Required to show your pride?

For a devout Muslim woman, a facial covering is part of her everyday life. However outside or traditionally Muslim countries this can cause difficulties, even controversy. Zunera Ishaq refused to take part in a Canadian citizenship ceremony because according to law she would be required to show her face, an act that goes against her religious beliefs.

Zunera Ishaq in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015

This issue was already brought to the federal court where Ishaq won on account of the ban on wearing the Niqab violating the Citizenship Act, which says that “candidates for citizenship must be allowed he greatest possible religious freedom when they take the oath.“. The government appealed the ruling but lost. Many people believe that the niqab should not be permitted in a citizenship ceremony, but that the face should be visible as people display their loyalty to the country proudly and openly. People are now seeking an appeal from the supreme court. Ishaq is waiting to hear if the Supreme Court will take the case to see if she will be able to obtain her citizenship in time to vote in the October 19th election.

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Freedom Means Water

The right to water is a basic human right, it is unarguably a necessity to our lives. Canada contains a full one fifth of the world’s freshwater which is fantastic. It does mean though that there is no reason for people to be deprived of freshwater in our country, and yet there are.

Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation is a community of 553 people spanning across the Manitoba and Ontario borders.

Shoal Lake No. 40 in relation to the city of Winnipeg

Shoal Lake No. 40 (pinned) in relation to the city of Winnipeg

Over a hundred years ago construction on an aqueduct to send clean water to Winnipeg began and resulted in the reserve being cut of from the mainland. There is no permanent road to the community, requiring residents to use a ferry in the summer (here described as a aging barge) or ice roads in the winter. These winter roads are unreliable, every year resulting in people falling through the ice, sometimes dying.

This aqueduct continues to provide the city of Winnipeg with reliably clean drinking water, however the residents of Shoal Lake are left with dirty, undrinkable water. The community has been on a boil-water advisory for over seventeen years.

Saturday, September 12, 2015 a walk was held in Winnipeg to raise awareness for this issue and to support the proposed “Freedom Road”. Freedom Road is a proposed permanent all-weather road to be built from the Shoal Lake community allowing residents not only to be able to travel back and forth from home safely, but also for garbage to be removed to the mainland and making the hoped for water treatment plant a more affordable project. Freedom Road is a $30 million project and the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba have both pledged to support the project in a three way split but the federal government has not yet agreed to support the project.

This project, this road, is a life and death situation for many people. Water is unarguably a human right and there are people in our country who do not have access to that right. This should not be a question, this should not be put on the back-burner, this should be dealt with. It’s time to bridge the murky water we have left Shoal Lake No. 40 in. It’s time for a Freedom Road.