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Ottawa Star The Voice of New Canadians • June 1, 2014 • Volume 1, Issue 18

For Canada & World News visit Ottawa

Yanks, no thanks: American authors dropped as UK English teaching gets a strong British accent. Gone, too, are African and Asian writers By Jill Lawless, The Associated Press


ONDON—Britain’s education minister says he has not killed a mockingbird, but many literature-lovers don’t believe him. Michael Gove has outraged some readers and academics with his campaign to put the basics—and Britishness—back into schools. Longtime American favourites including John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” are off the syllabus for a major high school English Continued on page 15

Website seeks to catch immigration law firms dodging foreign worker rules By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—A website devoted to documenting abuses of the temporary foreign worker program is on the hunt for immigration law firms that might be willing to help employers dodge rules that require them to hire Canadians first. Operators of the website, which maps and identifies businesses that hire temporary foreign workers, posed as a company called Big Jimmy’s Construction and sent an email to a number of law firms specializing in immigration issues. In the email, “Jimmy” says he wants to hire a Thai family member, but has been flooded with interested Canadians after posting the job Continued on page 12

Ana Daza (left), Red-MELOG member and graphic artist and designer with friend Livia Soares. Story on Page 4 Photo: Jesse M. Kelly

Researchers examine hitchhiking along B.C.’s Highway of Tears By James Keller, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER—Hitchhiking season is well underway in northern British Columbia, and that means Prof. Jacqueline Holler regularly drives by people hoping for a lift along Highway 16, not far from her home in the Prince George area. For some people living in the region, where a grim history of missing and

murdered women has earned Highway 16 the nickname the Highway of Tears, thumbing rides is a fact of life. “Some are travelling, some are going tree planting, some are just coming into Prince George to do some shopping,” says Holler, who teaches gender studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. Continued on page 12

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Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Sri Lankan War Victims Remembered

Joseph Alexander, President, National Capital Region Tamil Association Photo: Manjinder Virdee

By Umakanth Thirugnanam

The Tamil community of Ottawa was grateful to the City of Ottawa for proclaiming the week of May 11 to 18 as a week of remembrance for war victims

Children from the Tamil Community sang at the Multi-faith Remembrance Day Prayer to remember war victims of Sri Lanka. Photo: Manjinder Virdee

in Sri Lanka. It provided great solace to those gathered to know that there are people out there who care and acknowledge the injustice committed.   On May 14th, The National Capital Region Tamil Association (NCRTA),

Ottawa Tamil Cultural Association (OTCA), Ottawa Tamil Seniors Association (OTSA) and Ottawa Tamil Sangam (OTS) jointly held a Multi-faith Remembrance Day Prayer at the Walter Baker Centre in Barrhaven.

The event was attended by over one hundred people from the community who came to pay their respects to the victims. The event was also attended by the Hon. Rathika Sitsabaiesan, NDP MP for Scarborough Rouge River, and Hon. David Kilgour, retired minister of state and MP along with other friends of the community. Searching for ways to show their gratitude, the members of the community raised funds to feed the homeless as well as signed up donors for blood, bone marrow and organ donation. The collected funds were given to Shepherds of Good Hope. A representative from the Canadian Blood Services was also present to sign up the donors. In his opening remarks, Joseph Alexander, the president of NCRTA emphasized the importance of remembering those who died as well as those who survived. Children from the community sang a song to reflect the sadness felt by the community and set the tone. The remembrance flame candle was lit by a community member, which was followed by a multi-faith prayer service for the lost souls, where Hindu, Christian and Islamic prayers were recited by representatives from the respective religions. A Wall of Memories display was setup to highlight the suffering endured by the victims of the war. It included quotes from the survivors and human rights organizations operating on the ground during the war. Ms. Sitsabaiesan spoke about her experience as a visitor to Sri Lanka after the war and the difficulties survivors had undergone. Mr. Kilgour spoke on the importance of moving forward, as well as lack of the Sri Lankan government’s initiative to address the grievances and reconciliation towards the Tamil community in that country. The event concluded with the attendees offering flowers to the souls of the victims at the Remembrance flame.

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Community • PAGE 3

Jack Uppal: Provincial Liberal candidate for Nepean-Carleton By Ellen O’Connor

Jack Uppal and his family immigrated from Mumbai, India to Toronto, Canada in February of 1997. With a Masters Degree in chemistry from the University of Mumbai, Uppal worked a variety of jobs, ranging from pizza delivery to advertising sales and information technology. His wife, Dr. Gayatri Uppal, an international medical graduate, had to go through retraining and recertification upon immigrating. Between working customer service at Bell and night shifts at Tim Hortons, Gayatri did her training and passed her medical exam at McMaster University in Hamilton. In 2003, Uppal and his wife settled in Barrhaven after she

was placed at the Ottawa Civic Hospital for her residency. After working a few months with The Minto Group, Uppal received his certification to be a real estate broker and has since been with Royal LePage in Barrhaven. Uppal is the Liberal candidate for the Nepean-Carleton riding in the provincial election. His platform includes funding the LRT expansion into Barrhaven, in order to reduce congestion and time families spend commuting. Uppal and the Liberal Party also oppose the 100,000 job cuts proposed by the Conservatives. “Tim Hudak’s reckless plan will make massive cuts that would devastate Ontario’s growing economy and put 100,000 Ontarians out of work. That’s not just 100,000 job cuts,

Dr. Gayatri Uppal, Aahana, Aashna, Jack Uppal. Photo: Uppal Campaign

that’s 100,000 families that will be affected,” said a spokesperson from the Uppal campaign. Aside from politics, Uppal is also involved in many community associations. He was the Chair of

Yasir Naqvi: Provincial Liberal candidate for Ottawa Centre By Ellen O’Connor

A first generation Canadian, Yasir Naqvi’s family immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 1988 when he was 15. Their relocation followed a time of struggle when Naqvi’s father was imprisoned for nine months in the early 1980s by the Pakistani government for leading a pro-democracy march. Just 10 at the time, his father’s imprisonment had a huge impact on his family. Naqvi said it emphasized the need to stand up for one’s rights, one’s family and their well-being, and further cemented their belief in the values of democracy, social justice and compassion. “My parents were both involved in politics and I learned early lessons of the importance of democracy and being involved in one’s community,” said Naqvi, who has a son Rafi and wife, Christine Macmillan. “I was taught that politics is a civic duty, and that’s how you give back.” Naqvi completed a B.Sc. in Life Sciences and a BA in Political Science at McMaster University before coming to the Nation’s Capital to receive his law degree from the University of Ottawa and practice law. He said it was in secondyear law school that he fell in

Yasir Naqvi. Photo: Naqvi Campaign

love with Ottawa and decided to grow his roots. “I remember calling my parents and saying I want to make Ottawa my home,” he said. Naqvi also worked for the Centre for Trade Policy and Law, a non-profit think tank at Carleton University, as a parttime law instructor at the University of Ottawa and he studied part-time at Carleton University for his Masters Degree in Law, which he received in 2008. During this time he became a very involved member of the community and was encouraged to seek public office, resulting in him being elected

MPP in October 2007 and re-elected in 2011. In 2013 he was appointed Minister of Labour where he raised the minimum wage, brought forward new protections for precarious workers and improved workplace safety measures. In 2014 he was appointed Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Naqvi is the current MPP for the Ottawa Centre riding and will be running again to retain his position in the provincial election on June 12. As the MPP of a diverse, urban riding, Naqvi has been a tireless advocate for public services and sustainable community growth. Working closely with the community, he helped secure funding to build the Hintonburg Hub, an integrated health and social service centre in our community. He also worked to secure provincial funding for the Innovation Hub at Bayview Yards, a new Broadview Public School and a new library at Carleton University. Naqvi is recognized by his peers as a strong community leader and involved resident of Ottawa Centre. He has sat on the Board of Directors of the Centretown Community Health Centre for four years and he has been the Co-Chair of the Capital Food Bank Blitz since 2005.

the Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber from 2013-2014 and continues to be a board member. He is on the board of the Indo Canadian Community Centre, and the board of the

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization. He is the founding member of the Festival of India, a threeday festival of music, dance, food and India culture held in August in Ottawa. Jack is also a donor to the Ottawa Heart Institute, the Elisabeth Bruyère Foundation and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Council of Ottawa. Uppal says the best thing about Ottawa is having lots of time to spend with his wife and two daughters, Aashna, 18 and Aahana, 9. “You’re not commuting all the time trying to get form work to home,” said Uppal. “There’s great education, great schools, facilities that are open and available, and it’s a good place to raise a family.”

Bob Chiarelli: Provincial Liberal candidate for Ottawa West - Nepean By Ellen O’Connor

Bob Chiarelli has been a community advocate all his life. Born and raised in Ottawa’s Little Italy as the youngest of seven children, Chiarelli earned his law degree at the University of Ottawa and set up a communitybased legal practice. Always actively involved in his community, he worked to modernize the refugee claim process and give lowincome Ottawa residents better access to affordable housing. Chiarelli was elected MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean in a March 2010 by-election and was appointed Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure in August of that year. After the 2011 election, he added the Ministry of Transportation to his list of responsibilities. Chiarelli previously served as the MPP for Ottawa West from 1987-1997; during which time he served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Chair of Management Board. He has served as the Minister of Energy since February 2013. Elected three times at the municipal level, Chiarelli served as the Regional Chair of Ottawa-Carleton and was later elected the first Mayor of the amalgamated City of Ottawa. He has been a champion of

Bob Chiarelli. Photo: Chiarelli Campaign

public transit, including clean light-rail expansion, and helped build over $150 million in new recreational and health care infrastructure in Ottawa neighbourhoods. A strong financial manager, Chiarelli ensured Ottawa maintained its Triple-A fiscal rating under his leadership. As MPP, Chiarelli works passionately to support local needs, including significant investments at Queensway-Carleton Hospital, Algonquin College, an expanded Centrepointe Theatre, upgrades to Bell and Merivale Arenas and a renovated Baseline Transit Station. Chiarelli and his spouse, Randi Hansen, live in Ottawa. He enjoys spending time with his six adult children and two grandchildren.


