Vaccine Hesitancy, Canada

By: Maya Kabasawa

As of right now, vaccination is the most efficient way to control the covid breakout in the community especially in schools. Canada is urging its people to get vaccinated before the start of the school year. Postsecondary institutions are implementing a fully vaccinated policy, as well as public spaces will require proof of vaccination to use the facilities. While Canada is ahead of most of the countries in terms of vaccination rates, still nearly 18% of eligible Canadians have not gotten their first dose yet.

As an international student studying in Canada, people in my home country are far left behind from Canada in terms of vaccination rates. Most of my friends and family are not fully vaccinated, while most high school students in Canada are. In fact, 68% of eligible people are fully vaccinated in Canada, but for countries like the US, the rate is 53%, Japan, 47%, and Brazil, 30%. These statistics show that Canada is ahead of the rest of the countries and managing to make vaccines available for everyone. However, there has to be more effort put in order to get everybody in the loop. 

The unvaccinated include not only people who do not support vaccines in general. It also includes those worried about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, or concerned about how it might interfere with their present health conditions. 

It is important not to force those who are hesitant to get vaccinated, but rather ask their concerns and truly understand the reason behind it. Social media can spread misleading information that can mislead the public into being wary about getting vaccines. Having the ability to critically distinguish trustworthy sources of information can be the solution to increasing vaccination rates.

Works Cited

Mauracher, Jamie, and Leslie Young. “How to Reach the Vaccine-Hesitant: WHAT EXPERTS, Reluctant Canadians Say – National.” Global News, Global News, 12 Aug. 2021, globalnews.ca/news/8104752/vaccine-hestitancy-canada-changing-minds/ . 

Holder, Josh. “Tracking Coronavirus VACCINATIONS around the World.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html.  

Understanding Vaccines

By: Anonymous

It has been almost 3 years since the beginning of the pandemic. Anxiety persists as we continue to take precautions against this virus, and the push for vaccination continues. Although we have been told to get vaccinated, what are its contents, and how exactly do they work to help us? There are many controversies and concerns surrounding this subject. Although there are widespread vaccine myths that suggest vaccines contain tracking chips or cause autism, vaccines were created with the sole purpose to protect you from experiencing severe symptoms should you ever contract COVID-19. 

Doubt and fear derives from the lack of knowledge one may have towards the potential risks and outcomes of vaccination. To gain confidence in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, one must try to have an open mind and understand the mechanisms of how the vaccines work. There are various types of vaccines that have been effectively used in our lives, including live-attenuated and subunit vaccines. Live-attenuated vaccines contain a pathogen in a weakened form to allow your body to recognize it and develop necessary immune responses to counter the virus; subunit vaccines contain either small pieces or a small part of the pathogen which our bodies would recognize and learn to target. On the other hand, The COVID-19 vaccine uses mRNA – it inserts mRNA within the body to produce viral proteins and activate an immune response. This is meant to coax the immune system into developing similar responses if COVID-19 emerges within our body, protecting against future COVID-19 viral exposure. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is the product of rigorous and extensive research before being permitted to be administered to the general public. For the sake of your health and the community’s safety, get your shot as soon as possible. 

Works Cited

Santos-Longhurst, Adrienne. “What Is a Pathogen? 4 Types and How They Spread Disease.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 Apr. 2019, http://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pathogen. 

“The Science behind Vaccines.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, 5 Mar. 2021, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2021/03/04/the-science-behind-vaccines. 

CDC. “Understanding How Covid-19 Vaccines Work.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 May 2021, http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/how-they-work.html. 

CDC. “Understanding Mrna Covid-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Mar. 2021, http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html. 

Honoring Orange Shirt Day

By: Harsimranjit Kaur

Arising from a deep slumber, an underprivileged adolescent girl gets up to proceed her day as usual in a community where 53% of children reside in poverty, 19.6% of families live in houses that require major repairs, 48% of families lack financial requirements to purchase food, and suicide rates are several times higher than the general population. 

From the lifestyle depicted, does “Canada” come to mind? Unfortunately, this is the disappointing reality for many indigenous families living on federally owned reserves here today. A first-world country such as Canada is often viewed as a safe haven, where injustice is actively advocated against. For many, it is indeed a place of refuge, including my immigrant family who migrated here in search of a better lifestyle for future generations. However, it is heartwrenching to learn about the horrendous neglect and discrimination Canada has inflicted upon its natives. 

