Sample Page

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. 


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, 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?  


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 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.  


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 


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 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. 


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 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 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.  


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 women demonstrated that they were ‘ready’ for potential suitors—for marriage. Such balls were also extravagant and exclusive, only accessible to higher classes.  

With time, the purpose of debutante balls focused less about marriage and more about social currency. An invitation thus symbolized a family’s wealth and status. 

In Canada, provincial presentations of debutantes occurred until 1965 at Nova Scotia’s St Andrew’s Day Ball. While formal debutante balls hosted by the British royal family ended, the rituals remain in all states in the U.S. and parts of Canada today. 

“Among the wealthy, today’s version of debutante culture seeks to uphold the tenets of its tradition,” writes Vivian Manning-Schaffel for Shondaland. Today’s debutante balls promote past traditions of wearing gowns, learning dances, and “young women of certain status are introduced to society.”  

… Then came the “prom.” 

Prom: “A rite of passage” 

Early proms represented a type of ball for students who couldn’t afford to attend the lavish and expensive debutante parties. Some proms serve dinner while others only include the dance. 

Proms started as tea dances where high school seniors wore their best clothes. A couple decades later, the dances transformed into “annual class banquet[s].” By the 1950s, proms became more elaborate, incorporating competition amongst students who competed for the best dressed, best transportation, and best-looking date. 

Since proms originate from marriage-motivated parties, it comes to no surprise that they are considered a rite of passage to romantic relationships. In the past, proms set the stage for courting—the act, process, or period of seeking the affections of someone (usually with the intent to marry) through social activities. 

           Photo: Christian Bowen (Unsplash)  

The earliest documentation of a school prom dates to 1884, in the diary of a male college student from Amherst College, in Massachusetts, United States. In the diary entry, he mentions an invitation to a prom at Smith College for Women. 

Originally hosted in colleges, proms found their way into high schools in the early 20th century as attendance in high schools increased. Now, proms are typically held at the end of the school year in school gymnasiums, banquet halls, and other event spaces to celebrate senior students.  

Proms also have a reputation of being a night where young people engage in sexual behaviours for the first time. The sexual acts do not usually occur at the dance itself, but at after parties and dates’ homes. Unlike what the movies depict, not everyone goes to prom with the intent of having sex. You should never be pressured to do something you are not ready to do. Communicate with your date beforehand to ensure you have the same intentions for the night. 

It is also not required for you to go with a date to begin with. You can attend prom with a group of friends! 

A tradition of segregation and exclusion 

Racial segregation  

As proms adopted the traditions of debutante balls, they enforced their rules and dress codes, including racial segregation and sexist gender expectations.  

One of the most recent cases of a racially segregated prom transpired in 2014 in Georgia, United States. After the students at Wilcox County High School protested for an integrated formal dance, white students who did not support the integration attended proms in other towns. (Read more about the story here.)  

Gender roles: LGBTQ2S+ 

In the early 20th century, high school attendance increased among lower classes. As a result, prom was introduced to high schools “to communicate a conservative, class-based gender script to a larger population,” says Amy Best to MIC. Best is the author of Prom Night: Youth, Schools, and Popular Culture.  

Another tradition includes the election of prom court: Prom King and Queen (and sometimes, Prom Princesses and Princes). Voting occurs among the graduating class before prom and is usually counted by faculty/staff or members of the student council. Sometimes, nominations for prom King and Queen are paired, including established couples in the school.  

However, these awards do not consider same-sex pairings, dismissing members of the LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited+) community.  

The dress codes at prom also uphold outdated gender expectations. For example, early proms forbid girls to wear “masculine clothing,” confining students into traditional categories of gender. 

As prom culture centres on the desires and interests of cis-heterosexual students, LGBTQ2S+ students may feel unwelcomed in the festivities.  

Recently, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) made changes to Prom, rebranding it the “Grade 12 Social” to move on from the exclusionary history attached to the word “prom.” 

In 2017, then 18-year-old RJ Smith, a transgender teen, expressed his surprise when he was nominated for (and won) prom king at his high school in a small Ontario town. “I didn’t think it was a real possibility for me,” Smith told CTV News


Many schools policed (and continue to control) the amount of skin girls are ‘allowed’ or not allowed to show. To this day, students are expected to wear “tasteful clothing.” They must “refrain from wearing inappropriate attire or sexually suggestive designs.” Such rules imply that young people’s clothing choices signify their sexual availability which not only sexualizes them but blames students—especially female students—for the sexual behaviours of others. 

Dress codes at prom, as Best argues, are “linked to that old double standard that girls are responsible for boys’ sexual behaviour.” 

Dress codes today: What do you wear? 

Now, schools require guests to wear formal attire regardless of their gender identity. In most schools, female students can wear suits if they want to. It is also not required that students wear Western-style clothing. 

It can be easy to get swept up in popular trends. But it is important to stay true to oneself—whether that’s through your gender expression or cultural expression. If you are more comfortable wearing a traditional garment from your culture, wear it! 

    Photo:  Anastasia Shuraeva (Pexels)  

Prom is a “big deal” in North America due to its reputation of being a rite of passage for graduating students. It celebrates getting older and moving onto the next stage in your life. However, if large parties aren’t for you, you can choose not to go. Proms may seem fun, but they are not mandatory. You can celebrate your accomplishments with intimate dinners or in the comfort of your own home! 

Soccer in Canada: A brief history and its growing prominence in Canadian culture 

Soccer in Canada: A brief history and its growing prominence in Canadian culture 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: February 16 2023

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)  

No matter where you’re from in the world, you have likely seen or heard of soccer, or football as it’s known around the world. Soccer is truly a global sport, and with over four billion fans, it is undeniably one of the most recognized and popular sports.  

However, North America, particularly Canada and the United States of America, are not typically known for soccer. Other sports such as basketball, baseball, and American football have largely dominated these two countries, but recently there has been an increased growth in soccer in these two nations. 

For a country known for hockey, Canada has steadily improved in soccer and is starting to show that it’s becoming one of the top sports here in this nation. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and is also the largest participatory sport in this country with over one million participants.  

Without a doubt, soccer has grown exponentially in Canada and it’s only going to keep growing, so here’s everything you need to know about soccer in Canada and the rise of the sport in this country.  

A brief history of professional soccer in Canada 

For the most part in Canada’s professional history in soccer, it has tended to favour the Canadian women more than the men.  

The Canadian women are among the top ranked teams in the world, currently ranking at seventh in the FIFA world rankings. Their status as one of the best teams in the world came to show at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when they beat Sweden in a penalty shootout to capture the Olympic gold medal, their highest finish ever.  

The Canadian women had previously won the bronze medal at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and with their gold medal, a new generation of Canadian women’s soccer had begun.  

The Canadian women’s team includes the likes of Christine Sinclair, who is arguably the greatest Canadian soccer player ever, for both men and women, as well as young stars like Jordyn Huitema and Jessie Fleming.   

For the majority of history, the Canadian men’s team has not had much success, with their biggest achievement being when they won the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, beating Colombia 2-0 in the final for their best ever finish in the competition.  

In recent years however, the Canadian men have started to find success. After missing out on the previous eight World Cups, the Canadian men punched their ticket to Qatar at the 2022 World Cup by finishing on top of their octagonal qualifying group.  

When the World Cup games start in November, it will be the Canadian men’s first appearance at the tournament in 36 years, their last appearance being in the 1986 World Cup where they finished bottom of their group with three losses to France, Hungary, and the Soviet Union.  

The current Canadian men’s team is headlined by a new wave of young talent, such as star player Alphonso Davies, striker Jonathan David, and winger Tajon Buchanan. There are also seasoned veterans like captain Atiba Hutchinson,  goalkeeper Milan Borjan, and the top scorer in Canadian men’s national team history, Cyle Larin.  

Photo: Jared VanderMeer (Pexels)  

A growing sport 

The recent successes of Canada’s national teams marks a change in soccer for Canada and it’s only going to keep its upward trajectory.  

Soccer is the perfect sport for many to get into because it’s very simple to follow and understand, and also very well-known across the globe.  

For Canadian newcomers, soccer is a sport that most will be familiar with and it’s also a sport that can bring you together with other Canadians and be a part of Canadian culture. 

It is also a sport that is easily accessible for newcomers with many organised events and groups. There are over 1200 soccer clubs across the country and many of them don’t have strict requirements to join. You could look for local clubs near you and join if you’re interested in playing soccer with others. 

With the upcoming World Cup in November, it’s even better for you to feel a sense of pride for Canada by supporting our men’s national team and watching them play on the international stage.  

If your country isn’t playing at the World Cup or you don’t have a country to support, get behind the Canadian national team and cheer them on as they look to improve on their last appearance at the World Cup.  

With how well they played during the World Cup qualifiers, the Canadian men will feel good about making it to the knockout rounds, but it won’t be easy as they’ll be facing Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco in group F, who are ranked 2nd, 15th, and 22nd in the world, respectively.  

Canada will be playing their group stage matches on Nov. 23rd, Nov. 27th, and Dec. 1st, so if you’re able to, get together with friends and family, or head to a restaurant to watch these games because you won’t want to miss them.  

The growth also doesn’t end at the 2022 World Cup either, as Canada is set to co-host the 2026 World Cup, alongside the United States and Mexico, with Vancouver and Toronto being announced as one of the 16 host cities.  

If you live near Vancouver or Toronto, make sure to be in the country when the World Cup kicks off four years from now because it will be an unforgettable experience and you’ll be a part of Canadian soccer history.   

Photo: Alexander Nadrilyanski (Pexels)  

A bright future 

With the aforementioned successes of both the men’s and women’s teams, it looks likely that Canada’s success in soccer won’t stop there.  

Although the successes of both the men’s and women’s teams are exciting in their own right, what makes it even more exciting is that the core of these teams are built on young, up and coming players who look set to dominate the world stage for the foreseeable future.  

For the men, Canada’s young stars Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, and Tajon Buchanan are all under the age of 23. The women’s side also have young and talented players as well, such as Jessie Fleming, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, and Jordyn Huitema, who are all under the age of 24.  

These players will likely be names that Canadians will be hearing for years to come and undoubtedly, more players will be known to Canadians in the future.  

It really is a great time to be a Canadian soccer fan and it’s even better for you to get behind our nation and cheer our players on. Supporting our Canadian soccer players will be a very fun and entertaining experience, but it will truly be one that will make you proud to be a Canadian.  

Investing for beginners: Breaking down some investment funds 

Investing for beginners: Breaking down some investment funds 

By: Anson Wong 

Published on: February 13 2023

Photo: Towfiqu Barbhuiya (Unsplash)  

At some point in our lives, everyone should consider setting aside a portion of their income for investments. Investing allows your money to grow without extensive involvement, making it an ideal choice for generating revenue well into retirement. 

You could open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), both of which are not taxed in most circumstances. To learn more about this, consider The Newcomer’s guide on how both accounts work. 

There are multiple options to invest which carry their own risks and benefits. A high-risk investment like a fluctuating stock can be a net gain if bought at a low price and sold at a high one, but the opposite can be just as damaging. Similarly, options that are low risk tend to have a slower appreciation but are unlikely to face a deficit. Alternatively, you can choose to keep your stock and enjoy a comparable profit to the number of stocks purchased for each fiscal quarter, or three months. This process is also called a dividend and one of the ways to judge how profitable a stock is. 

Whatever an investment portfolio holds, it should always cover a diverse range of investments for the best sustainability. Below are some examples to help you get started. 


A bond is like a loan except you are the benefactor in this case. Purchasing a bond can be done through banks such as RBC or CIBC and will require the creation of an individual account to start investing. When you purchase a bond, you are giving a corporation or government money that they will pay you back with interest over a select time frame. This can be as short as one year or extend more than 10 years. Bonds are one of the safest options for a return on investment, having a guaranteed repayment except if the company itself goes bankrupt. However, there are still some risks to consider. Inflation can impact the value of your bond, meaning each dollar today will be worth less than 10 years from now. 

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) 

The Government of Canada offers unique investments called Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC). GICs are like bonds in that they are a form of investment guaranteed to have all their principal and interest paid back by the end of the contract. Similarly, to bonds, the best way to purchase a GIC is through a bank like RBC, CIBC or TD Canada Trust. Every bank in Canada has GICs for sale. 

The difference between GICs and bonds is that GICs offer a return that is not affected by inflation. That means in almost all circumstances, you will gain the stated principal and interest agreed upon no matter how inflation has impacted the economy. Despite these benefits, buyers should be aware that the return is often lower than other options and are not as easy to liquefy on short notice.  


A stock is an investment that allows you to own a portion of a company or corporation. Depending on how many you buy you can have a major say in the direction of its future, though this becomes more difficult for major corporations, such as Twitter. While these companies won’t want to cede control, they still offer safe returns. However, stock prices can fluctuate during times of global strife, making them vulnerable to increasing or decreasing in value. 

There is also the option of purchasing a fractional share, meaning you would own a portion of a stock instead of one whole share. For example, a company with $1000 per share can have 20 per cent of that share purchased for $200. A convenient way to purchase stocks is to set up an investment account with your bank like RBC.  

Mutual funds 

A mutual fund is an investment portfolio with multiple investors. One or more managers oversee these funds and make financial decisions based on the current market. There is minimal involvement on the investors end and the responsibility is on the manager to generate a profit. A benefit to these funds is that they tend to be lower than independent investment portfolios as costs are shared with members. More importantly, mutual funds offer access to diverse investments across the globe that are not always available. With lower costs and expert management, mutual funds are perfect for an investor looking to have a low-risk guarantee with minimal involvement. 

Five pieces of advice from newcomer youth, for newcomer youth  

Five pieces of advice from newcomer youth, for newcomer youth  

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: February 09 2023

Photo: Chang Duong (Unsplash)  

A research article published this year in The Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal highlights the perspectives of 37 newcomer youth who recently arrived in Canada from the Middle East.  

Alexandra C.G. Smith, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Western University in London, Ontario, asked these young newcomers to share their perspectives about the immigrant experience. The goal of Smith’s study was to have the participants encourage their fellow newcomer youth.  

Here’s a recap of the five pieces of advice they gave:  

1) “Moving to a new country is hard” (be emotionally prepared) 

You’re at a time in your life when people typically struggle with big questions like: What career will I have? Who am I in relation to the people around me? What college or university do I want to go to? Do I even want to go to college or university? 

Teenagers spend much of their time trying to proclaim an overall personal identity for themselves. Newcomer youth navigate self-growth with the added pressure of resettlement. While juggling what feels like a whole host of important decisions, they also deal with adjusting to an unfamiliar physical environment.  

If you don’t know the names of streets by your house, how the school system operates, and what community you belong to, it’s normal to feel lost and lonely—especially when your teachers and peers can’t empathize with your unique circumstances.  

Participants in the study felt that their parents didn’t even understand them. It’s likely these parents never had to deal with moving to a new country in their youth.  

These feelings of loneliness will likely make it harder to take bullying in school and racism at large.  

But don’t let that deter you from moving forward, towards a more comfortable, hopeful future. The hardships of your first few years as a newcomer are temporary. There will be a lot crying, but the stress behind your tears will eventually fade.  

2) “Maintain a strong and healthy mindset” (don’t give up so quickly)  

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenging life experiences. Resilience is the product of a strong mind. 

But how does a person maintain a healthy mindset when it’s so easy to think negatively in the face of adversity? “By reframing thinking to find positives and looking to the future,” says Smith. To reframe negative thoughts with positive ones is to remind yourself that there is good reason for your current suffering.  

One participant, for example, reminds themselves that their parents came here so they could study. That long-term educational goal, or the fact that this land is providing you with opportunities you might not otherwise have, is something to think about when the going gets tough. Resilience is key.  

3) “Take an active role in the adjustment process” (keep an open mind) 

The adjustment period after moving to a new country is long, but that’s because learning a new way of life takes time. Be open to what the Canadian culture and people might teach you.  

The first thing you should do is to learn to speak English fluently. Get a good command on the language so you’ll have the confidence and vocabulary needed to effectively communicate yourself. Break down the language barrier. Ask as many questions as you can to learn about your new place of residence and make new friends. The knowledge you gain from actively embracing life in Canada will help you make more informed decisions for your future.  

4) “Stay true to who you are” (accept your individuality) 

Assimilating to a new culture doesn’t mean you have to forget where you come from. Your background identity is valid as there are non-Canadian values and ideas that have shaped you as a person so far. The province of Ontario, specifically, is a diverse place where people accept differences in religious beliefs, culture, dress, and behaviour.  

Giving into the pressure to change who you naturally are won’t lead you to becoming the best person you can be. “If you have a dream and you came here to Canada, do your dream and don’t let people go into your dream,” says one participant.  

5) “You are not alone” (talking helps) 

Talking to trusted individuals about your struggles as a newcomer youth helps to lessen the load. Trusted individuals can come in the forms of loved ones and newcomer organization workers.  

Loved ones, like your parents, may not always be able to understand the particulars of your experience, but it’s worth mentioning to them that you’re struggling. One participant said, “So I think for me, what I like to do is I talk about it with someone, and it just feels like a hundred big things like lift out of my chest.” This youth cheered up simply because they were able to verbally relieve themselves of their stress, even if it was temporarily.  

When you and the people around you become aware of the things that trouble you, it becomes easier to find the right kind of help.  

Newcomer organizations are places of social support and services. Workers and volunteers are trained to understand the needs and desires of newcomers. They offer appropriate information about settlement and personal self-development.  

Reaching out and admitting that you’re feeling alone with your problems is the first step to finding, and even building, a community that you can lean on in your new home.  

Carassauga: The festival of cultures 

Carassauga: The festival of cultures 

By: Vivian Nguyen 

Published on: February 06 2023

            Photo: Carassauga Festival  

First established in 1986, Carassauga is Canada’s largest multicultural festival, celebrating multiculturalism in the city of Mississauga. The non-profit, volunteer led organization is an annual three-day event, typically hosted at the end of May. They celebrated their 37th anniversary this year. 

Carassauga is a festival where “you get to know your neighbours,” shared Carassauga Chair, Marek Ruta, “the people who live next to you in the city.” 

The festival was created in response to former mayor, Hazel McCallion’s challenge to ethno-cultural groups in 1985. “There’s a festival called ‘Caravan’ in Toronto,” said Ruta. “Hazel wanted that in Mississauga as the city grew larger… Now we have over 24 cultures represented at our festival each year.” 

Admission tickets: The Carassauga passport 

The Carassauga Passport gives visitors unlimited access to the festival during operating hours. Free transportation with MiWay transit to and from the facilities are also included with the Passport during festival hours. 

Admission passports are $15 for each guest, except for children 12 years-old and under who get in for free. Your Carassauga Passport allows access to the whole festival at all locations. To purchase food, drinks, or other goods available at the festival, visitors should bring additional cash.  

Carassauga 2022 Pavilions were located in different cultural and recreational centres in Mississauga, “giving visitors the opportunity to ‘travel the world’ without leaving the city,” said Ruta. The locations and cultural lineup for 2023 have yet to be confirmed but you can check their website for the 2022 festival, which included cultures from China, Pakistan, Croatia, Vietnam, Peru, Iran, and so much more. 

Celebrating Mississauga’s diversity 

When he was five-years old, Ruta was a Carassauga performer for the Poland Pavilion. He described the festival as “an amazing celebration of diversity.” Since then, he picked up different roles in the organization, later earning his place as a board member. 

“Mississauga has been my home, [I was born and raised here, and my parents immigrated from Poland] so it does mean a lot to me to lead the organization and continue this rich history of celebrating diversity in the city […] I think we need more of that […]” 

Ruta also expressed how the festival is built upon pride for one’s culture: “I was always proud of my heritage and my culture,” he said. “Being proud of where you come from and sharing that experience [is what Carassauga is all about].”  

One of the ways cultures can be shared is through food. The Festival features many food vendors who each represent their respected countries and cultures. 


Stepping into each pavilion is like “entering that country,” said Ruta. “[Through the festival], visitors can experience the world without flying to go there… [You can get a] taste of the world.” 

If you want to experience every dish without paying for full portions, consider participating in Toonie Taste. A toonie ($2) pays for sample sizes at participating food vendors. “Taste the world [without breaking] the bank.”  

Performances and entertainment 

Although Carassauga’s dozens of pavilions are in different areas in the city, its mainstage can be found at Paramount Fine Foods Centre. Here, different communities share 10 stages to put on live performances, including dance and musical numbers. 

The festival also has an exclusive opening ceremony where guests can watch exclusive shows and view fireworks the day before the festival officially begins. Admission is free but visitors must register first as spots are limited. 

Kids Zone 

With the help of one of their sponsors, the famous Canadian fast-food chain, Tim Hortons, Carassauga provides young guests (children) a variety of activities, interactive entertainment, and rides. “Kids Zone” grants opportunities for children to meet with the festival mascots, Carra and Missi, and win giveaways. 

Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic 

Ruta shared that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions heavily impacted the Carassauga festival. “As a non-profit,” began Ruta, “we rely heavily on funding from sponsors, the [Canadian] government, and hosting our festival. [Without these factors], we don’t have money to host.” 

In place of in-person festivities, Carassauga put on virtual shows and cultural cooking classes. To plan for these events, volunteers had to secure venue spaces, coordinate visuals and audio, and stay on top of editing content. They turned to partnered community groups and social media to recruit performers and culinary talents. 

“Last year [in 2021], we did a drive-in festival [where] visitors visited two-hour long shows [in their vehicles].” The concept was similar to a drive-in movie theatre in which guests stay in their vehicles or in their designated areas to watch the show. “It was a success!” said Ruta, proudly. 

“We measured our success through visitor feedback, the number of visitors,” and if expenses left enough to ensure everyone who was getting paid, got paid. 

Despite their success, Ruta and the Carassauga team plan to return to in-person events soon. “Our festival has a special place in Mississauga,” said Ruta. “It’s something you can’t replace virtually.” 


All Carassauga facilities are wheelchair accessible. Ramps and kneeling MiWay busses allow for easier mobility. The festival also offers preferred seating for watching performances and shows, as well as closed captioning on media promotion and content (via YouTube and Facebook). 

Interested in getting involved? 


As a volunteer community organization, Carassauga is always welcoming new community members who are interested in getting involved. Volunteers can apply for specific jobs such as  production assistant for Opening Ceremonies or as festival greeters in the Outdoor Area. Other volunteer responsibilities include venue set up and tear down, customer survey representatives, and more. Currently, Carassauga has over 5 000 volunteers helping with a number of preparations, organization, and facilitation. 

“Students, seniors, people who want to get involved, all are welcomed,” encouraged Ruta. 

The team will be looking for volunteers for Carassauga 2023 starting in January. Visit their website for more information and updates. (Prospective volunteers must be a minimum of 14 years old.) 


Every year, the Carassauga team reaches out to community groups in the city for talents. Applications for acts close at the end of April to allow time for the finalization of plans and scheduling. If you are interested in participating as a performer, get in contact with their office. 

          Photo: Adam Pulicicchio Photography (provided by Carassauga Festival) 

From the aroma of food, unique and entertaining performances, and friendly faces, Carassauga is “an amazing celebration of diversity.” 

Ruta shared that they have high hopes for returning to in-person festivities next year. They are also expecting new countries to join along with returning countries as the city’s cultural population fluctuates. Visitors should also expect new performances and food, too. 

“New things are always happening, and our communities are representative of that,” Ruta said.  

“Each year we try to engage our visitors with new and exciting things… [To give them] something new to see, something new to taste.” 

Here are the dates for Carassauga 2023: 

  • Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27 (from 8pm to midnight) 
  • Sunday, May 28 (from 12pm to 7pm) 

To learn more or stay up to date with Mississauga’s Festival of Cultures, visit their website or contact their team at

How to deal with police negligence and abuse: Advocating for your rights 

How to deal with police negligence and abuse: Advocating for your rights 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: February 06 2023

      Photo: Kindel Media (Pexels) 

For the most part, police officers and other law enforcement agents work hard to make sure they are serving and protecting people who live in Canada. However, Canada also has an unfortunate history of police brutality and systemic racism in how its law enforcement treats minority groups. These issues are still affecting people to this day. 

