Monthly Archives: April, 2019

Refugee children face a new battle in Canada. We can’t fail them , respect, suicide, bullying, refugee, Canada

Refugee children face a new battle in Canada. We can’t fail them

April 29th, 2019 Respect in School

SOURCE:

It was the first day of Grade 6. After learning that my family had just arrived to Canada from Pakistan as refugees, a kid at my Toronto school asked if I was a Paki. I didn’t know how to respond, so I just flashed a clueless smile. Judging from the chorus of kids’ laughter, I could only tell that being called Paki was not a compliment.

My family and I left Pakistan because we’re Ahmadis. People from this religious sect are regularly persecuted, legally and through extreme measures, for anything from using a traditional Muslim greeting in public to reciting the call to prayer. My siblings and I were given daily lessons on keeping our religious identity a secret, and for good reason: Stories of Ahmadi businesses being set ablaze and Ahmadi mosques being sieged by gunmen are sadly common. My own cousin had narrowly avoided getting killed when Sunni extremists barged into a mosque during Friday prayer and opened fire. He managed to lead a group of attendees into the basement, but others weren’t so lucky: Attacks by grenades and rifles killed 80 and wounded more than 100 Ahmadi Muslims.

I started an ESL class shortly after arriving in Canada. The class was full of refugees like me, who were confused by the insults and racial slurs hurled at them each day. Three months in, when the teacher declared that I no longer needed ESL, I was extremely anxious. She probably assumed that her evaluation would be a badge of honour for a new refugee kid, but what she didn’t realize was that the ESL class was my only safe haven. I was terrified of the bullying that awaited me outside the doors of the class.

Outside of ESL class, the humiliations abounded, whether I was teased for being Paki, as the girls in gym class liked to remind me, or for looking malnourished and skinny. I looked different. I acted different. I smelled different.

My parents were struggling. I didn’t want to trouble them with news that sometimes kids would spit on the rotis my mom had lovingly prepared and wrapped in newspaper as she did in Pakistan. Or that sometimes girls would just slap me without an explanation. Instead, I would come home from school and help my mom with her ESL homework – she was enrolled in a mandatory class so that we could collect welfare cheques. Instead of telling her about the bullying, I would sit down beside her on our hand-me-down couch and show her how to use an adjective in a sentence. She had a lot of her own worries. I felt she didn’t need another one. Like many refugee kids, who have to accompany their parents to the doctor or help them open a bank account, I felt, sometimes, as if I was the parent.

A few years later, when things got especially tough and I felt like no one could help me, I tried to take my own life. I discreetly doused a sandwich in bleach but somehow, I survived. Amal Alshteiwi didn’t. MORE

THE MENTAL GAME, hockey Canada, sport, Sheldon Kennedy, sport, hockey, respect

THE MENTAL GAME

April 24th, 2019 Respect in Sport, Sheldon Kennedy

For Jonah Chambers, no other sport he’s played has been as challenging, both mentally and emotionally, as hockey

Scott Taylor
April 24, 2019

Jonah Chambers played volleyball and loved it, but he didn’t have to create a pre-game routine for himself. He was a decent rugby player, but he didn’t have to start his pre-game prep as early as he does at the rink.

Chambers is one of two outstanding netminders with the Calgary Buffaloes, who are representing the Pacific Region at the 2019 TELUS Cup.

Playing alongside talented Garin Bjorklund, the 17-year-old Chambers had a 1.80 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 15 regular-season games. He also played three games with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks.

His coach, Brent Harrison is an on-ice performance coach at Skillz, Skating and Shooting Center in Calgary. He calls Chambers, “a great teammate, who has made the Buffaloes a very successful team this season.”

“He’s a really good kid,” said Harrison. “Most importantly he’s been a good teammate. We have two very good goalies and we decided, at playoff time that we’d go with our hot goalie, Garin. Jonah didn’t play a game in the playoffs and I think that was tough for him because when Garin left to play in the [World Under-17 Hockey Challenge], Jonah stepped in and carried us while Garin was gone.

“So, we rode the other guy throughout the playoffs, but Jonah was an outstanding teammate. He led the cheers for Garin and supported him every way he could. Jonah never complained and he handled the situation really well. You can’t have a successful team without people like Jonah on your roster.”

For Jonah, who grew up in Winnipeg, started playing goal at age nine because “I wasn’t a very good player,” and arrived in Calgary as a 13-year-old who knew virtually no one in his new hometown, being a part of this tremendous Buffaloes team has made it easy to be a supportive No. 2 netminder.

