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Kaeleigh Phillips

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How to survive Thanksgiving as a vegan

Thanksgiving is hell for vegans.

It is essentially a meat-driven holiday revolving around the ritual slaughter of turkeys — a celebration of cultural and animal domination. But, sometimes boycotting isn’t an option, especially when your family celebrates in style. Instead, why not try to subtly manipulate your family and friends into eating delicious vegan food and enjoying a turkey-free feast.

I dream of one day attending a Thanksgiving where everyone is vegan, but for most animal lovers, this is not a reality. Instead, I offer you a survivor’s guide on how to maintain (and possibly enforce) your vegan ways at Thanksgiving. First off, prepare yourself for countless jokes coming your way about your turkey-free values. People have a tendency to focus on veganism at holiday dinners for some reason. I choose to respond by cracking a meat-eating joke or ignoring it all together. Only if someone seems genuinely interested in my choice to be vegan, do I decide to talk about it.

The next step is to bring your own food with you. There is no need to sit there looking sad with an empty plate of salad come dinner time. This will also give people the opportunity to try good vegan food, proving that most vegans do eat in a godly fashion. It also allows you to enjoy your delightful meal and stick up your nose at meat eaters (one of my favourite pastimes).

However, I do not recommend making Tofurky. It is an odd moulded blend of soy protein and often doesn’t taste good. Instead, why not ditch imitation meat-filled turkey and make another meal entirely? For the last couple years, I’ve made an apple, fennel and sage lentil loaf, and it is mouth-watering. Another option is a vegan lentil shepherd’s pie, which combines your protein option with mashed potatoes. So yummy! Pair either option (or whichever protein option you opt for) with a vegan gravy to make everyone jealous.

It is very difficult to find pre-made vegan gravy in the store, which is a blessing in disguise. Store gravy is full of preservatives and fats. To make it at home, add vegetable stock with a variety of spices, olive oil, garlic and shallots, and that’s it! As for side dishes, try to coordinate with the host prior to the holiday to inquire whether they are willing to ditch butter for the mashed potatoes and instead use olive oil or coconut butter. If not, make your own and don’t let the host have any. Vegan green bean casserole is another easy side dish, with coconut milk in place of cream.

Finally, dessert! One of my favourite foods in the entire world happens to be pumpkin pie. I remember my first thanksgiving as a vegan before I figured out that I had to make my own food and I sat nearly in tears while everyone around me chomped down on their slice of pie. Thankfully, there is a vegan option you can make that is easy, healthy, and delicious. It uses pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and oats. If you want to opt out of making the crust, they have a vegan option at Whole Foods that is surprisingly affordable.

When I was younger, I dreaded holiday events. Now, I look at it as an opportunity to help other people realize that vegan food can taste delicious too. It also sparks a conversation about eating meat — a conversation people would otherwise not be having. The other day, I ended up talking with my boyfriend’s 11-year old cousin at a family event about being vegan and why. You never know the impact you could end up having, and it is important to eat with non-vegans for this very reason. Good luck, and remember you are saving a turkey’s life. That alone is enough to make me feel a little better on Thanksgiving.

Carbon tax angers provinces, but Prime Minister stands strong

Canada’s provinces are at an odds with the federal government after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a unilateral mandatory carbon tax that is set to be launched in 2018.

Anger has swept across the country as Trudeau takes decisive steps to enact a climate change plan that will meet Paris Conference targets to cut carbon emissions 30 per cent of levels from 2005. At the federal-provincial climate talks, the Prime Minister announced that Ottawa will impose a levy of a minimum of $10 per tonne of carbon emissions by 2018. That amount will go up $10 annually until 2022, where it will reach its maximum at $50 per tonne. Trudeau has also granted the provincial governments the opportunity to adopt their own cap and trade or carbon tax programs, as long as it meets the required targets. If the provinces don’t meet those standards, then the government will impose the minimum $10 carbon tax themselves.