This article has advice on how to safely get through encounters with police officers, and make sure legal institutions are protecting your rights. 

What to do when police stop you while walking, driving, or cycling 

British Labour MP Dawn Butler was stopped by police when she was riding in a car with a friend of hers. In The Guardian, Butler wrote that she believes her and her friend—who is a black man—were pulled over because of racial profiling. 

“The police admitted they did not exercise their powers based on any intelligence or reasonable suspicion (unless being from North Yorkshire is now suddenly deemed suspicious),” wrote Butler. “Therefore, my only conclusion is that it was due to racial profiling.” 

Racial profiling is—according to the American Civil Liberties Union—a discriminatory practice where law enforcement officers target people and suspect them of being criminal based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Profiling can affect people of black, Asian, and/or Indigenous heritage, as well as those with darker skin tones. 

PBS gives 10 rules of survival for getting through a police traffic stop safely. 

1. Be polite and respectful when stopped by the police. Keep your mouth closed. 

2.  Remember that your goal is to get home safely. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal complaint with your local police jurisdiction. 

3.  Don’t, under any circumstance, get into an argument with the police. 

4.  Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court. 

5.  Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times. 

6.  Avoid physical contact with the police. No sudden movements, and keep hands out of your pockets. 

7.  Do not run, even if you are afraid of the police. 

8.  Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest. 

9.  Don’t make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a lawyer or public defender. 

10.  Stay calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language, and emotions.” 

  Photo: Kevin Burnell (Pexels)  

Police generally will only stop you if they either see you committing a crime, suspect you have committed a crime, or if you are driving. As Joshua Rogola—a criminal defence lawyer in Winnipeg, Man.—writes, unless the police are arresting or detaining you, you are free to go. You can leave by simply and politely, asking the officer if you are being arrested or detained. If they say no, you can leave. If they say you are being arrested or detained, you can ask why. It it is your right to be informed why you are being held by police. 

An officer may ask you to show them your driver’s license, car registration, and insurance, which you are required to do by law. When asked, tell them you are reaching for the document, especially if you keep it in your car’s glove compartment. 

What to do when the police won’t help you 

If the police aren’t helping, there are ways you can make sure your needs are known and met. One way is by going over the heads of police and contacting your local court, sue in civil court, or let the public know what is happening to you through social media and contacting news publishers. 

You can also call your local city’s services through 311 if you need help finding ways to deal with the problems you are facing. If no other authorities are helping you deal with a serious issue, you can also contact your local Member of Parliament (MP) for help. The Canadian Council for Refugees also has advice on how to contact your local MP in an effective way. 

How to avoid getting deported and respond to removal orders 

According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), there are three types of Removal Orders that could make someone have to leave Canada. With a Departure Order, you have to leave Canada within 30 days of the order taking effect, but can apply to come back afterwards. Under an Exclusion Order, you are barred from entering Canada for a whole year, or five years if you were believed to have misrepresented yourself. Under a Deportation Order, you are permanently banned from entering Canada unless you apply for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC)

In the case of any Removal Order, the Canadian government recommends newcomers apply for an ARC if they wish to return, and also suggests more information on this website

The CBSA also recommends, “If you have questions about your Removal Order you are encouraged to call 1-833-995-0002, Monday to Friday between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm AST, to speak to an officer who can answer your case-specific questions.” 

The best way to avoid being deported is to not give the government a reason to deport you. Illegal immigration is a big, overarching reason behind deportation. People may be asked to leave Canada if they came here on a temporary visa and stayed after it expired, or if they are found to have entered Canada despite being considered an inadmissible person. Security issues, health issues, criminality, financial controls, and misrepresentation are other common reasons behind deportation. 

In order to fight a Removal Order, you should first request the immigration officers to defer the order. Make sure you have a strong reason for making this request, such as waiting for an application for permanent residency, or circumstances involving your health or education. Other good reasons include pregnancy or having filed a Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds application which is still being processed. 

Using social media as a health-promoting tool against stress 

Using social media as a health-promoting tool against stress 

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: January 23 2023

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez (Unsplash)  

Compared to men, female newcomers tend to experience more loneliness due to language and informational barriers, cultural differences, and the cost of modern living.  

Through interviews with 35 adult newcomer women from all over the world, researchers studied the cross-cultural adjustment of these women to Toronto, Canada’s most populous city.  

In this day and age, more and more female newcomers are arriving here to enter the workforce. The participants of the study felt the pressure of working unskilled, low-paying jobs—the only kind of jobs that are usually available to them. Generally, for anyone—immigrants and non-immigrants—the workplace is a major source of stress. Stress may lead to depression and anxiety disorders, worsening any pre-existing health conditions you have.  

Without the knowledge of how to get about their new place of residence, some women were too scared to even go outside. They didn’t feel confident enough to ask strangers on the street for directions, if needed.  

Focusing too much on the negative feelings that come with resettlement, the female newcomers realized that they needed to better manage stressful mental processes—for the sake of leading healthy and productive lives.  

In her 2020 study, Zulfia Zaher, an Assistant Professor in the College of the Arts & Media at Central Michigan University, found that newcomer women to Ontario—the country’s most ethnically diverse province—use social media to enhance their sense of wellbeing. Why? The main reason being access to a community.  

Facebook, as it turns out, is not just a way to keep ties with people back home. The website also connects newcomers through virtual communities. Virtual communities are online spaces where emotional support is available to any newcomer dealing with the growing immigrant problem of loneliness. You can post questions about your resettlement experience and read responses to your posts at any time.  

Participants in Zaher’s study found social communities on the Internet by searching up “a combination of words such as newcomer, women, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, GTA, immigrants, refugees, and non-profit.”  

There are, however, obviously surveillance and privacy concerns, especially for women, when it comes to engaging with social media and having an online presence. The Surveillance Self-Defense guide tells you how to protect yourself on social networks. The guide is available in several international languages.  

Excessive use of social media is also bad for mental health. So, make sure to get out into the real world and practice your communication skills through face-to-face conversations. One way to practice English language training is through Toastmasters.  

As pointed out by Zahar, newcomer women can access these three resources and join their Facebook groups: 

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto 

This award-winning non-profit organization is “more than a school, employment, or settlement agency.” It’s also a community that empowers women to become financially independent, build personal networks, take political action as citizens, and stand up for themselves.  

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto offers women-only English classes, teaches on how to navigate the city, find a community health centre, and get a job with workshops in resume-writing and interview prep.  

Newcomers to Canada 

Newcomers to Canada is a private group on Facebook that has almost 20 000 members. Its administrators seek to ensure a positive environment wherein you can connect with other newcomers going through similar situations as you.  

Newcomer Centre of Peel  

This multi-service charitable non-profit organization is funded by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a department within the Canadian government that is responsible for immigration matters. It serves the region of Peel. Peel is made up of three municipalities in Toronto: Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon.  

If you’re looking for advice on settlement issues, volunteer opportunities to gain Canadian work experience, or permanent employment, give Newcomer Centre of Peel a try.  

How the Centre Francophone helps people access housing, healthcare, and escape trafficking  

How the Centre Francophone helps people access housing, healthcare, and escape trafficking  

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: January 19 2023

Photo: Atypeek Dgn (Pexels)  


Canada is a bilingual country, with English and French being its official languages. However, in Ontario, only 11.2 per cent of the province speaks French. For the 8.1 per cent of those Ontario francophones who speak French as their primary language, they are the minority in a province defined by its preference for English. 

Le Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto is an organization that helps French speaking residents of Toronto access services in French. It both helps clients access necessary services in French—including healthcare, education, employment, and housing—and partners with other organizations that help other vulnerable communities to accommodate francophones.  

Aline Nizigama, director of strategic projects, partnerships, and communications at the Centre Francophone, said her organization helps around 25 000 people every year, with 47 000 interacting with the Centre Francophone during the COVID-19 pandemic. She estimated that 60 to 70 per cent of her organization’s clientele are black or racialized, because the Centre targets members of groups that have historically been marginalized. Over half of the Centre’s clients are only comfortable speaking in French, and not English.  

Nizigama herself came to North America as a refugee from Burundi, which she described as sharing a troubled, ongoing history of genocide and civil war with its neighbouring country of Rwanda. She learned French living in the United States as a refugee, and came to Canada to be with her husband. Nizigama’s mother came to Canada seven years ago, and Nizigama said getting her proper healthcare has been difficult. 

“My mother tends to be stoic, so she will hide if she has pain somewhere, you have to dig it out of her.” 

In Nizigama’s experience, speaking French might not be enough if healthcare providers lack the cultural understanding to look for verbal cues and other nuances to delve deep into their patients’ needs. However, she added there is a shortage of French-speaking or bilingual healthcare providers, and there are also only a few colleges and universities that offer medical programs in French. 

In 2021, the Université de l’Ontario français opened up in downtown Toronto, which Nizigama said is the result of 50 years of advocacy for a French university. She added the university is one of the Centre’s newest partners, because it has a lot of international students from West Africa and other parts of the world who are struggling to access affordable housing, healthcare, and help with immigration processes. 

“It’s gonna be big,” said Nizigama, “when it takes off.” 

Most francophone services are located in Toronto, although Nizigama said there is also a concentration of services in Durham and Peel, with some in Scarborough and North York as well.  

She said while there is always “an element of affording” when it comes to affordable housing, even francophones who have enough funds to pay for a home struggle finding a place to live. 

“For the most part it’s accessing the information in a way that can help them make decisions as to where to live, how to choose your neighbourhood, and to take other factors like francophone schools and jobs into consideration.” 

Nizigama described this information as “non-existent” in French, noting newcomers who speak English can access a much larger bevy of information to help them settle in Ontario.  

“We started mapping some of the existing information and there may be a couple [sources], and that’s it,” she said. “There’s usually a Facebook group and there’s this non-profit organization that tried to do something, but it’s not updated, and the information is from 2009.” 

While the City of Toronto legally has to provide services in French, Nizigama said the website is all only written English, and simply has a tool to switch the information to French through Google Translate. She said it is “almost an insult.” 

Her husband, Bruno Moynie, a translator and filmmaker, said some of the refugees he and Nizigama help in Toronto had walked here all the way from Brazil. 

“They have the drive, of course, they’re very adamant to make it here, but some of them don’t have the education, the skill and stuff.” 

He said these people need “easy tools” in either their native language or French—which is a common language—the same way information exists in English. Moynie added some tools are eventually written in Spanish and Chinese as well, but not in French sometimes.  

Toronto charities that offer services in French 

There are two affordable housing organizations Nizigama referred to that specifically cater to francophones. La Maison de Torontois a francophone women’s shelter, and the Centre d’Accueil Heritage is a shelter for the elderly. 

There are other organizations which have partnered with the Centre Francophone. An example is Margaret’s Housing and Community Services . They help women with mental health and addiction issues, and are slowly developing bilingual services. 

Other organizations include YMCA Toronto—which helps women fleeing violence—Sojourn House, Covenant House, and Blue Door.  

Photo: Sammis Reachers (Pixabay)  

The fight against human trafficking 

Oasis Centre de Femme is a Toronto-based non-profit that helps francophone women who have experienced human trafficking and/or sexual assault. Just as they have for addressing other issues, the Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto has partnered —or plans to engage—34 various organizations in order to better help francophones who may be victims of human trafficking. 

Both the Canadian government website, and The American Department of Homeland Security offer advice on how recognize signs of human trafficking in a person, and resources on how to escape trafficking by getting help. [Text Wrapping Break] 

Nizigama said schools are a common place for traffickers to lure in victims— especially for sexual exploitation — and francophones are at particular risk because language can sometimes be taken advantage of. Traffickers often bring victims into Ontario from Quebec because they will struggle to access services here, and that powerlessness keeps victims under control.[Text Wrapping Break] 

“We work with the two biggest Francophone school boards,” said Nizigama, “one Catholic school board, and the other is the public, secular one.”[Text Wrapping Break] 

She said the Centre Francophone also works with the Toronto Police, who have a human trafficking department and have acknowledged a gap in servicing francophones. Furthermore, Nizigama added her organization works with COPA National, La Maison de Toronto, Oasis Centre de Femmes, and Victim Services offices in Toronto, Durham, and Peel. [Text Wrapping Break] 

She added employees of the Centre Francophone are taught to look for signs that some of their clients are possible victims of trafficking, or being groomed by a potential abuser

In one case, a newcomer was rescued from being trafficked by a family member who was forcing them to work in a basement all day without getting enough food, sleep, hygiene, or breaks. When the trafficker tried using their victim’s identity to scam the legal systems, it revealed the truth. 

“The things they said in that interview raised flags,” said Nizigama. “We were able to identify that it was a human trafficking situation.” 





To learn more, read about The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking’s hotline here, and see the Toronto Police’s website on their Human Trafficking Enforcement Team. 

En savoir plus au Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking et Centre Oasis de Femme. 

The Ontario Native Women’s Association helps Indigenous victims of human trafficking. 

Understanding body dysmorphia among newcomer youth

Understanding body dysmorphia among newcomer youth 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: January 16 2022

Content warning: This article talks about body image, suicide, eating disorders, and trauma. 

Photo: Alex Green (Pexels) 

There is a popular saying that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” By saying this phrase, the speaker demonstrates that they are not bothered by the unpleasant things that others say about them. On the surface, this phrase can be empowering. It implies that the only opinions that matter are your own. 

But what if you view yourself negatively? Can those thoughts hurt you? 

What is body dysmorphia? 

Body dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is “a mental health condition in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived flaws in your appearance.” These flaws are not seen by others and can be easily casted aside as “fake.” However, to someone experiencing body dysmorphia, these perceived flaws feel very much real. 

They can even cause the person to feel extreme shame and anxiety, which affects their daily life.  

Symptoms of body dysmorphia 

One sign of BDD includes hyper focusing on one’s appearance and body image. Body image refers to a subjective view of one’s physical appearance established by self-observation and the reactions of others. 

Individuals with body dysmorphia are often preoccupied with one or more perceived flaws in their appearance. They may engage in behaviours to fix or hide the perceived flaw(s) by skin picking or styling with, for example, makeup. Those with body dysmorphia often check the mirror and/or seek reassurance from others. “My nose looks big… is it?”  

Such fixations on their appearance lead some individuals to follow through with cosmetic procedures for temporary satisfaction. These “fixes” are temporary because the negative thoughts and perceptions return even after the procedures, and only get worse without treatment.  

To better understand if you have BDD, check out eMentalHealth’s questionnaire. If you answered “yes” to several questions, read more about the disorder and seek treatment. 

What are the causes and risk factors? 

According to Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphic disorder typically begins in adolescents—during the early teenage years. BDD can affect a child’s academic performance and their ability to interact with others. One study has even found that 18 percent of students with BDD dropped out of school due to severe symptoms. 

Body dysmorphia affects everyone regardless of gender, though males usually worry about their muscular build. Some even develop bigorexia, the belief that their bodies are “too small,” even if they can lift hundreds of pounds of weight. 

Causes of BDD include negative experiences or evaluations about your body or self-image. These experiences can be self-inflicted or initiated by others, including media and societal expectations of beauty. Trauma through childhood bullying and teasing or abuse are also triggers for body dysmorphic disorder.  

Additionally, body dysmorphia can be hereditary meaning that if you have a blood relative with BDD or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there is a high chance you have it too. OCD involves uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts—called obsessions—and/or behaviours (compulsions). 

Other elements (caused by or associated with BDD) include: 

  • Low self-esteem 
  • Major depression and anxiety 
  • Eating disorders (ED) 
  • Social isolation 
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviour 

Although there is no known way to prevent BDD, early identification of the disorder will lead to earlier treatment. 

Photo: Polina Zimmerman (Pexels) 

How can parents support their children with BDD? 

  1. Be empathetic. When they check the mirror or seek reassurance, do not mistake these actions for vanity—great pride in oneself or one’s appearance. Many individuals with BDD believe their reality even if you cannot see the flaws they are perceiving.  
  1. Encourage your child to engage in social activities. Start off small by playing a board game with them. 
  1. Be cautious about the way you view and speak about your own appearance. Afterall, children mimic behaviour. Create healthy habits to demonstrate body acceptance by accepting your physical flaws, such as stretch marks and acne in front of them. 
  1. Shift the focus away from appearance and more on their skills and passions. Compliment your child’s abilities instead of their appearance. Instead of saying, “you look so cute!” say, “you are so creative!” 
  1. Encourage your loved one to seek treatment. To do so, focus on how they would benefit from talking to a professional who deeply understands the disorder, instead of expressing how negatively you are affected by their behaviours. This eliminates guilt which makes it easier for them to accept help. 

If you need tips on how to talk to your child about mental health, take a look at this MHA article


Body dysmorphia is an under recognized disorder as people with BDD genuinely believe something is wrong with their appearance, not as misperceptions. Many young people are not diagnosed until well into adulthood.  

Treatment for BDD includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which seeks to change people’s negative thoughts and behaviours. 

You can find additional resources through Anxiety Canada and Children’s mental health centres


If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact 911 or the emergency services in your area immediately. 

Kids Help Phone 

  • Call 1-800-668-6868 

Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 mental health service that caters to kids, teens, and young adults. They offer online and telephone counseling and volunteer-led text support in English and in French across Canada. In addition to URGENT HELP and if you need someone to talk to, Kids Help Phone provides data and activities to help build your knowledge about mental health. 

Access Alliance 

Access Alliance provide services for vulnerable people living in Toronto. Your first 16 one-on-one counseling sessions, which last 45 minutes to one hour, are free! Access Alliance offers group therapy, art classes (art therapy), and services in over 180 languages, including American Sign Language (ASL). 


Good2Talk supports post-secondary students in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Their services are free and confidential. Use the above information to get in contact with professional counselors and trained crisis responders. Good2Talk now also offers services in Mandarin. 

National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) 

  • Toll-free: 1-866-NEDIC-20 (1-866-633-4220) 
  • Toronto number: 416-340-4156 

NEDIC is Canada’s only National Toll-Free Helpline, focusing on awareness and prevention. Unfortunately, they are not 24/7, closing at 9pm EST. Find a provider here

Remember, finding the right counsellor may take trial and error. It is important that you pick a service that works best for you. 

Minor or not, body dysmorphic disorder can get worse as time goes on and if left untreated, it can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The more convinced you are that you need “fixing,” the more distress and interference you may experience in your life, making body dysmorphia a mental health disorder.  

More resources from The Newcomer

5 Low cost or free mental health services in Canada 

Mental health issues in immigrant communities 

Breaking down barriers through video games 

Breaking down barriers through video games 

By: Vincent Tran 

Published on: January 12 2023

Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels)  

Gaming is a big part of our society and is one of the most searched and watched content on the internet. There are billions of people who actively play video games worldwide and there are many different types of games out there to keep people entertained.  

The likelihood that you’ve played video games before is quite high, whether it be on a gaming console or on your mobile phone. Gaming is ever present in our lives and it could also be used to formulate great friendships with others. 

There are many ways that gaming could help you connect with others, so here are a few different ways in which gaming can build friendships and bonds with others.  

Game with your friends 

A good way to get started with gaming is by playing video games with your friends.  

This is a great way to get to know each other and see how each other does in certain video games. You could find out if your friends are competitive or not, or you could find out what kinds of games your friends like or dislike.  

You could invite a few friends over to your house and play video games together. This is great not only for fun, but also to get to know each other. Being gathered around a game and joking around with each other is a very enjoyable experience, but video games could also give you different experiences.  

For example, you could play a horror game together, like Resident Evil, and go through that game as a group. Even though Resident Evil games are single-player, it could still be enjoyable just having a group of friends together and being thrilled and scared from the jumpscares or high pressure situations in the game.  

There are also many story-oriented games that you could play, such as It Takes Two or A Way Out. Story games are great ways to have a cooperative adventure with your friends and it will be like you are playing an interactive movie together.  

Another way to play games with your friends is by connecting and playing together online.  

Try to find a platform that you and your friends could play on. It could be on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, PC, or many others, and try to play together whenever you have free time. You could have a regular conversation with your friends while playing a game to occupy yourselves. This is very fun and you’ll just have a great time with each other. 

There are many different multiplayer games that you could play together, some of which are free-to-play and can supply you with plenty of hours of fun. Games such as Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends are multiplayer online shooting games that have massive player counts and are better when playing with others.  

These battle royale type games are extremely fun to play with your friends and will help you work together to do well. They are also very satisfying when you end up winning and coming out on top as the last team standing.  

With gaming, the possibilities are endless and there are many different ways that you could use gaming to get to know your friends better.  

Photo: Ron Lach (Pexels)  

Connect with other gamers 

With how connected we are with the internet, it’s not too difficult to find others who may want to play video games with you. 

There are many forums and groups online from sites such as Reddit, Discord, or Facebook where you can connect with other gamers who play similar games to you. You could search online for groups for games that you’ve been playing and you might be able to find a group to join.  

If you play on PlayStation or Xbox, there are Reddit forums for you to ask questions about games or even get a group together to play with others.  

Playing multiplayer games online can also help you build relationships with others. If you’re playing a game like Call of Duty and have found a group that you enjoy playing with or have gone on to win a couple games together, try to get in contact with those other players.  

These random strangers could potentially become your gaming friends and you could regularly start playing with them more often. Try getting in contact with other gamers and you will be able to build great friendships that way.  

Gaming could become a great social platform for yourself, you just have to figure out how you want to use video games and if you’d like to play with others because there are plenty of people out there who love to play video games.  

Photo: Soumil Kumar (Pexels)  

Invest in hardware 

Gaming is a fun hobby and great way to make connections with others, but it could also become very expensive.  

If you would like to play with others, try gaming on a budget and invest in things that you would need to play with other gamers. Whether that be a microphone, headset, or something else, focus your spending into those areas rather than into the newest games.  

While playing the latest game may seem like the best option to go with, it is also quite expensive to invest in. Many people play free-to-play video games, so that could help keep your costs low. There are many different types of free-to-play games out there, so if you’re able to find one that you enjoy, that’s even better.  

There are plenty of free-to-play games that have massive followings and player bases, so try to find one that you enjoy and start building up your gaming hardware.  

Getting a headset or microphone would be a good way to start because you’ll be able to communicate with other gamers and your friends if you decide to play with them online.  

You don’t have to get the best equipment out there, just get started with the basics and start playing games on your budget because the most important thing with gaming is that you’re having fun.  

Photo: Eren Li (Pexels)  

Fun cooperative games 

There are many multiplayer cooperative games that you could play with your friends or online with other gamers.  

You could play fun, light-hearted free-to-play games such as Fall Guys, Rocket League, or many others as well.  

If you’re into sports, there are plenty of sports games that are released annually, such as the EA Sports developed games: FIFA, NHL, Madden NFL, or the basketball game NBA 2K. These games would be great to get a few of your friends over and have a good time playing against each other.  

The Nintendo Switch console is also great for family games or local multiplayer cooperative games. Games exclusively on this console include Mario Kart, Nintendo Switch Sports, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing. All of these games are great for all ages because they are simple to play, but also very enjoyable with others, especially for a game like Mario Kart, which is just a racing game, but is so much fun to play.    

You could even play well-known board games or party games online, such as Monopoly, Charades, and many more. If you and your friends can’t meet up in real life, this is a good alternative where you can play a traditional board or party game together, while not having to be in the physical presence of one another.  

Video games have become a wonderful medium of entertainment and have also become a great way to socialise with others. The things you can do with gaming are limitless and it’s entirely up to you how you want to use it to create connections with others and grow your friendships.  

New to Canada: Jobs any newcomer can apply to

New to Canada: Jobs any newcomer can apply to 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: January 09 2022

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo (Unsplash) 

Job hunting in Canada can be rough. Many work opportunities require education and years of experience for even an entry-level position. However, many jobs require little to no qualifications and can beneficial for newcomers who are in the process of their education or qualifications. Whether you just arrived in Canada or are entering the workforce, here’s a list of jobs that may fit you.  

