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The Rojava Revolution Has Lessons for Western Feminism

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There’s no one size fits all feminism.

Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Klein, and Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement back in 2006, et al. have done a condemnable job analyzing and criticizing the effects the remains of Western patriarchal society have on women not having equal participation and more importantly access to, opportunities men take for granted. Even Simone de Beauvoir, credited with paving the way for modern feminism, book “The Second Sex” (1949) was finger-pointing without offering solutions. Western feminism has never had a solid mandate and therefore continues to be rudderless.

Then there’s Kurdish feminism which I first encountered when I met Halime Aktürk, a former Turkish journalist. I know several self-proclaiming “feminists.” However, I’ve never known, nor do I believe I ever will, a self-identifying feminist who has the conviction Halime has. Halime knows her terms and projects a strong sense of “self,” which earned my utmost respect.

My truth: Most of my ‘life guidance’ and ‘life lessons’ have been from women. This is likely why I have a romantic view of the human condition.

Having read western feminists’ writings, and Norman Mailer for the “other side” perspective, I know feminist activists have clarified many questions for women. However, as Halime pointed out to me, simply asking questions isn’t enough for Kurdish women—they’re in a crisis.

 

The Ottoman Empire collapse created a crisis for Kurdish women.

History, like all stories handed down, is a complicated bargain.

The crises Kurdish women are experiencing today began with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. The downfall divided the Kurds’ territory among three newly established countries: Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Since then, each country has been attempting to impose its dominant ethnic identity as the respective country’s “national identity” and, therefore, eliminate any Kurdish identity. This has resulted in a Kurdish narrative that challenges Iraq, Syria and Turkey’s respective assimilation policy of imposing one identity over their territories’ ethnically and culturally different inhabitants.

On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. The treaty led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the new Republic of Turkey as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire and gave Kurdistan back to Turkey while failing to recognize Kurds existed. That same year some 65 laws aimed at destroying Kurdish identity by renaming them “Mountain Turks,” outlawing the use of the Kurdish language, making Kurdish celebrations illegal, changing Kurdish names of streets, villages, businesses, etc. to “proper Turkish names,” confiscating huge tracts of Kurdish communal lands and eliminating all Kurdish or Kurd-sympathetic organizations or political parties.

Holistically the entire epic of the Kurdish people is their struggle to liberate themselves to create their own society. Kurds, especially those who live in Kurdistan (“Land of the Kurds”), a loosely defined area bordering Iran, Syria and Turkey, carry the hope of one day becoming emancipated slaves.

Today, roughly 32 million Kurds are spread across Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Kurds, caught up in bad faith geopolitics that has oppressed them for generations, constitute the world’s largest stateless nation. Using intersectional lens clarifies that Kurdish women are subjected to a “dual oppression” based on ethnicity and gender; thus, being the ideology architect for Kurdish feminism. Halime’s strong feminist convictions (Only the hard and strong can call themselves a Kurdish feminist.) are the by-product of her experiences being Kurdish in Turkey, where along with Kurdish cultural oppression, patriarchal cultural hands are constantly present to keep women in their place.

 

Something extraordinary is happening in Rojava.

There’s a revolution in northern Syria, led by Kurdish feminism (aka. Jineology), that challenges everything the West has bought into about economics, government, society, and above all freedom.

The revolution is a fight to experiment with unconditional democracy—to create a way of life that values feminism, direct democracy, ecological stewardship, ethnic, linguistic, and religious pluralism. The structures of oppression, rooted in the state, nationalism, capitalism, cultural conventions, and patriarchy—disguised as “assimilation policies”—are what the “Rojava Revolution,” which began on July 19, 2012, is seeking to surmount.

