Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Touching Spirit Bear - Post #1

In class we have been exploring criminal system that we have in Canada, and how the youth and adult systems differ. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the system that Canadians use to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth who have gotten into trouble with the law. To further our study, we have also been reading a novel by the name of Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. It follows Cole, a young delinquent who lives for ruining others lives and breaking the law. A person who has never faced the consequences of his actions.. and has never known love. Banished to an island, after beating up a young lad by the name Peter Driscal, he struggles to survive and rediscover how to trust.

We were asked to try and become the judge of Cole Matthews through the lens of a judge. What punishment would we give him and why? The beauty of the YCJA is that it takes into account the different circumstances that all youth face, and tries acknowledge them when it comes to their sentence. Considering that Cole had such a disturbing past and such anger built inside him, it would be quite difficult to find a sentence that suits his situation. On top of that, he had committed a major crime. Because of actions, Peter Driscal was left brain damaged. A consequence that will be there throughout both of their lives. Since his attack was so violent and lethal, he was placed into a detention centre. According to the YCJA, placing any youth into custody or probation requires a serious act of offence. This is due to the fact that such events could have a major impact on their lives. Also, Cole was known to have committed many different crimes as well before his interaction with Peter Driscal, and he had never gotten into serious trouble before. If he was to actually gain the right to Extrajudicial Sanctions (which he has in the book), the punishment would likely be much harsher than the one he would face going through the court system. But what would I sentence him?

Until Cole had brought a change into his attitude and accepted responsibility for his crimes, he would never be able to even enter the Extrajudicial Sanctions. In the book, it took a mauling by a bear to change his course onto the better. If he were however, finally going to change his attitude, he would need to learn to deal with the consequences of his action. Considering that until he rids himself of all the anger he has stored inside and dealt with all those he has wronged, he can never achieve his goal of what he wants from life. I would probably assign him something that would deal with all the things that he would later learn to regret in life. Somehow finding a way to give back to all of his victims. He could do personal service for some, write a letter of apology to others, and have face to face discussions with some. For Peter Driscal, he could try to help him deal with the brain damage that he had inflicted. Whether that means being a friend to him when he needs on, or being the one who attends to all his needs.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

GINS Post #8

So once again we are exploring our Global Issues Novel Studies! This time, we had to select a single quote from the novel that we felt really represented the issue that our novels explored. After that we had to create word art for that quote. This is what I ended up doing:
The original quote that I selected from my GINS book was "Maybe I'm revealing a shallow side to my character, but I need to cling to the 'normality' of my life as an ordinary girl. It's denying the imprisonment that is lying in wait for me, lying in wait for every Afghan girl and woman. It's inevitable." - Karenna Gore Schiff, My Forbidden Face, Page 33. The parts that I used for the actual quote are in bold, but I feel that the overall quote, when read in context, is incredibly powerful on its own. I chose this quote because I felt that it very directly stated the extent of the problem that women in Afghanistan face. Originally, I was debating against whether I should use this quote or, "We watch over her as if she was a child. My mother, once so strong and active, has turned her back on reality. She erases it in a deeper and deeper sleep." - Karena Gore Schiff, My Forbidden Face, Page 92. The reason I felt that this quote could have potentially been a good choice was because it talked about how much the reality of Afghanistan effected people. I thought that the other one would be a better choice though because it relates more to the issue that was being discussed. 

As for the choices I made in the actual picture, they were very deliberate. The girl in the centre has a sad expression on her face as she looks back at the light, which is meant to express the normality. She is meant to be shown being dragged by the clock. The reason I chose the clock as the thing that was dragging her away from her normality is because to me inevitable meant that with time, she would have to let go of her hope. The clock is white, which is meant to represent the Taliban because that is the colour of their flag. I chose what was meant to be a sunset because it is generally linked to hope, and though Latifa was being dragged towards the imprisonment of the Taliban, she still clung to her life, which to me was her source of hope. I meant for her to be shown struggling, but that doesn't actually come through very well in the picture. What is trapping her to the Taliban are meant to be chains, though they may not look like them, to show what a strong grip the Taliban had over Afghan women. Her clothes are also something that are meant to show her clinging to her normality. As we know, Taliban force women to wear something that completely covers them from head to toe, but before they arrived Afghanistan was a very modern country. The clothes may look very casual to us, but it would be an outright act of rebellion to the Taliban. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