All wages are estimated by Indeed. Prices may vary depending on the place of employment. 

Retail sales associate 

Wage: $15 to $17 an hour, or roughly $30 000 a year 

Retail sales associates assist customers in stores by finding merchandise and operating the cash register. They may have additional duties assigned to them such as restocking shelves and managing inventory. Retail working positions are abundant in Canada and can be found rather easily. These positions can usually be found on job boards like Indeed or Glassdoor but be sure to check the company’s website as they can be easier for employers to notice. For example, if you were applying for a position at PetSmart you can search for a store near you in the careers page

Real estate agent 

Wage: $40 to $70 an hour, or roughly $80 000 to $150 000 a year 

One of the most lucrative markets in Canada is the housing industry. A real estate agent’s job is to provide guidance and assist sellers and buyers on buildings. Agents should be aware of how transactions between purchases work. All real estate agents must have a Real Estate License for employment. Humber College provides a Real Estate Program where applicants can get their license with five courses, four exams, and two simulations. These licenses vary from province to province so keep that in mind if you plan to move in the immediate future. 

Warehouse worker 

Wage: $15 to $25 an hour, or roughly $40 000 a year 

As the name suggests, warehouse workers mainly reside in warehouses and are responsible for handling shipping and receiving. They pack products into boxes for shippers to deliver. Warehouse workers may also organize shelves and make sure products are in their respective positions for handling. Many companies that have merchandise have positions available such as Ikea and Amazon.  


Wage: $15 to $25 an hour, or roughly $40 000 a year 

COVID-19 has created a demand for screeners in hospitals and other health centres. These workers take the temperature of incoming guests to ensure they are not infected with COVID-19. Screeners will offer sanitary products to visitors like hand sanitizer for hygienic purposes. You may also give directions to visitors from time to time and handle their inquiries. If you are interested, you should apply directly to hospital websites near you, like at Mackenzie Health. It is important to note that COVID-19 is still prevalent, and you may be exposed while on the job. Anyone considering this career path should take that risk into account.   


Wage: $18 to $22 an hour, or roughly $40 000 a year 

Receptionists are often at the front of the office, handling visitor inquiries. This includes both in person and on the phone. Receptionists must know how to operate a computer and handle tasks where needed, such as filling out a visitor form and notifying management when relevant parties have arrived. These positions are in high demand and may have fierce competition given they do not require a degree and can provide administrative experience. 


Wage: $15 an hour, or roughly $30 000 a year 

In restaurants, servers take the customer’s order and deliver the meals between the kitchen and table. Servers should be friendly and approachable while being able to answer any questions the customer may have. Knowing the menu is important and servers should be able to inform customers what ingredients are in the meal or simply, what they recommend. Servers must also know how to use a cash register for completing orders similar to a retail sales associate.  

Serving is unique as it is standard practice for customers to tip the waiter. In Canada, it is customary to tip around 15% of the receipt. For more information, visit The Newcomer’s article on tipping culture.  

Fast food worker 

Wage: $15 an hour, or roughly $30 000 a year 

The fast-food industry can be demanding but it offers a flexible work schedule for those who may need it. Most employees assign their hours making it easier to plan around multiple commitments. However, there may be times when your manager may call and ask you to cover a shift outside of your assigned time. 

Fast food workers have multiple responsibilities. On any given day, workers can take orders from the cash register, prepare and cook the food, do custodial work to keep the restaurant clean, and more.  


Wage: $15 to $25 an hour, or roughly $40 000 a year 

Janitors keep the building clean, mainly on the floor and washrooms. They may operate floor cleaning machinery from time to time for efficiency. Janitors are also responsible for emptying the various garbage bins in the building and ensuring all hygiene products like soap and hand sanitizer are stocked. On occasion, janitors may handle minor building maintenance like checking ventilation and plumbing.  

Preterm birth, a possible outcome to pregnancy  

Preterm birth, a possible outcome to pregnancy  

By: Alisa Samuel 

Published on: December 15 2022

Photo: Janko Ferlič (Pexels)  

Over the past two decades, the number of preterm births in Canada has increased. Today, around eight per cent of Canadian pregnancies end with preterm birth. Premature babies are at risk of various life-long medical problems. Such problems include “lung disease, cardiovascular disorder, asthma, and hearing and vision loss.”  

What is preterm birth? 

The exact causes of preterm birth remain largely unknown. Doctors think women go into labour before their due dates because of infections, stress, obesity, substance use, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, and some chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Studies, however, find that two risk factors are clearly related to preterm labour: 1) having a history of preterm birth, and 2) being from an ethnic minority.  

History as a predictor of preterm birth  

All babies delivered alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are preterm babies. Based on when their mothers deliver them within those 37 weeks, the babies are ranked into three subcategories: 

  1. extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks) 
  1. very preterm (28 to 32 weeks) 
  1. moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks) 

Women who’ve had previous preterm deliveries face up to a 50 per cent chance of going into preterm labour in their next pregnancies.  

“The mechanism for the recurrence is not always clear,” explains professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Robert L. Goldenberg, and his team in a 2008 article on the causes of preterm birth. “But women with early spontaneous preterm births are far more likely to have subsequent spontaneous preterm births.” 

Tiril Tingleff from the faculty of Medicine at the University of Oslo and colleagues recently reviewed national data of all the births in Norway between 1999 and 2014. They focused on over 200 000 women who gave birth to their first and second children in the same period. Their research shows that women with extremely preterm first births have the highest chance of experiencing extremely preterm second births.  

Preterm birth research in ethnic minority women 

Ethnic minority women, especially those who are black, have more preterm births than white women. This fact is a seemingly unexplainable occurrence. 

In a 2017 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, university professors from across Québec suggest that vitamin D insufficiency leads to increased risk of preterm delivery in ethnic minority women in Canada.   

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and hormone. It supports the immune system and bone health by controlling infection and regulating calcium and phosphorous (minerals) in the body. You can get vitamin D through food, supplements, and regular sun exposure.  

Dark-skinned people, however, don’t produce as much vitamin D in their bodies as light-skinned people do. The reason for this disparity is melanin. Melanin is a substance in the body that colours hair, eyes, and skin. Dark skin contains more melanin than light skin. Because melanin also protects skin from UV radiation (damaging sunlight), it hinders the absorption of vitamin D from the sun as well.  

The researchers collected blood samples from hundreds of women across nine centres in Québec. They then thoroughly measured the samples for maternal vitamin D levels. The results show that the number of preterm births lowered as vitamin D status increased in women of colour.  

Coping with death in preterm new-borns 

According to the World Health Organization, complications from preterm births are the leading cause of death among children under the age of five internationally. In Canada, nearly two thirds of infant deaths are a result of preterm birth.  

Bereaved parents, “especially mothers, commonly blame themselves or feel responsible for their baby’s death,” notes Peter Barr, a senior staff physician at Australia’s Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children in a 2004 article published in Psychology and Psychotherapy.  

In trying to understand why and how their babies pass away, women often struggle with guilt. They think along the lines of: “If only I behaved differently during my pregnancy, maybe my baby would be alive today.” 

Preterm birth-giving, and the potential loss of child to it, can be emotionally distressing—and not just because of guilt-proneness. Women may also experience shame and loneliness. They feel ashamed in believing that they didn’t carry out their supposed main function as a woman and thereby failed in life somehow. They feel lonely because, since pregnancy loss and perinatal death isn’t openly talked about, it’s difficult for them to share what they’re going through. Though, this doesn’t have to be the case.  

Bereavement and counselling support is available and a helpful resource to explore if you are experiencing these feelings of guilt and loss. The Saskatoon-based non-profit organization, Empty Arms, for example, holds peer support groups in-person and online. In these groups you get the chance to not only connect with people who’ve experienced the loss of an infant, but will also find a safe space to grieve and be understood.  

While some natural risk factors for preterm birth can’t be avoided, things can be done to help ensure a healthy, happy pregnancy. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada provides extensive resources on its website to help you prepare for all stages of pregnancy.  

How to study remotely through online classes 

How to study remotely through online classes 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: December 15 2022

Photo: August de Richelieu (Pexels)  

With the internet being a huge part of daily life, it is also getting easier to reach an advanced level of education almost entirely online. 

If you are new to Canada, are planning to learn remotely through the internet, and/or are currently studying online, hopefully the information below can help. 

Learning from abroad 

There are several reasons someone may want to learn internationally, and in many cases, it can be easier to do this virtually rather than travel to the country you are studying in.  

EduCanada—the Canadian government’s official website for international students—has a webpage about remote learning. This webpage includes a search engine to help international students find a school that offers online programs within their chosen field, and the province/territory they want to study in. 

An Educational credential assessment can be used to help newcomers prove their foreign degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other credentials are equal to the same ones in Canada. The Canadian government also lists different organizations that can help immigrants compare their foreign credentials to Canadian standards, and there are ways to immigrate into Canada without a degree. In the case of someone living here without a degree, one may want to start going to school to graduate. 

To learn more about validating international credentials, please read our article on the topic.  

The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) is Ontario’s largest online high school, and it is a good place for people outside of mainstream school—including adults and newcomers—to get their high school diplomas and/or high school credits. The ILC is run by TVOntario (TVO), which is the Ontario government’s official broadcasting service.  

Remote learning and online learning, what’s the difference? 

Online learning is done in classes that were specifically made to be completed on the internet. Remote learning refers to classes where students study online in a class that was originally designed to be completed partially or totally in person.  

Remote learning became more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, and outside of social distancing, it can still be helpful in other ways. This includes staying in one’s home without having to move, having a more flexible schedule, and spending more time with friends and family

However, remote learning can also come with its own difficulties, such as hindering a student’s ability to interact with their peers, and adapting to classes scheduled in another country’s time zone. 

Participating in school clubs is one way to stay social within the school you are studying at, even if you are not physically going to campus. 

    Photo: Alexandra Koch (Pixabay)  

How to focus during remote work 

Being able to focus on your studies is the key to success in remote learning. Good ways to hone your focus include having a certain place to learn, setting a specific time for studying, and removing distractions.  

Manchester University suggests students take care of themselves by regularly spending time with family members and friends, and maintaining a good schedule by getting enough sleep, food, and exercise each day. They also recommended remote learning students see this as a learning opportunity.  

On top of listing various jobs you can do from home, Indeed gives several tips on working from home that can be applied to studying from home as well. It is important to designate what times of day are for you to work, compared to when you are living at home outside of your job. Ways to do this include blocking off your calendar during work hours, letting the people you live with know your schedule so they do not bother you during work, and silencing your phone (unless you are awaiting important phone calls/messages).  

Other helpful tips include planning your tasks in a way that help you build momentum. Start with easy tasks and work your way up to harder ones, make a music playlist for songs that help you focus while working, and overestimate the amount of time it will take you to finish a project, so you feel accomplished submitting it early.  

If you are struggling to be creative in a creative job, it may help to limit distractions. It may also be the case that you are experiencing writer’s block. Purdue University suggests writers try to write about what you are interested in, and  find an interesting angle or personalize a topic that may be boring to you. If your writer’s block is coming from stress, it can help to take breaks, manage a larger task in smaller pieces, and if all else fails, ask your peers for help.  

To learn more about ways to get past writer’s block, read our article here

Remembering information 

One tip is the Feynman Technique, which is talking about the topic you are learning about like you are explaining it to a six-year-old child. Because people sometimes use jargon and fancy language to hide what they do not know, using simple words shows the full extent of your actual knowledge.  

If your explanation meant for a child has gaps, then go back to researching the topic so you fill that gap and can fully explain what you need to know. On top of helping expand your knowledge, the Feynman Technique improves your communication skills and critical thinking.  

Spaced repetition—also known as spaced intervals—is another technique, which involves increasing the amount of time you wait before reminding yourself of something. It is common to repeat something to yourself in order to remember it, but sometimes adding time between each time you repeat a certain fact helps you remember it better. 

For instance, if you wanted to remember the name of someone you just met, it would take very little skill to repeat their name every five seconds. Waiting a longer period of time before trying to remember their name can make the task more difficult, and this difficulty can help you brain to actually remember the fact long term.  

A related concept is the difference between recognition and recall. Recognition is being able to identify something when you see it or are reading about it, while recall is the ability to remember something without any prompts. This is why multiple choice questions are easier than quizzes where students have to write open-ended answers: you have to recall knowledge for open-ended tests, but can get by on recognition for multiple choice quizzes. 

There are various ways to improve your recall. These methods include chunking—which is breaking down large pieces of information into smaller, more easily digestible ‘chunks’—using mnemonics, repeating things, and writing them down. While typing on a computer certainly has many benefits, writing things down by hand helps improve memory more because it involves more parts of the brain. Writing things down by hand also forces you to rephrase your notes into fewer words instead of just copying what you are being told. 

All in all, it is completely doable to go through school through online classes as long as you maintain your physical and mental health, follow a steady routine, and remember your goals. 

Canada’s Five Great Lakes: Their histories and attractions

Canada’s Five Great Lakes: Their histories and attractions 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: December 12 2022

Photo: Berkay Gumustekin (Pexels) 

According to a 2020 report, the most desired place where people want to live abroad is Canada. The report credits the North American country’s appeal to its “friendly locals and beautiful scenery.” The latter comes to no surprise considering Canada is home to the largest freshwater system on Earth—the Great Lakes.  

From west to east, the Great Lakes comprise of lakes Superior, Michigan (which is entirely in the United States), Huron, Erie, and Ontario. They are located south of the Canadian Shield, a large horseshoe-shaped rock formation that makes up around 50 per cent of the country.  

The most spectacular drop in the lakes occurs at Niagara Falls, making the Great Lakes popular tourist destinations. In this article, we will go over the five Great Lakes and some of their must-see attractions. 

Lake Superior: The largest lake in Canada 

Including its American part, Lake Superior is the largest body of freshwater in Canada, covering a surface area of 82 100 km². In fact, the lake contains more water than all the other Great Lakes combined. Its north shore touches Ontario while its south shore borders the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. 

It was originally called the Kitchi-gummi meaning, “great lake” or “great water” in Anishinaabemowin, an Indigenous language primarily spoken from Manitoba to Québec. The lake was later dubbed Lac Supérieur (meaning “upper”) by the French, translating to English well as it is the most northern of the Great Lakes. 

Also considered the “Niagara of the north,” Kakabeka Falls is a must-see attraction when exploring Lake Superior. As the second largest waterfall in Ontario, this location has hiking trails, breathtaking scenery, and opportunities for camping and swimming. 

The Great Lakes Aquarium is another one of Lake Superior’s most popular attractions. The aquarium’s live animal displays and interactive areas make it the perfect location for families and schools. There are also art galleries and exhibitions. Be sure to check out the Great Lakes Aquarium’s “Know before you go” webpage before planning your visit. 

Lake Michigan: The Great Lake of the United States 

Deriving from the Ojibwa word Michi Gami, or “large lake,” Lake Michigan is the only one of the five Great Lakes located entirely in the United States. It is the third largest of the Great Lakes and stretches over the entire west coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. 

Located on a pier attached to the lake, Navy Pier is a great destination in Chicago for dining, shopping, cultural events, and free year-round programs. Such programs include concerts, outdoor movies, dance performances, and more. You can also find the Chicago Children’s Museum here for interactive workshops, art studios, and various exhibits for different age groups. 

Additionally, the Illinois Beach State Park, located just south of Lake Michigan shores, is the perfect place for picnicking, bicycling, camping, and boating, just to name a few. 

Photo: Nathan Rose (Unsplash) 

Lake Huron: As illustrated in famous paintings 

Lake Huron is made up of four bodies of water: the main lake, Saginaw Bay, the North Channel, and Georgian Bay. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes and fifth-largest freshwater in the world, spreading 59 600 km². In Canada, Lake Huron is part of the traditional territories of the Tionontati (Petun), Neutral, Huron-Wendat, and Anishinaabe. 

The Canadian side of the lake is also best appreciated for its beautiful beaches. Its scenery often appears in many artworks by Canadian artists, including the painters of the Group of Seven—a renowned group of landscape painters. 

The Lake Huron basin is safe for swimming, boating, and camping, (or fishing for leisure/competition). Remember to check Ontario’s fishing regulations before fishing in the province. 

Explore above and beneath Lake Huron in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary where you can visit museums, fishery trails, and more. To learn about the lakes’ history, visit the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

Lake Erie 

Lake Erie is the southernmost and the shallowest of the Great Lakes. It was declared dead during the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1972, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement helped restore the lake, but there remain reports of dead zones—places in which no life exist. 

Despite this, the lake has the largest commercial fishery among the Great Lakes—mostly yellow perch—as well as gorgeous beaches. Meanwhile, its marshes serve as an important aspect of the St. Lawrence Seaway system, Canada’s international waterway. 

Walk on the pier yourself or join guided tours to the Point Abino Lighthouse, located on the north shore of the lake. You can also learn about Niagara’s role in the War of 1812 at Fort Erie National Historic Site. The historic site offers tours and other interactive exhibits, including theatre showings. 

Lake Ontario 

Lastly, with a surface area of 18 960 km², the smallest of the Great Lakes is Lake Ontario. This might come as a surprise considering its proximity to major metropolitan areas, including St. Catharines-Niagara, Hamilton, Toronto, and Oshawa. These cities form what is called, “the Golden Horseshoe.” About 55 per cent of Ontario’s population lives near Lake Ontario. 

The name of the most easterly lake has Iroquoian origins: Ontarí’io, meaning “beautiful lake” or “sparkling water.” 

Explore Niagara Falls State Park for its restaurants, thrilling attractions, hiking trails, and more. Get up close and personal to the Falls with the Maid of the Mist boat tours or enjoy a delicious meal at the Top of the Falls Restaurant where you have views of the glorious waterfall scenery. 

Southeast of the lake, you can learn about the area’s geography and wildlife at the Derby Hill Bird Observatory. As the birds of prey migrate north every spring, April is the best time to visit the hawk-watching site. 

An honourable Great Lake is Lake St. Clair. Also known as the “Heart of the Great Lakes,” Lake St. Clair is bordered by Ontario and Michigan and hosts one of the largest sport fisheries in the world. Due to its size and shallowness, it is not considered a Great Lake, but remains one of the most heavily used areas of the Great Lakes, primarily for recreational fishing and boating. 

Photo: Chris Chan (Unsplash) 

In addition to providing stunning scenery, attractions, and food and water, the Great Lakes supply transportation to North America’s interior. In 1959, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway—also called Great Lakes Waterway—established the Great Lakes as an international watercourse. This waterway connects the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean. 

From transportation to fisheries and their beautiful landscapes, the Great Lakes truly are great! They are amazing hubs for learning about Canadian history, geography, art and culture, and lifestyles. Each Great Lake is worth experiencing in person when you get the chance!  

Good ways to learn more about Toronto

Good ways to learn more about Toronto 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: December 08 2022

Photo: Vincent Albos (Pexels)  

Toronto is a large and vast city with many different areas for you to learn more about. For newcomers, however, it could be overwhelming if you’ve never been to the city and are now living in Toronto.  

But, with some good exploration and a will to learn more about Toronto, things will start to feel more familiar to you and it will be less daunting. Coming into Toronto with the right mindset and guidance can help things be a lot easier and more enjoyable.  

There are so many places and things to explore in Toronto, so here are some different ways in which you could learn more about the city.  

Research the city 

A great way to learn more about Toronto is to have an active interest in knowing more about the city. 

You can learn about the history of Toronto by looking at online resources. This is a great way to learn about how people from different cultures came to Toronto and made it the city it is today. It’s always great to learn more about the history of a city and the internet is a good start.  

You can search for some popular restaurants in Toronto or local businesses that you may want to support. Try searching for the top tourist attractions and visit them if you’re able to. Maybe even look for some activities to do with others, like organised sports or recreation centres.  

If you prefer to read books or just want to take a break from reading online, you could visit one of Toronto’s many public libraries. There are also many things that you could learn about public libraries in Canada.  

Try finding some books on Toronto and learn more about the nuances of the city. Even reading newspapers could help you learn about different locations in Toronto and what’s going on in the city.    

There are many things to learn about Toronto, so try your best to look into whatever you’re interested in and see what the city has to offer.  

Photo: Christina Morillo (Pexels)  

Ask around 

Speaking to strangers may seem like a tough task to do at first, but if you are able to find some courage to ask questions about the city or show your curiosity for learning more about Toronto, then things will be easier.  

People in Toronto are friendly and will likely help you if you ask them something.  

You could walk into some restaurants and ask the workers there about popular spots to visit in the city during the summer. You could even ask people who are walking around the city where some good places are to eat at or buy clothing.  

Try asking your friends who live in and around Toronto about their favourite parts of the city and go to those locations with your friends or visit them by yourself if they’re busy.  

Going to the internet and asking questions on Toronto forums or newcomer groups could also be a good way to learn more about the city and ask those who live in Toronto.  

There are many people in Toronto who are willing to help you out and give you guidance, you just have to ask them first and they will be more than happy to help out.  

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto (Pexels)  

Take a walk 

This is pretty simple, but sometimes just taking a walk through Toronto can help you learn a lot about the city.  

Walking down one of the main streets in Toronto, such as Queen Street or Dundas Street, can help you see many different aspects of Toronto. There are numerous different stores and restaurants on these streets and plenty more all across the city.  

Going for walks in the city is great for remembering certain parts of Toronto. Make sure you are looking around often at your surroundings, such as the buildings, parks, or stores. While you’re walking, try to remember the names of the streets you walk on as it could help you with directions and help familiarise  the different areas of Toronto.  

The more often you walk around Toronto, the more you’ll know your way around the city, and you’ll be able to find your way home if you ever feel lost, or you’ll be able to visit some stores that you know are near you. This knowledge is also helpful for shortcuts through the city to get to your destinations faster.  

Walking is also fun and a good way to exercise as well and it’s even more enjoyable when you’re just simply exploring Toronto, so be sure to wear some comfortable shoes while you embark on your adventure through the city.   

Photo: Ono Kosuki (Pexels)  

Use public transportation 

Making use of public transportation is another good way of learning more about Toronto.  

There are many methods of transportation available all throughout the city. From buses to subway trains, to taxis and car services, there are plenty of ways for you to get around the city.  

If you need to get across town quickly, take the subway train and pay close attention to the subway map and all the stops. Fare prices for adults are $3.25 for a single fare or $3.20 with a PRESTO card. 

If you’re feeling adventurous and have the time to do so, try getting off at different subway stops on your journey and walk around the surrounding area. Each subway stop is at an important part of Toronto, so this could help you discover more about the city and also help you navigate your way around town.  

You could also do the same for different bus routes throughout Toronto or on the streetcar as well.    

Public transportation is a great way to learn more about the city because you’ll learn the different ways to get around the city, and if you’re really knowledgeable about Toronto’s public transportation system, then you’ll be able to know which methods of transportation will quickly get you to your destinations. It could also be helpful if you ever feel tired from walking around the city too much while you’re exploring.  

There is so much to learn about Toronto, so get ready and prepare yourself to take in a lot of information. It may be overwhelming, but the more you know about Toronto, the more comfortable you’ll be and the more you’ll be able to see the true beauty of this great city.   

The do and don’ts of Canada’s national parks

The do and don’ts of Canada’s national parks 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: December 05 2022

Photo: Jack Sloop (Unsplash) 

Canada is home to a vast number of national parks to explore, with at least one national park in each province and territory. For any newcomer to Canada, visiting these parks can be a great way to get a breather from the city and enjoy nature. Using the Canoo mobile app, newcomers can get one-year free admission to Canada’s national parks and historical sites. Regular fees such as tours and storage still apply. Check the Government of Canada’s page for more information. 

August is the perfect time to visit for the summer and consider October as well to enjoy the fall atmosphere. For camping enthusiasts, you can purchase a 12-month pass and gain access to over 80 destinations including national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites. Additional passes also exist for individual locations, and lockage and mooring. For more information consult the passes, permits, and fees page

To help you get started, here are some things to consider when camping at these national parks. 


