FYI, air-pumps inflate cars

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Little Sarah, ready to brace the rapids in Canada’s mighty lakes. More importantly, ready to take on anything the world threw at her.

Here are four things I knew to be true as a kid.

  1. Air-pumps inflate cars. I only knew that because I would test out the seats as my dad pumped in air. I’d also give him a reassuring nod through the window to let him know the air was getting to my seats.
  2. If you want something, get it. As the youngest of four children, I found that the most effective way to do this was to persuade my sister to play Garage Sale. Here’s how you play: Put your least favourite toys up for sale and convince your sister to put up her most prized possessions. Usually it worked. Unless it was the stuffed animal she got a few months prior.
  3. The Mandarin has the most technical dish system known to man. Their elaborate system underneath the table collects your dirty dishes when you leave to fill up a new plate. How? The table would open like elevator doors and suck in the dirty dish. Clearly, I didn’t see the waiters.
  4. Asking questions, specifically “(but) why”, is an easy way to get all the answers you want. It’s also a really great way to annoy everyone.

And then I grew up.

School happened and we were told to ask good questions and colour within the lines. Peach, yellow, black and brown were the right skin colours to choose from, we should colour in pink dresses for girls, and  draw blue jeans and red T-shirts for boys. Teachers taught me how to learn, friends taught me how to talk and magazines told me how to dress. And I followed them all.

Over the course of 17 years, my imagination, creativity and curiosity took a hit.

With every year that passed, I felt burdened by the world. I found that my creativity came slow and my imagination was lacking. The last time I’ve gone out on my imaginative limb was when I told my friend that I wanted to marry someone with the last name “Ng” and change my middle from “Hoi-Lam” to “Nadine”. Why? So my name would be “Sarah Nade Ng” (get it?). Not as creative as a 5 year-old Sarah in my opinion.

But the fact I thought like that gave me hope. The little Sarah who thought air-pumps inflated cars was still around. Finding my way back to that creative side could be my greatest asset in the future.

Fast forward to now.

Today’s lecture in my Marketing and Communication for Development Agents class started off with Richard Laermer and Mark Simmon’s Punk Rock Manifesto. They constructed a witty yet cleverly thought-out manifesto for getting off your ass and becoming part of where marketing is today. The first article, “Avoid Risk and Die” is based on the idea that in times change, the greatest risk is to take none at all. The second article, Why Not as ‘Why Not?’, reminds us to question everything in order to stimulate our creative juices. (This carries on through to the the 15th article where they ask you to contribute to the manifesto).

Executing Laermer and Simmon’s Manifesto requires a  willingness to think outside of the box, a sense of confidence in yourself and your course of action, and an acceptance of the after shocks– whatever it may be. But most importantly, it demands for our inner-child to shine brightly.

So here’s my addition to the Punk Rock Manifesto. The 15th article:

Let your inner-child shine. Reignite the flame that drives your curiosity, creativity, and imagination and be brave enough to let it take you where it flies.

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What would you add to the Punk Rock Manifesto? How has your journey with your imagination, creativity and curiosity panned out since you were young? 

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My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech

It’s one of those SoulPancake videos that helps put things back in perspective. A gentle reminder that life is what you make it in the good, the bad and the ugly. A beautiful testament to the power of love, family and friendship. A little inspiration from a 17 year old guy who came to peace with a harsh reality.

This video has a special place in my heart. I remember watching it during staff training during my second summer at Camp Trillium and it has stuck around ever since. I hope you were moved by Zach’s words, story and song as much as I was.

*Kleenex advised

XOXO, GG

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Global girl here. Your one and only source into the “glamorous” life in an NGO.

Granted, that was quite lame and no one stopped me (in fact, Larrissa encouraged it).

In the past four years, Global Youth Volunteer Network (Global) has become a huge part of my life. It’s a student-run, non-profit, grassroots organization that provides students and young adults with the opportunity to connect social justice education with action. I credit this organization, more specifically the founder/director, Dave Skene, for consistently supporting my interests and fostering my passions for cross-cultural learning, social justice and human rights issues.

Since 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Tata, Morocco, return again in 2013 as an intern, and co-lead a trip to Kyabirwa, Uganda in 2015. Despite how close  Global is to my heart, I tend to shy away from sharing about it with my INDEV community because of the criticism it may receive. Admittedly, I’m scared of people branding Global Youth Volunteer Network as an organization that promotes volunteerism and the exhibition of white privilege in the global South. I believe its mission and values sets it apart from the rest, so if you can spare me a few minutes, let me use this platform to explain to you what Global means to me.

