in during these home games, always has a swarm of people in and around the area. 

The Blue Jays’ greatest accomplishment came when they won back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993. Those two World Series wins are the Blue Jays only World Series Championships, however they possess a good core of players who may keep the team competitive for years to come. Current star players for the Blue Jays include Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Kevin Gausman.  

Canadians have also starred throughout MLB history with players such as Larry Walker, Joey Votto, and Freddie Freeman to name a few. First baseman Freddie Freeman is currently one of the best players in Major League Baseball, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the moment. Freeman won the 2021 World Series as one of the leading players for the Atlanta Braves, defeating the Houston Astros in six games.  

Basketball 

Today, basketball has grown to be one of the most popular sports in all of Canada and it really shows throughout the country. In many cities and suburbs, you will likely see basketball nets, or people wearing basketball apparel or shooting hoops with friends.   

In the professional scene, Canada has one franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA): the Toronto Raptors. Canada used to have another NBA team, the Vancouver Grizzlies, but they relocated to Memphis in 2001.  

The Toronto Raptors originally joined the NBA alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995. There have been many notable basketball players to have played for the Raptors over the years. Players such as Vince Carter, Kyle Lowry, and Kawhi Leonard are just a few of the legends to have donned the Raptors jersey in the past.  

The Raptors’ biggest achievement came in the 2018-19 NBA season when they won their first ever NBA Championship, beating the Golden State Warriors in six games; with Kawhi Leonard being named NBA Finals MVP. Presently, the Raptors boast star players such as Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes.  

Unfortunately, there are no Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams in Canada, but Canadian women still feature in the WNBA. Currently, there are four Canadian WNBA players: Kia Nurse, Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa, and Laeticia Amihere.  

Photo: Markus Spiske (Pexels)

Football 

American football, or just simply known as football in Canada, is a sport that has a large following in the country. Similar to the National Football League (NFL) in the United States, Canada has its own football league called the Canadian Football League (CFL).  

Although the two leagues play a similar sport, there are slight differences between Canadian and American football. Each year the teams play an 18-game season, with the six best teams competing in the playoffs for the championship; called the Grey Cup.  

Originally founded in 1958, the CFL has gone on for 65 years now and includes nine teams across the country. The nine teams in the CFL are separated by divisions; East and West.  

The East division consists of four teams: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montréal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts, and Ottawa Redblacks. The most recent winners of the Grey Cup are the Toronto Argonauts, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 in the 109th Grey Cup in 2022.  

The West division includes five teams: the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Elks, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  

Currently there are also some Canadians in the NFL such as Chase Claypool, Chuba Hubbard, and Jevon Holland.  

Hockey 

Hockey and Canada go hand-in-hand. Many Canadians all across the country support Canadian hockey players and many different teams from the National Hockey League (NHL).  

There are seven Canadian NHL teams: the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montréal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets.  

Canada is known around the world for hockey and for good reason. Many Canadians are big fans of the sport and many of the best hockey players in the NHL are Canadian.  

On the international level, Canada is always competing for gold medals in tournaments for both the men and women and they usually come out as champions.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Soccer 

The most popular sport in many countries around the world is soccer, and although many Canadians are interested in other sports, soccer is slowly growing in popularity.  

With close to one million registered participants, soccer has a large following in Canada  

On the professional level, Canada has three teams in Major League Soccer (MLS): CF Montréal, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Toronto FC are the only Canadian MLS team to appear in the MLS Cup Final, having won it once in 2017 defeating the Seattle Sounders 2-0.  

In international soccer, the Canadian women have set the standard for soccer in Canada. They are the reigning Olympic gold medallists having defeated Sweden in a penalty shootout at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Canadian women’s team is among the best in the world, currently ranked seventh, and is usually very competitive in international tournaments.  

The Canadian men’s team recently played at their first World Cup in 36 years, losing all three games and going out at the group stage. Despite the disappointing 2022 World Cup, Canada’s men’s team has many talented young players that will likely play for great clubs around the world when the time comes.   

The 2026 FIFA men’s World Cup will be taking place in North America, with Vancouver and Toronto confirmed as host cities. This is a big opportunity to continue the growth of soccer in Canada. If you live in or near those cities, you won’t want to miss the possibility of seeing the Canadian men’s team play.  

Other sports 

The more you watch and follow sports, the more you’ll realise that there are many professional Canadian athletes in all kinds of sports. Other sports with a large Canadian presence include lacrosse, tennis, swimming, and Winter Olympic sports.  

Canadians are very prominent in the athletics scene and this is only a small glimpse of professional sports in Canada. There is much more that Canada has to offer when it comes to sports, so stay tuned!  

Self defence laws in Canada and tips to stay safe 

Self defence laws in Canada and tips to stay safe 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: January 29th, 2024


It is a harsh reality that any place can have dangerous people who may wish to cause harm to others, even in a country like Canada that receives several newcomers every year seeking a safer, more comfortable life. If you want to learn how to protect yourself from harm, while also staying on the right side of the Canadian law, here are some tips to help you practice safe and legal self-defence.  

Please keep in mind, The Newcomer is not an official legal source, and if you are personally in legal trouble, it is best to contact a lawyer. Think of this article more as some informal advice on how to avoid getting into legal trouble in the first place. 

“Reasonable force”: When the law says it is okay for you to hurt someone in self defence 

Unfortunately, Canadian laws can be harsh on people who have killed to protect their own lives, as Global News reported in February 2023. A man was charged with second degree murder for using a registered firearm that he owned to kill one of two men who broke into his house with an unlicensed gun, while the unrelated death of another person who was fatally stabbed by a resident of the home they invaded was ruled a homicide.  

Under Canadian law, it is Section 35 of the Criminal Code that handles self defence laws. Although, if you shoot someone in self defence, the police will charge you with a crime that you will have to go to court for. You can defend yourself legally if you can prove any violence you committed was reasonable force. 

How much force is considered ‘reasonable’ depends greatly on the situation. For instance, if the alleged attacker had a weapon, what type of weapon it was, how exactly they were threatening someone, and if the person defending themselves had other options to defuse the situation with less violence.  

Using violence for self defence is only justifiable in Canadian law if you had a good reason to believe someone was about to seriously harm or kill you, and whatever violence you used against them was in order to prevent them from harming you. 

You cannot severely hurt or attack someone just because they are trespassing on your property, since that would not be considered a reasonable use of force. This is different from the laws in some US states, such as Texas where homeowners are allowed to use more severe force against trespassers. 

This 2012 CBC interview with criminal lawyer Howard Cohen goes over different common self defence situations and what type of force would be considered reasonable. Cohen said the law generally gives benefit of the doubt to someone who attacked a home invader, and is more likely to assume any violence was self defence. However, this does not mean you can seriously hurt someone who is running away, even if they did break into your home and threaten you. 

Similarly, if someone were to try and rob a store you own, you could only justify killing them if that action was clearly to save your own life. If someone is just robbing the store, you can do a citizen’s arrest on them, which this article will go over in detail below. 

If you are chasing someone who robbed you, you are allowed to try and get your stuff back, but not by severely hurting the thief. Your actions to catch a thief will be held under similar judgement as a police officer in the same situation. Similarly, if someone is trespassing on your property, but not posing a physical threat, your actions are limited to calling the police and possibly holding the trespasser there until help arrives. 

You are also not allowed to do too much to someone you merely think poses a threat to your or family members, unless that person takes action or uses some kind of physical force.  

Making a citizen’s arrest 

A citizen’s arrest is basically when someone arrests a person and holds them until official law enforcement can show up. The Canadian government has a guide on making a citizen’s arrest

The government suggests you only try to make a citizen’s arrest if no peace officers (such as any police) are around to help, if you can quickly turn the person over to police after arresting them, if you have reason to believe they are a criminal, and if it is physically safe for you to try arresting them. Consider if the person you want to arrest has a weapon, and if they are alone or not. 

You must plainly tell the suspect you are doing a citizen’s arrest, and will be holding them until police arrive. You also need to call the police and be ready to give them the facts of what happened. When holding the suspect, you need to clearly ask for their cooperation, and only use the minimum force necessary to hold them, or avoid using force entirely.  

People are only allowed to make a citizen’s arrest to stop someone committing a crime, or within a reasonable amount of time after that crime has happened. If you want to arrest someone “a reasonable amount of time” after the crime was committed, you need to be sure you have properly identified the right criminal and not an innocent lookalike. This will be questioned. 

If you want to make a citizen’s arrest on someone who did something illegal with another person’s property, you need to either be the owner of that property or have permission from its lawful owner to arrest the assailment. 

Weapons for self defence 

As mentioned above, there have been two incidents in 2023 where Canadian law considered the fatal use of legal weapons in self defence to be homicide, so if you plan on using a weapon for self defence you must be very careful to make sure whatever you do with it can be proved reasonable force in court. 

That being said, some weapons are illegal in Canada. Just as The Newcomer covered in its guide to Canadian hunting laws, anyone wishing to own a gun in Canada must apply for a gun license with the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. Also, some types of crossbows are illegal, if they are longer than 50 centimetres or can be easily aimed and fired with one hand. 

Several types of knives are illegal in Canada too, including any which are concealed (carrying any knife on you so that it is hidden and not visible), butterfly knives, any knives which open automatically (including those that use gravity or centrifugal force), weapons like shurikens or nunchaku, and wearing anything sharp such as spiked rings or gloves. You also cannot carry a knife in a car unless you have a specific permit to do so.  

Being caught with a concealed knife can land you with a maximum five-year sentence in prison, or 10 years if you were found to be intending to cause danger with the knife. 

Knives you can carry in Canada include utility knives/pocket knives, Swiss Army knives, and knives up to four inches in length that are carried in a belt buckle. It is also illegal to carry a knife above three inches or 7.62 centimetres in Canada. 

Pepper spray is illegal in Canada, and a similar item called bear spray is illegal to carry in cities, since it is only allowed to be used in the wilderness where you might be attacked by an animal.

Accessing affordable medical devices for newcomers 

Accessing affordable medical devices for newcomers 

By: Dru Gary

Published on: January 22nd, 2024


Canada is well-known for its universal healthcare system, which provides coverage for a wide range of medical services. There are different provincial standards when it comes to the coverage of medical devices like walkers and hearing aids. Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded and provides essential medical services to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  

The coverage for medical devices such as walkers and hearing aids can differ significantly between provinces and territories. While some provinces offer substantial coverage, others have limited or no coverage at all, resulting in disparities in accessibility and affordability. 

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is a government-run health insurance plan for Ontario residents. Unfortunately, OHIP does not cover all medical expenses Ontarians incur. There are other government assisted programs that can help out with the cost of necessary medical devices.  

Ontario’s Assistive Devices 

Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is a provincial initiative aimed at improving the quality of life for people with disabilities or long-term medical conditions. By providing financial assistance and facilitating access to assistive technologies, ADP plays a crucial role in enabling independence and increased mobility for Ontarians in need of these life-changing devices. 

Covered Devices and Funding 

The ADP covers a wide range of devices and technologies. Some devices that are covered are: 

  • Mobility Aids: This category includes wheelchairs, power scooters, walkers, and specialized seating systems. 
  • Communication Devices: Devices such as speech-generating devices (SGDs) are covered to support individuals with speech and communication difficulties. 
  • Vision Aids: ADP assists in funding visual aids such as low vision aids, electronic magnifiers, and reading machines for individuals with visual impairments. 
  • Hearing Aids: The ADP provides partial funding for hearing aids to eligible individuals, primarily focusing on children and adults with low income. The program covers a portion of the cost, with the individual responsible for the remaining amount. 

There are several benefits that ADP provides including: 

Financial Assistance 

The ADP provides financial support by subsidizing the cost of assistive devices. This reduces the financial burden for individuals and families who may struggle to afford these essential technologies otherwise. 

Increased Access 

By facilitating access to assistive devices, the ADP ensures that individuals with disabilities have the necessary tools to enhance their independence, mobility, and communication. This, in turn, improves their overall quality of life. 

Professional Guidance 

ADP works in conjunction with healthcare professionals who play an essential role in the assessment and prescription process. This ensures that those in need can receive appropriate and tailored devices that meet their specific needs. 

Continuity of Care  

ADP promotes ongoing support by providing repair and replacement funding for medical devices. This ensures that people can sustain the functionality of their assistive technologies and minimize disruptions to their daily lives. 

Besides ADP, there are several non-profit organizations that work hard to get medical devices to those that cannot afford them. 

March of Dimes Canada 

March of Dimes Canada is a charitable organization that supports people with physical disabilities and provides a range of services. They offer financial assistance through programs like the ADP, which helps individuals with the purchase and repair of mobility aids, hearing aids, and communication devices. 

Muscular Dystrophy Canada 

Muscular Dystrophy Canada is an organization that supports individuals and families affected by neuromuscular disorders. They offer funding programs and financial assistance for various medical devices, including mobility aids, assistive technology, and respiratory equipment. 

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)  

CNIB is a non-profit organization that supports individuals who are blind or partially sighted. They offer programs and services that assist with accessing visual aids and assistive technologies to enhance independence and improve quality of life. 

There are a few other options when it comes to coverage for medical devices. It is possible that private insurance or workplace benefits will cover much of the cost of these devices. Private insurance and workplace insurance are not accessible to many people living in Ontario, so it is essential to know your options. There are many alternative and affordable options for people living in Ontario to get necessary medical devices at no or low costs.  

Staying safe in the city

Staying safe in the city

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: January 15th, 2024


Coming to Canada can be a very exciting and monumental time in your life. This country has many things for you to explore. Canada has a great balance between beautiful and scenic nature and vibrant cities.  

Canadian cities are full of life and are a melting pot of many different cultures and backgrounds from all over the world. There’s a lot to be discovered in Canadian cities and it can be fun to seek out the many things that cities have to offer, but it’s also important to remember your own safety.  

Canadians are generally very nice and the people in cities are usually always willing to help you, however, like with any city in the world, there are some situations or people that may look to cause you danger.  

That’s why it’s so important to always look after your own and your loved ones’ safety when going through cities in Canada. So here are a few tips that may help you stay safe when you’re in the city.  

Photo: Christina Morillo (Pexels)

Do your research 

If you ever want to go out and explore the city, it’s best to research some places you want to see beforehand, as it’s important to know how to get to your destination, but also to know what else is around there.  

While it can be fun to just explore someplace without knowing anything beforehand, it’s also important to know certain places that you might want to avoid if you can to prevent an incident from occurring.  

You could plan out a route for yourself and see what streets or sections of the city you want to explore or know more about. Planning beforehand or setting a schedule for yourself can help you feel more at ease as you have a general idea of the things you might be seeing at that moment.  

It’s always good to go into something prepared, whether that be going into the city or life in general, because it will help you prepare mentally for what you’re getting into and will help you think about what to do in certain situations or scenarios.  

Remember your surroundings  

As you’re exploring, try your best to remember your surroundings and always look around to check what’s happening around you, as it could be very helpful. 

Try to remember street names if you can. If street names are too difficult try to remember the stores or buildings that are around you, this way you are more familiar with your location and surroundings.  

This can help you not get lost or wander off to someplace where you’re uncomfortable. If you ever find yourself feeling uneasy going into a certain part of the city, then just circle back to a place you have previously passed or try and trace your steps back to somewhere you feel more comfortable.  

Another thing to consider when remembering your surroundings is to also routinely check what’s around you so you can identify potential threats or things that you may want to avoid for your own safety.  

It’s great to enjoy yourself and just live in the moment, but it’s also equally important to always be mindful of what’s happening around you, so you can always plan ahead in case of an emergency.  

Photo: August de Richelieu (Pexels)

Travel or keep in contact with others 

If you’re able to, try your best to travel or walk around with at least one other person. Walking with another person or a few of your friends will not only make you feel less isolated and lonely, it will also make you feel more socially active and improve your health.  

Going into the city by yourself can feel daunting, so it’s always great to have someone there, as it will liven the experience and will make you feel safer.  

However, if you don’t have anyone to travel around with, you could always try and keep in contact with others as well.  

If you start to feel uncomfortable walking around in certain areas, try to keep your phone ready to contact others if needed. You might want to call a close friend or family member and talk to them while you’re in these areas, just so you feel like you have someone there with you.  

Even if that person isn’t physically there, just talking to them can make you feel more at ease and help you feel more relaxed.  

Photo: Vodafone x Rankin everyone.connected (Pexels) 

Don’t stay in secluded areas 

This may seem like a given, but sometimes we forget about this simple tip, especially when we’re travelling alone.  

Try not to be in quiet areas with nobody around. It’s okay if you want to explore a less populated area, but make sure you do so carefully. Generally, if you’re in a place with a few people there, it could help you feel safer and also help you call out to them if you ever feel in danger of somebody or something.  

Sometimes heavily populated or dense areas can make you feel more anxious, so if that’s the case for you, try to avoid those places, but always make sure that if you’re in the city that you’re in a place where there are a few people around that could help you if needed.  

Being in an isolated or quiet area will make you more vulnerable to potential threats from other people or things, so even just having a few people in sight or around you can make you feel more comfortable, even if you aren’t going to be interacting with them.  

Recognize the signs: Are you in an abusive relationship? 

Recognize the signs: Are you in an abusive relationship? 

Understand the different types of abuse and where to go for help

By: Athena Bucci

Publish on: January 8th, 2024


Every couple goes through their up and down moments, and even the happiest of partners can have big arguments. However, there are some people who experience toxic behaviour by their partner, and in many cases, may not even be aware that these patterns are signs of abuse. Abuse, regardless of what form it comes in, is against the law and dangerous, as it not only affects your physical well-being, but also emotionally and financially.  

In 2019, three out of ten victims reported violence by their intimate partner in Canada. It is important to also discuss that abuse is not based solely on gender. While women are statistically more likely to experience abuse from their partners, there are men who also go through the experience as well. Men often don’t come forward, because their female partners are more likely to make their abuse harder to spot, using verbal and emotional tactics. 

Regardless of gender or statistics, romantic relationships are about finding the person that makes you the happiest, but it is also important to know when the relationship is taking a negative toll on your own life. No one should have to feel unsafe with the people they care about, or feel like they are walking on eggshells around their partner.  

Types of abuse  

Physical and sexual 

Physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse, and is likely the most common form of domestic violence. Any form of violent physical contact, such as punching, slapping, and kicking, is considered abusive behaviour. Even being restrained against their will, invasion of personal space, being neglected, or abandoned are all other forms of physical abuse.  

It’s also no surprise that with relationships come physical intimacy, such as sexual intercourse. Sexual abuse is when any sexual activity occurs without consent. This includes any form of forced sexual actions, such as sexual assault and rape. It can even go as far as the abusive person trying to coerce their partner into having sex, despite being told no the first time. Sexual abuse can even be linked to emotional and mental abuse, where the one being abused feels as though they are not loved, but being used to please their partner. 

Any form of physical or sexual abuse can lead to severe situations, such as injuries, hospitalization, and in the worst cases, death.  

Emotional and mental 

Emotional and mental abuse tend to overlap with one another, but they still have their differences. The main thing that emotional and mental abuse have in common is that they are not always physical or visible actions; the abusers will use words and non-violent behaviours towards their partner. Emotional abuse refers to any harmful behaviour that negatively impacts your emotional state. Such behaviour can include shaming and humiliation, criticism, neglect, and blaming. 

Mental abuse, also known as psychological abuse, refers more to how the impact of a partner’s harmful behaviour affects someone’s thinking or psychological state. Like emotional abuse, the signs are not easy to notice at first; things like cruel jokes, lack of communication, and belittling can be signs of mental abuse. One big sign to look out for is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological control, where the abuser will use tactics like manipulation and guilt tripping to intentionally make someone second guess themselves.  

Verbal 

Verbal abuse is another form of non-violent abuse. Like emotional and mental abuse, this one uses the power of words to hurt someone. Tactics like name calling, blaming, yelling, making threats, and starting fights over the smallest things are signs of verbally abusive behaviours. Most verbally abusive people will also try to use tactics to affect their partners psychologically, such as bringing up repetitive arguments, silent treatments, ignoring their partner’s emotions and opinions, victimizing themselves, and making them feel the need to apologize all the time. 

Financial 

Financial abuse may not affect a person’s health, but it can massively affect their financial and emotional well-being. It is described as a tactic used by abusers to increase control over their victim to put them in a vulnerable position where they don’t have the means to protect themselves and/or leave their abuser.  

This type of abuse can occur in a few different forms. They can “take care” of the finances, which means they actually take control of it and give their partner a limited amount to use. The abuser can try and sabotage their partner’s employment, such as getting them fired or convincing them to not work at all. They can also take advantage of one’s own economic situation by taking out a line of credit in their partner’s name to intentionally destroy their credit, or coerce them into debt.  

Where to find help 

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing abuse in their relationship, there are several ways to receive help.  

If you find yourself in immediate danger, whether emotionally or physically, and you are possibly fearing your safety or life, dial 9-1-1. Remember, abuse and domestic violence are against the law as according to the Criminal Code of Canada, so, the authorities are there to help you. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also provide service and advice in case you are in need of assistance. 

If you are not in immediate danger or don’t feel comfortable going to the police, don’t be afraid to reach out to a person you trust, like a friend or family member to ask for help. It is important to also create a safety plan, and make sure that if you need to leave your abusive relationship, you have all your essentials, such as important documents (passport, Social Insurance Number (SIN), bank cards, etc.), personal belongings, and money.  

For those who are being financially abused, it’s important to make yourself financially educated. Always make sure you have a savings account that your partner does not know about or has access to. If your partner has control of your accounts or has taken out a line of credit in your name, get the accounts frozen and speak with a lawyer and financial advisor at the bank. Stealing money and fraud are also illegal.  

Another option is to reach out to centres and shelters that specialize with victims of domestic violence and abuse for both men and women. Toronto alone has several centres you can go to, but there are also some across Ontario. If you are not sure where to go or how to get help in your situation, there are different helplines you can call in the province, or even dial the Ontario 2-1-1 number.  

Once you are safe, consider speaking to a professional therapist, and stay with a family member or friend until you are able to get back on your feet. Remember: you don’t have to go through this alone. 

Canadian Chinese cuisine: How newcomers invented a new style of cooking 

Canadian Chinese cuisine: How newcomers invented a new style of cooking 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: January 5th, 2024


China is a huge, beautiful country with thousands of years of rich history. With so many of its people settling in countries around the world, bringing with them various recipes from different regions of China, it is no surprise that “Chinese cuisine” has become a global sensation. 

That being said, a lot of Chinese food you’ll find in Canada is, in fact, uniquely Canadian, and nowhere to be found in the country it is said to originate from. One example is orange chicken: a spicy, tangy dish in Hunan, China is a much sweeter meal in North America, where orange chicken was reinvented by Panda Express executive chef, Andy Khao, who was inspired by Hawaiian cuisine and traditional American fried chicken. 

American-Chinese or Canadian-Chinese dishes, such as orange chicken, are somewhat controversial, which may in part be due to how they historically have been sold as authentic Chinese cuisine, despite being more of an Asian/Western fusion. Many Chinese newcomers avoid this fusion cuisine in favour of dishes which are closer to what they experienced at home, with some going as far as to criticize Canadian-Chinese cuisine as an appropriation of their culture. Other Chinese newcomers, however, rely on selling Canadian-Chinese food to support themselves, and were the innovators who changed East Asian recipes to please a Western palette. 

Origins of Canadian Chinese cuisine: A refuge from racism 

What’s known as Chinese Canadian cuisine can be traced back to mid-late 19th century and early 20th century. Despite Chinese migrants contributing a lot to the settlement of Canada—with many of them losing their lives building the railways which bind this large nation together—Asian settlers were met with racism and neglect by their white compatriots. Many Chinese settlers were unable to find work, forcing them to create their own businesses to make money. 

Early Chinese-run cafes either did not have any Chinese items on their menus, or they had a secret, oral menu that generally only other Chinese people knew about. These cafes often acted as community centres for Chinese Canadians, many of whom arrived in Canada alone due to racist immigration laws preventing people from bringing family with them. Eventually business owners started mixing in Chinese cooking techniques into their dishes, creating popular dishes such as chop suey, egg foo yung, and General Tso’s chicken. These foods were popular with  

Non-Chinese Canadians due to their cheap prices and “exotic” nature. 

Kwong Cheung—owner of the Silver Inn restaurant in Calgary—told Global News how his family invented the Albertan dish called ginger beef. Cheung said his older brother was a trained chef, and upon arriving in Canada, the two of them noticed how much Canadians enjoy eating French fries. They combined this with Albertans’ preference for beef to create their signature ginger beef dish. The goal was to make beef taste like French fries, with ginger beef being crunchy like a good side of fries, as well as being coated in a sweet and tangy sauce similar to ketchup. 

Other “Chinese” dishes you’ll only find in Canada and the USA 

Along with ginger beef, there are other Canadian Chinese dishes unique to certain parts of Canada

Newfoundland chow mein is separate from the chow mein dishes you’ll find in other parts of North America, since the maritime dish is mostly cabbage. 

Fried Macaroni is a Quebec dish made by stir frying meat, veggies, and macaroni pasta in soy sauce 

Thunder Bay is known for its bon bons, which are deep fried ribs that are a popular bar snack 

Fortune cookies are also a North American-inspired take on Chinese cuisine, which in fact do not come from China at all. If anything, the uniquely shaped treats—which are given to customers at the end of their meals in North American Chinese restaurants, and contain small slips of paper with an optimistic “fortune” written on them—come from Japanese culture. Going back to 19th century Kyoto is a sesame-miso cracker called tsujiura senbei, which also contained small paper fortunes. These crackers are thought to have been converted into the sweet, vanilla-flavoured cookies in California, although the exact inventor of fortune cookies is unknown. 

The arrival of authentic Chinese cuisine to Canada: Must it replace Canadian Chinese food? 

According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, the 1980s-1990 is when big cities such as Toronto and Vancouver received large amounts of Chinese immigrants, many of whom were wealthy, educated, and wanted foods that truly reminded them of home. Chinatowns erupted with restaurants selling dim sum, wonton, and Cantonese-style barbecue. In time, these authentic Chinese dishes became just as much a mainstay in Canada as the locally invented foods such as orange chicken and ginger beef. 

Despite its rich history, Canadian Chinese food has been derided by food critics who see it as little more than a fake knockoff of the real deal, as covered in this CBC article. However, the writer of that article, Kathrynn Mannie, disagrees with this idea, believing her family survived in Canada in part because their skill of creating Chinese-Canadian fusion dishes helped them overcome the severe prejudice immigrants were faced with. 

As she wrote for CBC, “Western-Chinese cuisine emerged in an environment of anti-Chinese racism, segregation and federal exclusion. The cuisine served as an ambassador between the two cultures — because despite not wanting us in Canada, our food was just that good.” 

How to take part in Indigenous culture

How to take part in Indigenous culture

By: Callum Denault

Published on: December 19th, 2023


Canada as it is today was built by immigrants, both the European pioneers several white Canadians call their ancestors, and the many people who are currently arriving in this country to build a new life for themselves. Sadly, this colonization came at an unmeasurable cost to the Indigenous people who already lived in Canada for thousands of years before Europeans knew this land even existed.  

To live as a non-Indigenous person in Canada is to acknowledge that this country’s original people faced centuries of genocide and abuse well into the 20th century, and that both Indigenous and Black Canadians suffer from higher rates of discrimination than citizens from other ethnicities.  

If you are interested in learning about Indigenous Canadian culture or even helping to preserve it, here are some ways non-Indigenous people can get involved in Indigenous culture. 

Use Indigenous media 

The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) is an Indigenous media provider, which has its own TV network and shows, along with APTN News which mostly has written articles. The APTN says 80 per cent of its content is Canadian, and available in English, French, and different Indigenous languages.  

The APTN was found to have a high degree of factual reporting by a media bias fact checker, and it is “an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal peoples”

Enjoy some modern Indigenous artists 

Tanya Tagaq is an experimental artist whose music combines modern genres, such as punk and metal, with traditional Inuit throat singing. Throat singing is a friendly contest among Inuit women, where women use their voices to imitate sounds of nature and see who can last longer without laughing or running out of breath. Tagaq is also an activist, using her platform to advocate for Inuit issues, such as her community’s need to hunt seals for food, even when their sustainable hunting is criticized by animal rights groups. 

Buffy Sainte-Marie is another Indigenous musical artist of Canadian Plain Cree descent who was raised by American parents of Mi’qmaq ancestry. As early as the 1960s, Sainte-Marie’s music made waves for her unique folk style, and for addressing Native American issues in her lyrics. Some of Sainte-Marie’s live performances can be found on YouTube along with several of her songs, including a collab with Tanya Tagaq

There are plenty of other popular Indigenous musicians other than Tanya Tagaq and Buffy Sainte-Marie, feel free to check them out as well

Take Okitchitaw lessons 

Okichitaw is a martial art tracing its techniques and weaponry to the Plain Cree, and has been taught before the colonial era as a method of hunting, warfare, and survival. In a 2020 interview, Okichitaw’s chief instructor George Lepine said he remembered learning the art from his uncle in the 1970s, when their training was a great risk, as getting caught could have meant jail time.  

This is because The Indian Act banned Indigenous people from practicing several aspects of their culture including the Potlatch and Sun Dance. Fortunately these practices never fully died down and people began to protest the laws. During the 1970s and 1980s, it was illegal to spread Okichitaw, according to Lepine. 

Nowadays, Okichitaw is open to many students. It teaches a blend of different unarmed and weapon-based techniques, with Lepine saying advanced students train with the art’s four main weapons: the knife, gunstock war club, tomahawk, and lance. 

The Toronto Training Lodge is accepting new students. If you are interested then Okichitaw’s official website can be found here

Buy Indigenous items without culturally appropriating them 

You may want to buy a dream catcher or miniature inukshuk, but you should be conscious of how you decide to spend your money. Many parts of Indigenous identity are victims of cultural appropriation. 

Brittanica defines cultural appropriation as adopting the language, clothing, behaviour, or other traditions of a minority group’s culture in a way that is disrespectful, exploitative, or reinforces stereotypes. For example, the didjeridu—belonging to the Aboriginal Yolngu people of Australia—which is a musical instrument that outsiders have used for giving scalp massages, meaning they appropriated an Aboriginal instrument for their own purposes and ignored its cultural meaning. 