Camping is one of the most immersive ways to enjoy nature. National parks hold some of the best locations to camp in Canada. One benefit of camping is the lack of noise pollution, which can be different in the city.   

Be sure to register in advance for minimal problems. Depending on the campsite, they can be approached by vehicle or foot with a parking space. These details can be important if noise pollution is a concern. Some campsites offer electrical, sewer, and water on the premises for those who may be arriving in trailers or recreational vehicles (RVs). Consider campsites with wide open spaces if travelling in large groups. 

Aside from the essential tents and sleeping bags, be sure to bring some insect repellant, sunscreen, and soap to stay clean and unharmed by nature. If travelling with pets, be sure to use doggie bags to pick up their waste. Keep pets on a leash for their safety and stay within designated areas to avoid disturbing wildlife. 

For children, consider bringing some fun activities they can enjoy like board games. The Government of Canada website has some activities that can be printed and brought on the road. These include scavenger hunts with animals and some recipes by the campfire.  

Animals, do and don’ts 

Wildlife watching is a staple in national parks. Before travelling, visit your national park site for information on what kind of species of wildlife are present. Birds, mammals, plants, and reptiles are all potential life to spot. Keep in mind that feeding wildlife is illegal. Exposing animals to food teaches them to trust humans and expect food from them. This can bother future guests and be potentially harmful to the wildlife in the area.  

Observing animals is best done from a distance and ideally without disturbing the wildlife. Binoculars are a good way to get a close-up view without approaching them. Cameras can also work but make sure the flash is disabled before taking any pictures. Always ask a park supervisor if you are unsure if photos are allowed on the premises.  

Never use drones as they can disturb wildlife and lead to fines up to $25 000. Do not approach the animals to take a better picture, this can be perceived as threatening and animals may harm you. Avoid selfies as turning your back to an animal is dangerous. 

If you are driving along the road, proceed slowly when spotting animals. Do not stop your vehicle as that can teach animals that all cars will stop for them. Never leave your vehicle to approach wildlife. Stopping your vehicle may also obstruct other drivers, even if you are pulling to the side.  

Photo: Zdeněk Macháček (Unsplash) 

Cleaning up your campsite 

The best thing you can do is make sure you leave your campsite clean. It’s polite for the next visitors and keeps the environment safe. Unattended food should be packed away or disposed of, otherwise, it attracts wildlife. Food saved for later needs to be stored in either a vehicle or a designated food locker. Pleasant odours can attract wildlife, this includes garbage, tableware, and toiletries like soap and toothpaste. Make sure to take everything you brought with you when you leave. 

How to cook and eat healthy on a low budget

How to cook and eat healthy on a low budget

By: Callum Denault

Published on: November 21 2022

Photo: Ariel Núñez Guzmán (Pixabay)  

Food is something everyone should always have access to, although the sad reality is that it can often be too expensive for many to afford. 

Immigrants and refugees often struggle to find affordable housing, and in a 2011 survey, newcomers were found to have a 33 per cent chance of being poor. With this in mind, it would be understandable for many newcomers to have trouble buying enough healthy food, as important as a good diet is for overall health. 

Not all food sources are equal, and sometimes being full does not mean a person is getting enough nutrients to be healthy. As The Newcomer covered in a pervious article, nutritional deficiencies are common among newcomers in Canada. Vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency are common around the globe, while newcomers are at risk of lacking several other important micronutrients as well.  

Having a history of food insecurity, such as going through periods of social or economic unrest, can put newcomers at risk of health issues. From dietary restrictions to the types of fruit, vegetables, and meat one eats—including cultural or religious restrictions—can put people at risk. Certain deficiencies can be solved through pills and other nutritional supplements. 

If you are looking for ways to save money while still eating full, nutritional meals, hopefully the advice below can help. 

Buying cheap ingredients  

The most inexpensive groceries you can buy tend to be dried goods, canned food, seasonal produce, pantry staples, and seasoning/flavouring. Dried foods are cheaper when sold in bulk and canned goods can be bought wholesale to save money as well. 

To avoid getting food-ruining pests such as pantry moths, it is a good idea to store recently-bought dried goods in your freezer for a week to kill any traces of insect eggs on them. Also make sure you store goods like flour in airtight containers, since moth larvae can easily chew through paper and plastic. Keep small groups of dry spices in the fridge and store large bags of pet food in another room away from your pantry.  

When produce such as fruits and vegetables are in season, that means it is the time of year these plants grow the easiest. Buying crops in season often means they are cheaper and fresher, as long as you avoid more exotic produce. 

If you struggle getting through fresh produce fast enough, frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious. Some frozen veggies are sold for as little as $1.50 a bag. Buying frozen produce or freezing fresh foods yourself is a good way to afford certain items even when they are out of season. 

          Photo: Tom Fisk (Pexels)  

Cooking dry beans and lentils from scratch 

When buying in bulk, dry beans can be a lot cheaper than buying them canned. Dry beans come with other mild nutritional and taste improvemens as well, although beans in any form are a very healthy foodstuff, rich in protein and fibre.  

Dry beans can be cooked in either a pot or a pressure cooker. The amount of time varies based on what type of bean you are cooking, with pressure cookers being faster.  

Your first step is to sort and wash the beans, and then put them in a bowl with water to soak. Some beans with thin skin, like black beans or lentils, can be cooked without soaking. However, soaking any type of bean helps make them softer and easier to cook. Either soak them overnight, or if you are short on time, about an hour before cooking.  

Add your beans to a pot or pressure cooker, and cook until they are tender. The beans should be soft enough to mash against the side of your pot using a fork, without getting mushy or losing their shape.  

How long you need to cook them for depends on the type of bean, and if you are using a stovetop pot or a pressure cooker. This article gives some approximate bean cooking times. 

Best stores to shop at 

In some cases, it may be better to shop at local and/or ethnic stores instead of the big chains. 

According to Saveur, journalistic research into New York City’s Chinatown found markets there sell grocerries for far cheaper prices than other grocery stores in the area. This is because New York City Chinatown stores built a network of local wholesalers and small farms that do not usually sell to big chain supermarkets. Since these Chinatown stores are buying from neighbourhood sources rather than importing their groceries across the city—as chain supermarkets do—they save on transportation and storage.  

Shops which forgo using extra technology and aesthetic choices tend to save enough money to offer cheaper prices. In Saveur’s example of Chinatown markets, stores offering the best deals tended to store goods on newspaper-lined plywood shelves, had prices written on cardboard, and did not always accept credit cards. When searching for the best deals, this kind of thrifty function over style may be a good sign to look for. 

Among some of the cheapest American chain supermarkets are Walmart, Food4Less, Costco, and buying off of Amazon. 

Is it worth getting a Costco membership? 

Normal Costco memberships cost $60 dollars per year, and $120 dollars if you get the Business Star Executive membership which comes with some extra perks, such as exclusive discounts and an annual 2 per cent cash back reward. 

The key draw of shopping at Costco is the ability to buy large amounts of food in bulk, according to The New York Times. If you have trouble storing large amounts of supplies, or cannot easily finish perishable goods before they rot, then a Costco membership might not be for you.  

It is also important to remember not everything at Costco is cheaper than at other stores, and certain items like toilet paper might actually be more expensive than it would be at another supermarket like Loblaws. Costco only accepts Mastercard cards, debit cards, or cash. For those who do not have one, it may not be worth switching to a debit or Mastercard for the sole purpose of shopping at Costco. 

Only people with a membership can buy anything at Costco, however this does not stop you from sharing a card with other people. Multiple people can shop at Costco together as long as at least one of them has a membership. Whoever has the membership has to pay for everything at checkout, even if their friends or relatives pay them back afterwards.  

Using social media for your career

Using social media for your career 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: November 18 2022

Photo: Tracy Le Blanc (Pexels) 

In today’s day and age, social media has become one of the most prevalent things out there. Especially in Canada, almost everyone has some form of social media in order to stay in contact with others and keep up with everything that’s happening in the world.  

Social media has become an important part of our lives and is woven into many aspects of our lives. One aspect of your life that social media can have a great impact on is your career.  

Nowadays, people are using social media to gain a large following and become influencers, something that wouldn’t be possible 15 or 20 years ago. People are using social media to grow their ideas into things that are much bigger and it can be an important part of your career. 

There are many ways in which social media can be used to further your career. Here are a few ways that you can use social media to your advantage.  

Learn more about social media 

As with anything, learning more about social media can greatly help your career. If you understand how each different social media works then you could use that knowledge to your advantage and gain an upper hand in your career.  

If you’re an aspiring baker or restaurant owner, learning more about how Instagram works can help you a lot.  

Instagram is primarily an image and video sharing social media platform, so you could post pictures and videos of the different kinds of food that you sell and that could get more people to take interest in your business. Instagram is a great place to expand your business and there are many different aspects of the platform that you should know about.  

You can teach yourself how certain social media applications work by exploring and going through the app yourself or by watching tips from other social media influencers. YouTube is a great place for you to learn more about social media and some tips and tricks that you could use. You could even read some articles on the basics of each social media platform and how to use them. 

It is key to learn about what each social media platform has to offer so you can maximise your potential and grow your career. 

Photo: Peter Olexa (Pexels) 

Share your brand  

Use your newfound knowledge on social media and how it works to your advantage by applying it to your own brand or career.  

Make good use of things like hashtags, especially on Instagram and Twitter, because they can help spread your brand to others and increase engagement. Hashtags help get your content to other people and they make it easier for new people to see your content.  

You could also post more often to increase user engagement and develop a routine for your business that’s only going to help it grow. Posting often helps get your content to others on a regular basis and makes you more memorable since your content is always being seen by others.  

Sharing your content with your friends and family is also a simple, but very effective way to spread your brand. If you run a clothing brand, ask your friends and family to share your social media pages with others. Doing so could create a domino effect where more and more people will start visiting your pages.  

Having a Facebook or Instagram page is great for this because people will be able to see your clothing upfront and they’ll also get to know more about your brand.  

Social media is great for expanding your brand and business and by taking certain actions, it can have a very positive effect on your business.  

Photo: SHVETS Production (Pexels) 

Build your own career  

Social media can be helpful in spreading your business if you have already started it beforehand, but you could also be successful by focusing solely on social media and using your knowledge on social media to help you.  

Becoming a social media influencer is not an easy task, but with the right approach, you can become successful and build a career out of it.  

By doing the aforementioned tasks, like posting regularly or using hashtags, you can get your content to others. But, to become an influencer and start a career out of social media, you have to bring a bit of your own personality and flair to it.  

Try to be unique and different from others, because it could show others something new and that will get more people to engage with your content. Being unique can draw people to your content and make them interested and engaged with the kinds of things you post.  

If you want to start a career on YouTube, try making your titles stand out to others. Don’t make clickbait titles and try to make sure that you aren’t deceiving your viewers and wasting their time. Make your content almost exactly what the title states it as viewers will trust what kind of content they will be getting from you. 

Also, make sure your content is interesting and engaging because that will make people want to continue watching your videos. Showing your personality and character traits is a good way to get people to stay engaged with your content because viewers will feel like they can relate to you.  

It can be tempting to jump onto the latest craze and do what others are doing for views, but if you are more human and relatable, your viewers will feel that as well and they’ll be much more engaged with your content and more likely to watch your videos on a regular basis. 

Photo: Liza Summer (Pexels) 

Five myths about Canada

Five myths about Canada 

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: November 14 2022

Photo: Matthew Henry (Burst.shopify) 

Here are some myths and misconceptions about Canadian people and Canadian living.  

1. Winters in the Great White North are year-long. 

Canadian winters are long. It feels like they take up to six months of the year, but we have summers here, too. And sometimes scorching ones at that. The year 2021 saw one of the hottest days ever in Canadian history. On June 27, temperatures went up to around 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s as hot as the average daily temperature of the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa.  

2. Every night in Canada is hockey night. 

Sports media and the public often portray hockey as a big part of Canada’s national identity and culture. Hockey nationalism does exist in Canada, but not all Canadians, be they Canadian-born or naturalized Canadians, have a connection to the sport. Some people say that hockey shouldn’t even be celebrated as a symbol of Canada. As Kristi A. Allain, a professor in the department of Sociology at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, argues, hockey is a straight white-male dominated sport that thereby treats fans and players of minority groups as outsiders. Read this article from The Newcomer to learn more about this perspective. 

3. Our healthcare system is free.  

There’s no such thing as “free” healthcare in Canada. Individuals technically pay for health-care goods on an annual basis through taxes. If you make up to $49 020 a year, you’re federally taxed 15 per cent of that amount. The higher your income, the more tax money you’re expected to pay the government for their services. But, as a couple of directors at the Fraser Institute have pointed out in their 2015 Toronto Sun article, Canadians don’t pay “a dedicated health insurance tax.” This means general government tax revenues fund healthcare in Canada. So, there’s no way of calculating how much of our “total tax payments go towards healthcare every year,” though clearly not enough. Canadian hospitals’ famously long wait times, short-staffed departments, and lack of physical patient supports like beds and stretchers are signs of underfunding. Canadians, in other words, don’t have a free healthcare system but a problematic tax-funded one.  

4. All Canadians speak English and French. 

The first French settlers arrived in Canada during the mid 1500s. They established colonies to trade fur and make France money. Today, one of these colonies is known as the province of Québec. Québec has the largest majority of French-speaking people in Canada. French-speaking people can be found in Saskatchewan (the Fransaskois(e)) and the Maritimes (the Acadians), too. It wasn’t until 1763, when Great Britain took over North America, that the English language was established in different regions. In 1969, English and French became the official languages of Canada in recognition of the country’s bicultural history and founding. People all across Canada can speak French, but not every Canadian is expected to. 

5. Canadians are the nicest people on the planet. 

The world insists that Canada is the friendliest country. But like all human beings in reality, Canadians can actually be rude and arrogant. People here might cut in line at the grocery store, curse each other out in acts of road rage, and hurl racial slurs at bus shelters. This isn’t to say Canadians are mean. They’re just not nicer than anyone else. This stereotype of Canadian kindness mostly stems from the fact that Canadians from small coastal and prairie towns in the country’s Atlantic provinces are usually pleasant to interact with. They have generally lower stress levels that those living and working in fast-paced and heavily populated major cities, like Toronto or Montreal.  

7 Types of places to earn 40 volunteer hours for newcomer high schoolers

7 Types of places to earn 40 volunteer hours for newcomer high schoolers 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: November 10 2022

In Ontario, secondary school students (Grades 9 to 12) must complete 40 hours of community service, or “volunteer hours,” to receive their diploma. 

There are many benefits to volunteering. For example, volunteering helps to develop new skills that foster one’s personal and professional growth. Volunteering also gives people an opportunity to get involved in their communities. For newcomers, volunteering serves as a great tool for making new acquaintances and friends, as well as learning about how certain services operate in Canada, like food banks. 

Photo: Ray Sangga Kusuma (Unsplash) 

Although earning community hours in high school is mandatory, volunteering can leave a meaningful impression on both yourself and who you’re volunteering for. Here are seven types of places you can earn your volunteer hours as a newcomer high schooler.  

1. Caring for Children 

One of the best ways to earn your community hours is to help educate and supervise younger children at the elementary school level. In Ontario, the elementary school system includes age groups between kindergarten (junior and senior kindergarten) to Grade 8.  

Many elementary schools seek out volunteers for special playday events and afterschool programming. Peel Lunch and After School Program (PLASP) is the most well-known afterschool program throughout the Peel region and Toronto. You can also offer tutoring services or volunteer at daycares in your area. 

In addition to after school programs and daycares, camps are great places to earn your volunteer hours and develop transferrable leadership skills. TAC Sports: Toronto Athletic Camps offers volunteer opportunities for high school students who are passionate about sports. The camp has programs in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. With various locations and services, the YMCA is another great place to volunteer. 

2. Food banks 

Research reveals that newcomers are more likely to experience food insecurity—the inadequate access to (nutritious) food—than non-newcomers in Canada. You can help expand their access to food by volunteering at food banks. 

A food bank is usually a non-profit organization that collects donated food and distributes it to people in need. As a volunteer, you may be responsible for collecting, organizing, and distributing these food items.  

Photo: Ismael Paramo (Unsplash) 

Here are some food banks to get you started: The Mississauga Food Bank (Mississauga), Daily Bread’s Take Action Project (TAP) (Toronto), and Burlington Food Bank (Burlington). 

3. Cultural events and museums  

Canada’s cultural identity is defined by its multiculturalism. Due to this national trait, there are often festivals hosted across the province throughout the year that require volunteers. 

Arts in the Parks (Toronto) is currently looking for high school volunteers for their 2023 season. Volunteers will get the chance to work with various organizations and events, including Pride Toronto, and the Toronto International Film Festival (T.I.F.F.).  

The First Ontario Arts Centre in Milton also has many volunteer opportunities for you to collaborate with others and support local and international artists. Visit and explore your city’s website to keep up to date on upcoming cultural events. 

On the topic of culture, museums are full of heritage, history, and volunteer opportunities. Find a museum near you to volunteer at. You can also search for creative arts centres in your city. 

4. Libraries 

Libraries are valuable. They are more than just buildings with books in them; they are portals to endless imagination and free resources to the public. These resources include important information that newcomers can benefit from as they look to settle in a new place. 

By volunteering in a library, you can develop and improve your organization and interpersonal (communication) skills. Being around books and resources can also lead to a better understanding of Canadian literature and history—literacy skills. Help others find the information they need by volunteering at your local public library or school library. 

5. Tree planting 

There are many benefits to having trees around. For example, trees provide us shade on sunny summer days and shelter for local wildlife. Unfortunately, many tree populations are at risk in Ontario due to human interference.  

According to Tree Canada, “one large tree can provide a day’s oxygen for up to four people.” Therefore, by planting more trees and shrubs, you can improve air quality in an area. Trees also reduce noise pollution and attract tourism in a city. 

Join a tree planting initiative to not only earn your volunteer hours, but to improve our neighbourhoods. Ontario Streams in Aurora, Green Legacy in Wellington County, and Richmond Hill’s Community Stewardship Program are just some of the many organizations you can choose from.  

6. Recycling and cleanup 

Photo: Thirdman (PexelsU)

Littering is the act of dropping garbage improperly in public places. Toronto has seen an increase amount of litter since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as more people are enjoying the city’s public spaces. 

When garbage and waste are not disposed properly, chemicals and plastics can harm the environment. Pollution from improper waste dumping effects plants, animals, bodies of water, and air quality—all of which we humans depend on for survival. Since we only have one Earth, it is important to keep it healthy.  

Ontario is a leader in clean, green growth in Canada. Be part of the change by keeping your city clean through volunteer programs with recycling and cleanup projects. Here are a few: Team Up to Clean Up (Hamilton), Clean Toronto Together (Toronto), and A Greener Future (Markham). 

7. Helping older adults 

Living in retirement homes or long-term care homes can feel isolating for seniors and the elderly population. Volunteering with older adults can make them feel cared for and less alone. You can find a Long-Term Care centre in the Peel region here

In an interview, Health and Wellness Coordinator/Recreation Therapist, Brandi Mass, expresses the importance of volunteers in their senior residence. “[T]hey provide community connection for our seniors,” says Mass, “providing connections and relationships.” 

However, volunteering with seniors does not just benefit them. You, as the volunteer, can also earn scholarships and learn from an older generation by listening to the stories and wisdom they have to share. Working with seniors also provides valuable experience for aspiring nurses and health care professionals. Community Connections volunteers at the Newcomer Centre of Peel (Mississauga) support both newcomer youth and older adults. 

Photo: Kindel Media (Pexels) 

Another opportunity to volunteer and communicate with older adults is through pen pal programs, like Sending Sunshine. “Pen pal” refers to a person with whom one befriends by exchanging letters. Sending letters not only improves your writing skills but gives you an opportunity to make a new friend! 

Wherever you decide to earn your volunteer hours, know that you are making a difference in someone’s life by doing so. You also don’t need to limit yourself just to one category. If you still don’t know where to start, Helping Hands is an excellent resource for finding a volunteer placement that fits your needs.  

For more information about getting involved and volunteering in Ontario, visit

Newcomers beware: How air duct callers take advantage of your money

Newcomers beware: How air duct callers take advantage of your money 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: November 07 2022

      Photo: Mitchell Luo (Unsplash)  

Air duct cleaning is an important and often overlooked task for homeowners. It involves cleaning the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in a residential house. Despite its name, air duct cleaning involves cleaning all of these systems for the best air quality. 

However, in recent years, clients are taken advantage of by being misled or tricked into extra fees, typically withholding these services come at an additional cost or pressuring the customer to agree while they are there. As such, clients can end up paying thousands more than their intended budget. 

How an air duct cleaning service works 

The cleaning process involves attaching a large hose to the trunk line near the HVAC system. This is almost always located in the basement or bottom floor of the building. To attach the vacuum, an eight-inch hole is required to be cut into the trunk line. Multiple holes may be cut depending on the layout of the vents. Additional one-inch holes may also be cut throughout the vents to insert any cleaning tools. All holes should be sealed before leaving.  

Once the hose is attached, a vacuum, typically mounted from a truck, sucks up dirt and debris from the vents. To assist with cleaning, a compressor is used to blow air from the air vents in the house. An air whip uses compressed air to hit and loosen dirt with its whip.  

An air duct cleaning service can be considered a scam if the cost only applies to the air duct. Some advertisements listing these services at under $100 operate this way, while never cleaning the entire duct system. Vacuuming or brushing an air duct alone will not affect the larger buildup of dust in the trunk line. The worker on-site may try to convince you to pay for additional services. They may tempt you to spend more since they are already there, or claim your HVAC unit is compromised and needs replacing. These claims are typically false, especially if they claim the problem is urgent. Mold is a common example used to scam clients. The main goal of this type of assertion is to pressure you into spending thousands on a misguided fear.  

If there is a genuine emergency, ask where the damage is. The worker should be able to show evidence of said damage. Avoid agreeing to any additional services if you are still unsure. Always refer to a third-party evaluation if you are not convinced.  

Warning signs to look out for 

 Photo: Martin Visser (Unsplash)  

The most common method of contact is telemarketing. You may receive a phone call one day asking if you would like to receive air duct cleaning. Most air duct cleaning services in Canada do not rely on telemarketing to get clients. Businesses may use advertisements from media, but unsolicited calls are unusual.  

By Canadian law, telemarketers are required to report who they are and their business. Usually, companies outsource call centres outside the country to make these calls, as it is cheaper and easier to avoid legal liability. If a caller claims to be from another country, then it is likely a sign that there is some scam going on.  

You may also encounter this in the form of an advertisement. It may claim the price to be part of a promotion to encourage readers to buy. It is best to avoid these offers, since most professional competitors have their prices at well over $100. Such a steep price difference likely holds quality issues or cleans very little. 

Most companies will break down where your money is being spent. Parts like the heat exchange, blower motor, air filter, trunk line, supply and return vents, and more will be communicated to you. Read the fine print because the low price you are seeing likely only applies to the air duct portion, and everything else will come at an additional cost. 

If you suspect you have paid for an illegitimate air duct cleaner, checking their equipment is a good way to tell if they mean business. Their vacuum should be mounted on a truck, and anything less is not powerful enough to remove all the dust and debris in your air duct. It is also this reason that portable vacuums will not be sufficient. 

Canada has plenty of legitimate air duct cleaning servicemen, independent research is important, look for google reviews and word of mouth. If a company has been in service for years, there’s a fair chance that it’s a legitimate service. 

If you are interested in protecting your number from telemarketing calls, you can register for Canada’s National Do Not Call List. Joining the list helps keep telemarketing companies liable for exploiting Canadians. 

South Asian representation: How media can make or break race relations

South Asian representation: How media can make or break race relations 

By: Callum Denault

Published on: October 20 2022

         Photo: Ketut Subiyanto (Pexels)  

Movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment can have an impact on the world around us with how they depict people, whether the audience wants them to or not. People want to see themselves in fiction through characters they can relate to and understand their own personal experiences through. This should not change just because someone moved to another part of the world. 