But, not everyone is thrilled with the carbon tax. The provinces are irate, especially Saskatchewan and Alberta. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reported she would only meet 2022 targets of $50 per tonne if the federal government allows the Kinder Morgan pipeline to be built. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has claimed the decision is a ‘betrayal’ on the part of the federal government to work openly with the provinces. Many westerners have claimed that Trudeau’s unilateral policy directly attacks Western Canada and is reminiscent of his late father, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s National Energy Plan.

On the other hand, the plan is being widely criticized by environmentalists for not being strict enough. Many groups feel that $50 a tonne of carbon would not be able to meet the 2030 Paris Conference targets. I guess there is something to be said of finding the middle ground — if no one is happy, it’s probably a good policy.

Trudeau will convene a first minister’s meeting on Dec. 8 to define the details of the climate plan, which will include the carbon tax.

Climate change is a reality and invoking mandatory laws around it is a step in the right direction. The provinces need to be pushed to implement carbon tax incentives and it is necessary for the federal government to make that decision firmly. Hopefully the other changes that will be discussed in the first minister’s meeting will provide even more climate change incentives and Canada can become a leader in ‘green’ change on the international stage.

If only the provinces would jump on board — an environmentally focused and united country could become a reality.

Pumpkin vegan cheesecake without fake cream cheese

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

At every Thanksgiving dinner since I was a child, my mom made pumpkin cheesecake. It was always a hit at family events and a creative twist to the classic pumpkin pie. When I decided to go vegan, I knew I wasn’t going to forfeit my annual cheesecake and set out to find the perfect vegan recipe. Here is my favourite vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I make every year.

Crust:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Vegan Margarine

First off, keep the crust simple. If you try and attempt a complicated crust, it will take forever and there is always a lengthy list of items to make for Thanksgiving dinner as it is. Either purchase a vegan crust or simply use graham cracker crumbs. Crush them up and combine with vegan margarine or coconut oil. Press in a pan until a firm crust has been created.

Cheesecake:

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice and cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg and ginger

For the cheesecake, most people use vegan cream cheese, but I prefer to keep it out of the cheesecake. Instead, I use raw cashews. Soak the cashews overnight prior to using them. Blend all of the ingredients together and pour into the pan on top of the crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool the cheesecake in the fridge for four to five hours and serve.

This cheesecake recipe is delicious and provides an extra protein kick for vegans. It also has the added benefit of being a healthier version of the original, while still tasting delicious. Enjoy!

Fact: The cosmetics you use are probably still being tested on animals

When you put on your make-up in the morning, do you ever wonder whether it was tested on an animal first? Do you ever wonder if the mascara on your eyelashes or the gloss on your kips caused the deaths of thousands of rabbits and guinea pigs? Though the winds are changing, animal testing is still happening and we need to know why.

Animal testing is becoming less popular in Canada (but is still legal), however, it remains a mandatory practice in China for international cosmetics products such as those provided by Estee Lauder and MAC. This is despite the fact that animal testing in cosmetics has long been known as an unnecessary practice. Fortunately, there are people who are fighting to get the practice banned in Canada and around the world.

#BeCrueltyFree is a campaign that was launched by the Humane Society International (HSI) in 2012. “It is important to be cruelty-free because animals are suffering. It’s unnecessary. There are so many safe ingredients to use for testing and animals don’t need to be used any longer,”#BeCrueltyFree Campaign Manager Aviva Vetter says. “When we are raising awareness to ban animal testing in Canada, the first thing people say is ‘I thought that was done 20 years ago. Isn’t that done already?’” The European Union banned animal testing in 2013 and since then 34 countries have done so. Isn’t it Canada’s turn now?

In December 2015, Canadian Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen introduced the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, also known as Bill S-214. The bill would “prohibit animal testing and the sale of cosmetics developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing” and is about to launch into its second reading. Bill S-214 would mean that cosmetics currently in stores would have to abolish animal testing in order to sell in Canada.

