Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Touching Spirit Bear

Hello Everyone!

In class, we are reading the Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. This ties in with our current study focusing on the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Basically, this act specifically provides justice for youth who commit crimes. It differs from the existing Criminal Code of Canada because it recognizes the differences between adults and youth, their levels of maturity and the fact that youth are still developing. In the novel, Cole Matthews (the protagonist) is a troubled teen who has long been subjected to violence from his father. This reflects in his actions and he begins to do things that he later regrets.

The problem initially started when Peter Driscal told authorities that Cole broke into a store and vandalized. Cole, being a young boy with an abused mind, decides to take the situation and turn it into a physical fight. From this point on, Cole undergoes several different measures in process of deciding what the next step should be.

The story of his path to justice is one that reflects the importance of the Youth Criminal  Justice Act (YCJA), and gives an example that could help put it in perspective. In relation to the YCJA, there are similar programs that youth can experience on their path to justice. One of these include a Youth Justice Committee (or the Restorative Justice Program) in Canada where individuals from the community, victims affects, offender[s], and others related meet to determine reasonable consequences to resolve the issues that erupted. View my thoughts below!

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From what I have learned about Cole's story, it seems like a lot of his influence to commit such horrendous crimes were due to his family - specifically his father. Although all the blame cannot be sent to the family, Cole was not able to learn the right thing as he steered towards the wrong path in the beginning. The justice circle - where volunteers and people that have been affected meet - have discussions on how Cole could be successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. If I were a part of his justice circle, I would acknowledge his past seeing as his dad mistreated him for no good reason and his mom was not in a state to stop the abuse. To add on, Cole's achievements were never acknowledged either which indeed further broadened the issue. All these details would allow me to come to a conclusion that a harsh sentence or jail would not be able to resolve Cole's actual issue, meaning that more in-depth resolutions needed to be conducted. Things like sentencing his father, making Cole realize what he has done, allowing him to understand alternatives of dealing with his problems, etc. Currently, if Cole was sent to jail all that would happen is that he would continue to focus on his anger.

On the other hand, I agreed that Edwin and Garvey made the right decision to send Cole to that isolated island alone. Honestly, that was the point where Cole began to apprehend that what he did was wrong. It not only helped to heal is mind and spirit, but also directed him towards a more positive direction of life. For his rehabilitation and reintegration, even after he comes back from the island, he needs to be sent to anger-control programs and other related arrangements so that it is ensured he has the right help he needs!

I recommend the Touching Spirit Bear for all of those trying to understand how youth are treated in justice programs. Cole's story is sure unique, but reflects a lot about justice in reality.
Thanks for reading.
Maggie 

Friday, 7 March 2014

GINS #4: Mini Challenge

Hi Readers!

As a brief explanation of my work below, I was asked to create a piece of word art that incorporates the most powerful quote from my GINS novel The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. Please take a look below for more details!

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"Did the people boogying the night away not realize that there were widows out there who would never dance again? … Did anyone here really care?" 
                                    ~ Hala Jaber, The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles (pg. 125)
The quote above portrays a sneak peak into the overall message sent through the novel Flying Carpet of Small Miracles. Everyday, the developed countries around the world enjoy their lives dancing and laughing, but not once do they realize the hardships that the other countries may be facing. This novel took place in Iraq, a literal war country in 2003 and many years after. Although the United States were claiming to be aiding Iraq out of political tensions by overruling the existing dictator, they were oblivious to the several innocent lives that were taken between the process. The several families who lost their loved ones and their homes. The several smiles torn off of every Iraqi face. Iraq's happiness clearly taken away, while the Americans back home continued to live their life in joy! 

The word art image above is two fold: with the left side depicting the "Western World" whereas the right side depicts "Iraq" (with a  women wearing a traditional hijab). While we relaxed in the warmth sunbathing, the Iraqi's suffered and lost many loved ones. We keep our eyes blindfolded, but Iraq sees it all. They see the devastation in comparison to the relaxation, but we still do nothing and now they ask "Did anyone here really care?" 

All I ask is if ANYONE REALLY CARES? Honestly, if we do we must know that even though we may not be able to stop these devastating wars, we can always help out with the outcomes. Those young children impacted from war only needed better healthcare and love. With these two simple tasks, millions of lives could have been saved but most of us were busy with our own lives. I believe that we can help, only if we try! Its a lot to say, but it is definitely possible. 


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Thanks for reading everyone! Please leave your thoughts and comments below :)
Enjoy,
Maggie

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

GINS: Free Write

Hi Everyone!