When it comes to South Asian representation in media from the Western world, it has the power to encourage much needed representation or perpetuate harmful racist stereotypes. 

What is representation, and why does it matter? 

Representation is how people from various backgrounds are seen in the real world. People of different religions, races/ethnicities, gender, disability, and sexual orientation are depicted in media. If minorities are represented through stereotypes, it can increase discrimination against these groups of people by making them more likely to be unfairly judged by others.  

Children who grow up not seeing anyone who looks like them in the shows they watch may start to hate themselves. Even in countries where the majority of the population does not have European ethnic features, such as South Asian and Latin American countries, their entertainment largely shows the few people who do have lighter skin.  

Colourism is a widespread form of discrimination which favours lighter skinned members of the same ethnic group. Colourism is why the most popular beauty products tend to be skin lightening makeup, even in nations like The Ivory Coast where dark skin is common. In India, darker-skinned women who are proud of their natural tone—rather than trying to lighten it—are the exception rather than the norm

Shamika Shabnam is a PhD student in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. She said her research on South Asian media made after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War found that movies tended to romanticize masculine reactions to the war, while downplaying the experiences of women and poor people. Shabnam also said this era of South Asian media criticized certain groups of people by depicting them as effeminate or darker-skinned. She added that these themes persist in modern South Asian media. 

“The colonizers are gone, but the ideas of colonialism still persist,” Shabnam said, referring to how colourism and the emphasis on masculinity were brought to India by The British Empire. She said there need to be more discussions about “decolonizing the mind” to stop the bigoted, colonial values being kept alive implicitly by modern South Asian society. 

“When an entire generation or population undergoes colonization,” she said, “then it takes more than one generation to do the work of decolonization. 

                  Photo: Polina Tankilevitch (Pexels)  

Stereotypes and ignorance: How media can cause harm 

South Asians living in North America face a different form of discrimination that comes from ignorance. This can either be addressed or made worse by their representation in media. 

The Vancouver City Council put forward a motion in 2019 to address a long, ongoing history of racism against the city’s South Asian population. Members of an advisory board said the apology was not enough to fix the lack of awareness and support affecting their community. They urged the city to invest in promoting South Asian culture, heritage, and language.  

An insidious stereotype affecting South Asians in Western culture is the idea they are a ‘model minority’. To quote an article by CNN: 

Asian groups are still being held up as ‘model minorities,’” [Asian groups are] celebrated for achieving higher levels of socio-economic success than others, often even the White majority. It’s an old tactic that has proven to cause more harm than good.” 

The problem with the ‘model minority’ is it pits various minority groups against each other, spreads stereotypes, downplays the unique experiences of different groups of people, and allows racist governments and institutions to avoid addressing their problems. 

Sikhs are sometimes targeted for the turbans they wear, because Islamophobic racists mistake them for Muslims. This hatred can be harmful. Sikh-directed Islamophobia also affects privileged members of society, such as the Canadian New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who was harassed at a political rally for supposedly being “in bed” with Sharia Law.  

This discrimination is equally wrong when it applies to people who are Muslim. The fact so many people confuse Sikhs with Muslims—despite the two following completely different religions — shows how rampant ignorance on South Asian cultures is. 

Mixed reception 

Sometimes the line between progressive representation and repetitive racism gets blurry. One example is Deadpool 2, where multiple critics noted the film’s insensitive, race-related humour and its narrative overly focusing on violent, white, male leads.  

The Guardian’s Steve Rose took issue with how Deadpool 2 portrayed its one South Asian character, writing, “worst of all is Karan Soni’s taxi driver, Dopinder, a weedy, emasculated Indian stereotype whose superhero aspirations make him the beta-male butt of the joke.” 

However, according to Hindustan Times, Soni was surprised by how much Indian audiences enjoyed his character. Dopinder’s Indian popularity is owed to his introduction in the first Deadpool movie, which was set to the classic song Mera Joota Hai Japani by Raj Kapoor.  

Soni told the Hindustan Times that he hopes his role in Deadpool 2 can start a positive change, after the controversy surrounding a white, non-South Asian playing an Indian character named Apu on The Simpsons. Soni is an Indian-born American actor.  

“Even if there are problematics attached to it,” said Shabnam, referring to Dopinder, “certain people can still relate to some aspects of the character.” 

Shabnam added finding solidarity through fictional characters is something people do on an individual level. 

Representation that helps: Ms. Marvel 

A Disney+ show called Ms. Marvel, which released earlier this year in June, has been praised by both Muslim and South Asian superhero fans for its portrayal of the titular character. Ms. Marvel, outside of her superpowered alter ego, is a Pakistani-American teenage girl named Kamela Khan. Khan—portrayed by Iman Vellani—is based off the comic book character who rose to the number one spot on graphic novel charts after her debut in 2014. 

“I was watching Ms. Marvel yesterday with my sister,” said Shabnam, adding they belong to a Bengali Muslim family, “and my sister told me, ‘I feel like Kamela Khan.’”  

Shabnam said how the show portrays Pakistani wedding dances was “very realistic,” and something she could relate to. 

G. Willow Wilson—the white, American, Islamic convert who came up with Khan—told The New Yorker that she and Marvel editor, Sana Amanet, spent a year working on the character. They considered how both traditional and more secular Muslims would react to Khan, and Wilson also wanted the superhero to break away from how Muslims are often depicted as terrorists by Western news. Like other female comic book characters, the Ms. Marvel series sold better digitally than through paper copies. Wilson suggested this could be because comics now have two different audiences, who shop in different locations, want different things out of the same series, and do not socially overlap.  

Shabnam said while there is value in how the plot of Ms. Marvel explores its main character’s ancestral history, and in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever’s portrayal of grief and loss, she also enjoys Netflix’s Bridgerton as a racially diverse show which does not feel the need to explain or provide context for its character’s backgrounds. 

“It sort of normalizes the idea of racial diversity and a racially diverse cast.”  

How sports can build relationships with others

How sports can build relationships with others 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: October 17 2022

Photo: PNW Production (Pexels)

A major part of Canadian culture and something that brings many Canadians together are sports. Sports have been a great way for people to get to know one another, as well as have a fun time being entertained by the athletes.  

Sports are also a great activity to partake with your friends and family and they are a great way to stay fit.  

There have been many moments in Canadian sports history that have brought the nation together to support our athletes. For example, during the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, the Canadian men’s soccer team finished on top of their qualifying group, making history by qualifying for the second World Cup in Canadian men’s soccer history, after 36 years since the men’s team’s only World Cup appearance in 1986.  

Canadians are also united and feel a sense of patriotism whenever our Canadian athletes go out to participate in the Summer and Winter Olympic games. 

Sports are a great thing and can be used in many different ways to build relationships and connections with others. Here are some ways that newcomers can use sports to create new relationships with others and strengthen those bonds.  

Get active 

A good way to build connections with others is by being active in sports.  

If there’s a sport or activity you’re interested in, try getting involved. If you enjoy playing soccer, sign up for some recreational leagues or local clubs in your area. Canada Soccer has a list of recreational and house league soccer teams that you can check out. You could use your time at the recreation league to speak with your teammates and build friendships while playing soccer. 

Soccer is a great sport to build connections with others because it’s a very team-oriented sport and a lot of communication is required in order to be successful, so naturally you’re going to have to speak to your teammates and eventually you’ll be able to build a better understanding of one another.   

You can look online for local sports clubs or places where you can register for team sports, such as JAM, which offers many different options for team sports in Ontario and Winnipeg, such as basketball, hockey, volleyball, and many others. You can sign up individually or you can invite some friends along and form a team. 

Playing sports with others is a great way to build camaraderie and team skills and through that, great friendships can develop. Sports can also make you feel like you belong to a collective and that can make you feel better about yourself. If you play on a team that is successful, then it could make you feel proud of yourself because you played a part in your team’s success.  

Being involved and active in sports is a great way to not only create friendships with those around you, but it’s also a good way to keep up your fitness and stay healthy. It can make you feel better about yourself and also has many benefits for both mental and physical health. Some of these benefits include better sleep, happiness, and it can help reduce your body fat and control your body weight. 

Playing sports is also a great way to learn more about yourself and your own capabilities, so you understand yourself better and what you can and can’t do. This can make you feel more confident and can help your social skills and how you interact with others. 

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels) 

Watch sporting events 

Live sporting events are great ways to entertain yourself and your friends. 

Sport events can be very fun, especially if you and your friends support the same team and your team ends up winning.  

If you’re interested in basketball and live in and around Toronto, then you can invite some of your friends to go watch Canada’s only NBA team, the Toronto Raptors, at Scotiabank Arena and have a good time.  

You could even go to a Toronto Blue Jays game, as it may not be as expensive as going to other sports events. Ticket prices are typically less than $100 for seats that are closer to the baseball field. Baseball is a bit slower paced than other sports, so it allows for you to have conversations with your friends, while still being in the middle of the action.  

Hockey is also a fun sport to watch and could make you feel even more Canadian. Hockey is one of the most popular sports in Canada and there are seven Canadian NHL teams that you can support. If you’re a fan of a different NHL team than your friends, it could create a good rivalry between you and your friends, and maybe even some banter and fun whenever you are watching your teams play against each other. 

Ticket prices can be expensive, so you could go to local restaurants or bars that have sports games on or invite your friends to your house to watch sports on TV. It’s a good way for you to spend time with your friends, while also being entertained by a sport in the background.  

You could even watch reruns of certain games or highlights of your favourite players on YouTube. Just invite a few friends over and enjoy watching your favourite team or player’s best moments.  

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels) 

Have fun with sports 

A good way to be more engaged with sports is by starting up a fantasy sports league or by incorporating some form of competition with your friends.  

Each year, sports fans create their own fantasy leagues in the different sports that they follow. Websites like Yahoo Sports, ESPN, DraftKings, and many more are great places for you to start a fantasy league of your own.  

If you’re into basketball, start a fantasy league before the NBA season begins and start drafting your teams with your friends. You could even put a cash prize for the winner of your fantasy league, so that you have more on the line and more incentive to play. It can be a fun way to follow along with the NBA season because you will be more engaged with how the players on your fantasy team are performing.  

You could even play some sports video games with your friends to just have some fun together.  

There are so many different sports games that you can play with others. If you and your friends enjoy soccer, you can play together on the latest FIFA game on a platform that you all play on. If you enjoy basketball, then you could also play the NBA 2K games together. Playing video games can also help you learn much more about a certain sport and it’s very enjoyable as well.  

You can get creative with the ways in which you can use sports to further your friendships and relationships, because the possibilities are endless.  

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels) 

Meet three ordinary newcomer women who literally helped make Canadian fashion history

Meet three ordinary newcomer women who literally helped make Canadian fashion history  

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: October 13 2022

Photo: Suzy Hazelwood (Pexels) 

With needle in hand, a variety of newcomer women had contributed to the development of the labour force in old Toronto.  

Toronto was originally a place between the Don and Humber rivers where Indigenous tribes traded with one another. After the arrival of French and English settlers, the area expanded into an urban centre that served as the capital of Upper Canada.   

In 1834, maps were drawn up of Toronto as a new city. At this time, Toronto’s population started to quickly increase as the city was an entry point for newcomers to Canada. More newcomer workers spurred a fast-growing manufacturing industry. More industry meant employment opportunities, especially for women.  

According to research from historian Alanna McKnight, women found not only the ability to financially support their families, but also reason to gain independence through the needle-trades. 

What is the needle-trades industry? 

Needle-trades is a collective term used to describe jobs in clothing production before sewing machines and factories emerged around the 1900s. Such jobs included anything from dress and hat-making to the selling of trimmings and men’s accessories. Clothing wasn’t really ready-made for purchase in 1800s Canada and America. So, men and women customized clients’ garments by hand-sewing them. Women started sewing at a young age. During the mid 1800s, hundreds of them went on to become dressmakers, milliners, and seamstresses. McKnight explored, among others, the lives of three of these women in her work.  

Mary Augusta, the dressmaker 

Mary Augusta and her husband Alexander moved to Toronto from Baltimore, Maryland in 1850. The married couple were in their early twenties. Alexander completed his medical training at Trinity College and became Toronto’s second black doctor. Alongside her husband’s professional success, Mary did well for herself, too, as a dressmaker.  

A dressmaker in pre-industrial society would own her own shop and hire others to work in it. She was considered a skilled worker because she directly interacted with clients and could fill orders on short notice with the help of her employees.  

Through city directories, census, and archived newspapers, McKnight found that Mary operated her business on York Street, between Richmond and Adelaide, close to Toronto’s main shopping district. She used imported patterns from London and Paris to provide her customers with the latest European-inspired fashions.  

Nineteenth century Torontonian women, especially those with money and social status, wanted to dress well. Newcomers like Mary would clothe them.  

Louise Silverthorn, the milliner 

Louise Silverthorn was an English newcomer who became a milliner (person who makes and sells women’s hats) and dressmaker in Toronto. McKnight says “she first appeared in available Toronto city directories in 1859” as a 31-year-old widow. She had no children, never remarried, and lived alone on King Street. Most dressmaking establishments centred around King Street, between Yonge and Bay.   

Though Louise didn’t have a family of her own, she was a recognized business owner with four labourers: one male and three females.  

Mary McKnight, the seamstress   

Mary McKnight was an Irish immigrant. Most Irish immigrants to Toronto became seamstresses. In 1861, a 26-year-old Mary was documented as a seamstress in the census. She, unlike Louise, lived in a boarding school-type house with 22 other people. The house was headed by a schoolteacher who lived there with his family. 

Seamstresses were, to quote, “unskilled,” because their lives weren’t as free and glamourous as those of dressmakers. Seamstresses would basically sell their skills to employers, labour away at home, and earn low wages. But even so, Mary’s technical experience meant that she could use her sewing skills meaningfully to do everyday clothing repair for the 16 boys she was living with.  

The legacy of the 19th century female workforce in Toronto 

Immigration to Canada opened up in the 1870s and 1880s. People from beyond the UK started arriving to Toronto. In particular, those of Jewish background from Eastern Europe nurtured the needle-trades with their talent and work ethic. Factory work increased in the city, and with it, at-home assignments for needle workers. Thousands of newcomer women were now working either as labourers or businesswomen, necessitating the kind of unions we know today. These unions fought for safe working conditions and reasonable work hours. 

Newcomer women in Toronto’s needle-trades looked beyond their circumstances towards the opportunities around them. They listened to the demands of their new local culture and believed they could be of service to it—so much so that they helped develop the early Canadian economy and unintentionally called the country’s fashion scene to thrive.  

What is the Supreme Court of Canada?

What is the Supreme Court of Canada? 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: October 10 2022

Photo: Erik Mclean (Pexels) 

In Canada, there are three levels of government— Federal, Provincial, and Municipal. 

The federal government deals with issues that affect the whole country, including immigration, taxes, and international relations. Meanwhile, the provincial government is responsible for issues concerning a given province, such as education and health care. There are ten provincial and three territorial governments in Canada. While the head of the Canadian federal government is called the ‘Prime Minister,’ leaders of provincial governments are called ‘Premiers.’ 

Provincial governments grant power to municipal governments led by mayors in cities and towns. Municipal governments create by-laws that address issues like public transportation, garbage removal, and local police in their communities. 

Understanding different aspects of Canada’s government can help you prepare for the Canadian citizenship test and broaden your knowledge about the country’s legal systems. 

This article outlines the most powerful court in Canada, the Supreme Court, which overrules both the federal and the provincial governments in legal matters. Continue reading to learn more about Canada’s government. 

What is the Supreme Court of Canada? 

The Supreme Court of Canada is the country’s final court of appeal. In other words, it is the highest level of court in Canada. A court of law is a person or body of persons with judicial authority—the power to judge or administer justice ordered or enforced by a court—to solve legal disputes. 

The Supreme Court of Canada has power over all legal matters in the country, including those of federal and provincial jurisdiction. What lies at the heart of the judicial system is a principle built on upholding prior judgments called, “appellate decisions.” 

Historical Timeline of the Court 

1867–1875: The Beginning  

The Supreme Court was constituted in 1875 under the Supreme Court Act but its story begins with the British North America Act, 1867, the foundation of Canada’s Constitution. This law granted Parliament—which includes the institutions that create Canadian laws—to establish a “General Court of Appeal for Canada.”  

Attempts in creating this general court of appeal were led by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his Conservative government in 1869 and 1870. However, many Liberal and Conservative members of Parliament at the time opposed the decision, arguing that the new court would undermine provincial rights. 

1875–1949: Judicial Committee of the Privy Council 

Before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council served as the country’s final court of appeal. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a board of the British Privy Council that ruled over Britain’s colonial courts.  

Photo: Chelsea Faucher (Unsplash) 

1981: The deciding vote for national independence 

In 1981, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government initiated a deciding vote that forever changed the legal landscape in Canada. Up until this decision, Great Britain controlled all of Canada’s lawmaking decisions. 

A majority vote in favour of separating Canada from British legal authority, for Ottawa to act independently from Britain rule, was passed by members of the Supreme Court. Although the country remains part of the British Commonwealth today, this crucial vote led to Canada’s complete independence as a self-governing country.  

1982–present: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms 

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the most recognized part of the country’s Constitution. Added in 1982, the Charter guarantees the rights of individuals which the Supreme Court used as a powerful judicial tool to interpret human rights and address criminal law.  

Read this article from The Newcomer to learn more about your rights and freedoms in Canada. 

The Nine Justices 

Located in Ottawa, the Supreme Court of Canada is made up of nine justices who are appointed by the Canadian governor-in-council. The bench includes a chief justice and eight other judges who specialize in different types of law: criminal, civil, and corporate. This blend of judges ensures that decisions can be made with the best general interests in mind. 

Photo: Sora Shimazaki (Pexels) 

Responsibilities and roles of the court 

Meeting in January, April, and October for three month-long sessions, the court judges and addresses concerns and questions from the federal and provincial governments relating to the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada hears anywhere between 70 to 90 appeals—requests for review by the court—yearly. 

For criminal cases, the Supreme Court acts as a general court of appeal while civil cases need the court’s permission before they are presented. To paraphrase, the Supreme Court decides which cases are worth reviewing and which do not hold public or legal importance.   

More often than not, the court delivers written decisions; rarely are decisions given orally from the bench.  

The Supreme Debate 

In the United States, there is ongoing resistance against the US Supreme Court. This tension continues to escalate, especially after the overturn of Roe v Wade, which restricts women’s rights to safe and legal abortions. 

Traces of the debate on the limitations of judicial power exist in Canada. However, unlike its neighbour, the Supreme Court of Canada does not undergo as much criticism.  

With that being said, the legal system in Canada is not perfect and there is still much work that needs to be done for visible minority groups and Indigenous communities in the country. 

A newcomer’s guide to Canada’s Wonderland

A newcomer’s guide to Canada’s Wonderland 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: October 06 2022

Photo: Vivian Nguyen 

Located in Vaughn, a city just north of Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland is the country’s largest amusement park. It covers over 300 acres and has 70 rides and 200 attractions.  

The theme park first opened in 1981 and added its waterpark, Splash Works, in 1992. Both parks were closed in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but started opening its gates through reservations just last year. As of 2022, Canada’s Wonderland is fully open for visitors. 

This guide contains everything you need to know about Canada’s Wonderland and how to prepare for your next visit. 

Business Hours 

Sunday to Saturday: 10 A.M.—10 P.M. 

Location and Transportation 

Location: 1 Canada’s Wonderland Drive, Vaughan, ON L6A 1S6 

Transportation (by car or transit): 

  • York Region Transit (YRT) 
  • Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) 
  • GO transit 
  • Route 47: Hamilton-Major Mackenzie 
  • Route 52: Oshawa-Major Mackenzie  

Use this source for detailed directions and navigation from the United States (Buffalo, NY) or from Pearson International Airport. 


Admission Tickets* 

Admission type Price per guest (before taxes) 
Daily admission $54.99 
Two-day ticket $79.99 
Bring-A-Friend** (for season pass holders)  $44.99 
Group tickets (15+ people) $42.99 

*All guests under the age of 3 do not require an admission ticket.  

**Discount is applied to a daily admission ticket for any visitor accompanied by a season pass holder. 

Season Passes 

Season Pass[Text Wrapping Break]($95.99 before tax) Gold Pass[Text Wrapping Break]($124.99 before tax) Platinum Pass[Text Wrapping Break]($250.00 before tax) 
Benefits: Unlimited Park visits in the year to Canada’s Wonderland and Splash Works, food and merchandise discounts, Bring-A-Friend discounts, and more! Benefits: Same perks as the Season Pass in addition to admission to Halloween Haunt and WinterFest. Benefits: Same perks as the Season Pass and Gold Pass in addition to free season-long parking and admission to all Cedar Fair Parks

These passes are one-time purchased tickets that allow guests unlimited Park visits until the end of the season. 


Add-ons are available, including Fast Lane passes which reduce your wait time in lines for rides, dining passes, and the “FunPix” add-on to capture unlimited memories from your visit. The dining and FunPix add-ons are offered as seasonal or all-day passes. 

Canada’s Wonderland also provides wheelchair rentals starting from $20.  


When you enter the park, you may be greeted by employees who want to take professional pictures of you by the waterfront. Let them! You can view the photo at one of the photo stations. If you like it, you can buy it for around $12 to $14. 


Parking costs $25 (tax included) per vehicle when you purchase online, and $40 for RVs and campers. Preferred parking is $35.  


When you enter the Park gates, you are required to walk through metal detectors. Like at airports, security personnel will also check your bags. This ensures your safety and the safety of others. Make sure you read the Code of Conduct before visiting. 

Phones and cameras are permitted but you cannot take them out during the rides and slides. Each ride will have an area where you can put your belongings to retrieve after the ride is over. 

For accessibility accommodations, visit the Park’s accessibility webpage first before contacting  

Outside food and beverages 

Canada’s Wonderland has a no outside food, beverages, or coolers policy. However, baby food and formula, and bottled water or water in refillable bottles are permitted. 

Within the park, there are baby bottle warming stations and diaper changing restrooms. Their exact locations as well as available food vendors are listed on the Park map

Additionally, there are picnic areas outside of the gates where you can enjoy your food if you do not want to buy Park food. You can also keep a cooler inside the car and access it anytime during your visit. A readmission hand stamp is required for same day re-entry. 

What to Bring 

When preparing for your visit, ensure you pack the following: 

Your Season Pass, mobile, or printed tickets 

Tickets can be saved on your device or the Canada’s Wonderland mobile app which has a Park map for easier navigation. 

Debit or credit cards 

Canada’s Wonderland is cash-free for admissions, restaurants, and gift shops. However, there are Cash-to-Card kiosks where you can convert your cash to a prepaid debit card. Apple Pay and Google Pay are also accepted. 

Sun protection 

Although there are shelters and cooldown stations, it is best to bring sun protection items like sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. (Remember to remove loose clothing items before riding the roller coasters as you will lose them!) 

Water bottles 

Bring new (sealed) plastic water bottles or reusable ones. There are fountains and refill stations throughout the amusement park. 

Appropriate swim attire 

To take advantage of all Splash Works rides and slides, pack appropriate swim attire and a change of clothes. A pair of flip-flops, water shoes, or aqua socks may also be useful for walking around the waterpark. (Although there are changing areas, to avoid crowded spaces and waiting for privacy, wear your swimsuit under your clothes if possible.) 

Something to hold your belongings 

Whether it’s a stroller, backpack, drawstring bag, or even a luggage carry-on, bring something to hold all your belongings. Lockers are available for all-day rental ranging from $17 to $30. However, the park is not liable for any stolen items so pack light but also be prepared! 


If you are under 30 years-old and are planning to buy alcohol, bring a valid government issued photo I.D. 

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking. 

Rides and attractions 

            Photo: Vivian Nguyen 


Each ride at the Park has a height requirement, identified by colour. Height check stations are available for guests to get measured and to receive colour-coded wristbands. You do not need the wristbands to go on the rides, but they are helpful to show employees that you’re eligible for the ride, especially children.  