Rojava, the Kurdish name for western Kurdistan, is an autonomous region in northeastern Syria that has exercised autonomy since the breakout of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Cradled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Rojava is considered the breadbasket of Syria. It’s a little-known story that defies the usual depictions that find their way to the west regarding Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Rojava, home to approximately 2.5 million people, is divided into three districts (Afrin, Jazira, and Kobanî). It’s governed by a coalition of six political parties called the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), headed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). They practice a governance model called Democratic Confederalism (democracy without a state), a kind of libertarian socialism theorized by imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. This “governance model” began an extraordinary project of self-government and equality for all races, religions, women, and men. This project has led to the Rojava Revolution, which by default challenges domination by Western colonial powers and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In 2011 the civil uprising in Syria, known as the Arab Spring, escalated into the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian state withdrew from northeastern Syria, and the Kurdish liberation movement saw their window of opportunity. Less than three years later, the Kurdish movement had transformed their revolutionary vision into a revolutionary society by liberating Rojava’s three districts: Cizîre, Kobanî, and Afrîn. In January 2014, the regions united to issue a declaration of democratic autonomy manifesting their unique political ideology, grounded in Öcalan’s writings and ideas.

People fighting to experiment with their own path to all-inclusive democracy makes the Rojava Revolution an interesting Middle East phenomenon—the political character doesn’t fit familiar pigeonholes. The revolution isn’t a nationalist Kurdish initiative for an independent state, doesn’t evangelize socialism, nor is fueled by religious or ethnic motives. Instead, it attempts to establish an autonomous society based on democratic autonomy, environmentalism, feminism, and gender equality principles. In 2021 attempting, at the feet of oppressors, to create a democratic society, which incorporates all differences and gives women an equal place, is seen by many as naive.

Here in the west, we’ve become cynical to the idea that anything can really change. So, conducting an experiment in unconditional freedom in one of the most dangerous parts of the world against enemies who are absurdly repressive and violent would appear to be a Hollywood invention.

Besides aiming to create a genuinely all-inclusive democracy, the Rojava Revolution is unique because women and feminist teachings have a crucial role in the territorial, political, cultural, and ideological liberation of Rojava. Women often lead the fight on the front lines, sacrificing their lives against the most archaic and anti-woman enemy: ISIS. This display of female martyrdom makes, in my opinion, the Rojava Revolution the most defining feminist activism the world has ever witnessed. Unfortunately, other than occasionally portraying Kurdish women as fierce fighters combating ISIS oppression, the revolution is hardly ever brought to light in the west.

An important aspect of women’s liberation in Rojava has been the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), founded on April 3, 2013, as an all-women brigade of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). When they shoot at ISIS fighters YPJ fighters often make a high-pitched hollering sound to make them aware they’re being attacked by women. In Islam, it’s believed if you’re killed by a woman, you’ll not get into paradise.

Since the nineteenth century, and before that, in the broader Middle East, the female body has been one of the most crucial symbolic battlegrounds between modernizers and reactionaries.

On a side note, much of the Middle East’s hatred against Israel stems from the freedom it gives women to be equal to men, recognizing the LGBQT community, and allowing gay marriage. (Israel is the only country in the Middle East to do so.)

The Rojava model is based on two main pillars. The first pillar is direct democracy as the basis of a communalist system—citizens actively participate in decision-making and manage their neighbourhood and city, and government. (READ: self-government) The second pillar is the denial of the nation-state structure and viewpoint. In Rojava, many different religious and ethnic groups—Arabs, Armenians, Chechens, Christians, Turkmens, Yezidis—live together with the Kurdish majority. By officially and insistently denying the nation-state and creating administrative structures that incorporate these different citizens, the Rojava model gives minorities a participatory role unprecedented in the Middle East—a role as equals in managing their community.

Could this attempt to effectively integrate the different ethnic groups and religions in one participative democratic system that respects people and the environment ever succeed in reality?

