Rights of girls and women unmasked

Zenura Ishaq, after winning a court case allowing her to wear her niqub, recites oath to become a Canadian citizen. Photo courtesy CBC.
Zenura Ishaq, after winning a court case allowing her to wear her niqub, recites oath to become a Canadian citizen. Photo courtesy CBC.

I have listened to it. I have read it. I have asked my friends – both women and men – what they think of it. And because I have a sister, a wife, two daughters and a granddaughter and many female friends of various ages, cultural origins, linguistic backgrounds and religious faiths, in my life, I have agonized over its message.

“Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice … that is not transparent, that is not open and frankly is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in Parliament earlier this year, “That is unacceptable to Canadians, unacceptable to Canadian women.”

Commendation

Ted Barris and Jayne MacAulay, his wife, and his commendation certificate. Photo courtesy Kate Barris.
Ted Barris and Jayne MacAulay, his wife, and his commendation certificate. Photo courtesy Kate Barris.

On July 27, 2011, the Minister of Veterans Affairs for Canada awarded 19 citizens his annual commendation. Traditionally, the award is “presented to those veterans … who, in an exemplary way, have contributed either to the care and well-being of veterans or to the remembrance of the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians in armed conflict.”

Most of the 2011 recipients are veterans. Ted Barris, a civilian, also received the commendation.

Never in November

Grave of J. Robertson, VC, at Farm.
Grave of James Robertson, VC, who served with the 27th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He died Nov. 6, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium. He was 35.

They tell me if things go a certain way, one day soon I’ll have this day to myself. I’ll be able to rise, take a leisurely breakfast and then do the right thing. They tell me if their plan is accepted, I’ll have all day to pay my respects to Canada’s veterans. That plan will mean I’ll have a statutory holiday on Nov. 11, on Remembrance Day. At least, that’s what the sponsor of a private member’s bill, MPP Lisa MacLeod, believes.

“There’s been an outpouring of support for Canadian soldiers, our war veterans and our war dead,” she told CBC a few days ago.

Getting life from a stone

The restored Frauenkirche church in Dresden in August 2010.
The restored Frauenkirche church in Dresden in August 2010.

I remember the day some business friends and I needed a room in which to meet. A financial advisor friend offered his offices. As I sat down in his boardroom, I spotted a large picture frame on the wall. It contained several images of the former post office in my town. It was typical of that turn-of-the-century, Edwardian construction – tall central tower, large windows, red bricks. When I asked what had happened to it, someone said they’d torn it down.

“Any chance they’d ever rebuild something like that?” I asked naively.

“No will. No way,” fellow board members told me.