A Canadian Indigenous item which has often been appropriated is the dreamcatcher: a distinctive Indigenous object made with a hoop containing a web, often adorned with feathers and beads. Dreams are extremely important in Ojibwe culture, and dreamcatchers represent a form of spiritual connection that is unobtainable to people outside Ojibwe culture who make these dreamcatchers. When dreamcatchers are sold to outsiders, the Ojibwe spirituality surrounding these items is often watered down to something simple like, “they catch bad dreams”. 

The Indigenous Foundation encourages people to remember how sacred these items are, and while it is not illegal to purchase a dreamcatcher, they strongly advise people support an Indigenous-run business. They say when a non-Indigenous person sells items related to Indigenous culture, it is appropriation. However, it is not appropriation when Indigenous people choose to make and sell things like dreamcatchers to customers.  

Take a free course on Indigenous culture and history 

Some schools offer a free, online course about Indigenous culture, history, and other subjects, including this course by the University of Alberta on Coursera. Coursera is a website that offers several free courses, and more behind a free trial, so if the University of Alberta course is expired you may be able to find other, more recent free classes about Indigenous issues on Coursera or a similar website. 

Donate to or get involved with an Indigenous charity 

There are several charities with missions to help the Indigenous people of Canada overcome issues facing them and their communities. One particularly noteworthy movement is the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which aims to address how female Canadians of Indigenous descent are at increased risk of violence and disappearance. 

Overcoming Jet Lag 

Overcoming Jet Lag

By: Anson Wong

Published on: December 15th, 2024


The process of moving to a new country can be a wonderful experience, but the trip itself can come with its challenges, jet lag being among them. Jet lag can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to fatigue throughout your day. The good news is that it is possible to prepare in advance and lower the effects travelling to a new time zone can bring. This article will include effective strategies to overcome jet lag and promote better sleep. 

What is jet lag? 

Jet lag is a temporary sleep condition where the body’s internal clock is misaligned with the local time of your destination. Depending on the time difference, you may find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night or exhausted by the afternoon. 

Symptoms of jet lag can vary from person to person but commonly include fatigue, daytime sleepiness, difficulty sleeping at night, irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive disturbances, and a general feeling of discomfort.  

Some research indicates that travelling eastward is more severe. When we travel to the East we are losing time during the day, resulting in difficulty sleeping at appropriate hours. Travelling to the West can be an easier adjustment, as the hours are set back, resulting in a longer day and an easier adjustment for travelers. 

Fighting jet lag 

To minimize the impact of jet lag, it’s helpful to start preparing before you even board the plane. Adjust your sleep schedule prior to your departure to align with your destination’s time zone. If you’re travelling eastward, try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. For westward travel, you will want to do the opposite, go to bed later and wake up later. 

Another technique you can try is to stay hydrated. Drinking water before, during, or after your flight helps keep you hydrated and reduces the effects of jet lag.  

During your stay, adjusting to the local time zone can be a challenge. Sunlight is important in regulating the body’s sleep cycle and being awake. Spend some time outdoors and avoid staying indoors where sunlight can be hard to reach. In the evening, avoid exposure to bright lights as they can keep you awake. 

Naps are another habit you may succumb to if you are not careful. Long naps can make it harder for you to adjust and prolong jet lag. If you must nap, avoid doing so for extended periods of time, so that your sleep schedule can remain unaffected.  

Once your bedtime approaches you will want to develop a routine to signal your body that it’s time to wind down. Engage in a calm activity such as reading before bed. Your environment can play a part in your sleep quality. Turning off lights and lowering blinds will help keep the room dark, allowing for easier sleep. 

Avoid distractions like smartphones as the light from the screen can keep you up longer, affecting the quality of your sleep. Browsing the internet can occupy your mind and keep your brain alert, making it harder to fall asleep. 

Remember, jet lag is just temporary, so go easy on yourself if the transition isn’t as smooth as you would have hoped. It will eventually pass and you will adjust to your new normal.

Keeping yourself entertained

Keeping yourself entertained

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: December 12th, 2023


Like many things in life, entertainment can take many different shapes and come to us in different ways.  

Some may find it easy to be entertained by things as simple as watching people go about in the city or watching cars pass by. Others may only be entertained by a certain movie, TV show, or video game.  

That’s why it’s important to try and diversify the ways in which you find entertainment, so that you don’t feel bored or unhappy in your everyday life. So here are a few things to think about to keep yourself entertained. 

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto (Pexels)

Why it’s important 

Being entertained is important in your life for not only keeping you happy, but also for many other reasons. It can act as an escape from the things that may cause you stress, in turn boosting your mental health.  

Entertainment can make you happier, and help you build and grow relationships with your family and friends. If you enjoy your time with those closest to you, it will help create stronger bonds and bring up your mood whenever you have a good time with them.  

Entertainment can also help you be more creative and even provide potential employment opportunities in the future. Nowadays, we see many people make a living off of doing things on social media or becoming an internet personality, so it could even end up being an option for you to consider in your own life.  

Reading books, watching shows, or doing many other activities can help you think outside of the box and always come up with a wide range of ideas. By exploring more and exposing yourself to many different forms of media and entertainment, you can learn a lot more about the world around you and give you more perspective.  

Invest in technology 

Spending money on technology is an expensive hobby, but if you have the money and are willing to spend on certain things to make you happy, you should try investing in technology as it could end up being a big part of your entertainment.  

You could start off with getting a TV and some streaming subscriptions such as Netflix or Disney Plus, and start watching the many movies and shows on there. If you aren’t interested in watching movies or shows, you can save up and invest in a video game console, such as a PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo console.  

A standard Netflix subscription will cost you $16.49/month, while a Disney Plus subscription will cost $11.99/month, however both Netflix and Disney Plus offer different shows and movies, so look into their catalogues to see which one appeals to you the most.  

TVs come in many different sizes and price ranges, so try to find one that suits your situation. Gaming consoles also range in prices upwards of $400, so be ready to save up if you want to invest in gaming.  

Video games can get very expensive quite quickly, so try to buy games when they go on sale, or if you’re only interested in a few games, then buy those and play through them until you are tired of them. You could play single player games with just yourself or play multiplayer games with your friends, as it could be a good way to socialise and have fun together.  

Photo: PNW Production (Pexels)

Go out and get active  

Sometimes something as simple as taking a walk or doing an outdoor activity can be very entertaining. You could try to walk through a different part of the city you haven’t explored yet or take a stroll through the forest.  

There are many activities you can do outdoors to get active and also be entertained at the same time. You could play a sport with your friends or family, such as basketball or volleyball, or if you prefer to do something by yourself, then you can go for a run or go to a park near you and do some exercises.  

Getting active is great because you can not only entertain yourself with what you are seeing or what you are doing, but it will also help you stay healthy and move around so you aren’t just stuck inside all day.  

The possibilities truly are endless and if you really are willing to step outside of your comfort zone and get more active, you may end up finding something you enjoy doing outside of your regular hobbies.  

Improve yourself 

Improving yourself can also be another way that you can find enjoyment and entertainment from. Whether it be reading a book or working out, there are many tasks that you can do to keep yourself engaged.  

Try to set goals for yourself as well. If you want to read a book or learn more about a certain topic, set a specific time period for yourself to finish that task. For example, you could try to finish a book within two weeks. That could end up being like a mini-game that you’re playing with yourself as you try to complete this task and to see how far you can get within that time period.  

Gaining knowledge on a new topic can not only be a good way to keep yourself entertained and engaged, but it will improve your own abilities and help you retain information better.  

If you’re interested in historical events or people, read more about them online or visit your local library to find books about that person or event. Keep exploring and keep being curious as the more interested you are in a subject, then the more entertained you will be and you will gain more general knowledge on a wide range of topics.  

Photo: Budgeron Bach (Pexels)

Try new things and step out of your comfort zone 

Learning a new hobby or skill can also be a very fun and satisfying experience in itself.  

An example of something new that you could try is listening to a genre of music that you normally don’t listen to. There are many great genres of music out there for you to explore and who knows, you may end up finding your new favourite music artist.  

You could also try eating different foods that either you’re interested in or are things that you don’t normally think of when going out to eat. This could end up being a fun little adventure for you as you explore new food and it would be even better if you went out to a restaurant with your friends who also might not have tried those foods.  

The food could end up being something great that could be among your favourite foods or it could end up being bad, which will still create a good and funny memory for you and your friends to look back on and laugh at.   

Trying new experiences can be a great way for you to not only entertain yourself and those around you, but it could be a great way for you to build your relationships with your friends and family.  

You never know, something you may have been skeptical about going into, might end up being your new favourite hobby or experience in life.

Participation in winter sports could help newcomers adjust to life in Canada, research finds

Participation in winter sports could help newcomers adjust to life in Canada, research finds

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: December 1st, 2023


In February of 2010, the Winter Olympic Games were hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over the span of two weeks, thousands of athletes from countries around the world gathered in the city and its surrounding regions to compete for medals in winter sporting events—sports that are played on ice or snow, such as figure skating, curling, ice hockey, and snowboarding.  

Contiki, a popular youth tour company, calls Canada the perfect winter sports destination for its mountain peaks and flat prairies, but also for its mostly cold climate: “The average temperature in winter ranges across Canada from -5°C to -35°C, varying across the country […] A great time of the year to visit ski resorts in Canada is between December to March to ensure the best conditions.” 

After garnering billions of television views worldwide, selling out venues across a wide variety of terrains, and showcasing some of Team Canada’s most excellent gold medal-winning performances, the success of the Vancouver Games proves just how central the practice of winter sports is to Canadian culture and national identity.  

Could participating in winter sports help newcomers to Canada integrate themselves into their new society? Simon Barrick, an associate professor of Sport and Physical Activity Leadership at Cape Breton University, in Nova Scotia argues that, yes, introducing newcomers to winter sports could in fact support their integration into Canadian society.  

In a study recently published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Barrick observed and interviewed all-aged newcomers from a group of 200 as they participated in the WinSport Newcomer Programme (WNP) between January and April 2018. WNP is an introductory winter sports program that newcomers to Canada enroll in to develop their social skills and personal interests. Enrollees play ice skating, downhill skiing, and snowboarding while under the guidance of settlement councillors.  

Referencing a teen participant who made new friends in the programme, several participants felt a sense of belonging despite initial fears of potentially encountering racism. The study findings show that they expanded their social networks to include connections “with fellow programme participants and instructors,” that is, established Canadians who they wouldn’t otherwise meet and interact with.  

Many newcomers to Canada come from countries where winter sports aren’t a mainstream concept or common leisure activity. According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, India was the number one source country of new immigrants to Canada in 2022. Majority of India experiences a humid tropical climate.  

Newcomer parents in the study were also a little unsure about how to morally support their children with this experience of engaging in winter sport, as they haven’t had the prior chance to do it themselves. The newness of learning to play on the ice and in the snow, however, largely intrigued study participants—so much so that, in some cases, they valued winter sport not just for its social benefits but also as a possible hobby.  

Exploring winter sports without the programme and its support structure, however, proves to be challenging. Barriers to further exploration include time restraints, lack of transportation, language difficulties, and cost. Practicing hockey, as an example, is highly expensive though the sport is arguably the most popular in Canada. Global News reported in 2014 that the average cost for a recreational player was around $5,500 per season.  

Barricks therefore concluded that sports administrators, policy makers, and funders need to make winter sports more accessible to newcomers for their social development and cultural wellbeing, by designing more programmes like WNP.  

8 must-try classic Canadian dishes  

8 must-try classic Canadian dishes 

By: Dru Gary

Published on: November 28th, 2023


Canada has a well-known diverse culture, cold winters, unique wildlife, and boasts a rich culinary heritage. From coast to coast, this vast country offers a unique and delectable array of dishes that reflect its history, traditions, and multicultural influences.  

Poutine 

Starting off with a quintessential Canadian dish. Poutine is a culinary masterpiece that originated in Quebec. The dish is a combination of French fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy. The result is a delightful blend of crispy, gooey, and savory flavors that will leave you craving more.  

Poutine is popular all throughout Canada. There are many restaurants, such as Smoke Poutinerie, that exclusively serve poutine. There are a variety of toppings that can be added to poutine to spice up the dish as well. Some of these toppings include bacon, chicken, chives, mushrooms, and peas.  

Nanaimo Bars 

Created in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Nanaimo bars are a dessert that has become an iconic Canadian staple, especially around the holiday season. These no-bake bars have three unique layers: a chocolate breadcrumb base, a custard center, and chocolate ganache on top. 

The combination of textures and the three signature flavours, chocolate, coconut, and vanilla, makes Nanaimo bars a unique and delectable dessert for those looking for a yummy and eclectic sweet treat.  

Bannock 

Bannock is a traditional Indigenous food and has a notable and important presence in Canadian cuisine. It is a versatile and bread-like dough that can be baked or fried. The dish has a long history of being made and enjoyed by a variety of Indigenous communities.  

Bannock is made from only a few simple ingredients; flour, baking powder, salt, and water. Some more complex variations may include ingredients like berries, herbs, or cheese. Bannock can be served as a side dish, the bread of sandwiches, or even a dessert with the addition of toppings like honey and caramel drizzle, or fresh fruit jam. 

Butter Tarts 

Butter tarts are small single serving pastries that have a flaky pie crust filled with a sweet and sticky mixture made of butter, sugar, eggs, and sometimes filled with nuts or dried fruit. Butter tarts hail from Ontario and tarts have become a beloved dessert all across the country.  

These treats can be enjoyed plain or with a variety of toppings and flavours, like maple syrup or caramel drizzle. Butter tarts are a classic and beloved Canadian sweet that can be found at many Canadian bakeries and dessert spots.  

Saskatoon Berry Pie 

A perhaps lesser-known Canadian classic is the Saskatoon berry pie. Saskatoon berries are similar to blueberries in shape as well as taste, they are both tart and sweet. The pie features a buttery crust filled with Saskatoon berries and sugar, sometimes other additives like cinnamon are included in the recipe.  

With its pretty deep purple colour and unique and delicious taste, Saskatoon berry pie is a more obscure and tasty dessert that is a unique example of the yummy treats that can be made with berries grown on Canadian soil! 

Tourtière 

Originating in the province of Quebec, tourtière is a savory meat pie that is traditionally served during the holiday season. The pie’s filling consists of ground meats, such as pork, beef, or veal, seasoned with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. 

The hearty and warm flavours of tourtière make it a treat that is cherished in the colder months of the year. Sitting at the kitchen table with a warm sweater, the fireplace blazing, and a plate of tourtière is the best way to stay warm during long Canadian winters. 

Beavertails 

Beavertails are a beloved Canadian treat that were first created in Ottawa, Ontario. These tasty pastries, named for their shape being the same as a beaver’s tail, are made from stretched and fried dough.  

Typically topped with a variety of sweet toppings such as cinnamon sugar, Nutella, maple syrup, strawberry syrup, and peanut butter, Beavertails offer a tasty combo of crispy and fluffy dough and sweet flavors. They are often enjoyed as a winter snack at outdoor skating rinks across the country. 

Smoked Salmon 

Canada’s vast coastline and numerous rivers provide an abundance of fresh seafood, and smoked salmon is a true Canadian delicacy. From British Columbia’s renowned Pacific salmon to the Atlantic salmon found in the Maritimes, the country offers a wide variety of smoked salmon options.  

The salmon is cured and slowly smoked over wood chips, resulting in a tender, smoky, and flavorful fish that can be enjoyed on its own or in other dishes such as salads, bagels, and sandwiches.  

Canada has so much to offer in terms of unique cuisine. From sweet to savory, Canada’s cuisine is filled with distinct and delicious flavours. There’s something for everyone to enjoy!  

Things you didn’t know are actually Canadian 

Things you didn’t know are actually Canadian

By: Callum Denault  

Published on: November 21st, 2023


Just as much of Canadian culture is shaped by the various newcomers who arrive in the country to make a life for themselves​​, Canada ​​had a surprisingly large impact on the world around it. Here are some things you may not have known were either invented in Canada, or by Canadians who emigrated to other corners of the Earth. 

1. The Canadarm: ​​That big robot arm on the side of spaceships 

When making its space shuttles, NASA needed a robot arm that would help their new vehicles deliver their payloads to space. These arms had to meet very strict requirements: they had to be strong, flexible, precise, safe, be easy to control manually or leave on autopilot, as well as work in the zero-gravity vacuum of space.  

The Canadarm is Canada’s most famous contribution to the field of robotics, and the country is still making robot arms for different space flights, with a total of five being made and delivered to NASA. The Canadarm is also honoured on the Canadian five dollar bill.  

2. Basketball 

Despite most NBA teams being American, basketball was invented by a Canadian named James Naismith. Naismith was a physical educator at the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School, who was looking for a way to keep his restless students entertained while they were kept inside because of a snowstorm. He created a modified game of football where two teams had to put their ball into the opposing team’s net—which was a peach basket held 10 feet off the ground—and quickly added rules which made it illegal for players to punch, tackle, or otherwise hurt each other.  

The game then spread to other YMCAs, and eventually became the modern sport it is known as today. 

3. Superman 

Perhaps the very symbol of what it means to be a superhero, Superman is arguably the most famous comic book character of all time. He was also co-created by Canadian artist Joe Shuster who worked with the American Jerry Seigel in 1933 when they were both in a Cleveland high school.  

Born in Toronto, Shuster took inspiration from the city when writing Superman. The hero’s hometown of Metropolis is based on Toronto, and Superman’s human alter ego, Clark Kent, works at a newspaper called The Daily Planet, which was inspired by Shuster’s old after school job with The Toronto Star. ​Click here to enter text.​ 

To celebrate Superman’s 25th birthday, Canada Post issued special stamps depicting the hero. 

4. Deadpool 

Another superhero whose origins are tied to Canada, although this character is much more of an antihero than a classic hero, since he is more violent, foul-mouthed, and flawed than someone as virtuous as Superman. 

Ryan Reynolds—the Canadian actor who plays Deadpool—is often seen as inseparable from the character by fans, given how much the fast-talking, snarky action hero resembles different characters Reynolds has played in other films. The 2016 film Deadpool ​​was something of a passion project for Reynolds, who not only wrote many of his character’s lines but was also stuck in long-standing rights​​ 

Even before he made it to the big screen, Deadpool seemed to have been meant to be played by Reynolds, given that a comic book in 2012 described the character as looking like, “a cross between Ryan Reynolds and a Shar-Pei [a type of wrinkly dog]​.​”  

Deadpool 3 is coming out in 2024, and is set to star the titular “merc with the mouth,” alongside fellow Canadian superhero Wolverine

5. “Hawaiian” Pizza: The infamous pineapple on pizza combo 

Pineapple is quite possibly the most controversial pizza topping, with some writing that a sweet fruit does not belong on a savoury dish, comparing it to “chocolate syrup on grilled salmon​.​ However, pineapple is a core ingredient in Hawaiian pizza, which also ​​involves Canadian bacon, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. 

The supposedly Hawaiian flavour of pizza was actually invented by Greek-Canadian chef​​, Sam Panopoulos, in the 1960’s, when he owned the Satellite restaurant in Chatham, Ontario. Pizza was largely unknown in Canada at that time, and in his mission to expand the Canadian palette, Panopoulos created Hawaiian pizza as a way of mixing sweet and savoury flavours together. People said he was crazy, but pineapple on pizza caught on. 

6. Special Olympics 

Special Olympics is a global non-profit that provides sports to people with intellectual disabilities, such as Autism or Down Syndrome. Born in Windsor and raised in St. Catherines, Ontario, Dr. Frank Hayden helped create the organization alongside Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Kennedy family.  

Hayden was a researcher in intellectual disabilities, and he was inspired to create a sport-based community for people with these conditions when he realized how inactive they were. Hayden believed a lot of the physical health problems he saw in his patients with intellectual disabilities were caused by this lack of activity—and not their disabilities ​​directly—which he wanted to change, while also making a place they could be social. His work continues to improve the lives of millions of people.  

7. London Fog Tea 

London Fog is a soothing hot drink made with Earl Gray Tea, milk, and vanilla or some other kind of flavouring. It was made in Vancouver in 1997 by Mary Loria, who was trying to come up with a way she could still drink caffeine when coffee made her feel sick during pregnancy.  

While visiting The Buckwheat Cafe—a favourite spot for Loria and her husband—the expectant mother asked a confused barista if she could have an Earl Gray with skim milk. Loria then took the drink to a station where customers could add their own toppings, mixed in some vanilla sugar, and found the resulting beverage was so good that she recommended it to her friends. 

8. Lacrosse 

This is the oldest sport played in North America, having been enjoyed by Indigenous people centuries before colonizers ever set foot on the land. Lacrosse had great meaning to the Iroquois, who lived in what is now known as New York State and the part of Canada bordering it.  

Anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people played matches that could last several days. Lacrosse had several uses: it was a way for people to prepare themselves for war, and it was also a way for nations to meet diplomatically with each other, to play sports, trade with one another, and settle arguments. Lacrosse was a “Medicine Game”, a way to heal the sick, make peace between nations, and have fun through sport. 

The modern form of ​​lacrosse began when white settlers became interested in the ball-and-stick game they saw Indigenous people playing. While mostly popular in Canada and the United States, ​​lacrosse is also gaining ground in Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  

New to Canada? Here are some resources to help you 

New to Canada? Here are some resources to help you 

By: Josephine Naghavie 

Published on: November 14th, 2023


A person’s health includes physical and mental, and they both impact your wellbeing.  

Mental health problems are found in every country, however, the availability of treatments vary in different regions, particularly in between developed and developing countries. Perceptions and attitudes towards mental illness can vary among families, cultures, countries and individuals. Many religions often influence the belief that mental health is not important and that it should not shape attitudes towards being healthy.  

As a newcomer to Canada, you may have experienced this in your home country, but resources in Canada for mental health are never ending. As you have recently moved to build a new life in a new country, this comes with many stressors. No matter how big or small your problem feels, there are many resources that are available to you in Canada, and that are free.  

Below you will find a list of potential resources that can be helpful to someone who has recently moved to Canada. These resources are here to help you and to show you that you are not alone. Your mental health is as important, if not more, than your physical health, and it is important to take care of that as well.  

Canadian Centre for Refugee & Immigrant HealthCare  

The Canadian Centre for Refugee & Immigrant HealthCare (CCRIHC) provides free private and confidential counseling for unique experiences of refugees and newcomers before their arrival, during their journey and settling into Canada and the Greater Toronto Area.  

This organization has experienced counselors who are specialized in culturally-sensitive situations and diagnosis for mental health disorders.  

If you are looking for short-term counseling, this organization provides it as well, and can help you with stress management, family or relationship problems, adjusting to Canadian lifestyle and so much more. They provide counseling beginning from youth to adulthood.  

Toronto Newcomer Services Kiosks  

The Toronto government provides in-person and virtual kiosks where Newcomers, regardless of immigration status, can access these kiosks without fear of being asked for proof of status.  

These kiosks provide community support where you can meet with settlement workers and take advantage of confidential services like:  

  • Information on education, employment, healthcare, housing, and more.  
  • Referrals to community services and programs in the city of Toronto  
  • Access to language-specific supports across the city.  

Click on the link above so you can see where the closest location to you is, as well as which places provide in-person kiosks and virtual ones.  

Mental Health – Immigrants & Newcomers  

The link above provides different locations that have specific areas of mental health advisors. If you are looking for a counselor that works in a specific field, such as someone with marriage advice, or grief, etc., this website provides the names and information for counselors in those specific fields, that are located closest to you.   

Centre for Immigrant & Community Services  

The Centre for Immigrant & Community Services (CICS) is committed to taking on the wellness journey with newcomers in Canada. They are aware that settling into a new country can be challenging and they offer support for those who are facing mental health concerns or issues. On their website they have a list of workshops near you that you can attend, speak either one-on-one or in a group. Their workshops are constantly changing so be sure to check when the next one near you is happening.  

If the above mentioned resources do not seem like they work for you – that’s OK! Below are some links to many more resources for you to check out. It might take some trial and error until you find something that works best for you.  

Access Alliance  

This website has different in-person, virtual, one-on-one and group sessions for adults and youth available around the city of Toronto.  

Settlement Ontario  

This website provides a list of different mental health helplines if you prefer to speak on the phone or chat virtually, as well as different counseling for individuals who do not speak English.  

A newcomer’s guide to watching hockey

A newcomer’s guide to watching hockey

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: November 7th, 2023


Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko (Pexels) 

Hockey is, without a doubt, one of the most followed and watched sports in all of Canada.  

Each year millions of Canadians across the country tune into hockey games on television to watch their favourite teams and players go up against one another. Programs like Hockey Night in Canada regularly bring in hundreds of thousands of viewers. 

Canada is known around the world as a hockey nation and even though not all Canadians are hockey experts or watch every single game, we all still understand the importance of hockey within Canadian culture. With that being said, here is a guide to watching hockey so you can familiarise yourself with the sport.  

Rundown of the game 

In hockey, a match or game consists of three 20-minute periods with six players going up against six other players from the opposing team. The six players on the ice include three forwards/attackers, two defenders, and one goaltender.  

The main point of the game is like with any other sport — whoever scores more goals wins the match.  

Hockey is also a full-contact sport and is notorious for its big hits, rough nature of play, and sometimes even fighting. Hockey is very fast-paced and physical, building on its entertaining nature and the reason why so many people across Canada are so invested in the sport.  

National Hockey League (NHL) 

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level of professional men’s ice hockey in North America. The best hockey players from all around the world play in the NHL and compete for the Stanley Cup, the trophy that is given to the team who wins the playoffs.  

The NHL plays an 82-game regular season that concludes with the eight best teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences going to the playoffs (16 teams in total). The Stanley Cup playoffs are played in best-of-seven series, with the first team to four wins in each series advancing to the next round.  

Essentially, the first team to win 16 games becomes the Stanley Cup champion, but that is a lot easier said than done.  

The NHL is full of Canadian hockey stars playing for every team in the league. There are seven Canadian NHL teams: the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montréal Canadiens.  

Here’s a bit more about each team: 

Vancouver Canucks 

The Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970. They’ve appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals and have never won the Stanley Cup. Their most recent appearance was in 2011 when they lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Some of their most notable players include the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, as well as Trevor Linden.  

Calgary Flames 

The Calgary Flames became an NHL franchise in 1980 after relocating from Atlanta. The Flames have three Stanley Cup Final appearances, with their one and only win in 1989 when they beat the Montréal Canadiens in six games. Some notable players for the Flames include Jarome Iginla, Al MacInnis, and Theo Fleury.  

Edmonton Oilers 

The Edmonton Oilers joined the NHL in 1979. They have appeared in seven Stanley Cup Finals, winning the trophy five times. Their most recent win came in 1990 when they beat the Boston Bruins in five games. The Oilers have had some of the best players in NHL history play for their franchise, namely Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Wayne Gretzky.  

Winnipeg Jets 

The Winnipeg Jets originally joined the NHL in 1979, but later moved to Phoenix and are presently known as the Arizona Coyotes. The Jets franchise eventually came back to the NHL in 2011 after the Atlanta Thrashers franchise relocated. The Jets have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and in the 2022-23 season, they lost in the first round of the playoffs in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, Vegas Golden Knights. Some notable Jets players include Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, and Mark Scheifele.  

Toronto Maple Leafs 

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a member of the Original Six NHL teams first joining in 1917 as the Toronto Arenas. The Maple Leafs are a historic franchise with a large fanbase having won 13 Stanley Cups, however they have famously not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 when they beat the Montréal Canadiens in six games. Some notable Maple Leafs players include Dave Keon, Mats Sundin, and Auston Matthews.  

Ottawa Senators 

The Ottawa Senators joined the NHL in 1992 after the original Ottawa Senators left in 1934. The Senators have made it to the Stanley Cup Final once in their franchise history in 2007, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. Their most notable players include Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Craig Anderson. 

Montréal Canadiens 

The Montréal Canadiens are another member of the Original Six NHL teams, being founded in 1909 and joining the NHL in 1917. The Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cups in NHL history with 24, their most recent win coming in 1993 when they beat the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Some notable players for the Canadiens include Guy Lafleur, Maurice Richard, and Jean Béliveau.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Canadian national team 

On the international stage Canada is one of the best nations when it comes to hockey. They are always among the favourites coming into international tournaments and it comes as a shock if Canada doesn’t at least finish in the top four of these tournaments.  

There are many international tournaments in hockey such as the World Championship, World Junior Championship, and the Olympic Games. Canada has won gold or finished in the top three of those events for both men and women in recent years.  

Canada’s rivals on the international stage include countries such as Russia and Sweden, but there is no bigger hockey rival to Canada than the United States. Whenever Canada goes up against the United States it usually leads to some entertaining and highly competitive hockey, so if you ever get the chance, be sure to tune in whenever these two countries play each other in a tournament.  

Photo: cottonbro studio (Pexels) 

How to watch 

On television, hockey is generally on two channels: The Sports Network (TSN) or Sportsnet. There’s even CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi, where the whole program is spoken in Punjabi and hosted by Harnarayan Singh and includes other excellent analysts and commentators covering NHL games.  

The NHL regular season typically runs from October to April with the playoffs kicking off from mid-April until mid-June, so that gives you around nine months to potentially catch some high-level hockey action.  

If you don’t know much about hockey, try tuning into a game when the NHL season is ongoing or during the playoffs as the games are very entertaining and competitive. Hockey is a very fun sport to watch and follow, so even learning a small amount about the sport can help you feel just a little bit more Canadian.

What you should know about entertainment services in Canada 

What you should know about entertainment services in Canada 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: November 3rd, 2023


Subscription services are a big part of the current entertainment landscape and with the wide plethora of services available at our fingertips, it could get a bit confusing to understand the pros and cons of each service.  

Sometimes it may be difficult to find a specific show or movie you want to watch or to know where to find them, so it’s important to understand all you need to know about the subscription services in Canada. There are many shows and movies out there for you to watch, so take a look through some of these services to find out which one suits you the best and get comfortable while binge watching your new favourite program.  