I know that I have not kept everyone up to date for quite a while, but I have another thing to share today. We just completed a free write that is connecting to the Global Issues Novel Study (GINS) that we were pursuing earlier. Basically this was meant to connect our learning by doing a free write in the perspective of the main character in our GINS novels. My GINS novel (for a recap) is The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. Please enjoy and if you have any comments or questions feel free to ask below!
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Iraq is in ruins, just disastrous. My homeland is wrecked and I cannot believe that in a split second my whole life is turned upside down. Being a reporter is really hard, especially comparing my values at home in Baghdad with those of where I live abroad I can notice several differences. Yes my life abroad is much more sophisticated and “nicer,” but that does not mean that I do not miss my old life, my family and most of all my heritage. After the 2003 war I have received a LOT more work load to deal with and being that I am such a sensitive person it does not help.

In the past, learning that I was not able to have children that my husband and I longed for was quite upsetting. However even worse is the fact that so many innocent children and their lives were taken from this dreadful war itself. What were they fighting for? Hurting the thousands of poor lives of my native people for reasons unknown. It may have been true that the political element of Iraq was in trouble and was supposedly harming the Iraqis, but it does not go to show that several thousands innocent Iraqi lives had to be taken for one  dictator to be overthrown. This world has turned into a killing ---, you know what I mean.

My heart wrenched every single time I saw those pouting faces of innocent children wanting their lives to be better, just wanting to have another chance. Not only that, but even those families who lost their loved ones or those who were the only ones left! Again, why so much torture? Why so much pain? Can’t our world just live as one?

We spend night and day worrying about the future, but just thinking about our present instead of worrying every minute of our lives can change us. Why did the United States have to get involved in the ongoings of Iraq? They had no solid evidence that Iraq was ANY threat, so it was plain pointless to hurt so many. I just wish that our people all live as one and understand that war is not always the way.

“Hana,” my father use to say, “You are too sensitive to everything, are you sure that reporting on these events is the best job for you?” I know that he cares about me, but I feel the sole responsibility to help my people and others all over the world who need to have a voice. Those children who are just pushed in the corner and are continually put through pain need to stand up and I am there to ensure they can. I am there to help them and help everyone else on this planet by letting them know that there are people on this earth that have MUCH harder lifestyles than the joys we enjoy daily.
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

GINS #6: World Charter

Recently, I had an assignment that asked to create a Charter that could apply to the whole world. Once we got into a group of 4 we realized that the books we read focusing on Global Issues all had different problems from around the world. The specifics about the books we read are below, feel free to check them out!


While creating this document, our group faced a lot of conflict and debate in relation to the specifics. One example of this was our mini debate in the beginning discussing Freedoms vs. Rights. Heather believed that freedoms were something that was very similar to a right, but I argued that freedoms were not enforced. Personally, I believe that rights are guaranteed, enforced and must be followed, whereas freedoms are a choice. One thing that we concluded after debating as a group was that in the World Charter we would change freedoms to rights. For example, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms there is a set section for Fundamental Freedoms discussing ideas like the freedom to express your own opinion. Although, after talking about this with our group, we brought up interesting perspectives like an example of Afghanistan where the Taliban over power. With the freedom to expression, would people even be able to speak up? Who would protect them? This is why we created the right to express yourself freely. Additionally, as you may have noticed we used the idea of expression over speech, because we all believe that an individual can project their identity in many ways other than just talking and it is important that everyone is recognized in society. For collective rights section, our group also discussed the specific cultures values around the world, but we found a hard time trying to create separate collective rights indicating cultural significance around the world. Instead we added the right to practice the religion of your choice under Fundamental Rights section of our World Charter. In relation to this, we were thinking of creating collective rights based on locations of the world, specifically hemispheres. The reason this came up was because the identities and languages are generally the same in these areas, but again I felt that this was unnecessary as cultural rights was something that should be more “broad” and applicable to everyone. This also introduced the idea of worldview and that different parts of the world have different perspectives. This is also why it makes it so confusing to create a World Charter.


Books:
Paradise of the Blind ← Communism
My Forbidden Face ← Women’s Rights (The treatment of women in Afghanistan during the Taliban Rule)
The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles: Dictatorship in Iraq ← Overthrown by US army, but the country faced a lot unnecessary damage

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood ← About illiteracy and equality issues

Thursday, 9 January 2014

GINS: Consumerism & Economic Connections

Currently, for my Global Issues Novel Study (GINS) project, I am reading The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. As we have been discussing for a while now, economics and consumerism play a large role in our world. My GINS novel explores the 2003 war in Iraq, declared because of United States claiming they believed that the country of Iraq held weapons of mass destruction, which was completely false, proved after the bombardment. Although, one positive result was the dictator who was withdrawn from power. Now, as we take a closer look into Iraq and its economic systems we realize the substantial growth difference before and after 2003.

