New COVID-19 variant prompts Canada to announce new travel restrictions

New COVID-19 variant prompts Canada to announce new travel restrictions

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced new restrictions for travellers from seven southern African countries at a press conference on Friday. The government also urged Canadians to avoid travelling to the region. Screenshot is taken from CBC live broadcast. 

By Sophie Kuijper Dickson & Adam Beauchemin

Canada will implement travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant recently detected in South Africa, federal officials announced Friday.

“Emergence of new variants is unfortunately not unexpected,” said Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam during press conference on Friday, adding that, to date, there are no indications of the variant’s presence in Canada. 

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Canada will impose restrictions on travel from seven countries in southern Africa: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. 

The Omicron variant was first detected by South Africa and announced in a press conference Thursday.

While South Africa has seen an acceleration in cases, Tam said it’s too soon to say whether it is because of more relaxed health measures or because the virus has gained a biological advantage.

All Canadians who have arrived in Canada from any of the restricted countries within the past 14 days must remain in isolation until they receive a negative test result. 

Canadians arriving from travel-restricted countries will be tested upon arrival and asked to quarantine until they produce a second negative test. Foreign nationals will be prohibited from entering the country if they have been in any of the seven restricted nations within 14 days. 

Duclos noted the number of travellers Canada has been receiving from the restricted nations is small, an estimated average of 50 people day, which he said will allow the government to closely monitor the isolation and testing of those individuals. 

While officials only announced restrictions on seven countries, Alghabra stated the government has not ruled out the possibility of adding more measures as events unfold. 

Tam explained this variant is of significant concern because of the high number of mutations it contains, which may cause increased transmissibility as well as a weakened immune response among carriers. 

However, she emphasized there is still not enough information on the nature of this variant to fully understand its potential impact. 

“We know very little about this variant right now including how transmissible it is and whether it increases severity of illness or what the impact is on the vaccine,” Tam said, adding the vaccine is still the most important and effective means of protection against all strains.  

“There are still approximately three million Canadians, 12 years and older, who haven’t received a single dose of vaccine,” Duclos said, urging Canadians to get vaccinated now. 

Ukrainian-Canadian youth use social media to promote the memory of Holodomor as Russian aggression continues

Ukrainian-Canadian youth use social media to promote the memory of Holodomor as Russian aggression continues

Former Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union president Roman Grod, passes the ceremonial mace, known as a bulava in Ukrainian, to the new president, Danya Pankiw, on Sept. 27, 2021. Photo provided by Danya Wasylyk.

Canadian-Ukrainian youth are taking to social media to reclaim the legacy of Holodomor as the 88th anniversary of the man-made famine approaches on Saturday.

“It’s really a newer concept that this famine is now recognized as a genocide and has the name Holodomor, which means death by starvation,” said Danya Pankiw, 22, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union.

Sixteen countries have recognized the genocide as such, including Canada which did so in 2008.

As Russian presence intensifies at the Ukrainian border, young Canadian-Ukrainians are reflecting on this crucial moment in their collective history in a way previous generations have not.

“The older generation’s perspective is that it was not something to put a name to, often due to their own survivor’s guilt,” Pankiw said. “The youth are branding it for what it was in order to raise awareness.”

The famine swept the Soviet Republic of Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 claiming the lives of an estimated 3.9 million people.

Dasha Akhova, 22, has roots in both Russia and Ukraine and currently studies at the University of Toronto’s Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. She said that social media helps put a spotlight on a range of voices from the Ukrainian diaspora as they explore the complexity of their identity.

“For me, Holodomor today is about setting the record straight,” she said Friday. “We are purging the extent of this Russian pressure and realizing how much it affected our identity.” 

Last year, the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union members posted QR codes across university campuses that led to a webpage with information on Holodomor. This year, their information campaign continues in the form of infographics posted to Instagram and organizing academic panels. A group of Ukrainian immigrants established the union in 1953 to preserve their culture but it has since shifted its focus toward advocacy work.

