Paulina Ramphos was having an especially difficult day. The trucks may be gone from Ottawa, the noises subsided, and the fumes dissipated, but the anxiety and fear built up from the three weeks of protests persists.
“Even though there’s nothing going on, it’s kind of like a constant state of panic,” Ramphos told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. She has had generalized anxiety and depression for years and has had plenty of experience with coping mechanisms, but this, she said, was “like a whole new ballgame.”
It is waking up in the middle of the night in a panic, zoning out at the sound of sirens and honking, rage at the sight of a truck with a flag, and fear that it will happen again. And she is far from alone.
CTVNews.ca spoke with more than half a dozen residents who live at the centre of where the protests took place and shared very similar experiences on the lingering mental health effects from the Freedom Convoy’s occupation of their streets and neighbourhood.
Many are longtime residents used to seeing protests in a busy part of the nation’s capital. They expressed their support for the right to peaceful demonstration, but said there was nothing peaceful about seeing the symbols of hate, the constant deafening noise of horns, or being yelled or lunged at just for walking down the street wearing a face mask, and they expressed frustration at those dismissive of their experience and the after-effects.
Craig Shackleton has lived in the city’s centre for years and was used to the 24/7 hum of the city. But since the protests, those sounds are no longer innocuous background noise. They bother him and keep him up at night. He has difficulty sleeping, he worries the protesters will return, and once in a while will hear “phantom noises” – the ghostly echo of sounds from the protest. Even the rumble of a snow plow now keeps him awake as he instinctively wonders, “Is it them?”
“I do still worry and have strong reactions to things when I go out. A lot of the vehicles that were problems for us were pick-up trucks, and I worry when I see one now, even though they are pretty common,” Shackleton told CTVNews.ca.
“My immediate reaction when I see a Canadian flag, especially on a vehicle or carried by a person, is that I am about to be harassed or get into a confrontation. It’s disconcerting, especially since we just had the Olympics when I would expect to see lots of flags around. I don’t want to feel dread at seeing a Canada flag, but I do.”
‘CLEARLY SOME KIND OF TRAUMA’
Joel Harden, the NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre, told CTVNews.ca he spoke to a number of experts about the impact of the protests on local residents and described it as a form of post-traumatic stress.
“This is clearly some kind of trauma,” said Harden. The convoy was deliberately attempting to traumatize, intimidate, and harass downtown residents, he said.
“I’ve talked to parents of kids where… kids on the way to school see a car coming down the street with a Canada flag on and spin around and they want to run in the other direction….That’s what the stress and anxiety was like for kids in our city.”
Caitlin Hung says her young son was confused and could not understand the aggression he witnessed.
“We saw people getting threatened, like, ‘Why are you wearing a mask? Take it off, take off the diaper.’ People being yelled at. It was pretty aggressive,” she said.
“It was a lot for him to see people behaving like that.”
Natash McBrearty, the Associate Executive Director with Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Centre says trauma is not just about what happened, but also about a person’s reaction to the event.
“For someone who is already chronically stressed (for example, has been living through a pandemic) their senses might already be heightened and as a result, they may be more easily overwhelmed,” McBrearty, a registered psychotherapist and certified counsellor, told CTVNews.ca via email.
She says a person’s nervous system becomes overwhelmed and remains “stuck” in an “on” or “off” position. “On” can come in many forms, including feeling panicked, always on edge, or being flooded with sensation by a particular smell or sound. “Off” is associated with detachment, disconnection, and exhaustion.
“In some cases, the symptoms can be physical ailments like headaches, tension, chronic pain. Bottom line, if you’re not feeling yourself, don’t wait – reach out for help.”
THE CANADA FLAG AND SYMBOLS OF HATE
The red and white maple leaf flag, once a friendly symbol of pride, had already become complicated for many Canadians amid the findings of hundreds of potential unmarked residential school graves. But now, it has also become inextricably linked to the protests.
Ramphos said the sight of the Canada flag that has always flown outside her local police station is now distressing.
“Which is upsetting in and of itself. It’s like you’re robbing me of my appreciation for the flag of my country now,” she said.
“Even hearing the anthem also – the amount of times that they just used that in such an infuriating way…typically when I hear the anthem, I’m either at a hockey game or watching the Olympics or something like that. And it’s a moment of pride. But now it’s not.”
For Emily Fielden, it is also associated with hate now.
“My stress with the sight of the Canada flag wasn’t just because of its presence in the ongoing lawlessness in our area, but also because it was often seen alongside hate symbols or flags typically seen at far-right rallies,” said Fielden, who could see the protest, late-night revelry, and hear the sounds directly from her home.
She saw first hand, symbols used by La Meute, a far-right, anti-immigration group out of Quebec, including the Patriote flag and “wolf pack” decals, as well as the Three Percenters, a far-right militia, and the flag of the Diagalon white nationalist group, she said.
It was not true that only “one or two” symbols of hate and violence could be seen, “in reality there were many,” Fielden said. Even the word “freedom” can be jarring now.
“[Freedom] was yelled in my face several times when I had to run errands,” she said. “I do find I get tense or hyper-alert, stressed when I encounter [these triggers].”
LIKE A LAWNMOWER IN THE LIVING ROOM
Some residents had to contend with noise levels that reached upwards of 100 decibels inside their homes – sounds that at times blared into the early hours of the morning. Paul Champ, the lawyer representing the resident who launched the class action lawsuit against the convoy, Zexi Li, told CTV News Channel last month that level of noise was “basically like having a lawn mower running in your living room all day.”
Inside Fielden’s home, the horns were consistently hitting about 70 to 75 decibels for as long as 15 hours a day, she said.
Patricia McCarthy lives a block away from where many of the trucks were parked, and likened the 15 hours of deafening noise to terrorist tactics.
“That goes beyond noise pollution… [It’s like] terrorist tactics of when they have hostages, they bombard them with noise non-stop just to wear them down,” said told CTVNews.ca. While the noise has finally stopped, she is immediately on her guard when she sees and hears certain sights and sounds.
“I was out walking with a friend and the minute we saw a large rig – we would tense up. If you heard a horn you would tense up.”
FEAR THAT IT’S NOT OVER
Even after the protests were “over,” there were still people “shouting about freedom” outside McCarthy’s building, making it difficult to believe things are truly at an end, she said.
Hung and her family live on one of the former truck-lined streets and said even a trip to the grocery store felt dangerous.
“If you’ve ever had somebody bully you, where they’re like, I’m not going to punch you, you might just hit yourself by walking into me, it kind of felt like that,” Hung said, who along with her son, witnessed a protester lunging at some elderly individuals wearing masks without hitting them.
“It just felt like the constant threat of violence was always in the air.”
Now, her family wonders if the protesters are back every time they hear the blare of a horn.
“Honking definitely has become synonymous in my mind with them……Immediately, my son asks, ‘Are they back?’ Anytime I see somebody not wearing a mask when they’re out, I wonder, ‘Are they with them?’”
While some of the residents say things are slowly getting better, others also describe feeling “gaslit” about the magnitude of the protests and the toll it took on their mental health during and after – experiences that are not easily forgotten, they say.
“I would really like the public or the world to know that people are still suffering over this,” said Ramphos.
“Some people will still say, ‘Oh, they were mostly peaceful, and it wasn’t that bad.’ Well, that’s not true for someone who lived in it.”
If you or someone you know would like to talk to someone, Ottawa’s Counselling Connect offers free phone or video counselling in English, French and Arabic.
The Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity presents the 2nd Annual George Floyd Memorial Lecture
TORONTO, May 18, 2022 – The Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity and Workplace Equity (Canadian Congress) brings you the 2nd annual George Floyd Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM EDT. Canadian Congress supports & empowers people by the exchange of ideas & strategic training on progressive ways of eliminating systemic racism in the country & transforming the culture of their organizations. May 25th will mark the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd.
The Memorial Lecture, which is also the call for a National Social Justice Day, presents leaders in organizations, institutions, and the government to learn and discuss the strategic actions they have been taking since the video that changed the world two years ago; or has it? Join the conversation, Wednesday, May 25th, as prominent social justice advocates, community activists, diversity consultants, community, corporate, religious, academic, and political leaders equip thousands of people with tips, tools, techniques, training, and technology to eliminate racism and discrimination.
This year’s theme is The Quest for Black Representation, Empowerment & Brilliance, while enlightening delegates on the UN’s Resolution 68/237 proclaiming 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. The 2nd George Floyd Memorial Lecture will bring together a lineup of exceptional speakers, which includes the following:
Alex Ihama, Executive Director of the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity, President, International School of Greatness and a global strategist, executive coach, professional speaker & author of The Mystique of Leadership.
Isaac Olowolafe Jr., an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, board member at the Sick Kids Hospital, Founder/CEO, of The Dream Maker Realty and Olowolafe Family Scholarship Award at the University of Toronto, the largest endowment for African Studies in any Canadian university.
Patricia DeGuire, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission, and a mediator, adjudicator, and arbitrator in human rights and equity for more than 25 years.
Rosemary Sadlier, OOnt (Order of Ontario), a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant; past President of the Ontario Black History Society & author of seven books on African Canadian history.
Farley Flex, a Partner at Urban Rez Solutions – Social Enterprise, a former Canadian Idol judge, an inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame, recipient of the Harry Jerome Award for Entertainment and Community Service, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award for Protecting the World’s Most Vulnerable Children and two Juno Awards as Manager of Maestro Fresh-Wes.
Dr. Helen Ofosu, an Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Carleton University.
Dr. Pat Francis, global transformation speaker, author, business consultant, pastor of the Kingdom Covenant Ministries & Founder of the Canadian Black Directorate and For a Better Canada.
Pauline Christian, award-winning entrepreneur and community advocate, immediate Past- President of the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) & Founder/CEO of Best Lifestyle Residence.
Dr. Ardavan Eizadirad, Assistant Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University & author, Decolonizing Educational Assessment: Ontario Elementary Students and the EQAO.
Dr. Wesley Crichlow, a Critical Race Intersectional Theorist at the Ontario Tech University and co-author of Diversity Issues in Policing.
Ray Williams, ICD.D, Managing Director & Vice Chairman of Financial Markets at National Bank Financial & Co-Founder of the Black Opportunity Fund which is committed to dismantling the impacts of systemic racism by providing funding and helping to build the capacity of Canadian Black led businesses.
Tiffany Callender, CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), a coalition of Canadian Black business support organizations that worked with the federal government to co-develop and administer the $291.3 million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.
Kevin Junor, retired Deputy Superintendent from the Ministry of the Solicitor General & Regimental Sergeant Major; an awardee of the Order of Military Merit & Harry Jerome Professional Excellence
Dr. Delores Mullings, the inaugural Vice-Provost for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Labrador; author of Confronting Anti-Black Racism.
Tonya Williams, the Canadian actress, producer, director, and activist who is globally known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on the American daytime drama The Young and the Restless; also, the Founder & Executive Director of Reelworld Screen Institute & Festival.
Neville Wright, a 3x Olympian who spent almost two decades as an athlete representing Canada on the World Stage in Track and Field and Bobsleigh; a performance therapist and resilience coach.
Dr. Francis Mpindu, York Region Police Chaplain for almost two decades, Community & Police Relations facilitator, Workplace Fairness Analyst, and the Founder of Niigon Abin Resolutions Services.
Fareed Khan; human rights advocate, a regular journalist on CBC, CTV, Global, Canadian Press, Toronto Star, OMNI, and Founder/CEO of the anti-racism group, Canadian United Against Hate.
In addition to other executives at the Canadian Congress, Chrissy Benz, Henry Luyombya, Moy Fung and Roberto Hausman & a series of entertainers which include the globally renowned Dwayne Morgan, two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion, there is a segment for a group of mayors to share their municipal strategy to dismantle colonialism, embrace diversity & build cohesive cities and towns.
Confirmed mayors are Kassim Doumbia of Shippagan, New Brunswick and the only Black mayor in Canada, and Amarjeet Sohi of Edmonton, Alberta. Others are Philip Brown of Charlottetown, Edward Macaulay of the town of Three Rivers and Basil Stewart of Summerside, all on Prince Edwards Island.
According to Nosakhare Alex Ihama, the Executive Director of the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity and Executive Producer of the George Floyd Memorial Lecture:
“No call for social justice can be louder than the graphic live transmission of the modern-day lynching of George Floyd, with no mercy on the part of the law, law enforcers and inequitable justice of our days, even as the dying man cried repeatedly for his long-dead mom to come to his rescue. Two years after over a billion people watched the gruesome murder of George Floyd live on social media, the unjust killings of Black men and women by the police are still on the rise. When coupled with mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, only about a week before Floyd’s second death anniversary, it is clear we need more allies to help reduce these atrocities towards people of African descent.”
Tickets are free and available at www.canadiancongressondiversity.ca.
THE CANADIAN CONGRESS ON INCLUSIVE DIVERSITY & WORKPLACE EQUITY
The Canadian Congress is a national organization with over 100 academic and experiential experts, researchers, and facilitators in Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) that offers an end-to-end strategic framework for organizations, institutions, and the government to eliminate systemic racism from their brand, culture, systems, policies, and management.
To enable organizations to foster a cohesive, inclusive, and progressive corporate culture, we facilitate customized training programs, audit policies and processes from an EDI lens, engage their staff and coach their executives to maximize Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity.
While we organize some of the largest and most impactful events in the country, empowering thousands of Canadians each year to stand up for social justice, we also help organizations to develop and implement short & long-term corporate EDI strategies, specialized EDI initiatives, content for Learning Management Systems (LMS), and a three-to-five-year corporate strategy and strategic roadmap to facilitate the transformation of their corporate culture.
For more information about this or other programs by the Canadian Congress, sponsorship packages, strategic partnerships and opportunities to develop corporate EDI strategies, audit policies from an EDI lens and facilitate corporate workshops and other EDI services for your organization, contact Henry Luyombya at +1-416-854-8935 or email email@example.com
Keep up with Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity:
For more media inquiries and interviews, kindly contact Sasha Stoltz Publicity, Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
China has lifted a 3-year ban on Canadian canola, Ottawa says – CBC News
A three-year Chinese ban on Canadian canola has come to an end, according to the federal government.
In a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said China has reinstated market access for two Canadian grain trading companies that have been prevented from exporting canola seed to China since March 2019.
“We welcome this decision to remove the restrictions and immediately reinstate the two companies to allow them to export Canadian canola seeds,” the statement said.
“Canada will always firmly uphold the international rules-based trade system and related dispute settlement mechanisms, as well as a science-based approach to resolving such issues.”
In March 2019, the Chinese government blocked canola shipments from Canadian companies Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra Inc. by suspending their licences, alleging the detection of pests in canola shipments.
The move followed the arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver a few months earlier.
In September of 2019, Canada took the canola dispute to the World Trade Organization. A WTO dispute resolution panel was composed in November 2021.
Before the trade tensions, the Chinese market made up 40 per cent of Canada’s canola exports.
According to the Canola Council of Canada, seed exports to China have fallen from $2.8 billion in 2018 before the restrictions, to $800 million in 2019, $1.4 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021.
The industry organization estimates the dispute cost the industry between $1.54 billion and $2.35 billion from lost sales and lower prices between March 2019 and August 2020 alone.
“This is a positive step forward, restoring full trade in canola with China and ensuring that all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration,” said Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson in a news release.
“We will continue efforts to nurture and maintain a predictable, rules-based trade environment.”
Canada is the world’s largest producer of canola. It is one of the most widely grown crops in Canada, and is currently trading at all-time record highs as the war in Ukraine drives up prices for agricultural commodities.
Canola is primarily used to make cooking oil, but can also be used as livestock feed and to make biodiesel.
Tangled in Canada's immigration backlog? What you can do about the delay – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
Dixon D’mello hasn’t seen his wife since she left India and came to Canada for university 10 months ago.
D’mello, who lives in Mumbai working as a lawyer, says looking after two young kids – aged 1 and 3 years – without their mom around has been “very difficult.”
“Especially the children are missing their mom,” the 39-year-old told Global News. “A young child without its mom, how can he survive?”
His wife is enrolled in a two-year program at the Red Deer Polytechnic in Alberta.
The family applied for a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) for D’mello and a temporary resident visa for the children in July 2021 and since then, has received no updates to their applications from the Canadian immigration department.
“We have done our … medical and then our biometrics. We are just waiting,” says D’mello.
He is not alone.
Displaced Ukrainians struggling to obtain Canadian visas
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, wait times for immigration applications to come to Canada continue to be a concern, with many people stuck in limbo and growing impatient.
There are currently more than two million immigration applications for citizenship, permanent residence and temporary residence in the inventory, according to the latest figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shared with Global News this month.
While travel restrictions and other constraints brought on by the pandemic have caused long delays, the war in Ukraine this year has only added to the inventory backlog, IRCC says.
“Despite our considerable efforts, we know that some applicants have experienced considerable wait times with the processing of their applications, and we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce processing times,“ said Rémi Larivière, an IRCC spokesperson, in an email.
IRCC is trying to play catch up and reduce wait times with additional funding, hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications and reallocating work among offices around the world, Larivière said.
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But for those applicants tangled in the backlog, there is “a lot of frustration” as they wait to be reunited with family members or get work permits, immigration lawyers say.
“Many of them are waiting for months and months and months, and they don’t know what to do,” said Ravi Jain, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer and co-founder of the Canadian Immigration Law Association.
“Some of them are just distraught over how long it’s taking and they don’t have any answers as to how more long it could be,” he said, adding that customer service is at “an all-time low.”
What options do applicants have?
In March, the IRCC updated its processing times tool to “more accurately show” the expected wait times.
When D’mello filed his application last year the estimated wait time shown was 16 weeks. That has now gone up to 55 weeks.
Lawyers say the new tool has helped reduce the number of inquiries to IRCC and alleviate the anxiety for many applicants — but it doesn’t solve their problems.
“I think it’s a good initiative for sure … but … what you really need is someone to process the file,” said Jain.
The main way to communicate with the IRCC is to submit a web form through their website to follow up on the progress of an application, said Sonia Matkowsky, a partner at an immigration law firm based in Toronto whose firm has been helping the D’mello family.
“The majority of the time we receive a generic or automated response, basically saying your application is processing and there are delays due to COVID,” she said. “So we don’t really get any substantive information when we follow up.”
International students in limbo due to paperwork delays
However, for clients whose applications have been pending for a very long time, a judicial review by the federal court can be requested that often speeds up the process, Matkowsky says.
The federal court is asked to issue a mandamus, which is a court order that requests the IRCC to make a decision within a certain time period.
“If we can show that the processing times have been unreasonably delayed and it’s at no fault of the applicants, then the federal court is very cooperative and a lot of times we don’t even get to a hearing,” said Matkowsky.
Her firm has been able to settle cases with the Department of Justice lawyer and the counsel for the IRCC.
Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’
Many applicants also try to follow up with MPs, which D’mello has tried without much luck.
He got a response saying there is absolutely nothing they can do and IRCC would be processing applications on a first-come-first-serve basis, D’mello said.
For people who submitted a visitor visa application before Sept. 7, 2021, whose situation has changed since then, the recommendation is to start a new online application.
In January 2021, the IRCC also introduced a new program that allows international students whose post-graduation work permit is no longer valid or is expiring to be extended for another 18 months.
That extension will be offered again starting this summer, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced last month.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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