Generation Why: Issue 13
Must-read news for young Canadians
Must-read news for young Canadians
may 24, 2013
About this week's cover
Chris 'Burns' Bennett is the pyrography artist behind Champstiles Woodburning Toronto.
"As young Canadians we are forced to 'play the game'. Waiting for our turn, discovering the world around us. Our growing pains are our voice." he said of his cover design.
Chris tells us he is inspired by the creativity of others around him, and that he considers it a privilige to contribute his art to "such a diverse and talented community."
Follow him on Twitter @ChampStiles.
See his work on Facebook.
Check out his website.
Want to design next week's cover? Email
Our community of contributors keeps growing, and I'd like to take a minute to thank everyone who is engaging not only in the weekly magazine but also in the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page for the GenWhy community.
Young Canadians from across the country are connecting in our tightly-knit group, now over 70 people strong, but I think we can enrich the conversation even more by reaching out to our friends who are thirsty for discussion about the issues that will define our generation.
If you've been reading and enjoying #GenWhy, please make this the week that you share it and help us build an even larger group of engaged young Canadians.
We know there are tons of us out there. Let's find each other.
And speaking of bright young folks, I'd like to send a special shout out to our fearless intern Arman Kazemi who filled in for Lauren this week and copy edited all your fabulous entries.
He even tried his hand at designing a few spreads, and if you're digging the new background colour, you have him to thank!
Until next week!
Disaster struck in Moore, Oklahoma last Monday when a tornado tore through the town, completely destroying everything in its path.
This monster storm was classified as an EF-5, the strongest and most disastrous kind of storm with winds of up to 322 km/hour.
Overall, 24 people lost their lives, including 10 children, as the storm came in direct contact and destroyed an elementary school, a medical center, and a whole community.
Rescuers described going from one pile of rubble and debris to another, listening for the sound of survivors.
Reports on the individual acts of survival and heroism that took place that day truly demonstrate the resilience and strength of people in times of crisis.
Reader pick: Thunderstorms hamper Oklahoma tornado cleanup
Now, over 4 days later, the rescue efforts have shifted to recovery mode. Residents have now been allowed back in the area and the town has begun to mourn the loss of its victims.
I was extremely touched by the online response to the tornado aftermath, as social media sites immediately flooded once again with messages of hope for the residents of Moore and encouraged people to donate towards the relief effort using the technology available at their fingertips.
It wasn't long ago when Facebook was the latest online trend. Now interest in the social networking site has lagged, and the company has responded by providing applications and games that have quickly become commodities.
A user is required to give Facebook personal information, which the company uses to tailor advertisements to their account styled personally to their interests.
"It is increasingly clear that the law is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of today - and certainly not those of tomorrow", Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's privacy commissioner, said in a report last week.
Stoddart explains the legislation in Canada doesn't provide organizations with strong enough laws to protect a person's personal information.
This generation's teenagers are famously technologically literate, some children have owned and used cell phones since they were six years old.
But, still I'm left wondering: are the teens of today savvy enough to get past the pitfalls of clever online companies?
Reader Pick: Nanaimo Facebook group takes aim at thieves
Mica Le J
Residents of Nanaimo, B.C. have been striking back at thieves with force - through social media.
Social media citizens in other cities are following suit, creating Facebook pages to post photos of their stolen possessions in the hopes of getting them back.
The concept of using social media to retrieve stolen items appeals to me because someone stole “Big Red” (my red cruiser bicycle) last summer.
Social media played a role in the experience.
After posting a Facebook update about the theft (plus an image of myself on the bicycle), a friend notified me that someone attempted to sell her the bike 10 minutes after my post.
Helping each other retrieve our belongings via social media is a great move towards creating a real online community, moving beyond the barrier of the screen to the streets of our own neighborhood.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has revealed that teens who know people who have taken their own lives, or have attempted to, were more likely to try it themselves. This phenomenon is called "suicide contagion."
There's a lot to the article, but one point that really stood out to me was from Amy Cheung, an adolescent psychiatrist and researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
She said this may be because "adolescents are especially susceptible to media coverage of suicides."
So if teens see suicides getting a lot of attention, they too could be influenced to take their own life.
Cheung’s suggestion that “suicide contagion” is related to media coverage of high-profile suicides is, I believe, an oversimplification of the many factors contributing to teen suicide.
I think she is overemphasizing this link which, while true, is not the causal one and again misunderstands the complexity of mental health.
Can suicide spread?
Afghan politicians with conservative Islamic beliefs have shot down a piece of legislation that would transform a presidential decree to protect women’s right into law.
And part of the group who blocked this legislation were themselves women.
The women’s rights movement has intensified over the years and continues to flourish alongside LGBT rights movements and minority movements in general.
But the incident in Afghanistan has made me question the efficacy of the movement in countries with deeply fundamentalist religious roots.
Reader Pick: Afghan legislators block law protecting women
From the report, it is clear that the terrorization of women is not just an external force.
It is one that has been internalized by the women themselves and that causes them to believe that they deserve to be subjugated and treated as second class citizens as per the law of the land.