Pankiw further contextualized this cultural resurgence as part of the broader context of youth-led justice movements across Canada. 

“At this point in time there is a lot going on with other communities in Canada uncovering their past and Holodomor sits with that,” Pankiw said.

Pankiw said that the work of Ukrainian-Canadian youth is being widely recognized.

Pankiw was invited to represent Canadian-Ukrainian youth as part of a delegation that met with former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in Toronto last week. Poroshenko was in Canada to attend the Halifax International Security Forum.

“I think that really speaks to [how] our parent’s generation really see how important and impactful we are for the future of the diaspora,” Pankiw said of the invitation.

“So we are going back to those roots and seeing how we can construct a very inclusive Ukrainian national identity.”

Lack of skilled workers in Ontario causing construction labour shortage.

Lack of skilled workers in Ontario causing construction labour shortage.

Staffing has long been an issue for the construction sector, but 2021 has seen an even greater increase in job vacancies. Photo by Lilian Fridfinnson.

Staffing long been a challenge for the construction industry, but one Ottawa-based business owner says staffing jobs has become increasingly difficult over the last year. 

“Finding the competent staff is the most important,” said Sal Idone, who owns Millennium Masonry Ltd. “As you win more contracts, the workload increases […] you go out and start searching for employees. 

“What we’re finding is nothing too good.”

The decrease in available, skilled construction workers makes hiring within the field more difficult. Some employers offer pay increases and free lunches to appeal to workers, but other employers can’t keep up, said Idone.

“It’s not the easiest line of work. People tend to go for the easier, posh jobs that aren’t so physically demanding. However, not all of us can earn our living that way.”

The job market in Canada is becoming increasingly stressed, according to a September Stats Canada report, which shows significant job vacancy increases in the construction sector.

The report cited a 46.7 per cent increase in construction vacancies over two years in specialty trades such as masonry, painting, carpentry, and electrical work.

Ontario was second only to Quebec in job vacancies, with a 24.1 per cent increase between 2019 and 2021.

To close the labour gap, the province of Ontario has released its Skilled Trades Strategy—a plan to invest an additional $90 million into funding apprenticeships for youth.

The provincial government will also invest $20 million annually to provide more opportunities for students, including 63 recruiters across 800 schools to introduce trades at an early age.

A Nov. 24 press release by the Ontario government described the program as a step toward addressing a projected labour shortage of 100,000 construction workers in Ontario over the next decade.

“The industry as a whole is finding challenges,” said John Devries, president of the Ottawa Construction Association.

Despite a significant 7.3 per cent increase in building construction investment in the second quarter of 2021, job vacancies in the sector have persisted, and recruitment of skilled employees is a top obstacle for construction businesses. 

“They all want people who can hit the road running. They want someone that has 10 years [of] experience,” Devries said.

‘Nothing about us without us’: Scholars weigh in on key legal issues facing trans people in Canada

‘Nothing about us without us’: Scholars weigh in on key legal issues facing trans people in Canada

Samuel Singer is an assistant professor at the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa. Image credit: Website of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law – Common Law Section

Trans-rights scholars and advocates stepped up their criticism of Canada’s legal landscape on Friday, acknowledging the fight for basic human rights has created “huge fatigue.”

The panel discussion, hosted by the University of Ottawa’s Public Law Centre, comes at a time of heightened controversy after the Québec government introduced a bill seeking to limit the ability to change sex identification documents to only those who have undergone gender-confirmation surgery.

D.T., a law student, said having to constantly fight for basic human rights is exhausting.

“This comes with huge fatigue,” they said. “This takes a toll on the mental health and the resilience of the people who are directly concerned.”

Many trans-rights advocates hope to get rid of the discrepancies that exist between creating legislation and actually applying it.

“The people who put pen to paper for policies do not consult, do not consult properly and do not know who to consult,” said William Hébert, an assistant professor in the faculty of public affairs at Carleton University.

