Rotary essay winners tackle difficult subjects

Rotary essay winners tackle difficult subjects

Cash awards shared by students and their schools

The third annual Rotary Essay Contest for high school students concluded with the presentation of prizes and recognition awards Thursday (Nov. 28) in a ceremony at Earl Marriott Secondary library, hosted by White Rock Rotary Club past-president Raj Rajogopal and Marriott principal Claudine Davies.

Co-sponsored by the club and the Peace Arch News, the contest – which had been confined to Marriott students in its first two years – was opened to other South Surrey high schools this year.

In another change, this year’s contest was focused on students completing Grade 11 at the time essays were submitted. All essays were to be inspired by stories that had been published in PAN.

Semiahmoo Secondary and the White Rock South Surrey Learning Centre responded to the challenge, and while Marriott students claimed the main prizes, students from both of the other schools received $200 recognition awards for their essays, which meant matching awards for their schools’ English departments.

First prize of $500 went to Sarah Zhang (who was unable to attend) for her essay on the need for governmental guidance in addressing the risks to youth of vaping, while second prize of $300 was awarded to Miranda Clark – recently appointed ‘Green Space’ youth columnist on environmental concerns for PAN – for her essay on the importance of government incentives for choosing electrical and zero-emission vehicles.

Third prize of $200 was awarded to Restum Shakiri (who has moved out of the area and was also unable to attend) for his essay on the impact of pollution on Pacific whale populations.

These wins cumulatively resulted in a matching award of $1,000 to Marriott, accepted by Davies on behalf of the school’s English department.

Sam Tokugawa of White Rock South Surrey Learning Centre received a recognition award for her essay on the controversy over White Rock’s Star of the Sea parish refusing an LGBTQ+ event at its community centre, while Fiona Sjaus of Semiahmoo Secondary received the other recognition award for her essay on the troubling re-emergence of racism in Canadian society.

As veteran reporter, broadcast journalist and Rotarian George Garrett – one of the contest judges – remarked, the top 10 finalists had met the test of knowing how to use words “to tell the story and capture attention,” rather than simply reciting dry facts.

As an example, he pointed to the opening of Zhang’s piece on vaping, which begins, “I used to love the smell of cotton candy…”

PAN publisher Dwayne Weidendorf said contest entries reflected well not only on the students, but also the teachers who guide them, while Davies, while also recognizing the contributions of area English teachers, said she welcomed the expansion of the competition to include other schools.

“South Surrey is very much a community and a family,” she said. “The more we encourage each other, the better off we will be.”

Rajogopal and contest co-organizer Jack Rae explained that it had originated in both a desire to encourage literacy on the Peninsula and a Rotary International imperative to partner with local business in community-building ventures. Hopes are that the project will include even more schools next year, they said.

“I consider helping students express themselves like this is an investment in the future,” club president Mauricio Browne told PAN after the ceremony.

“I’d like to expand the budget to provide even more of an incentive next year.”

The students’ essays appear below:

1st place


by Sarah Zhang, Earl Marriott Secondary

I used to love the smell of cotton candy. The sickly sweetness reminded me of sunny days and roller coasters, which are essential for a summer vacation to truly be spectacular. Despite my affinity for the treat, it has no place in high school washrooms, present in the form of white smoke wafting through the air. Vapes have – along with their artificial flavours – become a staple sight for students. If not in the restrooms, then on the sports field. If not the field, then the sidewalk out front. At the extent that they’re being used by my peers, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for the city to do something about it.

The city council plans on targeting the vape shops themselves, whether through introducing restrictions or banning them entirely, reports Amy Reid (“Surrey council to consider restrictions on vape shops,” May 8, 2019). The idea is to lower teenage vaping rates, but is it really going to be effective?

In order to buy vaping products in BC, there’s already the age requirement of 19 years. It’s not like children are just walking in to buy vapes as though it were candy at a store. In the age of online shopping, convenience is commonplace and unless the city is also planning on regulating the Internet, distribution of these supplies shouldn’t be its biggest priority.

Nicotine is nicotine. It’s an addiction whether it’s rolled up in paper with a filter or liquidized and contained within a sleek casing. When cigarettes were revealed to be detrimental to health, they weren’t taken off of the shelves. Instead, what followed were years of education and a massive culture shift from associating smoking with Hollywood stars like James Dean to black lungs and cancer. The same needs to be done now.