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Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Ottawa Badminton Star to Represent Canada at the XX Commonwealth Games By Natasha D’Souza

Ace all the way. And so begins the rising badminton star, Andrew D’Souza’s journey to the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland this July. As a young boy, Andrew enjoyed playing every sport at school. His competitive spirit saw him join many school teams and participate in a Taekwondo competition. At the age of 11, and after having tried sports such as soccer, basketball, ultimate frisbee, swimming and tennis, Andrew took up playing badminton. It started with Friday night games at local school halls and quickly progressed to Saturday morning lessons at the RA Centre in Ottawa.

It soon became evident that this was the right fit for Andrew. After a few months of training, he went on to win the U-12 Ottawa Singles Championship. This was just the first of many such victories, leading to Andrew winning the title of U-16 Canadian Boys Singles Champion in 2010. As part of his training, Andrew has competed in international tournaments in the Netherlands and Germany. Through recommendations from Ram Nayyar of the Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club, he trained in India at the prestigious Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad during the summer of 2011. This was a game changer for Andrew, literally.

Andrew D’Souza. Photo: Bertrand Kirouac

He learned new techniques and experienced a different type of training, one focused more on technique and less on fitness when compared to the training he received in Canada. “The big advantage we [Canadian players] have is our

Latin American Expo empowers entrepreneurs

fitness – a key aspect in badminton that some higher level international players actually lack,” said Andrew about the differences between North American and Asian and European training. Following this treasure of experience, Andrew went on to become the U-19 Canadian Boys Singles Champion and to win the XXI Pan-Am Junior Championships in singles in 2012. He also played the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Junior Championships in Chiba, Japan that year. More recently, based on his performance in the 2013-2014 season and after making the quarter final at the Canadian National Championships, he qualified for the Commonwealth Games.

BJP victory celebration in Ottawa

By Jesse M. Kelly

By Atul Garg

Food and festivities were the backdrop for The Second Latin American Women Entrepreneurs Expo held Saturday, May 3 at Library and Archives Canada. The event was held by a group of entrepreneurs known as Red-MELOG, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Latin American women in OttawaGatineau together to empower and support one another in their professional initiatives. “[This event] is a great opportunity because it brings us a lot of connections,” said Ana Daza, a MELOG member, and owner of her own graphic art and design business. “Because we’re in this event together, we can go farther than if we do it alone.” Over 70 exhibitors at the expo showcased their contributions to the local community through businesses and services ranging from publishing, massage and health coaching, to professional face painting and event planning services. Since forming in 2012, and officially registering as a non-profit organization in August, 2013, Red-MELOG and the entrepreneurial expo have already seen significant growth. Francesca Davila, one of the event’s organizers, said that there were at least 20 new participants this year. “What I can see now is that because people know we are doing this for a second year, they are supporting more,” said Davila. “They are coming to do more joint ventures as well.” Davila said she envisions the expo growing from year to year, so that busi-

Overseas Friends of BJP in Ottawa celebrated the historic win of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as the nationalist party scored a landslide victory over the ruling Congress Party. This is the first time in the last 25 years a single party has won a clear majority. The scale of elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory is stunning considering that the Congress Party has ruled India for most of the past since India’s independence in 1947. Modi believes in meritocracy and is known to be a decisive leader who has led BJP to a victory on a scale the party has never seen before. He ran on the platform that promised to deliver development after years of corruption under the Congressled coalition government. Shiv Bhasker, president of the Ottawa OFBJP, said the world’s largest democracy has voted in unprecedented numbers for dramatic change. “India has won,” said Bhasker, echoing Modi’s words. “Achai din anai walai hain (good days are coming.” Bhasker hosted the celebratory party at his home that was attended by over 40 guests, including all executives of the OFBJP Ottawa Chapter, members at large and well wishers. Modi’s victory brings hope to young, unemployed Indians who, previously fed up with the lack of progress and development, are now looking to him to kickstart the economy to help bring jobs and prosperity to India.

Francesca Davila, one of the organizers of the Red-MELOG annual expo. Photo: Jesse M. Kelly

nesses from Montreal as well as more Gatineau residents can get involved. “When you get people together to work, and you start multiplying the effort, that’s when you get results,” she added. The show has certainly seen results, expanding into a larger and more central venue than it occupied last year. Hundreds of people made their way through the event this year, including Mayor Jim Watson. “I think it’s very well organized and it’s a great way to showcase female entrepreneurs in our city,” said Watson. “We’ve really got to help promote the local entrepreneurs, because they’re the real growth that is going to create the jobs we need in the future.” Growth is exactly what members can expect from participating in the event, and from membership in RedMELOG in general. “We are beginning to know more and more people in the Latin community,” said Mony Dojeiji, who is considering joining MELOG as a member. “This was an opportunity for us to really get to know other entrepreneurs, other people who are also of Latin origin and what it is that they’re offering to the community at large as well.”

While badminton is Andrew’s passion, he is equally driven to perform well at school. Currently in his third year at the University of Ottawa for human kinetics, Andrew faces the challenge of balancing his academics and a training regime that requires him to train for up to five hours, six days of the week. His commitment to his sport and studies leaves him little time for social activities. Nonetheless, Andrew has his sights set on winning the All England Open, the Olympics and the World Championship, and is committed to training hard in order to achieve his goals. However, he cannot achieve his goals without the support of his community. Andrew will be hosting an exhibition fundraiser at the RA Centre on June 13, 2014. This is a great opportunity to see him play and win some door prizes. For more information, visit www.

Shiv Bhasker, president of the Ottawa OFBJP. Photo: Atul Garg

Bhasker added that it is now up to BJP to deliver on their manifesto of development, anti-corruption and appeasement to none. There are extremely high expectations and the big question posed now is if Modi will be able to live up to them. Indian electorates are hopeful based on his past success in growing the state of Gujarat at the rate of 11 per cent for number of years. The recent increase in the Mumbai stock exchange echoed this sentiment as well. The business community expects that Modi will be able to motivate government employees - clear road blocks in the approval of infrastructure projects and help get the machinery of government moving again. The OFBJP Ottawa chapter hope that Modi can bring the change that is needed to realize the immense potential that India has. A number of members of the organization contributed to the win of BJP in their own way by both calling their relatives and friends in India to encourage them to vote for BJP, and even travelling to India to directly canvas for the BJP.

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Community • PAGE 5

Indian classical music show premieres in Ottawa By Staff Reporter

Sangeet 2014 premiered in Ottawa on Friday, May 9 featuring Maestro Shashank Subramanyam, the world-renowned flautist and Grammy award nominee. Subramanyam was accompanied on the violin by Sri Mysore V. Srikanth and on the mridangam by Sri Patri Satish Kumar. Sangeet 2014 is the brainchild of Ottawa’s own famous flautist Flute Siva who annually organizes and performs in the CineMusiq programs. As the name implies, the show features film songs performed by local artists in multiple Indian languages as well as English. Siva, who is also learning classical Hindustani music from Dr. Vinay Bhide, Ottawa’s foremost exponent of the art form, was very impressed by Bhide’s firm statement that “there is no North Indian and South Indian Classical music, there is only Indian classical music”. In an effort to truly demonstrate the common elements of the two musical forms, Siva created Sangeet 2014. The program opened with a group performance consisting of students of both classical music forms and trained by Bhide. They sang the raga Hamsadhvani, a musical mode common to both styles. In the

World-renowned flautist Maestro Shashank Subramanyam and his troupe performed at Sangeet 2014 in Ottawa. Photo: Smiles Photography

performance, students highlighted the different aspects of the two musical styles as well as demonstrated the commonalities in the rendition of the raga. Accompanied by instruments of both North and South India, the performance was very well received. The second opening item

Dr. Radha Jetty’s dance performance in the Bharatanatyam style captivated the audience Photo: Smiles Photography

was a captivating Thillana in the raga Kathanakuthuhalam composed by Dr. Balamuralikrishnan. Dr. Radha Jetty, a wellknown pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa who danced in the Bharatanatyam style to this composition, performed flaw-

lessly and elegantly. Her performance captivated the audience. With such strong opening performances, it comes as no surprise that the main performance by Maestro Subramanyam and his accompanying artists was brilliant. The different techniques demonstrated by Subramanyam on the

flute, many of which are unique to him, were ably mirrored by Mysore Srikanth on the violin. This fiery interplay was supported strongly yet delicately by Patri Sathish Kumar on the mridangam, a traditional South Indian double headed percussion instrument. Subramanyam followed an intricate main piece in raga Kiravani by several short pieces beloved by audiences across India from both musical styles. His raga development was languorous and simply mesmerized the audience who had no idea that almost three hours could pass so quickly. The performance was graced by the presence of His Excellency Admiral Nirmal Vermaji, the High Commissioner of India in Ottawa. His inspiring words and his support in all ways of this fledgling endeavour are a testament to his commitment to further ties between India and Canada. His words, “Although I am the person who is supposed to be the Ambassador between India and Canada, you are the true ambassadors between our countries,” to Subramanyam and his troupe resonated with the audience. The emcee for the program was Dr. Rashmi Venkateswaran and it was covered by Smiles Photography. If the success of this program is any indication, Ottawa can look forward to Sangeet 2015.

