Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Latest Article - Project TEMBO

Hi Everyone!

Here's the link ( to my latest article about Project TEMBO, a great Canadian charity that is devoted to an extremely important cause.

By the way, my Lilith Fair article should be published any day now. Thanks for your patience. Have a great night!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ban the Burqa? Mais Oui!

A Leger Marketing online poll found that 54% of Canadians surveyed said the government should follow France's lead and ban burqa-wearing in public for safety and transportation reasons.

The web survey was conducted between July 19-22 and answered by 1,526 respondants, reported Laura Payton of the QMI Agency Parliamentary Bureau in today's Ottawa Sun.

Personally, I applaud France and Quebec for what they are doing. Burqas cover the entire body with a mesh over the face.

Still, I would go further and also ban the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered.

It has been said by Muslims and former Muslims alike that the hijab and other coverings are more cultural than religious.

In her "Let's Pull the Veil off our Minds" article on October 14, 2006, Raheel Raza, a Muslim-Canadian who is a public speaker, freelance journalist and activist, wrote: "Contrary to some people's (views), covering the face is not a religious requirement for Muslim women. The injunction in the (Qur'an) is for modesty (for both men and women). Some Muslim women interpret this as covering their head with a scarf or chador."

According to Moroccan sociologist and researcher Fatima Mernissi, the only specific reference to veiling in the Qur'an is Surah 24:31, which tells women to cover their bosoms and ornaments. The passage was later interpreted as meaning that women should hide all body parts except the hands, feet, and possibly the face. However, many argue that this inference is illogical because if the reference was intended for the entire body, there would be no need for the specific mention of the bosom.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah, who has been pushing for a ban on burqas, said, "Progressive and liberal Muslims have been leading the fight against this abomination for the last 100 years. This is one of the ugliest aspects of political Islam that has been imported into Canada and other western countries."

When you come to Canada, you must assimiliate to various degrees.

In his "Masking the Truth" article in The Globe and Mail on March 27, 2006, Prof. Mohammad Qadeer wrote: "In pluralist and democratic societies, women have won equality after a long struggle. The niqab is a symbol of self-inflicted inequality and exclusion. Someone may argue that it is a right of an individual to wear what she likes. Yet all rights have limits. Your right to conceal your face infringes others' right to know who you are."

He added: "Even doctrinal Islam has no unanimity about a woman covering her face.... Muslim women living in the West can practise modesty with the hijab or in other suitable ways that allow the face to be visible. Concealment of the face is neither religiously necessary nor socially desirable."

P.S. You can read Payton's Sun article at:

You can also read Raza and Qadeer's articles respectively at: and

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Long Live Lilith!

My hubby and I were in Toronto yesterday for Lilith Fair and despite the rain, we had an AMAZING time!

Amidst cancellations in cities that included Montreal, Lilith drew thousands of enthusiastic fans (predominantly female) to hear Sarah McLachlan and her all-star musical line-up.

McLachlan was joined by artists that included Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk, Lights and Court Yard Hounds (two of the Dixie Chicks).

Although Blige stole the show and got the place dancing, McLachlan stole the audience's hearts and had them singing along for most songs starting with one of her biggest hits, Angel.

There are not many festivals where you can pay to hear almost eight and a half hours of incredible music by talented and successful female artists from Canada and the United States such as McLachlan, Blige, Kreviazuk, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, and others.

When asked by Self what part of Lilith 2010 means the most to her, McLachlan said, "The community that is created for the musicians and the audience. There are few places for people to connect like at Lilith."

I couldn't agree more!

P.S. Stay tuned for my (Cult)ure magazine review/article of Lilith Fair and its history within the week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mindfulness and Respect

I despise ignorance and disrespect.

Yesterday, I overheard a guy and a gal discussing something so frivolous that I can't even recall what it was about. What did grab my attention was when he said that he felt like a Holocaust survivor and laughed. Someone told him to watch what he was saying. I turned around and said that my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and not to joke about that. He became defensive and said he was quoting South Park. A fool quoting a foolish show.

My paternal dziadek (Polish for "grandfather") was one out of six in his family to survive the Holocaust (a word of Greek origin that means "sacrifice by fire"). Dziadek Liwsze (God rest his soul) spent most of his time in two (Buchenwald and Dachau) concentration camps (eight in total) where he was forced to make V1 missiles for the Nazis.