“Policy-makers and those who enforce those policies are not the same people, and there is a lot of tension there,” Hébert said.

As advocates continue to fight for their rights to be recognized by policy-makers, D.T. said they are worried trans people are trapped within a stereotype of vulnerability. 

“[Trans people] have to show and explain their suffering so the law can change and so decision makers can become their allies and sympathize with them,” D.T. said, specifying this is the only way the community will receive the legal changes it needs.

Samuel Singer, an assistant professor at the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa, acknowledged that leadership needs to be informed by trans peoples’ expertise.

“There is an expression in trans advocacy communities I think probably exists in many other contexts – nothing about us without us,” he said.

One example of such leadership could be seen in Thursday’s appointment of Amita Kuttner as the interim leader of the federal Green Party. Kuttner, an astrophysicist and former candidate for B.C.’s Burnaby-North Seymour riding, is the first trans leader of a federal party.

Amita Kuttner, the interim leader of the federal Green Party. Image credit: Creative Commons

For trans people to succeed, D.T. said allyship efforts need to create opportunities.

“If someone has enough privilege to be in a place where they can give up a little bit of their [authority] to create some space for a rising trans star or for any rising trans person, then do it,” they said.

“Trans people will prove worthy of the trust that you put in them, but you just need to trust in them first.”

CAJ report shows lack of diversity in Canada’s newsrooms

CAJ report shows lack of diversity in Canada’s newsrooms

Nana aba Duncan, associate professor at Carleton University and founder of Media Girlfriends, says there needs to be a more welcoming environment for young journalists of colour in newsrooms. Photo curtesy of Nana aba Duncan.

New data from the Canadian Association of Journalists validates what journalists of colour have been saying in recent years – that Canada’s newsrooms are overwhelmingly white.

The association released the first-ever Canadian Newsroom Diversity Survey on Thursday, providing data on 3,873 journalists across 209 newsrooms across Canada.

The report showed that about 75 per cent of the surveyed journalists identify as white, while about 19 per cent identify as a visible minority. Six per cent identify as Indigenous.

“Almost half of all newsrooms exclusively employ white journalists,” said Zane Schwartz, who is a member of the association’s board of directors and survey lead.

“This gives us a snapshot for the first time in Canadian history of the race and gender of the people who are telling Canadian stories and reporting on what’s going on in local communities all across Canada.”

According to the report, representation of visible minorities is currently the highest among part-timers and interns. White journalists make up roughly 76 per cent of full-time staff and 53 per cent of interns.

For Raisa Patel, a national politics reporter for the Toronto Star, these statistics are not surprising.

“We’ve been discussing that racialized women and Indigenous women occupy a very different part of this industry than their white colleagues, and we’ve been speaking for many years about how representation in this industry is lacking,” Patel said.

Almost 80 per cent of the newsrooms surveyed reported having no journalists of colour in their top three leadership positions.

Nana aba Duncan, an associate professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication and founder of the podcast production company Media Girlfriends, said there needs to be more of an emphasis on promoting the journalists of colour who are already in newsrooms to higher-level positions.

“Often when there is talk of increasing diversity at companies, people begin with filling lower-level positions,” Duncan said. “This is important, but our news organizations must recognize the leadership that already exists within their ranks and promote them as soon as they can.”

Patel said she believes the report will help others understand the issues at hand and help newsrooms take steps toward focusing on their hiring practices to recruit more journalists of colour.

“It all comes back to hiring at the end of the day, and who are the people that we are seeking out?” she said. “How are we seeking them out? Are we making sure that they feel comfortable and welcome in this industry?”

Duncan sees a welcoming environment as essential to retaining young journalists of colour in newsrooms.

“We must see that they are members of communities that need to be reflected in our news, and that what they have to offer is an expertise some of us will never have,” Duncan said.

According to Schwartz, the next step for the association involves collecting more data from more newsrooms. The professional organization plans to conduct the survey annually. 