India Canada Friendship Circle organizes Saree Conversations By Harriet Vidyasagar and Manju Anand

The India Canada Friendship Circle is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. After a very successful screening of the film Tied in a Knot on March 9th, India Canadian Friendship Circle (ICFC) together with the Indo-Canadian Community Centre (ICCC) Ottawa organized a fascinating program for members and their guests at the Rockcliffe Park Community Hall on Sunday, April 27, where participants were treated to an exciting presentation, “Sarees tell a story of women’s personal economic empowerment.” “Saree Conversations” is a unique international community initiative, designed by Harriet Vidyasagar, Founder of Women of India (WOI) to reach out to NRI women across the world.

The program creates opportunities for women to showcase their heritage saree collections, some almost a century old, and provide a forum for sharing memories. “Through these inter-generational conversations we hope to engage with women of India around the world to help younger generations appreciate our fast vanishing handloom textile weaving traditions, techniques and designs and inspire them to help support artisans and weavers back home,” said Vidyasagar. With a dazzling display of handloom silk and cotton sarees as the backdrop for the event, Rupa Menon, coordinator of the project in Canada, also introduced Pavithra Muddaya, revivalist designer and trustee of Vimor Handloom Foundation India. Muddaya had the audience enthralled for over an hour with

her in-depth knowledge of intricately designed handloom textiles that weave traditions, motifs, meanings and accompanying myths and stories. ICFC’s mission to promote inter-cultural relationship between India and Canada found resonance in Saree Conversations, along with the goal of preservation and revival through reproductions of family heirloom heritage designs, to create not just sarees in a range of fibres, but also new contemporary products like stoles, sarongs, and wall hangings. Members had several excellent questions, and by the end of the evening it was evident that everyone present would henceforth be looking at a handloom saree border and pallu with its intricate designs in a whole new light. The fact that weavers today struggle to eke out a living as veg-

Rupa Menon (left), Harriet Vidyasagar, Pavithra Muddaya and Manju Anand. Photo by Tom Dawson

etable vendors, tea stall operators or rickshaw drivers with the influx of cheap Chinese-made copies of Benares silks sarees, came as a big surprise to many. Younger generations of weavers are abandoning their craft for other lucrative employment opportunities. Urbanization and globalization pose a real threat to the continuation of India’s textile tradition, a national treasure that has for centuries been greatly appreciated the world over. Communication between members of the Indian diaspora, who are interested in reproductions of heirloom designs, and the crafts people who make them will

go a long way in helping to preserve the skill sets of artisans and handloom weavers in India. It will encourage and support them to consider a path to a sustainable economic livelihood and leverage a myriad other possibilities. ICFC announces its next lecture and tasting event on Sunday, June 8th from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Rockcliffe Park Community Hall, 380 Springfield Road, Ottawa. Chef and Restauranteur, Mr. Coconut Lagoon, a.k.a Joe Thottungal will talk about the “Tantatizing & Tasty: Cuisine of Kerala -- God’s Own Country”


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Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Farley’s incredible Mutt!


The amazing Ottawa race! T

he Ottawa Marathon the flagship race of the Ottawa race weekend celebrated its 40th birthday on May 25th with more than 6,200 runners and attracting about 48,000 competitors from around the world across six races. What makes Ottawa race so special even though there are dime a dozen races everywhere? The reasons are pretty evident. ranked the Ottawa Marathon as one of the “101 races to run before you die”. During this weekend Ottawa is taken over by kids and veterans participating in a number of events, including a, ten-kilometre, two- and fivekilometre runs, family 2K, a kids’ marathon and walkers’ events. The centrepiece of the weekend, though, is the Ottawa marathon. As the largest marathon in the country, and cited as one of the must-run routes, some of the best runners from all corners of the world enter for a chance to win this prestigious event. The Ottawa Marathon is not only another successful local event, ‘it’s one of the most scenic, friendly and well-organized marathons in North America’. The whole community supports the event and works for this event   very enthusiastically. There is a deep sense of pride, participation and involvement with around 2000 volunteers helping in this event.  It’s very heartening to see how the whole city has taken to this event. While in many other races hardly anyone even knows that there’s a race going on in the city. But in Ottawa, as someone rightly said, “You get to the city and everyone is buzzing”.

“There are a lot of them that I enjoy, but Ottawa is my favourite of all. I really enjoy being in that city, in that race, more than any other.” says Mark Sullivan, a veteran of 146 marathons including the coveted Boston Marathon which he ran 25 years in a row, something only about 40 other runners have done. Mark’s feelings, “Ottawa is special. It has a hometown feeling to it” is echoed by thousands of people. Another reason why Ottawa race is very unique is the fact that unlike other urban marathons the course is very beautiful- it’s diverse, pretty and very picturesque. The marathon passes many of Ottawa’s major land-

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marks, including Rideau Canal, the city of Gatineau, Parliament Hill, so there are plenty of great spots to watch these athletes. The course circles back through the centre of the city several times, making it easy for spectators to follow their favourite runners without making long trips. In Ottawa, the marathon isn’t treated as an inconvenience, but something to be celebrated. We need to be more appreciative and acknowledge that we live in a great city that has a great race. Also need to make runners who come from all over say Ottawa is “a welcoming city and “a great place to come and run.” Editorial by Sangeetha Arya

Publisher: Chandrakanth Arya Chief Editor: Sangeetha Arya Editor: Ellen O’Connor

By Sangeetha Arya


ithout a function, we cease to be. So, I will write till I die.” Farley Mowat Farley Mowat died at the age of 92 and with his death we lost “an icon and an irreplaceable spirit.” He was one of Canada’s most widely read authors-“a natural storyteller with a real gift for sharing personal anecdotes in a witty and endearing way” Green Party leader Elizabeth May beautifully summed up her friend and mentor when she said, “He was possessed of a ferocious talent, able to write stories that provoked laughter, tears and action,” Mowat said he was lucky to be able to combine his two passions: writing and nature, calling it “the only subject I really want to write about.” One Mowat’s book I read with my son and  immensely enjoyed was “The dog that wouldn’t be.” Both of us love dogs and loved reading and watching dog movies (Marley and me, My dog Skip) Mutt reminded us of the dog we had. Farley Mowat’s best loved book tells the splendidly entertaining story of his boyhood on the Canadian prairies. Mutt was adorable and a dog every kid ever wished

Production: Benoit Deneault Joey Sabourin Editorial Contact

for. He climbs ladders, walks fences, climbs trees, chases cows, rides in boats, plays with owls, rides in an open top car with goggles on, develops his own unique hunting style and several other unusual un-dog like things! After having pets with quirky personalities and seemingly human capabilities, I can truly appreciate the relationship between this particular boy and his canine companion. In addition to some heartwarming dog tales, this book provided some interesting glimpses into life in a small Canadian prairie town during the Great Depression The book has humor and adventures for a kid to enjoy, and is written in a language rich enough and sophisticated to make it much more than just a kid’s book. It’s fast-paced, engaging, and hilarious. The book is about a marvelous dog, worthy of an unusual boy growing up in a raw, untamed wilderness. “It was due to that brilliant storytelling talent that he had, so it was never just a Canadian story----. It was a story - that anybody anywhere could relate to.” said Howard White, publisher of Douglas & McIntyre. Finally it was the way Farley told a story that made characters jump out of the print to be alive—immortalized in our imagination. Farley’s Mutt however incredible will never cease to entertain, uplift and transport us down memory lane and into the nostalgic bliss of childhood relived.

Sales: Michael Power 613.627.3869 Distribution COMET 2000 Printed by: Winchester Print & Stationery

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014


Why we need to rethink the nursing home model • PAGE 7

term care facilities or personal care homes —is usually the only option. Should we really be talking about how many nursing home beds are needed—as politicians, media and health policy people all do? Or should the question be, “How many more homes are needed for frail older people who need care?” One might argue that “bed” is just a manner of speaking, a way to simplify the language. But language does matter; it reflects assumptions and it limits thinking. The language of “beds” fits with a medical model. It evokes images of institutions, people who are sick lying in beds, long impersonal hallways. The idea of a “home” brings to mind entirely different images. The smell of homemade cooking, a favourite arm chair, a window to look out of and watch people going by and, ultimately, the feeling of a place where one is comfortable and safe. There have been considerable strides in the last few decades in making nursing homes feel less institutional. Older institutions have been refurbished so most, if not all, residents have a room to themselves, people are encouraged to personalize their rooms, and the staff is often very caring. Newer nursing homes sometimes consist of

smaller units to create a more intimate feel. Yet, fundamentally, they are still institutions. What if the starting point for thinking about nursing homes is to take the idea of the “home” seriously? Would the result be different? Models that do just that exist, but they are still the minority. Some use the language of “villages,” suggestive of a small, intimate community where everybody knows each other and looks after each other. In the Netherlands, a village has been created for people with dementia where they can shop, go eat in a restaurant, and live as normally as possible for as long as possible. Other models offer self-contained housing units, each accommodating a small number of residents, akin to a group home. The emphasis is on re-creating the home experience by being small scale and home-like in layout and furnishings. The philosophy of care in these settings emphasizes people’s dignity and right to continue to live life to the fullest, despite care needs. The vast majority of older people want to age in their own home. When staying in their own home is no longer possible, should people not have the option of living in a home-like setting, rather than an institution?