China is one of the countries that has mandatory laws to test imported cosmetics. “Companies [of imported cosmetics] are required to submit finished product samples to the government for testing in a CFDA-recognized laboratory,” U.K #BeCrueltyFree Campaign Director Claire Mansfield says. “Once approved for sale, provincial authorities also conduct post-market inspections of cosmetic products, which can include a further layer of animal testing.”

What does all of this mean?

It means that any large cosmetics company that imports to China is testing on animals. It also means that any small brand owned by a parent cosmetics company that sells to China may not actually be cruelty-free. Estee-lauder, Lacome, Revlon, Clinque, MAC, Covergirl, Victoria’s Secret, and Alamy are some of many large-scale cosmetics companies that are currently selling in China — and testing on animals in order to do so.

When I last bought Mascara at Shopper’s Drug Mart, I was told that Smashbox was cruelty-free. I excitedly purchased their make-up and, when presented with this article, contact them with high expectations. Instead of an interview, I was offered a written statement.

“Yes, we live for lipstick and are serious about primers — but we also love animals. That’s why we are cruelty-free. We don’t test on animals, only volunteers. Nor do we sell in any countries that require animal testing by law,” a Smashbox spokesperson wrote.

That’s when I found out they were owned by Estee Lauder. Spokesperson Alexandra Traber explained that Estee Lauder “may still conduct or require animal testing by law of cosmetic products or ingredients to demonstrate safety” in countries where regulatory authorities require it.

“For example, before we are able to import any of our products into China, the Chinese government requires all importers of cosmetics, including us, to pay for animal testing that is conducted by a government-mandated laboratory in China,” she said. “As a global company, we are committed to providing our products and services to our consumers where they live, and we must comply with all legal requirements in the countries where we do business.”

Smashbox does not sell their product in China, but refused to elaborate on the particulars of their policy, which I found confusing. Is this true cruelty-free advocacy? Needless to say, my Smashbox mascara landed in the trash the next day, just to be safe.

Instead, I turned to a smaller grassroots business. Many cosmetics companies in Canada are already using cruelty-free practices and choose to comply with a standard known as Leaping Bunny. This animal coalition is made up of seven animal protection agencies in Canada and the United States, and certifies companies to ensure they aren’t testing on animals. The coalition has grown over the last 20 years to encompass over 800 cosmetic companies. There is also no cost for a company to become certified.

“If we are working with ingredients that are synthetic and dangerous for the earth and our bodies, why are we animal testing? Two wrongs don’t make a right,”says Milena Lye, owner of Leaping Bunny certified cosmetics company Just the Goods. “I sought out Leaping Bunny personally. I went to their website, and found it is actually easier than I thought to become involved. You document all of your suppliers, assuring that they don’t test on animals. . It is a 2-3 year period, and companies are spot-checked. I found about 80 per cent of suppliers are willing to be cruelty-free, no reason for it to be tested anymore.”

By purchasing cruelty-free and taking part in the #BeCrueltyFree campaign, you are supporting positive change for the way people treat animals. With various in-vitro alternatives to animal testing already available (and cheaper as well), banning animal-testing in places like Canada and China seems to be the only option.

I’m going home to get rid of all of my animal-tested cosmetics, are you?

GTA pipeline outside our front doors, and nobody seems to care

Did you know a natural gas pipeline is being placed in the ground right outside of our front doors — and it is using your money to do so?

Enbridge, a gas distribution company, is building a pipeline in the GTHA that will cost taxpayers $900 million and will run natural gas through Brampton, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Toronto. The GTHA project consists of two new natural gas pipelines and adds 50 km of new pipeline into the Toronto. It will run along the Highway 407 corridor, with 23 km alongside Keele St. E to Scarborough and then south to an existing line near Sheppard Ave E.