The humanitarian crisis dates back to when the first residential school opened its doors in 1883, run by the Catholic Church and the Canadian government as a way to assimilate and convert Indigenous children. They were torn from their families, cultures and heritage as they were forced to live a Christain lifestyle with severe punishment for disobedience. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse was a common occurrence. The last school was finally terminated in 1996 and a formal federal apology was made (Miller). These wounds were then again aggressively reopened as the remains of hundreds of missing nameless children were discovered under multiple residential schools using modern technology. Indigenous human rights issues were once again on mainstream media. However, there was one flaw. These news outlets continued to talk about misdealings in the past but still stray far away from informing the Canadian public of the harsh conditions Indigenous communities face today. 

I only became aware by reading the novel Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga, which depicts the systemic racism still embedded into the Canadian justice system and how that has led to poor conditions for indigenous communities. Many households still suffer from generational trauma from residential schools and lack adequate aid. Yet, none of this is covered in mainstream media. 

As Orange Shirt Day approaches, it is important to become an ally. To begin, as youth, we can start by raising awareness within our communities. For example, the volunteers at the Brampton Library are working to host an event dedicated to spreading awareness on this issue. Similar initiatives can be taken. However, smaller steps can also be taken such as supporting indigenous creators and artists and showing that we hear their silenced voices. Education and awareness is the key to the solution. A problem can not be dismantled if we do not know it exists. 

Works Cited

APTN National News. “Half of First Nations Children on Reserve Live in Poverty, New Study Says.” APTN News, 9 Jul. 2019, http://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/half-of-first-nations-children-on-reserve-live-in-poverty-new-study-says/.

Miller, J.R. “Residential Schools in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada, 1 Jun. 2020, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools.

Sawchuk, Joe. “Social Conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada | the Canadian Encyclopedia.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2020, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/native-people-social-conditions.

The Growing Issue of Littering

By: Aryan Gidwani

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Toronto saw a rise in littering in parks and recreational areas. Shadi Moqbel, a civil engineer who studies litter and waste, finds that “as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people tend to move towards using disposable items rather than regular reusable items” in an attempt to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. However, it comes at a time where humans should be reducing the usage of plastic.

Littering has a devastating effect on the environment. A total of 1.9 billion tonnes find their way to oceans, with harsh impacts on water purity and marine wildlife. Aquatic animals unintentionally eat the plastic due to its microscopic size, which increases the chance of lethal infections. Within my community, littering has made Lake Ontario the most littered and polluted Great Lake. Much of the litter found in the lake flows its way to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence river. As of 2014, around 6.7 million plastic particles were found in a single square kilometre radius of lake Ontario. As a resident of Toronto, there is a plethora of litter residing in water and in closed corners in outdoor areas and parks. Trash bags, plastic bags, soda cans, and plastic bottles are objects that can be found throughout the city’s parks. 

On average, it costs the city of Toronto at least 27 million dollars to clean the litter from green spaces in the city. On top of this, the pandemic forced the city to pay an extra 273,000 dollars from March to September last year.

With all this in mind, I believe that in order to prevent this issue from surging, it is important to think about the causes. Education can inform people about the risks and the importance of keeping our areas clean. Another way that this can be prevented further is through spreading awareness through volunteering, like going on garbage runs with a stick and bag, which can be a simple, effective way to reduce littering. 

Works cited

Ahmad, Rehan. “The Menace of Littering and How to Solve It.” EcoMENA, 21 Apr. 2021, http://www.ecomena.org/littering/. 

Byrne, Rochelle. “The Cost of Plastic Pollution on Local Economies.” A Greener Future, A Greener Future, 1 Sept. 2021, http://www.agreenerfuture.ca/blog/wrh/the-cost-of-plastic-pollution-on-local-economies. 

Goffin, Peter. “What Sort of Garbage Enters Lake Ontario? Researchers Probe Aquatic Trash.” CTVNews, CTV News, 3 Aug. 2018, http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/what-sort-of-garbage-enters-lake-ontario-researchers-probe-aquatic-trash-1.4039924. 

Ro, Christine. “Why Litter Is Surging as Lockdowns Ease.” BBC Worklife, BBC, 10 Jun. 2020, http://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200610-why-are-parks-full-of-litter-as-lockdown-eases. 

World Animal Protection. “How Plastic Pollution Is Affecting Seals and Other Marine Life.” World Animal Protection, 22 Apr. 2021, http://www.worldanimalprotection.ca/news/how-plastic-pollution-affecting-seals-and-other-marine-life#:~:text=Marine%20animals%20often%20eat%20microplastics,of%20disease%20and %20affect%20reproduction.&text=Nets%20and%20other%20man%2Dmade,seals%20and%20other%20sea%20animals. 

