Menstruating girls forced to skip school in Nepal, and Canada

I am astounded. One of the first items I posted on this blog, in 2010, was about girls’ toilets in schools in Nepal and other ‘developing’ countries. It described how the lack of designated toilets for girls in many schools meant that once they reached the age of menstruation, girls would stay home when they had their periods.

Today I read that in Canada’s province of Saskatchewan, girls in some northern communities are staying home from school because they can’t afford sanitary pads or medicine when they are menstruating. The CBC article lacks details, but I’m assuming that some, or all, of those communities are “reserves” where many of Canada’s Indigenous People live. (The article does mention “First Nations” communities).  Continue reading

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Dozens of suicide attempts by indigenous youth: what the f!*? is going on in ‘sunny ways’ Canada?

Walking near Attawapiskat high school

People walk near the high school in Attawapiskat. (c) CBC.ca

The Canada brand has been trending everywhere since the election of a Liberal government led by photogenic Justin Trudeau on Oct 19, 2015. This resurgence has featured Trudeau’s ‘bromance’ with US President Barack Obama and the prime minister’s declaration to the Paris climate summit in November that, “Canada is back” to assume its historical role as a nation that punches above its weight in engaging in global issues.

Continue reading

Healing in Pikangikum stumbles

PikangikumCanadaMap

(c) epodunk.com

I last wrote about Pikangikum in December 2014. Since then I’ve collected information from three government offices about what they are doing to combat the extraordinarily high level of suicide among young people in this indigenous community in northern Ontario. Continue reading

Pikangikum: What does it take to heal a community?

Coroners_report_title_pageEarlier this year I wrote to the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario asking about any follow-up to a 2011 report on a shocking series of youth suicides in the northern First Nation community of Pikangikum.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Office had followed up, and some weeks later received from them a copy of that document. My surprise turned to shock: according to the fact-based table that I received, only 1 of the report’s 100 recommendations had been implemented as made.

That’s when my journalist’s instincts kicked in and I began looking for a way to write a post around a headline that would go something like:

Only 1 of 100 recommendations in Coroner’s suicide report followed. Continue reading

World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’ve written previously about suicide in an aboriginal community in Canada, but of course suicide is not limited to aboriginal people. Here’s a sensitive yet powerful article in today’s Montreal Gazette:

I was just a kid when my best friend’s dad took his own life, upstairs, alone in his bed. I barely knew him. Yet, his death profoundly affected my life. Thirty years on, the family can talk about it, but not publicly in a way that would identify them. It’s still too hard. So we’ll call my friend Tom.

Read the full article.