As for the future, Patel cautions newsroom managers from stopping the work of improving newsroom environments for journalists of colour.

“I would just really, really encourage anyone in a position of leadership in this industry to move away from that sense of complacency,” Patel said. “There is still so much work to do.”

From passion to side hustle: How women entrepreneurs are building their dream careers on the side

From passion to side hustle: How women entrepreneurs are building their dream careers on the side

Farahnaz Hasan Ali, 25, a full-time development officer at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, is the co-founder of PreggoBox – a pregnancy subscription box service that caters to expecting mothers. Photo provided by Farahnaz Hasan Ali.

When Farahnaz Hasan Ali, 25, found out her sister was pregnant with her first child miles away in a different city, she and her family decided to send the mom-to-be a pregnancy care package with tea, belly butter and ginger cookies for her morning sickness.

Four years later, Hasan Ali’s subscription pregnancy box service, PreggoBox, is serving customers across Canada and sending expecting mothers gift packages full of locally sourced goods.

“When you find out your friend’s pregnant, the first thing that you probably want to do is buy a really cute onesie for the baby and give it to her and celebrate but I think often we forget about moms,” Hasan Ali said. “Sometimes moms feel left out when they’re pregnant.”

She says she’s passionate about making moms happy and comfortable during a transformative time in their lives.

Using their downtime during the pandemic, Hasan Ali and her brother, Faraz, did some market research to develop rebranding plans and revamp the business they first launched in 2017. Within four months, the duo relaunched PreggoBox’s website, began offering subscriptions and introduced its new branding. Now, they’re reaching a larger client base across the country.

“We saw there was a gap in the market and thought of a solution,” Hasan Ali said.

But Hasan Ali’s day job is working full time as a development officer at the Alberta Cancer Foundation in Edmonton. She is one of many young women across Canada who has made their side hustle more than just an additional source of revenue.

It’s a space for them to build their dream careers without sacrificing their main source of income.

Not just a hobby

The latest trends show many gen-Zers and millennials are taking on extra work on the side running their very own small businesses.

From Etsy stores selling handmade jewelry to the weekend-night wedding DJ or the Instagram secondhand vintage Versace bag seller, many women are hustling on the side or know someone who is.

A July survey by Abacus Data showed that during the pandemic, one in three Canadians pursued opportunities to make an additional income outside their primary employment.

Of the 1,500 Canadian adults surveyed, 51 per cent of the 18-to-29-year-old demographic and 46 per cent of students pursued a side hustle. 

According to Tony Bailetti, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, there has been an increasing demographic of 25-to-30-year-old women entrepreneurs.

Bailetti explained that 30 or 40 years ago, traditional gender roles like the expectation of marriage may have relegated women’s entrepreneurial ambitions to just a fun pastime.

“I don’t see what I used to see before,” Bailetti said. “I think that a lot of females viewed [entrepreneurship] as a hobby.”  

Today, Bailetti said he sees a shift in how women approach entrepreneurship.

“They want to make it on their own terms,” Bailetti said. “They want to make their mark in the world.”

Canada’s entrepreneurial landscape is shifting. Young women are taking charge and building their own businesses, finding new opportunities in what was once a male-dominated space.

In his experience as the director of Carleton’s Technology Innovation Management master’s program, Bailetti has seen increased entrepreneurial activity from female students that come from outside Canada.

Making moves in a male-dominated world

Tanya Hayer, 28, is a developer for Imaginism Studios who emigrated from India and now lives in Ajax, Ont. Hayer began her side hustle five years ago when her husband gifted her a camera to pursue her lifelong passion for photography.

“I do enjoy my job and I like programming, but the thing is in programming you’re basically sitting in front of the computer from nine to five,” Hayer said. “You have no interactions with anybody.”

She explained unlike her full-time job, she gets to be social and creative running her photography side business, but that work is not without its challenges.

