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Governor General’s tour of Nunavik suspended amid poor weather in northern Quebec

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KUUJJUAQ, Que. — Mary Simon’s tour of Nunavik has been suspended due to poor weather in northern Quebec.

The Governor General’s third day was scheduled to take place in Kangiqsujuaq, Que., about 435 kilometres northwest of Kuujjuaq.

But with forecasts of high winds and snow today, the flight was cancelled for safety reasons.

It’s expected the trip will resume Thursday morning in Inukjuaq, where the group will visit another school, a men’s association and a youth rehabilitation centre for girls.

The tour of the region where Simon was born and raised will wrap up Friday in Kuujjuaq.

This is the first time Simon, who is Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General, has returned to the region since she was named to the viceregal role last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2022.

 

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Ontario international students, families making 'massive sacrifices' for the Canadian dream – CBC.ca

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The death of an Indian student in Toronto last month made international headlines, but while Kartik Vasudev’s story ended in tragedy, his parents’ sacrifices offer a glimpse into the hardships that many international students and their families face to achieve the dream of a future in Canada.

Vasudev’s father, Jitesh Vasudev, told CBC News he and his wife spent their entire life savings and mortgaged their house to take out a loan of $50,000, just to afford the first year of his son’s education in Canada, before he was shot and killed. 

“The only mistake of my innocent child was that he dreamt big of studying in a foreign country, and he wanted to make a name of himself while representing India,” said Vasudev’s mother, Pooja Vasudev, in a video posted to Instagram. “We had a lot of dreams and expectations with our child, he was going to be our support in our old age.”

International students who spoke to CBC News say those kinds of sacrifices are common, and can take a major toll. 

They say international students can pay almost four times more in tuition fees than domestic students, and are calling for change.

An Ontario Auditor General’s report from last year highlighted the reliance of Ontario colleges on international student tuition.

The report showed that while international students represented only 30 per cent of the total enrolment in public colleges, they accounted for 68 per cent of tuition fee revenue at a total of $1.7 billion. A majority of students — 62 per cent — were from India.

According to a 2020 report from Global Affairs Canada, international students contributed $16.2 billion and $19.7 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2017 and 2018.

A better future in Canada

Students and advocates told CBC News that many international students from India come to Canada to become permanent residents and build a better future for themselves as well as their families.

They say there are limited employment opportunities in India compared to Canada, leading their parents to go to great lengths to send them abroad.

Jobanpreet Singh knows that struggle firsthand.

Jobanpreet Singh, left, says his family spent all their savings, took out massive loans and also sold assets just to pay for his first year of college. (Submitted by Jobanpreet Singh)

“[Vasudev’s family] sacrificed a lot to send their child to Canada for a brighter future,” the 22-year-old international student said. “I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for them.”

Born and raised in a farmer’s family in Punjab, India, Singh came to Canada as an international student in August 2021, where he is studying at the Academy of Learning Career College in Toronto. 

For his first year in Canada, his family spent around $30,000 on his tuition and living expenses.

Singh said his family spent all their savings, took out massive loans and sold assets just to be able to pay for his first year of college.

“[International students] have work stress, school stress, and we have extremely high tuition fees, which is topped off with the fact that we can only work 20 hours a week,” he said.

Singh said it is very difficult to handle expenses and living costs in Toronto while working those limited hours.

According to a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), “limiting off-campus work to 20 hours per week reflect the fact that the focus for international students in Canada is on their studies.”

Tuition gap between domestic and international students

Sarom Rho from advocacy group Migrant Students United says international students who come to Canada also face rising costs of tuition fees, which are already three to four times more than domestic tuition.

“The majority of current and former international students and their families have made massive sacrifices for them, for example by selling lands, taking out massive educational loans, selling assets, just to pay for these extremely high tuition fees,” said Rho.

Rho added that because of these financial burdens, international students also face significant mental health issues.

Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities said in a statement that it understands that as newcomers to Canada and Ontario, international students can face unique challenges. 

“Student wellbeing is paramount, and we support the steps taken by Ontario’s colleges and universities to ensure that international students are well supported before and after their arrival in Ontario,” said James Tinajero, spokesperson for the ministry.

Gurpreet Singh, a 22-year-old Seneca College student, came to Canada in September 2020. His parents mortgaged their entire agricultural farmland to send him to Canada.