By reinforcing the effects that nicotine has, especially on the developing brains of teenagers, we would be taking the first step towards overcoming a nationwide problem. Just as there are programs to quit cigarettes, there need to be similar resources for students to do the same with vaping.

So, if vape shops were banned, who would really be affected? Society has forgotten the original intention of vapes: to be a safer alternative and transitory step for pre-existing smokers who wish to avoid the unnecessary toxins in cigarettes and may even be trying to stop smoking entirely. When used in this fashion, they can be a powerful tool in changing someone’s life for the better. Banning vape shops will only end up being a hassle to everyone who visits them, these people included.

Vaping is one of the most destructive habits of my generation and Surrey is missing its mark with its considered plan to combat it. The question is not, how do we prevent this? It’s already too late. Instead, what should be asked is, how do we, as friends, teachers, and parents, help the youth now addicted to nicotine? What we need is to do is provide support; introduce structured plans and counselling in schools to navigate teenagers down the difficult but necessary road to recovery. Students should hold each other accountable and encourage the people they know to quit. My peers need guidance, not empty legislation that ignores the actual nature of this issue.


2nd place

The Car of Choice

by Miranda Clark, Earl Marriott Secondary

With forest fires raging, icecaps melting, and extreme weather events dominating our news cycle, the shift to renewable energy is gaining momentum. Provincial and Federal governments are collaborating to advance this transformation in our country. This is evident in reading, “Powering up for more EV charging demand” by Tom Fletcher, May 14th, 2019. Humanity is beginning to recognize our abundant, destructive and unsustainable patterns of behaviour, yet it is essential that our means of progression towards sustainability are truly beneficial.

Illustrated in “Powering up for more EV charging demand,” Fletcher reveals how B.C. and Canada are teaming up to provide a rebate for consumers interested in shifting to green transportation. He familiarizes the community with the fact that Ottawa has “a new point-of-sale rebate of up to $5,000 taking effect May 1, added to the $5,000 provincial rebate for qualifying zero-emission new vehicles.” This is phenomenal as a leading way to promote change in our society is providing a monetary reward. In reading this article, the suitability of electric vehicles and the capability of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles came into question. Which is the better alternative?

Extensive research has assured citizens that electric vehicles are in fact superior to gas automobiles; however, they are far from sustainable. According to the “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave” report, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a mid-size battery-electric car creates 68% more manufacturing emissions than gas-powered vehicles. Electric vehicles require metals and other impactful resources to produce their lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, this exacerbates the demand for mining. Despite the initial emissions, the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests, “battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving.” These percentiles, however, vary significantly dependent upon the type of energy utilized to charge the BEV (Battery-Electric Vehicles). In B.C., with hydro as our prominent energy source, our electricity is rather clean. Nevertheless, various regions use coal or other damaging resources to generate power. Overall, while electric car companies are working to reduce manufacturing emissions, and B.C is using hydro energy to charge batteries, electric vehicles can lower but not eliminate our transportation pollution problem.

Another option to reduce our carbon footprint is hydrogen fuel-cell cars (Fletcher), which produce energy by a process of electrolysis. Electrolysis involves creating a chemical reaction by passing an electric current through water, resulting in hydrogen and oxygen being separated. This requires zero fossil fuel extraction and results in zero pollution. Refueling a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle looks similar to gas stations today, yet instead of pumping litres of fossil fuels into vehicles, tanks only pump cold, compressed hydrogen. This hydrogen will mix with the oxygen outside the vehicle, allowing the chemical reaction to occur. It seems clear that hydrogen fuel cell cars are far greener than electric vehicles, but as this technology is fairly new, stations to refill are scarce and very expensive. With 33 stations so far, California is leading the development of this technology. British Columbia has plans to establish a six-station hydrogen fuel-cell system, again showing the innovative approach of our province.

As Tom Fletcher discussed, with the B.C.’s point-of-sale program, citizens can receive $5000 by acquiring an electric vehicle or “up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle” so the incentive is there to change the way we move. I truly believe B.C. and Canada will be major players in the revolution to stop climate change. Promoting electric cars and preferably hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is an excellent initiative that will contribute to reducing our green-house emissions and saving our beautiful planet.


