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Community leaders work to head off anti-Muslim backlash after Kingston terror arrests

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Islamic community groups, mental health workers and police officers met today to calm fears and discuss ways to prevent an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant backlash in the wake of two arrests related to an alleged terrorist plot in Kingston, Ont.

Community leaders say they’re worried about the broader community implications after the RCMP’s national security team charged one youth with two terrorism-related offences and arrested an adult male named Hussam Eddin Alzahabi in connection with an alleged plan to detonate explosives at an undisclosed location.

Alzahabi’s family, originally from Syria, came to Canada in 2017 through a private refugee sponsorship program after living in Kuwait for 10 years.

Bronek Korczynski, who led the family’s sponsorship through Our Lady of Lourdes church, said the community groups that met today will attempt to head off rumours and spread the message that the alleged offences have nothing to do with Islam.

“This is not about casting aspersions on any faith community, on any identifiable ethnic or racial group. This is about an individual or individuals who have been involved in something that was brought to the attention of police,” he told CBC News.

Noting the arrests come near the anniversary of a deadly 2017 mass shooting at a Quebec mosque, Korczynski said police promised they would exercise increased vigilance against a potential backlash. Six Muslim men were shot to death by a lone gunman who walked into a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017.

Addressing immigration concerns

Korczynski said he also fears the arrests and publicity surrounding the alleged terrorism case could spark unnecessary concerns about immigration.

“This certainly doesn’t suggest in any way, shape or form that Canadians shouldn’t remain open to support newcomers, whether they’re immigrants or refugees,” he said.

The backlash fears come as the political debate over immigration heats up again.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of maintaining lax control over the border and immigration system, attempted to assign some blame for the developments to the Liberal government. 

Scheer points finger at Trudeau

“It is also clear that Canada’s refugee screening process needs to be seriously examined,” he said in a statement. “We’ve recently learned of several examples of dangerous individuals entering the country due in part to lax screening procedures.”

Scheer pointed to a 2017 audit of the Canada Border Services Agency which found that potential security threats may not have been identified due to lax screening.

“This is completely unacceptable and must be immediately remedied,” he said. “Conservatives will continue fighting against Justin Trudeau’s attempts to weaken Canada’s national security laws and implement real policies to ensure that Canada’s streets and communities are safe.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale dismisses Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s comments on refugee screening in wake of arrests, says police should be left alone to conduct investigation free of speculation 0:43

Last night’s arrests came just hours after Trudeau warned Canadians to expect “fearmongering” over immigration in the run-up to the fall election.

At a town hall meeting in northern New Brunswick, a young Syrian refugee thanked Trudeau for allowing her family to come to Canada, drawing applause from the crowd.

Trudeau said in an era of rising intolerance and misinformation about migrants, Canadians have a responsibility to engage in “a positive and a thoughtful way.”

According to a bulletin posted to the website of a Kingston-area Catholic church detailing the journey of the Alzahabi family, the family’s sponsorship application was approved in the spring of 2016, but the family was still awaiting its final security and health checks that fall due to the “overwhelming number of applicants.”

At the time, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was working to bring more than 50,000 Syrian refugees to Canada through government and private sponsorships.

Community supports for family

According to the bulletin, five committees were working diligently to prepare to welcome the family and had raised more than $30,000 to assist their resettlement.

A storage room was rented to hold donated furniture and supplies, and an extensive support binder in Arabic and English was assembled to ensure a smooth transition.

The Anglican Diocese of Ontario and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston, which support refugee sponsorship and resettlement programs, issued a statement after learning through the media that one of the individuals arrested was a member of a sponsored family.

“As the investigation evolves, we support the work of law enforcement. Our concerns, thoughts and prayers are for the Kingston and surrounding area, the faith communities involved, the family and all those affected by this unfortunate situation,” the statement says.

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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