Gurpreet Singh has completed half of his education and the remaining two semesters of his studies will cost him about $16,000. He says he is paying for the rest of his studies on his own. (Submitted by Gurpreet Singh)

He said because of his international student status in Canada, he can’t apply for scholarships and bursaries at his college.

“That’s a huge drawback for us,” said Gurpreet. “If we’re not getting anything extra [over] the domestic students and we pay the same taxes, then why do we pay this huge amount for our tuition?”

The ministry says college and university boards of governors have the full authority to set tuition fees for international students.

“Colleges and universities are allowed the discretion to establish tuition fees for international students at levels the institutions deem appropriate,” said Tinajero.

Gurpreet has completed half of his education, and the remaining two semesters of his studies will cost him about $16,000. But instead of asking for help from his family, Gurpreet is taking the responsibility on himself.

According to the IRCC, international students can work full-time when they are on a scheduled break, like during winter and summer holidays, or during a fall or spring reading week. 

Gurpreet is currently on a summer break from his college. He says this is his last chance to work full-time before he begins his third semester in the fall.

For the next four months of summer break, Gurpreet says he’ll be working in two different warehouses doing long days of general labour.

“Right now I’ve [got] to concentrate on my work to pay off my fees, so I’m willing to compromise for the next four months,” he said.

“I know this is going to be hard, but these hardships are temporary, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Life was a struggle in Zimbabwe. Moving to Nunavut gave me hope – CBC.ca

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This First Person column is written by Francisca Mandeya of Iqaluit. Read more about CBC North First Person columns here.

I had never considered the possibility of ever leaving Zimbabwe and my children to settle in Nunavut. But eight years ago I did just that — and I am grateful for the life I found here.

I was a die-hard Zimbabwean — a daughter of the soil —  but I landed in frozen Iqaluit on Dec. 24, 2014. I had nothing but two suitcases and my mbira [an African folk instrument].

Nelson Mandela once said, “it is always impossible until it is done.”

The backstory of how an African woman got to be in the Canadian Arctic is a cocktail of political, social and economic circumstances that led to serious mental health challenges.

In Zimbabwe, every day was a struggle fending for my family as a single mother. I was traumatized, always wondering when the Central Intelligence Organisation operative that had harassed and threatened to “disappear” me would pounce. The mental and emotional burden I carried plunged me into acute depression. To add insult to injury, an abrupt break up with a man I had trusted increased my vulnerability.

My sisters Tina and Jo worried that I might have chosen to die by suicide. I think they were right.

Tina had moved to Canada 21 years ago and bought me a ticket to Nunavut where she was living. 

“That is it. you are coming,” Tina had told me over the phone from Iqaluit one day. “I am done hearing your stories and worrying I will lose you to one thing or another.”

My family gave me hope for a new life. 

As a Catholic, I was excited to arrive in Iqaluit in time for Christmas Eve mass. Heading to church with my sister, I reached for the car door, and in a flash I found myself lying on a bed of ice. That was my first of many falls. I learned that the nice suede boots I wore did not have a firm grip and that when it comes to outdoor footwear, being safe is more important than looking good. 

Francisca Mandeya in pictured in Iqaluit in 2016. The northern climate was jarring at first but she’s used to it now. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Mass was beautiful. I was intrigued to hear my sister and other congregants singing the Lord’s Prayer in Inuktitut. Three months later, I could sing it too. I have since composed my own prayer-based Inuktitut and Shona song, Attatavut, which I play on my mbira. 

As an extrovert, I’ve reached out and participated in community activities, both voluntary and paid. I remembered back home, my late mother used to sing with us, “shine, shine, shine where you are.” I reached out to find out where I could share my culture. 

When I entered a local talent competition, I was afraid to perform on my own. I was used to being on stage with my fearless children. But I remembered their words: “Mom, even when you make a mistake, the audience don’t know what you are playing. So you just continue.” 

It is great to be a teachable parent. I listened and gathered courage.

Mandeya sings and plays her mbira in Iqaluit. (M. Pucci/CBC)

“I bring cultural diversity to Iqaluit,” I said as I sat on stage in the Alianait Arts Festival tent in front of Nakasuk School. The crowd applauded me and it felt good.

I won second prize in the talent competition and got $600. Joshua Haulli, a 16-year-old Inuk, won first prize. As we shared our experiences, I learned that just as mbira was once deemed evil and banned by colonizers, so too was throat singing. It felt reassuring to know that I was not alone in reclaiming my identity and using my culture to heal intergenerational trauma.