Would we not want that for our mother, father, grandmother or grandfather? The crux of the matter is, of course, that there are typically few choices. Elderly individuals and their family members are restricted by what is currently available. When a bed in a nursing home becomes available, there is not much choice but to take that option. And there is tremendous pressure on hospitals to discharge elderly people who can no longer go home to nursing homes—they are sometimes called “bed blockers,” yet another word that evokes many negative images. We need a different philosophy to underlie nursing homes. And it starts with the language that is used. We don’t need more nursing home beds. What we do need are homes and care options so people have choices. We need creative thinking of what might be possible to accommodate diverse needs and preferences. There are examples that can be built on, but there needs to be a willingness on the part of policy makers to support innovative thinking. Elderly people themselves and family members need to speak up and voice their preferences. In thinking about new approaches, the question we have to ask is really quite simple: “Would I want to live here?” Verena Menec is an expert advisor with and a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on aging. Article courtesy

Mounting climate evidence underscores the need to act

da—a northern country already feeling impacts, with a long coastline particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels—ignore the issue in their drive to make Canada a petro-power. Our government prefers to spend taxpayers’ money to support the fossil fuel industry with advertising campaigns and billions of dollars in subsidies. A recent New York Times ad, worth US$207,000, touts oil sands and pipelines as “environmentally responsible.” Despite opposition from communities throughout B.C. and the rest of Canada, including many First Nations, approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project is expected next month. Perceived economic benefits (mostly short-term) trump the needs of all Canadians and their children and grandchildren for clean air and water, healthy food and a stable climate. Droughts, floods, water shortages, insect-plagued forests, extreme weather events, rising sea levels and melting glaciers don’t matter as much as getting the oil, gas and coal out of the ground and sold as quickly as possible. B.C. once showed promise with climate policies such as a carbon tax. Now the government in my home province is also pinning its hopes on the fossil fuel market, fracking our way to “prosperity” at the expense of long-term human and economic health, farmland and climate. How can we allow governments and industry to continue leading us down this destructive path?

Some people say we must choose between the human-created economy and the natural environment—an absurd argument on many levels, and a false dichotomy. Even within the current flawed economic paradigm, it’s far more financially sound to invest in renewable energy and diversification than in a dying industry. Others, often driven by fossil fuel industry propaganda, doubt the evidence and question the credentials of thousands of scientists worldwide studying the issue. The IPCC report involved hundreds of scientists and experts worldwide who analyzed the latest peer-reviewed scientific literature and other relevant materials on climate change. The White House report was overseen by 13 government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was written by close to 300 scientists and experts and reviewed by numerous others, including the National Academy of Sciences. It was also vetted by groups ranging from oil companies to environmental organizations. The IPCC and White House reports are clear: solutions are available. But the longer we delay the more difficult and expensive they will be to implement. We can’t just sit by and do nothing. Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Article courtesy

By Verena Menec


INNIPEG, Troy Media—How many nursing beds are needed in Canada to care for frail, elderly people with high care needs? That’s a question that policy makers across the country are grappling with, given the aging population and especially the rapidly growing number of very elderly people over the age of 85. Many people as they age eventually need some help with daily activities like housework or shopping, but with that help they can stay in their own homes. Some people, though, particularly those who reach their 80s or 90s, or even a 100, eventually need more help than that, such as help with getting in and out of bed, eating, and using the toilet. When care needs are this great, admission to a nursing home —or what are also sometimes called long-

By David Suzuki


ANCOUVER, Troy Media—Because we enjoy relatively pure air, clean water and healthy food systems, Canadians sometimes take the environment for granted. Many scarcely blink if oil from a pipeline spills into a river, a forest is cleared for oil sands operations or agricultural land is fracked for gas. If Arctic ice melts and part of the Antarctic ice sheet collapses, well . . . they’re far away. Some see climate change as a distant threat, if they see it as a threat at all. But the scientific evidence is overwhelming: climate change is here, and unless we curb behaviours that contribute to it, it will get worse, putting our food, air, water and security at risk. A recent White House report confirms the findings of this year’s Intergovernmen-

tal Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment report, and concludes global warming is a clear and present danger to the U.S. “Climate change is . . . affecting the American people already,” says White House science adviser John Holdren in a video about the report. “Summers are longer and hotter, with longer periods of extended heat. Wildfires start earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall. Rain comes down in heavier downpours. People are experiencing changes in the length and severity of allergies. And climate disruptions to water resources and agriculture have been increasing.” Recognizing the problem’s severity is a start, but whether the U.S. will actually do anything is another question. Action to curb climate change is constantly stalled—thanks to the powerful fossil fuel industry, political and media denial, extensive fossil fuel-based infrastructure and citizen complacency. But at least the U.S. and its president have unequivocally called for action. It’s disturbing that political leaders in Cana-

PAGE 8 •


Komagata Maru stamp unveiled at Asian Heritage Month launch

Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post and , Jason Kenney Minister of multiculturalism unveiling Komagata Maru stamp. Photo: Samantha Ammoun By Samantha Ammoun


arliamentarians, government officials, leaders from the Indo-Canadian community, and Asian Canadians from across Canada gathered to celebrate the launch of Asian Heritage Month and commemorate the Komagata Muru incident with the unveiling of a Canada Post Stamp at the Museum of Nature on Tuesday, May 6. Komagata Maru steamed into Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet May 23, 1914. This boat carried 376 British subjects, primarily Sikhs from Punjab, India as well as Hindus and Muslims, who were left for over two months to starve, unwanted on Canadian soil by Canadian officials at the time. The ship was denied permission to dock and only a handful of passengers

remained in Canada. For the rest however, their tragic journey ended on their way back to India as 20 passengers were shot at their arrival and the rest locked up in prison. A hundred years later, the incident still resonates with Canadians. “It’s a great day in Canadian history when we could look back, acknowledge a very dark chapter in Canadian history, a very tragic incident when people were excluded from being Canadian because of race, and now celebrate how far we’ve come,” said Tim Uppal, Minister of State Multiculturalism. “If you just look at the House of Commons, where that racist policy would have started, we now have members of Parliament from South Asian descent in government, in cabinet and in the opposition. Now we can look back and say we (Canada) will never do that again.”

Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post, was thrilled to unveil the Asian Heritage Month stamp as the turnout of the evening far exceeded his expectations. “This is a very important stamp for the South Asian community, particularly the community of Indian origin, who wanted this incident to be recognized in history as its 100th anniversary, not just because of its unfortunate history, but more because as a nation we have now matured, to be able to recognize what we would have done better,” he said. The ceremony began with a rendition of the Canadian national anthem sung by the young Ms. Lyne-Ann Nguyen, a University of Ottawa student. The honorable Minister of multiculturalism, Jason Kenney was then welcomed to the podium to speak about the importance

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014 of Asian Heritage Month 2014 and also the Komagata Maru Incident, which was at the epicenter of the launch that evening. “The one thing I would like to mention is that they included Punjabis who were Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims when talking about the incident, showing that we are in all this boat together…This stamp represents an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the exceptional contributions of the Sikhs pioneers,” said Kenney. A violin performance by the young Kerson Leong was followed by a speech by historian Sandeep Singh Brar. As the ceremony came to a close, many gathered to get a picture taken by the newly unveiled stamp which features the art design of Louis Gagnon, inspired by pictures extracted from archives found in British Columbia. The stamp features the Komagata Maru in the foreground, and the South Asian passengers of the boat are displayed behind it, wearing different and bright colored Sikhs turbans. “We are really pleased that on a small canvas of two inches, they were able to capture the spirit of that period, it’s beautifully done and were very proud of it,” added Kenney. “We do stamp unveilings a lot of times and the amount of passion and emotion you feel on this stamp is unprecedented.” Thin-Meiw Choo, president of the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society in Ottawa, said he is always optimistic about heritage month because it allows the Asian communities to learn more about each other and of course preserve the culture and history of the people. The Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society, a non-profit organization, hosted several events over the course of the month of May commemorating the work of Asian communities in Canada all across Ottawa. All events can be found on the Asian Heritage Society of Ottawa website,

Abayomi Coker (Abai): passionate on issues that affect the settlement and lives of newcomers to Canada By Staff Reporter

Abai, born in Banjul the Gambia, comes from a family of two with his sister living in Pennsylvania. He had three daughters; one of them passed away at the age of fifteen. A graduate of Carleton University, Abai has lived and travelled in Africa and Europe for extended periods of time but settled in Canada in the seventies. As the face of the city of Ottawa changed, Abai got involved with organizations and institutions such as the Ottawa Police and the Children’s Aid Society to provide multicultural sensitization workshops and presentations in aid of minimizing both confusion and conflict between the newcomer/immigrants and their new country.