Photo: JESHOOTS.com (Pexels) 

Subscription services available in Canada 

There are many different streaming and subscription services available in Canada, however, this article will only focus on some of the more popular services that offer up a wide range of programs.  

Some of the most well-known subscription services in Canada are:  

  • Netflix  
  • Disney+ 
  • Crave 
  • Amazon Prime Video 
  • Apple TV+ 
  • Paramount+

What each service has to offer and pricing* 

*Pricing as of July 2023 

As there are many different subscription services available, there are also many different shows and movies offered to entice subscribers to join each company’s respective service.  

To search for some shows or movies that might be available on each service in Canada, you can check out this website. In any case, here’s a rundown of each service and what you may expect to see from each of them.  

Photo: cottonbro studio (Pexels) 

Netflix 

Netflix has one of the most robust and diverse catalogues out of all the subscription services available in Canada with thousands of movies and shows offered to subscribers.  

With Netflix you can find many high-quality documentaries and original series. Well received and popular shows from Netflix include Squid Game, Stranger Things, and Bridgerton.  

Netflix offers three different subscription options to its customers. The cheapest option is a basic subscription with ads that costs $5.99/month. The standard Netflix subscription costs $16.49/month and allows for Full HD 1080p quality. All these options allow for up to two users at a time.  

The most expensive Netflix subscription is the premium option and costs $20.99/month. This option allows users to watch on up to four devices at a time and offers Ultra HD 4K video quality, the best quality offered by Netflix. Both the standard and premium options also allow users to download programs to watch on their devices when not connected to the internet. 

Disney+ 

Disney+ offers subscribers the broad catalogue of Disney shows and movies throughout the years. If you ever watched Disney movies growing up, then Disney+ is your go-to location for all the old and new Disney movies.  

Disney+ also offers users access to every Marvel movie and show available. Movies such as the Avengers series, Spider-man, and many more are all available on Disney+. Star Wars is also another big franchise that is offered with Disney+ with every Star Wars movie and Disney produced show available.  

On top of all those Disney related shows and movies, Disney+ also has many other programs of different genres on their service. These include titles such as Lost, American Horror Story, and The Simpsons.  

Disney+ offers subscribers an option to pay $11.99 monthly or an option to pay $119.99 yearly. A Disney+ subscription allows unlimited ad-free viewing for up to four users at once at Ultra HD 4K quality. Users are also able to download Disney+ programs with a subscription.  

Crave 

Crave offers subscribers a wide-ranging suite of shows and movies on their service. One of the main draws of Crave is that they offer HBO’s popular and high-quality programs. These include shows such as Game of Thrones, Succession, and The White Lotus.  

There are also other popular movies and programs on Crave such as Friends, the Harry Potter series, and The Lord of the Rings series. 

Crave has three subscription offers for customers. The cheapest option for subscribers costs $9.99/month plus tax and is a basic option with ads. This option allows for only one user and video quality up to 720p.  

The standard option with ads costs $14.99/month plus tax and allows for up to four streams at the same time. The video quality is also up to 4K. The premium option comes ad-free and costs $19.99/month plus tax. This option also allows four streams at once along with 4K video resolution and also allows users to download programs for offline viewing.

Photo: Ron Lach (Pexels) 

Amazon Prime Video 

Apart from fast and free deliveries, another perk of being subscribed to Amazon Prime means you are entitled to their streaming service Amazon Prime Video.  

Amazon Prime Video has a large library of shows and movies for its users. Some popular Amazon Prime original programs include The Boys, Reacher, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Apart from their original programs, there are also thousands of other movies and shows available for you to enjoy. 

Access to Amazon Prime Video comes along with an Amazon Prime subscription that has a one-month free trial after which it costs $9.99/month plus taxes. Amazon Prime Video allows users to stream from three separate devices at once and programs up to 4K resolution.   

Apple TV+ 

Apple TV+ is another subscription service that has popular shows leading the way for the service. Some of the main attractions include Apple Originals, Ted Lasso and Severance.  

Apple TV+ also offers up select few exclusive Major League Baseball (MLB) games throughout the season, with at least two games streaming every week. So, if you’re a big baseball fan or are interested in the sport, this is another thing to consider when selecting the subscription service of your choice.  

Apple TV+ comes with a free seven-day trial after which it will cost $8.99/month. If you recently purchased an Apple device, you will be granted three months free for Apple TV+. A subscription offers users 4K video resolution, downloading programs for offline use, and subscribers are able to share their account with up to five others. 

Paramount+ 

Paramount+ is also another subscription that has their own exclusive shows that draw users to their service. Some of these programs include Halo, the live picture adaptation of the beloved Xbox game franchise as well as Star Trek: Discovery

This service also offers Nickelodeon programs, so if you enjoy watching or grew up watching Nickelodeon shows and want to rewatch them, then Paramount+ would be the service for you.  

Another draw of Paramount+ is that it includes NFL on CBS games as well as UEFA Champions League matches and coverage throughout the season for sports fans to enjoy.  

A Paramount+ subscription comes with a seven-day free trial and will cost $9.99/month or $99.99/year.  

Scary, eh? Canadian ghost stories and urban legends 

Scary, eh? Canadian ghost stories and urban legends 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: October 24th, 2023


Whether you call them ghost stories or urban legends, every culture has its own scary tales, and Canada is no exception. Given that Halloween is a horror themed holiday celebrated in Canada in the month of October, what better way is there to learn about this great country’s culture than by reading a few spooky stories during a cool, autumn night? 

Wendigo: Nightmare of the Algonquin people 

Canada is infamous for its brutal winters. Now imagine how brutal those winters must have been in a time before food could be stored in cans, kept cold in refrigerators, and shipped conveniently to you from warmer parts of the world through global supply lines. Imagine when the trees have lost their leaves, the lakes have frozen solid, and the snow is choking out grass. Imagine living in that cruel emptiness, and trying to find something to eat

Associated with winter, the Wendigo is an evil beast which has a never ending hunger for human flesh, and is thought to bring cold, hostile weather wherever it goes. Wendigos easily stand over 15 feet tall, have pale, ashy skin and the long, emaciated features of a corpse. Armed with long teeth and sharp claws, the Wendigo smells like rotting flesh, and releases a haunting screech before it pursues its prey. They can only be killed by piercing their icy hearts. 

The most terrifying thing about Wendigos, is how they are made. Some legends say Wendigos are not just evil spirits, but cursed humans, suffering from eternal hunger as punishment for resorting to cannibalism, or living in greed. The Wendigo can be thought of as a cautionary tale, discouraging people from turning against their fellow man, even when the winters grow long and hungry. 

These legends belong to the Algonquin people, and similar legends have been told by the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potowatomi tribes. While modern depictions of Wendigo include antlers or other deer like features, this is not very accurate to the original Indigenous myth. 

The haunting of Bay subway station 

Nothing is that scary about a subway station, especially not one as popular and well run as Bay station in downtown Toronto. At least, nothing is scary about the part of the station that people use

Lower Bay station is an abandoned part of the subway stop, on that members of the public rarely see. Some public transit employees reported seeing ghosts down there, including a woman in red

In 2022, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) decided to get in on some spooky fun, opening Lower Bay station for the first time in decades during the Halloween season. There, they held a family-friendly event with free giveaways, a Halloween themed subway train, and a garage sale. 

Ghost sightings aside, Lower Bay station might not be as scary as it is made out to be, given that several movies and tv shows have been filmed there. If there are ghosts haunting the train tracks, perhaps they are polite enough to let filmmakers do their job in peace. 

The Canadian Prime Minister and the axe murderer: A tale of two Bordens 

Unlike the two stories above, this one is completely true. What do WWI-era Canadian Prime Minster Robert Borden, WWII-era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and 1950s Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe all have in common? They are all distantly related to each other. Well, related to each other and an infamous cousin of theirs. 

In the 1890s, Lizzie Borden earned herself a dubious spot in history for being the prime suspect in the murder of her father and stepmother. This, in turn, inspired a rather creepy child’s nursery rhyme

“Lizzie Borden took an axe, 

And gave her mother 40 whacks, 

When she saw what she had done, 

She gave her father 41.” 

Neither of Lizzie Borden’s parents were “whacked” 40 times, although they did suffer multiple injuries from an axe or hatchet. Given Lizzie Borden had family troubles, was the only person at home during the murders other than the housemaid, and was seen acting strangely after the death of her parents, the authorities figured she was guilty. Despite an intense court case which involved using the skulls of the victims to show how they had been killed, Lizzie Borden was found not guilty. To this day, many people believe she did commit the murders. 

While Lizzie Borden’s innocence remains in question to this day, what can be proven is her family ties to the former Canadian Prime Minister. The alleged axe killer is just as much a part of the Borden family tree as Robert Borden, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe, which is a dubious honour for the otherwise very accomplished family tree. It is unlikely Robert Borden talked about his distant cousin all that much when campaigning to lead Canada. 

Cadborosaurus: The real body of a mysterious sea monster 

The Cadborosaurus, or Caddy, is essentially Canada’s answer to the Loch Ness monster from Scotland. The Cadborosaurus reportedly can grow up to 40-60 feet long, and may either be a giant serpent or a plesiosaur which survived the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. 

Named after Cadboro Bay in British Columbia, Caddy is a strange creature that has not only been witnessed by sailors, but actually has washed up on Canadian shores as an authentic corpse

In 1937, fishermen pulled out a strange animal from the belly of a whale they hunted. Known as the Naden Harbour carcass, it was documented with photographs.  

However, this is not concrete evidence that a massive, undiscovered reptile is lurking off the west coast of Canada. Several, equally bizarre looking carcasses have been found, which were later proven to belong to more familiar ocean giants like whales or sharks. Often the dead bodies of these animals become unrecognizable when they rot or are eaten by ocean scavengers, making them appear ghoulish and serpent-like. 

As for the Cadborosaurus sightings, it is possible those reports were actually sightings of the Oarfish, a long, bony fish which can grow up to 50 feet long and is thought to have inspired the mythical sea serpent.  

Not enough? Watch some Canadian horror shows  

The first season of The Terror takes place in the Canadian Arctic during the 1840s, covering the crews of two exploratory ships who find themselves being hunted by a mysterious force. While based on a real expedition that did go missing, the show does take some liberties with Inuit mythology, adding in the fictional Tuunbaq monster. 

From is about a group of people trapped in a mysterious American town where they are unable to leave, are surrounded by a deadly forest, and hunted by monsters that come out every night to slaughter the townsfolk. The show is filmed in Beaverbank Villa, which used to be a small town that served a nearby military base, but was destroyed in 2004. Ten buildings were made to film From, which is one of many productions to treat Nova Scotia as a premium filming location.  

Based off a popular video game, The Last of Us takes place 20 years after an apocalypse caused by a fungal infection that turned people into zombies. Alberta made a list of all the places the show filmed their different scenes in, which includes parts of Calgary, and Canadian actor Lamar Johnson received an Emmy nomination for his role in the show. 

Tips to stay focused 

Tips to stay focused

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: October 17th, 2023


Photo: Vlada Karpovich (Pexels)

Sometimes staying focused can be difficult. When you’re working on a task or assignment for a while, you may often find your mind drifting to other thoughts or you may feel tired of working on the same thing for a prolonged period of time.  

With how prevalent and easily accessible things such as social media and the internet are nowadays, it may be difficult for you to focus for a long time and you might find yourself scrolling through your phone or browsing the web and not finishing your tasks.  

It’s natural to get distracted every now and then, but if you find yourself getting distracted often and not getting much work done, then some of the tips in this article may help you get back on track and maintain your focus when working.  

Remove distractions 

This is a very crucial part in staying focused, but it also might be the hardest tip to follow through with.  

If you get easily distracted by technology or social media, try to remove all of that from your vicinity. You can take your computers, gaming consoles, or phones out of sight so you don’t even get to look at them, or just simply relocate to a room that may not have much technology in it.  

If you want to have your phone near you, try and use the settings in your phone to help you focus. Use things such as “Do Not Disturb” or set limits on social media apps so you don’t get carried away scrolling. You could even go as far as offloading or deleting apps if you feel you spend too much time on them.  

If you work on your computer, you can use built in applications or extensions such as Just Focus, to help you block certain websites that you frequent often. 

Removing your distractions in one way or another is a good place to start for developing better working habits and it’s also a very important step in maintaining your focus.  

Narrow your workload 

A product of losing focus might be when you are working or thinking about too many things at the same time.  

Sometimes we may have no choice but to multitask and take on multiple projects, but if you can, try your best to just focus on one task at a time. Keep working on your first task until you are finished with it and then move on to the next, as you may feel more accomplished after checking a task off your to-do list.  

When you multitask, your thoughts may end up getting mixed together and you might end up forgetting how to do certain tasks. The more things you have in mind, you will likely lose focus faster and find it harder to stay concentrated.  

It’s okay to work on multiple projects at once, however don’t put all your effort into all of them at once, as you may get overwhelmed and lose your focus very quickly. If you get tired of working on the same thing, then start another project, but always make sure to come back to the first one when you’re ready and finish it, so you don’t have too many tasks to manage at once.   

Photo: Ola Dapo (Pexels)

 

Make a schedule and plan your time 

As it is with anything else in your life, keeping a schedule and planning ahead can help you focus. Allocating your time appropriately can go a long way in keeping your work flow efficient and to avoid sudden interruptions.  

For example, if you plan to work for three hours straight and then take a 30-minute break, then make sure you avoid all distractions and get to work for three hours. You can use your break time to catch up on any distractions or to look at other things that may have crossed your mind.  

Try to have designated working and relaxing times throughout your day as it will help you understand when you should be working and when you can relax. For different scheduling methods, you can check this article here and try them out for yourself.  

It’s important to have a work and leisure balance as it will not only help you work more efficiently, but it will also help you maintain a healthier and better lifestyle.  

Relax your mind 

Of course, if you’re going to be working for many hours on end, make sure to take some time out of the day for yourself. Try doing things such as listening to music or taking short breaks to gather yourself. Sometimes when you’re constantly working on or thinking of the same thing for long periods of time, it can jumble up your thoughts and make you lose focus.  

That’s why it’s important to do things to relax your mind from time to time. Whether it be watching a few videos on social media or going out on a walk to get some air, try to incorporate that into your routine.  

Even something as easy as sitting back and closing your eyes for a bit can help you regain your focus. Take your mind off what you’ve been working on and try to not think about things that may stress you out. Instead, think about other things, like your passions or people that make you smile, and do this for a bit before going back to your work.  

If you relax for a bit and take your mind off your tasks, you may find that you come back to your work more energised, revitalised, and ready to finish your tasks. This is a simple practice, but it goes a long way in helping you focus.  

Photo: Engin Akyurt (Pexels)

Try different methods  

It’s always best to try out many different methods and working environments to see what works best for you. Whether you can work with background noise or can only work in a quiet setting, it’s up to you to test yourself in each environment to see which one you prefer.  

Something you could try is to change locations when working to find out what works for you. If you find yourself not able to focus in your room or home, try visiting your local coffee shop, library, or even park. Sometimes a change in scenery is all you need, so don’t be afraid to switch things up and try something new.  

The methods highlighted in this article are a good place to start, but you could always branch out and try other methods that may help you focus. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different things to see what helps you. You won’t know what works or doesn’t work for you unless you try it out, so try your best to use different methods that may help you focus.  

Finding a method to help you focus requires a lot of trial and error and it may take a while for some, but if you’re patient you will find a method that will help you focus and it will help you finish your tasks and make you feel more accomplished with all that you’re able to get done.   

Alcohol and marijuana laws in Canada and specifically Ontario

Alcohol and marijuana laws in Canada and specifically Ontario

By: Dru Gary

Published on: October 10th, 2023


Every country has unique laws pertaining to controlled substances. Recently, Canada has undergone legal changes regarding the purchasing and consumption of marijuana. Canada also has unique laws around the purchase and consumption of alcohol. 

A country’s relationship to substances plays a prominent role in the culture. Understanding laws surrounding their use is essential for residents and visitors alike to enjoy the substances, if individuals so choose, in a law-abiding way.  

Alcohol consumption is legal for those of legal drinking age in Canada, which is different based on the province or territory. The legal drinking age is 19 years old in most provinces, except for Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where it is 18. Some provinces have restrictions on alcohol sales and consumption, such as limits on where and when alcohol can be sold, hours of operation for bars and restaurants, and regulations around public intoxication. 

Ontario has its own province-specific laws and regulations regarding alcohol and marijuana consumption. Alcohol can be consumed at licensed bars, restaurants, and other establishments authorized to sell alcohol. These establishments have specific hours of operation and are subject to regulations regarding responsible service of alcohol. 

The sale of alcohol is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Retail sales are primarily conducted through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and authorized retail outlets. Online sales are also available through the LCBO website. 

Drinking and driving laws in Canada are quite strict. It is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Provinces have implemented smaller penalties for drivers with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, including license suspensions and vehicle impoundment. These laws are in place to keep people safe and prevent injury, or death from vehicles being operated by individuals under the influence.  

In 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide. The Cannabis Act allows adults who are of legal age (18 or 19, depending on the province) to have and consume cannabis in limited quantities for personal use. 

Under the Cannabis Act, individuals can have up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent on their person in public. Each province has the authority to establish additional regulations, including possession limits, home cultivation restrictions, and the legal age for consumption.  

The sale and distribution of marijuana are regulated through licensed retailers. These establishments must adhere to strict guidelines regarding age verification, product quality, and labeling. Online sales are also permitted through government-operated websites or licensed private retailers. 

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the government-operated online retailer for recreational marijuana in the province. Customers aged 19 and older can purchase a wide range of cannabis products through the OCS website. 

Impaired driving laws also extend to marijuana. It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis or any other impairing substance. Law enforcement agencies use various methods to detect drug-impaired driving, including standardized field sobriety tests and drug recognition evaluations. 

As a newcomer in Canada, it is important to be aware of these laws and to abide by them. Canada has strict laws in place to protect its citizens from harm caused by substances like alcohol and marijuana. Respecting these laws allow individuals to enjoy substances in a safe and responsible way.   

Get spooky: Halloween events in the GTA 

Get spooky: Halloween events in the GTA 

Halloween events in the Greater Toronto Area 

By: Josephine Naghavie  

Published on: October 3rd, 2023


If it’s your first time in the city or simply just looking for some fun new ideas, here are a ton of fun and spooky events that take place every year during the Halloween season. The whole month of October is dedicated to spirits, ghouls and ghosts and this is your chance to immerse yourself in the dark and stormy vibes.  

Halloween nights of lights  

Starting off easy, this event has more of a chill vibe that’s not too scary if you’re looking for some fun times. Best of all, there are new themes every year so you’ll never get bored! This event takes place from the comfort of your vehicle. As you drive through a designated line, you will get to see many ghouls and monsters dancing around to the Halloween tunes during the light show. This is perfect if you have young kids or adults who can’t walk around for long periods of time. Make sure you’re fueled up and ready to experience this event!  

Haunted walk Toronto  

This event has spine tingling experiences of the city’s most haunted places, stories and facts of Toronto’s dark history. As you walk around an interactive guided tour, you will be able to hear other people’s experiences with spirits and also share your own. Whether you’re a believer of ghosts or not, this is the perfect place to hear scary stories.  

Pumpkinville  

An entire village made of just pumpkins! This village of houses, sculptures and related things is entirely created out of pumpkins and squash. Pumpkinville has designed their village for the perfect photo opportunity so that you can even pretend you live inside one!  

The Village – Toronto  

Also known as the village, Church and Wellesley is the historic home to the LGBTQ+ community. The village comes to life during the Halloween season full of creativity, nightlife and culture. If you’re looking for more of a party base, this is the place for you. People really dress up on Halloween night in these parts of town with extravagant costumes that are beautiful and exciting to see! Just beware that this area becomes extremely crowded in the later hours of the night and there are long lines and large crowds for just about anything, so stay patient when moving along the street!  

Pumpkin Parade  

Aside from the parade itself, the event holds a happy hour where you can listen to great music, have some snacks and some drinks. This event offers many different games that you and your family can partake in, a visual spectacle, and the lighting of pumpkins after sunset. Make sure to bring some chairs and blankets to sit on, and dress warm as the event is entirely outdoors.  

Casa Loma  

This Toronto castle offers a spooky experience with its scary transformation. It has interactive activities, live performances and haunted houses. Make sure you purchase your tickets in advance as it sells out extremely quickly!  

Halloween Haunt – Wonderland  

This is one of the largest events in the GTA. The amusement park is completely transformed into a spooky land full of monsters, terrifying attractions and live shows. Even though the rides themselves are closed for the season, Wonderland offers 30+ haunted houses, clown houses and mazes. Keep in mind that though the monsters aren’t allowed to touch you they will chase you!  

Rocky Horror picture show special  

If you’re looking to experience a tradition loved by Toronto locals this is the perfect place. This annual event is a cult classic on screen with a live music performance on stage. It is a tradition to throw things on stage during certain parts of the performance so bring something light like a foam pumpkin!  

Fort York after dark  

If you’re someone who’s looking for a creepy experience, this event is the place for you. This guided tour describes battles and tragedies that have occurred in Toronto’s most haunted historical corners. Walk around the city with a lantern in the eerie buildings, listening to paranormal mysteries. Dress warm since this takes place outdoors, and you might want to bring your own flashlight because the lantern might not be bright enough for you!  

Toronto after dark: Film festival  

This film festival showcases the world’s leading films of new horror, sci fi action, and cult movies. It takes place in Scotiabank theatre over multiple days, so you can be sure to find something interesting for your likes!  

Nightmare before Christmas concert special  

Tim Burton’s classic film comes to life projected on the big screen while the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs live music!  

ROM after dark  

An adult only event that occurs at the museum after-hours! The ROM holds different themed events, curated music by DJs, large scale performances, food and drink, and so much more! It is bound to be an exciting night!  

Farm in the city: Growing and selling microgreens to connect with your agricultural roots

Farm in the city: Growing and selling microgreens to connect with your agricultural roots

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 29th, 2023


Stacked in black plastic trays on a steel wire rack, vegetable seeds have stemmed into tiny green leaves that press together, almost like a dense sheet of miniature forest. In a free one-hour webinar, urban farmer and business consultant Jonah Krochmalnek shows viewers what a vertical microgreens farm looks like in the corner of virtually any room. Aiming to help people in Canada and across the world break into the business of growing and selling their own microgreens, Krochmalnek spreads awareness about microgreens’ health benefits and ease to grow through accessible online training and good-quality content.  

What are microgreens, exactly? According to researchers at the University of Florida, microgreens are specialty crops that are “used to enhance colour, texture, or flavour of salads, or to garnish a wide variety of main dishes.” Plants that germinate for two to five days to then be wholly eaten with root intact are called sprouts. Plants that grow for 30 to 40 days before they’re cut for consumption at three to four inches tall are called baby greens. “Ready for harvest when they reach the first true leaf stage, usually at about [two inches] tall,” microgreens are slightly larger than sprouts, smaller than baby greens, and most nourishing of the three. More than just being decorative, microgreens can be incorporated into smoothies to boost your daily intake of antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals, and vitamins.  

Since they fare well in indoor settings and don’t require a lot of space and time to grow, microgreens are high yielding in terms of both production and profit. Using, amongst other supplies, utility shelving units, trays, LED grow lights, soil, and seeds like the ones from mumm’s Sprouting Seeds, it takes around ten days or less to harvest common varieties of all-season microgreens: namely, broccoli, pea, radish, and sunflower.  

“When you grow outside or in a greenhouse, you’re growing on one horizontal plane, so you’re limited in square footage of the land, whereas when you grow in a vertical farm, or vertically [with shelving], you’re limited by the size of a building” Krochmalnek explains. “This gives you significantly more production in the same square footage. That’s extremely valuable in cities where there’s very limited real estate space. If the Living Earth Farm was one plane, it wouldn’t be profitable. It has to be vertical to pay the extra cost of real estate in the city of Toronto.” 

Krochmalnek founded Living Earth Farm, currently one of Canada’s largest organic microgreen farms, in Toronto in 2013. He went from making more or less $2000 a month by selling microgreens that he had been growing in his parents’ basement to approximately one million dollars a year during the peak of Living Earth Farm’s success. He sold the company mere months ago, but it continues to work towards his goal of providing “the highest quality, most nutritious and best tasting salad greens for our community […] with less resources while forming an open and welcoming environment to foster the next generation of farmers” through its volunteer program.  

“A lot of people have applied for jobs or to volunteer at the farm, who came from places in Asia, like India, China, or the Philippines, with an agricultural background. They moved here for the benefits of being in Canada and living in this mega metropolis, but then lost their connection to nature. [Vertical farming] bridges the gap.” Krochmalnek says the activity of growing microgreens is fit for newcomers to major cities who want to reconnect with their rural roots, either at home or in a work environment.  

As reported by Arrive, an enterprise from RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Ventures Inc. that equips newcomers with tools and information to help them settle in Canada, Ontario has a high demand for farm supervisors and harvesting labourers, making agriculture an opportune source of income for foreign workers with farming experience as well.  

Next to volunteering at a farm, running a business, and recreationally growing microgreens in your own kitchen to satisfy a personal need or hobby, vertical farming is a great way to make friends and connect over a common interest in a larger community. Freedom Farmers, for example, is the website where Krochmalnek offers a monthly 60-minute live Q & A to discuss topics like costs, recipes, and management tips through his masterclass course and thereby gathers aspiring and established urban farmers alike in a private online community on the same platform.  

When asked for his advice to people interested in growing their own microgreens, Krochmalnek says: “Just start. Don’t worry. There’s a lot of challenges whether you grow it yourself or for a business, but if you’re passionate about it, you’ll get through them. They’re not rocket science. It’s growing plants. It often comes down to just breaking down the variables and figuring out what the problem is, like, I’m either watering too much or watering too little. Maybe my seeds not good quality. Maybe my soil is not good quality. And because [the growing process happens in] such a short time frame, it’s crazy to think how fast ten days will pass and then you got food. You could just repeat the process as much as you want, and then stop whenever you want, so it’s a great way to grow food.”

Fostering respect for the environment in children 

Fostering respect for the environment in children 

By: Meaghan Flokstra

Published on: September 28th, 2023


As we become more aware of humanity’s impact on the environment, it becomes increasingly important to foster an understanding of and a respect for nature in the next generation.  

Children are innately curious, and there are so many different ways to engage their minds to help them develop a love for nature and a deep respect for the environment. By giving them opportunities to interact with the natural world around them and to consider the impact of different choices, you can help them to develop a planet-conscious mindset that will stay with them as they grow older.  

Head outdoors 

It is key to spend time outdoors with your kids. By getting children outside and giving them opportunities to spend time around different plants and animals, you can help nurture their love for the environment. There are many activities to do outside with kids, such as going on a hike, biking on a trail, or having a picnic at the park. In winter, take advantage of the Canadian weather by playing in the snow and going ice skating. 

When exploring nature, one important lesson to teach to kids is to always do your best to leave things the way you found them. When we alter what is already there, there is a chance that we can disturb the native species. However, one important hands-on activity that adults and kids can do together is help clean up litter! Remember to bring gloves and a trash bag before you go outside, and help keep plants and animals safe by picking up trash that you find along the way. 

Grow your own plants 

Cultivating a respect for the environment can also happen indoors. One way you can do this is by allowing your child to take care of a plant. Through this, kids can take an active role in caring for nature and develop a deeper understanding of the effort and time it takes for plants to grow. One simple and fairly inexpensive option is to try growing a bean plant in a cup

You can also look into starting your own garden. This may be something you can do in your own backyard, or you can look into joining a community garden, which is a shared space of land for growing fruits, vegetables, and/or flowers. Growing your own food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as a perfect opportunity to teach kids about a fun and hands-on way to help save the planet. You can find a list of community gardens in the Greater Toronto Area here, or you can even look into starting your own in your community! 

Reduce your waste 

Additionally, a key component of encouraging respect for the environment is to do the best you can to reduce your harm to the planet. By opting for environmentally-conscious choices yourself, kids can observe and learn about how to treat our planet with kindness. For example, consider investing in reusable water bottles and bags, walking or cycling to get around, and sorting waste into recycling and composting bins when possible.  

The refuge of nature activities 

The refuge of nature activities  

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 27th, 2023


“Refugees are people who have been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence [and have] a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group,” according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” 

Over 200,000 new refugees have recently gained permanent residence in Canada. In a 2017 study published in Leisure Sciences, research professors Jane Hurly and Gordon J. Walker at Royal Roads University and University of Alberta, respectively, recruited four refugees from Africa and the Middle East with the help of Catholic Social Services Canada to join an overnight camping trip in northern Alberta in the winter of 2015. They wanted to know if time spent in nature, doing vacation activities like ice fishing, forest walks, and community bonfires, would improve the refugees’ mental wellbeing and help them adjust comfortably to a new life in Canada.  

The Cambridge Dictionary defines nature as “all the animals, plants, rocks, etc. in the world and all the features, forces, and processes that happen or exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth.”  

Because nature offers fresh air to breathe, silence to retreat away from daily stress, and open spaces like gardens and parks where you can enjoy time with friends and family, it is generally known to have a calming effect. Because its scenery raises meaningful questions and thoughts about creation, consciousness, and connection, nature also inspires a sense of spirituality in people.  

Nature, however, can also be inaccessible and unpredictable. “Newcomers may face constraints to outdoor leisure that include lack of time, limited income, lack of transportation, and perceived discrimination,” say the researchers “Fear has been found to constrain many newcomers regardless of race and ethnicity. Fears included those of the unknown, experiencing untamed landscapes, getting lost, and, for women, fear of sexual assaults.” 

After Hurly and Walker interviewed the study participants about their Albertan camping experiences, they interpreted the interview data with verified methods of analysis to better understand refugee settlement problems, in the hope that their findings can inform the development of services for this “vulnerable sector of immigrants.” 