History has shown that many such attempts either faded ingloriously or ended in carnage. The Spanish Civil War would be equivalent to Rojava’s current situation (July 17, 1936 – April 1, 1939), when the Democrats tried to set up something different. While many disagree, there are many parallels between the Kurdish women fighters today and those who were ‘Mujeres Libres.’ (Spanish women fighters)

Unfortunately, the Spanish revolution bathed Spain in blood, and the country entered a dark period that lasted almost forty years. Many other examples throughout history would suggest that sooner or later, all this goodwill and this willingness of the people in Rojava will fail. Reasons range from human nature, leftist dogmatism being unpalatable to the pointlessness of war and the number of fatalities becoming overwhelming.

 

Jineology fuels the Rojava Revolution.

Everything in Rojava seems to be in a grey area, somewhere between the old Syria and something new that has yet to take shape. The dichotomies created are between tradition and modernity, gradual change and revolutionary overthrow, and war and peace. Rojava is comparable to a living laboratory where everything is on a long road towards being violently created.

As mentioned earlier, the Rojava Revolution isn’t defending a political ideology or seeking to create a nation-state. It’s a struggle for gender equality and bringing to fruition a just society. The fuel for this ongoing struggle is jineology, a women’s science created by the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement. Jineology, developed in 2008, places women at the center of a battle against patriarchy, cultural legacies, capitalism, and the state.

For those of you hearing about jineology for the first time, jineology, composed of two words: jin, the Kurdish word for “woman,” and logos, Greek for “word” or “reason,” is both an outcome and a beginning. It is the outcome of the dialectical progress of the Kurdish women’s movement and a start to respond to the contradictions and problems of modern society, economics, health, education, ecology, ethics, and aesthetics. Arguably jineology is a form of feminism suited to the region it was developed in and may not easily transition to the west, even as an appendage to Western feminism.

While Western feminism has questioned the issues jineology is trying to address, they remain influenced by the reigning social arching conventions heavily influenced by the many agendas western capitalism requires. As a result, Western feminists have distorted the problems at hand, particularly the relationship between men and women. Jineology proposes a new analysis of these fields, starting with women not being viewed as isolated beings, that socialization begins with women.

In staying true to jineology, the Kurdish movement has set up 40% women quotas in their organizations. In addition, they’ve created women-only organizations parallel to mixed-gender ones and women’s neighbourhood assemblies, academies, and cooperatives and introduced a co-leadership system with one woman and one man at the head of any administrative body including in municipalities under the control of pro-Kurdish parties.

The dilemma with other women’s movements.

When a different paradigm, or to think from a different perspective, is proposed, Western feminists feel their feminism is being replaced. This isn’t the case. Differing perspectives and divisive opinions are seen in Western feminism, like when black feminists criticize white feminists for taking only one—middle-class white—perspective and trying to solve all the problems women face worldwide with the same methodology. One method of advocacy won’t apply to many of the issues women face within their respective region. A queer feminist theory may be listened to or even adopted in Europe but forbidden in Egypt, Iraq, or Nigeria.

The women risking their lives in Rojava are fighting to create a stateless society based on ideals of freedom and equality as they resist fanatic butchers seeking to kill every one of them. For the YPJ/YPG women fighters, the Rojava Revolution is a zero-sum game. Western feminists question the gender inequality of our social norms and is slowly eroding them, which is to be applauded. However, they’re not fighting a diehard enemy and therefore never had to approach their “activism” as a zero-sum game, which makes me wonder if they shouldn’t.

Halime showed me a different way of thinking, and everything in my life began to change. Maybe if Western feminists adopted a different way of thinking (I’m not saying jineology is the answer.), the equality that Western feminists have been seeking for well over 100 years would be our social norms today.

____________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan.

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Omicron arrives in Canada and B.C.'s flood forecast: In The News for Nov. 29 – Coast Reporter

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 29 …

What we are watching in Canada …

TORONTO — Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is set to speak to the media this morning, after Canada’s first two cases of a new COVID-19 variant of concern were detected in the province.

Dr. Kieran Moore is expected to speak about the cases of the Omicron variant, which were found in patients in Ottawa who had recently been in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization has cautioned that the variant could be more contagious than others.