“I’ve found it’s really hard for a goaltender to be mentally tough all the time,” Chambers explained. “I like to go into every game thinking that I’m going to start. I always do my pre-game prep as if I’m going to play. Even as a back-up you have to be mentally prepared to play at all times.

“I also make it a point, as best I can, to keep it loose in the room. And in warm-up, when I get into the net and Garin is just skating around, I try my best to always challenge our shooters. I do my best to stop them in order to get their compete-level up. Goaltending is so much harder mentally than anything I’ve experienced in all the other sports I’ve played so I created my own pre-game routine that I have used for the past two or three years.

“It’s hard to be a backup. Everyone wants to play and I’m no different, but we have such a good team, Garin is such a strong goaltender and we have such a great room, that it’s easier for me to accept the fact that I might not play as much as I’d like.”

If Chambers sounds like a rather exceptional, caring 17-year-old, he is. And to him, the mental game is just as important away from the rink as it is on the ice.

“When I was at St. Matthews School in Grade 9, a counselor selected me and two classmates to attend a mental health conference,” he said. “I think he chose me because I was a hockey player and (former NHLer) Sheldon Kennedy would be there.

“A lot of the speakers there were excellent, but the speaker who really grabbed me was Sheldon Kennedy. The part that really took hold of me was when he was going through all that trouble at a high level of junior hockey and yet he couldn’t or didn’t speak up about it. Not being able to speak up is something that just got to me. MORE

Boy Scouts of America, abuse, scandal sexual abuse

Hundreds of former Boy Scouts reveal new sexual abuse claims, exposing 150 alleged pedophiles

April 24th, 2019 General News

SOURCE: Cara Kelly, USA TODAYPublished 5:00 a.m. ET April 24, 2019 | Updated 11:35 a.m. ET April 24, 2019

 

More than 200 individuals have come forward with new allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Boy Scouts of America in recent weeks as a trio of law firms seek to uncover unidentified child abusers.

A few of the victims are young, still underage or in their 20s, but many have held their secrets close for decades.

“Nobody would have listened to me,” said James Kretschmer, 56, who says a leader groped him at a Boy Scouts camp when he was in middle school. “The problem is, then you think, ‘Is it something I did? What was I doing, was it my fault? If I hadn’t done whatever, he wouldn’t have done that.’ It took me years and years to realize it wasn’t that little child’s fault. It was the adult who had control.”

Samuel, 17, said he was fondled by a leader a decade ago, who told him, “Don’t say anything.

“For awhile, I lived with those three words,” Samuel said. “That’s why I didn’t say anything.”

Advised by Tim Kosnoff, an attorney who has litigated more than a thousand cases of sexual misconduct against organizations such as the Scouts and the Mormon church, the group of attorneys said it has identified 150 alleged pedophiles never before publicly accused.

The law firms began running TV and Google ads encouraging victims to sign on as clients for a potential lawsuit after a report in December that Boy Scouts of America prepared for a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The volume already gathered could double the number of legal cases the organization already is facing, although a bankruptcy would halt existing and future litigation, the attorneys told USA TODAY. MORE

'I tried to bury it down': NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he was sexually abused as a child, respect, training, abuse training, sexual abuse prevention, Canada abuse

‘I tried to bury it down’: NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he was sexually abused as a child

April 24th, 2019 General News

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has claimed in a new memoir that a taekwondo coach sexually abused him when he was 10 years old.

“When it happened, I didn’t know what to think,” Singh told The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti. “I felt a lot of shame and guilt, which I know is normal when you go through something like this.”

The politician revealed the abuse claim in his new book, Love & Courage: My Story of Family, Resilience, and Overcoming the Unexpected, released Tuesday.

Singh told Tremonti that the coach spotted the young boy’s enthusiasm for the sport and singled him out for extra training at his home through a special program.

“The program, really, was a guise to sexually assault me,” Singh said.

“Even now when I think back, it’s almost unimaginable that someone would go to such lengths to set up a way to assault a little kid.”

Singh said that the coach is now deceased. A representative for the politician, referring to the coach as “Mr. N”, said that he was never charged in relation to the abuse, which is alleged to have happened in Windsor, Ont., in the late 1980s.

The CBC has not independently verified the account, and is not revealing the coach’s full name. MORE

Former youth track stars allege sexual abuse by high-profile coach, respect group, training, abuse, sport, prevention

Former youth track stars allege sexual abuse by high-profile coach

April 22nd, 2019 General News, Respect in Sport

Source: Vancouver Sun,

LORI CULBERT

Chris Dallin was a teenage track and field star who set two Canadian records in hurdles, won gold at the 1981 Canada Summer Games, and caught the eye of national coaches dazzled by his speed and strength.