GINS #7 - Exploring Empathy

Today in class we were given the task to explore empathy. With a given amount of time, we were asked to become the main characters of our Global Issues Novels. We had to try and explore the emotions that they had felt. Personally, I didn't actually find this too difficult because I usually try to become a character when I read books. This was of course very hard in this novel because the pain and trauma this girl suffered was immense. Here is what I have written in the short amount of time our teacher provided:

I cannot believe how much my life has spiraled over the past few years. I guess I just never thought it possible. Even with all that was going on around me, the constant news of the Taliban’s imminent arrival, I never even have imagined that my life would become this. I was so young when the Taliban arrived. Still unsure as to the situation in my country. Sure, there were many nights in which I thought that I had understood terror. Watching and huddling with my three siblings and parents while war raged on right outside our window. My father’s shop faced destruction at least once. Of course, once the Taliban arrived, it was gone, but that was, comparatively, the least of my worries. My father on the other hand loved that shop. He spent his whole life trying to build it up and I could see the clear anguish on his face when he discovered what had happened. I still see it today sometimes, and it worries me deeply. I have grown up in the country of Afghanistan. It is my home, and forever will be, not matter where I go and what horrors take over. When the Taliban had first taken over my country, no one could accept it. Not even with our governer being publicly hung and set there for all to see would lead us to accept what had happened. When they arrived, some people actually rejoiced. They believed that the Taliban could help rebuild our some what torn nation. What we didn’t realize was that our nation was to become even more broken than it already was. My beloved mother, who used to always treat us with a great smile, entered a serious state of depression. We the woman who had fed us and taught us to walk falling deeper and deeper into a hole… and we had no idea how to pull her out of it. Of course, when the Taliban first arrived there weren’t nearly as many rules. But as time progressed, in basically the course of one year, I became a prisoner in my own home. If I was to go outside, I would remain a prisoner in my clothes, because a women was meant to be rarely heard and not seen. I however did not want to go outside. When they first arrived, I guess I just didn’t want to believe it to be possible. I kept clinging to the hope that our army would be able to defend our nation. The way it has for so many years. My best friend’s elder sister came to our house one day, and reminded me that I did have the freedom to go outside… though I am not sure it could really be called a freedom anymore. As soon as I stepped out I saw signs of destruction everywhere. I could not believe my eyes! Men who had once walked proudly down the street now walked with alertness and fear. Women who had learnt all their life to lead their own life now cowered behind the men who were their escorts. I thought that there was no way that the trip would get any worse. I was wrong.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

