Week 2 Secondary Post: Bell Let’s Talk

I like the idea behind Bell Let’s Talk and everything that the day stands for. I completely support ending the stigma surrounding mental health. And I have to commend Bell for all they’ve done, all they are currently doing, and all the company will do in the future.

What I don’t like is that it’s easy to forget about mental health every other day of the year, especially if you aren’t directly affected by it. It’s easy to perpetuate the stereotypes, to prolong the stigma.

That’s because it’s not as easy to be aware, to be understanding, and to be helpful.

I think people need to pay more attention to their word choice. Words have power. More power than we think.

What bothers me is despite all the time I’ve spent in school, I don’t feel like I was properly educated about mental health. I don’t know the facts. I don’t know the statistics. I don’t know the numbers. But I know it’s real, I know it exists. Most importantly, I know a lot more can be done to help those suffering from mental illness.

This isn’t anyone’s fault.

But this is something everyone needs to help solve.

While the initiative is not new, it hasn’t been around for that long either. Today marks the sixth Bell Let’s Talk. It happens one day a year, which begs the question, what about the other three hundred and sixty-four days? Or since 2016 is a leap year, what about the other three hundred and sixty-five days?

Fortunately, for every tweet with #BellLetsTalk, for every text or call made by a Bell customer, the company donates 5 cents in support of mental health initiatives. Unfortunately, the donations stop after twenty four hours. And while I realize that they can’t possibly donate 5 cents for every tweet, text, etc., all year round, I hope we—as a society—are willing to do our part in raising awareness and generating change every second of every day.

I love that Bell Let’s Talk starts the conversation. All I ask is that we continue the conversation long after today is over.

Week 2 Comment: Diversity and Minority

Yandy’s post: Week 1 Secondary Blog: Minorities And Immigrants

My comment: “I like that you mention starting a life in Toronto isn’t easy if you’re part of a minority. It’s even tougher if you happen to be part of a minority group while also being an immigrant. I doubt it’s easy anywhere, but I wish more opportunities were available to ease the transition for people coming from another country. I feel as though the city is quite diverse and the statistics you’ve presented prove that. However, I can’t say everyone has learned to accept or embrace people of colour.”

Week 2 Main Post: Homelessness Myths and Misconceptions

Despite homelessness being on the rise, education and awareness about the issue isn’t.

Since we cannot solve a problem we don’t understand, it’s a good idea to define what being homeless actually means.

Having no home…shelter, or place of refuge owing to poverty or destitution; living on the streets.

Oxford English Dictionary

Unfortunately, there are more than just two reasons for an individual to find themselves without a home.

It’s hard to implement solutions when there’s so much stigma surrounding homeless people. Therefore, busting myths and misconceptions surrounding the issue is the first step in reducing and hopefully, ending it for good.

People choose to be homeless.

Most of the men, women, and children on the streets do not choose to be homeless. Many don’t have a choice. Reasons such as unemployment, domestic violence, along with (mental, emotional, and physical) health problems are some prevalent causes. Nobody wants to lose their job unexpectedly. No one decides they want to suffer from depression. Similarly, many individuals do not choose to be without shelter every day.

Other people will help the homeless so I don’t have to.

That’s exactly what Jack Layton, former city councillor of Toronto, thought while walking home one day with his wife. He “assumed, somehow, that others would step in” while writing on the death of a homeless man. In his book Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis, Layton describes the issue in more depth. The Globe and Mail also provided a book excerpt on their website, in which he tells his story of one particular January night in Toronto. During the walk home, Jack Layton doesn’t call for help or directly assist a homeless person who’s in need. He thinks someone else will do something for the people on the streets in the dead of winter. To be fair, he expresses earlier that he had no idea who to contact and how to reach legitimate help. If everyone thought someone else will lend a hand, no one ends up offering any assistance.

All homeless people are criminals.

Interestingly enough, some homeless people are victims of crimes. Since they live on the streets rather than in a shelter, they are at a greater risk.

In “Death on the streets of Canada“, the writer argues that:

…shelter is also a human right.

Cathy Crowe, Rabble

Week 2 Link: Toronto Community Housing

The article sheds light on the current issues Toronto Community Housing residents face while outlining the city’s plans for the future. It’s evident that there has been improvement over the years, but there is still room for more to be done.

Week 1 Secondary Post: Inequality in Illiteracy

I’ve always felt uneasy every time I think about illiteracy.

I know I’m lucky to be able to read and write. I’m even luckier to have access to libraries and bookstores. Not everyone can pick up a book that easily. Even fewer can read any of the words printed on a page.

If I had to describe my childhood in one word, I’d use the word sheltered. That probably explains why I was shocked to learn illiteracy exists. It exists in a way I can’t comprehend. Even today I can’t even begin to envision a life where I couldn’t read a novel or write my own name. But that’s the life millions of people live every single day.

I don’t know what it’s like to be illiterate, to not have access to a good education, to face the challenges others face through no fault of their own. This reality sunk in the most when Grammarly approached me in helping to promote International Literacy Day. It fell on the 8th of September last year. I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to promote and raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause.

They simply wanted me to post this infographic:

(Image courtesy of Grammarly.)

What I couldn’t wrap my ahead around was that for just writing about literacy and posting the graphic on my blog, they’d donate ten dollars in my name to a charity of my choice. The charities, of course, were literacy-promoting ones.

I had a tough time deciding between Reading is Fundamental, First Book, and ProLiteracy. In the email, I wrote back saying, “I would love for the Reading Is Fundamental organization to receive the donation”. Even though it upset me that I couldn’t donate to all three back then, I promised myself one day I will.

At the time, I appreciated the work RIF was doing and has done. I know a ten dollar donation doesn’t seem like much. Still, I like to think they made good use of it.

I hope I stay true to what I said in 2015.

“In the future, I hope to donate more of my time and money for the cause.”

Week 1 Main Post: Divided

Pride and optimism can overcome, to a major extent, a sense of division…

Anne Golden, The Star

Growing up I never would have described Toronto as “The Divided City“. It took years before I noticed the invisible cracks.

For eighteen years, I’ve lived in the same city, in the same house. I spent most of my childhood reading stories to escape reality. Dividing my time between fictional worlds and the real one made me appreciate every minute I spent in each one. However, I still want to explore the city and all it has to offer.

I started taking writing more seriously in my first year of high school. Perhaps this stemmed from my passion for reading. I felt empowered to tell my own stories after spending so much time following other characters around. Creating characters and building the worlds they inhabit forced me to become more observant of the world around me. It allowed me to immerse myself into the place where I live to a greater extent.

In grade ten I started a blog. Knowing my attention span, I never expected to stick with it. But I did and I’m learning something new every day. So far blogging taught me to filter the information coming in from my Reader and going out to the world via my posts. I’m excited to see where blogging will take me.

One of my most memorable classes in high school is an introductory to law course. I attribute my teacher and my peers for sparking my interest in social justice.

When I applied for university in my last year of high school, interestingly enough, I stuck with universities in the Toronto and Ottawa area. I felt torn about where to go. In the end I was more attracted to Toronto despite having lived in the GTA all my life. It’s probably an indication that I adore the city and its people.

When I came across Blogging the Just City during course selection, I thought it’d be an opportunity for me to learn a lot about blogging and the city in general.

I now realize Toronto isn’t as perfect as I once thought. Despite its imperfections, I still love the city. I hope it’ll become less divided so I can come to love it even more.