3rd place

Let The Whales Sing

by Restum Shakiri, Earl Marriott Secondary

Perhaps it was the warm spring weather that brought the pod of five humpback whales to feed in the strait of Georgia only two kilometers from the White Rock Pier (Aaron Hinks, “Humpback whales spotted feeding near White Rock Pier,” May 3, 2018).

Or perhaps the whales felt the grief of our distorted community after the windy destruction of White Rock’s Pier during autumn’s mighty gusts. They appeared to ease the sorrow of the community due to the destruction of the community’s treasure. The mammals are so clever and understanding, a true symbol of peace.

One of nature’s most beautiful species possess a talent that attracts all public attention. The giants sing their harmonized songs as they swim to surface anticipating the climax of their display. The forty-ton behemoth leaps out of the water ever so gracefully, like a ballerina during a recital. The whales slam their weight onto the calm surface leaving nothing but an earsplitting crash of water, like the entrance of cymbals during a symphony. As they penetrate the salted waters their tails strike the surface, leaving a thunderclap that is heard from beyond. The humpback whale proves dominance but provides distance because a creature so powerful flourishes itself to be so humble and elegant. Peaceful, secluded, calm.

Although science has not come to a truthful conclusion as to why these giants of the ocean sing these operas of sounds, I believe these recitals are a method of unifying a pod of whales as they roam the vast Pacific, squeaking supremacy. But the opera sung by these creatures begin quickly silencing as they fall to an enemy more powerful in numbers: Polyethylene, AKA, plastic. Humans throw away garbage as if everywhere it is left or disposed, it will magically be dispensed into a black-hole.

“Out of sight, out of mind” (Tom Fletcher, “Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed,” May 19, 2019). The average family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest ends up in landfills as litter. The plastic bag ban referred to in this article is the greatest step that we, as a community can do to reduce the risk of irreversible damage to our oceans and in whole, our planet. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually, and humpback whales take a great blow from not recycled plastic. It takes 500 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Now imagine the presence of plastic bags in our landfills. As a community, let us strive to eradicate the use of plastic in our community, to reuse the different plastics and daily items we tend to throw away, because the humpback whales do not want to fill themselves with the plastic disposed by us.


4th place

Half the Story

by Olivia Canavan, Earl Marriott Secondary

In society, people tend to only observe one side of a story in favour of their own point of view. This is a type of bias called “Confirmation Bias.” In other words, it’s a method of reasoning “where people only accept information that supports their predetermined conclusions,” as explained by Tom Fletcher of Peace Arch News. In doing so, we shut down opinions that contradict our beliefs. This bias is found in everyday arguments, but most notably in politics. Fletcher has published an article to bring awareness to the confirmation bias that’s riling up our provincial government (Hippie pseudoscience leaks into the NDP, April 7).

During political campaigns, politicians are notorious for using confirmation bias to manipulate people into supporting them. They only tell people what they want to hear and what compliments the campaign, while disregarding anything invalidating. On one hand, this is extremely effective for making people happy, gaining supporters, and satisfying the wants of their people. However, these effects are temporary: their supporters aren’t given the reality of the situation and the severity of what it may take to meet their needs.

When people see governments using confirmation bias, they utilize the same method to prove their own arguments. An example of this is when we see debates over veganism. The side encouraging it only seeks information about why humans should be vegan, while the opposing side only finds information countering veganism. Everyone uses confirmation bias to prove a point, whether it be something like veganism or why chocolate ice cream is the best flavour.

So why do we do it? The answer is simple. Humans have a tendency to stay persistent until they’re right. We live in a highly competitive society and feel inferior to others when proven wrong. To avoid embarrassment, we argue using confirmation bias to appear correct and ignore anything that may contradict our argument, only giving one side to the story.

Since confirmation bias is used all around us, it is important to question whether or not this is a healthy way of living. In a political sense, this type of bias can be dangerous. This is because citizens aren’t always given the full story of their politicians’ objectives. When we fall victim to confirmation bias, we cannot accept new ideas since we only search for information that supports our arguments. We are not open to new information in fear that it may shift our arguments or prove us wrong. The consequence of this is that we miss out on new ideas. It is important to have an open mind so our society can evolve, ideas can grow, and everyone’s opinions can be acknowledged. Fortunately, confirmation bias also allows us to have debates and challenge each other. Using our bias to encourage others to consider our perspective is a powerful way of interacting with people. We can use this to our advantage because it exposes people to information they may not have otherwise recognized.