He was the of Executive Director of the National Capital Alliance on Race Relations (NCARR) and over the years has been involved with numerous consultations at both the federal and provincial levels of government on issues that affect the settlement and lives of newcomers to Canada. Abai has been working in the ESL program with the Ottawa Catholic School Board, for more than twenty years. As the Administrator responsible for the program he deals with over 4000 learners annually. Today all levels of ESL and speciality language classes such as the Home Support Worker Program, Childcare Worker Program, Sewing Programs to name but a few exist as a result of his

ever seeking answers to the question— What next? Abai has presented papers and workshops at local and national conferences and participated in round tables across the country. He served on the executive of TESL Ontario was an expert advisor to both the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO); the Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth and is a member of CESBA (Continuing Education School Board Administrators). His passion and commitment to making the pathway of integration into Canadian society for newcomers has been the backbone and strength of all that he continues to strive towards.

Abayomi Coker (Abai).


Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014 • PAGE 9

In-TAC celebrates another year of success By Staff Reporter

The International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC) hosted its 5th Annual Appreciation Gala—“Go Global: Hire Local” on Friday, May 2, where Ottawa’s business leaders, community stakeholders, government representatives and newcomer graduates of InTAC’s programs celebrated another year of successful partnerships and collaborations. Held at the National Arts Centre, the gala was an evening to celebrate and recognize the success of the talented internationally educated professionals (IEPs) who are now actively engaged in the Canadian workforce, and award eight outstanding individuals and organizations. IEP success stories included Sandra Escarraga, a Colombian Computer Science Engineer, whose resume was among the 20 presented to employers during In-TAC’s Talent Den, an event held in January that connected potential employers and job seekers. Michael Arno, President and CEO of Superna, had been looking for someone with her skills and expertise locally for over six months when he came across Sandra’s profile. After a quick interview, Michael hired her on the spot. Now Sandra, after years of struggling to find work in her field, is thrilled to be working as a Datacenter Verification Specialist. The gala was also an opportunity to acknowledge In-TAC’s over 400 employer partners who recognize top talent and know that diversity and inclusiveness offer tangible business benefits. InTAC also recognized their community stakeholder partners who, through their generous funding and support, allow InTAC to offer a comprehensive range of employment services. Prominent guests included the Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP, Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, Invest Ottawa’s President and CEO, Bruce Lazenby, Citizenship and Immigration’s Director General, Corinne Prince St-Amand, and CBC’s own Lucy van Oldenbarneveld, Master of Ceremonies, who graciously emceed the evening. In his congratulatory speech, Watson praised the graduates of the programs stating that, “Highly skilled international professionals contribute to businesses by filling in the expertise gaps, and employers, in return, offer them the opportunity to work in their field of specialization allowing Ottawa to truly go global by hiring locally, as tonight’s slogan states.” Ottawa Centre MPP, Yasir Naqvi, praised the In-TAC team noting, “With its diverse and professional staff, who combined, possess decades of business experience, In-TAC truly is a unique

Staff Sergeant Debbie Miller, Staff Sergeant Isobel Granger, and Carmen G. Munoz, National Manager In-TAC. Photo: McCarthy Media Group and Profile Imaging

and vital resource in our community and a remarkable asset to both employers and employees.”

The evening was made possible thanks to In-TAC’s generous sponsors; Kivuto, CIBC, CGA, Industrial Al-

liance, Titus and Combat. As well as our media sponsors McCarthy Media Group and Profile Imaging.

Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber announces new board

The new ICOBC board of directors from left to right: Jack Uppal, Past Chair; Neera Malhotra; Ameek Rakhra, Corporate Secretary; Karunakar Papala, Chair; Kamesh Misra, Treasurer; Nargis Schutte; Diana Swedani and Sukhwant Nannan, Vice Chair. Photo: ICOBC

By Staff Reporter

The Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber announced its new board of directors for the 2014-2015 term on Wednesday, May 14. The new board includes Karunakar Papala, Chair; Jack Uppal, Past Chair; Sukhwant Nannan, Vice Chair; Neera Malhotra; Ameek Rakhra, Corporate Secretary; Kamesh Mishra, Treasurer; Nargis Schutte, and Diana Swedani. In its 10 years, the ICOBC has become synonymous in the Indo-Canadian community for promoting strong rela-

tionships amongst its members by bringing together the best from the political, business, academic and youth segments of our great community. The successes and diversity of the Indo-Canadian Community is recognized annually at the ICOBC awards gala, held each fall at a premier Ottawa venue, and always a must night on the Ottawa social calendar. The ICOBC is an inclusive organization with its main goals of promoting crosscultural successes, strong socio-economic presence, mentorship of our youth and personal and professional development.  

A summer highlight on the ICOBC agenda is this year’s 8th annual golf day. This nearly sold out event will once again be held for the first time at the beautiful Hautes Plaines golf club on Monday, June 23.  As our premier summer networking event, the annual ICOBC golf day is a must for all those in and working within Ottawa’s vibrant Indo-Canadian community.   “On behalf of all our membership, and the Board of directors, we look forward to seeing all the new and familiar faces at each and every ICOBC event,” said new ICOBC Chair, Karunakar Papala.


PAGE 10 •

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Chinatown Remixed brings art to the streets By Jesse M. Kelly and Ellen O’Connor

Ottawa’s Chinatown district was awash with activity as the Chinatown Remixed event kicked off its sixth annual monthlong event Saturday, May 17. Despite heavy cloud cover, artists, musicians, and community organizations set up tables, tents, DJ booths, stages and art projects all along Somerset Street. Malik Ayass, executive director of The Door Youth Centre in the heart of Chinatown said he was happy to see such an early turn out. “Year after year it has been growing,” said Ayass. “And more people are becoming aware, not necessarily just living in the community, but outside the community.” The sidewalks were comfortably filled with families, tourists, and community members stopping by local businesses to talk with the artists and take in the atmosphere. “I give [the organizers] credit for making it an extremely multicultural event,” said Ayass. “We have a multicultural community coming together, and this is wonderful.” From the 150 applications that were submitted in January, only 40 visual and performance artists were selected to participate in the event. The artists

Wall: A participant draws on one of the many collaborative art walls set up along Somerset Street. Photo: Jesse M. Kelly

teamed up with Chinatown businesses to display their work, ranging from print and paint to sculpture, photography and even finger puppets. A yarn bombing art installation was set up by the newly iconic Chinatown arch called ‘Take it or leave it.” The colourful wall was knit with dozens of pockets, where passerby could take, or

leave, items or information. The installation was set up by Justy Dennis and the O-Town Bombers. East of Bronson Avenue, the mood was more jovial, with multiple DJs, a beer tent, food trucks, fortune telling, children’s clothing, mixed media and traditional art. “The idea was to bring in a variety of different artists and their work into China-

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town and put them into businesses so people can come through and see artists that are living right in their backyard, as well as give them a chance to explore and see what Chinatown has to offer,” said Robert Parungao, board member of Chinatown Remixed. “It’s serving business and the artist scene as well.” The Chinatown Remixed board is made up of about eight members, all of whom are community members or artists. Parungao has been involved for the past three years and says he has a personal connection to Chinatown having been a resident as well as currently the host of Beats and Boardgames, an event held every Tuesday at Raw Sugar Cafe on Somerset. He added that Ottawa Chinatown is not just a tourist destination. While respecting its history as a community, it has also gotten a facelift through art and community events like Chinatown Remixed, funded by the Chinatown BIA and other community sponsors including this year’s big sponsor, Porter Airline. Since Chinatown Remixed began six years ago, Parungao says one of the biggest changes they’ve seen is its growth in size and in partners. “A lot of the people who started the event were artists, and so they focused on the art. We’ve come to appreciate the organizing and sponsor side of it.” Last year was the first year they had a stage, and this year they graduated to two stages that featured local band Loon Choir, singer Smoota, who travelled here from New York, Chinatown’s drag queen and karaoke host China Doll, who emceed the evening, and stand-up comedian Greg Houston. Although Saturday’s day-long vernissage kicked off the festival, the celebration continues for a whole month until June 17. To encourage Ottawans to visit Chinatown and enjoy the featured art exhibitions for the entire month, they are holding a passport contest. Participants can visit any participating Chinatown Remixed exhibition venue to get a stamp on their passport. For every three stamps you collect, your name is entered to win two round trip tickets anywhere Porter Airline travels.


Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Putin talks back to Canada Sees room for compromise on Arctic, not on Ukraine By The Canadian Press


T. PETERSBURG, Russia—Vladimir Putin had tough talk for Canada on May 25, saying he understands Canadian concerns about Arctic sovereignty but Canada’s stance on Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is far more puzzling. The Russian president suggested Canada’s physical distance from Ukraine meant it had little business meddling in the conflict, adding that Russia acted within the scope of international law when it annexed the Crimean peninsula in March. “Look at where Canada is, and look at where Ukraine and Russia are,” he said in a question-and-answer session in St. Petersburg with senior representatives of international news agencies. “Neither Canada nor the U.S. have the same amount of interests in Ukraine as Russia does.” Other than Ukraine and Russia, Canada is home to the largest population of Ukrainians in the world. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called for a “complete reversal” of Russia’s actions in Crimea and has levelled sanctions against a slate of Russian officials and institutions. Putin says he’d be happy to meet with Harper regarding Ukraine, including in Normandy during D-Day events next month. “We are ready for discussion, including with the prime minister,” he said. “And I have spo-

Arctic (Orthographic Projection) Source: Wikipedia

ken with him various times at summits on various issues and questions.” But on the eve of Ukraine’s presidential election, Putin accused the West of paying short shrift to Russia’s interests in Ukraine. The Russian leader has promised to respect the results.

