Fifteen-year-old Tina Fontaine was reported missing on August 9, 2014. Fontaine, who was originally from the Sagkeeng First Nations in Manitoba, was living with Child and Family Services at the time of her disappearance. Five days later, her corpse was uncovered in a bag in Winnipeg’s Red River by police officers. Her body was found unexpectedly when officers were looking for another man who had been seen struggling in the water earlier in the day. Her death has been ruled a homicide, and on December 11, 2015, Winnipeg police announced that Raymond Cormier was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in her death. Her family is still without answers.
Sonya Cywink, a 31-year-old Ojibwa woman from Birch Island, Ontario, was last seen August 25, 1994 in London, Ontario. Five days later, her body was discovered in a wooded area at Southwold Earthworks, a historic park 50 km south of London. She had been beaten to death. The identity of the killer and their motive remains unknown. Her family is still without answers.
Last month, the world watched in horror as an ISIS militant attacked Turkey’s historic center of Istanbul. A suicide bomber who had entered Turkey as a Syrian refugee blew himself up among a group of tourists at Sultanahmet Square, killing 10 German citizens. This horrific tragedy has received worldwide attention and sympathy, justifiably.
And while ISIS assaults on Westerners are often heavily covered by the media, what is regularly ignored are the attacks on Middle Eastern people that occur on a near daily basis. Unfortunately, the Western world turns a blind eye to the lives of many Muslims, Yazidis, and Kurds affected by ISIS militants.
Coldplay recently released the music video of their new single “Hymn for the Weekend”, featuring Beyoncé. The video was shot in Mumbai, India, during the sacred Hindu festival of Holi. The video mixes cultural and religious practices, capitalizing on existing stereotypes of India. Unsurprisingly, it has received immediate backlash, reigniting the debate on cultural appreciation vs. appropriation.
It’s fitting to begin this discussion by first defining what cultural appropriation is: a privileged group exploiting the symbols, traditions, and practices of a marginalized group for profit, often with little understanding of the latter group’s significance and history of it.
Last month, GOP candidate Donald Trump released a bold proposition calling for the United States to ban Muslims from entering the country. With cheers from faithful supporters in the crowd, he asserted, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” This idea is in response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Although Americans are used to hearing this type of talk from radio show hosts and Fox News anchors, for it to be voiced by the front-runner for the nomination of one of the two central political parties is astounding. What was once considered hate speech is now being proposed as a serious policy. Later, Trump exclaimed, “Probably not politically correct. But I don’t care.”
Many in the U.S. have affirmed that this proposal would violate the basic tenet of the U.S. constitution: the First Amendment’s doctrine of freedom of religion. Legal scholars have also asserted that Trump’s proposal would violate not only U.S. law, but would be considered illegal under international law.
Echoing this sentiment, White House press secretary John Earnest stated in a press conference the day after that every president must take an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the U.S. constitution, and thus, “what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president”. Earnest’s comments were celebrated, as the hashtag #TrumpIsDisqualfiedParty was trending on twitter.
Unfortunately, there is actually no statute or law that legally prevents him from continuing his campaign. Rather, his remarks should be more accurately deciphered as meaning that Trump is neither appropriate nor morally fit to be president.
The first plane carrying Syrian refugees landed last Friday night at Pearson International Airport. They met with Canadians who welcomed them with food, gifts, and uplifting signs. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto mayor John Tory, and the ministers of defence, immigration, and health all accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, welcoming the refugees as they landed in Toronto.
In the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks that hit Paris a week and a half ago, monuments around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag, heads of state gave inspiring speeches on the need to defend shared values, and Facebook launched a safety check option for those in Paris along with offering users an option to overlay the French flag on their profile picture to commemorate the victims.
This flag-filter immediately became popular. When I logged in to Facebook, almost every single post on my newsfeed was about a changed profile picture. But this small act of solidarity, in my opinion, is actually quite problematic.