Whether our use of confirmation bias is positive or negative, there is no denying that we see this method of arguing very frequently. Its effects can cause division between people with differing opinions, but also unite them with its conviction. This makes it a very powerful type of bias. In the world of politics, we can only hope that our leaders will always give us their true intentions and be honest with their people. As for arguments among others, confirmation bias can be used practically and impractically. With these factors in consideration, it is important to be aware of the realities of confirmation bias and how it affects society.


5th place

What it Means to be a Snitch

by Isabella Tome, Earl Marriott Secondary

In recent years, Surrey has developed into an accepting and open community. This has been proven with the addition of gender neutral bathrooms in high schools, pride parades, and safe environments for young teens to explore their identity. However, one cannot help but notice the flaws that could deconstruct this newfound mentality. As seen in recent and past events, new generations are being conditioned to believe ridiculous mantras such as the well-known saying, snitches get stitches. Although some may attempt to argue against this disheartening reality, the withholding of valuable information, as seen in the case of Bhavkiran Dhesi, sparks the realization that people are often afraid to speak out in fear of being labelled as a snitch. (Aaron Hinks, “Mother of accused charged in connection to Surrey teen’s murder”, May 21, 2019).

Summarizing the case of the young teen, Bhavkiran’s body was found in a torched SUV with police not being able to disclose where the original crime took place. Meghan Foster unveiled that the victim was on her way to meeting up with friends, yet she was not able to reveal if Bhavkiran made it that far. Shockingly, the two-year-old crime has been further complicated as the suspect’s mother has been recently charged with accessory after the fact to murder (Hinks 3). However, superintendent Donna Richardson announced that “‘we believe that we still have individuals in the community that have very intimate knowledge of what happened in this instance, of what happened to Bhavkiran”’(Hinks 6). Her message projects that there are people in the community who are still reluctant to speak out about this case as it could pose a risk to their wellbeing.

Regardless of the urgency of any intimate information surrounding the young teen’s case, there seems to be a number of psychological aspects contributing to the hesitation of sharing information in general. A study conducted by The Bureau of Justice Statistics discovered that from 2006-2011, fifty-two percent of crimes in the United States were not reported for a number of reasons; some people believed that the crime simply was not important enough, while others assumed that the police would not or could not help. ( Unfortunately, this reluctance to share information further endangers other citizens in the community and does nothing to lower the rate of crime. This pertains to Bhavkiran’s case as Donna Richardson stated that, ‘“We know that there are people with information and for whatever reason are withholding that information … We’re appealing to their conscience, really. A 19-year-old young woman lost her life, her life was taken”’(Hinks 8). Regrettably, citizens in Surrey’s community refuse to disclose further information in fear of being labelled a snitch, indicating their fear of talking to authorities as “snitching” could land them in a critical medical state. Following the study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, these key people may even fear putting others in a bad light, which should be irrelevant due to the seriousness of this particular crime. Unfortunately, this mentality will not change due to these psychological factors.

Although the fear of reporting crime has been present for a number of years, due to the consequences of snitching, there are other ways that people can help out in their community. If citizens are able to look out for one another or become comfortable with anonymously sending in tips to the police, Surrey can become a safe and trusting community. Hopefully, the unfavorable undertones that encompass the word “snitch” will be erased through education and the eventual realization that it is not something to fear; the decrease of crime should outweigh this mindset.


6th place

Operation Varsity Blues

by Charlotte Young, Earl Marriott Secondary

Several weeks ago, the college admissions scandal took over all media platforms with appalling accusations of wealthy parents paying bribes to get their children into top U.S. colleges (Peace Arch News, Phillip Marcelo, March, 29th, 2019). The issue has forced an acknowledgment that college admissions is another indication of an unjust society and a blatant example of how institutions may favor wealth and privilege over effort, intelligence and curiosity. In addition, there’s another common topic of discussion of this scandal which concludes that many people feel disgusted by this situation, but are not entirely surprised. Instead, “Operation Varsity Blues” seems like an anticipated byproduct of an extreme parenting culture.

While watching this scandal unfold, many people have trouble understanding why these parents would go so far to get their children into the right college and the answer to that is simple. Some rich parents may go to extraordinary lengths to get their kids admission because they believe a university education will be good for their children but, is it really worth building a false sense of entitlement and confidence? It is important to broaden one’s knowledge through a higher education but it is just as important to work to foster integrity, honesty andself-awareness in the younger generation. By lying and cheating your child’s way into certain opportunities, you are depriving your children’s ability to forge their own path and preventing them from developing resilience.