The project was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) on January 30, 2014. It is a part of Enbridge’s largest upgrade to their natural gas distribution system in 20 years. Enbridge claims that if the pipeline wasn’t approved and built, the current station in Toronto’s Port Lands in the downtown core could run out of gas in the winter of 2016. This would mean 270,000 customers would run out of gas in Toronto.

On the other hand, the pipeline came under fire by many green groups. Enbridge was criticized because they kept trying to obtain more customers though they would not be able to support the level of gas needed come 2015-2016. Natural gas accounts for 35 per cent of Ontario’s energy, and instead of offering alternatives, the OMB decided to build more pipeline and continue to grow gas output in the province.

Ontario has set a greenhouse gas target to cut emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, but they still supported the Enbridge project, which will charge taxpayers to build more natural gas pipelines.

Ontario recently cut $3.8 billion in renewable energy contracts, claiming it will help Ontarians save money on their electricity bills. The province may save money in the short-run, but is being short-sighted when looking at the long term impact of trying to build and support green energy in the future. An investment in renewable energy needs to happen now in order to meet emissions targets by 2050 and the continued support for natural gas in place of renewable energy contracts demonstrates a lack of green leadership on the part of the Ontario government.

Taxpayer’s dollars are being wasted and the press has been silent about the pipeline project. The pipeline is due to be complete this year and will continue to use natural gas, a source of energy that is not sustainable or environmental in any way. We need to put more pressure the government to choose alternatives and not remain silent over the continued use of natural gas. Clearly the government has two very different objectives; to publicly support green projects and to privately fund unsustainable and very powerful natural gas companies.

Should Canadian media be following Kate Middleton’s daily fashion?

Canadians have long been fascinated by the Royal family, especially their trend-setting fashion. Now that “The Royals”, aka Prince William, Duchess Kate Middleton, and their two children are in Canada touring, people are paying even closer attention to their fashion choices. What’s been added to the proverbial royal fashion vault of glory, which of course is studded in overly expensive jewels?

By comparing Queen Elizabeth II to Kate Middleton, it is easy to see that trends have become increasingly more casual (cue broadcast jingle for this shockingly important news). Middleton can be spotted in a number of simple get-ups ranging from cargo pants to jeans while she treks around the world on various royal tours. Queen Elizabeth II also has a remarkably simple, classy style, wearing trench coats (what is she hiding in there?) and gloves. Princess Diana modernized the royal fashion trend substantially, wearing bolder outfits that would make any eighties’ diva proud.

Fast forward to now and we see Middleton somewhere in the middle of Princess Diana’s bold trends and Queen Elizabeth’s ‘snoozy’ outfit choices. Since the Duchess has been in Canada with Prince William visiting B.C and the Yukon, she has sported several extremely expensive ensemble, ranging from a McQueen’s red and white dress and a red Preen dress to a smart green Dolce and Cabana with gold buttons.

Okay, we need a reality check here.

Middleton’s daily fashion trends are literally being stalked by various fashion (and news!) publications while she remains in Canada. My response: who cares! There is a point where commenting on an elegant gown on a special royal evening is appropriate, but literally judging, criticizing, and writing about Middleton’s daily outfits? That is absolute madness. In the midst of several prevalent news items, fashion updates from the royal duchess should not be Canada’s priority on the twitter newsfeed.

Instead of obsessing over Middleton’s outfits, maybe investigate what happens to each of these expensive royal outfits after it has been worn once. Where is it discarded? What is the benefit of parading rich royals around the country and footing the bill when we are in the midst of a national affordable housing crisis? When we need transit funding? When the economy is the dumps? It is a temporary distraction to be sure, but I’d like to see more charitable benefits come from royal fashion choices before I jump on the royal bandwagon.

So, don’t click on that article about Middleton’s next outfit. Instead, change the channel to what’s going on in Syria. And then donate all of your old clothes to the Salvation Army. Let’s change our priorities fellow Canadians. Royal fashion reminding us of colonial wealth should not be important in our modern educated world.

