When a despot
By DR. VICKI BISMILLA
In our sanitized western world, people cringe when modern-day despots are compared to Hitler.
But how can we not make that comparison when migrant parents crossing the border into the United States have had their children torn away from them?
While the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights impotently lamented that the United States’ actions are, “arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” the Trump administration haughtily rejected the UN and continued its heinous evil.
Over 2300 babies, toddlers, children and youth were snatched from their parents and housed in warehouses while their weeping parents were sent to jail for crossing the US border.
While Trump tried to blame previous administrations, the New York Times in its research found that, “There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry.
A ‘zero tolerance’ policy created by the president in April and put into effect by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisors (said).”
Time magazine’s Haley Sweetland Edwards on June 14, 2018 reported that even a baby as young as eighteen months was taken from a Honduran mother this year.
Pictures of fragile, traumatized babies and children cowering in fenced enclosures and heartbreaking audio of inconsolable, crying children caused worldwide outrage and condemnation of Trump’s heartlessness.
Criticism came from his own Republican colleagues and First Lady Laura Bush made a poignant appeal on behalf of desperate mothers whose children were taken.
Several American airlines refused to transport children who had been forcibly snatched from their parents by Trump’s enforcers.
In light of possible political fallout Trump decided to stop his heinous actions.
However, his own attorney general’s office admitted that this is just a stopgap measure and there is no formal process in place to reunite the over two thousand three hundred children with their parents.
Parents can be deported without being reunited with their children and may have to try and retrieve their children once back in their home countries.
Having to deal with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency will ensure that the nightmare for the parents and their snatched children will continue indefinitely.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has staff attorneys closely watching the crisis.
They have documented numerous previous cases of shocking violence and abuse against migrant children by federal officials.
Astrid Dominguez, director of the ACL Border Rights Center, said that “it’s unacceptable that there are no mechanisms in place to shed light on CBP’s (Customs and Border Patrol) abuses and (to) ensure accountability.”
We, as Canadians, must not forget the evil inflicted by Canada and its churches against the children of Indigenous peoples of Canada through Canada’s residential school system. Similar to what just happened in Trump’s regime in America, Canada, too, yanked toddlers and little children away from Indigenous parents and dragged them into residential schools where they were locked, abused, tortured and stripped of their indigenous identities.
Canada is today trying to apologize for these evils and trying to make amends for the horrors inflicted – but the lives of the thousands of children lost and thousands of children who never saw their parents again is a stain that can never ever be erased.
As Canadians we are enraged by Trump’s evil.
However, the silence on this topic by the Canadian government was disappointing, while the world, including the Pope, condemned Trump’s shocking and abusive practice.
Perhaps in the interests of trade Canada continued to attempt cordial relationships with an abominable administration.
Or perhaps Canada was afraid that our own shame over our similar treatment of the children of Indigenous Peoples of Canada would once again be exposed.
Dr. Vicky Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, academic, and Chief Learning Officer. She has authored two books.
Lights! Camera! Disney!
By ANGIE SETH
Watch out Hollywood, here comes Lena Khan – director extraordinaire. The journey began with her first feature film, The Tiger Hunter, which got rave reviews on the film circuit, winning awards at festivals in Los Angeles, Carmel, Philadelphia, and Santa Fe. And now Khan will be the first Muslim director to work with Disney. She is breaking barriers not only for Muslim women but for all women and minority groups in the industry. In the making of The Tiger Hunter, Khan made it her mandate to include a full crew of women and people of colour. She is an activist and a director with a vision that will take audiences on a journey of adventure, learning, and imagination. Khan’s latest project is with Disney – a film called Flora & Ulysses.
Angie Seth: How did you get into writing and directing?
Lena Khan: I was always making little films for school projects, or various other things. For the Muslim Student Association in college, I was always running around with a camera and I’d make these video yearbooks that we sold later to raise money for charity, and it was great, because we made a lot of money! So pretty soon, my brother started hinting that maybe I could actually pursue this as a career, and encouraged me to apply to UCLA Film School. Aside from those rote fundamentals, it was a combination of factors that made me feel like people learn and are influenced so much from what we see on film and TV, and I thought it was an incredible means of helping spread awareness of people, issues, understandings, whatever, through entertaining stories.
AS: I understand your first feature film, The Tiger Hunter, was inspired by your father’s life journey.
LK: It started out with the story of how my dad had to steal a stool sample (yes, it’s a bit gross) to get his visa into the country because of some weird rules the US government had at the time. The story was hilarious, and it seemed there was something to all of this, so I started interviewing all the immigrants I could find and hearing their stories – asking them for every detail. I started with my dad, then moved on to my mom and other relatives, to community members, and finally random folks in downtown LA. There was the story of my friend’s brother’s dad, who used to share a suit with his room-mates. They’d schedule all their interviews around the availability of this one suit and hang out in their underwear at home waiting until the suit came back so they could change into it. The stories that are the most salient and hilarious in the movie came from real immigrants, and I think that was part of the genuineness of it.
AS: You are touted as one of the top 25 screenwriters to watch – how does that make you feel?
LK: Like I better do something good with that!
AS: What challenges have you had to overcome in your journey to success?
LK: A million challenges, but nothing necessarily so unique to me. This field in general is an uphill battle. Fundraising was painstaking and I think we got the money by a miracle, making a film that looked like that on a smaller budget was insanely difficult and happened really because of the amazing folks we had on board. We slogged around for almost a year on the festival circuit until we got our eventual (amazing) distribution deal. And of course there’s these obstacles that I can feel, but I can’t exactly pinpoint all of them...where there is a feeling that yeah, some things were harder by being a girl or South Asian or Muslim (like when guys talk to you like you’re a little kid, or how no one wants to take a chance on a movie with a South Asian lead) but I tried not to focus too much on those.