GINS #6 - Our Idea of a Global Charter

            Today in class we once again returned to our study of our Global Issues Novel Study. The people who were in my group for discussions not only had different novels, but each of our novels explored a different global issue that plagues our world today. The issues that were brought together by our particular bunch of novels were, Communism (explored in Paradise of the Blind), Women's Rights/Freedoms (My Forbidden Face), Dictatorship/War (The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles) and Illiteracy and Equality (Leaving Microsoft To Change the World). As a group, instead of trying to solve all of the problems that we had learned about through our novels, we tried to find a way to create a charter that would help establish peace in all cultures and societies.
            By trying to bring together all the countries of our world, we realized that it would be impossible to make everyone happy. Everyone has different ideas as to what a Utopian society should look like, and everyone's ideas are incredibly vast. Also, if we were to incorporate our idea of a perfect world into the real world, wouldn't it become a form of ethnocentrism? By making it law, we would be forcing our perspectives onto those who don't wish to see that reality. Even when we think about all the problems that plague our world, and think to ourselves how can someone possibly want to live in such a situation, in many cases that is what they have grown up to believe. In the minds of those individuals, they could very well feel hatred towards those who are merely trying to help. After all, isn't that exactly what happened in our (Canadian) history?
            We finally decided that though this may be the case, the only way to reach the Utopia everyone is seeking for is by trying to here everyone's voice... and that includes our own. This is when we finally sat down and began our Charter. We began to model our Charter by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, beginning with the basic rights and freedoms. Our first discussion, was about the concept of rights and freedoms. In Canada, the rights that are enlisted (mostly) are meant to be directly for citizens of Canada. The freedoms however are fundamental to our country. They are the root of our values and as such, they are meant for everyone. Now if we were to enforce that difference into the world... well every single person that lives on planet Earth would be considered a citizen. Who is there to say who is and who isn't? So how could we possibly use rights and freedoms if one is meant to be entitled to a specific group of people? After much discussion, we finally decided that we wouldn't have any freedoms, because we believed that freedoms should be enforced just as much as rights, and since there are no guidelines to say who is/isn't a citizen of the world, there is no need for a second category.
          Coming up with the individual rights wasn't at all difficult, but trying to decide what should be the collective rights of the world was close to impossible. The point of our Charter was to equalize everyone in the world and not give a higher standard to certain individuals. How would we be doing that if we were to designate rights to specified groups of people? On top of that, the reason for the collective rights in Canada are due to our country's history. The fact is, that around the globe, every country has their own story to tell. Every single nation of our planet has its very own unique history that cannot be deemed more important than another's. So we decided that we would just do some simple rights. For languages, we decided that in order for governments to cooperate they would need a way to communicate. With a world filled with millions of different languages, there is no way that this could happen without a central language. After some discussion, we realized that English is spoken almost everywhere in the globe. Many countries offer English as part of their learning program, even developing ones. Hence, our first portions of collective rights.
            Now we faced the problem of who would enforce this charter. In Canada, the government enforces our charter and it is a democracy, but who would choose the government of the world. There is absolutely no way that everyone's voice could be heard through a government for the globe. Any piece of legislation is merely a document with a few words on it if it is not properly enforced. So we decided that our charter should be more of a global constitution instead of charter. That's when we realized, all of the countries and problems that we explored in our novels have their own constitution. Each country has its own set of rules that are actually almost identical to those of Canada. The only difference would be that the rules of those countries are never enforced. This of course merely brought us back to square one, and that got me thinking. Is there really a way for there ever to be peace on Earth... and even if there was, would we accept it?

Here is a link to our charter, please feel free to check it out!: 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

GINS #5 - The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

           My Forbidden Face is a touching story about a young girl, and the struggles that she faced under the rule of the Taliban. The most shocking thing about this tale is that every single word is true. A girl at the mere age of 16 was forced to witness the murder of many that she had known since childhood. Forced to witness some poor, innocent soul beaten to a pulp on the off chance that she chose to step outside of her once beloved home. Everyday being reminded of the freedom that she once shared with every single individual in Afghanistan.
            I have officially finished reading my Global Issues Novel Study, but we aren’t quite done yet. Recently we have begun to talk about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we decided that it was time to once again discuss, and apply, our knowledge of the novels we had chosen. Through this I began to think, with the way the quality of life was described in my novel, did Afghanistan even have any kind of constitution at that time? I realized after minimal thinking that even if Afghanistan did follow a constitution before the rule of the Taliban, it was completely thrown aside when they rose to power. The time period in which my book takes place was a time where the people’s voice and thoughts didn’t matter. Either way, I thought there must be something that I could use to compare to our quality of life based on the Charter. I found that Afghanistan today has a pretty solid constitution. Another thing I found, though it may or may not be practiced, is that their constitution had laws about the rights and freedoms of every individual was actually very similar to our own.
            Of course, the constitution is very long, so I am unable to talk about the whole thing. There were, however, some points that I found really jumped out to me. These are points that I personally thought were either most shocking or most important. I believe that the reason I chose these points over all the others was because they relate almost entirely with the sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They stated that discrimination, for any reason, is against the law. This just so happens to be the very definition of one of the sections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Individual Rights, Equality Rights. It was also written that any citizen who wishes to move in, out, or around the country was free to do so, Mobility Rights, and they even believe in the policy that everyone is absolutely innocent until proven guilty, which just so happens to be a small part of the Legal Rights section. They fully believe in democracy. They have elections just like we do in Canada and even have a National Assembly, which is more than slightly similar to the Canadian House of Commons.
            Now with all these similarities between the Constitution of Afghanistan and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, how did the country manage to fall into such dark and cruel hands? Well it turns out that during the reign of the Taliban, Afghanistan didn’t have a constitution. Sure they had plenty of laws before the Taliban took over, but they never followed an absolute law. They had actually just begun to discover the benefits of living in a democratic society, due to the violence in Afghanistan’s history, so the concept was easy to tear down by the Taliban. During the time period in which my book takes place, the Taliban created all the laws. They told the citizens that the rules being made were from the Quran, which is the spiritual book of Islamic Culture, but in reality the rules were twisted in order to suit the Taliban’s needs and interests.
            I wonder, during the reign of the Taliban, if Afghanistan had found a way to somehow enforce something like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms into their society, what would that time of history have looked like? How would Afghanistan today be different? I began to look into it and discovered that if they were to have enforced the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms into their country, the Taliban wouldn’t have existed. This is because practically everything that they did during their reign would have gone against everything in the Charter. In the book it tells you that one of the Taliban’s main goals at the time was to practically rid their country of its female citizens. Discrimination against anyone, for any reason (including gender), is against the law in Canada. Anther thing you can find is that many times throughout the book people would be beaten without any rhyme or reason. This clearly goes against our Legal Rights, because it states that seizure or search without reason is against the law. It also states that it is an individual’s right to say no to any cruel or unusual punishment.
            In the end, there is really no way that you can truly compare Afghanistan’s past with our present because the way of governing is completely different. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the constitution of a democratic country that believes in the power of the people. The rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a total dictatorship in which the people had no say in the way that their country was ruled. As we have learned time and time again throughout history, in a dictatorship, no matter how well it is organized, the people are never truly happy. So in conclusion, yes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if applied to Afghanistan’s past and many other places in the world throughout history, would have completely changed the way our world was shaped today, but due to the differences in the government, there is now way for it to be applied without completely altering history.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