The researchers found that the participants did in fact feel trauma and nervousness at times. Though they believed the area they were living in was fascinatingly beautiful and engaging, the howling of wolves, for example, signalled danger to one of the African refugees: “I feared I heard some kind of hyenas at night. So, I said, ‘What if I came across a hyena when I move out?’ I was a bit scared. I stayed in my cabin till morning.” Another participant, a man from Lebanon, remembered his painful past of “harassment, violence, and racism” during the sojourn in his old country when looking at fir trees around a lake.  

With self-determination and trust-worthy support from park staff and agency members, however, both refugees came to realize the relative safety of Canada and were then able to create positive memories within its landscape. All four study participants felt free to make friends, to learn new activities with their kids, and to hope towards a future where they might no longer free watchful eyes or the censure of relatives.  

Upon reflection of their camping experience, “participants described feelings of well-being and optimism about living in Canada [and they] described their plans for advancing their education, finding a job, and [securely working towards other aspirations].” 

“The outdoor experience appeared to have inspired feelings of well-being, manifested in expressions of mastery, achievement, pride determination, courage, and autonomy,” noted the researchers. “[They] were inspired by what they had experienced at the outdoor camp, and their experiences of connectedness to the natural world, and the winter activities they mastered […] elevated their sense of belonging and connectedness to Canada.”

Protected plants: Flora safeguarded by Canadian law

Protected plants: Flora safeguarded by Canadian law

By: Dru Gary

Published on: September 26th, 2023


Canada is home to diverse and unique flora. The country comprises a wide array of plant species that contribute to its rich biodiversity. To preserve and protect these natural beauties, certain plants are protected under Canadian law.  

Among these protected species is the iconic Trillium, a symbol of Ontario’s natural heritage. The Trillium appears on many legal and official documents Ontarians would be familiar with, most notably, the Ontario Health Card.  

Plant protection plays a vital role in safeguarding Canada’s ecological balance, preserving native plant species, and maintaining healthy ecosystems. Legal protection ensures that threatened or endangered plants receive the necessary conservation needed to prevent their decline and extinction. These measures help maintain biodiversity, protect natural habitats, and preserve the beauty and ecological value of Canada’s landscapes. 

Protected plants in Canada include: 

Trillium 

The Trillium is a beautiful flower with three petals and three leaves. It is usually a bright white colour with yellow pollen in the centre. This flower holds deep significance in Canadian flora. It is a protected species in several provinces, including Ontario.  

The Trillium is considered an indicator of healthy forests and serves as a valuable food source for certain wildlife species. The protection status of Trillium helps prevent over-harvesting, destruction of habitats, and ensures its preservation for future generations to enjoy. 

The Trillium can be seen blooming in early spring all over Ontario. Many hiking trails in the less urban areas of the province are good places to catch a glimpse of the natural beauty of the Trillium bloom.  

Eastern Mountain Avens 

The Eastern Mountain Avens only grows in two habitats in the world, one of those being Brier Island in Nova Scotia. The flower is a very delicate yellow petaled plant that grows at the edge of bogs and other wetland habitats. It is small and fragile and not very well known, but it is also one of the most endangered plants in Canada. 

The Eastern Mountain Avens is listed provincially and federally as an endangered species. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working hard to educate and inform Canadians about the importance of protecting this plant and its ecosystem. 

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid 

Native to the tallgrass prairies of western Canada, the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid is a rare and fragile flowering plant. The flower is beautiful and otherworldly, it is white and has petals that look like tree roots. 

 It is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act and various provincial legislation. Habitat loss and fragmentation have threatened its existence, and protective measures are in place to conserve this beautiful orchid and its prairie ecosystem. 

Newfoundland Pitcher Plant 

The Newfoundland Pitcher Plant is a unique carnivorous plant native to bogs and wetlands in eastern Canada. The flower has a curved stem and blooms downward. It looks like a small hat or umbrella made of deep red petals.  

 It is protected in multiple provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador. Its protection status helps preserve its specialized habitat and ensures the longevity and continued existence of this fascinating insect-eating plant. 

Showy Lady’s Slipper  

The Showy Lady’s Slipper is a unique orchid found in various provinces across Canada. It is protected under provincial legislation, including in Ontario and Quebec. The top petals of the flower are white in colour and the bottom part, which is pouch shaped, is bright magenta.  

 Showy Lady’s Slippers are at risk due to habitat decline and illegal collection. Their protection promotes conservation efforts to safeguard their habitats and maintain the balance of ecosystems in which they grow.  

American Ginseng 

American Ginseng is a medicinal plant valued for its healing properties. It is protected under federal legislation and provincial regulations. The American Ginseng has large, lush green leaves and then a cluster of little bright crimson berries in the centre of the leaves.  

Overharvesting and habitat loss have significantly impacted its population. By protecting American Ginseng, Canada contributes to its conservation, ensures sustainable harvesting practices, and supports the long-term viability of this culturally significant plant. 

Canada has shown that as a country it is committed to plant protection. This reflects the nation’s dedication to conserving its natural heritage and protecting the fragile ecosystems that support diverse plant life.  

Canada continues to recognize the importance of maintaining biodiversity, supporting ecological balance, and preserving unique plant life for future generations of Canadians. The government of Canada has the full comprehensive list of all at risk plants and animal species that is available here. 

The natural wonders of Canada

The natural wonders of Canada

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: September 25th, 2023


Canada is a country full of nature and is known for its vast amounts of land and beautiful landscapes. This couldn’t be any more true when looking through some of the sights that Canada has to offer.  

Some locations in Canada are absolutely spectacular and could be added to your own list of places to visit.  

There are many places all across the country that are popular for their natural beauty, so here’s a list of one natural wonder from each province and territory in Canada. These places are here for you to explore, so if you ever have a chance, pay them a visit and experience it for yourself! 

Alberta – Banff National Park

Without a doubt one of the most scenic places throughout the whole country, Banff National Park is a popular destination amongst Canadians and tourists alike.  

One of the main attractions of Banff National Park is Moraine Lake, a lake with incredible blue water and a jaw-dropping background of the mountain range that will surely spice up your camera roll. However, there are many different lakes and rivers all throughout Banff National Park that will surely take your breath away. 

There are many hiking and walking trails all over Banff National Park that are there for you to explore, so if you’re ever in the area, you definitely will not want to miss out on the opportunity to take a hike along one of these trails.  

Photo: James Wheeler (Pexels)

British Columbia – Okanagan Valley

Home to many vast forest ranges and mountains, British Columbia is chock-full of beautiful landscapes and scenery, however Okanagan Valley offers a slight change of pace to all of that.  

Okanagan Valley also has mountains and forests, but is well-known for its many vineyards. If you’re interested in wine, Okanagan Valley is home to many different wineries and is one of the leading producers of wine in British Columbia.  

You can enjoy wine tasting, festivals, and much more in the region. You can of course go on hikes and walks in the area, but you can also go boating on Okanagan Lake.  

Manitoba – Clearwater Lake

Manitoba is home to more than 100,000 lakes, but one of the standouts has to be Clearwater Lake. This lake indeed lives up to its name, with it being transparent, you are able to see the bottom of the lake at 11-metres.  

There are also hiking trails along the Clearwater Lake Provincial Park that will take you through the surrounding area of Clearwater Lake. One of these trails leads to a place known as “the caves,” which are not actual caves but rather deep crevices.  

Clearwater Lake offers a picturesque scene for visitors and is a great location for canoeing and boating. The serene waters at Clearwater Lake offer a great place for relaxation and is a place you will definitely want to see.  

New Brunswick – Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park

One of the key qualities of the east coast of Canada is the Bay of Fundy which is home to a unique attraction known as the Hopewell Rocks. These interestingly-shaped rocks are a result of water eroding the rocks there, which produced the rounded look of the rocks.  

These sloped and curved rock formations are dotted all along the coast of Hopewell Cape and are a main feature of what makes this location so special. Just one look at the Hopewell Rocks and you’ll understand how they really are an amazing feat of nature.  

The Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park also includes multiple trails for further exploration around the area or a direct shuttle to the main attraction.  

Photo: Ruben Ortega (Unsplash)

Newfoundland and Labrador – Gros Morne National Park

Before doing anything, search up the Gros Morne National Park on the internet and the images will surely leave you amazed. This incredible national park has some truly awe-inspiring visuals and places that will leave you stunned at the beauty of Canada.  

One of the main features of the Gros Morne National Park has to be the winding waters of the ponds in the area with the surrounding mountain range as its backdrop.  

There are many things to do at the Gros Morne National Park including boat tours, long hiking trails, and camping locations. All of these activities provide you many options to immerse yourself in one of the most wonderful locations in Newfoundland and Labrador.  

Northwest Territories – Nahanni National Park Reserve

One of the most popular attractions in the Northwest Territories, the Nahanni National Park Reserve features mind-blowing canyons and massive mountains all around.  

The Nahanni National Park Reserve consists of four canyons each with their own distinct features and covers a massive area of land, spanning over 30,000 square kilometres.   

There are also waterfalls present at the Nahanni National Park Reserve with one of the most popular waterfalls being the Victoria Falls, which is the beginning of the fourth canyon.  

The wide range of breathtaking sights and sounds present at the Nahanni National Park Reserve are surely something that will make you consider visiting the Northwest Territories to experience all that Canada has to offer.  

Nova Scotia – Cape Breton Highlands National Park

The Cape Breton Highlands National Park puts the east coast’s beautiful nature on display through its lush forests and tall mountains.  

The sights at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park are predominant features of the east coast with its green forests and winding roads and trails. During the autumn, the trees in the surrounding area turn into a beautiful mixture of red, orange, and yellow that create a picture-perfect scene.  

This national park also features 26 hiking trails which allows you many opportunities to explore the whole area and learn more about the coastline. There are eight designated campgrounds, so, if you’re up for it, try camping with your friends and family and become immersed in the landscape around you.  

Photo: Isaac Demeester (Unsplash)

Nunavut – Auyuittuq National Park

At first glance, Auyuittuq National Park looks like something out of a movie and is quite hard to fathom as being something real.   

Located on Baffin Island’s Cumberland Peninsula, Auyuittuq National Park features massive mountains with deep valleys in between them. Two of the biggest mountains at Auyuittuq National Park include Mount Asgard and Mount Thor, being 2,015 metres and 1,675 metres high respectively.  

Auyuittuq National Park is also one of Canada’s largest national parks with a size of over 21,000 square kilometres. Auyuittuq National Park also has many areas for hiking and skiing, with one of the most popular being the Akshayuk Pass, a 97-kilometre area between the mountains that offers a very scenic path through the national park.  

If you are really up for exploration, Auyuittuq National Park is a place you should add to your list as the sights are surely something you will remember for the rest of your life.   

Ontario – Niagara Falls

Quite possibly the first image that comes to mind when you think of Canada, it’s hard to envision another natural wonder as grand and iconic as the Niagara Falls.  

Each year, many people in and outside of Canada flock to Niagara Falls to see the incredible waterfalls in action. Niagara Falls measures in at 670 metres wide and 57 metres tall, making it one of the biggest waterfalls in the world.  

There are many things you could do at Niagara Falls. You could take a boat ride close to the falls or you can feel the mist from the falls cascading down on you when you walk along the walkway. There’s also a gift shop for you to buy all sorts of souvenirs as well as restaurants in the surrounding area.  

Niagara Falls is a staple of Canada and Canadian culture, and is a destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) – Prince Edward Island National Park

In a way, Prince Edward Island National Park encapsulates everything that makes P.E.I. so special. From Greenwich Beach to the iconic red sand and greenery all around, there seems to be a little bit of P.E.I. sprinkled everywhere in this national park.  

There’s even the real-life recreation of the Green Gables house as part of the popular 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a Canadian author from Prince Edward Island.  

Like with many other national parks, there are walkways and hiking trails that take you through the sights and nature of Prince Edward Island National Park. There’s a pedestrian walkway that runs throughout the national park and can be a good way to see all the sights of Prince Edward Island National Park.  

Québec – Parc de la Chute-Montmorency

Located a few minutes from downtown Québec City, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is only one of many beautiful locations in Québec and it really lives up to expectations.  

The park has many trees and walkways to venture through, but the main feature of Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is an 83-metre high waterfall. Montmorency Falls is around 30-metres taller than Niagara Falls and is scenic both during the summer and winter.  

There is a bridge that spans across the passage above the falls that allows for an intimate and close experience to Montmorency Falls that you may not experience anywhere else.  

There are many activities all around Parc de la Chute-Montmorency like ziplines, walking tours, and cable cars. All of this seems like it would make for a great experience, so be sure to keep this location in mind as you may be in for a very fun time.  

Photo: Sigmund (Unsplash)

Saskatchewan – Big Muddy Badlands/Castle Butte

The Big Muddy Badlands are truly a unique landscape that is not very similar to many other places in Canada. 

It is found in southern Saskatchewan near the border with the U.S. state of Montana; and features a 60-metre high clay and sandstone formation, with a 500-metre circumference known as Castle Butte.  

There are tours that you can book to view Castle Butte or the surrounding areas such as the Outlaw Caves or the Avonlea Heritage Museum. There are many areas for you to walk around and take in the sights.   

The Big Muddy Badlands are very different from anything else you might see in Canada so that should make this a place for you to consider visiting in the future.  

Yukon – Kluane National Park and Reserve

The Kluane National Park and Reserve truly shows off the wide range of nature that Canada has to offer. This national park has a mix of glaciers and mountains that come with stunning scenery.  

You can go kayaking or boating on Lake Kathleen, set up camp at one of the campsites at the park or enjoy a stroll along the walking and hiking trails available. 

Apart from its incredible views, Kluane National Park and Reserve is also a great place to view the northern lights, or aurora borealis.  

The best chance to see the northern lights is in the first few weeks of winter, so if you ever get the chance, try to visit in December or January. The northern lights are also likely to show up from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., so you may want to get ready to stay up to witness these beautiful sights.  

Learning to appreciate the outdoors

Learning to appreciate the outdoors

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: September 22nd, 2023

Photo: Tetyana Kovyrina (Pexels) 

Presently, our society is very much focused on and centred around technology and the vast world of the internet. Wherever you go there is usually some form of technology out there and it’s difficult to escape it entirely.  

Although technology is helpful and can get you far in Canada, it could also have a negative impact on yourself and your own wellbeing. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from all this technology and connect with nature and the natural surroundings of the Earth.  

With how prevalent technology is in our lives, we may often forget the beauty of nature all around us. Technology can sometimes consume our whole lives, so it’s good to learn how to connect with reality and the world as a whole, so here is what you can do to appreciate the outdoors and the nature around us and how you can step away from technology.  

Go on a walk

One way you could learn to appreciate the outdoors is by going on a walk. It’s a very simple thing, that has numerous benefits. 

Try to walk through your local park or through the woods, as it could be a good way to disconnect and focus on what you’re seeing all around you. Be sure to take in all the sights and don’t be afraid to be fascinated by your surroundings.  

A walk can be nice to ease yourself and take your mind off your everyday life. It could help give you perspective on the world around you and help you find joy and creativity in life.  

Photo: Josh Willink (Pexels)

Plant trees

Another thing you can do to get in tune with nature is to go tree planting.  

Tree planting is a great way to appreciate the outdoors, because you will not only learn about the importance of trees and nurturing and restoring them, but you will also be actively making a positive change on this planet by helping it flourish. 

A big part of appreciating what’s around us is to also take action and what better way than to plant trees. It could be a fun activity to do, especially if you invite a few friends and chat and have a good time while positively changing the Earth.  

Canada has many organizations and places to plant trees, one of which is Tree Canada. They offers different programs and options for you to do sustainability work. 

You could even be compensated for planting trees! So, if you have time and are able to work, why not plant trees, as you can get paid and make a positive impact on climate change.  

Visit national parks

A great way to appreciate the outdoors is by visiting national parks.  

There are many national parks all across Canada and going to one of them can be a great way to escape technology and immerse yourself in the beautiful nature all around you.  

National parks are not only are they great sites for incredible views and scenery, but they also act as lessons in history and geography. By visiting a national park, you will learn more about Canada and its development.  

These parks will also help you gain perspective on why preserving these places and the environment within them is so important. National parks can help you understand what goes into keeping the environment safe and protected, and it can help you learn more about how you should conduct yourself in regards to nature.  

There are many scenic and incredible national parks out there for you to see, so if you ever feel bored of seeing the same things on social media or the internet, step outside of your house and take a trip down to one of these national parks and learn more about what makes Canada such a great country.  

Photo: Headshatter (Pexels)

Have fun!

It’s also equally important to always try and have fun with everything you do outdoors. Going on picnics in the park with your friends can be a good way to socialise and also stay away from your phone or computer.  

You can even rent a cottage and take a trip with your family or friends, and have a good time with those you’re closest to. A cottage is a good way to escape from your work life, disconnect from the internet for a bit and help you appreciate the nature that Canada has to offer.  

There are many things you could do at a cottage from having campfire dinners to hikes or even swimming or canoeing if you’re near water, the possibilities to explore are endless.  

So, try your best to have fun and be creative with everything you do in nature, because it’s a great way to build connections with the people closest to you and also build a deeper understanding and new found appreciation for the world around you.  

Affordable Products for Sustainable Living

Affordable Products for Sustainable Living

By: Dru Gary

Published on: September 18th, 2023


Living a more sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive. Making environmentally friendly choices can be both budget-friendly and good for the planet. Investing in eco-conscious products leads to a reduction in environmental footprint as well as saving money in the long run.  

Many retail establishments as well as larger corporations in Ontario, and Canada in general, have been taking initiative to reduce their eco-footprint and establish more sustainable ways of operating. Ontarians can make affordable changes in their own lives to reduce their environmental impact as well.

Reusable water bottles, cups and straws

Investing in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup is not only cost-effective but also helps reduce single-use plastic waste. It is best to opt for durable, BPA-free water bottles that can be refilled wherever you go.  

This is far more eco-friendly than buying single-use plastic water bottles. You can also buy a reusable water bottle that reflects your personal style and taste and decorate it with stickers, eco-friendly and fun! 

Similarly, reusable coffee cups or travel mugs are a great investment for coffee lovers, as many coffee shops offer discounts for using your own cup. Reusable coffee mugs are often insulated as well so they keep hot drinks hotter for longer than single use paper or plastic cups.  

Stainless steel and multi-use plastic straws have also risen to popularity in the last few years. These can be purchased at a low cost and then used endlessly. They are also essential because many cafés and restaurants no longer offer single-use plastic straws. 

Energy-efficient light bulbs

Switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs is an affordable way to reduce your energy consumption and save on electricity bills. LED bulbs consume less energy and last significantly longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.  

They may cost slightly more upfront, but last much longer. They are not only less harmful to the environment, but they are also a worthwhile investment.  

Reusable shopping bags

Invest in reusable shopping bags made from eco-friendly materials such as cotton or recycled fabric. These bags are sturdier and more durable than single-use plastic bags, reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or pollutes our oceans.  

Many retailers also offer incentives or discounts for bringing your own bags and some retail locations no longer offer bags, or charge for plastic bags, which makes it much more budget friendly to invest in your own bag and use it endlessly.  

There are many eco-friendly bags with fun and creative designs. Not only are these bags good for the environment, but they also allow for self-expression. 

Compost bins

Setting up a compost bin in your home is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to reduce food waste. Composting not only diverts waste from landfills but also produces nutrient-rich soil for gardening.  

Also, using reusable food storage containers instead of disposable plastic wraps and bags helps reduce single-use plastic waste while saving money on buying disposable alternatives. There are many options in this case, such as beeswax wraps and Tupperware containers.  

Rechargeable batteries

Investing in rechargeable batteries is not only environmentally friendly but also a wise investment that will save money in the long run. 

Rechargeable batteries last longer than disposable ones and can be used for multiple devices. They significantly reduce the number of batteries that end up in landfills, saving money on repeated purchases. 

Cloth towels and napkins

Replace disposable paper napkins and paper towels with cloth alternatives. Investing in a set of reusable cloth napkins and towels can be more cost-effective in the long run and significantly reduces waste.  

It is best to opt for organic cotton or bamboo cloth options for a more sustainable choice. It is also possible to use cloth diapers for babies and other reusable cloth products to replace single-use paper alternatives.  

Do-it-yourself cleaning supplies

It is possible to use household essentials to create eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils can be used to make low environmental impact cleaning products for the home. 

These homemade cleaners are cost-effective, free from harsh chemicals, and reduce plastic waste associated with purchasing commercial cleaning products. Using reusable plastic containers and spray bottles for these homemade cleaning products reduces waste and allows customization for cleaning products that suit the needs of the individual and home.  

Living sustainably and making environmentally friendly choices doesn’t have to be expensive. By investing in budget-friendly, eco-conscious products, it is easy and affordable to make a positive impact on the planet while saving money in the long run.  

Wild plants you can eat in Canada

Wild plants you can eat in Canada

By: Callum Denault

Published on: September 15th, 2023


Canada has a rich ecosystem, one which has comfortably fed people here for thousands of years before farming was brought to this land. In fact, many Canadians still live off the land, hunting, foraging, and farming their own food wherever they can. 

Whether you want to pick wild plants to connect with nature, find some cool new ingredients for cooking, or simply to save on grocery money, this list is for you. Some edible plants are actually very common, you may have walked past them several times without realizing, or thrown them away when mowing your lawn and not realizing the “weeds” you discarded could actually be made into a tasty dish. 

As a general rule of thumb, all plants you pick out in the wild should at the least be washed before eating—if not, cooked as well—due to how dirty they can get in natural environments.  

Dandelions

These flowers are often seen as little more than annoying weeds in North America, where they are extremely common and tend to ruin gardens. However, dandelions are also a nutritious food source, being filled with vitamins and nutrients, antioxidants, and can potentially help people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The entire plant is edible and there are several recipes for cooking it; dandelion greens are known for their bitter, earthy flavour that is popular in salads.  

The roots can be roasted into dandelion coffee, a caffeine-free and milder tasting alternative to normal coffee. If you want to make dandelion coffee, it is recommended you pick plants that are older by choosing them from large clusters of dandelions. Younger plants still make for good coffee but their roots are more bitter tasting. You should also pick the roots in early spring before the plants have started to grow leaves and flowers, because at that point all their nutrients are stored in the roots, making for a more nutritious drink. 

Pineapple weed

This close relative of chamomile often grows in broken soil, such as in dirt roads, driveways, cracked sidewalk tiles, and other similar locations. It can be identified from other plants by its distinctive pineapple-like smell and flavour, which it gives off as soon as its buds are crushed.  

It can be eaten by itself, dried, or cooked. Pineapple weed makes for a popular herbal tea, similar to chamomile.  

Staghorn sumac

This is another plant that makes for good herbal tea, with its distinctive red clusters of berries being boiled down into a hot drink, or otherwise being used to make sauces, a tart syrup, or dried into spice. However, you should take some precautions when trying to prepare sumac

First, you will want to soak the berries to release some of their acid. The resulting liquid can be used as a drink, but you need to filter it first—using either a sieve or a coffee strainer—to remove the irritating little hairs the plant comes with.  

It is also important to learn how to distinguish staghorn sumac from poison sumac, which is a similar looking plant. Poison sumac tends to grow in wet areas, and are rarer outside of swamps. Staghorn sumac tends to have toothed edges to its leaves, which come with nine to 31 leaflets, while poison sumac has smooth-edged leaves that at most have only 13 leaflets. Staghorn sumac has little hairs on its twigs, while poison sumac has smooth twigs, so you can tell them apart even in winter when they have no leaves.  

Cattail

Cattails grow in water, and are named for their stalks which end in distinctive soft, brown fuzzy tips. Several parts of this plant are edible, including the tips which are known as catkins. The roots can be cooked by themselves or used to make flour, and are harvested by removing the smaller, branching roots to get at the big one.  

During the spring—when the catkins are green and hidden within leaves—you can pull them off and eat them after cooking, similar to corn on the cob. After these catkins have turned brown, they can no longer be eaten in this way, but they are still very useful. Brown catkins can be harvested, which gives you a lot of their pollen that can be used to make a high-protein alternative to flour. 

Young cattails are edible, but you should be careful to avoid mistaking them for iris plants, which look similar when young, but are toxic when eaten. Look around the young cattails to see which plants matured, so you are sure what you are picking are actually cattails and not a lookalike. Also make sure you harvest cattails from clean water, because these plants filter out toxic waste, including pesticides.   

Garlic mustard

This herb is invasive in Canada, having been brought from its native territory of Asia, Africa, and Europe as an edible herb. The Ontario government recommends people not spread the plant and get rid of it wherever they can, because garlic mustard outgrows native flora and is not a useful food source for Canadian animals. However, this does not stop you from eating garlic mustard if you find it, as long as you are not helping it choke out local ecosystems. 

Garlic mustard can be found in city parks, as well as alongside roads, streams, or in wilderness areas. It can be identified by its kidney-shaped basil-like leaves, which leave a distinctive garlic smell when crushed. Garlic mustard looks similar to non-edible plants—like stinging nettle—so make sure you are certain you have picked the right plant before eating it. 

While it can be eaten raw, every part of garlic mustard except for its stem has a bitter taste, which means it is better used when cooked into something, such a sauce, salad, or dip.  

Crab apples

These trees are known for their small, sour fruits, which are different from the big and sweet apples you usually find in grocery stores. However, just like other apples, they are edible as long as you avoid eating the seeds or core. A crab apple is ripe when you can squish it with your hand, its seeds are brown instead of white or green, and it has a sour taste that is not overwhelming. 

It is best used when cooked, and there are several recipes that you can make with crab apples, including apple butter, applesauce, pies, fruit leather, jams, and more. 

How to hunt and fish legally in Canada 

How to hunt and fish legally in Canada 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: September 11th, 2023


Gathering your own food can be a rewarding and old-fashioned way to save money on grocery shopping, whether you do it through hunting live animals, fishing, or gathering wild crops to eat. While Canada is filled with a lot of edible wildlife, it is important that hunters and fishers follow the laws in a humane, sustainable way. 

Hunting license, gun license, and other permits

Anyone who wants to hunt wild animals in Canada must have a hunting license, and licenses for any guns they plan on using to hunt.  

Canadian residents can apply for a firearms license with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) either online or by mail. Some crossbows are prohibited, such as those that can be aimed and fired with one hand, or are at least 500 millimeters in length (19.68 inches). Other types of bows are fine to own without the need for a registration or license.  

American citizens or residents are allowed to bring their guns into Canada, as long as every gun they bring is declared, and none of their firearms are prohibited weapons in Canada.  

Non-residents who want to hunt in Ontario will need an Outdoor card, to be accredited with the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service, and any other licenses needed for the specific animal they want to hunt. Any non-resident ​​who wants to hunt a black bear must contact an operator licensed to offer bear hunting services, and similarly, non-residents wishing to hunt moose must reach out to a tourist outfitter.  

Hunting laws by province 

To avoid trouble with the authorities, it is important to make yourself familiar with the local laws in the province or territory you plan to hunt in, and how they apply to whichever type of animal you plan to hunt. You can find a list of provincial/territorial government webpages about hunting laws from Outdoor Canada and the Canadian Hunter Alliance

For example, if you were planning to hunt white-tailed deer in Ontario, you would need to visit the Ontario Hunting Regulations Summary website and browse the table of contents to find their entry on the white-tailed deer. Each section of Ontario is listed—which is under a Wildlife Management Unit—along with when the animal is in season (allowed to be hunted), depending on what kind of weapon you are using, and if you are resident or non-resident of Ontario. 

The Ontario website also has a guide on how to use their regulations, which comes with a contact email and phone number for those who need more help. 

Hunting migratory birds 

To hunt migratory birds in Canada, you must have a Migratory Game Bird Hunting (MGBH) permit. These permits are issued by the federal government, are valid anywhere in Canada, and must have a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation (CWHC) stamp on them.  

Similar to the laws for hunting land-based animals, each province and territory has its own regulations for hunting birds. For example, the Ontario regulations divide the province into ​​four hunting districts headed by their own Wildlife Management Units​​ which limits how many animals of a specific species hunters are allowed to kill and bag, as well as banning certain birds from being hunted at all.  

Hunters can only kill and bag a single member of the Barrow’s Goldeneye species, while Harlequin​​ Ducks, King Rails, and Yellow Rails have no open season. In order to protect animals in danger of going extinct and to avoid getting in legal trouble for hunting a protected species, it is important you do not kill any animal you are unable to clearly identify. 

Fishing laws in Canada

In general, provincial/territorial governments are in charge of freshwater fishing laws, while the federal government overlooks marine fishing; with the exception of salt water fish species that tend to migrate into freshwater areas. As with the regulations for other types of animals, here is a list of websites for the fishing laws of each province and territory.  

Ontario allows both Canadian residents and non-residents to apply for a fishing license, and similar to hunting, ​​ There are catch limits on how many fish you are allowed to keep in a day, without releasing them back into the water; how many you are allowed to possess (including in any number of fridges or coolers you have at home, but not including any fish you ate or gave away), and limitations preventing you from keeping fish of a certain size.  

To keep fish populations healthy, Ontario has restrictions on certain fish species, and you are not allowed to keep a fish if it is too small or large. It is recommended you measure a fish from the tip of its closed mouth to the end of its tail, with its tail fins compressed to maximize the fish’s length. 

You must release a fish still alive and back into the water if it fails to meet certain requirements. This includes fish that are the wrong size, belong to protected species, would put you over your limit of caught fish, were caught out of season, or fish that were hooked anywhere other than their mouth. The Ontario government has advice on how to best catch and release fish in a safe, humane way. 

Hunting marine mammals

Commercial hunting of whales is banned in Canada, with the exception of licenses given to Indigenous Canadians, who are referred to as “Indian or Inuk” in legal writing. Laws on the hunting of whales, dolphins, walruses, and seals are generally meant to ensure animals are killed as quickly and humanely as possible, and that no part of any hunted animal is wasted.  

Hunting of seals—or sealing—is allowed for commercial reasons, and their fur is valuable. Compared to other hunting practices in Canada, commercial sealing is very controversial, with the methods sealers use being condemned by activists

Biking trails in Toronto  

Biking trails in Toronto   

Biking trails to ride in Toronto  

By: Josephine Naghavie 

Published on: September 8th, 2023


If you are looking for a way to spend your day outside, here are some beautiful biking trails with gorgeous scenery. These bike trails are a great way to see the sights and nature, as Toronto is a very urbanized city. Pedal your way through these beautiful, family friendly trails, that will give you a view of Toronto you will be least expecting!  