More and more students are entering the collegiate world which is causing the admissions system to become more and more competitive. It can seem as if the only way kids can compete in this high-stakes and cut-throat world is to give them every advantage possible. Many parents are using every ounce of spare time and money to give their children what they feel is best. They feel the need to pay for private coaching and expensive tutoring outside of school. By indulging in these many extracurricular activities, parents are showing their children that all they want is for their children to succeed and be happy. When they aren’t, some parents may feel it is a reflection of their parenting but, there are times when children must take risks in order to learn and this may include failure which is important for their development. This gives kids a chance for growth. By letting children choose their hobbies based on their interests and not what will make them appear more well-rounded on a resume and by letting them develop their own study habits, instead of going to a tutor a few times a week, parents allow kids to choose their own path and feel independent.

One of the most disheartening results of this college admissions scandal is the lasting impact on the young people involved. These parents’ actions send a clear message to their children that they are not good enough. How will these they ever find out if they are good enough to do the things they want to do in life? Without trying and failing, facing injustices, and testing the waters to figure out who they are as individuals, it will be impossible for them to discover what the future using their specific competencies may hold. Parents must be the guides, helping to build resilience as their children learn to navigate their own adolescent journeys.


7th place

Climate Strike

by Satori Yatsuda, Earl Marriott Secondary

Global Warming: two words that everyone recognizes. It is taught from a young age. The ice is melting! There are holes in the ozone! The seas are rising! The earth’s temperature is increasing at an alarming speed. Despite said facts, many choose to oppose this oncoming crisis, stating that climate change is a hoax. Emerging against the controversy, many youth activists are coming together to stand against the environmental emergency and fight for their futures on the one and only planet they have.

History has shown the presence of climate change since the beginning of the 19th century, when effects of natural greenhouse gasses were discovered. Carrying on, manmade consequences have continued being brought to light. Allie Ho stated, “oil companies are digging holes the size of skyscrapers and (when) loggers cut down 80 percent of our forests ” (Peace Arch News, Aaron Hinks, May 3rd). Human actions can be detrimental to our world if people are not careful. With growing gas use, emissions and populations, the earth is now warming at a rate 10 times faster than ever before according to Stanford scientists.

With this being said, a significant number of individuals have expressed disagreement in this discussion. At the May 3rd strike, organized by local teens as mentioned in the paper, a person held up a sign that read, “Stop Youth Climate Strike.” This adult was speaking with teens and filming them, explaining their thoughts on how climate change is a hoax and isn’t really happening. They then posted a Youtube video titled, “Evil Youth Climate Strike Misleads Teens.” On theFacebook post from the Peace Arch News about the May 3rd cover, comments were made about how “misguided” and “brainwashed” the two students are. “Don’t they know it’s all about money and power?” One questioned. The economy must be considered; the oil and gas industry, agriculture and forestry all provide jobs and money for millions of people in Canada. Yet when will our lives and futures outweigh the need for money and power?

By 2030, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the earth is predicted to undergo catastrophic climate disaster if warming is not kept around 1.5 degrees celsius. Young adults around the world have swarmed to bring attention to this life threatening announcement. With or without support from grown ups, thousands of high school students continue to walk out of school and protest to raise awareness for the fact that they may not have a life to look forward to if global warming is not kept under control. Youth have immense power and will keep using their voices to encourage governments to protect health and safety for all.

Whether or not everyone believes in climate change and the rapid warming of the earth or not, is doubt worth the risk? To lose potential kids, grandkids, families? To lose thousands of beautiful species that once walked the earth in peace? To lose the education people once worked so hard to gain? Youth are absolutely right in standing up for their futures. The world has been affected because of human society since the late 19th century and now is the time to fix our mistakes. Only now isn’t soon enough.


8th place

From cakes to community centres

by Sam Tokugawa, White Rock South Surrey Learning Centre

Would the LGBTQ+ community agree to host a Catholic event in a private facility of their own?

If the answer is no is it then fair to ask a Catholic church to host an LGBTQ+ pride event in their privately owned building? As a gay female I don’t think it is. We all have the right to decide who we want on our private property and despite its name the Star of the sea community centre is a privately owned facility. However there seems to be a conflict of interest within the church itself as well as the church receiving a tax exemption for being a community centre.