The curse of plastics: school lunches 101

Plastic is everywhere.

It’s coffee mugs, water bottles and lunch containers — really anything you use on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is also killing the planet. Enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle around the earth four times. It is creating garbage islands in the ocean and killing one million sea birds, not to mention 1000,000 marine animals, annually. Only five per cent of the plastic we produce is recoverable, a sad fact when you consider it takes 500 to 100 years to degrade in landfills.

In other words, we have a problem.

When faced with such an insurmountable environmental problem such as this, I always tell myself to take it one step at a time. How can people begin the process of lowering plastic use from our lives? Let’s start with the lunches we send to school with our kids and bring to work. Not only would this transition help the environment, but it would contribute to our health as well. As it stands, 93 per cent of North Americans test positive for BPA, a common toxic chemical found in plastic. At the same time, ‘brown bag lunches’ contribute 67 pounds of waste by the end of the school year, pressuring the need for reusable containers and alternative options.

Here are a few tips on alternatives you can use to create plastic-free, health-conscious, and environmentally-friendly lunches.

glass-jar

1. Stainless steel or glass lunch containers

Instead of using plastic lunch containers, stainless steel or glass is the much-preferred alternative. Though glass and steel containers can often be too heavy for children’s lunches, the ECOlunchbox has come up with an alternative where the stainless steel is quite thin and makes the container much lighter. There are quite of a few lighter stainless steel options that can be ordered online. Glass jars are another alternative that can be used for meals on-the-go. They have a strong seal to avoid spills and can be easily washed and re-used.

bags-73766_1920

2. Fabric snack bags

Fabric snack bags are another environmentally-friendly alternative that are gaining ground in the eco-community. Instead of the dreaded plastic bag, try using a snack bag with a zipper. The fabric snack bags come with a resistant lining to alleviate stains, but they must be washed weekly. Though this seems like a pain, how much trouble is it really to throw the snack bags in with the dish towels on laundry day? The bags come in a variety of colours and can even be a fun home sewing project with the kids if you are feeling creative. Certain fabric snack bags offered online are even dishwasher safe, making it even easier to clean them.

thermos

3. Glass or stainless steel water bottle and/or coffee mug

Plastic water bottles are one of the most wasteful plastic items and are constantly being thrown out or littered onto the streets, only to make their way to the ocean. Buying a reusable water bottle and coffee mug is a responsible consumer choice. While you are it, why not make them both stainless steel? There are 100 per cent stainless steel beverage containers, and if there happens to be a small portion of plastic on the container, ensure it is BPA-free and recyclable.

A furoshiki design. Photo by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

4. Wrapped lunch boxes

Wrapped lunch boxes, a traditional Japanese custom known as “furoshiki”, is becoming widely popular in North America. By wrapping your lunch in a series of folds, it saves using a plastic bag or lunch box with plastic components on it. The “furoshiki” is used to transparent bento box lunches and is also used as table mat for lunch, making it a dual purpose lunch carrier. There are many ways to wrap a “furoshiki, and a few options for lunches are offered here.

lunch-box-1141196_1920

5. BPA-free PETE Plastics

There are some items where it is really difficult to find completely plastic-free options. If this is the case, I believe it is important to understand the labelling on plastic items so you can choose the most recyclable option. The PETE, often known as Plastic #1 or Polythylene Terephthalateon, label is one of the easiest plastics to recycle and is often found on peanut butter containers, beer bottles, and salad dressing bottles. HDPE, also known as plastic #2 in its label or High-density Polythylene, is considered safe and is recyclable. It is found on milk jugs, juice bottles, and toiletries. It is often opaque. V or PVC, also known as Plastic #3 or vinyl, is one of the more dangerous types of plastic and can be recycled, but may not be accepted by your local recycling agency. It is found in plastic wrap and should be avoided. There are seven common standards of plastic, and the first three are the most common. Recognizing all seven types of plastic though will benefit you as an educated and environmentally sustainable consumer.