Toronto Islands

The city’s islands are a stunning setting for a bike ride. You can take the ferry with your bike to the islands and start riding as soon as you get off. If you do not have a bike, do not worry! There are many rental places that have so many options as soon as you get off the boat. The biking trails go around the island, so you are able to see the sights at a quicker pace than walking. The biking trails are pavement, with some crushed gravel, but it makes for a smooth and enjoyable ride.

Humber River Recreational Trail

The Humber Trail is a large trail that contains two different areas for your own personal pleasure. If you prefer mountain biking, on the north side, the trails are suited for bigger tires and larger climbs. If you are looking for a more calming ride to enjoy the sights, the south side has old bridges, gardens, beautiful waterfalls, and nearby rivers to enjoy. The trail is paved and connects to the waterfront trail, it is a perfect way to escape the city’s waters.

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail

This amazing and natural trail has no obstacles which makes it an easy ride. The trail is on flat land and mostly paved. The path is behind many residential areas, so if you want to take a sneak peek into some extravagant backyards in the Forest Hill and Rosedale area, this is the perfect trail for you. There are many ravines along the way, and some portions of the trail must be crossed on a street to get to the connecting side. This allows for breaks in the attached park for a perfect little picnic!

High Park

High Park is generally a beautiful park to spend your day on the west end of Toronto on any occasion and any season! They have biking trails that loop around the entire park so that you can check every corner out. The path includes both paved road and dirt roads, featuring bridges and ravines. You will be able to make lots of little pit stops to check out the scenery. If you’re headed there in the spring, make sure to check out the famous cherry blossom trees.

Lower Don River Trail

This trail runs alongside the river that connects to Toronto’s urban neighborhoods. Portions of this path are wooded, but the majority stays paved for a much easier ride. This trail provides access to different areas of downtown Toronto, so it can be a perfect trail if you want to check out neighboring areas. The most stunning part of this trail is that the end point finishes right at the Distillery District, so that you can enjoy a meal or refreshment after your hard work!

Woodbine Beach and The Boardwalk

This trail is a pleasant ride along the water. It is the perfect spot if you want to go for a bike ride, and have a break by the beach. The area tends to get busier on the warmer days, so be mindful that the riding is more of a relaxing and scenic pedal. You will be able to enjoy the view of the waters, the sights, and the beautiful nature.

Morningside Park

This park is Toronto’s largest park and is a beautiful area to escape the grand city life. This trail is paved and leads to lush valley landscapes and forests. The path is paved with elevation so you can have some fun and play around with your biking. The trails are also very large, so you have lots of room! This is more of a remote area, so this place is perfect if you want to clear your head or are looking for some peace and quiet. At the end of the trail, there are beginner tracks with dirt jumps if you are looking to test your skills.

Etobicoke Creek Trail

This trail is amazing and is located on the west end, near Mississauga. It is a beautiful route that is tucked into the natural boundary zone from Lake Ontario along the Etobicoke River. It is a completely paved trail that can also take you to more natural sections, where there are no paved areas. The creek trail is mostly calm, but there are some dangerous areas that have rapid waterfalls. Although they are beautiful to look at, make sure to watch your step! 

The refuge of nature activities

The refuge of nature activities  

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 6th, 2023


“Refugees are people who have been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence [and have] a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group,” according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” 

Over 200,000 new refugees have recently gained permanent residence in Canada. In a 2017 study published in Leisure Sciences, research professors Jane Hurly and Gordon J. Walker at Royal Roads University and University of Alberta, respectively, recruited four refugees from Africa and the Middle East with the help of Catholic Social Services Canada to join an overnight camping trip in northern Alberta in the winter of 2015. They wanted to know if time spent in nature, doing vacation activities like ice fishing, forest walks, and community bonfires, would improve the refugees’ mental wellbeing and help them adjust comfortably to a new life in Canada.  

The Cambridge Dictionary defines nature as “all the animals, plants, rocks, etc. in the world and all the features, forces, and processes that happen or exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth.”  

Because nature offers fresh air to breathe, silence to retreat away from daily stress, and open spaces like gardens and parks where you can enjoy time with friends and family, it is generally known to have a calming effect. Because its scenery raises meaningful questions and thoughts about creation, consciousness, and connection, nature also inspires a sense of spirituality in people.  

Nature, however, can also be inaccessible and unpredictable. “Newcomers may face constraints to outdoor leisure that include lack of time, limited income, lack of transportation, and perceived discrimination,” say the researchers “Fear has been found to constrain many newcomers regardless of race and ethnicity. Fears included those of the unknown, experiencing untamed landscapes, getting lost, and, for women, fear of sexual assaults.” 

After Hurly and Walker interviewed the study participants about their Albertan camping experiences, they interpreted the interview data with verified methods of analysis to better understand refugee settlement problems, in the hope that their findings can inform the development of services for this “vulnerable sector of immigrants.” 

The researchers found that the participants did in fact feel trauma and nervousness at times. Though they believed the area they were living in was fascinatingly beautiful and engaging, the howling of wolves, for example, signalled danger to one of the African refugees: “I feared I heard some kind of hyenas at night. So, I said, ‘What if I came across a hyena when I move out?’ I was a bit scared. I stayed in my cabin till morning.” Another participant, a man from Lebanon, remembered his painful past of “harassment, violence, and racism” during the sojourn in his old country when looking at fir trees around a lake.  

With self-determination and trust-worthy support from park staff and agency members, however, both refugees came to realize the relative safety of Canada and were then able to create positive memories within its landscape. All four study participants felt free to make friends, to learn new activities with their kids, and to hope towards a future where they might no longer free watchful eyes or the censure of relatives.  

Upon reflection of their camping experience, “participants described feelings of well-being and optimism about living in Canada [and they] described their plans for advancing their education, finding a job, and [securely working towards other aspirations].” 

“The outdoor experience appeared to have inspired feelings of well-being, manifested in expressions of mastery, achievement, pride determination, courage, and autonomy,” noted the researchers. “[They] were inspired by what they had experienced at the outdoor camp, and their experiences of connectedness to the natural world, and the winter activities they mastered […] elevated their sense of belonging and connectedness to Canada.” 

Unbelievable places to watch the sunset in Toronto

Unbelievable places to watch the sunset in Toronto 

Places to Visit the Sunset in Toronto

By: Josephine Naghavie 

Published on: September 4th, 2023


Toronto is a bustling city that holds many hidden places to those who are unfamiliar. When summer arrives and is in full swing, finding a place to watch the beautiful sunset is crucial. Toronto’s skies can be seen at these places all year round, and are easily accessible through walking, driving, and public transportation.  

Below are the top spots in Toronto to view the sunsets. You will find something different for everyone’s interests, whether that be somewhere busy to gather with friends, family, and loved ones, or somewhere nice and quiet for some time to yourself. Pack a bag with some essentials and get ready for a beautiful view!  

Essentials to Pack for Sunset viewing 

  • A blanket or sheet to sit on. 
  • Your favourite drink.  
  • A snack.  
  • Some earphones if you would like to listen to some tunes during your viewing.  

Polson Pier

Formally known as ‘The Docks,’ Polson Pier holds many activities such as mini golf and a driving range. During sunset hours, the entire area is cast in an iconic glow of orange over the CN Tower and the lake. There are benches located near the boardwalk, places to stand, and also some grass areas to lay a blanket and have a seat.  

Keep in mind that, because of its amazing atmosphere, Rebel Nightclub is also situated along the boardwalk, so it is suggested to those who are viewing the sunset to reach the grounds earlier to find parking spots available. Because of the nightclub and the pool bar, the crowds can get super busy.  

Polson Pier is wonderful for that perfect Instagram worthy experience.  

Location:

11 Polson Street, Toronto, ON, M5A 1A4  

Toronto Islands

The islands are located on Lake Ontario and are only a 13-minute ride on the ferry. The islands are a gorgeous spot to spend the day, and they offer various activities including bike trails, beaches, and picnic spots with tables. There are many places on the islands that have crowds and the busy lifestyle, or some quiet space to relax. The sunset at the islands is picture worthy as it casts over the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower.  

The ferry stop is located at Harbourfront. The lines can get long if you go later in the day, so try and head there early. You can also take a water taxi that is much faster than the ferry!  

Location:  

Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is located at 9 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON, M5J 2H3  

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach is in downtown Toronto and is a man-made beach at the pier on Harbourfront. Most of the pier is in hidden shadows, because of all the skyscrapers that surround the area, but if you head to the southern tip of the beach, you will get a gorgeous view of the sunset on the harbour. The beach has many chairs for public use, and is quiet and relaxing. You may even get lucky and see some planes landing and taking off from the city’s centre airport.  

Location:  

11 Dockside Drive, Toronto, ON, M5A 1B6  

Riverdale Park

This beautiful park features a big hill that can get busy during all four seasons of the year. It offers many amenities such as tennis courts, ice rinks, running tracks, and can be used for tobogganing during the winter.  

Behind a panoramic view of the city’s skyline, the beautiful sunset can be viewed from the many benches at the top of the hill or from your own cosy blanket on the grass.  

There are many events that take place at the park that include outdoor DJ’s, so if listening to some tunes while relaxing during golden hour is something you would enjoy, this is the perfect place for you.  

Location:  

550 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON, M4K 2N6  

Woodbine Beach

Woodbine Beach is a perfect spot if you miss having your toes in the sand while in the city. The beach is on the lake and is safe to swim in, as it contains a lifeguard so you can relax and feel at ease. They have activities if you are looking for something to do like bike trails, volleyball nets, and a park for kids. The location of this beach is perfect as there are many restaurants around and food trucks right on the beach.  

The sunset view is a must-see. The sun falls right on the water, casting a beautiful orange glow.  

Location 

1675 Lake Shore Blvd E, Toronto, ON, M4L 3W6 

Scarborough Bluffs

At the edge of Scarborough, you will find sandy dune beaches. This popular spot holds many picnic tables, benches, and trails to enjoy some fantastic views.  

Featuring soft sand dunes and swimming rocks, this beach has the most natural scenery in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The sunset at this beach is stunning because the view is constantly changing colours.  

If you are looking for a refreshing and calm atmosphere, this is the perfect place for you.  

Location  

1 Brimley Rd. S, Bluffers Park Road, Scarborough, ON, M1M 3W3 

Broadview Hotel Rooftop

You will find this beautiful hotel that has a rooftop space for everyone to enjoy, even those who are not guests. There is an indoor lounge with glass windows that can be used all year round, or the outdoor terrace. This beautiful historic space gives views of the Don River and the Toronto skyline. This is a first come first serve basis, so try and head there a bit earlier so you can get settled before enjoying the sunset. The restaurant offers lovely cocktails, shareable appetisers, and live music.  

Location 

106 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON, M4M 2G1 

Stadium Road Park Boardwalk

A serene boardwalk along the water, located near Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto.  

Following the path right to the end of the boardwalk is the perfect place to watch the sunset, while sitting on the edge. Benches are available for public use, along with grass areas to bring your own blanket.  

If you are lucky, you can watch the planes taking off or landing amidst the beautiful colours of the sunset.  

Location 

10 Stadium Road, Toronto, ON, M5V 3W5  

Ontario Wildlife

Ontario Wildlife

By: Dru Gary

Published on: September 1st, 2023


Moving to a new place far from home can be intimidating and exciting. There are so many things to learn about your new environment. Ontario is known for its stunning provincial parks, abundance of beautiful lakes, as well as a wide array of wildlife.  

Ontario has a unique ecological landscape that a variety of creatures call home. There are some critters that dwell in cities and others that can only be found in woodsy and rural areas. Being familiar with your local wildlife and aware of the role they play in the ecosystem is a way to connect and learn about your new surroundings.  

What do you do if you encounter a skunk at a park? What if you see a bear in the woods? What to do when a raccoon is rooting through your trash? Are squirrels okay to approach or should they be feared and avoided? 

This Newcomer’s guide to wildlife will go over the basics and how to deal with common animal encounters.  

Skunks

Skunks are extremely common in Ontario. They are nocturnal. They are known for their signature jet black coat with two white stripes down the sides of their backs. They live in grassy fields and at the edge of forests. In urban areas they can be found in parks or in burrows beneath buildings and porches. 

The black and white creatures are also known for the putrid odor they emit as a defense method when they feel threatened. It is best to never approach a skunk to avoid getting sprayed with their odor. If you do by chance get sprayed, you will not be injured or harmed, but the stench will stick to your clothing.  

Taking a bath with 2 to 4 cups of baking soda added to the water will remove the smell from your body. To remove the smell from clothes, regular detergent with a ½ cup of baking soda should do the trick. Make sure to air dry the garments. 

Racoons

Raccoons are among the most populous wildlife in Ontario. They are known for being nocturnal, as well as, for their gray and black striped coat and their “bandit-mask” facial colouring. They are intelligent and sneaky creatures, they are incredible food scavengers. Raccoons can live in tree stumps and logs. 

More commonly in cities, raccoons can make their homes in garages, under porches, attics, and sewers. Raccoons are known for rummaging through trash for food, because of this, it is best to use a garbage can that seals or securely closes to avoid these creatures tearing up your trash.  

Bats

Bats are highly mythologized animals. The fear of bats comes from spooky vampire tales, but luckily, bats are fairly harmless. If bitten by a bat, you should immediately wash the infected area with soap and water and get checked out by your family doctor or go to the Emergency Room just to be safe. 

Bats are nocturnal animals. If you find a bat flying into your home, do not try to capture it. You can open the door or window and wait for the bat to fly out. If you are having issues with bats in your home it is best to not resolve these problems on your own. Instead, call your municipal animal services and let them handle it.  

Foxes

Foxes are relatively small animals with red/orange colouring, a white underside, and black legs. These canines are falsely attributed to being deceitful or nefarious animals, when in reality they are often shy and nervous by nature.  

Foxes, like raccoons, are known for rummaging through trash. To prevent this, ensure that your garbage cans are securely closed. To avoid fox encounters, it is also important to not approach foxes and teach children to do the same. Most importantly, do not feed foxes. 

If you have any pets do not allow them to be outside at night unsupervised. Foxes are omnivores that eat small mammals as part of their diet, they hunt primarily in the mornings and evenings. 

Moose

Moose are another Canadian classic. They are known for their large stature. They can weigh between 300-700 kg and reach 2.1 m in height.  These giant creatures are less common than the other animals listed here, but if you are camping, in more rural areas or provincial parks you might just come across one. They are nocturnal and like feeding and grazing in mostly swampy areas.  

Moose are generally not aggressive and will only attack if they are stressed out. If you see a moose out in the wild you should not run. You should stay calm and freeze in place and then slowly back away and head back in the direction you came. If a moose ever charges you, it is best to find something sold to hide behind.  

Squirrels 

Squirrels are small rodent-like animals with bushy tails. Squirrels in Ontario are most often black or brown. They are active during the day and sleep at night. They are extremely common in Ontario, especially in urban environments. They are generally harmless and will not approach you.  

A squirrel is most likely to approach you if you offer it food, which as a rule of thumb you should not do. Squirrels will not be quick to attack or bite. The fluffy tailed creatures are known to make homes in attics. To avoid this it is best to make sure there are no holes in the external structure and to make sure that long tree branches are trimmed back so squirrels can’t get on the roof or into the home.  

Becoming familiar with the creatures of Ontario and the ways they interact with human beings is an integral part of maintaining a happy harmony with nature and your new environment. 

Getting started with console gaming in Canada 

Getting started with console gaming in Canada 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: August 22nd, 2023


Photo: Pavel Danilyuk (Pexels) 

When getting started with gaming it may be hard to know where you can begin. There are many different consoles and places where you can play video games, which may cause some confusion.  

There is also the fact that there are thousands of video games out there for you to buy and invest time into, therefore it may be difficult to understand how you even start gaming.  

To avoid confusion and help guide you on your path, this article will outline some of the basics you need to know to begin your journey with console gaming and explore the vast world of video games.   

Where is everyone playing? 

Most gamers and other Canadians are likely playing on the most recently released consoles: the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, and the PlayStation 5. 

Each console comes with its own perks and incentives, so it’s totally up to you to decide which one appeals to you the most or suits your current situation the best.  

How much does each console cost? 

*Console prices from Best Buy Canada as of July 2023 

Nintendo 

The Nintendo Switch comes in three variations with different price points: 

  • Original model: $399.99 
  • OLED model: $449.99 
  • Nintendo Switch Lite: $259.99 

The Nintendo Switch is a unique console because it can act as both a handheld gaming device and also one that you can hook up to a TV or monitor. The Nintendo Switch Lite, the cheapest variation, is the only one that is solely a handheld device and can’t be connected to a TV or monitor.  

While the original model and OLED model share many similarities, there are some differences that justify the OLED model’s higher price. The main difference is the display on the OLED model provides better colours, picture quality, and overall performance in comparison to the original model.   

Xbox 

The Xbox Series console comes in two variations:  

  • Xbox Series X: $599.99 
  • Xbox Series S: $379.99 

The Xbox Series X comes with one terabyte of storage for all your games. The Xbox Series X can run the latest games at a high-performance level and is the optimal experience for Xbox gamers. The Xbox Series S is the cheaper option and comes with 512 gigabytes of storage. The Series S console is a less powerful, digital-only console, whereas the Series X can run physical game discs at high resolution.  

PlayStation 

The PlayStation 5 also has two different variations:  

  • PlayStation 5 disc console: $649.99 
  • PlayStation 5 digital console: $599.99 

Both PlayStation 5 console variations have the same specifications and both can run the same games at the same exact output, the only difference being the more expensive version can play physical games, while the digital console doesn’t have a disc drive and can only play digital games.   

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

Console accessories 

The Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series consoles, and PlayStation 5 all include cables and at least one controller for you to begin playing with your initial purchase, but also offer other accessories to add or enhance your gaming experience.  

Nintendo Switch 

The Nintendo Switch offers users many different accessories to allow for a different experience while playing or for more players with one console. These accessories include: 

  • Joy-Con controller: $99.99 
  • Nintendo Switch Pro controller: $89.99
  • Joy-Con charging dock: $39.99 
  • Nintendo Switch Dock: $74.99 or $87.49 for OLED model 

The Nintendo Switch allows customers to purchase Joy-Con controllers which can be used for one person with both or can be used by two people, as they are two separate controllers. The Nintendo Switch also comes with a Pro controller which looks more like a traditional video game console controller.  

Xbox Series consoles 

The Xbox Series consoles also offer multiple options for customers to invest into their console. These options include:  

  • Xbox wireless controller: From $74.99 upwards
  • Xbox rechargeable battery: $29.99 
  • Xbox wireless headset: $129.99 

Xbox offers their users many different controller colours and design schemes so you can fully customise your gaming experience on Xbox. They also offer a rechargeable battery for your controller so you don’t have to keep inserting batteries into the controller, as well as a headset for more immersion in your games.   

PlayStation 5 

The PlayStation 5 offers many different accessories to improve your experience with the console. These things include:  

  • DualSense controller: $89.99 (Midnight Black, White) or $94.99 (Cosmic Red, Galactic Purple, Starlight Blue, Nova Pink, Grey Camouflage) 
  • PlayStation 5 console covers: $69.99 
  • PlayStation 5 HD camera: $79.99 
  • PlayStation 5 DualSense wireless controller charging station: $39.99 
  • Pulse 3D wireless gaming headset: $129.99 (White, Black, Grey Camo)

With these accessories you can play with more people on the same console or customise the look of your console with the console covers. You can also enhance your gaming experience through the headset and camera that is offered.  

Photo: Martin Martz (Pexels) 

Exclusive video games 

A big part of the console gaming market are exclusive, first-party games. These are video games that are only available on a certain platform and gaming companies have these franchises exclusive to their consoles to draw in customers. If you would like to play some of these franchises, you will have to buy the console where it is available.  

Nintendo 

Nintendo is well-known for their cooperative, party-type games. Nintendo games are ones that you will likely enjoy playing with others, but they also have some high-quality single-player games as well. Nintendo game franchises include:  

  • Mario (includes Mario Kart, Mario Party, etc.) 
  • Super Smash Bros. 
  • The Legend of Zelda 
  • Animal Crossing 
  • Pokémon 
  • Kirby 
  • Nintendo Switch Sports (building off the popular Wii Sports)  

Xbox 

Xbox also has their own exclusive franchises that are enjoyed by millions of users, much like the other consoles. Some Xbox franchises include: 

  • Halo 
  • Gears of War 
  • Forza  
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 
  • Fable 

PlayStation 

Like Nintendo, PlayStation is well-known for its exclusive franchises and many gamers buy a PlayStation console just so they can play these games. Some PlayStation exclusive franchises include: 

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 
  • God of War 
  • Ratchet and Clank 
  • Ghost of Tsushima  
  • Uncharted 
  • The Last of Us 
  • Gran Turismo 
Photo: FOX (Pexels) 

Third-party video games 

Third-party video games are games developed for most or all consoles. This is the majority of the video game landscape with developers shipping games to multiple consoles for everyone to enjoy.  

Most third-party video games are available on all consoles, the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation, however, the vast majority of third-party games are available on both Xbox and PlayStation, not always Nintendo. Some of the most popular third-party video game franchises include:  

  • Call of Duty 
  • Sports games (FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, NHL, UFC, etc.)  
  • Fortnite 
  • Assassin’s Creed 
  • Grand Theft Auto
Photo: Mikhail Nilov (Pexels) 

Online play and bundles 

With console gaming you can not only enjoy offline, single-player adventures, but you can also connect online and play online multiplayer with other gamers across the world. However, to do so you will have to pay extra for certain services. These services come with online play, but also offer other perks to entice subscribers.  

Nintendo 

Nintendo offers users two options for online play: Nintendo Switch Online and Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. Both offerings come with an individual deal which costs $24.99/year and $63.99/year, respectively, as well as a family membership which you can share with seven other people that costs $44.99/year and $99.99/year.  

A basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription will grant you online play for Nintendo Switch games as well as access to classic games from old Nintendo consoles namely the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy among other perks.  

A Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership grants subscribers all the benefits of the regular Nintendo Switch Online option while granting expansion packs to certain Nintendo Switch games and an expanded classic games library including games from the old Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and SEGA Genesis consoles  

Xbox 

Xbox offers console gamers two great options to get into gaming with their Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, priced at $12.99/month and $18.99/month, respectively.  

Xbox Game Pass gives Xbox gamers access to online play, special discounts and deals, as well as thousands of new and classic games ready to be downloaded and played. Xbox Game Pass is also unique in the fact that they release certain games, mainly Xbox first party games, on the service the day they come out.  

This means that a new game that comes out and is generally priced at $79.99 or $89.99 for a single purchase, is available on Xbox Game Pass if you’re subscribed to the service. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also gives subscribers a great offer of paying $1 for the first month of their subscription before having to pay $18.99/month afterwards.  

PlayStation 

PlayStation offers its users PlayStation Plus which comes with three subscription tiers: PlayStation Plus Essential, PlayStation Plus Extra, and PlayStation Plus Premium. Here’s a rundown of each tier of PlayStation Plus:  

  • PlayStation Plus Essential 

This option allows users to play online multiplayer with their games and also gives subscribers other perks such as special discounts, cloud storage, exclusive content, and monthly games. Every month, a few games are added to PlayStation Plus and subscribers are able to add them to their library at no extra cost and are able to keep them as long as they are subscribed to PlayStation Plus.  

PlayStation Plus Essential offers three payment options priced at $11.99/month, $29.99/every three months, or $69.99/year.  

  • PlayStation Plus Extra 

PlayStation Plus Extra has all the benefits of the Essential tier, however it gives users access to a large catalogue of hundreds of PlayStation 4 and 5 games. These games are available for you to download directly on your console and games will be added or removed on a monthly basis.  

First-party, exclusive PlayStation games such as God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, and Uncharted are available as well as third-party franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts.  

PlayStation Plus Extra will cost $17.99/month, $49.99/every three months, or $114.99/year.  

  • PlayStation Plus Premium 

This is the most expensive option available, but also offers the most to subscribers. The Premium tier gives subscribers access to everything that the Essential and Extra tiers have, while also giving users a large library of classic PlayStation games from the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable consoles.  

You are also able to play games via cloud streaming, which means you can play certain games without downloading them if you have a good enough internet connection to do so. You can download most games available on PlayStation Plus Premium, except for the PlayStation 3 titles which are primarily available to play through cloud streaming.  

Check out this website for the full game catalogue available for both the Extra and Premium tiers.  

PlayStation Plus Premium costs $21.99/month, $59.99/every three months, or $139.99/year.  

Learning a language by watching TV and playing video games

Learning a language by watching TV and playing video games

By: Callum Denault

Published on: August 15th, 2023


Learning another language may not be easy, but it certainly does not have to be boring.  

Here are some ways you can get better at a second language, while having fun watching movies, television shows or playing video games! 

Benefits to learning languages from movies and TV 

Other than the fact that it may be a more entertaining way to learn another language, there are actually some benefits to watching foreign movies and TV shows. The main benefit is that actors tend to speak in a fast, imperfect way like how people normally do when talking in everyday life.  

Educational materials designed to teach another language will always be important and useful, but instructors and participants in language courses tend to speak in a slow, stilted way, that is unlike how people normally speak. Also, sometimes words are not pronounced properly when spoken, due to slang terms and differing accents. For example, English speakers often say, “do you want it,” in a way that sounds more like, “dew one it.”  

Watching TV in the language you are learning is not only a great way to understand the average person’s slang and speed, but it also helps you develop a more natural sounding accent yourself.  

There are other benefits to this style of learning. Watching content from a part of the world you are hoping to travel to can help you to familiarize yourself with the area’s language and also its culture.You can tailor the words and phrases you learn by choosing what program you watch. For instance, a zookeeper trying to learn Spanish may be interested in a Mexican documentary about wildlife. This is a great way to stay motivated when learning a language, since watching a fun movie or show is more engaging and will likely keep you more focused. 

Watching and reading foreign news 

The news is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with a foreign language, so much that many linguists say one of their goals is to watch or read the news in another language. Not only are sources easy to find on the internet, but it comes in multiple forms; meaning you can read, watch, and/or listen to content. On top of that, any good source of news is educational and enriching in its own merit, no matter what dialect it is written in. 

Additionally, news is very standardized: broadcasters speak in a formal, clear tone that is easy to hear, and journalists similarly write in a straightforward, slang-free manner. This arguably makes news a good intermediate point between the very formal way language courses are conducted and the totally natural, yet harder to understand, ways that movie actors speak. 

Using subtitles and audio to change the difficulty 

Because you can change both the language the show is spoken in, as well as, the language the captions use, this allows you to customize your television for whatever best helps you learn.  

For example, an easy way to start would be to listen to the show in your native tongue and have the subtitles translate it into the language you are trying to learn. A slightly more challenging way would be to change the audio into a foreign dialect and have the captions translate it into your primary language. If you feel you are advanced enough in your second language, you can also change a program’s subtitles and audio to both be in that second language, so you can completely immerse yourself. It can also help to simply the process by watching a show or movie in the language you want to learn, with no subtitles at all. This will force you to rely on your auditory skills.  

Ultimately, the combination of subtitles and audio is best left up to you, where you are in your journey, and what you feel will help you learn at your own pace. 

Playing video games in another language 

Video games potentially offer even more ways to help you learn other languages. Similar to movies and TV shows, you can change the settings to be in whatever language you want. Another option is to play multiplayer games with other people speaking the language you want to learn. This can range from playing with a friend who is either a native speaker or fellow student of the language, to playing with foreign strangers online. 

Some video games allow players to decide which server they connect to, making it easier to find other gamers who speak a particular language and live in a certain part of the world. For instance, in World of Warcraft, North American gamers can join a Latin American server and communicate with players who will most likely be speaking Spanish.  

Of course, not all video games heavily rely on players communicating with each other to win, so some games may be better for learning languages than others. For instance, Among Us requires players to talk with each other in written chat to find out which one of them is a killer, making it good for learning languages and may even work in a school setting too. Other franchises like Call of Duty have a voice chat feature, but those might not be as central to the game’s rules, so players will probably not talk to each other as much. 

Unfortunately, while playing video games can improve a person’s cognitive skills, online gamers frequently harass each other. Gaming culture rationalizes toxic behaviour as part of gaming, even though suffering from online abuse can have negative long-term effects. It is worse for people who are not the stereotypical young, white, male gamer. A lot of women unfortunately opt not to speak in voice chat when playing online games to avoid being harassed. 

Here is a list of games known for having toxic communities. You can either avoid joining them or only play online while prepared to deal with rude players. Remember, learning a new language is a long process, and you’re doing the best you can, so don’t let the mean players discourage you from trying.

Exploring the role and relationship of Canadian beef cattle with the environment

Exploring the role and relationship of Canadian beef cattle with the environment

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: August 8th, 2023


Canada’s temperate native grasslands are the world’s most endangered ecosystems due to agricultural land conversion for residential purposes, commercial development, and monoculture crop production.  

The grasslands extend from the Canadian Prairies into the Upper Midwest. They’re home to plenty of animal species, ranging from Baird’s Sparrow birds to the swift fox, to the pronghorn antelope and cattle. (Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica define cattle as farm animals, including bison, buffalos, and cows, that are “raised for their meat, milk, or hides.”) 

What little remains of these animals’ natural habitat is owned mostly by beef farmers and ranchers whose grazing livestock protect the variety of life found in the grasslands. When animals graze, it means they feed on grass that would otherwise grow too long, smother itself, and leave no ground for game birds to nest in.  

With their cloven hooves—the hard bottom parts of their feet—cows specifically help infuse into the grasslands seeds that grow plant leaves and stems for animals to eat. They also help the environment through their burps, despite what many people might think. 

For digestion and nutrient absorption, cows rechew food that they bring back up from their stomachs. They burp out in turn a greenhouse gas, that is, a strong gas that traps heat in the environment. This gas is called methane. Methane is around 80 times more powerful in warming up the global climate than “carbon dioxide [or CO2, another greenhouse gas] over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere”—the reason why some people question the environmental safety of producing and eating beef.  