The Detrimental Effect of Viral Tik-Tok Challenges

By: Caroline Tian

Recently, there is an arising trend of inappropriate Tik-Tok challenges of vandalism dubbed “devious licks”. It encourages students to destroy and steal school property, including soap and towel dispensers. It is a widespread activity among students across many areas, such as Canada and the United States. 

A few days ago, I heard from my friend that this challenge was going around their school as well, and had been reported on the local news. There was a great inconvenience to the staff and students as only 1 out of the 6 bathrooms in their school was still available. The damages were as expected: sinks were pulled out of the wall, soap and towel dispensers were stolen, and bathroom doors were broken to varying extents. It did not take long before similar things occurred in our school; it can be rather annoying when you walk into the bathroom and realize that all the soap dispensers are gone.

Many might think that this is a stupid decision to make, yet there are many out there that are involved in this challenge. This leads me to wonder about the psychology behind it. As I did more research, I learned that these challenges make individuals feel more connected. Their self-images expand as they feel like they are members of something larger, and can share common experiences with friends. Of course, the connection is important to individuals and the effect can be seen especially significant during COVID-19. Generally, people can benefit from Tik-Tok challenges. However, when misused, it can influence people to make poor decisions like this “devious licks” challenge. 

One possible solution to this type of activity is to add restrictions on the Tik-Tok platform such that younger audiences, usually the most susceptible group, will have limited access to certain videos. On a larger scale, there should be further restrictions on allowed content. Theoretically, this should mitigate similar activities from happening, since challenges are usually meant to be shown to others for feedback or praise. Without this incentive, they might find no point in doing the challenges at all. 

Works Cited

Crowe, Kaylie. “Tik-Tok challenge encouraging vandalism.” WILX, 17 Sept. 2021, https://www.wilx.com/2021/09/18/tiktok-challenge-encouraging-vandalism/.

WIS News 10 Staff. “TikTok challenge leads to vandalism at South Carolina Middle School, district says.” WIS, 17 Sept. 2021, https://www.wistv.com/2021/09/17/tiktok-challenge-leads-vandalism-south-carolina-middle-school-district-says/

Global News. “TikTok ‘challenge’ has B.C. school districts dealing with theft and vandalism of school property.” Global News, 16 Sept. 2021, https://globalnews.ca/video/8197807/tiktok-challenge-has-b-c-school-districts-dealing-with-theft-and-vandalism-of-school-property

Rutledge, Pamela. “Tik-Tok Challenges: Their Psychological Appeal.” 18 Feb. 2021, https://pamelarutledge.medium.com/tiktok-challenges-their-psychological-appeal-6dcb0dfd19e4#:~:text=TikTok%20challenges%20can%20be%20a%20powerful%20way%20to%20feel%20connected,experiences%20to%20discuss%20with%20friends.

Rise of Fast Fashion in Toronto, Canada

By: Christina Li

While walking the streets of Toronto with my friends this summer, I couldn’t help but notice the influence that current fashion trends had on everyone’s selection of clothing. Whether that be denim jeans or sweater vests, it seemed like everyone I passed was wearing “the latest, trending look”. Gone were the days of buying clothes that would last a year — instead, these styles lasted for only weeks! 

This got me wondering about how and where these clothes were coming from, as well as the hidden implications behind such a fast cycle of fashion. 

After delving into articles online, I came across the term: ‘fast fashion’, a term that refers to the fast cycle in which trending looks from influencers or the catwalk are made in a short time frame, before being sold at a cheap price. Though this allows everyone to try the latest trending styles, the low price tag has hidden environmental and societal costs. With clothes thrown out prematurely, these textiles can stay in landfills for up to 200 years. Each second, one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills — thereby making the fashion industry the second largest polluter in the world. 

Moreover, the social impacts are just as devastating. With child labour as well as other forms of unethical labour, many around the world are paying for our choice of clothes. In fact, workers in Bangladesh make only $96/monthly —as the government of Bangladesh reports, these workers need at least 3x that to live a “decent life with basic facilities.”

Hence, it seems that the future of the fashion industry is grim, unless we can change the consumer culture around fashion. Corporate companies will have to address the elephant in their room, and make the necessary decision to sacrifice business growth for sustainability. On the consumer side, we can tackle this problem by buying less, but investing in quality clothing that is meant to last. Other than that, asking #WhoMadeMyClothes, as well as shopping at ethical brands can spark the transformation in the future fashion industry.