It was first detected in South Africa, and has been linked to a spike in cases there.

The federal government on Friday barred visitors from seven southern African countries in an effort to prevent the variant from crossing into Canada, but Nigeria was not among them.

The province has called on Ottawa to implement point-of-arrival COVID-19 testing for everyone entering Canada regardless of where they came from, instead of just requiring them to get tested before leaving for Canada.

Also this …

ABBOTSFORD — Residents of another handful of properties in Abbotsford, B.C., were ordered to evacuate late Sunday night while some others were placed on evacuation of alert due to the ongoing flood threat.

Meanwhile, crews in the city, including members of the Canadian military, worked through the night to pump water into so called tiger dams that have been set up in a desperate effort to try to hold back floodwaters from the Sumas River. 

The second in a trio of intense rainfalls subsided in many areas Sunday, however Environment Canada warned that associated warming had pushed freezing levels well above mountain tops. That means snowmelt is flowing into runoff, causing rivers to rise and increasing the risk of flooding. 

The District of Hope declared a state of emergency yesterday while new evacuation orders were issued in parts of Abbotsford and west of Merritt.

A third storm in the series of devastating atmospheric rivers is forecast to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday and officials have warned that it could be the worst one yet. 

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province is prepared to use Alert Ready, a system that pushes emergency notifications directly to cell phones, if local authorities believe the next storm poses a threat to life or public safety. 

And this … 

OTTAWA — The federal government is preparing to table a new, tougher bill today in its latest effort to ban conversion therapy in Canada.

The legislation, if passed, would make practices designed to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. 

The latest bill is widely expected to close some loopholes present in the last piece of legislation to tackle the issue, which fell short of becoming law during the last parliamentary session.

The last bill failed to get through the Senate before the federal election in September and died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved ahead of the vote. 

It banned conversion therapy for children and those adults who did not consent to it, but the latest version of the bill is expected to bar the practice outright.

Justice Minister David Lametti and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien are expected to explain their intention to change the law today alongside survivors of conversion therapy. 

The bill is likely to win support from the NDP, the Bloc Québecois, the Green Party and many Conservative MPs, including party leader Erin O’Toole. More than half of the Tory caucus opposed the government’s previous attempt to clamp down on the practice. 

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — Both sides are telling the U.S. Supreme Court there’s no middle ground in Wednesday’s showdown over abortion. 

The justices can either reaffirm the constitutional right to an abortion or
wipe it away altogether.

Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion, is facing its most serious challenge in 30 years in front of a court with a 6-3 conservative majority that has been remade by three appointees of President Donald Trump.

“There are no half measures here,” said Sherif Girgis, a Notre Dame law professor who once served as a law clerk for Justice Samuel Alito.

A ruling that overturned Roe and the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey would lead to outright bans or severe restrictions on abortion in 26 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

The case being heard Wednesday comes from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability. 

The Supreme Court has never allowed states to ban abortion before the point at roughly 24 weeks when a fetus can survive outside the womb.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

JOHANNESBURG — The World Health Organization is urging countries not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant. 

WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions. 

WHO praised South Africa for following international health regulations and informing WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the omicron variant. 

Cases of the omicron variant popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders. 

Many countries, including Canada, have announced plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries.

Also this …

GENEVA — The World Health Organization is opening a long-planned special session of member states to discuss ways to strengthen the global fight against pandemics like the coronavirus, just as the worrying new omicron variant has sparked immediate concerns worldwide. 

In the wake of diplomatic wrangling, a draft resolution for the special World Health Assembly stops short of calling for work toward establishing a “pandemic treaty” that could beef up the international response when — not if — the next pandemic erupts.

European Union member states and others had sought language calling for work toward a treaty, but the United States and a few other countries countered that the substance of any accord should be worked out first before any such document is given a name. 

