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Archive for June, 2011

CANADA DAY QUIZ

Posted by strattof on June 30, 2011

Answers below

 1. What historically important event took place in Regina on July 1 1935?

2. What is the longest war Canada has ever been engaged in?

a) World War I          b) World War II          c) Afghanistan

3. Children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children.

True or False

4. How many Canadian children live in poverty?

a) 50,000-100,000     b) 200,000-300,000     c) 600,000-700,000

5. How much is the war in Libya costing Canadian taxpayers?

6. Over 90% of Canadians believe nobody in the country should be homeless.

True or False

7. How may affordable housing units could be built with the money the government is going to spend on prisons?

8. On the 2011 Climate Change Performance Index, Canada ranks

a) 7th out of 60                 b) 27th out of 60          c) 57th out of 60

9. The federal government provides an annual subsidy of approximately $1 billion to the tar sands industry.

True or False

10. Who is Abousfian Abdelrazik?

11. Match each quotation with its author:

a) Be the change you want to see in the world.

b) You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.

c) War cannot be humanized; it can only be abolished.

d) When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

e) Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

i) Albert Einstein   ii) Michael Franti   iii) Jimi Hendrix  iv) Martin Luther King   v) Mahatma Gandhi         

12. How do you stop strips of Canadian bacon from curling in the frying pan?

QUIZ ANSWERS

1. The Regina Riot: The riot began when the Regina police and the RCMP charged a crowd made up mainly of Regina citizens who had come out to show their support for the On-To-Ottawa Trekkers, unemployed single men who had ridden box cars from Vancouver, determined to take their demand for real work and fair wages to Ottawa. Charles Millar, an undercover policeman was killed in the riot, and Nick Schaack, a Trekker, died later in hospital from head injuries. The police denied any Trekkers had been killed. Schaack was buried in an unmarked grave in the Regina Cemetery. Tomorrow, Friday July 1, at 11 am, there will be an unveiling of a commemorative headstone for Nick Schaack at the Regina Cemetery (corner of 4th Avenue and Broad Street). Everyone is welcome.

2. c): The war in Afghanistan is now in its 10th year. By the end of 2011, Canada will have spent $18.5 billion on this war.

3. True: In 1996, the federal government imposed a 2% growth cap on all Indian and Northern Affairs funding. The cap has had a particularly harmful effect on education programs.

4. c): In 1989 the House of Commons unanimously resolved to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000. Today 610,000 children, or nearly 1 in 10, are poor.

5. $60 million, according to Defence Minister Peter MacKay. That’s enough to build 2,609 affordable housing units.

6. True: According to a May 2011 Salvation Army report on homelessness, 93% of Canadians believe nobody in the country should be homeless. 150,000 Canadians are currently experiencing homelessness. 2,686 of them are in Regina.

7. The federal government estimates its “tough on crime” legislation will cost $2.1 billion over 5 years. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the legislation will cost twice as much. That’s enough to build 18,260 affordable housing units.  Crime rates have been falling in Canada since 1991.

8. c) Canada is one of the top ten CO2 emitters in the world.

9. True: Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. 

10. Abousfian Abdelrazik is the only Canadian on the UN 1267 “no fly” list, placed there at the request of the US. The list imposes sanctions that prevent Mr. Abdelrazik from earning a salary, receiving gifts or loans of money, or maintaining a bank account. CSIS and the RCMP have cleared Mr Abdelrazik of all criminal activity. He has never been charged with anything.

11. a) Mahatma Gandhi  b) Michael Franti  c) Albert Einstein  d) Jimi Hendrix  e) Martin Luther King

12. Take away their tiny brooms.

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MAKING PEACE VIGIL SUPPORTS THE RED TENT CAMPAIGN

Posted by strattof on June 27, 2011

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HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on June 23, 2011

Housing in Regina continues to be in crisis. Rents have skyrocketed and apartments have become very difficult to find. The economy and population of the City have expanded while housing has become less affordable. Those on low and fixed incomes and newcomers to Regina are hit the hardest.  