Tanya Hayer, 28, a full-time developer, snaps a photograph. She pursues her passion for photography in her side business as a wedding and portrait photographer. Photo taken by Harpreet Singh.

“Being a female, it’s very challenging to work in the wedding industry. It’s very male-dominated,” Hayer said. “Sometimes you don’t get that respect as a [woman]. People think that they can talk however they want to you.”

Despite the challenges, Hayer is happy to work as a photographer on the side and has learned to navigate the business as a one-woman photography team.

Even though Hayer’s photography business is booming, she said she does not aspire to make her side hustle her full-time job, adding she enjoys the different aspects of both.

“They both keep me balanced,” Hayer said.

Starting small and making it big

Farahnaz Zawari, 31, an Afghan Canadian living in Calgary, Alta., on the other hand, wants to make her side hustle, Stella Décor – an event planning and decoration business – her full-time career.

She said Stella Décor is the creative outlet she has always yearned for. Zawari works as a dental hygienist full-time.

“It’s a nice job, but I am more of a creative person,” Zawari said.

Zawari’s side business started with a bad experience with decorators at her own engagement party.

“I was not happy with how they were not delivering on the vision I had for the engagement,” Zawari said. “The colour combination was not right and the customer service was not good at all. And that’s when I said ‘You know what? I can do this stuff on my own.’”

With a close friend getting married, Zawari brought a couple of her friends and fiancé on board to help decorate.

Their first event was a success, Zawari saw an outpouring of support and new clients through her network who wanted her decorating skills. Since then, Zawari has decorated 14 events through Stella Décor.

Farahnaz Zawari, 31, is a dental hygienist by day and event planner and decorator by night. She spends her free time coordinating events such as wedding and engagements and hopes to one day turn her side hustle into a full-time job. Photo provided by Farahnaz Zawari.

According to Bailetti, a major reason for women’s increased participation in entrepreneurship is that women are networking and creating connections, a key for entrepreneurial success.

“I’ve had days when I didn’t sleep all day and night or two days for an event,” Zawari shared. “It’s worth it because, in the end, the bride and groom are happy. That’s the main focus because they have a dream of how their day should be and I like the satisfaction from them.”

Zawari said her side business has seen a dip because of the pandemic and having fewer events to decorate, but she’s eager to build Stella Décor up to one day becoming her main source of income.

“If it becomes a full-time job I can see myself being an event planner, coordinator and designer,” she said.

In Edmonton, meantime, Hasan Ali is happy her side hustle is helping moms and shared that she’s looking to expand her business to also cover the needs of fathers and babies. However, PreggoBox will remain a side business for her.

“I find myself wanting to work way more on PreggoBox because it’s so much fun, but at the same time, I love my day job,” she said.

For these women, the age-old phrase rings true: Do what you love and never work a day in your life

Read more stories from young women entrepreneurs across Canada

Rabia Dhanani, 23 | Edmonton

Rabia Dhanani’s company, Siempre Eco, began as a summer passion project after she graduated in 2020 during the pandemic.

“Instead of going for jobs, I sort of lost everything and found myself at home with my parents,” Dhanani said, sharing a common struggle as many new graduates during the pandemic. “It started as a summer project to keep my mind off unemployment, to be honest. And that’s how I began making beeswax wraps.”

Dhanani began selling her eco-friendly beeswax wraps to her family and friends and saw a snowball effect of people interested in buying her products.

“It took about four weeks of experimenting and then I finally got the recipe right,” Dhanani shared. “They were good enough and cheap enough for me to realize that big companies simply mark up a lot of the products that are eco-friendly and that I can actually do something about this problem.”

Photo provided by Rabia Dhanani. Taken by Jamie Cornish.

Najma Hashi, 24 | Toronto

Najma Hashi’s side hustle is selling her ebook, Why Does Representation Matter in the Media? on Amazon Kindle and other merch. Through her book, Hashi gets to share her passion for fair BIPOC representation.