A “treaty” would suggest a legally binding agreement that would require ratification — and would likely incur domestic political haggling in some countries.

In entertainment …

LONDON — Cowboy boots are hitting the southern Ontario streets of London as the Canadian Country Music Association kicks off its annual awards show tonight — this time in person.

The country music celebration returns to the live-event sphere for the first time since Calgary hosted in 2019. 

Brett Kissel from Flat Lake, Alta., heads into the bash already having won best video for “Make A Life, Not A Living,” at a ceremony last night that handed out the bulk of the awards. He also won best country music program or special for “Brett Kissel: Live At The Drive-In,” and a new award for live innovation.

Tonight, Kissel competes for entertainer of the year against Dean Brody of Smithers, B.C.; MacKenzie Porter of Medicine Hat, Alta.; the Reklaws from Cambridge, Ont.; and Dallas Smith of Langley, B.C. 

The CCMAs say they will return to Calgary for next year’s bash in 2022, when a weeks’ worth of country music events are set to culminate with an awards show at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Tonight’s bash is hosted by Lindsay Ell of Calgary and “Canada’s Drag Race” winner Priyanka, known out of drag as Mark Suknanan of Toronto. The show streams live Nov. 29 on the Global TV app and Amazon Prime Video, and an encore presentation airs Friday on Global TV.

The ceremony is expected to take place in front of a fully vaccinated crowd at the downtown Budweiser Gardens.

Last year’s show was a modified virtual event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Also this …

MIAMI — He has expressed himself through his music for more than a half century. 

Bob Dylan has also shared his talent in a series of paintings. And the most comprehensive exhibition of his visual art will be on display starting tomorrow. 

It will be at the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum in Miami. 

There will be 40 new pieces of Dylan’s being showcased for the first time.

ICYMI …

NEW YORK — It’s an omnipresent truth: Merriam-Webster has declared vaccine its 2021 word of the year. 

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for the dictionary company, says lookups for the word vaccine increased 601per cent  over 2020. 

Even more telling, searches on the Merriam-Webster website increased by 1,048 per cent over 2019, before the COVID pandemic took hold. 

The selection follows “vax” as word of the year from the folks who publish the Oxford English Dictionary. 

And it comes after Merriam-Webster chose “pandemic” as tops in lookups last year on its online site.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021

The Canadian Press

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BC floods: Evacuation ordered in Abbotsford area – CTV News

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VICTORIA —
British Columbia says it’s prepared to use a national emergency alert system should the third in a trio of ongoing storms pose a risk to life and safety in the coming days.

Alert Ready is a Canada-wide system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters, as well as compatible wireless devices. B.C. has faced criticism for not using it during deadly natural disasters this year.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says provincial officials are working with local governments, First Nations and emergency managers, adding the province is prepared to use the system should a community feel there is an imminent threat.

Farnworth made the comment during a briefing on an ongoing series of storms in the province in which officials warned that the third one, due to make landfall Monday, could reach intensities similar to those that destroyed highways, flooded communities and prompted mass evacuations two weeks ago.

Armel Castellan of Environment and Climate Change Canada says there is a lot of uncertainty at this stage, and while meteorologists hope the impacts remain as low as possible, they are urging maximum caution, vigilance and readiness for a “very strong storm and swell.”

The River Forecast Centre issued a new flood warning for the Coquihalla River and says the Nooksack River in the United States is at risk of overflowing its banks late today and spilling into Sumas Prairie.

Meanwhile, a new set of evacuation orders were issued for 56 properties in the Petit Creek-Spius Creek area west of Merritt, B.C.

“We’re in the middle of one of the most intense series of storms that we have seen along coastal B.C.,” Farnworth said.

“Once again, it’s time to be ready.”

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Canada's first cases of the omicron coronavirus variant confirmed in Ottawa – CBC.ca

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There are two confirmed cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in Ottawa, the Ontario government announced Sunday.