“Where is the guarantee that, after the forceful change of power, Ukraine will not tomorrow end up in NATO?” Putin asked. “We hear only one answer, as if on a record: Every nation has a right determine on its own the security system in which it wants to live, and that doesn’t concern you.” • PAGE 11 Putin has said that part of what motivated Russia to annex Crimea was to prevent NATO ships from assembling in the strategic Black Sea peninsula. As for Canada’s concerns about sovereignty in the Arctic, Putin says he intends to respect international law in the region and to negotiate with all interested nations. Russia, Canada, the US, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic given it’s believed to contain up to a quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas. “For a very long time, we conducted negotiations with our Norwegian partners with regard to the distribution of the shelf in the northern seas,” Putin said. “We conducted those talks over 10 years. They are always complicated questions, particularly when they’re connected to hydrocarbons, but we nonetheless started these talks...and it seems to be the best path to resolve all questions with regards to the Arctic.” He brushed off Canadian objections to the Russian flag being dropped via canister to the ocean floor near the North Pole in 2007, comparing it to the so-called space race of the 1960s. “That was a non-governmental act; it was more of an emotional act and I don’t see anything scary in it,” he said. “The Americans in their time stood on the moon and put their flag there, but we aren’t arguing with them for what they did and we don’t talk about how they have ambitions to take over the moon. Thank God we are developing co-operation in space.”

UN asks Ottawa to open its doors for refugees of Syria’s brutal civil war By Lina Dib, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—The United Nations refugee agency is knocking on Canada’s door in search of countries willing to welcome some of the 100,000 people displaced by the brutal Syrian civil war. The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees met with federal Immigration Minister Chris Alexander on Wednesday as part of a tour that includes Europe and the United States. Antonio Guterres said May 29 he hopes he can make some progress with Alexander. “We hope that there will be, at the right moment, a positive response,’’ he said. The Canadian government has already agreed to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees who fled the Middle Eastern conflict, but Ottawa remains far from meeting that goal.

Alexander’s office said the federal government is trying to reach the target. “We are committed to resettling 1,300 Syrians by the end of 2014, with 1,100 places allocated to the private sponsorship of refugees,’’ Codie Taylor, Alexander’s communications director, said in an email. “We have started to resettle the most vulnerable Syrians and are actively working to meet our existing commitments.’’ Guterres said much more needs to be done to help ease the massive burden on Syria’s neighbours, including Lebanon. He says Syrians now make up more than one quarter of the population in Lebanon, where more than one million Syrians are registered with the UN refugee agency. Lebanon’s infrastructures have failed to keep up with the influx of Syrians, leading to overcrowded schools and hospitals, he noted. The Syrian Canadian Council insists none of the 1,300 refugees are in Canada

Syrian refugee camp on theTurkish border for displaced people of the Syrian civil war. Wikipedia photo.

yet, noting that 200 refugees sponsored by the federal government have still not made it across the ocean. The group says private sponsorship is almost impossible. “The obstacles are enormous,’’ group spokesman Faisal Alazem said in a telephone interview. The delays are too long and the financial requirements too high, he added. “We hope Antonio Guterres...will really push the government to make a political decision to accelerate the process.’’

However, he admitted he is not optimistic. His organization has asked in vain to meet with Alexander. Setting up a meeting with the previous minister, Jason Kenney, took two years and produced nothing, he added. Meanwhile, Guterres said the burden must be shared in what he called an emergency situation. “We need the international community to demonstrate to (Syria’s neighbours) that they have support,’’ he said, noting the “giant’’ Syrian presence in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

PAGE 12 •


Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Website seeks to catch immigration law firms dodging foreign worker rules Continued from page 1

on the federal government’s job bank— a necessary step for those seeking to hire temporary foreign workers. “I made the qualifications as strict as possible and kept the salary as low as possible to discourage Canadian applicants. But I ended up getting 100s of resumes!” the email says. “Do you think you could help me get an LMO (labour market opinion) even though I have 100s of Canadians wanting that job?” One of the replies, which the site says was sent by someone at the firm of Toronto-area immigration lawyer Adela Crossley, came as a surprise to the website’s founder, Rohana Rezel. “Trust me when I say that she would find a way around the fact that there are

suitable Canadian candidates; she is very creative,” says the reply. In an interview May 22 from Vancouver, Rezel said he was “taken aback” by the email. “We were relieved to get a response from another lawyer who told us in no uncertain terms that what we were suggesting violated the regulations.” Contacted by The Canadian Press, a terse Crossley said she had no knowledge of the exchange, but added the person who wrote the reply “did not speak for me.” “If she did send something out, and I read it and it’s not appropriate, I will deal with her appropriately,” Crossley said. “But I would never, ever suggest such a thing.”

Another Vancouver immigration lawyer who received the email from “Jimmy” politely replied that he’d try to help. But he insisted Thursday his response was a standard, pro-forma reply sent early in the morning before he’d had a chance to read the email thoroughly. Toronto immigration lawyer Vanessa Routley, meanwhile, sternly warned “Jimmy” against his plan of action. Earlier this month, several immigration consultants—many of them in Western Canada—were advertising offers to help temporary foreign workers find employers, rather than the other way around. “Are you looking for an LMO (labour market opinion) employer?” asked one ad placed by an Edmonton-based company. Continued on page 13

Construction Workers Source: Wikipedia

Aging workers Starting to impact Canada’s labour market

Researchers examine hitchhiking O along B.C.’s Highway of Tears Continued from page 1

“I don’t see that changing, especially with diminishing transportation options in the north.” Holler is currently working with the RCMP to study hitchhiking in northern B.C. When they’re finished, she hopes to better understand what leads people to choose hitchhiking and what governments can do to make them safer—either by offering safe, affordable transportation options or putting in measures to make hitchhiking itself less dangerous. At least 18 women and girls, many of them aboriginal, have been murdered or disappeared along Highway 16 and the adjacent Highways 5 and 97 since 1969. Many of them were believed to be hitchhiking when they were last seen alive, and some of the recommendations for the Highway of Tears have focused on the dangers associated with hitchhiking and a lack of transportation linking remote communities and First Nations reserves. “Hitchhiking takes on a particular importance in the Highway of Tears discussion because there are serious transportation needs that aren’t being met in the north,” said Holler, who stressed that not all Highway of Tears victims were hitchhikers. “The easy solution is to say, ‘Don’t ever hitchhike, and you’re much less likely to become a victim,’ but it’s just not that simple. For many people, hitchhiking is an absolute necessity.” The RCMP approached Holler and her colleagues about the possibility of

studying hitchhiking, and they officially launched the project in September 2012. Holler and her fellow researchers developed an online survey to ask hitchhikers about themselves and their experiences, while the RCMP has directed its traffic officers in the north to stop and gather information from hitchhikers they come across. At the same time, several commercial courier companies installed GPS devices in their trucks to allow drivers to indicate where they see hitchhikers with the press of a button. Holler said the project has recorded a diverse group of hitchhikers that range in age from their mid-teens to their 70s. Some say they hitchhike out of necessity, while others say they actually prefer it as a way to get around. Aboriginals appear to be overrepresented, said Holler, likely because many First Nations people live in remote communities and may not have the resources to afford a car. The one thing the hitchhikers have in common is that they continue to take rides despite the repeated warnings about the dangers of hitchhiking—a message echoed on a series of billboards along Highway 16. The Mounties have shifted their messaging to reflect that inevitability. While the force still discourages hitchhiking, it also launched a poster campaign last year with safety tips, such as ensuring hitchhikers tell someone where they are going and when they expect to arrive. Staff Sgt. Pat McTiernan said traffic officers who come across hitchhikers ap-

proach them for the study, hand out safety information and, if the person is in a dangerous area, offer a ride to somewhere safe. “We can talk to people about not hitchhiking, but the reality is, you’re still going to have people (who hitchhike),” he said. The Highway of Tears has been studied several times in recent in years, including a First Nations symposium in 2006 that made 33 recommendations and the public inquiry into the Robert Pickton case, which in December 2012 called for urgent action to improve transportation along Highway 16. Recommendations have included a shuttle system and other measures to address hitchhiking. The provincial government has yet to announce any significant plans to address the Highway of Tears, and it has faced criticism that it has been slow to respond to the Pickton inquiry report. The province’s justice minister has insisted the highway is safer, and she has singled out Holler’s hitchhiking study as an example of work that’s being done to improve it. Holler wants to expand her study to invite participants from across Canada and to send researchers out into the field to talk to hitchhikers in person, instead of relying on the Internet, which may leave some potential respondents out. But that sort of work costs money, and so far Holler’s requests for provincial government funding, such as a grant from B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office, have been turned down.

By The Canadian Press

TTAWA—A new Royal Bank analysis suggests the Canada’s labour market is already starting to feel the impact of the aging work force. The RBC paper notes that given soft job growth in the past year, and the corresponding decline in the labour participation rate, it is easy—and likely inaccurate—to jump to the conclusion that many Canadians are becoming too discouraged to look for work. But economist Nathan Jansen says the most likely explanation is just that the baby boomer generation is starting to retire. The evidence for such a conclusion is there has been an increase in the number of Canadians classified as not in the work force. It turns out that 65 year olds and older are responsible for most of the increase in the not-in-the work force category—not because they are discouraged but because they have retired, says Jansen. He points out that back in 2007 Statistics Canada predicted that the participation rate would start to fall sharply going forward because of the aging population, with the decline becoming noticeable in 2011. If the analysis is true, that is good news for policy-makers because it suggests the country’s current unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent reflects accurately what is going on in the labour force, and does not hide a large number of discouraged workers. But analysts have also warned that as baby boomers retire it will squeeze government budgets with higher costs for services such as health care and fewer workers paying taxes.