On the outside, Dallin was a tall, attractive athlete with an intense determination to succeed and a growing collection of medals. On the inside, he said, he was wounded, struggling to understand why he had been “sexually assaulted” by one of the most important people in his life.

“It was the single most excruciatingly difficult event of my life,” the Ladner resident said.

“The world is basically your oyster. And then the world is a closed loop and there is no freedom — everything has been taken away from you in a matter of a second.

“I remember the sadness rolling over me. And the confusion.”

Dallin is one of at least five men who have provided statements to the Athletics Canada Commissioner’s Office, which is investigating sexual-abuse allegations against high profile track coach Ken Porter, who for 50 years turned hundreds of talented youth into the country’s highest performing track stars.

No criminal charges have been laid, despite a complaint being made to police in 2007, and none of the accusations has been tested or proven in court. Through his lawyer, Porter maintained his innocence.

“Mr. Porter categorically denies the allegations made against him. He has been a well-respected volunteer in track and field for over 50 years and has always conducted himself in a professional manner,” said lawyer Fady Mansour.

Postmedia has spoken to four of the men who contacted Athletics Canada, the national governing body for track and field. All were teenagers competing for the Edmonton Olympic Club in the 1970s and all were coached by Porter.

None of them told club officials, their parents or police about the alleged abuse at the time, because of a combination of shame, confusion and not wanting to ruin their chances of making the national track team or winning university scholarships.

“I should have told somebody. But when you are young and you want to be a great athlete and you know that your coach is your ticket to greatness, you will do anything to stay with him,” said Dallin, 56, a branding consultant who said he has struggled since the alleged assaults with low-self-esteem, major depression and anxiety. MORE

Death of 9-year-old Syrian girl raises alarm bells among mental health advocates

April 22nd, 2019 General News

SOURCE: Global News By 

Following the death of a nine-year-old Syrian girl in Calgary, those working with young newcomers say it is an extreme outcome of a larger issue that many are facing.

“It’s extremely real. If you go and visit schools with refugee kids, you can see they are isolated, they are struggling,” said Zainab Ibrahim, a counsellor with DIVERSEcity in Vancouver. “My biggest fear is already happening … a young girl took her life.”

 

Amal Alshteiwi died in March after her parents said she told them she had been bullied at school for months. Amal’s parents insist they reached out to their daughter’s teacher, but the Calgary Board of Education disputes this. One thing is clear: the little Syrian-Calgarian girl’s well-being was in serious jeopardy, and some worry she may not be the only one in trouble.

“Yes, they left war, but the trauma is still alive. My biggest fear is that those kids won’t heal or thrive from the post-migration trauma that they could experience,” said Ibrahim, who came to Canada as a refugee from Iraq when she was 15. MORE

safe places swift current respect group inc sheldon kennedy, abuse, sheldon kennedy, swift current

Safe Places Expands to Protect Ontario Youth

April 16th, 2019 Safe Places

 Source: Swift Current Online Category: Local News  Written by Anthony Janzen

 

The Safe Places initiative has been ensuring the safety of Swift Current youth, and now it will look to do the same on the eastern side of Canada.

Safe Places has been active in Swift Current since 2016, working to lower the chances that a youth has of being taken advantage of, now the community of Huron County wants in on the program.

Started in Swift Current, the program works to ensure the safety of youth through background checks, education, as well as training of various employees throughout the city.

The Manager of Safe Places, Kelly Schafer, spoke about word getting around across the country.

“Its pretty exciting that all the way over in Ontario that they heard of Safe Places and that they’ve fully taken it onboard, we’ve worked with them over I think its been the last nine, ten months on an implementation package.”

The program has seen 1,800 people in Swift Current be safe places certified since the program came to the city.

“We obviously felt here in Swift Current that there was a need for a program to enhance quality programming and safety,” the European curling world champion said. “I think what’s relevant to all communities across Canada, is that everybody would like to be able to offer a service like that for youth.”

She said that through Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada, they were able to broadcast their brand across the country, helping the organization spread the word about the work they do.

Since its inception, Safe Places had come a long way, Schafer said.

“Obviously the priority was a program to support our community, but I think the committee that has been involved in getting Safe Places to where it is today have worked really hard on what the brand stands for.”

There are four steps needed to become Youth Certified under the Safe Places program. They include,

taking Respect in Sport Activity Leader Online Training offered by Respect Group Inc.,

getting Criminal Record and Vulnerable Sector Checks via the RCMP,

filling out a City of Swift Current Youth Certified Application form,

and finally, submitting proof of completing all three steps to the Swift Current City RCMP.