Truthfully, working for this NGO is not glamorous. Our office can be found at DVLB, Starbucks or Dave’s house (or really, anywhere we can get WiFi), posters are put together immediately after we watch a Youtube video about graphic design and food sales have been the most effective way to fundraise (thanks to all of our faithful, yet drunk, supporters). Clearly, Global is not a money-making-machine. Profit has never been one of Global’s strengths so breaking even is usually something that’s celebrated. Consequently, we accumulate a lot of stress within the 9 months of planning, learning, recruiting and fundraising for the trips and our partners. No, working for Global has not been glamorous.

That being said, I would never trade my time with Global for anything. I’m especially honoured to have had Dave mentor me throughout my university career; for teaching me about Indigenous solidarity in Canada, challenging me to adopt a more holistic lifestyle, and inspiring me to immerse myself in experiences and cultures. His humble life is a testament to the fact that money is neither an indicator of intrinsic wealth nor a determinant of your dreams. Thank you, Dave.

Travelling to Morocco and Uganda was also immensely educational and enlightening. On countless occasions, I was reminded to slow down, be present, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. By building relationships with the Indigenous communities, I was able to learn about the social issues that the Berbers and Moroccans were facing as well as the environmental and economic hardships of the Sogas in Uganda. Moreover, the people I can proudly call my good friends reminded me how of sacred life actually is and the goodwill that a smile can bring. Positive body language can break down barriers of unfamiliarity, especially in places where language isn’t the common denominator and it’s a lesson I’ll carry with me when I go on placement.

To whatever Global has in the future, 1 year from now or 10 years from now, I will always credit it for empowering me to work compassionately towards a more sustainable future.

Is working for this NGO glamorous? No. But the lessons I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed and the friendships I made in Canada, Morocco and Uganda have indefinitely made my life glamorous.

XOXO,

GG (Global girl)

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You got me good, Stevie

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new anti terrorism measures
On January 30, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new anti terrorism measures

In response to the fatal attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the federal government unveiled a new “anti-terrorism bill”, Bill C-51. If Bill C-51 is passed, we can expect the following changes to the law:

  • Broader power given to law officials to make arrests if they suspect that terrorist activity may be carried out
  • Increasing the period of preventative detention from 3 to 7 days
  • Expansion of the no-fly list
  • Allow Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to “disrupt” suspected terrorist activities and make it illegal to promote terrorism

Sounds safe, right? Who wouldn’t want to be safe from the happenings in and related to the ISIL? Beheadings? Ransoms? Kidnappings? Suicide bombing? No thanks. Fortunately, Harper’s proposed Bill C-51 will allow CSIS to act like a police force. Although CSIS is unable to make arrests or detain suspects, the agency will be able to “disrupt” threats instead of just collecting intelligence.

(Let’s not forget that Bill C-51 is an addition to Canada’s existing security certificates as a response to the war on terror – but that’s for another blog post. In the meantime, check out the documentary Secret Trial Five).

I hope you didn’t skim over the fact that if Bill C-51 gets passed, CSIS will have police-like-powers. This news comes as shocking because CSIS was deliberately separated from the police work around 30 years ago. Why? Because the RCMP consistently breached several laws and civil rights. It seems to me that while we’re trucking along with Harper’s plans, we’re foregoing a few crucial lessons from our history.

Harper also warns us that jihadists are the real threat to Canada’s freedom – not Bill C-51. When asked whether or not the new bill threatens Charter rights, Harper vaguely replied “it’s the jihadis who would take away our freedoms…they want to harm us because they hate our society and the values it represents”.

There are other opinions in light of the new bill. Hamed El-Said, an advisor to the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task and author of New Approaches to Countering Terrorism, proposes another tactic to combating ISIL threats. He suggests that rather than new laws that “undermine freedom of expression or result in powerful security officials” Canada needs to adopt practices of “organized engagement with Muslim community and dealing with the causes of terrorism in Canadian society.”

We as Canadians shouldn’t be so eager to accept the new anti-terrorism bill at the expense of our constitution. Nor should we be manipulated to divert our attention from a closer fear: our campaigning Prime Minister’s intention to take our freedoms away.

So yes, Harper got me good. He has me exactly where he wants me to be – scared, confused and wanting to be safe from the big bad wolf.  But here’s the thing. This aggressive approach to “national security” fails to resolve the root issue of extremism and terrorism in Canada.

Of course, ISIL poses a threat to the entire world. Of course I want my family, friends and fellow Canadians to feel safe and secure. But I don’t want it at the cost of our civil liberties.

Globe and Mail puts it the best:

“Our existing laws and our society are strong enough to stand up to the threat of terrorism without compromising our values. The danger terrorism poses is not only one of violence; its mere threat can distort the way we live and think. On that score, terrorism will have been all too effective in Canada if this bill is adopted as is.”

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What are your thoughts? Do you think Bill C-51 should be passed? Does it compromise our civil liberties? Should we sacrifice our freedom for safety and security?