“Today, the province of Ontario has confirmed two cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in Ottawa, both of which were reported in individuals with recent travel from Nigeria. Ottawa Public Health is conducting case and contact management and the patients are in isolation,” the statement said.

These are the first cases of the omicron variant confirmed in Canada, coming just days after the country implemented new travel restrictions on foreign nationals who had visited several countries in southern Africa over the preceding two weeks.

Those travel restrictions went into effect on Friday. The omicron variant was first identified by South African researchers and has provoked global concern.

Passengers line up to get tested for COVID-19 at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Friday. The new coronavirus variant, omicron, was first identified by researchers in South Africa and has led a growing list of countries to ban travellers from several nations in southern Africa. (Jerome Delay/The Associated Press)

Little is known about the new variant, dubbed omicron by the World Health Organization and labelled as a variant of concern. It is being linked to a rapid rise of cases in a South African province.

It is not known at this time whether the variant is more transmissible, or more dangerous to the health of those who are infected by it, than other coronavirus variants.

“The best defence against the omicron variant is stopping it at our border. In addition to the measures recently announced, we continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travellers irrespective of where they’re coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant,” said the statement from Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

The provincial government urged residents to get vaccinated, including with booster doses, and to continue following public health guidance.

“Ontario is prepared and ready to respond to this new variant.”

More confirmed cases likely: health minister

In a statement released Sunday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the confirmation of two omicron cases is a signal that the country’s monitoring system is working but to expect more cases of the variant.

“As the monitoring and testing continues with provinces and territories, it is expected that other cases of this variant will be found in Canada,” Duclos said.

Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, shown last year, said in a statement on Sunday that the confirmation of two omicron cases is a signal that Canada’s monitoring system is working but to expect more cases of the variant. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“I know that this new variant may seem concerning,” he added, but said existing vaccines and public health measures were helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In a separate statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said border measures could change as the situation develops.

“The Government of Canada will continue to assess the evolving situation and adjust border measures as required,” it said

‘Better to be safe than sorry’

Reacting to the news, epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos emphasized the lack of information the world has so far about the omicron variant, noting that some other variants failed to take hold and out-compete the dominant strain.

“While it’s important not to under-react, it’s important not to overreact. We don’t have a lot of information about whether this variant is actually more dangerous than the variants that we’ve dealt with,” he said in an interview on CBC News Network.

Still, he said it was “better to be safe than sorry” and take precautions. But he said that until there was more information, it was not necessary to radically change behaviour, so long as you are vaccinated and otherwise acting in accordance with public health guidance.

“The stuff that worked before should work now.”

WHO urges countries to keep borders open

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement on Sunday summarizing what it knows about the variant. It said it is studying whether the variant is more transmissible than those currently spreading, such as delta, as well as whether omicron increases the risk of reinfection, as suggested by “preliminary evidence.”

The idea of travel bans in response to new variants has long been criticized by some as an ineffective measure at stopping the spread of the virus. South Africa has said the travel measures are “unjustified.”

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said instituting travel bans targeted at southern Africa “attacks global solidarity.”

“COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions,” Moeti said.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live that aired prior to the government announcement on Sunday, WHO special adviser Dr. Peter Singer said it “wouldn’t be a surprise” if the variant was in Canada.

He said the United Nations agency believes travel restrictions should be “risk-based and time-limited,” part of a comprehensive package, rather than the only measure taken to mitigate the risk of a new variant.

“They’re definitely not a silver bullet,” he said. Singer argued the international community should not create situations that disincentive countries from being transparent about new variants.

Singer said the most important things Canadians can do to protect themselves are the same as they have been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: get vaccinated and follow public health measures.

“This is a call for individuals to raise their guard. There are things individuals can do which help with any variant or any version of this virus, including omicron.”

He urged Canada and other countries to redouble their efforts to provide resources to the global vaccination campaign, saying that’s the best way to stop the spread of omicron and potential future variants.

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