According to data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in 2020, non-dairy cattle in the Americas produced about half of the world’s total methane emission from enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation refers to the digestive process of animals (like cows) that release methane gas as a by-product. While that seems like a lot of methane from one continent, the Americas also produced the most cattle meat for consumption.  

Cows in Canada and the US live only “as long as necessary before they’re processed into meat, and using the very highest quality feed, [efficiencies, and technology],” says Amie Peck, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA). This process results in these countries’ respectively proportionate amounts of methane emission, which is not the case with Africa or Asia.  

Together, Africa and Asia emit the second greatest amount of methane in the world and do not regulate their population of cattle that produce it. You see, cattle in Africa and Asia aren’t always sources of food. They play various roles like access to capital, dowries, and hold cultural and religious significance.  

Furthermore, methane from belching cows is naturally part of a perpetual three-step biological process called the biogenic carbon cycle. First, through photosynthesis, plants capture carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Second, cows eat the carbon-storing plants. Third, methane from the cows, through enteric fermentation, stays in the atmosphere for 12 years before breaking down into carbon dioxide that plants once again reabsorb.  

Whereas CO2 from the biogenic carbon cycle is destroyed at the same rate that it’s produced, human-caused “CO2 from fossil fuel sources [like coal and oil] is going into the atmosphere and staying there for at least a thousand years,” explains Peck.  

Pet culture in Canada and what animals are legal

Pet culture in Canada and what animals are legal

By: Callum Denault

Published on: August 1st, 2023


When people think about the ways Canada is culturally different from other parts of the world, they usually think of big things like the wintry weather, unique dishes like poutine, or how the country’s politics are run. But Canada’s cultural differences can show up in smaller aspects of life as well, such as pet ownership. 

Here is a guide to navigating both the culture and laws newcomers may encounter when trying to bring a pet into Canada or adopt one here. 

Dog culture in Canada

The culture around dogs in Canada is similar to that of the United States, where dogs are seen as “man’s best friend” and treated as loyal companions. This can be seen in Canada’s top ten most popular dog breeds, which include breeds such as Havanese, French Bulldog, Golden Retriever, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, which are strictly companion dogs that are not used for labour or any physical activity. 

Because Canadians tend to keep their dogs indoors, walking them is extremely popular. Of the 7.9 million Canadians who own a dog, they tend to walk their dogs an average of four times per day, and this activity is found to have a positive effect on mental health.  

Animal abuse is strongly disliked in Canada, to the point that the Ontario government has dedicated Animal Welfare Services which encourages people to call them if they see any animals (wildlife, farm animals, or pets) being mistreated.  

Is it safe to let my pets outside? 

While many people let their pets roam outside the home, in North America dogs are typically just left to roam a fenced-in backyard. Some people choose to let their dogs outside as a substitute to walking their dog although dogs tend to benefit more from being walked by their owners. Unlike some parts of the world where street dogs are common and accepted by their communities, street dogs are rare in North America, with many in the United States being put down by shelters. Most pets in Canada are fully domesticated and not meant for an outdoor lifestyle, with cats sometimes being an exception.  

Letting your cats roam outside the home can help them get more exercise and increased social opportunities, but also comes with a lot of risks. Risks faced by outdoor cats include: getting run over by a car, getting attacked by a wild animal/predator, getting kidnapped by a person, getting fleas or ticks, getting poisoned, or getting lost far from home.  

If you do decide to let your cat go outside, it is a good idea to schedule a routine where your cat leaves the home during the day and comes back before it gets dark. Nighttime is when predators are most active, and when drivers struggle seeing the road. 

Other tips include keeping your cat updated on vaccines and giving them a collar and/or microchip to help strangers return the cat to you. Any cat that has been declawed should not be allowed outside since it has no way of defending itself.  

You should also keep your cat inside during winter. If it is too cold for you to go outside wearing a regular jacket, it is also too cold for your pet. Any pet that goes outside during winter should be regularly checked for signs of frostbite, properly groomed to keep its fur waterproof, and have access to an emergency source of water and shelter (such as a doghouse) near your home in case you are not around to let them inside. 

Animals that you are not allowed to have in Canada 

Unfortunately, some animals which are kept as pets in other countries may not be legal to keep in your Canadian home. A lot of these laws are different depending on which province or territory you are in, so it is important to check on local laws if you are worried about being allowed to keep a certain type of animal as a pet. 

Pit Bulls and similar dogs 

Dogs that are considered pit bulls are banned in several parts of Canada. The term “pit bull” can refer to the specific Pit Bull Terrier breed, but also several related breeds of dog that tend to have a similar medium-to-large size, athletic build, square head, and supposedly aggressive behaviour. Bullies, American Bulldogs, and Staffordshire Terriers are all considered pit bulls

Canada has had a pit bull ban for several years, but since it is up to provincial governments to enforce this ban, how strict the laws are and exactly what types of dogs they apply to varies across the country.  

For instance, pit bull breeds are not illegal in British Columbia, while Nova Scotia requires pit bull owners spay or neuter their dog after it reaches six months old, unless they have insurance to cover for a permit which allows them to have an unchanged dog. Alberta requires pit bulls to be leashed, muzzled, neutered, and equipped with a collar that has an identification tag. New Brunswick pit bull owners have to keep their dogs muzzled off private property and attend three hour long obedience classes at least once every two months. 

In Ontario, pit bulls are banned and owners would have to either move their dogs out of the province or turn them over to the government. However, in 2021 the government relaxed this law and returned several dogs to families which were originally taken because of their appearance. These dogs are tested to see if their breed is actually that of a pit bull, meaning pit bull-like dogs are still at risk of being banned in the province.  

However, the Ontario laws are becoming even more loose, with some owners being able to own a pit bull so long as they get a permit, which usually requires they neuter their dog and put a muzzle on it. 

Chickens

Just as many Canadian cities allow people to own chickens as pets, there are those which have banned “backyard chickens”. Some residents consider the laws confusing as with people living in rural parts of Ontario who are still not allowed to keep chickens.  

Vancouver, Edmonton, Guelph, Brampton, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Kelowna, Surrey, parts of Montreal, Gatineau, Victoria, Moncton, and Whitehorse are all cities where people are allowed to keep chickens in their own homes. Cities that ban personal chicken ownership are Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg, Regina, and Saskatoon. 

Skunks, geese, raccoons, and other animals native to Canada

Any animal belonging to a species considered native to Canada is illegal to be owned as a pet. This is because of laws designed to protect Canadian wildlife, which includes raccoons, Canadian geese, and skunks. Also, since these animals are not domesticated like cats and dogs, they usually are very difficult to keep as pets. However, if there are raccoons near your house, feel free to feed them as long as you are not putting yourself or the raccoons at risk.  

Canada Geese are known for their aggression, which is why their nests should be given space, and people should avoid being around geese near tall grass since tall grass makes them nervous. If a goose attacks you, it is recommended you stare it down, standing your ground with a neutral posture. Hitting the goose or running away will trigger it to be more aggressive, and the best course of action is to dodge out of the way of their charges since a goose’s main goal is to chase you. 

If you are struggling with any other wild animals in your life—including pesky raccoons or skunks—and want to know how to deal with them, please see The Newcomer’s guide to Canadian wildlife

The benefits of Canadian dual citizenship 

The benefits of Canadian dual citizenship 

By: Elie Ngoy 

Published on: April 19 2023

Photo: Sebastiaan Stam (Unsplash)  

Compared to other major western nations, Canada has one of the highest rates of immigrant citizenship. 

Immigrants who come to Canada and settle may be able to seek Canadian citizenship via naturalisation if they fulfil relevant qualifications. For many immigrants, getting Canadian citizenship is the last stage in the immigration process.  

What are the benefits of being a Canadian dual citizen? 

Being a Canadian citizen provides advantages that permanent residents do not have, such as eligibility for local employment, the right to vote and run for public office, and the freedom to travel with a Canadian passport.  

More jobs are available to Canadian citizens 

Citizens of Canada are qualified for various non-elected government positions that only citizenship, and those requiring security clearances. On the other hand, permanent residents may find their work options constrained by their immigration status. 

Photo: Jamie Harmsen (Unsplash) 

Canadian citizens have the right to vote and stand for election 

The power to vote in provincial and national elections begins with a Canadian citizenship. Canadian citizens have an essential role in determining provincial and federal politics via casting a vote. Furthermore, Canadian citizens may run for political office and represent their constituents’ interests on topics such as taxation, education, and international policy. 

Citizens of Canada are protected against losing their status 

Canadian citizens are exempt from immigration implications when they spend as much time as they wish outside of Canada, unlike permanent residents who must adhere to strict residence restrictions. Furthermore, Canadian citizens will not typically lose their citizenship if found guilty of a crime, whereas permanent residents may risk deportation if the offence is deemed severe enough. 

Canadian citizens may travel with a Canadian passport 

Some naturalised citizens find that a Canadian passport is more helpful than a passport granted by their native country since many nations enable Canadians to travel without a visa for specific reasons. Canada accepts dual citizenship. Therefore, if your nation of birth does as well, you may be fortunate to have two passports. 

Photo: Nic Amaya (Unsplash) 

Canadian citizens are not required to update their immigration documents 

Permanent Resident Cards have a five-year validity period. The cards are essential for foreign travel and may be required by workplaces or other government entities as evidence of residency status.  

As a result, permanent residents are forced to make a new application for a Permanent Resident Card and pay a new fee every five years. Citizens are under no such responsibility. A Citizenship Certificate is valid in perpetuity, and Canadian citizens who desire to go abroad only need to renew their passports every ten years. 

How to acclimate into Canadian citizenship by embracing Canadian values 

Canadians are proud of their country and its international standing. Canadians place a high priority on equality, respect, safety, peace, and the environment. 

Equality 

Women and men are legally equal in Canada, and Canada was among the first nations to allow same-sex marriages. The LGBTQ+ community’s rights are also guaranteed by Canadian law. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a cornerstone of Canadian law, and Canadians see the Charter as an essential component of Canadian ideals. 

Cultural respect 

Indigenous peoples welcomed the earliest settlers to Canada. One in five Canadians were born elsewhere. Many have non-Canadian parents and grandparents. Cultures and customs come to Canada. We aspire to develop communities that appreciate our diversity and similarities. 

Peace and harmony 

Canada is a relatively safe nation with low crime rates. Canadians are proud of their country’s considerable contributions to the United Nations, international assistance organizations, and international peacekeeping efforts across the globe. 

Love of nature 

Canada is the world’s second-biggest nation and is home to several of the world’s most spectacular natural marvels. Environmental stewardship is a significant component of what Canadians value. 

Love of hockey 

Although hockey is not Canada’s national sport, it is the sport most Canadians are enthusiastic about. Hockey is played by almost anyone and anywhere and plays a vital role in local communities. 

3 ways Canadian kids won’t forget their cultural heritage   

3 ways Canadian kids won’t forget their cultural heritage   

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: April 18 2023

 Photo: ShotPot (Pexels) 

People who grow up in two or more cultures are called bicultural. Bicultural people have many strengths. They adapt easily to social settings. They have a diverse set of experiences to draw wisdom from when it comes to decision-making. Some do well in school, find good jobs, and build strong families.  

Parents who immigrate to Canada with young children, or newcomer parents who give birth in the country, will raise bicultural people. If you’re a parent who grew up in a society different from the one your children are going to grow up in, you might wish to teach them about your culture.  

Open parent-child relationships depend on understanding. It’s important that your children know where you come from when you disagree with them. But you must also understand the negative effects biculturalism can possibly have on your children.  

Some bicultural children struggle to find their place in the world. They face this challenge when having to merge the sometimes-contradicting traditions and attitudes of the cultures they live in. In questioning how they relate to others with their background, your children might begin to feel stressed and lonely.  

To ensure biculturalism is a positive experience for both you and your children, allow them to explore and commit to your cultural beliefs and practices on their own terms. Introduce them to who you are. Then, help them develop stable individual identities of their own.  

You’re probably wondering, how?  

In a 2013 study, researchers from the University of Sydney examined bicultural identity in young adult immigrant students. They found that connection to more than one culture happens in three ways: 1) language-speaking, 2) country awareness, and 3) family relationships.  

The language connection 

You can speak to your children in your native language early on in their lives, so they learn to speak it, too. Careful, though. Some toddlers get used to speaking only the language that’s spoken at home. By the time they get to school, the children may not know English. English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students face isolation from their peers.  

So, while nurturing their inherited language skills, try speaking to them in English as well. This will be a good exercise for you if you come from a non-English speaking country. But since you want your children to connect to their cultural heritage through speech, consider language classes for them.  

After-school or weekend language classes can be a fun social activity for your children. In a structured classroom setting, they’ll find the opportunity to practice speaking, listening, and engaging with others in your native language. Or, perhaps you’d prefer a tutor who’d be willing to provide your children with one-on-one lessons.  

The country connection 

As you build a new home in Canada, there are practical things you can do to familiarize your children with the country you come from. Ethnic cooking is one example. Cook dishes using traditional recipes and include your children in the process. They might learn to make the dishes themselves when they get older. Eating traditional food, whether with others or by themselves, will trigger the positive memories that they made with you in the kitchen.  

Canada is a country where people from around the globe come to live. Here there are year-round community events that showcase all the different cultures found in Canadian society. The Eventbrite website is a great place to check for events near you. Take your children to festivals, craft workshops, and on walking tours that celebrate your culture.  

The family connection 

Children are usually immersed in their cultural background when they’re spending time with biological relatives. Since you’re a newcomer, you may not have access to the company of your family as they’re probably back home. Travelling back home isn’t always feasible and can be expensive. Maybe you escaped your homeland and going back for a visit with your children would be dangerous. If this is the case, keep your children connected to your family back home with regular video calls using free apps like Skype and WhatsApp. 

Joining a community that shares your beliefs can also offer a family-like environment. Places of worship are excellent sources of community.  

Growing up in a multicultural household: Navigating cultural identity confusion 

Growing up in a multicultural household: Navigating cultural identity confusion 

By: Vivian Nguyen 

Published on: April 17 2023

Adapting to a new environment and culture is hard enough for many young immigrants coming to Canada, especially due to the country’s multicultural philosophy. Now, imagine having to navigate more than two cultures in addition to Canadian culture. For many newcomers, they do not have to imagine. 

Twenty-one-year-old Szewah Shum is one of these individuals. 

Growing up Chinese in Venezuela 

Like her mother, Szewah Shum was born in Venezuela to Chinese immigrant parents. Shum’s mother’s parents first fled to Hong Kong from China to escape the country’s political climate, soon immigrating to Venezuela years after. It was in Venezuela that she met Shum’s father, who arrived in the Latin American country at a young age from Hong Kong. 

           Photo: Szewah Shum 

Venezuela is home to nearly 60 000 Chinese whose businesses are mostly related to the culinary field. Shum’s family would often visit a Chinatown in Venezuela to connect with their Chinese community and heritage. Because of this, Shum never felt out of place. 

Living in Venezuela, Shum learned to speak Spanish as her first language and grew up eating traditional Venezuelan foods like empanadas, hallacas, and her favourite, tequeños—fried cheese rolls. In addition to being Chinese, Shum felt a strong connection to her Venezuelan side. 

“I always knew I was Venezuelan… I never denied that part of me, it was my first home.”  

Immigration to Ontario, Canada 

When choosing whether they should immigrate to Australia or Canada, Shum’s parents chose Canada because they already had family living here. Research shows that people who do not have adequate supportive relationships experience greater stress than those who do. Moving to a new country is indeed stressful. “Settling is easier with a support system,” Shum says.  

She moved to Mississauga with her family in August 2006 and continues to live in the city to this day. Although some memories of her childhood are blurry, she remembers having to deal with the challenges that come with growing up multicultural.  

ESL and school systems 

The first school Shum attended in Canada was a white-dominant Catholic school. Aside from maybe religion, she did not share many of the same interests or experiences as the other girls. It was not until she switched to public schools where she became surrounded by other students of colour that she felt more comfortable. 

Public schools also made her more open-minded; she was able to accept and embrace other people’s cultures.  

In Venezuela, she learned some English in school but most of her language learning was done in Canada. Between Grades 1 to 3, Shum enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. She learned English at the same time as her mother did. Both struggled at first, but Shum picked up the language much quicker. She remembers being able to communicate “well enough” with others to make some friends. 

Making friends 

Immigrating to Canada, young Shum had a mission: to make friends and have someone to play at recess with. Shum looked to befriend other Asians—people who looked like her. “I naturally looked for Asian friends [because we would have] more things in common.” 

Studies prove that people naturally gravitate to those who are like themselves. Humans are also innately motivated by a need to belong—to form personal attachments. By seeking out other Asian children, Shum also sought for a place to belong. 

Photo: Szewah Shum 

Shum met her now best friend, Mindi, in Grade 3 when their teacher, Ms. Latham, kept confusing them for each other. “On picture day, Mindi and I [wore] the same kind of outfit,” Shum explains. “And the same kind of haircut. We were so confused [and wondered] why [she kept] mixing us up.” They did not know the answer until years later, and still laugh about this moment. 

Despite Mindi being Vietnamese Canadian, not Chinese Venezuelan, Shum felt a strong connection with her. They shared the same interests: Littlest Pet Shop and the television show, Phineas and Ferb. They were also in the same class throughout elementary school and Mindi lived just a block away. Thus, the girls were close emotionally, culturally, and by distance. 

Navigating multiple languages 

Multilingualism is a blanket term used to refer to situations where two or more languages are spoken by a person or a group. For immigrant communities especially, language and identity are closely connected for integrating into a new society and culture.  

In her household, Shum primarily speaks Spanish with her family and English with her 17-year-old sister. She described the language she speaks at home as ‘Spanglish mixed with Cantonese’ because she sometimes uses words from all three languages in one sentence. For example, for dinner one night Shum asked her father, “Estamos comiendo Wonton Chai para la cena?” Are we eating at Wonton Chai for dinner? The restaurant name is pronounced in Cantonese the same way it’s spelled in English. 

Photo: Szewah Shum

While language switching can pose challenges in everyday speech, Shum believes that knowing Spanish benefits her professional life. “For work, I can say that I can speak Spanish.” 

However, she does regret not learning more Cantonese as not knowing the language well prevents her from communicating with her grandparents. She says, “I’m at peace with being Chinese and Venezuelan. [But] I do have those moments where I wish I was [more of one than the other].”  

Cultural identity confusion       

An identity crisis describes when someone questions their sense of self or place in the world. “Identity” includes the experiences, beliefs, and relationships that make up a person’s own sense of self. According to Lene Arnett Jensen, identity confusion can take the form of “bouncing between different cultural identities across situations and contexts.” People who are exposed to multiple cultures are most at risk to what she calls, “cultural identity confusion.” 

“I definitely feel like growing up here in Canada, I would say that I am Asian not Venezuelan,” Shum shares.  

When she was younger, Shum feared that other people would assume she was lying if she said she was Venezuelan, as if she needed to “prove” her Venezuelan-ness. The fear of having this assumption made about her “has made it difficult to connect with [others from Latin America].” 

A benefit to growing up multicultural, however, is the food. Twice a month, her mother makes homemade arepas while her father cooks Chinese food. Sometimes he experiments with other cuisines using Chinese ingredients like ginger, green onions, and soy sauce. 

A message to others  

Occasionally, Shum encounters videos on Tik Tok—a social media platform for sharing music and online content—that resonate with her cultural upbringing. In the videos, people share their experiences living in Latin America as Asians. She finds comfort in knowing that there are people out there with similar experiences. With this article, she hopes to provide the same comfort for others, too. 

Currently, Szewah Shum is working full-time as a packaging graphics associate at Maple Leaf Foods. She graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University in June 2022 with a Bachelor of Technology for Graphic Communications Management.  

                  Photo: Szewah Shum 

Her advice to others for navigating multiple cultures is to embrace who you are. “I would say: don’t let others determine how or what ethnicity [or] culture you can identify with (with reasonable limitations [to avoid] appropriating culture. 

“You can be 100 per cent Chinese and also, 100 per cent Venezuelan.” 

Coping with homesickness as a newcomer  

Coping with homesickness as a newcomer  

By: Elie Ngoy 

Published on: April 17 2023

Photo: Rex Pickar (Unsplash) 

Missing home is a common side effect of individuals leaving their country for education, work, conflict, or a fresh start. Homesickness is a strong and persistent feeling of longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.  

For many newcomers to Canada, the new environment can come with a strong sense of grief and loss and a yearning for their motherland. The first few months in the new country can feel miserable, isolating, and daunting as they attempt to adjust to this new reality. Finding friends, finding work, and creating routines are all challenges that the newcomer faces upon arrival in Canada.  

The Canadian culture is what makes Canada ideal for newcomers to settle. It is a place that has a history of welcoming those who need a new home, and Canadians are internationally known for their warmth, kindness, hospitality, and community building. Outside of those characteristics, Canada is one of the world’s most developed, industrialised, powerful, and wealthy countries. It is also known for its peaceful nature in world affairs, creating a stable environment for all Canadians and newcomers to live peacefully.  

Despite these fantastic metrics, the new country is often very different from what many newcomers are accustomed to and what they’ve come to associate as home. Let’s examine the story of Issac, an Immigrant who left his home country of Zambia in 2005 for a new life in Canada. One of his favourite pastimes in Zambia was visiting the local marketplace, where his parents owned a small shop selling small goods. This informal market was often full of noises, different languages, and street traders selling what they could. Most people in Zambia live below the poverty line, and unemployment is very high—leaving most to work in the unregulated and informal sector as street traders and market sellers. The market was not only a place Issac came to help his parents run the family business; it was also a place where Issac could go and experience the beauty of his country and the culture and be around his friends. Many young Zambians have small hangout spots in the marketplace where they can have drinks, local food, and play games.  

Photo: Nima Sarram (Unsplash) 

This life that Issac enjoyed in Zambia is a vast difference from the life in Canada, where most citizens work in formal employment and are less likely to interact with each other, creating a powerful feeling of homesickness for Issac’s arrival.  

Canada is a great country; you will learn to love it the longer you live here! Here are some fantastic strategies to help you cope with the new transition:  

  1. Meet and connect with people in your community! Many Canadian cities have implemented great community programs to assist newcomers with integrating into this new society. Libraries, community centres, language centres, and faith-based organisations such as churches, mosques, and viharas offer an excellent opportunity for newcomers to meet new friends. Educational institutions also provide a perfect opportunity for newcomers to meet others in the same boat as they are.  
  1. Find environments with people of your ethnicity. Canada is full of many different cultures, and Canadian society is internationally recognised for being extremely welcoming and generous to newcomers. Finding environments with Canadians of your ethnicity can assist you with building resilience and confidence in this new country. Community organisations such as the Sudanese Community Association of Ontario, the Ukraine national congress, and the South Asian Women’s centre are all great examples of organisations you could join if you belong to those cultural groups! 
  1. Enjoy the local culture! Canadian culture is fascinating, and there are many places where you may learn about rich and storied history. Many cities have local museums which feature incredible artefacts, pictures, and guided tours that assist you in understanding the history of that city. Suppose you are in Ottawa, or can visit Ottawa. In that case, you could visit historical sites such as Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Rideau Canal and take pictures of the beautiful architecture that makes up the halls of Canadian power. If you are unable to visit Ottawa, you could introduce yourself to great classic Canadian television, such as Jacob Two Two, Anne of Green Gables, Heartland, and Hudson & Rex!  
  1. Maintain old routines and rituals from home. When you come to Canada, do not feel the need to throw away your culture! Embrace it, cook your ethnic food, and listen to cultural music. This will help you create a strong sense of connection, and you’ll be able to teach your new friends about your culture!  
  1. Seek help. Many services in your new city will help you adjust to the new Canadian culture. There are workplace programs that will help you with applying for jobs, emotional support programs that will help you with the new feelings of grief and loss, and even programs to help you learn our two official languages, French and English!  
  1. Stay educated. In many communities, many agencies will hold seminars, training sessions, and social inclusion training programs to assist you with your new transition into Canadian culture. Many educational institutions also have skills training workshops to assist you in obtaining jobs and short certification programs to assist you with career advancement.  

Homesickness is not something you have to deal with alone. There is no shame in feeling how you may be at the moment. This new experience gets better over time. Canada is a land of great opportunities, and you will soon find your place in this great country. Your community has many supports to assist you with this new transition; please take advantage of them. Suppose you are unsure where to find these support services. In that case, you may contact your local Member of Parliament, a local faith-based institution, or a local community centre for more information.  

The migrant worker’s hardship of sending money back home 

The migrant worker’s hardship of sending money back home 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: April 14 2023

Photo: Eduardo Davad (Pixabay)  

One billion people are involved with remittances, which are payments of money migrants send to friends and family members in their home countries. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, 200 million migrant workers send money back home to 800 million recipients every year. Remittances are typically sent to households with an average of four people living inside them. 

Migrants sent home the equivalent of $554 billion USD in 2019, which is triple the amount of money provided by foreign government aid. It is also higher than the sum of all corporate investments in these developing nations. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, remittances maintained a steady flow even when several nations—including developed countries—struggled economically.  

The burden caused by a family relying on income from an overseas relative can cause stress as found by a Filipino study conducted by international payments company UniTellar. Over half of those getting remittances in the Philippines said it impacted the relationship they had with their overseas relatives. 40 per cent of the survey’s respondents also said the anticipation of receiving money caused their families emotional stress. A significant amount of remittances are spent on non-essential luxuries. Poor financial planning creates more problems for the one-fifth of survey respondents who said they regularly run out of money before they receive their next remittance.  

Looking at these different sources of information, it can be said that migrants work very hard to make sure their families back home have enough money to live on. So hard, in fact, that their remittances combined are a greater amount of money than what companies and governments send to developing nations. Even during global crises that hinder the economy such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine, migrants either remain steady in the amount of cash they send home or even increase how much money they give away. The study conducted in the Philippines also shows this hard work is not without its cost, as in many cases families rely on their overseas relatives for necessary income, which can cause interpersonal stress. 

So, how can migrants manage this stress? 

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto (Pexels) 

Advice on how to deal with overworking 

People are overworked when they do not have a healthy work/life balance, and spend too much time on the job without taking enough breaks. Overwork leads to burnout, which is when you feel mentally exhausted, stressed, emotionally distant from your job and unable to efficiently finish your tasks. 

Just as it is important for migrants to send their families enough money to cover their essentials, it is also important to remember the stress of overworking kills over 745 000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization. People who work 55 hours or more per week face a 35 per cent increased risk of stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those who work a normal 35 to 40 hours per week. 

Indeed—a website that posts job listings along with work advice articles—gives nine tips on how to deal with being overworked: 

  • Set boundaries. 
  • Communicate with your manager. 
  • Complete one task at a time. 
  • Incorporate easier tasks into your workflow. 
  • Make meaningful connections. 
  • Use your paid time off. 
  • Practice relaxation techniques. 
  • Find hobbies you enjoy. 
  • Decide if you should find a new job.” 

Some of the suggestions focus on your life outside of work, such as meditating and taking advantage of all your paid days off, if you have any. Indeed’s advice about speaking to your manager and setting boundaries with your workplace—getting things done on time, while also drawing a line in your personal life for times where you will not think about work—can also apply to migrants and the families they send remittances to.  

If you feel you are overworked trying to make enough money to regularly send back home, have an honest conversation with your family about how much they can expect and when they should expect it.  

Lecturing family members on how they spend money is not the best idea. It may seem like lectures are coming from a place of judgement, which might make your relatives feel guilty about their spending habits. A better idea is to offer judgment-free suggestions on how they can save money. 

It may help to suggest possible alternative ways for your relatives to make money. Make sure your relatives have a good reason to ask you for money, and do not give the cash that you need for your essentials like food or shelter. 

The Mayo Clinic suggests people who are stressed over taking care of someone else focus on what they are able to provide. While it is normal to feel guilt, no one is a perfect caretaker, which is why you should take pride in the good decisions you do make. It is also a good idea to find help for yourself, either through friends, a support group, or your doctor. Make sure to only set realistic goals for yourself, and make sure you are taking care of your personal physical and mental health outside of providing for your family. 

Finding a better line of work as a migrant in Canada 

If you are working an under the table job, it would be better for your health and safety to leave the job and find work that pays legally. 

The Canadian government has a program for skilled workers to immigrate permanently into Canada. Not every immigrant is eligible for this program, but having work experience in your home country helps, as do other skillsets that would help you adapt to working in Canada, such as fluency in English and/or French.  

For those planning to live in Canada for a long time, it may be worthwhile to study here if you have not done so already. You can apply to study as a newcomer either online or through paperwork here. This website includes a list of different countries at the bottom, so you can choose which country you are emigrating from in order to see which documents you need to apply for education in Canada. 

Embracing traditional holidays while celebrating new ones 

Embracing traditional holidays while celebrating new ones 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: April 13 2023

Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels)  

Canada is an extremely diverse country with many different cultures coming together to live in this nation. In almost every major city there is a celebration from many different cultures happening almost every week.  

Being in such a diverse country may make it hard for you to focus on your roots and your own traditional holidays, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  

You can embrace your culture and its customs and traditions while also becoming more and more Canadian and partaking in Canadian holidays, as well as other holidays celebrated by the different cultures in this nation.  

Here are a few ways in which you can embrace your own culture’s holidays, while also celebrating new holidays. 

When are Canada’s national holidays? 

According to canada.ca, there are 12 national holidays in 2022: 

  • New Year – Jan. 1, 2022  
  • Good Friday – April 15, 2022 
  • Easter Monday – April 18, 2022 
  • Victoria Day – May 23, 2022 
  • Canada Day – July 1, 2022 
  • Civic Holiday – Aug. 1, 2022 
  • Labour Day – Sept. 5, 2022 
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Sept. 30, 2022 
  • Thanksgiving Day – Oct. 10, 2022 
  • Remembrance Day – Nov. 11, 2022 
  • Christmas Day – Dec. 25, 2022  
  • Boxing Day – Dec. 26, 2022  

Each province also recognizes their own holidays on many different days, which you can check out here

Photo: Andre Furtado (Pexels) 

Ease yourself into Canadian culture 

A good way to stay true to your culture is to ease yourself when settling into Canadian culture.  