You can read more here.
Canada's down-to-earth astronaut
Chris Hadfield took us on a 5-month journey to space. His facebook posts and tweets made us smile and look at space from a different perspective.
For the first time, we became part of a space mission and got a first-hand look at what the day-to-day life of an astronaut in orbit.
For me, looking at my hometown of Lahore, Pakistan from space was pretty exciting.
Now that the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station has returned to Earth, the experience continues as he updates us on how he’s adjusting to life back home.
"I'm just learning to walk. Really, truly, I'm learning to walk again," he said. "It's difficult."
The insight the public has gotten from Hadfield's willingness to share his experience with the world has been truly remarkable.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for space exploration!
Chris Hadfield continues to inspire our generation and has demonstrated that one person can make a difference.
Reader pick: Astronaut Chris Hadfield adjusts to 'earthling' life
Staff pick: Relocating outport newfoundlanders
You’ve never been to Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland. You’ve probably, to borrow a local phrase, never even heard tell of it.
And now, if you ever decide to go, you’ll arrive (by boat) to find it deserted.
Little Bay Islands is just the latest Newfoundland community forced into a tough decision: keep living in an increasingly isolated town, or take $270,000 per household of provincial government funding and move to a larger town or a city like St. John’s.
How controversial is the decision?
“Sometimes I felt like the Taliban of Little Bay Islands,” said Perry Locke, the community’s mayor, who once stood firmly against leaving.
In 2011, the 80 or so Little Bay Islands residents voted to stay – accepting the government money requires a near consensus vote.
But this year, Locke told CBC Radio’s The Current, he saw how much the government was offering and knew it was over.
Resettlement became a sad fact of Newfoundland life since Joey Smallwood’s government took power in the 1950s.
Ever since then, economic pressures have continued to wipe these communities from the craggy coastline.
So what does our generation lose when communities like Little Bay Islands disappear?
To me, a Gen-Y Newfoundlander, the answer is this: an entire way of life.
That means stories and songs, the skill of building wooden boats, and a whole bunch more that a Townie (raised in St. John’s) like me knows nothing about.
But, and here’s the catch, I can’t imagine living in Little Bay Islands.
“We can’t survive without kids,” said Sharon Elgar, another Current guest who used to live in dormant town of Great Harbour Deep.
Communities like hers began shrinking, Elgar said, when youth moved away to study or take lucrative trades jobs and just never came back.
The question for Gen Y, then, is this: Can we find a way to preserve towns like Little Bay Islands? Or, are we content to let them go.
If you’ve ever strolled around any of Canada’s metropolitan centres during the warm summer months, you’ve probably seen a street magician showing off his sleight of hand, a juggler balancing on a plywood board juggling fire, or an intrepid one-man band giving it his all.
With the right conditions and a little bit of charisma, some buskers can rake in as much as a hundred dollars or more for a 30 to 45-minute set.
If, like me, you’ve seen them do this, you’ve probably made a mental calculation that if they do even two or three such sets in a day, 5 days a week, for a whole year -- they may be better off than some of those slaving away indoors for a fraction of the pay.
With the lucrative summer season near, I wanted to know what really goes into the life of a street performer.
When I reached out to a few different street artists throughout the country, I discovered stories describing off-season income chills, restrictive city by-laws (and even tighter regulation at private venues), in-community codes of conduct, and an entire way of life dependent on whether or not it rains.
The stories were so heartfelt and rich in detail that I decided write a Community blog giving the artists themselves center stage to tell their stories in their own voice.
The result is three distinct looks at street performance from artists with differing performance backgrounds, each providing their own view into the highs and lows of the busking life.
Kevin Williamson allegedly threw a woman’s phone across a theatre because she used the device in the middle of a performance. Am I the only one who giggled inside?
I was a theatre student for nine years. Over the course of my drama career, I’ve seen creative ways to deal with phone disturbances, from fellow audience members giving death stares to the actors sort-of-but-not-really breaking character to address the issue themselves. I feel like I’ve seen it all. But let’s face it, this is just funny.
First of all, you’re not heading into a movie theatre, which, by the way, also happens to be a place you are warned against cell phone usage. Rather, you’re in a live theatrical event.
You’re participating, even as an audience member, in a living, breathing performance where there are people all around: on stage, behind the scenes, and beside you.
Each of them is actively experiencing an artistic piece - and you choose your cell phone over that? It’s just rude.
But it's also preposterous to make it personal. Williamson painted this woman as “the sad sort,” and tweeters bite back naming him a “conservative schmuck.” These insults have nothing to do with the phone-in-theatre violation.
The theatre is one of those beautiful places where everyone is treated equal as participants. And if someone chooses to abandon the community experience by blatantly texting in a no-text space, it doesn’t take someone with a title to tell them that it’s unacceptable. I applaud him for his creativity.
Reader pick: Theatregoer removed after tossing woman's phone
screening out bad patrons
His comment that “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine” was not enough for reporters and most members of Toronto city council, who insist Ford must either declare the tape is a fake or admit he was smoking crack.