 

In 1967’s popular movie, The Graduate, Mr. McGuire tells Benjamin, “There’s a great future in plastics”. Little did people know he really was foretelling the future. Plastic is in nearly every faucet of our lives, but being educated and aware of the various types of plastic is important. Being a responsible consumer is a brave way to help save the planet and therefore avoid environmentally-detrimental items when you can. I know I’m going home to purge my house of unnecessary lunch containers and water bottles to then replace with more environmentally conscious options.

How about you?

The good, the bad, and the ugly of going braless

I remember getting my first bra. I was 12 years old and my mom took me to the store. I was embarrassed and excited at the same time. I wanted to be a ‘grown-up’ and equated being an adult woman with wearing a brassiere. But in all honesty, bras are really just a pain in the…back.

Lately, the media has been buzzing over women in Toronto going braless and I decided to join the trend for a week. I wanted to know how it felt to let the ladies roam free and during this experience I learned a lot about myself and my body.

Going braless made me feel insecure initially. To be honest, I felt a bit of internal shame for my reaction amidst a feminist world of ‘free the nipple’ campaigns and bra burning predecessors. Why did I feel so thrown off my not wearing a simple undergarment? Full disclosure: I often opt in for hot shorts (popular name for very short shorts) instead of underwear because they are comfortable. I am not bothered at all by this change, yet not wearing a bra nearly set me into a full-blown panic attack.

I pushed through the anxiety and left my house feeling ready to tackle the world with my found fashion sense. I ride my bike to work every day and was worried that it would be an issue, but found no one cared. At all. The insecurity that comes with wearing a bra is an invention of the mind. Wearing a bra or not, people are so busy staring into the abyss of their phone that they are too busy to notice a pair of knockers swinging by.

I also found that weather impacted my comfort level. When it is really hot outside, it is surprisingly uncomfortable to go braless. It just doesn’t feel nice. A bra helps to lift the breasts and cool the body down. It is also uncomfortable to have no covering layer with cold air as well. However, on a nice mid-weather, warm fall or spring day, it is wonderful to feel the breeze and be unencumbered by a bra. Some women are comfortable with the effects of fluctuating weather patterns on the breasts, but I found this anxiety-provoking.

My back and ribcage felt much better while I was going braless. I also started to notice my body more often, meaning the way I moved or if I was sitting and standing straight up. Bras give us an excuse to slouch because our over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders give extra support that allow for bad posture. Going braless doesn’t allow for slumping at all.

Certain styles of clothing and materials are more compatible with the free flowing look as well. Avoid itchy and tight cotton shirts. I had a very bad day wearing one of these tops. Instead opt in for satin, which is smooth on the nipples, or other soft materials like velvet. I also found cinched dresses very comfortable. It was loose at the top and tight on the bottom, which gave me a nice shape and also gave the ladies room to breathe.

I would recommend going braless for a week. It forced me to look at my body in a whole new light and to love the more natural elements of the female physique. I also realized the bra gives breasts an unrealistic shape and is systematic of the patriarchal ideal of the woman’s body. Round soft curves are beautiful and I’m glad I celebrated that this past week. I will also admit though that I will wear a bra here and there in my future. Sometimes bras can be comfortable depending on your outfit and other times they are not. Do not forget though, they are an option and only need to be used when desired. Try taking one day off a week with no bra and check out #nobrathursdays and #nobrarevolution to get involved. Enjoy the freedom ladies — it feels great.

Try going braless and let Women’s Post know how you felt in the comments below.

New portable housing for domestic abuse survivors and their families

Imagine packing your belongings in the middle of the night and waking your children to escape the place you call home. Frightened and without any place to go, 3,491 women and 2.724 children arrive at the doorsteps of emergency domestic abuse shelters each night. About 300 of those women and children are turned away.