Canadian culture could be a lot different from what you’re used to, so it’s best to just take your time and get into it at your own pace. You don’t have to rush to be Canadian if you aren’t comfortable with it.  

Take time to do what you are used to and celebrate your culture’s holidays when they come. It will help you feel better and more relaxed if you take this at a slower pace 

Photo: Rakicevic Nenad (Pexels) 

Celebrate with others 

When it comes to holidays and celebrations, it is best done with others.  

If you don’t know too many people in Canada, you could try to find some communities that are from the same country you are from or have similar beliefs to you. Chances are that someone similar to you will be willing to bring you into their community and make you feel at home.  

If someone is from the same country as you and they also still follow along with their own traditional holidays, then you can join them and build a connection with that person.  

Also, you could share your traditional holidays with others who aren’t familiar with your customs and practices. This could be a great way to connect yourself with others because they will begin to learn more about you and understand you better. It will also make you feel less lonely because you’ll have someone with you who is also learning something new.  

Celebrating your traditional holidays with others is a great way of hanging onto your culture and background, while also beginning a new chapter in your life.  

Photo: Cottonbro (Pexels) 

Non-Canadian holidays 

As Canada is such a diverse nation, there are many people celebrating other holidays from their own cultures and religions as well.  

All throughout Canada you can see people celebrating holidays such as Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, etc.  

If you have any friends that celebrate some of these holidays, you can ask them questions so you learn more about their customs and practices during those holidays. If you’re up for it, you could join along with them to get a first-hand experience of the kinds of things that people do during those holidays. 

If you’re just genuinely curious about these different holidays but don’t have many friends that celebrate them, you could learn more about them by talking to people from community centres that celebrate those holidays or you could read more about them on the internet or through books.  

Learning about other cultures’ holidays is so important, especially in Canada where there are so many different people from numerous backgrounds. It can help you build relationships and a better understanding of other people.   

Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels) 

Take part in Canadian holidays 

A good way to feel more a part of Canadian culture is to take part in Canadian celebrations and holidays. 

Some of Canada’s most popular and celebrated holidays include Canada Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

On Canada Day, typically in many cities across the country there are parades, gatherings, and festivals where many Canadians get together and celebrate the day of the Confederation of Canada. You can check out your local parade and see many different fireworks shows happening.  

Thanksgiving in Canada is a holiday where everyone typically gets together with their families and they eat a meal, while saying things that they are thankful for. Usually people will go out to buy a turkey that they’ll cook and eat for dinner, but many families do different things and eat all kinds of different meals. Thanksgiving is a great holiday to spend time with family and have a good time in each other’s company.   

Canadian Thanksgiving is also different from American Thanksgiving in that it takes place one month before in October. Canadian Thanksgiving also occurs every second Monday in October, while American Thanksgiving occurs on the last Thursday in November.   

Christmas is a traditional holiday for Christians and Catholics where they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But many non-Christians also celebrate Christmas as well, as it is a time of gift-giving and joyous family gatherings.  

Even if you aren’t Christian or Catholic, you can join in on the gift-giving and gatherings. Christmas is a time where people get together and enjoy one another’s company and gathering with your friends or family can bring you closer to each other and form better bonds.  

Learning about new holidays is a big part of living in Canada, that’s why a great thing about Canada is that the diversity of this country allows you to settle into Canadian culture, without losing a bit of your own culture. 

4 tips for keeping in touch with your native language 

4 tips for keeping in touch with your native language 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: April 12 2023 

Photo: Tim Mossholder (Pexels)  

Retaining your native language can be tough while living in a new country. As we adapt to new surroundings, opportunities to explore our previous cultures can become rare. One example is with language, our proficiency can become lost over time. Language is one of the most important aspects of culture. It connects us with our community and allows us to listen and read from that culture’s language. 

Children in particular are susceptible to language loss due to both the lack of required use and the dominance of the English language. Without the necessity of practice, children can grow to forget their native language and subsequently aspects of their parent’s culture. Because of this, newcomers may be interested in developing and maintaining their language for both themselves and their children. 

For children, learning two languages can be daunting. As the child understands the world through English, their parent’s language grows foreign to them. The difficulty can vary from language to language. Some languages can be harder to learn than others depending on how different the languages are. For example, a big difference between English and Chinese is intonation, which can change the wording based on what is stressed. In English, changing the intonation is usually associated with emotion. Combined with the vast vocabulary in English, newcomers can have a hard time learning it. 

Whether you are looking to relearn your native language or help your children keep both, here are some important tips to consider. 

Immerse yourself in the culture 

One of the best ways to learn a language is to be in a community that speaks it. A wider range of people and cultures provides more opportunities to make use of the language. Various texts are translated, and this is done mainly to help those in the community who are more comfortable with their native language rather than English. You can find examples of this in businesses, like grocery stores, and restaurants.  

Photo: Jonathan Borba (Unsplash)  

Attend language classes 

Language classes are available for both adults and children, especially if they are just starting to learn. There are options for both English and other languages that may be of interest at various points in life. Children who are growing up in Canada will have a better understanding of English and as such, parents may want to assign a language class based on their native tongue.  

Self-study with books and other media 

Consuming media in your language is a fun way to maintain your language. Consider local newspapers, books, social media, and shows as examples of self-study. Like the earlier point of speaking with others, media provides an opportunity to see how language is used in casual conversation. Social media also opens the chance to speak with friends and family in your native language. One advantage to this is that it allows you to engage in your native language regardless of location.   

Practicing the language 

Practicing your language is not simply speaking it. Think in your language and practice how you would say and write a thought or conversation. The process is gradual, but the important goal is habitually engaging with thought processes you may otherwise forget. For children, this step can be achieved by communicating with their parents and relatives in a native language. Doing so helps them develop both languages between cultures. 

Sharing old hobbies with new friends 

Sharing old hobbies with new friends 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: April 11 2023

Being new to Canada might feel like you’re stepping into a totally new world. Some things that you are familiar with might not be the same in Canada and some of the things that surround you might be completely new to you.  

Oftentimes, it’s tough to break your old habits and start fresh in a new country, but you don’t have to forget your past to begin a new life in Canada. 

Here are some tips when sharing your old hobbies with new people that you meet and become friends with.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels) 

Don’t be afraid 

A big obstacle when it comes to sharing things with people is fear. You may be afraid that you will get judged or be looked at in a certain way, but that shouldn’t stop you from showing something that you have done.  

You would be surprised how open-minded people really are once you get to meet them and that they might not judge you like how you thought they would.  

If you stay in fear of being judged or doing something wrong, then you may not ever get the chance to show your new friends something you are passionate about or something you’ve done your whole life.  

Take action 

Once you’ve gotten over the potential fear of being judged, then take action and show your friends your hobbies.  

Your old hobbies may be different from what your friends do, but they also might not be too different. That’s what is great about sharing parts of yourself and your culture with others, because you may find out that you have some similarities, which can further strengthen your bond with one another.  

At the end of the day, we are all human and we most likely end up doing similar things to each other without even knowing it.  

Also be ready to be patient because it could take your friends a bit of time to get used to some of the things that you have been doing for a long time. It should still be a fun process showing your friends your hobbies.  

Photo: Helena Lopes (Pexels) 

Embrace your old hobbies 

An important thing to keep in mind is to stay true to yourself. Stay true to your roots and where you come from. You should never feel ashamed or be embarrassed of where you’re from or your culture’s customs and beliefs.  

If you are able to, keep doing your old hobbies and things that you are familiar with. 

You can incorporate your hobbies into your daily life in Canada, which can make it easier on yourself when settling in.  

Your old hobbies can be a multitude of different things. For example, if you enjoy eating a particular meal from back home everyday, continue doing that. Try making an effort to cook your favourite meal at home or try finding restaurants in your city that make your favourite meal.  

If you are religious and a hobby of yours is to go to your religious service and speak to others who are in attendance, also keep doing that. It could be a great way to stay true to your faith and culture, while also speaking to others who are of the same faith as you and becoming friends and learning more about them.  

Your personal hobbies can be great conversation starters with your new friends or new people you meet, who are unfamiliar with those things. You can show them what your life was like before coming to Canada.   

They can act as great lessons for others to find out more about yourself and also help you maintain your connection back home.  

Photo: David Bartus (Pexels) 

Take part in new hobbies 

Something else to keep in mind while sharing your old hobbies with your new friends or new people you meet is to also partake in new hobbies.  

There are many different things that people in Canada do, so keeping an open mind to these hobbies and also joining in them can bring you closer to your new friends.  

If your friends enjoy going on walks throughout the city or they enjoy hiking in the forest, it could be something that you haven’t done yet, so join along with them and discover new things about your city or your friends as well.  

During the winter, many Canadians like to partake in winter activities, such as ice-skating, skiing, and playing hockey. Canada is known for its winters, so a good way to join in on Canadian culture and tradition is by doing some Canadian winter activities.  

If there’s a skating rink in your city, try going with some of your friends and learn how to ice-skate. It can be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fun activity to do while also talking to your friends. 

There are many ski resorts all throughout Canada where you could book a room to stay at and ski or snowboard on the mountains as well. Skiing and snowboarding are very fun activities to do during the winter time and many Canadians take part in this activity yearly.  

But, if you enjoy a more physical activity, hockey could be a great sport to play with friends and a good way to have fun while also being competitive with each other. Hockey is a huge sport in Canada and it has become ingrained in Canadian culture, so playing hockey with your friends could help ease you into the Canadian lifestyle, while also being part of a fun activity.  

These new hobbies could potentially be life-changing for you and you could also find something new that you will enjoy. Joining in on new hobbies can make you feel more a part of Canadian culture and can help you settle in to the start of your new journey.  

Taste of home: Create a sense of belonging with food 

Taste of home: Create a sense of belonging with food 

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: April 10 2023

Photo: Spencer Davis (Unsplash)  

Researchers say nostalgic food consumption helps with homesickness. What is food nostalgia and why is it helpful in managing homesickness? “Nostalgia” comes from the Greek words nostos (homecoming) and algos (ache). When you long for the home you’ve left behind, what you’re feeling is nostalgia.  

If you’re struggling to settle into a new country, making traditional recipes can transport you back to your old home. This is because taste triggers memories; memories of eating with friends, preparing meals for family, and celebrating special occasions like birthdays.  

But using food too often to block negative emotions rather than satisfy hunger is unhealthy. Overeating makes the body work harder to break down food. Plus, extra calories result in weight gain. Soon the dishes you once enjoyed could start causing you health problems.  

So, don’t just eat your favourite dishes alone to temporarily boost your mood. Share your cultural recipes with the people you meet in Canada instead. Recreate family dinner nights with potentially good friends. Build new memories at the kitchen table rather than visit happy times in the past. Or, better yet, why not explore these Canadian foods when you’re feeling nostalgic, and grow a little bit more in your Canadian identity?  

Poutine 

Photo: @withlovefromchile (Unsplash)  

The Poutine originated in Canada’s French-speaking province of Québec. It’s a street food dish of rubbery cheese bits, brown gravy, and French fries. As poutines make their way around the world, you’ll find many cultural variations of this dish. Some toppings pay tribute to specialities like Butter Chicken and Philly Cheesesteak. You can’t go wrong with a classic, though. Enjoy a traditional poutine recipe from Dairy Farmers of Canada. 

Tourtière 

Tourtière is a kind of savoury meat pie that, like the poutine, comes from French-Canadian culture. It’s traditionally eaten around Christmastime. Tourtière recipes get passed down through generations. Throughout the year, French-Canadian mothers sometimes bake and freeze pies that they then give to their kids during the festive season.  

Tourtière has a buttery pastry crust that’s filled with meat. The meat is spiced with a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Some recipes include potatoes and onions like this one from Chatelaine.  

McIntosh Apple Pie 

Photo: Oat Appleseed (Unsplash)  

The McIntosh Apple is Canada’s national apple. It’s an all-purpose green apple with juicy white flesh and skin that has some red spots. We say “all-purpose” because McIntosh apples can be eaten either raw or cooked. They taste a little sour when eaten fresh but sweeten as they ripen.   

John McIntosh, a Scottish-Canadian farmer and fruit breeder, mysteriously discovered McIntosh apple seeds on his Ontario farm in 1811. You see, apples are not native to Canada. In the early 1600s, Frenchmen started planting apple orchards when they settled here. Today, McIntosh apples grow widely and wonderfully in eastern Canada, British Columbia, and north-eastern United States.  

Check out this prize-winning McIntosh apple pie recipe featured in Canadian Living. After making it, try warming up your slice over a campfire in the company of others. Then, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some crushed walnuts.  

Beavertail 

Photo: Mwhhanley (Pixabay)  

According to a 2012 study in consumer eating behaviours, sweets are often associated with pleasant memories. Create pleasant memories in your new home with one popular Canadian sugary treat: the Beavertail. The beavertail is a simple pastry made of whole wheat dough that’s hand-stretched and deep-fried (no, you wouldn’t actually be eating the leathery rear end of Canada’s largest rodent). Like a doughnut, beavertails are chewy and crispy at the same time.  

Since 1978, the snack franchise BeaverTails® has been serving beavertails to people all across Canada. They offer different flavour combinations like chocolate hazelnut spread and banana slices. Have a look at their website for more product information.   

Maple Syrup  

Photo: Kobbey Mendez (Unsplash)  

It’s impossible to talk about Canadian sweet food without talking about Maple Syrup. Canada’s maple syrup industry supports the country’s economy. The industry is responsible for almost 75 per cent of the world’s maple syrup production.  

As maple trees grow, they bulk up with starch. Once snow starts to melt in the spring, the starch turns into sugar and mixes with the water that the roots of the trees absorb. This mixture of sugar and water is called sap. Sap streams out of maple trees between February and April each year.  

Mostly in Québec is sap collected and boiled down into the thick and silky sauce we know as maple syrup. Maple syrup can be used in a variety of dishes. It comes in an assortment of qualities, colours, and flavours.  

Here are 12 easy recipes from Today’s Parent that call for maple syrup.  

Ways to share your culture with new friends 

Ways to share your culture with new friends 

By: Vivian Nguyen 

Published on: April 07 2023

Photo: Mentatdgt (Pexels)  

One of the hardest things to do when moving to a new country is making new friends. It is especially intimidating—or frightening—to build friendships with people who do not share the same culture as you. 

Culture includes the shared beliefs, values, and traditions of a social group. It can be passed down from generation to generation. According to Paul Fieldhouse, culture “is what makes us similar to some other people and yet different from [others] in the world. It is a kind of social heritage.”  

In Canada, because of the country’s diversity, you will meet many people from different cultural backgrounds. However, this does not mean that you need to give up your own culture to fit Canada’s multiculturalism. In fact, you are encouraged to embrace and practice your culture, as well as share it with others! 

Benefits to building new relationships with people from different cultures 

When put in a new environment, our instincts lead us to seek out those who are the same as us. Surrounding ourselves with such individuals provides familiarity and security. However, there are also benefits to befriending people from other cultures. 

Expand your knowledge  

Being friends with people of different cultures teaches you things about those cultures. You learn more about the world and the people who live in it.  

Develop compassion  

Understanding why others behave or dress the way they do eliminates stereotypes that are otherwise harmful to the groups they target. A stereotype is a fixed, generalized belief about a group or class of people. Stereotypes can be both positive and negative. 

Offer new experiences  

Travel opportunities, new cuisines, new music, you name it! When you are friends with people from different cultures, you are exposed to new things. 

Provide company and support  

Being somewhere new can feel lonely. Friends with different heritages can provide different perspectives about your situation. Like any other friend, they are there to support you. 

Ways to share your culture with others 

Language 

As a tool for communication, we use language to entertain, teach, and encourage each other; to “build community.” Now, not everyone in the world speaks the same language as you. One way to share your culture with others is by sharing your language with them. Be it through a simple greeting, unique words, or how to say, “I love you,” sharing a language can bring people closer together. 

There are many advanced translating apps out there to help with this like Sayhi and Microsoft Translator

Movies and TV shows 

What is a better way to enjoy your favourite drama or film from home than with new friends? You can also share media that depict your culture in an authentic way to show your friends an indirect glimpse of your life. 

Music 

Music evokes feelings found at the core of the shared human experience. Music has the power to communicate relatable emotions, feelings, and desires.  

The musicality of a song reaches people in a way that lyrics may not, especially if they do not understand the language. By sharing your childhood songs or songs that are important to your family to new friends, you are sharing parts of yourself.  

Food, food, food! 

We cannot talk about culture without mentioning the food. Whether it is a homemade dish or bought from a local restaurant, food has the power to transport us across country borders. Food from a given culture can evoke feelings of nostalgia and happiness for members of that culture. 

It can also introduce those from outside of the culture to the new tastes of a different place. 

Photo: Los Muertos Crew (Pexels) 

You can offer to cook for your friends or meet them at a restaurant you approve of. Dining etiquette also varies across cultures. Many families eat together and some share dishes from each other’s plates. This is why many Chinese and Thai restaurants serve large portions of their menus: for sharing.  

Language, movies, music, and food all bring people together. They make up cultures that are each unique and beautiful. Take advantage of Canada’s diversity by sharing your culture with others.  

Finding work with foreign qualifications in Canada  

Finding work with foreign qualifications in Canada  

By: Elie Ngoy 

Published on: April 06 2023

Photo: John McArthur (Unsplash) 

One of the significant hurdles newcomers face in Canada is the recognition of their foreign qualifications. Canada is a highly industrialised country with a strong and fruitful economy that offers ample opportunities for newcomers and Canadians to live the middle-class dream. However, newcomers find getting a job in Canada with foreign qualifications and foreign credentials impossible due to the many requirements.  

The Government of Canada and the various provinces have worked hard to make this a manageable issue so that newcomers to Canada have the opportunity to thrive in this new competitive environment. These efforts include:  

  • The facilitation of direct employment for newcomers 
  • Service awareness and accessibility 
  • Newcomer entrepreneurship support initiatives 
  • Official language training 
  • Welcoming communities 
  • Facilitation of participation in community groups and organisations  
  • Settlement and integration service provider 

One of these example efforts can be found in Alberta. The government has introduced a foreign qualification recognition program, which assists newcomers with obtaining licenses to work in strictly regulated workplaces and occupations. As a newcomer, to work in most jobs in Alberta, you will need to be licensed by a provincial Professional Regulatory Organization (PRO).  

Newcomers are then assessed on several criteria, which include:  

  • Work history  
  • Education  
  • Profienciny in English  

This program will inform you on whether you have gaps in your qualifications that need to be addressed or examinations you need to take in order to be fully licensed.  

The government of Canada has also provided newcomers with a Foreign Credential Recognition in Canada Tool, which offers individuals who are new to Canada information on job requirements such as: 

  • Whether your job is regulated or unregulated  
  • Information on the relevant regulatory body 
  • Alternative careers as you await acceptance of your foreign credentials  
  • Jobs available for hire  
  • Salary information 
Photo: Scott Blake (Unsplash) 

You will also be pleased to find English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in abundance in many Canadian cities. These subsidised programs result from generous contributions from government agencies at all levels and are created to assist newcomers settling in Canada. Many jobs in Canada will also require that you pass a formal English assessment to qualify for their advertised roles.  

Online tools such as the Ottawa ESL schools have been set up to provide information on the ESL community within Ottawa. This can be an excellent resource for newcomers and will direct you to the necessary programs.  

Canada is a land of great opportunities; it is the same land that allowed Michaelle Jean, a Haitian-born immigrant, to become Canada’s 27th Governor General of Canada. Your foreign qualifications can still work in this country, and the government of Canada has provided much support alongside its provincial partners. There are thousands of tools available to facilitate your transition into Canada.  

Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in refugees 

Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in refugees 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: April 05 2023

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains topics such as violence and rape. This may distress some readers. 

   Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels) 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined by the Canadian government as a mental disorder people may experience after experiencing something horrible. Traumatic events that may lead to PTSD include war, personal violence, crime, natural disasters, and major accidents. Going through PTSD can interfere with your work or school, and it can often be quite stressful to go through. 

A United Kingdom based charity that specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder—PTSDUK—notes PTSD can often arise from multiple, different traumas that build up in one person. PTSD is common in refugees who are often either victims of violence, or know people who are. An estimated 40 per cent of adult refugees and 90 per cent of child refugees suffer from PTSD. 

Psych-social support activities can be very helpful for survivors of trauma, but refugees are often unaware these supports exist or do not know how to access them. Additionally, trauma is often shared in families, particularly children and parents. Children tend to be highly sensitive to how their parents react to an event and how they discuss it after the fact. This can make it hard for children to feel comfortable discussing their traumas because they might be worried about further stressing out their parents.  

In an interview with the University of Utah, Dr. Omar Reda—a psychiatrist specializing in refugee trauma, who is a refugee himself—said many people arrive in a new country thinking they have left all their problems behind them. However, entering a new country often means leaving behind your friends, family, and a social support network. Adapting to a new culture and language adds more difficulties. Dr. Reda added PTSD can cause problems in your relationships, and that a lot of refugees worry about people they know who are still in their home country. 

Dealing with flashbacks, triggers, and recurring dreams in PTSD 

Flashbacks are when you become disassociated with your surroundings and slip into vividly relieving a traumatic event. Often flashbacks are triggered by certain sights, smells, sounds, or other sensations felt by a person when they were undergoing the event. For example, a rape survivor may be triggered noticing a particular smell or form of pain they experienced during their assault. 

It can help to notice the early signs that you are falling into a flashback, such as if things start to look blurry around you. 

Grounding techniques help prevent flashbacks from onsetting by reminding you when and where you actually are. It is suggested you look around and take detailed notes of your actual surroundings, like the colour of everything or how many pieces of furniture are around you. This can help you momentarily forget the visuals and other sensations that you remember from your trauma.  

You can also carry items with you to occupy your senses to prevent yourself from noticing triggers. For instance, peppermint can cover up smells, biting into a lemon distracts from other tastes, and playing loud music can drown out other sounds. Strongly holding something that is jarring to touch, like an ice cube, helps you stay in the present moment. 

   Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels) 

Organizations that can help 

If you are looking for a place to start finding help, talk to your doctor. The Canadian Centre for Refugees & Immigration Healthcare, The Ontario Mental Health Centre, and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) all offer mental health services to newcomers.  

While they do not specialize in mental health, there are several other charities dedicated to helping new Canadians which also offer some healthcare services.[Text Wrapping Break] 

The Community Development Council Durham offers several referrals, including to family doctors, family and child healthcare services, and mental health services. Outside healthcare, it also provides assistance with government ID, employment, education, life skills, and other aspects to help newcomers settle. 

The Kingston Employment and Youth Services (KEYS) has partnered with the Kingston Community Health Centre on delivering Resettlement Assistance Programs.[Text Wrapping Break] 

Lighthouse Christian Ministries offers emergency food support and health services—including dental—to people who have little to no income. 

The Afghan Resettlement Programs website has a list of organizations which are the lead for immigration services in that part of Canada. This list is at the bottom of their contact page

Other healthcare services are listed in this article on “Supports for immigrants and refugees with disabilities.” 

Helping someone who has PTSD 

If you have a friend or loved one suffering from PTSD, ideally, they should see a doctor or use the resources linked to in this article. However, there are ways you might be able to help them as well. 

It is important to spend time with your friend or loved one to enjoy each other’s company and live away from the trauma. Pursuing hobbies together and following a set routine can help rebuild trust. [Text Wrapping Break] 

Let the person you know with PTSD take the lead in discussing their trauma, and listen to what they have to say without forcing them to speak. Keep an eye out for signs they are angry or stressed.  

Take care of your own mental health as well, and set boundaries with your friend or loved one if needed. 

Ways to treat PTSD 

Narrative Exposure Therapy involves small groups of people joining sessions together, where they tell their life stories in the order they happened with the guidance of a therapist. The goal is for people to recount their traumatic experiences and the emotions they feel remembering those things, while staying connected to the safety of the present day. 

WebMD lists several different ways to treat PTSD. Most therapies involve Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is designed to help change thought patterns causing you distress. Some forms of therapy help with dealing with the stress that comes from trauma, while others help you either discuss the trauma or find a way to associate traumatic events with something positive.  

There are also several different medications that may be prescribed to handle the kind of chemical imbalances in the brain that may result from PTSD.  

Maintaining the balance between two cultures when arriving in Canada 

Maintaining the balance between two cultures when arriving in Canada 

By: Anson Wong 

Published on: April 04 2023

Photo: James Wheeler (Pexels) 

Travelling to a new country can present unexpected challenges. Aspects of a new culture can feel alien at times. When the difference is great enough, feelings of culture shock can develop. Culture shock is a feeling of shock when faced with unfamiliar aspects of a new culture. Continued isolation from your native country can fester these feelings if left unattended. 

For newcomers, the challenge becomes finding productive and healthy ways to address culture shock. Balancing aspects of both cultures can be possible, and neither culture needs to compromise.  

Identify what is keeping you isolated 

The first step in dealing with culture shock is figuring out what aspect of the new culture can be uncomfortable. It is important to know that negative feelings are not shameful. By accepting those feelings, you can find out what next steps to take in overcoming culture shock. 

One example is the variety of food available in Canada. If you are worried about leaving behind your diet when travelling to Canada then you can be at ease. Canada is home to many diverse ethnic groups with different foods available. This can be its own form of culture shock as new types of food can be found in these areas. Visit your local dim sum restaurant and you may be surprised to learn they sell crispy squid tentacles among other choices. 

Photo: Rajat Sarki (Unsplash) 

Connecting with both cultures 

Connecting both cultures is a gradual process. It’s figuring out what parts of Canadian culture you embrace while staying true to your native culture. 

Doing prior research helps adjust your expectations on what to expect. Another good way to balance both cultures is by engaging with the community. Attending community events, volunteering, or hanging with co-workers are all beneficial forms of engagement. Canada has a diverse population with many ethnic groups. Finding people of similar backgrounds and learning of their experiences immigrating to Canada can be a great source of help. 

Stay in touch with friends and family in your native country with social media applications. Apps like WeChat can be a great tool for communication as well as keeping up with the news in your native country. Immediate information can be a benefit, though users should take care to balance out social media and real-life interests. 

Cultural mosaic 

Canada’s support of multiculturalism has led to what can be described as a “cultural mosaic,” where various different ethnic groups and cultures coexist in a society. This is in contrast with the United States, where immigrants are expected to assimilate into the dominant culture in what is referred to as the “melting pot”. 

Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, not to be confused with son and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act which allowed races, languages, and cultures beyond English and French to be equal. Immigrants of course also work to keep both cultures alive. Urban enclaves like Chinatowns replicate the experience of native cultures into Canada. Newcomers can find comfort in the familiarity of these enclaves as they take in the rest of Canadian culture. 

So, while being a newcomer can be intimidating, do not let that stop you from experiencing Canada’s diverse culture. 

Photo: Niamat Ullah (Unsplash)  

Guide to Canadian wildlife: How to stay safe and survive attacks 

Guide to Canadian wildlife: How to stay safe and survive attacks 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: March 20 2023

      Photo: Mark Miller (Pixabay)  

Canada is home to a beautiful and diverse group of animals. While they mostly stay out of people’s way, learning how to live alongside wild animals is a must for Canadians, even in urban settings. 

Bears 

When camping, it is best to bring bear spray with you, camp in large groups, and avoid leaving out food that would attract bears. If you see a bear, stay calm and give it as much distance as possible without turning around to run away or climb up a tree. Bears are good climbers and can run faster than humans. Running away from bears also triggers their aggressive instincts.  

Laying down and pretending to be dead can work against brown bears such as grizzlies, but if you are being attacked by a black bear or polar bear you should never play dead and always fight back. 

Deer and moose 

While deer and moose are typically not aggressive, they may still attack, and they can be a problem when driving. Hitting one of these large animals would not only injure the poor beast, but it could cause serious, possibly lethal harm to people inside the car. 

Look for deer signs when driving, and keep all your windows and mirrors clean so you can keep a good lookout for incoming wildlife. Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, and they typically move in groups.  

      Photo: Simon Gatdula (Pixabay)        

Coyotes and dogs 

Coyote attacks have been recently reported in major Canadian cities, including Toronto and Vancouver. Walking with a dog on a leash can be helpful in keeping you and your pet safe. However, keep in mind that coyotes may work in pairs, with one acting friendly towards your dog while another circles around to attack. 

While dogs are mostly friendly towards humans, large, aggressive dogs can be very dangerous. Similar to bears and coyotes, they are faster than humans and running away triggers their hunting instinct. Only run away if you are facing a group of hostile canines, or if you have somewhere close you can escape to, like the roof of a car. 

Do not look directly in a dog’s eyes or show your teeth—such as by smiling—because they take this as a threatening challenge.  

If you have to fight a dog, find anything you can use to quickly block the dog’s attacks, such as your jacket, bag, or a nearby stick. If a dog is going to bite you, it is better that it bites your arm than somewhere more vulnerable like your face, throat, or groin. This works better if you can wrap your arm in a jacket before using it to block a bite. 

Try and sprawl on top of the dog to keep it pinned down under your weight, and if necessary, attack its eyes or throat. You can also pull or sweep its legs to throw the dog off balance, or put something like a coat or bag on its head to subdue it. Grabbing a dog by the loose skin around its neck—known as the scruff—is also effective. 

If you are lying on top of a dog that is still fighting back and no one is able to help you, you may need to either strike it at the base of the skull or use a chokehold on it. Rear naked chokeholds and guillotine chokes are among the most effective, basic techniques.  

Rabies: Spotting this deadly illness in animals 

Rabies is a virus that mainly spreads through saliva, which takes over the brain, causing the victim to lose mental control before eventually dying. While many countries are free of rabies, it is still sadly found in many parts of the world including Canada. Infected dogs and bats are among the most likely to spread rabies, but it can infect several other mammals, including cats, horses, racoons, coyotes, skunks, ferrets, and humans.  