Indeed, the plot thickened Thursday when Ford’s chief of staff was suddenly fired. So now the story is in a holding pattern.
Ford is saying “it’s business as usual at city hall” and the person who is allegedly selling the tape is not answering his phone.
It seems Ford’s plan is to wait and hope the story dies out.
Judging by the crowds of reporters who’ve camped outside his house and office since last week, that doesn’t appear likely to happen anytime soon.
Everyone is waiting for the tape to surface. If it does, this massive story shaking up Toronto city hall will only get bigger.
STAFF PICK: UPDATES ON THE FORD FIASCO
The mayor of Canada’s largest city caught on tape smoking crack?
That’s the allegation Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been facing for a week, but this isn’t your typical political scandal. Why?
Because no journalist has possession of the video in question.
Journalists from those organizations say they’ve seen the video and have said it appears to show Ford smoking crack.
So why isn’t the video posted on every news website in the world right now?
Because the person who showed it to the Star and Gawker is trying to sell it, and for big money.
Gawker is attempting to raise $200,000 to buy the tape through online donations.
They were less than $40,000 short of their goal as of 12 noon on Friday.
Meanwhile, Ford has only recently addressed the media regarding these allegations, but he said little to answer many of the questions that continue to be raised.
is this worth protecting?
Gros Morne National Park is so beautiful and unique it has earned the prestigious designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These sites are chosen for their cultural or physical significance.
Thanks to the designation, the park has become a major centerpiece for tourism in Newfoundland.
This piece on the National told us that the UN is now showing concerns over proposed fracking sites (a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth) in an attempt to find oil at Sally’s Cove, just 500 meters from the park.
UNESCO is concerned that resource development in this area could cause shocks to surrounding geological formations, not to mention pollution and the threat to the outstanding universal value of the site.
Black Spruce Exploration, the company involved, insists on rigorous environmental protocols, but fracking regulations are not enough; a buffer zone has been recommended (its parameters not yet been defined) in order to protect against any potential risks. But is this enough?
Only two other World Heritage Sites have been delisted before (Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany), both due to development (the former to the discovery of oil; the latter to the construction of a bridge across the valley).
Do we want to run the risk of losing Gros Morne as a World Heritage Site? Do the short-term benefits of resource development really outweigh the long term benefits of having a beautiful, protected area that is unique to Canada?
Reader pick: Gros Morne Drilling
The tentative deal reached between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and it’s unionized workers, right before the long weekend, came as no surprise to my peers. I didn’t even bother stocking up.
We suspected that if a wage increase occurred, the prices would simply be passed along to the consumers since the LCBO is a large monopoly.
If the union did decide to strike and it ended up lasting for a long time, it would potentially lead to a push for privatization of liquor sales by Progressive Conservative-leader Tim Hudak.
In that case, customers would have to rely on the Beer Store and both local breweries and wineries.
I think the decision to reach a deal was essential to LCBO’s survival -- but they were smart to encourage customers to stock up for the Victoria Day weekend, anyway.
I'm sure the scare translates to good profit.
If you haven't been drinking in the details of this story, you can catch up here.
cheers to the deal
Reader pick: LCBO strike threat off after deal reached
Over 1,500 people attended his public memorial on Wednesday – the same day Smich was arrested. Police say they’ve received over 700 tips on the case to date.
Bosma left behind his wife Sharlene and a two-year-old daughter.
At Wednesday’s memorial, Sharlene told the crowd she had a simple message for her daughter when she asks what happened to her father:
“You will see him again in heaven.”
What started as a simple missing person’s case has grown into something much bigger, much more nefarious, and much sadder than anyone could have imagined.
Tim Bosma went missing in early May after he took two men who had answered an online ad for a truck on a test drive.
On May 14, police announced that Bosma’s body had been found burned beyond recognition.
Two men have been charged with first-degree murder in connection to the case.
Bosma’s brutal death has galvanized the community of Ancaster, the suburb of Hamilton, Ont. where he lived.
STAFF PICK: LATEST UPDATES ON THE TIM BOSMA CASE
brutal daytime slaying
A horrific attack occurred Wednesday afternoon in London in which a man was hacked to death.
It was reported that two men attacked and brutally murdered a pedestrian who was supposedly wearing a shirt supporting British troops, and may have been a soldier himself.
Perhaps the more disturbing detail of the story is the video that surfaced of one suspect explaining the crime.
He shamelessly appears on video with bloodstained hands, holding a cleaver and a kitchen knife with the crime scene behind him. The video reveals the suspect saying things such as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and apologized that women had to see it happen but that in his land, women have to see the same.
The British Prime Minister said there are ‘strong indications’ this was an act of terrorism.
Was it terrorism? Was it a radical interpretation of religion? How do we get our brains around the fact that this is our reality? See the shocking video and get the rest of the details here.
Reader pick: Killing near London barracks probed as 'terror' act
Lee Rigby, 25, who was killed on Wednesday