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Talking to my Pakistani-Canadian parents about racism –



It was a quiet weekend in June when, spurred by the killing of George Floyd, my wife and I decided to watch 12 Years a Slave with my parents. The film tells the story of a free-born African-American kidnapped and sold into slavery in the U.S. 

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When the movie ended, my parents were visibly distressed and saddened. It opened up what’s become an ongoing conversation about racism in this country, and in our own community. 

As Pakistani-Canadians, my family and I have had to deal with our fair share of racism.

Askar Rizvi started a conversation with his parents about racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Here’s what he hopes to accomplish. 0:53

Rizvi, left, says he has mostly avoided the ‘drive-by racism’ his brothers Baqar and Haider have experienced in Canada. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

I don’t have an accent or dress in a way that would identify me as an immigrant. Because of this, I believe I have largely avoided the drive-by racism that my brothers, who are more visibly immigrants, have experienced. 

But that barrier quickly falls once people hear my name, find out my religion (Muslim), or where I was born (Karachi, Pakistan). That’s when I encounter things like people mispronouncing my name or ignoring me so as to avoid having to say it, and dealing with the extra scrutiny at the border. 

I had an especially difficult time as a kid. We arrived in North American when I was six, living at first in a white-majority suburb just outside New York City, and later in Orléans. 

Rizvi, left, and his brother Baqar play at a park in Karachi, Pakistan. The family moved to North America when Rizvi was six. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

Rizvi, in the white T-shirt, is pictured with his father Syed and brothers Baqar and Haider in their backyard in Orléans. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

At school, I was one of a few non-white students and I remember feeling like I badly wanted to fit in. 

Though I listened to the same type of music, took up the same hobbies, such as skateboarding, and tried to dress the same as my white classmates — despite hating much of it — I still ended up on the outside of social circles. 

Some would even pronounce my name wrong on purpose to bully me — for example, by changing the pronunciation into a curse word. You can figure it out.

Instead, I found friends who also found themselves on the outside looking in. My first friend in North America was a kid named Don who was Black and also had trouble being part of the group.

As a kid, Rizvi remembers trying to fit in with the majority white demographic at his school, but still being made fun of for being different. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

As an adult, I feel there is less acceptance of the discrimination I once witnessed regularly. 

However, I still don’t feel comfortable speaking out as a person of colour. If I am engaged in an online discussion about politics, I will use an alias that sounds more white, partly for privacy, but mainly because I feel my opinion will be taken more seriously if readers think I’m white.

While I have found work as a software engineer under my own name, I know people who use different names, such as my friend Jafar or “Jeff,” or who have changed their appearance — by taking off their hijab, for example — to make friends, find work or feel safer. This tells me there’s still more that needs to be done.

The Rizvi family, including parents Syed and Naz, and brothers Baqar, Haider and Askar, second from right, attend a wedding. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

However, just because you’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination doesn’t mean you can’t also perpetuate it.

Like my wife and I — she is also of Pakistani origin — my parents faced similar struggles during their 25 years as newcomers in North America. Now they are in their late 50s and living a comfortable life in Manotick. 

But until George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, we had rarely spoken about common ideas in our Pakistani-Canadian community — ideas I would consider to be anti-Black and discriminatory.

Rizvi, left, pictured here with his brother Haider on a boat tour of the Thousand Islands. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

For example, it’s not uncommon to find people in our community horrified by the notion that their child might marry someone outside their own race, religion or ethnicity, especially if that someone is Black. Nor is it uncommon to find people who still believe that the lighter the skin, the more beautiful the person. 

To be clear: My parents know that Black people face racism daily, and they are horrified by what happened to George Floyd. But in my view, they and others of their generation haven’t come to terms with the fact that immigrant communities can be just as culpable in perpetuating those systemic beliefs.

Rizvi’s wife Nikita is also of Pakistani origin. They have been watching movies and talking about George Floyd’s murder with Rizvi’s parents. (Submitted by Askar Rizvi)

This is something that needs to change, and that change starts at home. That is why we turn on the TV and watch the news about BLM and movies about Black experiences. Afterward, we sit and talk about what needs to change in society and what we can do to help that change. 

I believe that attitudes are slowly changing and I can see it happening in my home. I see my parents realizing that their views from decades ago aren’t OK, and that it’s not acceptable to judge someone by the colour of their skin.

For me as a Pakistani-Canadian, this is a moment of hope.

Askar Rizvi is a software engineer. He and his wife live with his parents in Manotick.

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Canada's GDP grew by 3% in July as more sectors reopened –



Canada’s economy continued its recovery in July from the first wave of COVID-19, with the country’s gross domestic product expanding by three per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that all 20 sectors of the economy grew as businesses continued to reopen and tried to get back to some sense of normal after lockdowns in March and April.

Output in agriculture, utilities, finance and insurance businesses, as well as real estate rental and leasing companies, clawed back to where it was before the pandemic struck. Retail trade businesses accomplished the same feat the month before, in June. But despite July’s growth, all other types of businesses still have yet to get back to their previous highs.