Symptoms of rabies include partial paralysis, aggressive behaviour, hydrophobia (fear of water), foaming of spit at the mouth, and sickness leading to death. It is mainly spread through an infected animal’s spit getting into someone else’s bloodstream. 

Rabies can be prevented by making sure your pets are vaccinated against it. If you get into contact with an animal that you suspect has rabies, go to a doctor immediately. Rabies can be successfully treated, but getting treatment early on is vital in order to stop the virus from reaching your central nervous system and brain.  

While rabies is usually transmitted through bites, it can also be spread if an infected animal—including one that is not yet showing symptoms of the virus—licks you over an open cut. It is also possible to be bitten in your sleep, which is why you should make sure to remove any bats from your home, and seek medical attention if you find a bat close to where you were sleeping. 

Dealing with skunks and racoons: The stinky pests and masked bandits 

Skunks are cute, non-violent animals, yet they leave behind a notoriously horrible smell, and also spray their stinky oils at anyone they feel threatened by. If you see a skunk, give it space to avoid being sprayed, especially if the skunk is warning you by stomping its feet, raising its tail, making short charges towards you, or by turning its rear to face you.  

Skunks spray through a couple of glands on their rear end, and their emissions can reach up to 15 feet away from them. If a musty, acrid smell persists near your home for some time, you may have skunks living nearby. 

The best way to keep skunks off your property is by making sure they have no reason to nest there, such as filling in holes with soil, straw, crumpled paper, or similar materials. Give the skunks a couple days—or longer, during winter—to push their way out of the hole. If enough time goes by without the hole being reopened, that means there are probably not any skunks living inside the hole so it is safe to permanently seal. 

If a skunk is inside your home or garage, it is most likely trapped there. Make sure to leave a way for it to escape, such as opening a door or window. 

Here are some tips on removing the odour if you, a pet, or your property have been sprayed by a skunk. 

For dealing with raccoons, the City of Toronto recommends people store garbage properly in secure containers and avoid leaving anything edible that would attract them to your property. Raccoons eat many different foods, including trash.  

They also like to nest in holes, which is why you should block off any way they can get into your home, such as unused chimneys, gaps in your roof or outside walls, and cover air vents with screens. Raccoons are good climbers, which is why the City of Toronto recommends you take down any unused towers, and trim the branches of nearby trees. 

Normally raccoons are more active at night, unless they were driven out of hiding. They act calm and fearless around humans in urban settings, and may be aggressive when cornered. If you notice a raccoon that looks blind, confused, physically disabled, aggressive, and/or has mucus dripping out of its face, call 311. These are all possible signs the raccoon has either rabies or canine distemper

“It brings me a lot of joy to feed people”: How Ritu Gupta built a new home in Canada through authentic Indian cuisine 

“It brings me a lot of joy to feed people”: How Ritu Gupta built a new home in Canada through authentic Indian cuisine 

By: Vivian Nguyen 

Published on: March 16 2023

Photo: Vardan Gupta 

For Chef Ritu Gupta, cooking is more than just work. It is a hobby, a passion, and a way to connect with others. As the leading head chef and owner of the Cambridge branch of the Biryani Bar franchise, Gupta shares her expertise of authentic Indian cuisine with residents and visitors in the industrialized city.  

Each dish is made with several spices and techniques Gupta has acquired over the years. What is not written on the menu is the journey Gupta took to get to where she is. How she went from teaching in India, to taking home orders in the United States, to running a restaurant in Canada. This is her story. 

Life in India 

Growing up in India, Gupta learned important life lessons from the women in her life—her grandma, mother, and her aunts. Through them, she learned about the values of education and “practical skills like sewing, cooking, and cleaning.” Her upbringing was also dependent on community-building. 

“Relatives were nearby so we all took care of each other,” said Gupta. “I had four siblings [and lived with my parents], so seven people [lived] under one roof.” 

The first dish Gupta learned to make with her mother was dal tadka, a lentil soup. The Hindi word, “tadka” refers to a process of heating oil with various aromatic ingredients such as ginger and onions, along with cumin seeds and tomatoes. These ingredients are fried in the pan and served on top of the lentil soup. Dal tadka is also very versatile; its ingredients can be substituted for other vegetables and roots. The South Indian way of preparing dal tadka includes rai mustard seeds and curry leaves. It was this dish that introduced Gupta to the culinary world. 

In India, Gupta taught art and crafts at home as well as at a daycare and nursery for kids called, KidZee Noida. She describes finding work in India as “more or less the same” as in Canada. “You have to show them what you bring to the table,” she said. “Make friends and be confident.”  

On the move and building a life abroad 

During the early 2000s, Gupta moved around within India due to her husband’s job until they settled in New Delhi for a few years. In 2007, she and her husband, along with their two sons, moved to the United States of America on her husband’s work visa.  

In the United States, Gupta’s close friends encouraged her to start her own business. “They said I was a good cook [and that the area we lived in] was missing Indian food,” said Gupta. Up until this moment, life in America was difficult for Gupta. She expressed having trouble finding work for herself without a work visa. “Without a visa, talent doesn’t matter.” 

After hard work and a positive attitude, Gupta started to build a loyal customer base for her small business. She took orders over the phone, cooked everything at home, and personally delivered the orders, with the help of her family. Business was successful! At one point, she made 300 samosas and many fresh biryanis in one day. She also enjoyed cooking vegetable pakoda (fritters made of vegetables). 

    Photo: Vardan Gupta 

For payment, Gupta marketed her craft for less than the competition, which included established restaurants. Gupta focused less on money and aimed to satisfy her customers. Through this business model, she received good reviews and made loyal customers. 

When her husband’s visa ended in 2012, they returned to India. The Gupta family then moved to Canada for the first time the following year on a different work visa. When the work visa ended in 2016, they went back to India, again. After moving back and forth, Gupta and her family finally returned to Canada in 2017 and have stayed here since. 

When asked if she experienced homesickness during all the moves, Gupta replied, “No, not really. I am a free bird. I miss my mother, but that’s about it.” She explained that the reason they moved so often was because they “were trying to build a life abroad.” 

Sense of belonging in Canada through food 

Despite having to move so many times, Gupta found a “home” in Canada. When asked where she considered “home” the most, Gupta said Canada was her home now because that is where she and her husband are building a life for themselves and their family.  

Unlike in the United States, it was not difficult for Gupta to find a job in Canada. She credits websites like Indeed.com for this. Before working at Biryani Bar, Gupta worked at numerous restaurant chains including Tandoori Flame, Brar’s, Avani, and Khazana.  

As evident by her job experiences, Gupta’s true passion is to cook. As the owner of Biryani Bar in Cambridge, ON, Gupta feels like she belongs in Canada. “We have our permanent residency and now the restaurant, so I feel like I belong here,” Gupta shared. 

Gupta describes her workdays as “good, [but] sometimes not because [it is] stressful.”  

     Photo: Vardan Gupta 

On Aug. 7, 2022, the franchise owner visited the restaurant with a party of eight. However, he was not the only customer: there were also three additional groups of eight, two groups of four, and one group of five customers in the span of only four hours. From 6pm to 10pm, the restaurant was “packed.”  

“We had to send a group of seven away [because we were over capacity],” said Vardan, Gupta’s eldest son. 

On Aug. 13, 2022, Gupta served food live at a party. “There were so many people,” she said. She also expressed that she enjoyed talking to them as she made their food in front of them. “It’s one of my favourite parts of cooking […] I like hosting, talking to customers, and feeding people. It brings me a lot of joy to feed people!” 

Looking towards the future 

The success of the restaurant “feels good” for Gupta. “We are growing day by day and people are starting to recognize and respect us,” shared Gupta. “[We’ve been getting] many repeat customers and people from all kinds of backgrounds.” 

When asked if she was satisfied, Gupta replied: “Yes, but this is just the start. I want to grow [more and gain] more success.”  

Advice for newcomers 

Gupta’s advice for other newcomers, no matter their field of interest, is to “work in it passionately and learn from others in the same field.” She said, “I learned a lot by working as line cook first and was able to bring that knowledge forward with me.” 

Cooking has helped Ruti Gupta and her family establish a new home in Canada. If you are in Cambridge and are craving authentic biryani and other Indian dishes, stop by Biryani Bar on Jamieson Parkway! The Guptas will greet you with warm smiles and even hotter food. 

Location: 900 Jamieson Pkwy Unit 15, Cambridge, ON N3C 4N6 

Phone: (519) 260-0798 

Pickleball: What’s the deal with Canada’s growing sport? 

Pickleball: What’s the deal with Canada’s growing sport? 

By: Anson Wong 

Published on: March 13 2023

Photo: Ben Hershey (Unsplash)  

If you’re arriving in Canada, you might be surprised to learn one of the fastest growing sports here isn’t hockey or basketball, but pickleball. According to Pickleball Canada, 28 000 members have joined the organization as of December 2021. 

But the competitive scene is not the only place where popularity is growing. Several communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) like Richmond Hill have put up nets to allow parkgoers to enjoy pickleball. These nets are available a couple of hours a day and are in response to the sport’s growing popularity. With fall on its way, this time of year is the perfect chance to try out the game for yourself. 

Rules of the game 

To play, you will need a wide open plain, a net, paddles for each player, and a pickleball. These items can be found in most sports stores such as SportsChek. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, Walmart sells equipment at a lower cost. Consider bringing sports apparel for easier movement and breathability. 

The rules of pickleball are simple, players are laid out similarly to a badminton court. Each game can be played individually in a singles match or with a partner in a doubles match. All players must be at least two metres away from the net; this is called the non-volley zone or “the kitchen.” Making contact in this area will result in the opposing team getting a point.  

When serving, the server on the right side of the court hits the ball diagonally. The starting serve must always be done with an underhand motion. Should they win, the server on the left will hit the ball next diagonally. The ball must always bounce at least twice for it to count. This means volleying the ball is not allowed. 

To win one team must have at least 11 points and be two points ahead of the opposing team. The game will continue indefinitely until this two-point gap is achieved. The team that achieves first wins a set. In total, two sets are required to win the game. 

Why the popularity? 

Pickleball’s popularity has been present even before the pandemic. Its appeal lies largely in how the rules are simple and easy to follow. This makes it ideal for almost all age groups, from children to seniors. More importantly, the strain on the body is less compared to other sports, meaning you don’t necessarily have to be in shape to play well. All players regardless of skill level can enjoy the sport, making pickleball easy to get into overall.  

Courts are also generous in the amount of space needed, requiring no more than 13 metres in length by six meters in width. In comparison, a tennis court would take 23 metres in length and 10 metres in width for a doubles game. Pickleball’s compact space allows for many more games to be played at once.  

With many parks and recreational areas being able to serve as courts to play, pickleball has become a popular sport where players can get to socialize. If you’re looking to play, consider registering at your nearest city. Richmond Hill for example, has time slots available for drop-in. If you’re looking to be competitive or want a regular team to play with, you can join organizations like Pickleball Canada.  

Experiencing the Calgary Stampede: The greatest outdoor show on earth 

Experiencing the Calgary Stampede: The greatest outdoor show on earth 

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: March 09 2023

Photo: Dominique Boulay (Pexels)  

The Canadian West is made up of the British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba provinces. Through shows, music, and attractions, the Calgary Stampede, a not-for-profit organization, celebrates the cowboy culture and history of the Canadian West.  

A man named Guy Weadick founded the organization over 100 years ago. Weadick worked on ranches his whole life, and toured rodeo events in Canada, the United States, Britain, and continental Europe. He gave roping exhibitions. Roping, or tie-down roping, is when a rider sits on top of a horse, throws a loop of rope around a running calf, and then dismounts to tie the calf down as fast as they can.    

During a visit to Calgary in 1901, Weadick had the idea of gathering pioneer cowboys in a sort of high-level sports championship. But Calgary at the time was basically a wilderness that couldn’t facilitate such a vision. It was only after the arrival of thousands of settlers, the building of railroads, and the founding of land companies that the West started to emerge as an urban centre. 

With help from a friend, Weadick gained financial and moral support, and finally, in 1912, Calgary hosted its first ever Stampede.  

“All competitions were open to the world, no colour, or nationality barred,” wrote Weadick in an article for The Calgary Albertan newspaper. People came from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico “in their native costumes and equipment.” 

The week-long “reunion of Old Timers in the Great West” started off with a parade. The parade included all types of Canadians—Indigenous people, Christian missionaries, Hudson Bay company traders, whiskey smugglers, the North-West mounted police, ranch owners, cowboys and cowgirls, and more. Even government officials and the press came to visit.  

The Stampede was a success—so much so that it was permanently added to the annual exhibition of Calgary in 1923.  

What began with authentic settlers and pioneers of Western Canada, now welcomes visitors of all backgrounds from around the world.  

Stampede shows 

The Stampede puts on several shows, each one showcasing a different side of Western Canadian culture. There are rodeo events, like the tie-down roping exhibition the Weadick did, and famously, bull-riding. Free admission to a powwow is also a show option. A powwow takes place when Indigenous people come together to sing, dance, and honour their heritage. You can also watch highly-trained dogs run action-packed courses that involve agility poles and frisbee catching.   

Stampede food 

The Stampede usually takes place over 10 days in the summer. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Keep your energy up by eating from Midway Food stands, one of the Stampede’s attractions. Midway Food offers fair food of all kinds, from spicy Korean BBQ French fries to sweet deep-fried cookie donuts. In terms of food, southern Albertan agriculture producers and members of the international food industry also visit the Stampede to share their ideas and build business relationships.  

To experience the Stampede and all that it offers, check out its website https://www.calgarystampede.com/ for more information about ticket prices.

Things to keep in mind when making new friends 

Things to keep in mind when making new friends 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: March 06 2023

Photo: Phil Nguyen (Pexels)  

Making new friends isn’t as easy as it seems to some people. It could be a bit of a challenge for some and that could include newcomers. Coming to Canada and having to make new friends could stress you out, but you shouldn’t worry too much.  

When first meeting and speaking to others, it could get a bit awkward or uncomfortable, but with a bit of practice and guidance, making friends could get a bit easier and something that you will be comfortable with. 

There are some ways in which you could make yourself more relatable to others and in turn, more people will be open to being friends with you. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re making new friends.  

Expand your interests 

A good thing to be mindful of when speaking to others is to try to expand your interests and try to understand a multitude of different topics and ideas.  

If you’re interested in music, try listening to different genres and branch out from there. Then when you’re speaking to new people, you can ask them what kind of music they listen to and see if you have some commonalities there. Increasing your interests could be a great way to build up methods of small talk and can lead you down the path to success

Another example could be if you enjoy following one sport. You could start following other sports one at a time if it’s easier for you. Try learning about another sport, such as hockey, and you will be able to speak to other hockey fans as well. In Canada, a lot of people enjoy hockey, so if you don’t know too much about the sport, start watching a few games here and there and learn more about the rules of the sport.  

Eventually you’ll be able to have full on conversations and discussions with others about hockey and you can build great friendships through that. You could also feel more Canadian by following a popular Canadian pastime.  

The more you expand your interests and learn about different topics, the more likely you are to have similarities with others and develop friendships.  

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels) 

Listen to others 

Listening to others is something that seems like a given thing, but is often overlooked.  

By listening to others it doesn’t specifically mean to be quiet when they’re speaking, but to actually be attentive and understand what they’re telling you.  

Try your best to remember what someone tells you and the next time you speak, mention what they said because it could make them feel special and shows that you care about what they say.  

Ask questions about others, let them tell you about themselves, and take an interest in what they’re telling you. You could ask about what someone does for their career and try to learn more about their career. Ask things like what they do on a day-to-day basis, if they enjoy their work, or if they like the people they work with.  

These little questions are quite basic and simple, but by showing genuine curiosity in someone and the things they do, it could go a long way and make that person feel like you truly care about them and understand them.  

Also try your best to maintain eye contact because this is essential when speaking to others and having a conversation, as people will feel like you’re fully paying attention to what they’re telling you. Eye contact also builds a connection between you and another person and will reassure others that you care about what they’re telling you. 

Photo: John Diez (Pexels) 

Be observant 

A good thing to keep in mind when speaking to new people is to be observant and take a great interest in someone.  

Taking notice of little details can make a big impact on someone and will make that person understand that you value them as a person and care about them.  

Being observant will help you read someone else’s emotions and body language and can help you when you’re having conversations with others. By reading other people’s feelings, you will be able to know when to and when not to ask specific questions about someone.  

When you’re speaking to somebody, if they seem happy and upbeat, you could ask them if something nice happened to them during the week or day, or if someone is noticeably unhappy or stressed, ask if there’s something bothering them and what you could do to help.  

Being observant can also help you focus on certain things both inside and outside of a conversation. It could help you see how other people act or conduct themselves, and as a result, will help you build better relationships. You will know when to say or do the right thing and also if you can get along well with certain people.  

Photo: Alex Green (Pexels) 

Be confident when speaking to others 

Speaking to new people can be difficult, but if you come into it with confidence and believe in yourself, then you’ll be able to make friends quite easily.  

With confidence and self-belief, you’ll be able to get your thoughts across more clearly and you’ll be more comfortable when speaking to others. Others will be able to understand you better and they’ll feel like they can trust you, as you are more sure of yourself.  

Being confident also makes you more attractive, not just for romantic relationships, but also for friendships and connections with others. People will gravitate towards you if you’re confident and are sure of yourself because they will see that you don’t really care what others think of you and that you are comfortable with your flaws.  

Your own self-confidence could also help others around you feel better about themselves, and that in turn will bring others closer to you and you’ll form close bonds with one another. 

These are only a few different things to keep note of when making new friends, as there are plenty of other ways and tips that you could use to help yourself. As long as you keep these tips in mind and build upon them, you will have no issue settling into Canada and will find it just a bit easier to speak to others and build friendships.  

From newcomer LINC students to registered early childhood educators 

From newcomer LINC students to registered early childhood educators 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: March 06 2023 

     Photo: Vivian Nguyen 

Starting over in another country is not an easy task. In most cases, immigrants have to learn a new language, make new friends, find a new job, and get used to a new environment. Immigration organizations like the Newcomer Centre of Peel (NCP) provide services and resources to help newcomers develop and achieve their settlement goals. 

Along with programs like English Training, Employment services, and counselling, NCP delivers programming for different newcomer age groups “within the Region of Peel and beyond.” Through Community Connections, the centre focuses on adults, seniors, and youth. Meanwhile, Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) provides care for children ages one to six. Their summer camp focuses on school age children.  

Both Kim and Hilmiye started as newcomer Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) students before joining NCP’s CNC team. Their passions for working with young children led them to where they are now. 

Initial challenges in a new country 

Canada is ranked the top nation for immigration in the world. For Kim and Hilmiye, Canada was a new land of opportunity. Canada represented “something new, something to explore,” said Kim.  

Homesickness 

In 2006, Kim moved to Canada to live with her husband who travelled back and forth between Vietnam and Canada for work. However, the language barrier and lack of community made her feel lonely and homesick. Her friends and family were back in Vietnam.  

During her first year of living in Canada with her husband, Hilmiye felt “a lot of homesickness.” She explained: “The first year, I went two times back home to Turkey to spend time with family.” She video chatted with them often and still does. She also cooked and volunteered with the Turkish Canadian Union to “keep herself busy.” Eventually, Canada looked less foreign and more like “home.”  

Finding work 

In 2000, Hilmiye and her husband came to Canada with Masters-degrees in Physics. Hilmiye aspired to teach physics with the Peel District School Board, but her plans were interrupted by the English assessment test. She was unable to meet the score requirement for English oral and written communication. “I knew English,” explained Hilmiye, “but I didn’t pronounce things like a Canadian.” As a result, Hilmiye was faced with two choices: 1. Spend money and time studying to get her teaching certificate, or 2. Save money for a house and start a family. 

Her husband received a job offer in computer programming, through mutual friends who immigrated to Canada before them. “We were lucky [he got a job so quickly],” said Hilmiye. “I didn’t need to worry much about finding a job myself [because I felt] calm and secure.” In 2002, they moved to Mississauga and have stayed there since. 

The first job Kim had in Canada was factory work. Despite knowing it would be difficult and tiring, she took the job because she no longer wanted to depend on her husband or anyone else. “I just wanted the feeling of depending on someone lifted,” she said. 

Kim worked at the factory for six months, gradually falling into a depression. She felt disappointed in herself for having settled for a job she didn’t enjoy. “[I asked myself], ‘What am I doing here? I was a teacher [in Vietnam]! I went to work wearing áo dài and high heels. Now, I wear [a uniform] and [ugly] shoes….” 

She quit and applied for Skills for Change in Toronto—a program equipped to help immigrant women. She also enrolled in a class called “Accountant for Immigrant Women,” achieving certificates for both programs. During this time, she found work in an office, however, the level of English spoken there was “too fast.” She was also pregnant with her first child and decided the stress was not good for her baby. She left her office job and a year later, her second child was born. She stayed home to care for her children. 

     Photo: Kim  

Earning Canadian credentials and language learning  

After taking the assessment test, Kim received a list of centres to apply for LINC classes. She chose NCP because the centre offered childcare services. As a mother of two, this was the perfect place for her to study without worrying about finding babysitters. 

Before meeting her Level 7-8 LINC teacher, Kim hadn’t even thought about going back to teaching as a career. She did not think that Canada would accept her Vietnamese diploma. Her teacher and husband encouraged her to apply for college. Feeling proud, Kim submitted her applications. She attended Sheridan College for their Early Child Education program.  

College was stressful for Kim: “My hair turned grey because of [school]!” She had trouble writing because she often needed to mentally translate her answers from Vietnamese to English before writing them down. She also felt insecure about her speaking abilities, believing others would judge her from how slow she spoke, so she barely spoke in class at all. 

After her studies, “without a thought,” Kim went straight to NCP. In 2015, she worked as an on-call supply early childhood educator (ECE) for five months before being promoted to a long-term supply. 

When her daughter was born, Hilmiye attended childcare assistant classes to gain skills to “be a good mom.” She started in Yorkdale and ended at NCP—formerly called, “Peel Adult Learning Centre.” She shared what she learned with other mothers in the Turkish community in Mississauga through her daycare work, which she started at-home at their request. 

She offered a safe place for community members to drop off their children when they couldn’t find daycare centres that worked for them. She took care of five children every day, including her own child from 7:30am to 5:30pm.  

After running her own daycare, Hilmiye found her passion. The joy on her clients’ faces could not be replaced. In 2006, she attended college to become an ECE. With support from her husband, she attended college lectures in the evening and led her daycare during the day. Even though she lacked sleep and was always tired, “somehow [she] managed.” 

              Photo: Hilmiye  

Hilmiye found work opportunities through networking. There was always someone in the community who knew someone who knew another person with connections. She was referred by a close friend to a teacher at NCP and started working as a supply teacher during her studies. After graduating in 2009, NCP offered her a full-time position. They told her, “Don’t promise anyone anything! We have an opening, and we want you!”  

Like Kim, Hilmiye picked NCP because of the childcare program. Both women prioritized the needs of their children before their dreams. Both also felt that they belonged in this field of work. 

Finding community  

Studies show that 90 percent of immigrants feel a sense of belonging in Canada. Hilmiye found solidarity in the Turkish Canadian community in Mississauga. The members shared similar experiences and gave each other positive support. “In this way, we created a very close family,” Hilmiye explained.  

At NCP, Kim felt like she “belonged somewhere.” Hilmiye feels the same way, viewing CNC as her “second family.” She has been with them for well over 15 years and does not plan on leaving any time soon.  

Advice for newcomers 

Kim advises other newcomers to not let anything stop them from achieving their goals. “If you want your life to be better, you have to [take initiative and do things] yourself. No one will do it for you. [If I had given into my fears] of speaking English, I wouldn’t be [here] now.” 

Hilmiye’s advice is to “keep a positive attitude.” She encourages others to be open-minded even if they don’t pursue their original profession. “Don’t worry, you will find your way.” 

To read other success stories, explore The Newcomer website

Related articles: 

The Canadian experience trap: An unfortunate challenge for newcomers 

Gaining Canadian Work Experience 

Keeping your children safe online 

Keeping your children safe online 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: February 23 2023

          Photo: Julia M Cameron (Pexels)  

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses potentially triggering subject matter, including sexual abuse, body dysmorphia, and harmful content seen online. Please read at your own discretion. 

While the internet is an incredible tool for learning new things and staying connected with people, it can also expose children to things they shouldn’t see or deal with. 

One example is the leaks from Facebook which show the company knew how Instagram causes body image problems in a large fraction of young girls who are using that platform. While they were not heavily focused on, recent reports have shown social media causes just as many issues in teenage boys, who are often obsessed with making themselves bigger and more muscular.  

Fortunately, the issues caused by body dysmorphia and other image disorders can be treated. There are also ways to protect your children from other dangers online. 

Protecting your child from online predators and groomers 

Grooming is a tactic predators use to manipulate children and make them vulnerable to being abused, often sexually. Sometimes groomers intend to lure children into human trafficking. 

The relationship a groomer builds can take different forms, such as a romantic relationship, an authority figure, a mentor, and/or a dominant and persistent figure. They can reach children through different methods online, including social media, email, texting/calling apps such as WhatsApp, as well as messaging and/or voice chat functions in online video games, forums, and other apps. 

Groomers use various tactics to trick children into being close to them, in order to separate them from friends and family, which makes the child dependent on the groomer. These tactics include pretending to be younger, buying them gifts, showering them in attention, giving advice, acting like they are understanding, and taking them on trips.  

There are various signs that a child might be being groomed. These signs include if they are being secretive about how they spend their time (including online), have money or items they cannot explain how they got, like clothing and technology, changes in how much time they spend online, as well as if they spend long periods away from home or otherwise missing. Other signs include behaviour or knowledge inappropriate for their age, such as having an older boyfriend/girlfriend, underage drinking, taking drugs, as well as either acting sexual, or demonstrating a knowledge of sex that is unusual for a child to know.  

Harmful content 

While a lot of online content can be tame or even educational, some of the things going viral on social media can teach children to do harmful things, or just be unhealthy for them to watch. 

Some of the challenges that people are dared to take on through trends can pose the risk of serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. People sometimes take challenges that are obviously dangerous, such as the “fire challenge,” where people cover themselves in accelerant and set themselves on fire.  

Other challenges seem safe but pose hidden dangers, such as challenges that involve eating a spoonful of raw cinnamon or a ghost pepper. While cinnamon is harmless to digest, its dryness not only makes it hard to swallow, but triggers a gag reflex that could let the dry powder enter your lungs, where it can cause serious damage. Eating extraordinarily hot peppers—like ghost peppers—can cause heavy vomiting in some people and/or cause to other issues that lead to hospitalization. There are also a couple challenges that are not intended to be risky but can only be safely done by a professional, such as the back cracking challenge that is meant to help relieve back pain but can misalign someone’s spine if done incorrectly. 

While YouTube Kids can be a good way to set your child up to age-appropriate content, its status as a social media platform where pretty much anyone can upload content makes it hard for the website’s algorithm to keep everything safe. A recent study found YouTube Kids allowed some videos on the platform, which could be detrimental to children’s health by promoting diet culture and skin bleaching—which could damage the audience’s self-esteem—as well as videos that positively discussed drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth.  

This is an ongoing problem that YouTube is admittedly getting better at fixing, as it responded to the “Elsagate” controversy a few years ago. In 2017, the company deleted over 150 000 videos and 270 accounts in order to get rid of inappropriate content, including videos depicting children in sexualized or abusive contexts. These videos slipped onto YouTube Kids because their uploaders used certain key words that are popular search terms, such as “learn colours” or Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, to trick the YouTube algorithm into thinking these are child-friendly videos.  

Parents should keep an eye out for how their children respond to the content they watch, even content that was made for kids. YouTube Kids sensation, CoComelon, has been criticized for causing symptoms of withdrawal in children, who would reportedly have tantrums after their parents ended their CoComelon sessions. This has been attributed to the channel’s fast-paced videos which have short shots and many cuts. 

In order to help wean your kids off of CoComelon or other shows you feel as a parent they should stop watching, it is recommended you remain calm and move your child to a relaxing environment like a bedroom or backyard. Children pick up on their parents’ emotions, and engaging in a calming activity—like listening to soothing music, reading a book, or walking outside—can calm them down. Allowing children to vent about their “big emotions,” and teaching them coping strategies to deal with stress are other ways to help them overcome a TV or YouTube addiction. 

Photo: Julia M Cameron (Pexels)  

Monitoring what your child sees online 

So, if there is so much content online that can be harmful to your children, what can you do to protect them? The best is by making sure you know what kind of things they are watching. 

You can do this by making sure you are familiar with the kinds of apps your kids are using. It is a good idea to use the same platforms your children do, search up apps you haven’t heard of before letting your kids use them, and talk with your kids/teenagers about what they are looking at online.  

Parental controls are a great way to limit the kind of content your child can access on their own online. They can be added to iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, MacBook, Google Play, Windows, or Android. You can also download parental control apps, although not all of them are free. Note that no parental control method is perfect, and you should still be aware of what your children are doing online. 

Different social media platforms have parental controls as well, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as the aforementioned YouTube Kids which can sometimes be ineffective. 

As long as parents take measures to keep them safe, children and teens can benefit a great deal from using the internet. 

Why is prom a “big deal” in North America? 

Why is prom a “big deal” in North America? 

By: Vivian Nguyen 

Published on: February 20 2023

              Photo: Tai’s Captures (Unsplash)  

If you are a high school student in Canada, you may have heard the word “prom” circle the hallways around the final months of the school year (April, May, and June). Or perhaps you watched a show or movie that included the event.  

For many Americans and Canadians, prom signifies a rite of passage, or milestone, for graduating students. But what exactly is prom? Why is it such a big deal in North America? What do you wear to one? This article aims to answer all these questions. 

What is prom? 

Predominantly celebrated today in North America—Canada and the United States (U.S.)—the promenade dance, or “prom,” is a dance celebration for high school students. “Promenade” refers to a slow walk that debutantes do at debutante balls. 

A debutante ball is a formal social gathering in which young women make their debut into high society. By attending these balls, which were most popular in 19th century England, young wom