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Canada • PAGE 13

Electronic spy agency gathers Ottawa is a great place to start and personal information in grow your business. cyberdefence role By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


TTAWA—Canada’s electronic spy agency says it gathers and sometimes keeps personal information—including names and email addresses of Canadians—as part of efforts to protect vital networks from cyberattacks. Communications Security Establishment Canada maintains an information bank containing the personal information of “potentially any individual” who communicates electronically with a key federal computer network while CSEC is assessing its vulnerability. Information in the bank—known as CSEC PPU 007—is held for up to 30 years before being transferred to Library and Archives Canada, says a description in the federal Info Source guide, which lists the various categories of personal information held by the government. “Personal information may be used to assess potential threats to information technology systems subject to the assessment, and to help ensure the security of these electronic systems,” the notice says. The listing sheds light on a little-known aspect of CSEC’s work—threat assessments and technical analyses aimed at strengthening federal defences against foreign cyberattacks on government computers. The Ottawa-based spy agency has come under intense scrutiny in recent months due to leaks by a former contractor for the National Security Agency, CSEC’s American counterpart and close working ally. CSEC insists it targets only foreign communications—from email to satellite traffic—of intelligence interest to Canada. However, the spy service acknowledges it cannot monitor global communications in the modern era without sweeping up at least some Canadian information. As a result, CSEC’s cyberdefence activities are permitted through special authorization of the defence minister. Otherwise, they would risk contravening the Criminal Code provision against intercepting the private communications of Canadians. Records recently obtained under the Access to Information Act say CSEC planned

to focus its cyberdefence operations in 201213 on its own computer networks and those of three other federal institutions: National Defence, Foreign Affairs and Shared Services Canada, which administer the federal secure communication channel, known as SC Net. The Info Source listing says personal information collected by CSEC during cyberdefence efforts may include a person’s full name, email address, Internet Protocol (or IP) address and any incidental personal details contained in electronic routing codes, or metadata. Information from the data bank may be shared with domestic police agencies “or foreign bodies” in keeping with formal agreements, the listing says. The foreign bodies are surely CSEC’s Five Eyes partners—the U.S. NSA and similar agencies in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, said Wesley Wark, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs. It is “remarkable” that information may be held in the data bank for 30 years, Wark added. “What this material does not tell us, of course, is the extent of the personal information held as a result of cybersecurity activities.” The notes released under Access to Information say that if CSEC intercepts a private Canadian communication under ministerial authorization, “it can only be used or retained if it is deemed essential to international affairs, defence or security.” Information collected during an assessment of a federal agency’s computer systems – including personal data – is destroyed once the test is complete, or sooner if it is not needed to “identify, isolate or prevent harm” to the network, said CSEC spokesman Ryan Foreman. In some cases, the personal information of a Canadian may be kept if a foreign cyberattacker engages in phishing—an attempt to compromise a government department’s system by sending a carefully crafted email that appears to originate from a known or trusted sender, Foreman indicated. In other cases, a known piece of malware might be retained and used to prevent future cyberattacks, he said.

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Dodging foreign worker rules Continued from page 12

“I have access to 800 LMO jobs right now. Also, I have the complete list of ALL companies with LMOs in Canada. Over 50,000 employers. Do you have friends and family who want to come to Canada to work? I can help.” Employers must first make an attempt to find qualified Canadian workers before applying for a labour market opinion in order to hire someone from abroad. Companies are required to place ads on the job bank and prove they’ve made other attempts to find Canadian employees.

Rezel, an information technology specialist, said he established NTFW not only to highlight abusers, but also to protect migrant workers who are often victimized by the program. Nonetheless, he says he receives emails daily that accuse him of being “a racist white supremacist. That’s pretty weird,” sad Rezel, who was born in Sri Lanka. “Our objective here is to make the system fair for Canadian workers, migrant workers, consumers and businesses. I am hardly racist; that is the furthest thing from the truth.”

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PAGE 14 •


A 1st in 52 years Not since 1962 had the Bee ended in a tie. It came about because the rules state that only 25 words remain once the competition is down to two or three spellers. Sriram thought he was a goner when he stumbled on “corpsbruder” (a close comrade), but Ansun then couldn’t handle “antigropelos” (waterproof leggings). So they kept going, the spelling celebrity and the upstart, and the doomsday bell never sounded again. Sriram was competing in the Bee for the fifth time and had finished third last year. He had received the full ESPN star treatment. Ansun, looking fashionable in a red bowtie, failed to get out of the preliminaries in his only previous appearance—and was one of Sriram’s fans. “Definitely—I’d seen him in the finals,” Ansun said. “And I wanted to be like that.” Turns out they’re exactly alike— at least in the final rankings. “A veteran and, let’s say, a rookie,” Sriram said with a smile long after the confetti had settled. “It’s pretty cool.” Sriram likes swimming, skating, playing basketball and the oboe and wants to be an ophthalmologist. (Both of his parents are doctors.) Ansun is a gifted musician and wants to be an engineer, like his father. Both are Indian-American, making it seven years

in a row that a speller of Indian descent has taken home the trophy. The run began in 1999 with Nupur Lala, who was featured in the documentary “Spellbound.” The Bee is always good for colorful moments as bright kids enjoy their turn in the spotlight. This week, a new word was coined, “spellfie,”as spellers, family and fans took photos of themselves in addition to the usual rush to collect each other’s autographs. The week began with the annual barbecue, when Sriram was inducted into an oddly-named group of spellers that hang out online. “I’m happy to represent ‘The Order of the Squushy Carrots,’ I guess,” he said onstage after his victory. Ansun isn’t a Squushy Carrot—at least not yet—but he and Sriram have something more important in common that helped them come out on top. Ansun’s mother said her son has a photographic memory. Sriram said he’s studied the dictionary so much that he has a “GPS system” in his brain and can recall the page where a word appears. “It’s like flipping through the dictionary in my mind,” Sriram said. Those abilities to visualize the letters paid off. Sriram’s final word was “stichomythia,” a theatrical term. Ansun, told he was spelling for a tie, then wrapped up the competition with “feulleton,” the features section of a European newspaper or magazine. Then came the celebration. Among the biggest smiles was on the face of Bhageerathi Pathwar, Sriram’s grandmother, who made the trip from Bangalore just for the Bee. “It was worth it,” she beamed.

and poverty alleviation, the government statement said. He promised more education spending and to enrol more children in school, but gave no details. May 29 high-level meeting was the first in four years to focus exclusively on Xinjiang. Xi defended Beijing’s policies in the region, including those on religion. Official restrictions such as a prohibition on taking children to mosques have angered Muslims. “Our party’s strategy on the governance of Xinjiang is proven to be correct and must be continued,” the president was quoted as saying. He said authorities should focus on “helping religion adapt to a socialist society.” “Focus on fostering a team of patriotic clergy and boosting the general quality of people in the religious circle so as to ensure that the leadership of religious organizations is firmly in the hands of people who love the country as well as religion,” Xi was quoted as saying. A statement issued after a meeting Monday of Communist Party lead-

southern Xinjiang, in contrast to the rest of China, where education is free only through ninth grade. Beijing said at least one member of each household should be guaranteed employment. Also May 29, the country’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, promised to promote bilingual education to increase employment opportunities for Uighurs, who are poorer than the Han Chinese. China has stepped up security throughout the country and is starting to equip police officers with guns so they can respond to terror attacks and other violent incidents. In Urumqi, liquids and lighters have been banned from bus lines in response to last week’s attack. Authorities in far-off Beijing have mobilized 850,000 volunteers to help police spot potential dangers, the Communist Party-run Beijing Daily said. The city also has placed security guards on some public buses and started scanning passengers at several subway stations.

Teens, both Indo-Americans, from New York, Texas declared co-champions at the US National Spelling Bee By Joseph White, The Associated Press


XON HILL, Md., May 31—When the confetti flew, the two boys stood in the centre of the stage and shook hands. They held up the trophy together. Both were champions, a Spelling Bee finish unseen in more than half a century. After all, it wouldn’t have seemed right for one of them to finish second. Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe had essentially used up the entire list of words the Bee had to offer. The one time Sriram misspelled, Ansun did too. Then they were spot on for their final 12 spellings combined, acing dark-corner-of-the-dictionary stuff like “thymelici,” ”encaenia,“ ”skandhas,“ ”sdrucciola“ and ”holluschick.“ Sriram had been a favourite to win. Ansun had come out of nowhere. When it was all done, 14-year-old Sriram from Painted Post, New York, and 13-year-old Ansun from Fort Worth, Texas, had each won $30,000 in cash as co-winners of the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee. “I think we both know that the competition is against the dictionary and not against each other,” Sriram said. “I’m happy to share this trophy with him.”

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014

Israel risks apartheid if peace not made with Palestinians: South Africa’s de Klerk By The Associated Press

JERUSALEM—The last president under white rule in South Africa has suggested Israel risks heading toward apartheid if a peace deal with the Palestinians is not achieved. F. W. de Klerk, along with the late Nelson Mandela, brought about an end to decades of apartheid rule in South Africa, jointly winning the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. De Klerk said calling Israel an apartheid state now was “unfair.” But he said without a two-state solution, Israel may have one state for both Israelis and Palestinians. He said: “The test will be (does) everybody living then in such a unitary state, will everybody have full political rights? Will everybody enjoy their full human rights?” Israeli Channel 2 TV aired De Klerk’s remarks May 27. He was in Israel to receive an honorary degree.