Despite the declarations of the Pastor, Father Glenn Dion that the parish is opposed to hosting a pride event in the church because too do so would be against the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, it appears as though many members of the congregation are not in agreement. Ernie Klassen, the head of the White Rock pride society states that he has been contacted by a large amount of members of the Star of the Sea church saying that they too are opposed to the church’s stance on this matter. Apparently many of the opposed members are grandmothers, some of which have grandchildren that are members of the LGBT community and want their family members to feel welcomed by the church. This seems to be directly at odds with the statements made by Father Dion. Perhaps he ought to rethink his stance on this matter and listen to what his congregation has to say upon the issue.

As for the matter of the tax exemption this is an issue that concerns every member of White Rock as it relates directly to our community. However is it fair to say they should not receive the tax exemption simply because they refuse some groups of people. Their discrimination and ignorance on certain matters does not negate from the fact that the church does a great deal of good in the community. They rent their space to Canadian blood services, they hold an extreme weather shelter for the homeless and host numerous charitable events. That tax exemption is not all for naught. They have earned that privilege through many positive acts for the community. Although I don’t approve them refusing a charitable event for the LGBT+ community, I don’t believe refusing them tax exemption is a reasonable response as many benefit greatly from the charity of this church. However I do believe the responsible and mature response from an establishment that calls itself community centre and receives a tax exemption for this distinction should not let it’s personal views override the responsibility to the community that they hold.

Despite the fact that I recognize this Catholic Church’s right to refuse any event they wish in their privately owned building I do believe that the Pastor, father John Dion has a responsibility to consider the opinions of his parish as well as his community when making decisions about the “community” centre. Privately owned or otherwise.


9th place

Canada – True North Strong and Fake

by Fiona Sjaus, Semiahmoo Secondary

Internationally, Canada is regarded as one of the most accepting and culturally diverse countries in the world. The foundation of Canadian cultural ideology, the Charter of Rights and Freedom, expresses its support for freedom of expression. However, a recent pole contradicts everything that Canada stands for, suggesting that 37% of the population would like to see a ban of religious symbols in our politics, discarding turbans, hijabs and crucifixes while elected Canadian politicians are working. The majority of those in favour were Quebecois, who have already proposed a law for people in place of public authority to be banned from displaying religious symbols. While a third is not a majority, the survey shows a concerning undercurrent in our society that is slowly manifesting to the surface in the form of racist exhaustion.

Many Canadians follow a religion. It is more than a way of life. – It is a part of their identity. Eradicating religious symbols would be like removing a portion of a people’s identity too. This ban negates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by violating the “freedom of conscience and religion,” leaving many in fear; questioning whether or not Canada is a safe place to practice their beliefs. So while Canada is preaching the concept of multiculturalism and the remainder of the world is praising our willingness to foster migrants from war-torn countries, in actuality, more than one-third of citizens do not support the idea of people from different parts of the world sharing our home. For some, this conclusion might seem extreme, but the same people who support this ban are the people who alienate those who do notfollow their way of life.

Quebec has always been at the crossroads of many cultures, with Catholicism from France being the most dominant faith. Religious minority groups have already faced much animus towards them, but the issue began to boil over last fall when the Coalition Avenir Quebec Party was voted into power, who claim that the integration of religious minorities into public institutions is threatening the international persona of Quebec and Canada. The CAQ leader, Francois Legault proceeded to cut the province’s immigration quota by 20%. – But this is not only a problem in Quebec. Ontario is facing budget-cuts aimed towards migrant families by the new Ford government leading to many low-income families not being able to sustain proper housing.

The survey stretches far beyond the reaches of politics and is a wake-up call to our country that our social system needs to change before the identity of Canada is determined by the rest of the world for the worse. We have the power to alter our nation’s definition. This speaks more of our individual values and much less of Canada’s international image. When we live in harmony with people who have different stories we are introduced to different perspectives of the world. We familiarize ourselves with the concept of empathy. We learn to appreciate whole new views of the world that we could never produce ourselves based on our own individual experiences. It takes strength and willingness to accept, but if we do, the world will be a much brighter place, for racism is a threat plaguing, not just Canada, but the world. We must determine the values that we stand for and then promote them. Our society is half pregnant – we seemingly follow and support these values, but within our country the harsh reality is quite the opposite. To remedy our hypocritical society, we must use our voices and fight for a Canada we can be proud of; more than just an ideal image but a living, breathing reality.

