A year in review – Tales of Canadians making a difference

As Canada celebrated its 150th birthday The Source Newspaper reported on Canadians making a constructive change to the country they call home.

Movements and protests supporting vulnerable citizens and exhibits and performances giving voice to marginalized histories were covered, as well as progressive projects and inventions designed to improve our environment and social well-being.

“The freedom to be yourself,” as contributor Felipe Viana remarked, is Canadians’ greatest strength. “You’ll be accepted with all your virtues and imperfections. No matter what you are, how you dress or where you come from, you’ll be accepted equally by others.”

There will be a lot of stories to tell in the new year, but let’s take a moment to revisit some of the highlights of the past year.

Winter activism

In January, citizens marched alongside other world cities protesting local xenophobes and bigots emboldened by Trump’s presidency. Derrick O’Keefe covered how South Asian and Chinese Canadian communities reacted and responded to the recent rise of hate groups. While they were concerned for their community and urged greater vigilance against bigotry, they remained hopeful, suggesting that future youth will be more aware of social ills and injustices than past generations.

In honour of International Women’s Day in February, Alison Chiang profiled three local women – singer Alysha Brilla, poet Jónína Kirton and fashion designer RozeMerie Cuevas – creating art in Vancouver. They shared their stories of overcoming challenges and finding success. Whether it is making music, writing poetry or designing clothes, all three women use their position to empower others and exert positive influences on their respective industries.

Ley Doctor covered Vancouver’s activities during the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in March. He interviewed UBC sociology professor Wendy Roth, who examines how workplace discrimination operates and manifests itself, and South Asian Family Association president Jasroop Grewal, who advocates dialogue and education as indispensable tools to combat racial discrimination. Both Roth and Grewal insist speaking up is crucial to helping end discrimination.

“Educating those who do not quite understand a culture or are scared of a [race] because of stereotypes goes a long way to promoting acceptance in our country,” said Grewal.

Spring hopes and summer wishes

In April, Vinh Nguyen told us about Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show by creator Loretta Todd, a show for kids highlighting the successes of indigenous science. While Western science is well-known in the school curriculum, the show focuses on the science of the indigenous cultures, featuring topics like the engineering feat of Machu Picchu in architectural science and nixtamalization in chemistry. Todd hopes to raise future scientists with a broader well-rounded set of scientific knowledge and cultural values, enabling them to see the world in different and unique ways.

In May, Betty Shea brought us the issue of youth employment: young people hoping to find a fulfilling career in a difficult job market. While there are many obstacles to employment for both new and old Canadians, Shea found that improving soft skills – assertiveness, flexibility and communication skills – are key to not only landing a job, but also knowing oneself and one’s abilities and life goals.

For World Refugee Day in June, Masha Rademakers gave us a glimpse of the status of refugee resettlement in the city. She also interviewed Nadifa, a refugee who came to Canada fleeing war looking for a better life. Although the culture shock was enormous, she credits the support she received from settlement workers helping her make a productive life here.

“Every refugee should be supported to use his or her talents in their new home country. When I cannot work, I feel stressed and sick. Now I can be self-sufficient and sell my own products,” Nadifa said.

Over the summer, in honour of Canada 150, Florence Hwang told us about Explore150, a project showcasing Canadians’ wishes for their country. A lot of their wishes came from Canadians from diverse backgrounds and touched on a lot of different subjects, including the environment, political representation, race, sex and immigration. Many provided hopeful and encouraging messages for Canada’s future.

“My wish for Canada in the next 150 years is that we may live in a country where hunger and poverty are no longer an issue. Provides opportunities and education to all who need. A peaceful Canada!” writes a Winnipegger.

History in autumn

In September, Naomi Tse shared with us the story of a couple who travelled to 77 countries and six continents. Travellers Shahla and Peter Nygaard left Edmonton in 2004 and embarked on an adventure involving cycling, hitchhiking, boating, flying and more. Despite all the cultural diversity in the vast global landscape, they all found people everywhere strove for happiness, health and family in their own myriad ways.

In October, Yusheng Cai interviewed Anthonia Ogundele, a member of the Hogan’s Alley Trust. Ogundele told us about the injustices Black Canadians faced in Hogan’s Alley, a historical neighbourhood that was destroyed with the construction of the Georgia Viaducts in the 1970s. With the city’s plan to remove the viaducts in the coming years, Ogundele wants to ensure the legacy of Hogan’s Alley is honoured and respected during redevelopment.

Last month, Simon Yee told you about a group of theatre members who recreated the 1942 Japanese-Canadian internment. Seventy-five years ago, over 8,000 Japanese-Canadians were incarcerated at Vancouver’s Hastings Park before being sent to internment sites or work camps across the country. Theatre performer Yoshié Bancroft and her troupe historically re-enacted the experiences of those interned in the hopes that we would remember their suffering and prevent similar mistakes from happening again.

The Source Newspaper will continue to tell stories of Canadians building bridges, promoting diversity and creating inclusive communities in the years to come. On behalf of all of us here, we wish everyone safe and happy holidays and a great new year to come.