Spanish village with ‘Kill Jews’ as China’s president promises more jobs, part of its name schools in northwest to defuse tensions decides it’s time ers said they promised free education Xi promised that the government for a change through high school in heavily Uighur would focus on employment, education By Didi Tang, The Associated Press

BEIJING—China’s president has promised to raise incomes and education spending in the country’s restive Muslim northwest in an effort to cool rising ethnic tensions, while calling for tougher security following an attack in the region’s capital that killed dozens of people. At a top-level meeting, President Xi Jinping called May 29 for “copper walls and iron barriers” as well as “nets spread from the earth to the sky” in the Xinjiang region to stop terrorism, according to a statement from China’s central government. The May 22 attack that killed 43 people in Urumqi was the deadliest in a series of attacks blamed on members of the region’s Uighur ethnic minority. Beijing says the attackers are religious extremists with ties to overseas Islamic terror groups, but foreign experts say they see no evidence of that. Uighur activists say the unrest is fueled by growing frustration at an influx of settlers from China’s Han majority and official discrimination and suppressive policies.

By Alan Clendenning And Harold Heckle, AP

MADRID, Spain—Voters in the tiny Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios, whose name means “Camp Kill Jews,” overwhelmingly decided May 25 that it’s time to change the name their town has had for nearly four centuries. Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez said the vote was 29-19 in heavy turnout for the village with just 56 registered voters about 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of Madrid. Documents show the town’s original name was Castrillo Motajudios, meaning “Jews’ Hill Camp.” The “Kill Jews” part of the name dates from 1627, more than a century after a 1492 Spanish royal edict ordering Jews to become Catholics or flee the country. Those who remained faced the Spanish inquisition, with many burned at the stake. Although Jews were killed in the area, researchers believe the town got its current name from Jewish residents who converted to Catholicism and wanted to reinforce their repudiation of Judaism to convince Spanish authorities of their loyalty, Rodriguez said. Others suspect the change may have come from a slip of the pen. Castrillo MataContinued on page 15

Ottawa Star • June 1, 2014


EU leaders meet to plot a new course for EU After elections bring anti-EU groups to the fore By Raf Casert, The Associated Press


RUSSELS, Belgium—British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recurring complaint that the European Union is “too big, too bossy, too interfering” gained traction at an EU summit on May 27, after election results that underscored voter apathy and hostility forced government leaders across the bloc to consider profound change. Protest voters turned out in droves while over half the 28-nation bloc’s electorate failed to muster enough interest to go to their polling stations for European Parliament elections—giving a massive thumbs-down to how the EU functions. The anti-EU UK Independence Party topped the polls in Britain, and in France the extreme-right National Front overwhelmed all its rivals. On May 27, Cameron said that “Europe should concentrate on what matters —growth and jobs—and not try to do so much.” The British leader had often seemed an outsider at EU summits where leaders have long sought ever closer unions. But this time, his EU peers were listening attentively, and he found his call for economic growth and job creation echoed by French President Francois Hollande. “I am European and I want Europe to change,” Hollande said. Cameron also got support for his stance that Brussels needed to return many powers to its 28 member nations as soon as possible. “The answer to the vote is less rules and less meddling from Europe,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. Perhaps the tipping point turning the electorate against the EU came last year, when it was unable to address record unemployment crippling some member nations hit by the financial crisis while at the same time trying to ban refillable olive oil jugs from restaurant tables. The olive oil measure was quickly pulled back, yet it became emblematic to many for how the EU meddles in minor issues while losing sight of the big picture. Cameron has promised his country a referendum on EU membership in 2017,

raising the prospect of one of the biggest European nations leaving the EU. “For Sweden and for the EU, it is of the utmost importance that Britain stays inside the EU and that we also take into account the situation we have in Britain when we formulate a new mandate,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.Analysts also saw a tilt toward Britain’s views. “Now Francois Hollande talking about limiting EU actions, more and more people beginning to sound like Cameron, this will strengthen his position seeking reforms,” said Anand Menon, professor of European Politics at King’s College London. One of the first battles for the new Europe was already shaping up—over the post of EU Commission chief. Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and longtime leader of the group of nations with the euro currency, who wants to replace current leader Jose Manuel Barroso. The post is important since the commission proposes legislation and runs much of the day-to-day affairs of the EU. Juncker, 59, is seen as a master dealmaker in backrooms over many years and a committed defender of EU unity and closer co-operation. Cameron refused to elaborate on other possible names for the post but said in a thinly veiled reference that he wanted people who were “not about the past.” If Juncker gets enough of the 751 EU lawmakers to support him, he will still have to convince the overwhelming majority of government leaders. The whole process could take several weeks but in the end EU leaders could still go for a candidate of their liking. For Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party that drew more votes than Cameron’s Conservatives in the EU election and is fully anti-EU, choosing Juncker would be yet more proof that the EU parliament was tone deaf to change. “You know, there is a big dissident voice now in this parliament. And yet, I just sat in a meeting where you wouldn’t have thought anything had happened at all, and it was business-as-usual,” Farage said after the conference of party leaders.

Spanish village changes name Continued from page 14

judios wants to attract more tourists and townsfolk thought highlighting its Jewish past could help. Some residents are also embarrassed by the name. Although no Jews live in the town today, Rodriguez said many residents have ancient Jewish roots and the town’s official shield includes the Star of David.

Spain’s government earlier this year apologized to Jews by offering citizenship to descendants of those who were forced to flee centuries ago. Most voters who wanted a change want to revive the “Jews’ Hill Camp” name but a final decision won’t happen until a town hall meeting is held in June. • PAGE 15

Yanks, no thanks: American authors dropped as UK English teaching gets a strong British accent. Gone, too, are African and Asian writers Continued from page 1

qualification under new guidelines that focus almost exclusively on writers from Britain and Ireland. Some educators fear that could lead to the narrowing of British minds. “The idea of cutting out American books because they are not British is crazy,” said John Carey, a literary critic and emeritus professor at Oxford University. Exam boards in England and Wales—which set school syllabuses in line with government rules—on May 30 finished releasing their new book lists for the English Literature GCSE, an exam taken by 16-year-olds after a two-year course of study. Gone are Lee, Steinbeck, Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” and the autobiography of Maya Angelou, who died this week. Gone, too, are African and Asian writers including Haruki Murakami, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. The purge of Americans and others is the product—though not, the government says, the goal—of an attempt to make the school curriculum more rigorous. New government rules say GCSE pupils must study “high quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial” works, including a 19th-century novel, a selection of poetry, a play by William Shakespeare and post-1914 fiction or drama “from the British Isles.” (Previous rules mentioned “contemporary writers” without reference to nationality). A requirement to study authors from different cultures has been dropped. Gove strongly denied that his goal was to banish non-British authors. “I have not banned anything,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. “All we are doing is asking exam boards to broaden— not narrow—the books young people study for GCSE.” The education department says the guidelines represent the minimum students are required to learn, and that those who read more widely— and internationally—will do better on the exams. It also says pupils are required to study “seminal world literature”—including American classics—between the ages of 11 and 14. Critics of the new English rules say they will have a restrictive, rather than broadening, effect. “Michael Gove wants everybody studying traditional literature, and he wants it to be British,” said Bethan Marshall, chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English. “I think that’s a bit of a mistake.”

This is not the first time Gove, who has been education secretary in Britain’s Conservative-led government since 2010, has faced strong opposition to his plans. His overhaul of primary education was called “neo-Victorian” by a Cambridge University professor, and his proposal to make history lessons more British in focus was condemned by many academics. Some educators welcomed Gove’s attempts to raise standards. Jonathan Bate, an English professor at Oxford who advised on the latest curriculum changes, said he had been discouraged to discover that many pupils studied no British novels for their GCSE course. “I think there are so many riches in the last century’s literature in these islands that all pupils should have some acquaintance with it,” Bate said. The new book lists include a wide sample of modern British literature and drama, from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” to Kazuo Ishiguro’s“ novel ”Never Let Me Go,“ Alan Bennett’s play ”The History Boys“ and ”Anita and Me,“ a coming-of-age novel by comedian and author Meera Syal. The 19th-century novels on offer include Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” But debate on the changes has focused on the loss of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men,” which several generations of Britons remember —mostly fondly—from their schooldays. Few commentators had anything negative to say about Lee’s beloved tale of a girl learning about racism and justice in the American South. Outraged fans of the book even got the hashtag “Mockingbird” trending on Twitter after Gove’s changes were announced. Steinbeck’s novella about the friendship between two migrant workers during the Great Depression proved more divisive. Times newspaper columnist Janice Turner welcomed the removal of Steinbeck’s book, which she said was studied for all the wrong reasons— “because it is short, simple and has a didactic ‘message’: bullying is bad.” Carey said he sympathized with Gove’s efforts to get students reading literary classics, but regretted the loss of the two American books. “It’s true … ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set just because it’s short, but it is nonetheless a marvelous book for teaching,” Carey said. “It’s a wonderful book, deeply human. I think the same about ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’—a book that can transform the way you think.”

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Ottawa Star - Volume1 Issue18  
Ottawa Star - Volume1 Issue18