Schafer said that they would be working closely with the county to set them up for success in Ontario.

63% report experiencing sexual harassment on campus, Ontario survey shows

63% report experiencing sexual harassment on campus, Ontario survey shows

April 16th, 2019 Respect in School, Respect in the Workplace

SOURCE: The Canadian Press · 

 

The Ontario government says 63 per cent of university students who took a province-wide survey on campus sexual violence reported they have experienced some type of sexual harassment.

Nearly 50 per cent of college students surveyed reported the same.

Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, called the results of the survey — completed by 116,000 university students and 42,000 college students — disturbing.

The province will also now require all colleges and universities to report annually on the measures taken to support students who have experienced sexual violence.

Schools will also be required to review their sexual violence policies and form task forces to address the issue by September.

The survey, called the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey, was made up of over 50 questions that gauged respondents’ perceptions of consent and rape myths, their experiences with sexual violence, and how well they think their school responds to reports of sexual violence.

“We know better” Former NHL player and child abuse advocate Sheldon Kennedy spoke in Goderich on the importance of the ‘Safe Places’ program

April 3rd, 2019 Activity Leaders, Respect in Sport

Source: Goderich Signal Star

Kathleen Smith
More from Kathleen Smith

 

Rural Response for Healthy Children (RRHC) invited former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy to speak at the Knight’s of Columbus Centre last Friday.

Abused by a coach as a minor hockey player, Kennedy has been through therapy, treatments and dealt with his demons while on the road to recovery.

Kennedy has since become an advocate for children in Calgary and the nation, partnering with local organizations and the government to change legislator.

Working as an advocate for the Calgary and area child advocacy centre, Kennedy shared with Goderich that education is important in making social changes pertaining to tools needed in order to prevent abuse or support sexual abuse victims.

The Calgary and area child advocacy centre is a model of collaboration. Every case that the hospital receives gets triaged with each member of that advocacy organization to look at the entire picture.

Kennedy stressed the importance of sharing information between organizations and advocacy groups, in order to reach out to sexual abuse survivors early enough to make a positive difference in their lives.

“We know better today,” said Kennedy.

“The sooner we reach kids, the better chance we have of turning their life around and giving them a chance to follow their dreams.”

In five years, the advocacy group in Calgary investigated 7,900 cases, where 15 percent of these cases were from children services and 95 percent of these cases the children knew their abuser.

An even more devastating statistic showed that 45 percent of those kids were abused right at home.

Kennedy told the crowd last Friday that sexual abuse is one of the leading contributors to early childhood mental health issues and addiction.

Kennedy discussed the trauma he experienced as well as the work he has done including the creation of the Respect Group and how that evolved into the ‘Safe Places Project’.

‘Safe Places’ began in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and has since spread across Canada.

At a previous Goderich Town Council meeting Executive Director of RRHC, Selena Hazlitt introduced the ‘Safe Places’ initiative. Huron County is one of the first regions to implement the program.

Hazlitt shared with the Signal Star that research results on the impacts of abuse are staggering.

“We know that when abuse occurs, it increases the risk for long-term physical and mental health issues. If the victim seeks help and is not listened to, that risk level soars,” said Hazlitt.

“We know that when children and youth have a trusted adult in their life who responds and supports them in seeking help, the outcome for a healthier life is improved.”

In addition to emotional and mental impacts from abuse, financial impacts on adults who experienced abuse in their younger years can be monumental in regards to the cost of intervention or crisis level mental health and addiction treatments.

“By investing in prevention strategies, we can alleviate that financial pressure and more importantly give children and youth who are victimized a greater opportunity to thrive in their adult lives, contribute to their community and be loving parents,” added Hazlitt.

Hazlitt concluded that the community has an opportunity to utilize ‘Safe Places’ to become a well-informed place with adults who know how to listen and respond.

‘Safe Places Huron County’ increases public awareness and knowledge in order to effectively listen and respond to youth.

“It’s not about blame but it’s about responsibility to look out for one another and have the confidence to deal with issues properly if we suspect something going on,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy spoke on his childhood trauma, inflicted on him by a coach he trusted.

He stressed that the incident was sexual abuse but the impact was depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction and at times, self harm.

Shortly after Kennedy was abused, he began using in order to distance himself from the trauma.

It was only until he spoke out and accepted professional help that Sheldon began his road to recovery.

“We can’t fix people, but people support and invite them to get help and sadly there are many who don’t accept that invitation and we have lost a lot of people,” said Kennedy. MORE

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