GINS and Tumblr Mash Up

“We share and trade a lot in Kabul: Nothing useful should be wasted.” – Latifa, My Forbidden Face by Karenna Gore Schiff 

For those of you who don’t know, in school along with our consumerism project, we are also doing a Global Issues Novel Study (GINS). In this study we all got a chance to pick a novel, usually based on a true story, about an issue that we are interested about. Through this, we were meant to find ways that we could take action in these current issues. I chose a book titled My Forbidden Face. It is a true story about a young, teenage girl who has found herself a prisoner in her own home when the Taliban first made themselves known in Afghanistan. Her world spiraled, turning from a mostly modern society to a complete dictatorship. Countless rules, new ones being announced every day, taking the radio stations that once played music. I began thinking, how would my identity, values, and beliefs be altered if I was to live through and experience what the protagonist, Latifa, did. How it would feel to know freedom, in fact live half your life with the right, only to have it snatched away overnight. What would happen if I were to watch someone that I had known for practically my whole life be killed in front of my eyes.

As I was reading through the novel, I had an overlying question on almost every single page, why? Why are there so many rules, why isn’t anyone standing up against them, and why are the Taliban performing such cruel acts? Even if I can learn to accept their reasoning, I will never fully understand it. Who would be willing to become a part of the Taliban, knowing full well of all that they have done? Since Afghanistan is not considered to be a first world country, it has many different aspects that describe its’ collective identity, consumerism not being one of them. As you know, citizens of first world countries are often described as consumers. It has become such a big aspect of our lives that for us, living without consumerism would be the equivalent of living without our physiological needs. When I first began this post, I was thinking about how I can relate my consumer identity to that of Latifa, or others in Afghanistan. I found out very quickly that what people in countries like Afghanistan don’t waste their money on useless wants. They do whatever they can to survive. A really interesting idea that came up in this book was, “Joy and sorrow are sisters.” – Karenna Gore Schiff. It was something that really got me thinking about how two things that are such polar opposites can be true. After some consideration, I figured that she is correct. Without one, how can the other exist? That being said, I can never imagine what it would feel like to feel nothing but joy or sorrow. All I can say is that going through the hardships described in the novel.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Global Issues Novel Study #3

So we are still doing our Global Issues Novel Study, but we have completed a National Profile of our book. We took the country in which our book takes place (so Afghanistan for me) and tried to do some research that would allow us all to better understand the book. Unlike many of my classmates, I am the only one reading My Forbidden Face, so I had to change the assignment up a little bit. Instead of discussing my National Profile and book with others who are reading it, I had to find a few individuals who were in the same situation as me. Though the topics don't entirely relate, I believe that the discussion is quite powerful. Either way, here is our Roundtable Discussion #2 about our books and National Profiles that we have created!