The biggest expansions in the month were in hotels/restaurants (up 20.1) and arts/entertainment/recreation (up 14 per cent), but those figures come off a very low base and are still facing the deepest slump versus year-ago levels, Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes said of the numbers.

All in all, GDP was six per cent below February’s level, Statistics Canada said.

GDP july (Scott Galley/CBC)

The three per cent gain was in line with what economists had been expecting. It was about half as much as the 6.5 per cent increase seen in June.

While StatsCan is still calculating the final numbers, its early projection for August shows an expansion of just one per cent, which suggests that Canada’s economic recovery is running out of steam as it appears a second wave of the virus is hitting some parts of the country.

TD Bank economist Sri Thanabalasingam said based on the July numbers, those fears are well founded.

“Slowing and uneven growth are indications that the Canadian economy is transitioning from the rebound phase to a more challenging stage of the recovery,” he said.

“Even without restrictions, consumers and businesses may rein in spending activity in response to rising caseloads. The second wave is now upon us, and the course of the recovery will depend on our success in containing it.”

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Canada reports 1,657 new coronavirus cases, 13 new deaths on Tuesday – Global News



A new set of restrictions are in store for the Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches regions to stem the tide of COVID-19.

Those three areas are officially in a red zone, the province’s highest alert level for the health crisis, starting Thursday.

Here is a guide to the tightened measures and partial lockdown aimed at limiting the second wave of the novel coronavirus.

How long is the partial lockdown?

Quebec has placed those three regions in its highest alert level for nearly a month.

The new rules are set to last Oct. 1-28 — if all goes well. Premier François says he hopes to lift restrictions if the situation improves, but can’t make false promises.

READ MORE: Quebec will use federal coronavirus exposure app amid second wave

What’s closed in red zones?

Bars, theatres, cinemas, casinos, museums and libraries are closed for at least four weeks starting Thursday.

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Dining rooms in restaurants have also been ordered to shut down, but takeout and delivery are permitted.

What’s open?

Schools and daycares remain open, but the sanitary rules put in place are still in effect.

Gyms, retail stores, hair salons and other beauty care businesses remain open.

Private professional health services are allowed to operate, but only for services that require the patient to be physically there.

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Places of worship are allowed to accommodate a maximum of 25 people and must keep a register.

Community organizations are also permitted to stay open.

Can I have someone over to my house?

The short answer is no. Quebecers who lived in designated red zones are prohibited from inviting others to their homes.

There are a few exceptions, however. The government says informal caregivers, individuals offering support or labour for planned work are permitted.

People who live alone are also allowed to welcome one other individual into their residences.

Click to play video 'Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19'

Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19

Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19

Can I visit loved ones in long-term care homes?

Visits are limited in long-term care homes and private seniors’ residences located in red zones.

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The goal is to keep the health crisis from sweeping through those facilities like it did during the deadly first wave.

The province says visits for humanitarian purposes are allowed. Informal caregivers are allowed to visit the elderly, but it’s limited to one person at a time and a maximum of two people per day.

Are private gatherings okay?

Private gatherings are not allowed in red zones.

Are gatherings in public places permitted?

Social gatherings in public places are also prohibited.

There are two exceptions: gatherings are allowed at funerals and places of worship. There is a maximum of 25 people allowed and a register of everyone attending must be maintained.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, for instance, has urged all city dwellers to steer clear of socializing in parks.

What about protests?

The province says protests or rallies are permitted, but all attendees must wear a mask to curb the spread of the virus.

READ MORE:Stay home and don’t gather in parks as Montreal enters partial coronavirus lockdown, mayor pleads

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Can I travel to other parts of Quebec?

Quebecers in red zones are asked not to travel to regions that aren’t as hard hit by the health crisis.

There is no ban, but the province says people should avoid heading to designated green, yellow and orange zones.

Essential travel such as for work and freight transportation is allowed.

Can I go to Ontario or elsewhere in Canada?

It is strongly advised that people in Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches do not travel outside of the province.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Passengers at 11 more Canadian airports face mandatory temperature checks – CTV News



Transport Canada is expanding mandatory temperature screening to all passengers in 11 additional airports across the country.

The department announced on Tuesday that temperature screening has begun at airports in St. John’s, N.L. Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto (Billy Bishop), Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna, B.C. and Victoria.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians have come together, made sacrifices, and done their part to help limit the spread of the virus,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a news release.

“Our government has expanded temperature screenings to major airports across the country to support these efforts and as another measure in our multi-layered approach to help protect the safety of the travelling public and air industry workers.”

This is an expansion of the temperature screening program that began on June 30 at four of Canada’s busiest airports: Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto (Pearson).

Any passenger found to have an elevated temperature without a medical certificate with a reason for this elevation will not be allowed to continue their travel and will be told to book another flight at least 14 days later.

All employees who work within the restricted area of an airport will also be subject to temperature screening.

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