The most popular high thrill rides at Canada’s Wonderland include The Bat, Leviathan, and Behemoth. While The Bat is known for its backwards and hoop mechanics, Behemoth has a reputation for being an adrenaline-pumping “beast” that sends you down a 75-degree angle descent. Meanwhile, Leviathan is Canada’s Wonderland’s tallest ride, standing at a record-breaking, 306ft (93.27m). It also has an 80-degree drop. 

If these rides aren’t your cup of tea, there are also low to mild thrill rides like Frequent Flyers, the Antique Carrousel, Lazy River (at Splash Works), and more! 

Splash Works 

Splash Works is Canada’s largest outdoor wave pool. Life jackets are available throughout the waterpark which children and beginner swimmers are encouraged to wear. You can bring your own lifejacket(s) if it is Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, or Fisheries and Ocean Canada approved. 


In addition to rides, Canada’s Wonderland has many attractions and live entertainment. Most shows occur more than once throughout the day and include stunt diving and circus acts. The Peanuts characters also host dance parties at Playhouse Theatre in Planet Snoopy. 

Although summer is the most popular time to enjoy the Park’s rides and attractions, Canada’s Wonderland also hosts events throughout the year, including fireworks on long weekends, Halloween Haunt and WinterFest

If you get the chance to visit Canada’s Wonderland, take it! You will not be disappointed. 

Brian Sankersingh on his immigration experience

Brian Sankersingh on his immigration experience 

By: Anson Wong

Published on: October 03 2022

           Photo: Brian Sankersingh  

As a Trinidadian-born immigrant, Sankersingh works for organizations like Alliance for Healthier Communities to advocate for equity among marginalized communities. Having loved poetry all his life, Sankersingh uses it as social commentary in Canada. Finding success in Canada wasn’t easy, but Sankersingh hopes that success becomes common for immigrants. 

“And to me, that’s the epitome of Canadian-ism,” Sankersingh said in an interview with The Newcomer. “We immigrants are the ones who can push Canadian society to be better and grow faster and, and really excel in the world.” 

When Sankersingh made the decision between immigrating to the United States and Canada, the choice came down to the immigration form. Sankersingh was called an immigrant on the Canadian form. In the United States, he was applying as an alien. The distinction between those two shaped Sankersingh’s perception of the two countries. 

In the 1980s, Sankersingh immigrated to Canada with around $200 in his pocket. For his first two years, Sankersingh lived in an attic with his Guyanese and Trinidadian roommates. Being surrounded by people of similar backgrounds helped Sankersingh adjust to Canadian culture easier. Once Sankersingh grew accustomed, he decided to share his culture with other Canadians. 

“I felt now that I had been acclimatized to Canadian culture, but I needed to share my culture with Canadians,” he said. “Canadians, whether we’re new immigrants, or born and bred Canadians, we need to be able to have that sharing in order to get the best from each world.” 

Canada’s culture and system 

For Sankersingh, the appeal of Canada lies in its openness to other cultures. Sankersingh was able to share his culture and embrace others. This can be difficult in other countries like the United States, where patriotism is more apparent. In Canada, national pride, though still valued, is less celebrated than multiculturalism. 

Sankersingh noted that some of his successful immigration experience was based on luck. He found a stable job that allowed him to explore his passion for writing and build his career. However, Sankersingh felt that success is not universal for all immigrants who come to Canada. 

“And so that’s where most of my writing is kind of focused in on, it’s on helping Canadians understand that immigrants coming to this country are not just coming here to steal jobs,” Sankersingh said. 

While Sankersingh found that Canada’s reputation for kindness was well founded, the system was inadequate for people of colour, as it was not designed with them in mind. Part of the problem lies in a lack of representation in the provincial and federal governments. The values of the community cannot be well accounted for without input from its members. 

“I can feel in some way that I’m represented, right, because I’m not seeing people who don’t understand my experience,” Sankersingh said. 

Poetry as social commentary 

Poetry is a lifelong craft for Sankersingh. In his youth, poetry was a pastime, but Sankersingh quickly found its use as social commentary in Canada.  

“I find that poetry is an easy, yet demanding way to get somebody to think,” Sankersingh said. “You can read it and you can enjoy it, or you can read it and you can find some of the double entendres.” 

Poetry makes heavy topics like systemic racism digestible without confronting the reader. It also helps readers consider new thoughts they may not have otherwise. While readers can benefit from some historical context, most of Sankersingh’s work can be enjoyed as is.  

Sankersingh also faced racist rhetoric when he ran for councillor at Whitchurch-Stouffville in 2018. The hate mail Sankersingh received focused on his race and perception as an outsider despite having lived in Canada for around 30 years. 

“This is what they believe in, and they don’t care to talk with me and understand my perspective,” he said. “They care that this is how they feel, and they don’t care about anything else. And so, I have learned to let those people go. There’s no changing them.” 

Despite the problems he has faced, Sankersingh still considers Canada his home. The bad aspects of Canadian culture he encountered did not outweigh the good. When dealing with racist remarks, Sankersingh always looked back at the positive interactions he has had with Canada’s diverse communities. 

“You fall back to, to all the other opportunities that you’ve had with people who are not that way.” 

Spotlight on diverse Canadian athletes

Spotlight on diverse Canadian athletes 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: September 16 2022

Photo: Sasint (Pexels) 

Throughout Canada’s history of sports, there have been many great athletes to have come from and represent this nation in their respective fields. Through sport, these athletes showcase their hard work and determination in order to become successful and achieve higher status.  

When it comes to successful and great Canadian athletes, diversity isn’t an issue. Many of Canada’s best athletes come from different cultures and countries and Canada has been fortunate enough to have many great athletes represent this country.  

Here’s a look at some of Canada’s incredible athletes who come from diverse backgrounds. 

Photo: SeppH (Pexels) 

Alphonso Davies 

The crown jewel of Canadian men’s soccer, Alphonso Davies, was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents, who fled the country due to the civil war. He moved to Edmonton, Alberta at the age of five and quickly rose through the ranks of Canadian soccer as he got older. 

As he got better, he eventually made his way to one of the best teams in the world of football, Bayern Munich. During the 2019-20 season, Davies played a crucial part in Bayern’s treble winning campaign, with outstanding performances against Chelsea and FC Barcelona, and would later complete the sextuple, a feat accomplished by only Barcelona before them. 

The 21-year-old has produced many highlight reel plays throughout his young career and looks set to dominate the world of football going forward. Davies is known for his blazing speed and runs that can change the course of a game. He primarily plays down the left side of the pitch, lining up as a left back for Bayern Munich and as a left winger for the Canadian national team.  

Davies is now an integral piece to Bayern Munich, as well as the Canadian men’s national team. He played a massive role in helping Canada qualify for their second World Cup appearance in 2022, 36 years after Canada’s only appearance at the World Cup in 1986.  

Bianca Andreescu 

Andreescu was born to Romanian parents and spent the majority of her childhood living between Canada and Romania. She started playing tennis at an early age and quickly became one of Canada’s young tennis prodigies.  

In 2019, she had an incredible rise at the age of 19 that saw her win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open, defeating none other than the great Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 in the final. She finished the 2019 season with a career high rank of fourth on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings.  

Bianca Andreescu has since dealt with many injuries since her Grand Slam victory, but she is still very talented and is a name to keep in mind in women’s tennis for the next few years. 

Photo: InspiredImages (Pexels) 

Mohammed Ahmed (Mo Ahmed) 

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Mo Ahmed spent the first ten years of his life in Kenya before moving to Canada. He started running track at the age of 13 after watching his brothers run track at school. 

Mo Ahmed made history when he achieved a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 5000-metre event, Canada’s first medal at a long distance track event.  

Ahmed is one of Canada’s best long distance track runners in history, with many accolades in the 5000-metre and 10 000-metre track events.  

At 31-years-old, Mo Ahmed may not be competing for much longer, but he has made a huge impact on Canadian track and field and his name will remain in the record books for a long time.   

Maggie Mac Neil 

Maggie Mac Neil was born in China and adopted by her Canadian family at the age of one. She began swimming at an early age and would go on to compete in swimming events and Olympic trials as a teenager.   

Her big breakthrough came at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when she won gold in the women’s 100-metre butterfly. Mac Neil also won silver in the women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay, as well as bronze in the women’s 4×100-metre medley relay.  

Only 22-years-old, Maggie Mac Neil is looking like she’ll be one of the household names in Canadian women’s swimming for the next few years.  

Donovan Bailey 

A Jamaican-born Canadian athlete, Donovan Bailey is a legend in track and field. Bailey lived in Jamaica until he was 12-years-old when he immigrated to Canada.  

Bailey didn’t start competing professionally in track until he was in his early 20s and out of college. While competing, he was working as a stockbroker 

Donovan Bailey reached great heights when he captured gold in the men’s 100-metre at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, setting a then world record time of 9.84 seconds. Bailey also won gold in the men’s 4×100-metre relay in those same Olympic games, anchoring Canada to victory.  

Donovan Bailey is not only one of Canada’s greatest athletes and sprinters, but also one of the greatest track runners in history. 

Photo: Hans Markutt (Pexels) 

Leylah Fernandez 

Born to an Ecuadorian father and a Filipino-Canadian mother, Leylah Fernandez truly represents diversity in Canada. Also having been born in Montréal, Fernandez is fluent in Spanish, French, and English.  

Fernandez rose to prominence in 2021 where she had a dream run to the final of the US Open, beating the likes of Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, before losing to Emma Raducanu 6-4, 6-3 in the final. 

Still only 19-years-old, Leylah Fernandez has a very bright future in tennis and if she keeps improving, she can be one of the future stars in women’s tennis.  

Milos Raonic 

Milos Raonic was born in Montenegro and is of Serbian heritage. He moved to Canada at the age of three, settling in Brampton. He was introduced to tennis at a young age and rapidly improved over the years.  

Raonic had his best career year in 2016, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour Finals, as well as the final of Wimbledon, however he lost to Andy Murray each time. He also finished 2016 ranked third on the ATP Tour rankings, his highest career ranking ever.  

Today, Raonic is 31-years-old and has not reached the same heights as his 2016 season due to injuries and poor form, but his remarkable rise made a mark on Canadian sports history and paved the way for young male tennis stars like Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime. 

There are so many more Canadian athletes with diverse backgrounds that could have been included in this list, given how successful and impactful Canadian athletes are.  

Without a doubt, there are going to be many more diverse athletes in Canadian sports in the future and many will surely make their mark on Canadian sports history.  

Showcasing diverse Canadian celebrities

Showcasing diverse Canadian celebrities 

By: Vincent Tran

Published on: September 15 2022

Photo: PhotoMIX Company (Pexels)  

It is no secret that Canada is a very diverse nation with many different people and cultures from all over the world coming together. Being diverse is a part of being Canadian and it has never stopped some people from achieving great things in their lives. 

There have been many Canadians who come from diverse backgrounds who have been able to achieve great success in their respective fields and have achieved celebrity status. 

This is a look at some well-known Canadian celebrities who come from diverse backgrounds.   

Simu Liu 

A relatively new face to Hollywood, Simu Liu’s rise to stardom has been remarkable.  

Born in Harbin, China, Liu later moved to Mississauga, Ontario at the age of five. He originally pursued a career in accounting and worked at Deloitte until he was laid off after nine months.  

He later pursued becoming an actor and stuntman, appearing as an extra in Pacific Rim. Liu would also make appearances in numerous skits over the years for multiple YouTubers, before his first main role in the Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience.  

Simu Liu wouldn’t make his feature film debut until starring in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which ended up being a resounding success. 

Liu is now set to feature in the upcoming Barbie movie, releasing in 2023, alongside Margot Robbie and fellow Canadian, Ryan Gosling. 

Photo: Mohamed Hassan (Pexels)  

Sandra Oh 

Sandra Oh was born in Nepean, Ontario to South Korean parents. She started acting at a young age and continued trying to be a better actor as she grew up. Oh even rejected a four-year scholarship to Carleton University for journalism to pursue her career in acting. 

Sandra Oh has even stated that she is the only person in her family that doesn’t have a master’s degree in something, but that didn’t stop her from being successful. 

Oh has since become one of the more prominent actresses, starring in many movies and TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Turning Red, The Princess Diaries, and many more.  

Russell Peters 

Known for his hilarious stand-up comedy shows, Russell Peters was born in Toronto, but moved to Brampton, Ontario when he was four-years-old. 

Growing up, Peters was bullied for his ethnicity, but he was able to get past that and become a better person as a result.  

Russell Peters’ comedic content is generally about racism, stereotypes, and life in Canada as a person of Indian descent. Many of his jokes stem from his experiences being Indian-Canadian and growing up in Canada.  

Russell Peters rose to prominence in the early 2000s where many of his jokes on the show Comedy Now! became viral clips on YouTube that are still being replayed to this day.  

Today, Russell Peters’ name is often synonymous with comedy and Canada.  

Photo: Helena Lopes (Pexels)  

Winnie Harlow 

Harlow was born in Mississauga and is of Jamaican descent. Growing up, Harlow was often bullied and made fun of due to her skin condition, vitiligo, where pale, white patches develop on the skin due to a lack of melanin, which is the pigment in the skin.  

Winnie Harlow would be called many different insulting names that had a great effect on her self-esteem, as well as other people’s opinions of her. 

However, there would be people that supported her and gave her the confidence to pursue a career in modelling, and in 2014 she made her breakthrough when she appeared on Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model.  

Since then, Harlow has become a very successful fashion model, garnering over 10 million followers on Instagram and is a spokesperson on vitiligo, educating others on her condition and bringing more awareness to it.  

Lilly Singh 

Lilly Singh is from Scarborough, Ontario and was born to Indian parents. She graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  

Shortly after she graduated she started her YouTube channel under the name “IISuperwomanII”. She uploaded comedic skits and videos that garnered millions of views. 

Over the years, Lilly Singh quickly grew and became one of Canada’s most popular YouTubers and internet personalities. 

In 2019, NBC announced that a new late night show would be hosted by Lilly Singh, called A Little Late with Lilly Singh. The show contained some of the same humour and jokes that made her successful on YouTube and eventually ended in 2021 after two seasons.  

Today, Lilly Singh is still continuing her success as an internet personality, but is now also expanding into other forms of entertainment.  

More than a band: Pantayo’s take on traditional Filipino music

More than a band: Pantayo’s take on traditional Filipino music 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: September 14 2022

Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty) 

Based in Tkaronto (Toronto), Pantayo is a quintet comprising of queer members of the Filipino diaspora. “Pantayo” in Tagalog means, “for us.” The all-woman group formed in 2012 and its members describe themselves as a collective instead of a band

What makes Pantayo stand out is their incorporation of kulintang—an indigenous instrumental form of music from the Southern Philippines—with modern R&B, punk, and electronic music. In addition to their music, Pantayo organizes musical and cultural workshops to teach kulintang. This is Pantayo’s take on traditional Filipino music. 

Meet the members and their musical instruments 

Pantayo is made up of bassist and keyboardist, Eirene Cloma, agung player Michelle Cruz, and gandingan and sarunay player Joanna Delos Reyes. While the agung refers to a wide-rimmed gong from Southeast Asia, the sarunay is a metallophone of eight metal plates strung together and suspended over a frame. 

The gandingan is a set of four large gongs that are part of the kulintang, a gong and drum instrument among the Maguindanao, or “people of the flood plain,” who are the largest Muslim minority in the Philippines. 

The other two members of Pantayo are twins, Kat Estacio and Katrina Estacio. In addition to the kulintang, Kat Estacio plays the dabakan, a single-hand drum also among the Maguindanao. The musical instrument is usually struck with two bamboo sticks and accompanies the kulintang ensemble. Katrina Estacio also plays the kulintang as well as the sarunay.  

Music with Indigenous roots 

Kulintang music “was once used for communicating long distance messages from one village to another.” It has origins among the Maguindanao peoples and the T’boli tribe. These indigenous communities reside in south-central and southwestern Mindanao, Philippines, respectively.  

According to a myth, T’boli’s ancestors created musical instruments to replicate the sounds of the souls of those who have perished in the deluge

Also called “talking gongs,” the kulintang represents the voices of ancestors in pre-colonial Philippines. According to an article, kulintang is “story-telling. It is healing. It is celebrating. […] Each pattern interprets voices chanting over the years.” 

Bridging traditional sounds with contemporary music 

Through merging kulintang with contemporary genres like pop and R&B, Pantayo describes their music as “lo-fi R&B gong punk.” Since they formed, the collective has released two albums: Severed, an original soundtrack with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (Yt//St) in 2016 and Pantayo in 2020.  

Their self-titled album was produced by Alaska B of Yt//St with Canadian record label, Telephone Explosion. It features disco-inspired and upbeat songs including “V V V (They Lie)” and “Heto Na” along with slower, calming tracks like “Eclipse.” The album was also nominated and won the Polaris Prize in 2020.   

The “They Lie” music video experiments with abstract, naturistic imagery and psychedelic—bright—colours. With its karaoke-style format, the video embraces a Filipino culture that loves music.  

“There are a lot of Filipinos who share a love of music,” Estacio says in an interview with Tom Tom Mag. “[M]usic traditions are part of our DNA.”  

Their song, “Heto Na” begins with a steady and deceiving percussion. As the beating sounds of the agungs, gandingan, and the kulintang join, the song picks up pace like a chant. “Umindak ka na kaya (Ready, set, go strut your stuff),” Pantayo sings. The lyrics are filled with hope, fun, and empowerment. The song and video were inspired by 70’s Filipino disco songs and features fellow Filipina Canadians under the group name, “The Tita Collective.” 

The Tita Collective is a group of multidisciplinary artists who created the podcast, “Chika Chika with the Titas” to discuss Filipin* art. They also use the platform to share their experiences as women in the Filipino diaspora

Cultural appropriation 

Cultural appropriation refers to when a group with privilege adopts cultural elements of a minority group, leading to exploiting and disrespecting them. As the members of Pantayo are part of the Filipino diaspora, not Maguindanao nor T’boli who they borrowed music from, the group underwent criticism for appropriating Indigenous culture. 

The collective sees kulintang as part of a bigger culture connecting to the Philippines’s colonial history. According to Vice, kulintang connects Pantayo to their experiences and heritage. Former member, Christine Balmes, describes kulintang music as “very healing. It’s decolonizing.”  

Pantayo acknowledges their privilege and makes it their goal to use their music as a way of giving back. “We’re taking this culture,” Estacio said to Vice, “but we need to also give something back.” 

Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty) 

More than a band 

Both their workshops and music promote education and preservation of the traditional sounds of the Southern Philippines. Through their unique songs, Pantayo reminds us just how powerful music can be. It can make you dance. It can empower. It can heal. Music also brings people together, both within and outside any culture. 

Thus, Pantayo’s innovative fusion music transcends time, language, and space. 

Not only does the collective disrupt the status quo by incorporating traditional music with modern elements, they contribute to creating a world that prioritizes the voices of the oppressed. As queer, Filipinx women, the members of Pantayo represent a message of hope, community, and strength. And they’re just getting started! 

To stay updated on Pantayo, you can check them out on their official website, social media pages (Facebook and Instagram), or on music streaming platforms (Apple Music and Spotify)

Islamic schools in the Greater Toronto Area

Islamic schools in the Greater Toronto Area

By: Anson Wong

Published on: September 13, 2022

Photo: RODNAE Productions (Pexels) 

Finding the right school for your children can be a daunting task. Families looking for a school that teaches Islam will find that Toronto is lacking in that area. Very few options exist for schooling beyond post-secondary and weekend schooling. Surrounding regions, on the other hand, have multiple schools including, Islamic schools

Islamic schools provide in-depth teachings on the Quran. They also provide an academic curriculum that is approved by the provincial government. Schools can be a great way to find which demographics live in which region. 

Other institutions such as community centres, after school classes, and other agencies can affirm one’s cultural presence. Districts like Scarborough and Mississauga are filled with services looking to meet the needs of their community. These buildings and services reflect growing populations and show how demographics can change over time while establishing a strong community.

Muslim parents who wish to raise their children with elements of their native culture and religion can do so with Islamic schools. These schools bring many Muslim children together and give them a chance to integrate into Canadian culture comfortably. They also serve as one of many links in community, allowing families to know one another through shared experiences.

Having these schools are important because they provide a chance for youth to preserve native cultures as they grow up in Canada. This is beneficial as it allows them to keep in touch with both cultures. The difference of where we stem from is valuable and contributes to Canada’s growing culture. 

Allowing children to experience both cultures is essential in promoting an open mindset. It allows for dialogue between different groups without a presumed gap between them. This way children get the most out of Canadian culture without prejudice or bias. Establishing a strong understanding of native culture provides a strong foundation for embracing others as well.

Encouraging this exchange is important to promote inclusiveness in society. To help you make an informed choice, here is a list of Islamic schools in the surrounding regions.

In Brampton

Al-Ameen Elementary School

  • Office phone: 905-866-6555
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 389 Main St N, Brampton, ON L6X 1N7
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Year established: 2015

Al-Iman School

  • Office phone: 905-799-9231
  • Email: 
  • Location: 12 Beech Street, Brampton, ON L6V 1V1
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Year established: 1994

Noon Academy

  • Office phone: 905-216-3981
  • Email:
  • Location: 12 Rutherford Road S, Brampton, ON L6W 3J1 Unit 6-7
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2013

Wali Ul Asr Learning Institute

  • Office phone: 905-457-9254
  • Email:
  • Location: 7580 Kennedy Road Brampton, ON L6W 0A1
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2008

In Mississauga

Al Huda Elementary School

  • Office phone: 905-270-AHES (2437)
  • Email:
  • Location: 1135 Central Pkwy W, Mississauga, ON L5C 3J2
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Year established: 2009

Al Manarat Heights School

  • Office phone: 905-997-0260
  • Email:
  • Location: 2550 Argentia Rd Unit #121, Mississauga, ON L5N 5R1
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Grade one to 10
  • Year established: 2006

Al-Risala Academy

  • Office phone: 905-232-8436
  • Email:
  • Location: 1224 Dundas Street East, Unit #15 Mississauga, ON L4Y 4A2
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2009

Ayaat Quran Program

  • Office phone: 647-633-3491
  • Email: 
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 3054 Caulfield Crescent, Mississauga, ON L5M 6J7
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Preschool to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2019

Iqra Islamic School

  • Office phone: 905-507-6688
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 5751 Coopers Ave, Mississauga, ON L4Z 1R9
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Year established: 1997

ISNA Elementary School

  • Office phone: 905-272-4303
  • Email:
  • Location: 1525 Sherway, Mississauga, ON L4X 1C5
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 1983

ISNA High School

  • Office phone: 905-272-4303
  • Email:
  • Location: 2200 South Sheridan Way, Mississauga, ON L5J 2M4
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Grade 9 to 12
  • Year established: 2001

Maingate Islamic Academy

  • Office phone: 905-629-4764
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 5280 Maingate Dr, Mississauga, ON, L4W 1G5
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 8

Maple Root Academy

  • Office phone: 905-607-6313
  • Email:
  • Location: 2111 Dunwin Drive, Mississauga, ON L5L 3C1
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 6

Olive Grove School

  • Office phone: 905-855-8557
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 2300 Speakman Dr, Mississauga, ON L5K 1B4
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2006

Safa & Marwa Islamic School

  • Office phone: 905-566-8533
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 5550 McAdam Road, Mississauga ON L4Z 1P1
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 1998

Suffah Academy

  • Office phone: 647-705-5592
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: Milton Campus 100 Nipissing Rd, Milton, ON L9T 5B2
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2019

In Milton

Tarbiyah Elementary School

  • Office phone: 289-270-5306
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Sunni
  • Location: 89 Ontario St N, Milton, ON L9T 2T2
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 8
  • Year established: 2019

In North York

Nile Academy

  • Office phone: 647-748-6453
  • Email:
  • Location: 5 Blue Haven Crescent, North York, ON M9M 1W6
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2005

In Scarborough

Al Haadi School

  • Office phone: 416-628-6252
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Shia
  • Location: 690 Progress Ave Unit 16, Scarborough, ON M1H 3A6
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Grade 1 to 8
  • Year established: 2009

Gibraltar Leadership Academy

  • Office phone: 416-297-0770
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Shia
  • Location: 690 Progress Ave Unit 16, Scarborough, ON M1H 3A6
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2017

Madinatul-Uloom Academy

  • Office phone: 416-332-9428
  • Email:
  • Location:
    • Primary campus: 710 Progress Avenue, Scarborough ON. M1H 2X1
    • Boys’ campus: 700 Progress Avenue, Scarborough ON. M1H 3A4
    • Girls’ campus: 670 Progress Avenue, Scarborough ON. M1H 3A4
  • Gender: Male and female, separate campuses
  • Grades taught: Junior kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 1996

Mariyah Islamic Girls School

  • Office phone: 416-297-0770
  • Email:
  • Location: 3665 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1G 1P7
  • Gender: Female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 1995

The Islamic Institute of Toronto Academy

  • Office phone: 416-335-9173
  • Email:
  • Location: 1630 Neilson Rd, Scarborough, ON M1X 1S3
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Year established: 2006

In Vaughn

As-Sadiq Islamic School

  • Office phone: 905-696-1588
  • Email:
  • Branch of Islam: Shia
  • Location: 9000 Bathurst Street, Vaughan, ON L4J 8A7
  • Gender: Male and female
  • Grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12 with post-secondary opportunities
  • Year established: 1994

For additional sources be sure to visit,

Celebrating Caribbean cultures and freedom: Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Celebrating Caribbean cultures and freedom: Toronto Caribbean Carnival 

By: Vivian Nguyen

Published on: September 12 2022

Photo: Bash Visual (Unsplash)  

Nearly one million people living in Canada are of Caribbean descent. Between 1996 and 2001, the population of Caribbean Canadians rose by 11 per cent, with most living in major urban cities like Toronto and Montréal. Refer to this link to learn more about the immigration history of Caribbean communities in Canada.  

While every Caribbean country has its own culture and traditions, each shares a common history and similar celebrations. One way that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Canada celebrate their cultures is through “playing mas” at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. 

What is the Toronto Caribbean Carnival? 

First established in 1967, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival is the largest festival of Caribbean culture in North America. It is inspired by Trinidad—the mother of all [Caribbean] festivals—and its annual pre-Lenten Carnival. Lent is the 40-days period before Easter—a holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ—in the Christian calendar. The festival typically begins on the first Saturday of August to commemorate the Slavery Abolition Act. Therefore, Carnival is deeply rooted in Catholicism and colonialism. 

The festival of freedom 

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival consists of dancing, delicious food, parades, and more. The parade is organized into masquerade “bands,” each representing a different theme led by a “king” and “queen.” Each band is judged on its costumes, energy, and creativity.   

Before diving into the costumes, food, and music at Carnival, here is a short list of some terms you need to know: 

  • Mas – short for masquerade 
  • Mas Band(s) – organized groups of parade participants who paid a designer to create their costumes. 
  • Calypso “tents” – shows 
  • “Fetes” – parties 
  • “Talk tents” – performers: storytellers, comedians, and other oral traditions 


Mas players are parade participants in costume or, “playing mas.” These costumes involve bright vibrant colours, jewels, feathers, and flare. The most extravagant costumes are the ones with many embellishments and large feathers. Mas bands feature costumes created by Caribbean designers, each with a theme. To play mas, it is important to do research on the band’s history and represented theme.  

        Photo: Miguel Davis (Unsplash)  

As mentioned earlier, each Caribbean nation has its own traditions and cultures. This leads to different interpretations of the Carnival costume. For example, in the Dominican Republic, mas players usually wear attires that represent their African or Indigenous Taíno heritages. 

Although some may argue that many Carnival costumes are “too revealing,” others find empowerment in them. Fashion psychologist and writer, Shakaila Forbes-Bell wrote, “My body was decorated as if it were a prize to be celebrated and being among other women who [dressed similarly] heighten[ed] that freeing feeling.”  


Masqueraders are given a wristband to get free food. However, there are also food vendors at the event. According to a CP24 article, food means family to the festival’s street vendors. “It’s good for community,” says one of the interviewed vendors. 

One of the most popular Caribbean dishes served at the festival is pelau— “a one-pot dish [from the West Indies] made of rice, meat and pigeon peas.” Other Caribbean dishes include (but are not limited to): 

  • Jambalaya – A mouth-watering Creole and Cajun rice dish with French, African, and Spanish influences. (It typically includes meat and vegetables mixed with rice.) 
  • Gumbo – A savoury soup-stew served over rice. It has African, American Indian, and European elements. The name comes from a Bantu word for the okra plant, a common ingredient in the dish. (The stew is usually shrimp, crab, or oyster based but the ingredients can be changed to taste and preference.) 
  • Spiced plantains are staples in Central and South American, Caribbean, African, and Southeast Asian cuisines. 
  • Doubles – A street food snack from Trinidad and Tobago with Indian roots. The filling is made of spiced chickpea curry or, channa, pickled green mango, and a tart tamarind sauce sandwiched in a fried flatbread called, bara. (Expect spices and hot peppers, too!) 

You can also find corn on the cob and Jamaican patties! 


When you pass by Carnival, you will most likely hear calypso—a style of music with origins in Trinidad and Tobago—and its evolved form, soca, a fusion of soul and calypso music with disco elements. In the Dominican Republic, bachata and merengue take the place of calypso music. 

In addition to these genres, you can expect reggae (from Jamaica), tassa drumming (from Trinidadian East Indian traditions), cadence (from Haiti and Dominica), zuk (from Saint Lucia), Latin salsa, and steel pan drums. North American rap and R&B, as well as chutney music—Indian folk music mixed with calypso and soca—have also made it to the Carnival scene. 

A brief history of enslavement in Canada 

In Canada, slavery predates the arrival of Europeans among Indigenous communities. However, according to an article by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Europeans brought a different kind of slavery to North America. Unlike Indigenous people, Europeans saw enslaved people as property—to be owned, bought, and sold—not humans. 

After the British conquest of New France in 1763, what is now known as “Canada” was called “British North America.” During this time, Black enslaved people were brought over to replace Indigenous enslaved people. 

By the late 1700s, attitudes towards slavery started to change among the free population of British North America. The slave trade was abolished on March 25, 1807, and slavery itself was abolished throughout the British empire on Aug 1, 1834, thanks to the Slavery Abolition Act, 1833

Hereafter, the British colonies—which included Canada—became a ‘safe haven’ for escaped enslaved peoples in the United States. Many of which escaped through the Underground Railroad, a secret network of people who wanted to abolish slavery at the time. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery movement in North America. 

Additionally, the Slavery Abolition Act fostered a crucial cultural event: Emancipation Day. Celebrations were, and continue to be, held through parades, church services, speeches, and dances. Emancipation Day also offered a platform for acknowledging and challenging racism in Canada. Racism inhibits the rights and freedoms of Black Canadians. 

Caribana 2023 

Although the name was dropped in 2011, many still refer to Carnival as “Caribana.” The festival changed its official name to the “Toronto Caribbean Carnival” in 2015.  

This year’s Toronto Caribbean Carnival happened from Thursday, July 28 to Monday, August 1. Most of the parade was free but tickets for nightlife events varied between $30 to $75. While the dates for 2023 are not yet confirmed, we can expect Caribana to take place during the first weekend of August (around August 5) to honour the Slavery Abolition Act, 1833. 

Stay updated about future events and dates at

Lastly, because the event is filled with celebration and love, anyone can participate in the parade. Even non-Caribbean folks are welcomed to join! 

The golden rule to remember is respect; stay educated on the festival’s history and respect its significance to the Black Caribbean community. Follow this rule and have fun! 

Martial arts schools promote culture, create inclusive space for newcomers

Martial arts schools promote culture, create inclusive space for newcomers

By: Callum Denault

Published on: September 09 2022

Photo: Yulia Saeki  

Whether it is through the exciting choreography of an action film, a tense match between two opponents fighting in the ring, or even just by hitting a punching bag in the gym, martial arts bring joy to a lot of people. But outside the apparent focus on combat, martial arts help maintain deep cultural traditions and provide a way for newcomers to adapt to life in Canada. 

The Ottawa Japan Karate Association 

The Ottawa Japan Karate Association (OJKA) was founded by Minoru Saeki 40 years ago, and he built it similar to how Karate schools are made in Japan. For instance, the dojo’s entrance has a special area called a genkan, which in Japanese custom is where people can remove their shoes before stepping into a building.  

Another custom the school preserves is the seiza, a form of kneeling with a deep cultural meaning in Japan. OJKA students do a brief meditation before practice to leave behind everything from the outside world. They also have a second meditation at the end of class, to signify the practice is over and they can return to their regular lives. 

Minoru is now the club’s technical advisor, while his son Seiji Saeki is the OJKA’s head instructor for both the child and adult class. Seiji’s wife Yulia Saeki manages the dojo; she also teaches a Japanese language course and launched a kids’ Karate program two years ago. 

Yulia Saeki believes the Ottawa Japan Karate Association to be the only school in Ottawa which teaches Shotokan Karate, which is a traditional style from Okinawa. Shotokan is different from other Karate styles with its focus on low stances, fast transitions between them, and how students manage distance.  

“I have quite a few kids whose parents are Japanese,” said Saeki, “and who were either born and raised in Canada or who emigrated to Canada.”  

Japanese parents bring their children to the OJKA to encourage a cultural knowledge of their home country, by exposing their kids to Japanese culture and customs. 

“The general feeling when you step inside,” Saeki said, “is that it’s clearly a Japanese dojo.” 

     Photo: Yulia Saeki  

Takahashi Dojo 

June Takahashi—who founded Takahashi Dojo alongside her late husband Masao Takahashi—said her judo school is in close contact with the Japanese embassy in Ottawa.  

“They’ve supported us 100 per cent,” she said. “Whenever there was a demonstration or anything that was sponsored by the community, we were always asked to do a judo demonstration.” 

Takahashi added that members of the Japanese community send their children—many of whom are fourth or fifth generation Canadian—to train at her dojo. 

BlueWave Taekwondo 

Marcelo Sarkis is the headmaster instructor of BlueWave Taekwondo in Peterborough. He also has a full-time job as a professional chemical engineer and registered patent agent. 

A non-profit school, BlueWave Taekwondo only charges enough to cover overhead costs. They offer a free year of classes to families who are new to Peterborough, particularly Syrians and people displaced by the war in Ukraine. The school also paid the entry fees for students entering in virtual poomsae tournaments during COVID-19. 

“Taekwondo is practiced globally,” said Sarkis, “and you should be able to go into any taekwondo dojang [school], put on your dobok [uniform] and train. If the school is using the Korean nomenclature, then you should be able to follow regardless.” 

Sarkis’ teaching is inspired by courses and advice provided by the World Taekwondo Headquarters known as Kukkiwon. He does this because Sarkis believes all taekwondo schools should follow a certain standard, and said Kukkiwon updates their guidelines on the best training practices through continued scientific study of Taekwondo. 

“I was born in Brazil and we emigrated to Canada in the late 60s,” Sarkis said, “I know what it is like to be in a new country, there’s a new language, a new culture, etc.” 

“You hit a certain point growing up where you possibly have an identity crisis.”  

Sarkis was a former director the New Canadians Centre in Peterborough, and said there was a lot of discussion on how to help newcomers assimilate to Peterborough. He offered free classes to a youth group in the centre and said the kids loved it. 

Martial arts: Something for everyone 

June’s eldest son Allyn Takahashi said while there is a larger number of Japanese people seen at Takahashi Dojo than is proportionate to the rest of Canada, they make up a small number of the overall student body. He added over half of the dojo’s students are newcomers from various backgrounds. 

Takahashi said judo makes practitioners feel confident, which is one of the main reasons why it is popular among newcomers. He added the martial art is accessible not only because it is reasonably safe to practice, but that it requires teamwork. 

“You can’t do judo alone,” said June Takahashi. “You need a partner, so that you have to respect your partner. It shows you in all aspects of your life, helping each other, and it benefits them and yourself too. You can’t do things alone.” 

In addition to Takahashi Dojo’s many international competitors—including Allyn Takahashi himself—the club trains Paralympic athletes as well. Allyn said Tony Walby trained at their school for decades ever since he was a child. Gradually, Walby’s vision and hearing degraded to the point that he was eligible for Paralympic judo. Among many other tournaments, Walby and Takahashi partnered together at the Kata World Championships.  

Priscilla Gagné—a Paralympic judoka who is blind—transferred to the dojo from a club in Orangeville, ON. She is currently training with the national judo team in Montréal. 

Allyn Takahashi said, “We have high hopes for her in the 2024 Olympics.” 

Similar to judo, taekwondo has Paralympic opportunities and Sarkis completed a Kukkiwon course on how to teach para taekwondo. Earlier this year, BlueWave Taekwondo was able to perform at the Peterborough Capable Con

“We had individuals who were blind, who were deaf, and in wheelchairs.” Sarkis said, “We were able to adapt certain movements in taekwondo so they could at least experience a little bit of taekwondo.” 

One student in a wheelchair enrolled with BlueWave Taekwondo. According to Sarkis, her mother said she “couldn’t stop talking” after breaking a board at the Capable Con demonstration. 

Opening doors for immigrants and emigrants 

With a major in Japanese, Yulia Saeki started a Japanese language course during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Being able to control the amount of people entering their dojo, the goal of these courses was to provide a safe, in-person space for people to learn and continue studying the Japanese language. 

“I was very surprised how popular the Japanese language is in Canada,” she said, “and Ottawa in particular.” 

A lot of Saeki’s students want to live, study, or find work in Japan, and they want to have at least a basic understanding of Japanese before travelling there. Most of them are interested in Japanese pop culture, including anime and manga. However, Saeki said she has students of all ages, and the middle-aged students have different interests. Some people just want to learn Japanese to communicate with people, or speak with friends and family. 

“Primarily, for some reason,” she said, “they are interested in that culture and want to travel and live in Japan.” 

Sarkis said taekwondo helps “open eyes” for Canadians to understand the experiences of people from different cultural backgrounds. 

“Once they start seeing the training, and if there’s Korean student next to a non-Korean student, you’re sweating the same sweat. […] People are typically afraid of what they don’t understand or what they don’t know.” 

What is the Philippine Arts Council?

What is the Philippine Arts Council?

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 08 2022

         Photo: Jasmine Atay  

The Philippine Arts Council is a non-profit organization based in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s made up of Filipino immigrants and descendants who want to grow the presence of Filipino creatives in Canadian culture. Their projects include cultural events and educational workshops. In 2021, they released a documentary on both the heartwarming and sad survival stories of Filipino immigrants to Canada.  

Filipinos have been in Canada since as early as the 1890s. In the 1960s, Canada received its first major influx of Filipino immigrants. At the time, a points system further opened the country up to skilled newcomers.  

According to the 2016 census, Filipinos are one of the largest visible minority groups here. The government of Canada calls people who are not white or indigenous “a visible minority.” There are over 800 000 people living in Canada who report having Filipino origins. It’s the fastest growing ethnic group in Canada.  

In 2018, the House of Commons unanimously declared June of every year as Filipino Heritage Month across the country. Filipino Heritage Month is meant to officially celebrate and spread awareness of the contributions Filipinos make to Canadian social and cultural life.  

The Philippine Arts Council, however, reflects upon the teachings of Filipino history and culture all year round. The organization provides Filipino immigrants and descendants with a platform to share their work and network with other Canadian-Filipinos. The Philippine Arts Council is an artistic community that keeps the conversation about diversity in Canada alive. 

This year, the Philippine Arts Council presented “The Filipino in Me—Insights into Living Heritage” for Filipino Heritage Month. “The Filipino in Me” is a public online exhibit that explores Philippine living heritage in Canada through multimedia works. Various themes cut across the creations showcased. Check out the gallery here. You’ll see everything from naturally-sourced jewelry crafted by Filipino artisans to folklore-inspired traditional food. ​ 

Jasmine is a digital self-portrait of second generation Filipino/Turkish Albertan artist Jasmine Atay. She incorporated jasmine flowers into her design to represent both her name and the national flower of the Philippines. Her work appeared in the “The Filipino Living in Me” exhibit from the Philippine Arts Council. In case you want to see more of Jasmine Atay’s work you can visit her at  

The Philippine Arts Council offers memberships for those who wish to support their work. For anyone struggling to obtain residency in Canada, the organization suggests reading Domestically Yours. A Caregiver’s Inspiring Journey by Annie Chua. It’s a book about a mother who left the Philippines to work and make money as a nanny in Fort McMurray, Alberta. She encountered homesickness and culture shock like so many newcomers do. But she overcame her hurdles. Chua is now a proud Canadian citizen who wishes to inspire you with her story.  

A 2018 study says Filipinos are “hospitable, amiable, and resilient” because of the values they hold. Some of these values include pakikisama (to get along with), pagkakabigan (friendship), and utang na loob (feeling grateful). You can say the efforts made by the Philippine Arts Council to honour their heritage outside of the Philippines is an expression of utang na loob.  

Canadian diversity and theatre culture

Canadian diversity and theatre culture

By: Elie Ngoy

Published on: September 07 2022

Photo: Ludovic Migneault (Unsplash)  

Performing arts and theatre culture have always been a pillar of Canadian culture. In historical terms, many indigenous peoples performed rituals and dramas as part of sacred ceremonies and traditions. These dramas and rituals were performed hundreds of years before the European settlers arrived.  

European theatre came to Canada with Sir Humphrey Gilbert and “a little company of mummers” in 1583. This set the tone for the rich theatre culture that defines Canadian culture today. At the time of this venture, the protestant and catholic churches were not fully supporting the theatre trend, likening the entertainment to brothels.  

However, as norms began to change, theatre culture grew and expanded into central and Atlantic Canada. Plays became a prominent form of entertainment, and they were performed anywhere they could be set up, such as in local taverns and pubs. It was not the norm to cast females at the time, so male actors performed many original plays.  

In 1789, significant steps towards mainstream growth began with soldiers in Halifax building the famous Grand Theatre, and it officially opened with a production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. After its initial successes, more theatres would be built across Canada.  

The first theatre built for the public in Canada was the Theatre Royal in Montréal, Canada. Many of the first professional theatre companies that began touring in Canada performed at this location—paving the way for Canadian cinema, drama, and performing arts as a significant symbol of Canada.  

Fast forward to today, theatre culture has played an enormous role in the life of Canadians, and it has allowed us to celebrate our great diversity. In various cities such as Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, London, and Vancouver, theatres solely dedicated to the development of pieces by and about Canada’s diverse cultural population were established, such as Black Theatre Workshop (1972), Teesri Duniya Theatre (1981), Cahoots Theatre Projects (1986), Obsidian Theatre Company (2000), fu-GEN Asian-Canadian Theatre Company (2002), and  Neworld Theatre (1994). Visible minorities finally had a new and empowered outlet to tell their stories through the artistic opportunities of the creative arts. This latest push for diversity also allowed Canadian theatre to develop many new forms, styles, and reports that were unlike the conventional European works of Shakespeare.  

Photo: Robin Gislain Gessy (Unsplash)  

One of the richest forms of Canadian theatre is the works of First Nations Theatre—which has managed to reach a broad audience throughout the country. Tomson Highway, Monique Mojica, and Daniel David Moses are some of the great pioneers and ambassadors of First Nations theatre, and they have helped this form of theatre to grow throughout the country. 

In Canada, we also have a rich indie theatre culture. Numerous graduates around the country have opened up workshops and theatre companies with the exclusive mandates of championing inclusiveness and diversity. You can find these works at the local university theatres that often have played with free admission or a low cost of entry, a perfect family outing!  

To experience the great culture of Canadian theatre, please visit your local theatre and support the work of local artists, directors, and playwrights. Here are a few theatres throughout various cities for all those who may be interested:  

Theatre is a fantastic way to learn about Canadian culture and diversity. Not only is it a unique opportunity to spend with friends and family, but it is a pathway to understanding a lost art in the generation of on-demand cinema and digital video. Many playwrights and actors/actresses may work year-round to prepare for complex productions; this is also a fantastic opportunity to show support for your newfound community!  

Punjabi Sikhs in Brampton

Punjabi Sikhs in Brampton

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: September 07 2022

Photo: (Freepik) 

Brampton is a large suburban city in the province of Ontario. The 2021 census tells us Brampton is home to 656 480 people. Sikhs make up roughly 20 per cent of the city’s total population.  

I’ve lived in Brampton all my life. As a Canadian born of Indian descent, I’m interested in how my hometown has changed over the years. Brampton’s ongoing influx of Punjabi Sikh immigrants has changed the way the city looks and feels. Here, there are Indian sweet shops and grocery stores, traditional clothing boutiques, religious temples, and Punjabi language speakers on almost every street corner. In a sense, Punjabi newcomers from India aren’t too far from home in Brampton.  

One thing to note: not all Punjabis are Sikhs and not all Sikhs are Punjabis. Punjab is a cultural region that was split up during the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Punjabi is the language of this region now in both countries. To be Punjabi is to be part of an ethnic group—not a religious one. My Christian parents, for example, are Punjabi people who natively speak Punjabi because they grew up in Lahore. Lahore is the capital city of the Punjab province in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Guru Nanak founded Sikhism around 500 years ago in a village near Lahore.  

The first Sikhs 

The story of Sikhs in Brampton begins with the first settlement of Sikhs in British Columbia. As part of the British Hong Kong army, Sikh soldiers living under Crown rule travelled to Canada in the early 1900s. The army came to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and Albert Edward’s coronation. The soldiers would return home to India with tales of this promising new world called Canada. Inspired by what they heard, the first Sikh immigrants arrived in British Columbia between 1902 and 1904.  

By 1908, before the Canadian government banned South Asian immigration, a Sikh community of nearly 5 000 immigrants had been established. Canada’s immigration rules relaxed after the end of World War II.  

Currently, Brampton has one of the largest Punjabi Sikh populations outside of India. Sheridan College’s Davis Campus on McLaughlin Road illustrates this fact. International students account for 30 per cent of the school’s overall population. Of that 30 per cent, around 65 per cent are from India. The Davis campus offers multiple student services in Punjabi.  

A Punjabi Sikh learner and their family back home will sell off assets and land to fund the trip to Brampton. To them, schooling in the city means consequential work opportunities and potentially Canadian citizenship at last.  

Sikhs contribute greatly to the city’s economic and social development. According to their religion, Sikhs must earn honest livings and serve others without reward. Guru Nanak saw mankind as one whole. Therefore, he teaches his followers to work practically towards a universal human society.   

Many Sikhs in Brampton today are municipal politicians, real estate agents, small business owners, truck drivers, healthcare providers, and farm workers.   

The Khalsa Sikhs 

We recognize Sikhs by what they wear. Some Sikhs wear turbans to maintain their hair. In a practice known as kesh, Sikhs let their hair grow long without ever cutting it. Kesh is to show respect for the Creator God in the Sikh religion (Waheguru). You might even notice that almost all the Sikhs you meet and know wear a plain iron bangle, or a kara. The kara visually reminds Sikhs to stay committed to their community and the eternity of Waheguru.  

When Sikhs are old enough to seriously understand the teachings of their gurus, a small number of them might get baptized. Baptized Sikhs become members of a special group called the Khalsa. They not only wear kesh and the kara, but also the kaccha, kanga, and kirpan. The kaccha is cotton underwear that represents the virtue of self-control against unmarried sex. The kanga is a comb that Khalsa Sikhs use to brush their hair with twice a day. The kirpan is a medium-sized knife that they always carry to show their defensive concern for the weak, poor, and oppressed.  

Together, the kesh, kara, kaccha, kanga, and kirpan are called the “Five K’s” of Sikhism.  

The troubled Sikhs 

Sikhs have had their fair share of challenges in Brampton. In December of 1988, the Peel board of education classified the kirpan as a weapon rather than a symbol of faith. A few months later, Sikh teenager Sukhdev Singh Hundal was suspended from Central Peel Secondary School for wearing a kirpan on school grounds.  