Once they actually get up the courage to leave their abusers, survivors of domestic abuse and their families face a number of challenges. They must find a safe place to go, obtain a new home and all while living with the fear that their spouse is trying to find them. The government of Canada and Ontario are trying to help the situation by investing $20 million over two years into the Survivors of Domestic Violence Portable Housing Benefit Pilot project. The pilot project will provide 1000 survivors of domestic violence per year with immediate affordable housing.

As is stands, when women and their children find temporary housing in an emergency shelter it can take several months to find another place to live. Going back home is often not an option. This leaves families stranded in very unstable living situations. Domestic abuse survivors are placed on the waitlist for rent-geared-to income and must wait for social housing to become available. Though domestic abuse victims are given priority on the waitlists, the state of social housing waitlists in Canada leaves many of these families stranded for months.

It also leaves the victim of abuse in a vulnerable situation because they don’t have access to permanent housing. In Canada, 26 per cent of women who are murdered by their spouse have left the relationship and half of these women are killed within two months of leaving their abuser. Women are also six times more likely to be killed by an ex-partner than a current partner, placing the victims in a vulnerable situation after leaving their abuser. Women and children are still in danger after leaving an abusive partner, and obtaining safe housing is paramount for their safety.

The federal and provincial government are taking steps in providing better resources for domestic abuse survivors and the affordable housing situation. Though the new pilot program is a step in the right direction, more efforts to provide victims of domestic abuse with optimal support is of upmost importance.

Underwhelming response to Paralympic runner setting a world record

Algerian Runner Abdellatif Baka won the 1500 metre race at the Paralympics in Rio, winning at 3:38:29 and beating out the 1500 metre Olympic world record. By all means, the world should be buzzing over the accomplishment and instead the response has been…underwhelming.

It is well known that the Paralympics get less attention than the Olympics, but it is disappointing that even in a modern age of near-obsessive global media attention that people are not paying attention to this event. Baka competed in the 1500m T13 race, which is ranked as the highest visually-impaired race in the running category, though the competitors are still considered legally blind. The T12 and T11 races are made for competitors that are further visually-impaired and this standard applies to other sports in the Paralympics as well.

Baka’s success in the 1500m dash demonstrates that sight is not a necessity for speed. Each of the competitors are able to tell where the other runners are while competing at top speed. It takes a phenomenal sense of control and awareness, reminding me of the powerful superhero Daredevil. This comic book character develops other ways to make up for his loss of sight, which actually makes him a stronger human in a lot of ways. It appears that Baka setting a gold record above and beyond Olympic athletes shows there are many ways to be a top competitive athlete.

The Paralympics are the second largest sports event in the world after the Olympics, but is given much less attention by the media. When trying to watch scheduled events, the Paralympics website kept crashing and limited information of the gathering was available. In comparison, there is a plethora of materials available for the Olympics. Admittedly, the Paralympics was developed many years after the Olympics, but has still been in existence since 1960. The Games showcase athletes of similar speed, strength, and skill — yet, no one is live-streaming the Paralympics at work. Why not?

Originally the Paralympics was founded by an English doctor named Dr. Ludwig Guttmann. He created the 1948 International Wheelchair Games when the Olympics were being held in London that same year. His goal was to develop sports therapy for soldiers that were injured during World War II. The first Paralympics was held in Italy 12 years later and has continued since. It has five classifications of athletes including people with visual impairment, physical disabilities, amputee athletes, people who have cerebral palsy and spinal cord issues and Les Autres for people with other physical disabilities that aren’t listed.

The Paralympic games have grown into a diverse event featuring several sports. The athletes are top caliber and train to dominate in their competition. If you haven’t checked out the “Paratough” website — whose catch phrase asks “are you tough enough to keep up with Canada’s Paralympic team?” — you would see how hard these athletes work to compete in these Games. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up! It is truly incredible to see these athletes in action and watch people overcome difficulty through the true mastery of their bodies.

The Paralympics are almost over, so tune in before it’s too late and cheer on our Canadian athletes.