Since moving to the Arctic, I have gone out on the land, run a half marathon twice, fallen off a skidoo, gone berry picking and fishing, and played with the Inuksuk Drum Dancers. I walk everywhere now. I have even walked in a blizzard. I am not scared of the cold anymore.

Mandeya, left, competed in a virtual Boston Marathon with friends Kearon Nyandoro and Sanele Chakonza, and her sister Tina Mandeya, in Iqaluit. (Submitted by Francisca Mandeya)

It is not always easy to be an immigrant from Africa. I have experienced both community and systemic racism in Iqaluit, and realized that anti-African racism is a global phenomenon. But I am grateful that I have felt supported by numerous allies in Iqaluit, who marched in solidarity with us during the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020

Focusing on gratitude has helped me navigate life in Nunavut and Canada. Dealing with life’s challenges with a positive mindset is a practice I am mastering. 

Today I am a mental fitness coach and trainer, author and social justice advocate. I have founded Mothers United in Iqaluit, a social enterprise bringing mothers together to change the world. I have come a long way! 

In my culture, when thankful, we say kutenda kwakitsi kuri mumoyo — “the gratitude of a cat is in the heart.”

Qujannamik.


Want to write for CBC North? We welcome pitches for 500- to 700-word essays or opinion pieces that may be of wide interest to our audience and you don’t have to be a professional writer. Read more here or send your pitch to northfirstperson@cbc.ca.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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Weekend gas prices on the rise across Canada as experts urge motorists to reduce travel – Global News

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National gas prices continued their staggering rise this weekend, with drivers in Vancouver told to brace for as much as $2.34 per litre at the pumps.

Figures on the fuel tracker GasBuddy showed the national average price of regular gas reached $1.95 per litre on Saturday afternoon, with provincial averages reaching $2.15 in Newfoundland and Labrador and $2.11 in British Columbia.

Gas Wizard predicted significant jumps in various cities Sunday, with Vancouver expected to see prices surge six cents to a national high of $2.34/litre. Montreal was projected to see a four-cent jump to $2.15, and Toronto was on pace for a six-cent increase that would take average prices to $2.09.

Read more:

Gas prices in some Ontario cities will climb over $2 a litre this weekend: analyst

“These are mind-numbing, eye-popping prices that … is probably not sustainable for most Canadians on fixed incomes/middle class,” Gas Wizard analyst Dan McTeague, also president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said Saturday.

“I think it’s fair to say most Canadians are taking a pounding on this and it’s not the ones who drive for kicks and giggles, it’s the ones that need this to get to work…. And it will be long term.”

St. John‘s is expected to see the biggest leap Sunday at 13 cents to $2.24/litre. Prices in Edmonton are projected to be among the lowest at $1.70/litre.

Many experts have attributed soaring gas prices to market destabilization brought on by Russia‘s attack on Ukraine, as well as recovering global demand as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

McTeague acknowledged those as factors, but characterized the spike as more of a supply issue that predates the war and is only being exacerbated now.

He called for a temporary suspension of the carbon tax and for Ottawa to offer an immediate energy rebate, noting that soaring gas prices have also increased the federal GST haul.

“They’re making money hand over-over-fist. It seems to me that it would be wise for them to at least consider some kind of a rebate, or at least a way to alleviate, through maybe a GST rebate, to insulate and help those on fixed incomes and those of course who are having a tough go of it,” said McTeague, a former Liberal member of Parliament.


Click to play video: 'BC Liberals call on province to provide relief at the pump'



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BC Liberals call on province to provide relief at the pump


BC Liberals call on province to provide relief at the pump

On Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said reducing taxes would be a “short-sighted” plan that only offers a “modest amount” of relief.

He said he has asked the finance minister “to bring forward a basket of initiatives because this is not a short-term issue.”

Until then, he encouraged residents to reduce travel costs where possible.

Read more:

Albertans should expect even higher gas prices before May long weekend: analyst

“We need to do that by all of us taking the steps that we can to reduce the amount we spend and also ensuring that we’re working together. If you’re going to the grocery store and you know you’ve got a neighbour that needs something, ask if you can pick it up for them and reduce the number of trips that we take,” he said.

“Right now I encourage people to think before you hop in the car – do you need to make that trip?”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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