REGINA HOUSING: KEY FACTS

  • Only 74 vacant apartments.  Regina’s apartment vacancy rate was 0.7% in April 2011 and has remained at or below 1% for several years. In April, there were only 74 vacant apartments in the city. 
  •  Decline in apartments.  In April 2011 there were 10,884 apartments in Regina. That’s a decline of over 500 apartments from April 2008. The conversion of existing apartments to condominiums continues and few new rental units have been constructed. And that’s during a time Regina’s population has increased by over 10,000 people.  
  •  45% rent increase in just over four years.  Average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment increased to $897 in April 2011. That’s up from $858 a year earlier – a 4.5% increase in one year. And since October 2006, monthly rent has increased by $278 – a 45% increase.  
  •  Unaffordable housing.  Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported a 17% decline in affordability in 2010. According to CMHC, the cost of renting a medium priced two-bedroom apartment climbed 15.5% in 2010, while the average income of renter households fell by 4.9 %.
  •  Substandard housing.  In 2006, 8% of Regina dwellings were in need of major repairs. In the central area of the city 15% were substandard.  

Those affected most by rent increases and limited apartment availability include seniors on fixed incomes, single parents, young people looking for jobs, newcomers to the city, adults working at low wage jobs, students, and individuals with physical or mental health issues.  While there’s lots of construction activity in Regina, very little of it is devoted to building housing that is affordable for low and middle income individuals and families.    

HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA: KEY FACTS

  • Few homeless people in Regina live on the streets or in parks.  Instead, they couch surf, double-bunk, live in overcrowded conditions, or squat in abandoned buildings. Some even live in tents, garages, and cars. 
  • As many as 3,401 men, women, youth, and families in Regina used one or more of the 19 shelter services during 2010. This represents 1.8% of the city’s population.
  • The average number of beds in city shelters occupied on a daily basis rose from 187 in 2008 to 270 in 2010 – a 44% increase.
  • On average, 22 women and children stayed in shelters for victims of violence each month in 2010. This means that these shelters were generally operating at or above capacity.
  • In 2010, at least 311 youth under age 18 used transitional or emergency shelters. 55% of these were female and 45% were male.

Facts on homeless from Hirsch Greenberg, Rebecca Schiff, Alaina Harrison, and Mark Nelson, Homelessness in Regina: 2010 Report, University of Regina, 2011. To read this important report, google Homelessness in Regina: 2010 Report and click on “The Homeless Hub.”

Red Tent is a national campaign whose goal is to persuade the federal government to enact a funded National Housing Strategy that will end homelessness and ensure secure, adequate, accessible, and affordable housing for all persons living in Canada. Red tents are symbols on the streets and in the media to draw attention to Canada’s homelessness crisis, educate the public about the need for a funded national housing strategy, and mobilize people across the country to pressure government to take action on homelessness.

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL supports the Red Tent campaign by sponsoring two tents. Learn how you can join the Red Tent campaign by going to http://www.redtents.org/

The provincial government can also help solve the housing crisis. Let Premier Brad Wall know you want his government to  

  • Pass rent control legislation
  • Invest in affordable housing

 Send the same message to your MLA.

 Premier Brad Wall: premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-0958

 Ron Harper, Regina Northeast: rharper@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-1887

Bill Hutchinson, Regina South: bhutchinson@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-4983

Dwain.Lingenfelter, Regina Douglas Park: dlingenfelter@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-7388

Warren McCall, Regina Elphinstone: wmccall@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-8276

Sandra Morin, Regina Walsh Acres: smorin@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-6309

John Nilson, Regina Lakeview: jnilson@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0939

Laura Ross, Regina Qu’Appelle Valley: lross@mla.legassembly.sk.ca  or 787-0942

Christine Tell, Regina Wascana Plains: ctell@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 7874300

Kim Trew, Regina Coronation Park: ktrew@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-1898

Trent Wotherspoon, Regina Rosemont: twotherspoon@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0077

Kevin Yates, Regina Dewdney: kyates@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0635

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NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY

Posted by strattof on June 18, 2011

Wednesday June 21st is National Aboriginal Day. First celebrated in 1996, it is a day for all Canadians to recognize the cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and their contributions to Canadian society.

National Aboriginal Day is also a good time to think about the dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism here in Saskatchewan and across Canada, as well as to remember all the treaty promises that were made and have been broken.

All Canadians benefit from the treaties signed between First Nations and the Canadian government. Regina, for example, is situated on land ceded under Treaty 4 in 1874. Under Treaty 4, the Cree and Salteux First Nations relinquished most of current day southern Saskatchewan. In return, they received small parcels of land, as well as long-term government commitments in a number of areas, including education.

First Nations have kept their side of the treaty agreements. The Canadian government, on the other hand, has frequently failed to recognize its treaty commitments. Education, “the new buffalo,” as Blair Stonechild terms it, is one of the areas in which the government has broken its treaty promises.

BROKEN PROMISES: EDUCATION

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1884–1996

Under Treaty 4, the government promised “to maintain a school on the reserve, allotted to each band, as soon as they settle on said reserve.” Instead, the government implemented the genocidal residential school system, with the aim of assimilating First Nations into European-Canadian society–of “killing the Indian in the child.”

Attendance at the schools was compulsory for all children aged 6-15. Parents who failed to send their children willingly had their children taken from them forcibly.

Students were required to live on school premises and most had no contact with their families for up to 10 months at a time and sometimes for years. The attempt to force assimilation also involved punishing the children for speaking their own languages or practising their cultures.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse. As is now well known, many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. A lesser known fact is that the mortality rate at some schools reached 69%–caused by overcrowding, poor food and sanitation, and a lack of medical care. 

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to First Nations for the residential school system.

RESERVE SCHOOLS: 2011

Today, children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children. That’s $3,000 less per child per annum. Only 20 of Saskatchewan’s 142 on-reserve schools are in good condition.

2% CAP

In 1996, the federal government imposed a 2% growth cap on all Indian and Northern Affairs funding. The cap has had a particularly harmful effect on education programs.

  • The 2% cap is the reason that children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children.
  • The 2% cap is the reason that 13,447 First Nations students were denied access to Post-Secondary Education funding between 2001 and 2008. (More students have been denied access every subsequent year.)

THE EDUCATION GAP

  • The high school dropout rate for on-reserve schools across Canada is 50.9%, as compared to an 8.5% dropout rate for all other schools in Canada.
  • The high school graduation rate for on-reserve schools in Saskatchewan is 38%, as compared to 90.5% for schools in the provincial education system.
  • 17% of First Nations have a post-secondary education, as compared to 40% or non-Aboriginal Canadians.

LIFT THE CAP, ELIMINATE THE GAP

Call on the Canadian government 1) to lift the cap on funding for First Nations education and 2) to index increases for First Nations education programs to inflation and population growth, retroactive to 1996, the year the cap was introduced.

“Today, elders say that education, rather than the bison, needs to be relied upon for survival.” —Blair Stonechild, The New Buffalo

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ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK: A CALL FOR SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY

Posted by strattof on June 18, 2011

The name “Maher Arar” is now well-known in Canada. Less familiar is the story of another Canadian–Abousfian Abdelrazik–who was also imprisoned, tortured, and exiled with the complicity of the Canadian government.

Abdelrazik is still not free of the shackles placed on him. For he remains on an international blacklist and continues to live under sanctions that freeze his assets, making it illegal for any Canadian to give him money–whether a gift, loan, or salary.

THE BACKGROUND: PRISONS WITH WALLS

In 2003, Abousfian Abdelrazik travelled from Montreal to Sudan to visit his ailing mother. Once there, he was arrested and imprisoned on the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).  

Never charged, he was threatened, beaten, and tortured during two periods of detention. In this context, he was interrogated by CSIS officials and the FBI. 

Following his release in 2006, Abdelrazik made many attempts to return to Canada. Because his Canadian passport had expired while he was in prison, he needed a travel document. But, even though he had been cleared of all suspicion by CSIS and the RCMP, as well as by Sudan, the Canadian government refused to issue one to him. 

In 2008, afraid of being rearrested, Abdelrazik claimed refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan. He lived in the Embassy for 14 months, unable to leave the grounds, until a Federal Court order, along with public pressure, forced the Canadian government to bring him back to Canada.

THE PRESENT: A PRISON WITHOUT WALLS

Abdelrazik has been back in Canada for two years, but he is still not free as his name is on the UN list of suspected terrorists, placed there in 2006 by the Bush administration. He was not told that he was being placed on the list or why he was on the list and he was given no opportunity to defend himself.

The list, known as the “1267 list,” is not only a no fly list. It also imposes sanctions that prevent listed individuals from earning a salary, receiving gifts or loans of money, or maintaining a bank account. These restrictions make it impossible for Abdelrazik to rebuild his life. So, even though he has never been charged with anything, he continues to live in a prison–now one without walls.

NEWSFLASH

Last week, Mr. Abdelrazik learned that his application for child-benefit payments had been turned down by the Quebec government because his name is on the UN 1267 list. The letter states that he will have to obtain an exemption from the 1267 Committee in order to get the benefits. As Mr. Abdelrazik said, “This is my children’s money. The sanctions don’t just apply to me, they are being applied to my kids as well.” Mr. Abdelrazik is a single parent of two children under age 18. Every other Canadian parent of children under age 18 is entitled to receive child-benefit payments.

THE 1267 LIST: UNJUST AND UNFAIR

“I add my name to those who view the 1267 Committee regime as a denial of basic legal remedies and as untenable under the principles of international human rights. There is nothing in the listing and de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness….It can hardly be said that the 1267 Committee process meets the requirement of independence and impartiality when, as appears may be the case involving Mr. Abdelrazik, the nation requesting the listing is one of the members of the body that decides whether to list, or equally as important, to de-list a person. The accuser is also the Judge.”  –Canadian Court Justice Russel Zinn, 4 June 2009

GETTING ABDELRAZIK OFF THE 1267 LIST

In January 2011, Abdelrazik submitted a delisting application to the 1267 Committee through the ombudsperson. Crucial to the success of Abdelrazik’s application is public support for his delisting and public exposure of the injustice and unfairness of the 1267 regime.

Project Fly Home, a grassroots organization, is calling on all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness to join a solidarity effort to get Abdelrazik off the 1267 list. Here is what we can do

  • We can call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Leader of the Opposition, Jack Layton 1) to lift the sanctions from Mr. Abdelrazik in Canada; and 2) to contact the embassies of all United Nations Security Council members to inform them that Mr. Abdelrazik’s removal from the 1267 list is a diplomatic priority for Canada. Here are some of the reasons we might give them: 1) The 1267 list violates rights to liberty, security, and freedom of association. 2) Without trial, charge, or evidence, the 1267 list strips people of their liberty. 3) The 1267 list violates the most fundamental human rights. 4) CSIS and the RCMP cleared Abousfian Abdelrazik of any criminal activity in November 2007.

To help convince Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton, email them the backgrounder on the 1267 list: www.peooplescommission.org/en/1267.php

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

NDP Leader, Jack Layton: Layton.J@parl.gc.ca or 416-405-8914

  • We can join the Abdelrazik-Project Fly Home Facebook group. It is a way to deliberately and publically associate with Abdelrazik, as well as to keep in touch with the campaign to get him delisted. 

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WATER: CHERISH EVERY DROP!