AS: What’s your family comedy, Flora & Ulysses for Disney, about?
LK: It’s a live-action feature family comedy based on a wonderful book about a group of people, knocked down by the world, whose lives are changed when a superhero squirrel (but a very different type of superhero) comes into their lives. The book is more for kids, but the movie has a brilliant script by Brad Copeland that makes it for both adults and kids. Kind of like the way Pixar is able to reach that, or a movie like Elf.
AS: How did the partnership come about? What is it like working for Disney?
LK: I was introduced to Gil Netter, a producer who has done amazing films like Life of Pi and The Blind Side. He sent me the script. I loved it and came and presented my take and he attached me to direct the film. After that we went to a few companies to pitch it around, and Disney loved it and was the heaviest hitter so it went there.
AS: As a Muslim woman, and the first for Disney to hire, do you see yourself as someone who is breaking barriers for other women to make their mark in what can be a very male dominated industry?
LK: It’s a weird question to answer. I’m trying to do what I can with the opportunities I’ve been given, and God and my community of friends and supporters have helped as well. Some folks have helped break barriers for me, and if I’m doing some part of that by getting one step closer and sharing my knowledge and helping others in, I hope it helps.
AS: Apart from Flora & Ulysses, what’s next for you?
LK: I just sold a television show and am pitching another one as well right now. I have an amazing screenwriter who is penning a script for me to direct. I’m also pursuing episodic television directing, so there’s a lot of fun avenues I’m excited about pursuing.
AS: Any advice for those looking to get into the film and television industry?
LK: Treat it like a profession and not a hobby, expect to be at it unsuccessfully for years and years and years before getting anywhere (otherwise pursue a different profession), find mentors, network a lot and outside of your bubble, and keep working on getting better at what you do. Don’t write people overly long emails (I’m serious), be a person of integrity because people notice that, and pursue what you’re doing with the right intentions and you can then never regret all you’ve put into it.
Angie Seth is the 6:00 pm weekend anchor/reporter with Global News.
By KULBINDER SARAN CALDWELL
I have been blessed with a long name that even desis find hard to pronounce. My friends shorten it, affectionately, and I am okay with that, but I just started my new job and have been asked if there’s a shorter, “friendlier” version. Am I wrong to find that offensive? I know many people “Canadianize” their names and if that works for them, that’s great, but I don’t want to. How do I say so without coming across as rude? – CALL ME BY MY NAME
I applaud your attitude of feeling blessed with this name rather than burdened since many succumb to the pressure of what others want instead of what’s right for us. I suggest you describe this feeling to your employer and maybe share some strategies on how to pronounce it. This is a tough one since it’s your employer that’s asking and your response can colour the reception you receive from the company.
I agree with you, you have every right to feel offended; I, like you, was never okay with the idea to “Canadianize” my name, Kulbinder, into a shorter, “friendlier” version like Kelly or something.
I prefer to be unique and a bit different.
However, we all know that it can work against us when we are trying to establish ourselves in our chosen profession. It is a common fact, some organizations tend to weed out the resumés of people with names difficult to pronounce.
Some of us have used techniques like an alias or initials to position ourselves to overcome this bias.
But when it’s time to establish yourself in the company, it’s important for you to come up with some strategies to address their request without coming across as rude.
When I am trying to get people to understand how to pronounce my son’s name, I say, “Tej, like Paige with a T” and it helps.
Also, if your name has a meaning, share that with them to reinforce your feelings towards your given name and its pronunciation.
If they are still resisting, you may want to consider, just in the early stages, to allow them to use the shorter version of your name that you reserve for your friends.
If you concede on this, you can still introduce yourself by your full, beautiful name so they will hear it over and over again and get to know your proper name. If we want anything to change these biases, it has to be done one situation at a time – starting with us – until the decision makers themselves have the long, complicated and spectacular names themselves.
Is there something that you wish you could talk to someone about? Email me at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter and Facebook @DearDidi_KSC. Check out my blog at deardidi.com, subscribe to become part of the community and keep up to date with all the events. Hope to hear from you soon!
Is it okay to
By REV. TONY ZEKVELD
Deceiving others – is it okay? What if it is to your advantage? Is it then okay? Or, what about deceiving because you don’t want your friend to get hurt? We easily justify ourselves in deceiving others. Most people deceive to cover themselves and to gain advantage.
People deceive agencies in order to get more money from the government. Many deceive by not charging or paying HST. Others deceive by giving another mailing address to an auto insurance company in order to have cheaper insurance for their car. Cheating is not only a form of stealing but also deceiving another. We live in a society of deceivers. A married man has an affair with another woman, keeping it a secret. Deception is a way of life for many. One lie soon has to be covered with another lie and another. Soon we are living so many lies that life becomes one big lie.
But your friend says, “Everyone does it. As long as no one knows, it’s okay.” But that begs the question, “Does that make deceiving right?” When you deceive you are hiding behind a mask. You hide the truth from others, from your wife or your children, but there is One who always sees. He knows me because He made me. God always sees me and knows me. God uses some very strong words in the Bible, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
What God says matters more!
We need another covering. I am not suggesting we cover our lies with more lies. Justifying ourselves or making excuses won’t cover either. The covering we need, God provides in Christ. God justifies us through faith in Christ, forgiving our bad record and changing our heart by His Holy Spirit. Then we begin to understand God’s will in His commandment not to bear false witness against our neighbour. His will is that “I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander... I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind... I should love the truth, speak it candidly, openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbour’s good name.” (From an instruction guide called the Heidelberg Catechism).
This way of life is so freeing! We have nothing to hide and those “who deal truthfully are His delight”!
Reverend Tony Zekveld of the Hope Centre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org