Before the 2003 war, Iraq was a dictatorship where Ba’ath Party (with former president Saddam Hussein) was in power. In this dictator ruled country, there was next to no freedom for any of the citizens residing there, meaning they had no say in how the country is organized. We can assume that Hussein likely inclined towards focusing on the land he reigned upon, than the people that resided their. During this time, the residents demand for food and water was high, with everything in ruins these people of Iraq continuously struggled to receive the supply of basic necessities required. Since the main focus was to obtain basic needs and survive amongst the demolished cities, it was nearly impossible for any importing of resources to be done. This meant that the physiological needs that had to be met were dependant on what the country had present inside, including possibly locally growing foods as a resources to meet the demand. Without any focus on importing and exporting foods, or meeting supply and demand, Iraqi economy did not thrive.

After a lot of hardship that the country and their citizens faced for many years, the dictator, Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In relation to the political system, this whole war led by United States was aimed to resolve the several problems present in Iraq - including to make it a model democracy based on law -, but instead it just replaced tyranny with anarchy, as well as leading American to further practices violating the laws of war. Currently, the Republic of Iraq is a parliamentary democracy and there is still sectarianism present - the idea of sectarianism refers to narrow minded adherence to a specific sect, meaning sticking to a collective group of people with particular religious beliefs. This concept also speaks to collective identity, as the different sects are equivalent to separate collective identities!

Iraq’s economic development has been correlated with its ability to produce and sell oil. Now, Iraq is the second largest producer of crude oil, and has proved to have the fifth largest crude oil reserves in the world. During the time of 1988 to 2003, the unemployment had risen significantly. A lot of the employed worked in the public sector, meaning the part of the economy that is controlled by the state. These workers suffered difficult conditions, working for minimal pay. This unemployment rate in Iraq clearly represented the ration between those actively seeking work, and the total number of people in labor force. Although Iraq’s economy was powered mainly by state run centrally controlled government individuals, Saddam did encourage privatization during the 1980’s, however this was not successful due to the continuing conflicts and lack of financing or support for private business owners in Iraq. 

To help out, the UN (United Nations) created the Oil-For-Food (OFF) program in April 1995 as a temporary measure to help provide for humanitarian needs of Iraqi people due to the effects of economic administrative structure and since then, Iraq is making progress towards establishing the laws and institutions needed to make and implement economic policies. 

A government employee Sa’ad al-Shimary mentioned: “Before 2003, Ba’ath Party was everywhere. It was hard to work in such an environment. I feared they might write a report against me, as they always did, if we tried to criticize their work for any reason. I feared I might go to work and not return home.” He also said that back then he had to work extra hours as a taxi driver to pay the bills. Nowadays he is lives with a better quality of life: “Now my salary is enough for me and my family. I have no fear in the ministry. My life has changed for the better; I have more money, and I have a new car.” As you may notice, these are evident changes in this individuals consumer values. Originally, the economic system that was present before 2003 did not allow for this government employee to meet his basic needs and pay his bills. Although with time, as this economic organization changed, his consumer values changed as he was receiving a larger income and was able to meet physiological needs thus able to proceed to the next step of Maslows Hierarchy of need: purchasing other wants like a car!

Key Terms:
* Tyranny: Cruel and oppressive government or rule.
* Anarchy: Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, resulting in a state of disorder.
* Sects: Groups of individuals with somewhat different religious beliefs from those of a larger group to which they belong.
* Democracy: System of government participated in by all eligible members of the state, typically through elections and representatives.
* Public Sector: Part of economy controlled by state.
* Private Sector: Part of economy that is not under direct state control. 
* Labor Force: All members of an organization or country able to work, collectively viewed. 

Works Cited:



Wednesday, 8 January 2014

GINS #5

In Iraq – where my novel The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles takes place – they have a similar Iraqi Constitution that offers acceptable rights and freedoms, even during the years when the 2003 war initiated. Following the 2003 Iraq War, the 1990 constitution was removed as there were particular changes made to correspond with the new political system working to be placed. This previous constitution labeled many rights and laws clearly included Equality Rights for Iraqi citizens, although unfortunately most of these laws were not followed. Specifically, the equality rights specified no discrimination because of gender, blood, language, social origin or religion and equal opportunities guaranteed to all citizens based on law. When we compare this to the life of Iraqi’s represented in the non-fictional book The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles, it is evident that the authorities did not enforce rights and laws, such as equality. Reflecting upon the imbalance of equality in Iraq, specific evidence was revealed in the novel discussing that during the war days, while men relaxed at home, women went out and risked their lives to gather basic daily needs. During this time, women usually did the work that obviously implied that laws and rights were not administered.