“Being a Black Muslim female, it’s important to let the world know that BIPOC voices and their experiences matter – especially in a world that tends to shut that down or dehumanize us based on our race, culture, religion, ethnicity and so forth.”

Photo of Najma Hashi taken by Jessica Trinchini.

Alex Neufeldt, 25 | Ottawa

Alex Neufeldt was working with the Government of Canada but recently quit to go back to school for fashion design. On the side, she runs her own dress rental business called Closet in the Sky.

“I have a studio in the Chateau Laurier where people can come to try on dresses, rent one they love for a few days, and then return it for me to dry clean – all for a fraction of the retail price,” Neufeldt said.

“I launched Closet in the Sky because I believe that people should be able to enjoy dressing up for a formal event without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a dress they’ll only wear once.”

Photo provided by Alex Neufeldt.

Nina Plummer, 25 | Edmonton

“I have always been a dogless dog-lover,” Nina Plummer said.

Plummer began her dog-walking side hustle on an app called Rover after returning to her hometown, Edmonton, in January 2020 after finishing an unpaid internship.

“I began to gather a steady group of dog owners from that platform. Those pet owners would tell their pet-owning friends about me, who would tell their friends, and so on. I began to develop quite the network and I eventually no longer needed the app to get business,” Plummer said.

Plummer explained that she needed income while studying full time.

“Contrary to most widely accepted notions, employment opportunities for youth were limited even before the pandemic,” Plummer said.

Plummer used her side hustle as a flexible way to earn money and help her mental health. “It became incredibly convenient to balance this side hustle with my studies and later with other work-from-home contract positions that I held. I eventually worked my way towards seeing a minimum of four different dogs every day which had really helped me get through the more difficult parts of the pandemic in both financial and emotional ways.”  

Photo provided by Nina Plummer.

Iman Tejpar, 19 | Calgary

Iman Tejpar is a student at Carleton University completing her undergraduate degree in Architectural Conservation & Sustainability Engineering. In her free time, Tejpar enjoys creating both traditional and digital art and sharing her work on social media.

“I started a side hustle last summer doing commission pieces and later in the year tried digital art,” Tejpar said. “From there I made stickers and sold them and through that, I got a lot of exposure.”

Photo provided by Iman Tejpar.

Aqsa Joseph, 25 | Brampton

Aqsa Joseph is a full-time nurse and five months into her eyebrow threading side hustle. She said her passion for threading eyebrows began at a young age practicing on herself after learning from YouTube videos.

“I’ve been doing eyebrows since elementary school,” Joseph said, adding she never took it seriously until her brother encouraged her to think about making it into a side business.

“So, I decided to try it because it’s so fun for me and ever since then it’s been going so good,” Joseph said. “I’m surprised by how good it’s going.”

Joseph says she’s usually fully booked with a mainly nurse clientele she’s acquired through her day job. She hopes to expand her side hustle in the future to offer microblading.

Photo provided by Aqsa Joseph.

Cassandra Liao, 24 | Calgary

Cassandra Liao is currently working toward her microblading certificate to build her side hustle.

“It’s something I can work on for years and learn different skills and use different equipment,” Liao said. “I want to eventually do other permanent makeup like eyeliner, lip blush, and to cover up scarring, and do nipples and areolas for women that had breast cancer, along with tattoo removal.”

Photo provided by Cassandra Liao.

Zahra Bag Jan , 24 | Calgary

Zahra Bag Jan is a full-time licensed practical nurse who works in an acute geriatric unit. As her side hustle, she co-owns and runs Hera Medi Spa with her sister in Calgary. They offer medical aesthetic services such as laser hair removal, Botox and filler, IV therapy and more. 

 “Hera Medi Spa allows me to practice my career and pursue my passion.”

Photo provided by Zahra Bag Jan.

To learn more about young entrepreneurs and starting small businesses during the pandemic, check out Jaimie Nackan’s article, Starting small: How young entrepreneurs are realizing their business dreams during the pandemic