Soon after the Peel Board’s decision, Harbhajan Singh Pandori, a supply teacher at Hundal’s high school, stopped teaching.  

Sikhs believe in putting up a righteous fight. When they couldn’t wear kirpans in the classroom, Pandori filed a complaint with the human rights commission. He argued that Sikhs were being discriminated against for exercising the practices demanded by their religion. Freedom of religious expression is a constitutionally protected right in Canada. In the summer of 1990, an Ontario judge ruled that kirpans could be worn in Peel schools.   

A recent example of the Sikh community’s negative experiences in Brampton takes place in 2014. That year a flyer targeting mass immigration was distributed throughout the city. The flyer showed a photo of Sikhs in traditional garb under a photo of white people from the distant past. It asks: “Is this really what you want?” with “this” being a mostly brown Brampton.  

Brampton has gained a reputation for being a “ghetto.” Punjabi immigrants can get by without learning or speaking English. The city has high car insurance rates because of new driver crashes and fake claims. Sikh human-trafficking gangs are on the rise. Cash-strapped international students live in overcrowded illegal basement units. Most retail businesses pander to South Asian tastes and holidays. Non-white residents are choosing to leave because of the growing divide between brown people and everyone else.  

Some Sikhs in Brampton also support the Khalistan movement. They want an independent country for Sikhs to be made from the north Indian Punjab state.  

It’s not unusual to see large stickers of guns and Jarnail Singh plastered on the rear car windows of young Sikh newcomers. Jarnail Singh was a Sikh militant. He violently campaigned for a separate Sikh homeland throughout the late 70s and early 80s.   

The Indian government has formally raised concerns over Khalistani elements in Canada. In March of 2021, pro-Khalistanis attacked participants in a Brampton rally organized by Canadian Indians calling for stronger India-Canada ties. Earlier this year, Deepak Punj, the Hindu host of a Punjabi-language radio show in Brampton, was physically assaulted near his studio for criticizing the anti-India sentiment of the Khalistan movement. The city, in this way, has become a hostile place.   

The question arises: how will Brampton’s race-related success and social turmoil play out? Punjabi Sikh immigration clearly lays the groundwork for the city’s future.   

Racial discrimination and diversity in Canada

Racial discrimination and diversity in Canada  

By: Elie Ngoy

Published on: September 6 2022

Photo: John Schaidler (Unsplash)  

Diversity has played a significant part in shaping Canada’s history. Canada has the greatest proportion of foreign-born citizens of any G8 country. With approximately 401 000 entrants joining the nation in 2021, Canada will have embraced a historic number of immigrants since 1913. By welcoming immigrants, Canada has established a community of various languages, cultures, and faiths. 

The diversity of Canada’s populace is predicted to grow much more, particularly in big urban areas. According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, 25 to 28 per cent of people will be foreign-born, and 29 to 32 per cent will be members of a visible minority group. Visible minorities are predicted to make up 63 per cent of the demographic in Toronto, 59 per cent in Vancouver, and 31 per cent in Montréal.  

There are robust human rights laws and institutions in Canada to combat prejudice. However, there is also a history of racism, especially against Aboriginal people, but also against African, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Jewish, and Muslim Canadians. This legacy continues to impact our institutions and structures, hurting the lives of racial minorities and all Canadians. 

Photo: Jason Hafso (Unsplash)  

What the numbers say 

The 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety found that discrimination was much more prevalent among Indigenous peoples than non-Indigenous or non-visible minority peoples (33 per cent versus 16 per cent).  

More precisely, 44 per cent of First Nations people, 24 per cent of Métis, and 29 per cent of Inuit had experienced prejudice in the five years before the study.  

According to GSS data, a much larger percentage of Black persons reported prejudice in 2019 than in 2014 (46 per cent versus 28 per cent).  

Four in ten (41 per cent) of all Black people have experienced prejudice based on their race or skin colour, which is around 15 times greater than the percentage of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority individuals (three per cent) 

Among those who encountered bigotry, 21 per cent of Indigenous people and 16 per cent of Black people stated it occurred while interacting with police, compared to four per cent of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority individuals. 

How do you address racism and xenophobia? 

The issue of racism in Canada is deep-rooted but has improved over time. To effectively address racism, it is essential to understand the situation, where it comes from, and how it affects our lives. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Canadian identity, and though the plague of racism has hampered us, the improvements have been steady.   

The government of Canada has spent many years building a consensus foundation for change, which has required it to acknowledge its shortcomings as well. Many newcomers are from communities that face deep systemic racism and discrimination in our country. Recent events, such as the truck attack in London, Ontario, have shown that even here in Canada, no community is safe from hateful rhetoric.  

Over the years, the Canadian government has begun to apply an intersectional lens on the issue, allowing us to see how deep this issue goes correctly. Between 2018 and 2019, the government held engagement sessions across the country to gather input from all Canadians, including newcomers, to assist in forming a new anti-racism development strategy. 

Psychological research shows that racist attitudes are learned. Much work is still left to be done to assist those in need of support. How can you deal with racism in your new communities?  

Here are some suggestions:  

  • Stay calm and react calmly 

It’s okay to show that you are uncomfortable and disapprove of how you have been treated — people must know that they have hurt you. Always feel free to convey your feelings and question their use of words and actions. Never try to get triggered—stay calm and let it go.  

  • React towards the issue, not the person 

Racism says a lot about how a person was raised, where they attended school, status, and what influences they had as a child. Avoid confrontation and be attentive to the words you hear.  

  • Be the opposite  

When they go low, we go high. When confronted with racism or xenophobic remarks, sometimes the best thing to do is be the bigger person. This can mean anything from not responding to attacks on you, not giving the same reaction, or remaining cheerful as they spew negativity. This can be a great learning moment if they are willing to listen 

  • Expect ignorance  

As a newcomer, you must know that Canada is a culture of many races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Many Canadians may not know much about where you come from, your country, or what language you speak. To save yourself the stress, it is best to assume that there is a chance you may be mistreated.  

  • Do not be afraid to engage the authorities.  

If you have been a victim of unwarranted racial abuse or xenophobic attacks, you are well within your rights to get the police or authorities at work involved. Do not be afraid to speak up when you are wrong; it is your right, and you should do so. As a newcomer, you deserve to feel safe in your new country. 

  • Be kind.  

Sometimes being kind is the most fantastic way to combat evil. Please treat everyone with respect and do not feel like you owe anyone a reaction or anything. It’s highly possible, and it’s expected that you would want to speak out, be upset, and maybe even lash out. However, do not give attention to the things that do not serve you in the long run. Some individuals are highly committed to misunderstanding you, and that’s a significant issue. 

You are not obligated to endure any type of harassment. If you have encountered racism and bigotry, you should take the following steps. You could wish to communicate with the individual if you feel comfortable doing so. If you do not feel comfortable facing the individual, talk with someone in charge, such as a supervisor. If you are in urgent bodily danger, dial 911. 

If this occurs at work, you should talk to your boss or the Human Resource manager about it. If this occurred at the workplace, when you were accessing services, or if you suspect it was a hate crime, you should report it to The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). You might call the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth if someone committed a racist act towards your kid or if it happened at their school. 

If you have encountered racism and bigotry, you may wish to seek help from others. Racism and bigotry are seldom isolated incidents, and many individuals in your community can assist you in adjusting, feeling secure, and speaking out against racism in Canada. Canada is and will always remain a country that welcomes others. It is a beautiful land where dreams come true. 

How to accept your LGBTQ2S+ identity after leaving a homophobic country

How to accept your LGBTQ2S+ identity after leaving a homophobic country

By: Callum Denault

Published on: September 5, 2022

Photo: Karolina Grabowska (Pexels)

“It is absolutely imperative that every human being’s freedom and human rights are respected, all over the world.” These are the words of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the first world leader who is openly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and/or Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+). While Canadian values stand for equity and inclusion for all, some parts of the world are intolerant of the LGBTQ2S+.

Out of the roughly 195 countries in the whole world, 88 at least partially support same-sex marriage, and 24 have fully legalized it. Unfortunately, it is illegal in 72 countries. The LGBTQ2S+ community is intersectional, meaning members of the community can also belong to a racial minority, have a disability, or be migrants. This changes the experiences of each member of the community. For example, a black, trans woman could experience a different type and increased amount of discrimination than a white, cisgender gay man.

With an estimated 281 million migrants around the world as of 2020, it would only be natural for there to be many people leaving their home countries to move to places that are more accepting of people who are LGBTQ2S+.

“We have inquiries from all of the most draconian authorities on the planet, so we get lots from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq,” said David LeBlanc, managing director for Ferreira-Wells Immigration Services. Ferreira-Wells specializes in helping LGBTQ2S+ newcomers and refugees.

LeBlanc added in many of the countries his organization gets inquiries from, people risk being hurt or even killed for their identities.

Internalized homophobia and how to stop living in denial

Internalized homophobia is when bisexuals, lesbians, gay men, and other members of the LGBTQ2S+ harbour negative beliefs and attitudes towards their community. Society in general is heteronormative, meaning there is an expectation everyone is or should be straight and cisgender.

Signs of internalized homophobia include wishing to not be attracted to certain genders, feeling shame about one’s identity, trying to “pass” as straight and cisgender, as well as distancing oneself from people who are openly part of the LGBTQ2S+.

Growing up in conservative, homophobic communities, not seeing positive examples of LGBTQ2S+ people in media, and lacking a strong support system, are all factors that lead to internal homophobia.

Internalized homophobia increases your risk of mental health issues and relationship problems. People who are afraid of asking for help—including those worried about the stereotype that the LGBTQ2S+ are sexually promiscuous—also risk suffering from sexually transmitted diseases. One way of handling internalized homophobia is by challenging harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ2S+.

Photo: FransA (Pexels)

Accepting yourself as a newcomer from a homophobic country

Ray Carino is a volunteer executive board secretary with the Asian Community AIDS Service (ACAS), a charity which helps East and Southeast Asians in Canada who are members of the LGBTQ2S+ and/or have HIV/AIDS. Carino works as a corporate analyst for Rogers, and he is also a gay man from the Philippines.

The Philippines has an anti-discrimination bill which would prevent prejudice against people on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity, but it has yet to be passed

“It hasn’t been passed by the congress because most of the congress people are homophobic,” Carino said.

“They don’t understand that people who identify as a queer person need this bill turned into law. There is nothing that protects queer people in the Philippines.”

Carino’s mother arrived to Canada before he did, having worked in the Middle East before transferring with her employer to a position in Canada. She sponsored Carino and his sister to arrive in 2011. A community organization in Ottawa received Carino and his sister along with other recent immigrants. While the two of them did get informed about various organizations that help families, they were not told about any LGBTQ2S+ supports.

The town Carino is from—Urbiztondo, in the Pangasinan province—is six hours away from the Filipino capital of Manila. He said while there are more resources for the LGBTQ2S+ and people with HIV in areas surrounding Manila, the outer parts of the Philippines lack both resources and education.

“Sex education is next to none in the Philippines,” said Carino, referring to the country’s outer areas such as Pangasinan.

After spending two years in Ottawa, Carino moved to Toronto and found ACAS through independent research while looking for a charity that can help LGBTQ2S+ people from Southeast Asia. Speaking English as a second language, ACAS helped provide Carino with services in his native tongue. 

ACAS offers services in nine languages other than English. These are: Filipino, Viet, Chinese, Korean, Malay, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, and Laotian.

“Coming out to myself was exhausting,” said Carino, adding he educated himself upon arriving in Canada. Seeking aid from charities like ACAS helped the process.

He advised that other LGBTQ2S+ immigrants who are not ready to come out to their friends and family do come out to one person they can trust.

“I’ll use my gut feelings. If I’m friends with someone, I will know way more than what their family knows about them. Always hanging out with them and sharing ideas or your feelings with them will make you know that you’re ready to tell that person.”

Helping as an LGBTQ2S+ ally

There are ways for allies of the LGBTQ2S+ community to help LGBTQ2S+ refugees make their way safely into Canada. 

Collaborations between organizations that support the LGBTQ2S+ and immigrants can help reduce discrimination against members of both communities. Programs that increase healthcare access for immigrants and cultural competency training for healthcare providers can also improve the lives of newcomers from diverse backgrounds. Along these lines, the UNHRC has a checklist for providing aid to refugees from LGBTQ2S+ backgrounds.

LeBlanc said Ferreira-Wells is working with a Syrian national who has “quasi-status” in Turkey. LeBlanc requested the young man’s name be changed in this article to protect his identity, so he will be referred to as “Mohammed.”

Mohammed is living in Turkey after his father outed him as gay to the authorities. If he is deported back to Syria he risks being executed. Mohammed needs to walk into a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) office in order to get refugee status, but the Turkish authorities do not allow people from certain countries to enter the UNHRC building. 

Despite not seeming to want him in Turkey, the Turkish authorities also beat Mohammed as punishment for his failed attempt to illegally emigrate into Greece. LeBlanc attributed this to “cruel bones and intentions.”

Without refugee status, Mohammed has to apply to immigrate to Canada through a point-based merit system. LeBlanc said “young, single males that have limited education [and] limited travel” are flagged by an artificial intelligence—including Chinook—so someone can later deny the applicant entry. Other Western nations like the United Kingdom have similar point-based merit systems that would not accept Mohammed.

“Here’s a young man who is 21,” said LeBlanc. “He has the ability to be saved. But the whole system is engineered against him, and time is not on his side.”

LeBlanc said he “begged” a director from End of the Rainbow in Calgary to form a tenuous connection with Mohammed, which the director was able to do. He said this connection is rare, because organizations like the Rainbow Railroad that rescue LGBTQ2S+ people from homophobic countries are severely underfunded and lack public support.

“They’re overwhelmed with requests and they don’t have time to respond,” said LeBlanc, later adding, “I wish someone would swoop in and give money to them the same way they do to museums and public institutions.”

There are several charities that help members of the LGBTQ2S+ living in discriminatory countries emigrate to Canada, including the Rainbow RailroadEnd of the Rainbow, and The 519. See these lists for more LGBTQ2S+ charities in Toronto and Canada, if you need help or wish to donate to the cause. 

Citizens, permanent residents, and people registered under the Indian Act can sponsor a family member to come live in Canada. You can also sponsor refugees through certain community organizations

What are land acknowledgements and why are they important?

What are land acknowledgements and why are they important?

By: Anson Wong

Published on: September 2, 2022

Photo: Jared VanderMeer (Pexels) 

Land acknowledgements are a common way to acknowledge Canada’s history. They validate the groups that came before and the abuse they have endured. Government attempts like residential schools stripped Indigenous youth of their culture and heritage. 

Residential schools exposed its students to all manner of physical and sexual abuse. The effects left a legacy of post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, and substance abuse problems. Generations today continue to deal with the trauma inflicted from these schools.

Remembering these moments in history is important in ensuring the same acts do not happen again. Acknowledging the land we inhabit means honouring the many first nation groups that continue to struggle to this day.

The City of Toronto acknowledges that land traditionally belonged to many nations, including  Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. These acknowledgments give credibility to territory taken by the government. Other websites like Native-Land create digital borders to inform users where traditional territories lay. 

Below is a brief guide on some of the common names referred to in land acknowledgements.


The Mississaugas are a subtribe of the First nations who inhabited the lands north of Lake Superior and around Georgian Bay. The city of Mississauga is named after them. Mississauga is derived from the word Misi-zaagiing in the Anishinaabe language, meaning “[Those at the] Great River Mouth.” 

Today, six first nations make up the Mississauga Nations. They are the Mississauga First Nation, Alderville First Nation, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) continue to celebrate their heritage, including multiple events that celebrate their history. 


Anishinaabe is the term for a person that is part of a group of culturally related indigenous peoples from the surrounding area of the Great Lakes. The Anishinaabe hold a variety of art styles, including birchbark, ash baskets, and boxes. Much of this art is still created today with talented Anishinaabe artists such as Frank Shebageget, Robert Houle, Bonnie Devine, and Katheryn Wabegijig carrying the legacy.

Anishinaabe is the spelling of Ojibwe, and a common misconception is that the term is synonymous with Ojibwe. Anishnabeg is the plural form of Anishinaabe and is used to refer to the people. This term for example is used by the City of Toronto in their land acknowledgement.


The Chippewa are another group of Anishinaabe people who reside in southern Canada and the northern Midwestern United States. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa, and Saulteaux. Much of the knowledge known to the Chippewa was recorded in birch bark scrolls and rock carvings, which was a common practice. Many efforts are made today to restore their culture, including cuisine. Traditional ingredients such as maize, fish, corn, and more are being examined to preserve the diet before colonial times.


You may recognize Haudenosaunee under another term, Iroquois, which the French referred to them during colonial rule. The English called them the Five Nations as they comprise of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. Haudenosaunee is a recognized confederacy of First Nations people by both the Canadian and United States governments. Every year, Haudenosaunee celebrate 13 ceremonies relating to the lunar calendar. 

The Haudenosaunee produced artworks through bowls, pottery, and clay. Their designs resembled human and animal imagery among others. The Haudenosaunee founded lacrosse, which was a sport played among clans. The goal was to carry or throw a deer-skin ball to a goal post using netted sticks. Today, lacrosse is famous worldwide but the sport has its origins as practiced by the First Nations.

Wendat Peoples

The Wendat Peoples referred to four major tribes: People of the Bear, People of the Cord, People of the Rock, and People of the Deer. The Wendat held a gender specific culture where men hunted and went to war while women made clothes, cooked, and raised children. Traditionally their territory occupied much of the north shores on Lake Ontario and southeastern shores of Georgian Bay. The Wendat people used birchbark canoes to travel throughout the lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

Self-employment as an opportunity

Self-employment as an opportunity

By: Elie Ngoy

Published on: August 23, 2022

An ageing population and declining fertility rates in Canada mean newcomers are critical to economic development and growth. However, despite this predicament, many newcomers cannot use the same skills that may have been a ticket to their arrival in Canada.

Photo: Mike Petrucci (Unsplash)

Newcomers have played a significant role in where Canada is today. The contributions of newcomers have significantly strengthened our labour force, allowing us to integrate new life into our economy as our population ages. Canada has also introduced pioneering programs such as the “Express Entry program, ” which has allowed Canada to recruit computer programmers, accountants, lawyers, software engineers, and other top professionals. All newcomers will become tax-paying citizens, valuable contributors, and skilled assets. Not solely have newcomers been a great asset to our economy, but Immigrants have also played significant roles within our communities. One-third of Immigrants in Canada have volunteered, and over two-thirds are part of social organizations.

Newcomers also played a massive role during the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked as front-line workers that kept Canadians fed throughout the country, were local nurses and healthcare aids at health facilities in our cities, and worked in farms and factories that kept our economy running. Through their efforts, domestic and international trade was possible, and province-to province labour sharing was achievable, which fixed logistical issues in our trucking industry. They often worked in jobs that no one else wanted.

Immigrants generally have higher levels of education when arriving in Canada, but they are highly underrepresented regarding formal employment and pay. One strong example is foreign-trained medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who often face complicated systemic barriers to being able to practice here.

Many newcomers are turning to entrepreneurship and self-employment to deal with the employment and income gap. For many, this is out of necessity due to a significant shortage of suitable labor opportunities within the market.

Canada has taken steps within the last few years to make self-employment accessibility more straightforward for those who want to move to Canada as self-employed individuals or possibly start businesses while settling inCanada as newcomers.

The Self-employed Persons Program allows people to immigrate to Canada permanently as self-employed persons. There are some requirements to the program that may not make it suitable for all, but for the individuals that do qualify, here are the requirements:

While this is a great option, the selection criteria might not work in everyone’s favor; this means that many will be left out and won’t be able to participate—creating another loophole for newcomers who already have enough barriers toleap through. This criterion includes: 

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Age
  • Language abilities
  • Adaptability

You must also show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada, which is mandatory. has a self-employment pathway for Newcomers. It is an innovative three-phase program currently being delivered online. The program will allow newcomers to learn about starting a new business in Canada and provide access to resources for them.

The program will take you through the legalities of starting a new business, forming a structure, and registering. It also teaches newcomers about taxation and accessing small business financing.

The program also assists you in assessing your business concept, market opportunity, and where to obtain a local mentorship program.

To be eligible for this program, you must meet one of the requirements:

  • Permanent residency or a pending application for permanent residence with a letter from the IRCC informing them their application for landing has been approved
  • Convention refugees
  • Live-in caregivers
  • CLB Level 5 minimum

Canada is a country of many opportunities and great wealth, and everyone has an excellent chance to succeed and live the Canadian dream.

These are just some of the many options for newcomers interested in self-employment!

Gaining social confidence through Toastmasters

Gaining social confidence through Toastmasters

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: August 22, 2022

Photo: Fauxels (Pexel)

People who host big formal dinner parties were once was known as “toastmasters.” Today, the old American term has taken on new meaning in the world of public speaking—particularly for newcomers.  

What is Toastmasters?

Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organization with over 15 000 speaking clubs across the world. Since 1924, the organization has helped people become strong communicators and leaders. When a person joins a Toastmasters speaking club, they become a member. 

Members aren’t trained to become traditional toastmasters who preside at events or anything. Instead, verbal exercises teach members to communicate more effectively, for success in presentation speeches, the workplace, and personal interactions. 

Club meetings are essentially “learn-by-doing” workshops. Learn-by-doing is a teaching method that suggests people learn better and faster when they study something through their own actions. Rather than just listening to lectures, reading instructions, or observing other people’s work, learn-by-doing is based on hands-on experience and performance.

Let’s say you want to play a musical instrument. To learn the instrument, you must physically engage with it. You must discover where its sounds come from and how to make them by using your own senses. You learn by “doing” instead of simply watching or listening to someone play the instrument you yourself want to play. 

In a Toastmasters meeting, members learn how to speak in front of people by delivering preprepared speeches on various topics. Workshop meetings get more challenging as they go on. Members must adapt to those challenges in order to continue learning through action. The end goal is for members to stand before their clubmates and talk for four to six minutes straight.  

How does Toastmasters help newcomers with limited English?

Toastmasters welcomes people from diverse backgrounds. For limited-English speaking immigrants to Canada, Toastmasters isn’t going to teach you the English language. But speaking clubs are great spaces for English speaking practice. That is, to apply your language learning. Learn by doing!

Members write their speeches before meetings. Knowing what you’re going to say cuts the nervousness of communicating your ideas to others in half. After written preparation, members make their speeches with a focus on vocal delivery. Some aspects of vocal delivery are articulation, pronunciation, and fluency.  

Publicly speaking in a language that you don’t yet completely understand can be scary. The good news is that you can grow your English communication skills at your own pace with Toastmasters. You don’t even have to say anything in your first meeting. You can just watch and listen. Share any questions or concerns about participation that you might have with the club officer afterwards. The club officer will most likely encourage you on your path to strong speaking abilities. A couple of Toastmasters’ core values are service and excellence.   

Clubmates give each other respectful feedback on what they do well when speech-making and how to improve. Mentors are also available to guide newcomers in meeting their unique goals. One goal could be to feel more confident about job interviews. Another might be to simply feel comfortable carrying out everyday conversations with strangers in a new location. 

Why is Toastmasters a good way to make friends?

With the common interest to connect with others through speech, members compassionately support each other in Toastmasters meetings, creating a community-like environment.  

Case in point: Toastmasters’ Acting International President, Richard E. Peck, felt immediately welcomed when he attended his first meeting in 2006.

In a recent article for Toastmasters magazine, he wrote: “People initially join to learn something, to grow, and to improve themselves. And that takes not only a willingness from within to be vulnerable but also positive support and encouragement from others. I think that’s why so many of us have forged such deep bonds with each other.”

For stories about friendships made through Toastmasters, click here.

If interested, take your time in finding a club that best works for you. Start to build a social circle wherein you feel at home in this country with Toastmasters. 

Due to pandemic uncertainty, most meetings are currently held online. The cost of membership is $45 every six months with a one-time new member fee of $20.