Autocratic and tyrannical rule in Iraq continued until dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown, as the result of the war. I could only imagine how troublesome these days of war would have been for the innocent citizens of Iraq, trying daily to simply make a living. My first contemplation about the dictator rule was that the Iraqi people could have easily revolted and definitely would have initiated a possible solution to the dictator issue. But considering that Hussein had his own army to defend him, and that the citizens were either too afraid or just listened to the leader, instantly shot down these possibilities. It reminded me of the structure of North Korea, only not as severe. However, returning the subject of rights & freedoms, there was a lot of guidance from United States and other countries involved to help set Iraq on the right path politically. After the war, the country – particularly cities affected, like Baghdad – had a transitional period when the people of Iraq began to reclaim their freedom. Throughout these years, Iraq’s Transitional Administrative Law was enforced as a result of the Iraqi people determining to remain free people governed under rule of law. This law established was explicitly to govern the affairs of Iraq during the transitional period, until an elected government were to be chosen that would achieve full democracy.


If we were to apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Iraq, and actually enforce it, there would have been many differences. Logically, if these laws, rights and freedoms were imposed during the days of Saddam Hussein rule, reality would play out that Individual Rights of Iraqi citizens would have to be present. The problem was that no one was there to enforce those laws. Nowadays, Iraq has developed a democratic system with a new constitution incorporating and embracing the problems that occurred earlier and working to change that. The reason to update the Iraqi Constitution after the dictator was overthrown was to address the issue of dictatorship by making a change for the better towards democracy. To support these transitional changes in ruling, the appropriate modifications were done to the Constitution, and now Iraq is a democratic country with very similar rights and freedoms for Iraqi citizens. Gladly, these changes helped to bring Iraqi’s out of the darkness and into a well-organized brighter future, with the simple changes to a countries constitution!

Sources:

http://www.cesnur.org/2004/iraq_tal.htm <-- Transitional Agreement Law

http://www.iraqinationality.gov.iq/attach/iraqi_constitution.pdf <-- Latest Version of Iraqi Constitution





Wednesday, 20 November 2013

GINS: Consumerism and Economic Connections



Currently, for my Global Issues Novel Study (GINS) project, I am reading The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. As we have been discussing for a while now, economics and consumerism play a large role in our world. My GINS novel explores the 2003 war in Iraq, declared because of United States claiming they believed that the country of Iraq held weapons of mass destruction, which was completely false, proved after the bombardment. Although, one positive result was the dictator who was withdrawn from power. Now, as we take a closer look into Iraq and its economic systems we realize the substantial growth difference before and after 2003.
Before the 2003 war, Iraq was a dictatorship where Ba’ath Party (with former president Saddam Hussein) was in power. In this dictator ruled country, there was next to no freedom for any of the citizens residing there, meaning they had no say in how the country is organized. We can assume that Hussein likely inclined towards focusing on the land he reigned upon, than the people that resided their. During this time, the residents demand for food and water was high, with everything in ruins these people of Iraq continuously struggled to receive the supply of basic necessities required. Since the main focus was to obtain basic needs and survive amongst the demolished cities, it was nearly impossible for any importing of resources to be done. This meant that the physiological needs that had to be met were dependant on what the country had present inside, including possibly locally growing foods as a resources to meet the demand. Without any focus on importing and exporting foods, or meeting supply and demand, Iraqi economy did not thrive.
After a lot of hardship that the country and their citizens faced for many years, the dictator, Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In relation to the political system, this whole war led by United States was aimed to resolve the several problems present in Iraq - including to make it a model democracy based on law -, but instead it just replaced tyranny with anarchy, as well as leading American to further practices violating the laws of war. Currently, the Republic of Iraq is a parliamentary democracy and there is still sectarianism present - the idea of sectarianism refers to narrow minded adherence to a specific sect, meaning sticking to a collective group of people with particular religious beliefs. This concept also speaks to collective identity, as the different sects are equivalent to separate collective identities!
Iraq’s economic development has been correlated with its ability to produce and sell oil. Now, Iraq is the second largest producer of crude oil, and has proved to have the fifth largest crude oil reserves in the world. A government employee Sa’ad al-Shimary mentioned: “Before 2003, Ba’ath Party was everywhere. It was hard to work in such an environment. I feared they might write a report against me, as they always did, if we tried to criticize their work for any reason. I feared I might go to work and not return home.” He also said that back then he had to work extra hours as a taxi driver to pay the bills. Nowadays he is lives with a better quality of life: “Now my salary is enough for me and my family. I have no fear in the ministry. My life has changed for the better; I have more money, and I have a new car.” As you may notice, these are evident changes in this individuals consumer values. Originally, the economic system that was present before 2003 did not allow for this government employee to meet his basic needs and pay his bills. Although with time, as this economic organization changed, his consumer values changed as he was receiving a larger income and was able to meet physiological needs thus able to proceed to the next step of Maslows Hierarchy of need: purchasing other wants like a car!
Key Terms:
* Tyranny: Cruel and oppressive government or rule.
* Anarchy: Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, resulting in a state of disorder.
* Sects: Groups of individuals with somewhat different religious beliefs from those of a larger group to which they belong.
* Democracy: System of government participated in by all eligible members of the state, typically through elections and representatives.
Works Cited: