The return of Hamilton’s Santa Claus Parade encouraged the holiday spirit and joy in attendees of all ages.

On Nov. 19 at 6:00 p.m., the Hamilton Santa Claus Parade was held in the downtown of the city. This is the first year the full scale parade has run since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Hamilton Santa Claus Parade is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers. Its mission is to bring holiday cheer to all people, including children and seniors from charities who are unable to afford traditional Christmas activities on their own.  

Doug Hobson, the current chair of the Hamilton Santa Claus Parade, described last year’s turnout where they hosted a mini-parade with just one float. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus drove through various neighbourhoods on the float as people watched from a distance due to the pandemic restrictions. 

“The turnout was amazing. Absolutely amazing . . . About eight blocks or six blocks [of people came out] and it was like we were doing a full parade. There were so many people,” said Hobson. 

This year, they resumed the regular parades with multiple floats, sponsors and live musical bands. 

Hobson described what organizing the parade meant for the volunteers. Being able to facilitate a festive time for everyone of all ages is what the parade is all about. 

“As you see Mrs. Claus go by, or as you see a band go by, watching the little ones’ faces light up and [the] moms and dads start dancing to the Christmas carols—that's [what] we take away from [the parade],” he explained. 

“As you see Mrs. Claus go by, or as you see a band go by, watching the little ones’ faces light up and [the] moms and dads start dancing to the Christmas carols—that's [what] we take away from [the parade]."

Doug Hobson, chair of the Hamilton Santa Claus Parade

As a festive and fun way to start off the holidays in Hamilton this year, the Santa Claus parade continued to make sure everyone found a way to celebrate some Christmas spirit. 

Reflecting on changes to family relationships during the pandemic

Homebound for now over a year, this has been a time of waiting. Waiting for school days back on campus. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting for lockdown measures to be lifted to see friends and family again. But despite feeling stuck in one place, there has been much change both in the world around us and in ourselves. 

One of the many changes I experienced this past year has been my relationship with my family, particularly my aunt. Standing at just under five feet tall, my aunt is the shortest but also the toughest woman I know. 

She immigrated to Canada by herself from South Korea when she was just 21 years old and was forced to carve her own path in the world. She went from being a convenience store cashier, to opening her own video rental business, then to working as a nail technician at a salon. 

I moved to Canada at the age of eight with my mom and younger sister. My aunt taught my sister and I to not rely on our mom, but to do our chores without being told and to clean up after ourselves.

I still remember one incident when I was still in elementary school and my sister and I forgot to bring our food containers to the sink after school, one of my aunt’s biggest pet peeves. We woke up the following morning to find no lunches on the counter. Instead, we had to make do with our own emergency five-minute bagels with cream cheese for lunch. 

My aunt was extremely strict with us but even stricter with herself. Growing up in her hands with my mom always busy at work as a single parent, I adapted her independent mindset. It has been a fundamental part of who I am for as long as I could remember.

There is not a single memory I can recall of seeing my aunt crying. She always bottled up her pain, hardships and struggles and never revealed when she was having a tough time. Everyone thought she was built like an unbreakable soldier.

On Christmas Eve of 2016, my aunt was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer with metastasis. It was a shock to everyone who knew her well. I didn’t understand how a person as fierce and resilient as my aunt could come down with such a vicious disease. 

I only later learned that my aunt had suspected something was wrong with her body for some time, but she was too scared to admit it. By the time we figured it out, her x-ray lit up like a Christmas tree. The cancer had metastasized everywhere and all too much to undergo surgery. 

When I saw her for the first time quietly laying in her hospital bed and heard her heavy, stertorous breathing, she suddenly didn’t seem all that mighty. That Christmas, for the first time, I saw how frail she was, how vulnerable she was, how afraid she was.

For the first time, our family opened up to our deepest, rawest feelings and emotions. For the first time, all of us were willing to admit that we were scared. 

Fast forward five years to today, my aunt is currently receiving palliative care, but to me, she is still the same strong, mighty warrior I saw her as when I was a child. Although I miss many things from before the pandemic, I’m appreciative of the extra time I got to spend with my aunt and family at home. 

I was able to be there for my mom every time she had to take my aunt to the hospital. I also learned more about my aunt — her favourite foods, what she was like when she was my age and friends and people she’s met. 

I used to resent her for not telling us about her pain, which would’ve helped to get her diagnosis earlier, but I realized that as a female Asian immigrant, her stubbornness and resilience were characteristics necessary for her to survive. Most importantly, I got to reflect on old memories and create new, truly special memories together with the precious time we have left. 

We sometimes feel the need to conceal our emotions from our loved ones out of fear of looking weak or to avoid making them worry. However, these days, my family is unafraid to forfeit our emotional barriers and simply be soft, vulnerable people. Especially during times of hardship, grief and uncertainty, there is nothing more powerful than family to give us hope, support and comfort.

A guide to staying connected during these trying times

As Hamilton moves into the heart of the winter months and a stricter lockdown removes the option to have socially-distant visits or other outdoor activities, many are looking for new ways to stay connected with loved ones.

Over the break, my siblings and I spent a lot of time thinking about other ways we could safely spend with our loved ones, beyond the typical Zoom call. Below are a few fun activities that we came up with that will hopefully help us all get through these next few difficult weeks.


Many book clubs have moved online over the last few months, while new ones have also been popping up. If you don’t want to join an established book club, you could also start your own with your family or friends, giving you both something to do and talk about the next time you chat.

Similarly, you could also participate in a book exchange with a loved one. You each send the other a book that you’ve enjoyed recently. To make it more personal, you could maybe include some notes inside sharing well wishes or your thoughts on the story. 

Additionally, this kind of exchange could work for almost anything else that you and your loved ones enjoy as well, such as music, podcasts and recipes. 


Online games, such as Among Us and Codenames, have become incredibly popular over the last year. Implementing a game night, or even perhaps a tournament can be a nice alternative to the typical Zoom call as well as something a bit more light-hearted and fun.

Trivia nights can be fun as well. There also a number of trivia games that you could play over Zoom, or you could create your own tailored to the interests of you and your loved ones!


Many have used their new-found time during the pandemic to learn new skills, but why not do this with a loved one? Maybe your friend is excellent at coding, or your grandmother is an amazing knitter and you’ve always wanted to learn. You could each teach one another something or learn something entirely new together! 

Many local libraries offer resources for learning a variety of skills. Depending on the skill in question there are also a number of specific resources readily available online. Some local crafting businesses, such as Handknit Yarn Studio offer resources and tutorials on their websites as well.

Language learning especially can be a great option as it requires minimal tools and you’re able to practice together.


Change up the method of staying in touch! Zoom calls can become draining after a while and most everyone loves to receive letters.

Or instead of sending letters, send postcards either through a service such as Postcards From Anywhere or by creating your own using online templates. While the former can make a great talking point, the latter can be especially nice for grandparents and far away relatives who may not have any recent photos of you. 


Order some food, potentially from the same restaurant, and eat together. As well, some local businesses, like Tea Amo, offer small platters or “lunchboxes” that can be ordered ahead of time and then enjoyed together during a call.

You could also cook or bake something together over a call. You could each make your favourite dishes or exchange recipes. Maybe try teaching a friend to make one of your favourite desserts or ask your grandmother to teach you some family recipes.

Regardless, whatever ways you find to keep connections with loved ones, be creative and considerate. Just as much as you think about things that you enjoyed together before the pandemic, try to think about new things as well. It won’t necessarily be the same as before but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be something good.

A&C reporter’s reflections on happiness and the holidays

The holidays are, in many ways, a reminder of time passing, a temporal landmark of sorts. They encourage reflection, often without us even realizing it, as they draw our attention to the parallels and incongruencies between the present and the past.

For me, the weeks bracketed between Diwali and the New Year always seem like a transitionary period, a time reserved for reflection and tying up the loose ends of the past year. This year in particular though because of how much the world has changed, it feels as if not only do these weeks hold space for reflection, but they demand it.

Diwali holds a very special place in my heart. For me, it’s about celebrating my family and our history in a way that we don’t often get to during the hustle and bustle of the rest of the year. It’s also about taking time for ourselves, to just be and connect.

Every year, my family gathers at my Nana and Nani’s house and we spend the day together, catching up, playing games and reconnecting. In the evening we exchange gifts, do a small prayer and eat lots of delicious food and sweets.

[/media-credit] My cousins, siblings and I with sparklers a few years ago. As a festival of lights, candles, fireworks and sparklers are important aspects of Diwali traditions for many.

There is something insulating about that day, about being there together in my grandparents’ house. Everything else — all my doubts, fears, uncertainties, worries — melts away. It feels as if for one day we’re completely sheltered from the rest of the world, as if we’re cocooned. It’s a chance to breathe, to pause, prepare and to start anew.

It feels as if for one day we’re completely sheltered from the rest of the world, as if we’re cocooned. It’s a chance to breathe, to pause, prepare and to start anew.

As I was living away from home during my first year, I wasn’t able to come back to celebrate Diwali with my family. At the time, celebrating on my own and trying to recapture some piece of the holiday I love so much, I comforted myself with the knowledge that it was only for one year and next year, I would be home.

I don’t think any of us imagined that this is where we would be when the holidays rolled around again.

Although COVID has made me homebound for the foreseeable future, Diwali still didn’t look like the celebrations from my childhood. I was fortunate enough in that I did get to celebrate with my immediate family, but for safety reasons, we weren’t able to celebrate with my grandparents or my cousins as we normally do.

That’s not to say we didn’t celebrate at all. But standing alone in my kitchen, cooking, while the rest of my family delivered our gifts to our loved ones was dramatically different from talking with Nani and helping her where I could in the busy kitchen that was filled with the rest of my family. My cooking certainly doesn’t compare to my Nani’s and gift baskets and Zoom calls don’t compare to spending the day together.

[/media-credit] Myself making the final preparations for our Diwali dinner.

More than last year, more than anything really, I felt I was trying to salvage something, anything at all. Looking ahead to New Year’s Eve, I imagine it’s going to be similar, it’s going to feel like I am trying to salvage some of our typical traditions in this atypical year.

More than last year, more than anything really, I felt I was trying to salvage something, anything at all.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about creating new traditions for the holidays this year, trying to put a positive spin on these last few weeks, one befitting of the festive season. After the year we’ve had, I think there is certainly a place for that, but I also think it’s worth acknowledging that this season isn’t always a happy one for a lot of people. This year especially, when so many have lost so much, it might not be fair to expect everyone to be in the festive spirit, so to speak.

Especially for those who have lost loved ones, the holidays can be particularly difficult because, as temporal landmarks, holidays remind us of years past and loss can feel so much sharper. Even before this year, the holidays were hard for me because although I am surrounded by family, these final weeks of December coincide with anniversaries of grief.

Two years ago, shortly after Diwali, an incredibly important person in my life passed away suddenly. Growing up, I took so much comfort in her steady presence and she played a huge role in making me the person that I am. It felt like the world had been turned upside down and I’m still currently trying to find my footing.

How do you celebrate when someone who is supposed to be there with you is missing? I know the question a lot of people are asking now is not just how do you celebrate when you’re apart, but how do you celebrate when you don’t know when you might be together again?

How do you celebrate when someone who is supposed to be there with you is missing? I know the question a lot of people are asking now is not just how do you celebrate when you’re apart, but how do you celebrate when you don’t know when you might be together again?

[/media-credit] Our lone makeshift dya, another attempt at salvaging something of our normal atmosphere, seemed a bit too fitting for this holiday season.

A lot of people are talking about “next year”, “next time”, or “when all this is over”. I wonder if part of that is because a lot of people aren’t feeling festive or happy right now and there’s enormous pressure to be exactly that this time year. I think the pressure is greater this year in particular because of how terrible and trying 2020 has been.

The holidays are a special time, but I don’t think special always has to mean being happy. There is something to be said for mourning what we have lost whether it’s loved ones, opportunities, traditions and everything in between. They were important to us and to not acknowledge that is a disservice to them and to us.

I think salvaging is very much a grieving process. It’s not necessarily about getting back to happy. It’s about trying to carry forward what you can into the new reality you exist in. For me, it’s about trying to carve out a moment where I can be content and at peace. It’s about trying to come as close as possible to replicating that cocooned, sheltered feeling I got from being in Nana and Nani’s home during Diwalis past. It’s about finding a moment where I can just be, where I can pause and reflect. And of course, it’s not the same, but it’s something, and I think sometimes that’s all we can hope for.

By: Fabiha Islam

I was born on a rainy afternoon in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My birth was somewhat atypical as rainfall is the last thing you’d expect from Saudi Arabia’s dry and hot weather. Strangely, the rain led to many of my relatives making the comment that the desert might not be the place for me.

Unbelievable but true, a simple brochure from my father’s workplace about one of the world’s top universities turned my life upside-down. I got to know about this amazing university with cutting-edge research opportunities known as McMaster, and wanted to be there.

My endless insisting finally made my parents agree to send their daughter to a completely different country in the farthest continent from home.

In the airport, my parents were concerned if I’d be able to undergo the immigration processes myself, as travelling alone wasn’t exactly what a women In Saudi Arabia would normally do.

On my first day in Canada, I faced an unworldly snowstorm. Snow always fascinated me since the only place I would ever see it was in movies. However, little did I know of the harsh weather the beautiful snow brings with it.

When I saw McMaster in person for the very first time, the word “home” was the first thing to come to my mind. The campus had a sense of deep intimacy as it covered a beautiful, little area with all of its buildings so close together.

Despite being covered in snow, everything on campus looked beautiful, and I knew that I made the right choice.

I lived in Les Prince Hall in my first year and was proud of myself for being able to live, eat and even walk alone, without my parents around. Saudi Arabia never let women go out without any assistance, so it may seem strange that I hadn’t even walked alone to the corner store next to my house until coming to McMaster.

Although I didn’t have any problems with the language since I was brought up in an English-speaking environment, it took time to adapt to the weather and cultural differences. I struggled quite a bit in my first days due to constant snowstorms, icy roads, different food and how everything goes quiet after 9:00 p.m.

Back in Saudi Arabia, the city would wake up after 9:00 p.m. as the desert was burning hot during daytime, restricting any outdoor activity. Entertainment was very different from what I experienced before and so initially, I actually struggled to have fun.

In my opinion, cultural differences will forever exist but it is not what should controls our sense of closeness and familiarity. In a new culture, it is crucial to be open to exploring new ideas and trying to find out specific things from the new environment which are suited to your own expectations.

I developed a more positive attitude and felt at home when exploring made me realize that there isn’t any major difference after all.

A major difference is only when there is a change in the key component of our survival, that is, human interaction. Despite different language, food and weather, human beings were always the same to me.

The way you perceive a person is completely subjective and depends on our own minds other than any certain culture and fortunately, my mind and thoughts were still unchanged.

I would like to thank McMaster University for being so dear, inclusive and family-like. The incredible openness and friendly attitude of the campus community makes me feel completely “at home” despite being miles away from my family!


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Photo by Kyle West

By: Adriana Skaljin

Being in athletics, especially at a university level, can add pressure to the lives of athletes. Whether it comes from personal expectations, or those of coaches and fans, pressure can affect both their physical and mental states. 

Matt Quiring, who has been a forward for the McMaster men’s basketball team for four years, began playing due to his family’s love for the sport.

“I started playing when I was in the third grade, but started playing competitively in Grade five,” said Quiring. “I’m glad that my parents forced me to play, considering that I was shy. It got me to where I am today.”

Through basketball, Quiring met many important coaches and players who provided him with opportunities he would not have experienced otherwise.

“Basketball also taught me hard work ethic, [which] I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” explained Quiring. “This skill can be translated later on in life.”

Sefa Otchere, first-year starting guard, also acknowledged the ways in which basketball has positively impacted his life.

“[The sport] is still impacting my life,” Otchere said. “Playing sports made me get out of my house, and [ultimately] showed me different places [while] making new friends.”

Both players also commented on the pressures that playing at a university level places on them.

“There is a lot of pressure that comes with the sport, both academically and athletically,” said Quiring. “It can get to you a lot of times. The mental and physical struggles can become taxing.”

Quiring and Otchere have implemented motivational strategies to work through their doubts and create a positive mindset when going into their games.

“[The pressure] is something I’ve struggled with,” said Quiring. “Recently, I have increased my confidence and have used pregame techniques given to me by a sports psychologist. There is a whole mental side to preparing.”

Otchere has a similar approach to handling pressure, starting with not putting expectations on himself.

“Basketball should be used to relieve stress and pressure, rather than provide that. I try and remind myself that before games,” said Otchere. “I make sure to remember that I need to go out and have fun.”

A healthy mindset is also important when coming back from a loss or a tough game. Recently, the Marauders suffered back-to-back tough losses against Brock University and Western University on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.

“It’s always hard coming back from a loss because you have to watch the film and look at your mistakes. Then you have to fix them before the next game,” said Otchere.

That’s what we’re talking about 😤💪 @sefa_otchere

— McMaster Basketball (@mcmastermbb) January 19, 2019

“You need time to mourn the loss, in a sense,” added Quiring. “After that, you need to put it behind you and realize where you messed up, and then learn and move on.”

Otchere also had to prepare for his comeback after his injury earlier in the season.

“I felt like I had to get my [groove], and confidence back,” said Ochere. “I also had to do extra practices to physically get back into the game as well.

Going into the end of the regular season, the players have applied these techniques as a means for achieving their goals.

“Besides winning, we want to make it to the final four and get to nationals,” said Quiring. “[Coach] Patrick Tatham preaches consistency [and] sets up team and individual workouts to develop skills needed to achieve our goals.”

“We need to make it known that we are one of the best teams,” said Ochere. “[All of] my focus is towards playing right and making playoffs.”

It is evident that both mental and physical health are important towards the well-being of athletes. The McMaster men’s basketball team’s perseverance and passion for the game will definitely be reflected in the upcoming games and in their journey towards nationals.


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Photos by Catherine Goce

In 2013, Culantro Peruvian Cookery opened up on King William Street, hoping to help Hamiltonians discover Peruvian cuisine. Three years later, the restaurant moved locations to Main Street East, but the new venue has not changed its goal to cook up authentic Peruvian food for the residents of the city it loves.

The restaurant’s chef and owner is Juan Castillo, who has a long history of working in restaurants. When his family moved from Lima, Peru to San Francisco, California when he was a teenager, Castillo began working in restaurants as a dishwasher. In time, he realized that the kitchen was where he wanted to be.

Castillo’s love of cooking, however, didn’t start in San Franciscan restaurants but in his mother’s kitchen. The recipes that he uses belonged to his grandmother and mother. He was raised by and among chefs, with his family currently operating the Limon Rotisserie restaurants in San Francisco and Fresno.

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Cooking was an inspiration… growing up. My mom used to cook all the time… Sunday was the day that everybody in the family would come over, uncles [and] aunts. My mom was one of the best cooks in the family so everybody asked her to make things for Christmas or birthdays... Growing up we always [had] people cooking in the house,” Castillo explained.

Castillo left California for love over 10 years ago and settled in the north end of Hamilton with his wife and daughter. The city has always felt like home to him as it reminds him of San Francisco and has hot summers like Peru.