Sources cited:

• Wright, Teresa. “New Poll Suggests One-Third Don’t Want Politicians to Wear Religious Symbols.” The Canadian Press, Peace Arch News, 25 May 2019,• dont-want-politicians-to-wear-religious-symbols.

• Media, Rogers. “Quebec’s Hijab Ban: ‘Like a Birthday Present to the Radicals’.” CityNews Toronto, 2 May 2019,• radicals/.

• Patriquin, Martin. “Quebec’s Religious Symbol Ban Targets Minorities in the Name of

Secularism I Martin Patriquin.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Mar. 2019,

• Pressprogress. “Struggling Families At Risk of Losing Housing Thanks to Doug Ford’s

Cuts, Toronto City Manager Warns.” PressProgress,


10th place

Does Keeping Constant Reminders of a Loved One Help to Mourn and Move on or Keep One In A Constant Stage of Mourning?

by Sierra Cowie, Earl Marriott Secondary

Everyone has their individual coping methods when it comes to grieving. However, it is how effective these methods are, that is really in question. Many people keep photos around their house of the loved one they have lost, along with other souvenirs of the passed one’s life for multiple reasons. The Selje family is one example. Photos, framed sports jerseys, and trophies are displayed all throughout the Selje family’s household as a way to honour their passed son, Travis Selje. Travis had died 2 years ago, May 3, and still all his belongings are “virtually untouched since that fateful evening” (“Two years later, a family’s pain persists”, Tom Zillich, May 3 2019).

Pictures are a great way to keep someone in one’s life. After someone passes away, it’s difficult to deal with their belongings. You may not want to leave them where they are, yet, you would feel guilty giving somethings away or even placing them in a different area. Guilt is a major stage in the cycle of grief. People tend to blame themselves for events they had no control of. They may keep these photos everywhere, afraid of the guilt they may experience if they put a few away as it could be seen as them disrespecting or betraying their special one’s memory. This may have been a common thought in the Selje family. Fear of guilt can keep some people from moving past the pain, as they are constantly reminded of the passing of their friend in every moment of their life. This makes it impossible to have a moment without them in their thoughts.

Having reminders everywhere is a trigger for many emotions, one being regret. The Selje’s had all of Travis’ past school photos and a blank frame for his graduation photo that was never taken. A few photos may remind us of pleasant memories, but the empty frames and many of the older photos may seem unnecessary and are only causing the family agony every time they walk through the house. On some level, it may prolong the mourning process by keeping a large amount of photos anywhere and everywhere. The Selje family is one example of a family who has a deep love for their son, and keeping these photos is a way to stay connected to their son and show their love for him, even if he is not visually present. All the same, maybe by putting a few photos that make them feel sad away, they can keep the happy memories close, while also moving past the memories that cause them pain.

Many people have strong spiritual beliefs. The theory of the wandering spirit when one dies is an example of one of these common beliefs. For a wide range of the population who can say they have lost someone, many have said they have sensed the presence of their lost one once that individual has died, at some point. Sometimes this is a positive feeling because they feel closer to that person. On the other hand, it can also be a frightening experience. Not everyone experiences this, however. By having an excessive amount of souvenirs from one who’s passed, it seems inevitable that somehow those who remain will sense their being. This sense of spirit can be overwhelming for some people and from a psychological point of view, damaging. People can discover feelings of warmth, but they may also experience feelings of fear, guilt and depression. By covering their life in their loved one’s belongings and memories, they could be bringing on more than they can handle. Despite one’s desperation to feel close to that person again, it may end up making it even harder to move past the pain.

In summary, keeping a few items that remind you of your friend, significant other, family member, or loved one is an excellent way to keep them in your life while learning to cope with your loss. Regardless, having too many belongings crowded into your life can be overwhelming and make it impossible to move on. By putting a few items away, you are not betraying that individual. If you find yourself having a hard time moving on after a significant amount of time, consider placing some of the extra items in a special place that is reachable but not a place you see every day. Thus, keeping them with you while also learning to live without their constant presence.

Just Posted

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

2019 Red Serge Gala guests try their luck at roulette. (Simon Lau photo)
High hopes for in-person Red Serge Gala on Semiahmoo Peninsula

28th fundraiser for community safety programs set for Oct. 23 return

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read