Posted by strattof on June 2, 2011

Water is the gift of life, the essence of life. Every organism needs water to survive.

We cannot live without clean water to drink.

We cannot eat without water to grow our food.

Our bodies are about 60% water.

The water we drink may have circulated through an ancient forest, through Gandhi or a polar bear.

Water connects each one of us with the whole world, with all living beings, past, present, and future, with earth and sky.

WATER CRISIS

The perception that Canada has an unlimited supply of water is false. According to a 2010 Statistics Canada study, the water supply in southern Canada, where 98% of the population lives, fell by 8.5% from 1971-2005.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO CANADA’S WATER?

  • The Alberta tar sands (soon coming to Saskatchewan) are the single biggest contributor to water loss and contamination in Canada. It takes up to 5 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. Much of this water cannot be re-used because it is so badly contaminated. Stored in deadly toxic ponds, it leaks into the Athabasca River, threatening people and fish downstream.
  • Climate change, more accurately called “climate upheaval,” is affecting water quantity and hence food production. Scientists warn that for the Prairies, climate upheaval will bring swings between extreme events like flooding and massive rainfall, on one hand, and heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, on the other. It will also bring tornadoes as oceans warm, affecting air currents. In all such cases, food production will drop off.
  • Bottled water is draining water supplies around the world and clogging landfills with plastic. Canada now exports more bottled water than it imports, selling its spring and ground water all over the world, mostly for the profit of foreign-owned bottled water companies.
  • Individually, Canadians are water gluttons. Second only to Americans in per capita consumption, Canadians use 343 litres per person per day. That’s twice as much as the French and eight times more than the Danes. Whole households in poor countries use an average of 119 litres of water per day. Canadians flush more than that down the toilet every day. And it’s pure drinking water!

OUR WATER FOOTPRINT

Our total water footprint should (but doesn’t) include the water used in producing the food we eat and the manufactured stuff we buy: 

  • 1 pound of beef takes up to 19,000 litres of water
  • 1 pound of carrots requires 125 litres of water
  • Assembling 1 car uses up to 150,000 litres of water
  • Producing 1 plastic container for bottled water uses 7 litres of water
  • 1 sheet of paper requires 10 litres of water     

WATER ACTION

THE CITY OF REGINA

 1. Adopt a water-wise building code requiring the following:

  • greywater hookup in new buildings (using shower water in toilets, for exampl
  • low-flow toilets
  • rain barrels or cisterns to save water for use in gardens or for car-washing
  • solar panels

2. To counter climate change and its impact on water, invest massively in fossil-fuel conservation measures, such as public transit.  

AT HOME

●Turn off the tap ●Install low-flow toilets and shower heads ●Shower less ●Save a flush by saving bath water, kitchen rinsing or ”running to get cold” water, for use in the toilet ●Create a low-water lawn ●Grow vegetables using water from a rain barrel ●Cut out lawn pesticides to avoid poisoning underground water

PERSONAL

  • Buy less STUFF (all STUFF is manufactured with water 
  • Cut the intake of meat, especially beef, in half
  • Drink tap, not bottled, water
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine ONLY when there is a full load. 
  • Adopt fossil-fuel conservation measures, such as taking the bus, turning off the air conditioner, and installing solar panels 
  • Speak out against the development of tar sands in Saskatchewan

 WORK WITH OTHERS

  • Influence the groups you are in to take water action 
  • Join an organization that is working on water and climate change issues. Such organizations include the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, and Oxfam.

SUNDAY JUNE 5: World Environment Day

CHERISH EVERY DROP OF WATER!

Make every day World Environment Day

by taking action for water

 WATER INFORMATION RESOURCES

  • Flow: For Love of Water DVD (2008) 84 minutes. Available at Regina Public Library.
  •  Water on the Table DVD (2010) featuring water warrior Maude Barlow, 79 minutes. Available at Regina Public Library.
  •  The Story of Bottled Water DVD (2010) 8 minutes. Free online.

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