He did not talk about the war for the longest time until he finally broke down one day and told my father. He cried as he spoke of the horror and the tragedy, of the hatred and evil capable of humanity.

Imagine watching your parents and siblings get slaughtered because they were Jewish. Imagine being a child and losing everything because you were Jewish.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never" (Elie Wiesel, Night, chapter 3, pg. 32).

Even claiming to "innocently" joke about the genocide of six million innocent Jews(or the genocide of Rwandans or others) is no laughing matter. You should be downright ashamed of yourself.

Remember how your mother always used to tell you to think before you spoke? And how it was important to respect others? If only we would heed her wise advice more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sexual Assault Victims Need Due Help!

"I'm totally horrified. Someone actually calling the police, telling the police, agreeing to go to the hospital and then getting turned away?" sexual assault victim Jenn Farr told The Ottawa Sun this past week.

The 38-year-old Ottawa resident and activist who was raped twice in the past 14 years was finally able to speak in public after a young sexual assault victim was turned away from the Ottawa Hospital on July 4th.

"The last one was eight years ago," said Farr at the rally at the Human Rights Monument on Lisgar and Elgin streets this past Tuesday. "It took that much time. This is my coming out."

As reported by the Sun, the 21-year-old victim was drugged and raped in Sandy Hill at about 3 a.m. When she was brought to the Civic to get a rape kit done, there was no sexual assault nurse available despite his or her presence being required.

Not only was this victim told that she could not shower but that she would have to return the next day. Her only option was to seek hospital services in Renfrew or Cornwall.

This is disgusting and a further victimization of those who have already been victimized! The hospital's excuse? A staffing shortage. Unacceptable!

Unfortunately, this scenario has occurred more than once as an undisclosed number of victims were denied immediate treatment at the Ottawa Hospital in June and June. As Kenneth Jackson reported in yesterday's Sun article, three were turned away on one weekday in June.

While the hospital has apologized and said that this would never happen again, words will never speak louder than actions.

"No, sorry is not good enough," said Concillia Muonde, spokesperson for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa.

The apology is too late and it's very little."

According to yesterday's Metro Ottawa, police say that eight women are sexually assaulted everyday, but only one reports the incident.

A petition with hundreds of signatures will be delivered to the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus administration, the City of Ottawa, and provincial and federal governments yesterday, organizers said.

Let's hope that the message is heard!

The grassroots protest was organized by a group of people who were "deeply concerned," Julie Lalonde, co-ordinator of the Carleton Sexual Assault Support Line, told Metro.

"This [was] to show people out there that this is something people care about and survivors have someone out there that cares about them."

Using the "survivor" rather than "victim" is empowering and reminds the girl or woman that there are people ready to help and that healing will eventually come.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa 24/7 Crisis Line at (613) 234-2266.

You can also call the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre at (613) 562-2333.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

I hope you're all celebrating our beautiful and wonderful country's 143rd birthday in some form or another OR at least wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, or something red, white or maple-leafed!

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating Canada's big day in the Capital, so make sure you have your camera on you in case you spot her!

According to an article in today's Ottawa Sun, an estimated 20,000 Canadians joined the Queen on the Hill this morning to commemorate Canada's 1-4-3 and her "home away from home."

Yesterday morning, I spoke with a nice Greek-Canadian woman who said that her friend's son had written in to Rideau Hall humbly requesting that the Queen come to his home for a BBQ. To the boy's surprise, he received a response from Rideau Hall saying that her Royal Highness had been delighted to receive his invitation but asked that he join her for dinner at Rideau Hall that night instead. Imagine the bragging rights he has among his little friends!

Whether you agree or disagree with our leaders' style of governance or believe that monarchy is archaic and unnecessary or represents honour and tradition, you must still respect those who lead our country. We live in a free, peaceful, and democratic country where both men and women have rights such as voting, education and work opportunities, and you need not fear being gunned down by terrorists or guerillas when you leave your home. We have clean water and food is plentiful. We are so blessed yet too often take this reality for granted.

God bless Canada, and God save the Queen!