Culantro is the only Peruvian restaurant in Hamilton. Castillo recognizes that the cuisine of his home country is largely undiscovered but, in his research before opening the restaurant, found that many Hamiltonians have experience with Peruvian or Latin American food.

Castillo wants all patrons to feel comfortable in the family-friendly restaurant, regardless of whether or not they have tried Peruvian food in the past. Not only is the atmosphere welcoming to families and students alike, but the affordable menu is too. Most appetizers are under $10 and most main courses are under $20.

In the last year Culantro has added new items to the small menu including the slow-roasted lamb shank and the Peruvian platter. Castillo also enjoys exploring new ideas in the kitchen.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="206" gal_title="Culantro Cookery 2"]

“[I like] the inspiration that you get from people. A lot of people come over here asking you for certain things that you don't have or… they give you feedback. I think that's what I like, the challenge of having something new when I come over to work, having a kitchen that I can make whatever I want. That day if I want to change it, I'll change it… [T]he liberty that I have with that is amazing,” Castillo explained.

Culantro aims to use the freshest and most authentic ingredients. Key Peruvian ingredients are sourced directly from Peru such as the Peruvian aji peppers, Peruvian soft drinks and the purple corn for Chicha Morada, a Peruvian corn drink. For other main ingredients, Culantro tries its best to source locally from places such as the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.

It is not just local farmers that Culantro supports but local charitable organizations as well. They have supported churches and fundraising events, such as the Annual Salsa for Heart in 2016. The city has inspired Castillo to give back.

The cookery is also a place where members of the community can gather. The restaurant regularly hosts open mic nights and live music performances. There have also been special celebrations for occasions such as Peruvian Independence Day.

Culantro is currently operating with a small staff consisting of Castillo, manager Susan Abbey and waitress Julianna Lachance. But don’t let the small venue, menu or staff fool you this restaurant is serving up big flavours, big passion and big heart to the community.


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Photos by Razan Samara

Salma Hindy likes to think that she was at her peak creativity and performance level while making her childhood friends laugh. Lunch times at the Islamic elementary and secondary schools she attended turned into a comedy sketch hour filled with extravagant storytelling and ridiculous imitations of her teachers and friends.

The up-and-coming comedian recently returned from the 12 city Super Muslim Comedy Tour in the United Kingdom, and finished in second place in the Toronto Comedy Brawl competition against over 400 comedians. Hindy also spent her autumn performing at comedy festivals in Boston, Dallas, Chicago and New York.

As Hindy prepares to open for American comedian and actor Ken Jeong on Jan. 11 for the Life After Mac performance on campus, it’s fair to say storytelling and making people laugh have followed her into adulthood.

Despite growing up being the funniest person in the room and even getting encouragement from Zarqa Nawaz, creator of CBC’s popular sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, Hindy held back on making a move into the comedy industry as she came to grips with how her family and community would react.

Growing up in a conservative Muslim household meant that her parents have a rigid understanding of what comedy and performance is, which made it difficult for them to understand what their daughter wanted to pursue.

While their ideas of comedy were often tainted with negative connotations and misconceptions, Hindy wanted to show her family and Muslim community that clean comedy can be approached in a way that is mindful of the values and boundaries she has set for herself. Her career, identity and spirituality are part of her own personal journey and comedy just so happens to play an important part as well.   

Despite her parents’ reluctance to attend her shows, Hindy’s mother found herself attending an event her daughter just so happened to be performing at for International Women’s Day this past March. It may have been seeing her daughter perform stand-up for the first time, the fact that Hindy removed all her parent jokes from her set, or the constant boasting on part of her mother’s friends, but the laughter seemed to ease her concerns.

The comedy industry was in for a shock too. Most audiences aren’t used to seeing a visibly Muslim woman take center stage at a comedy bar. Hindy will skip out on free drink tickets and get ecstatic at the availability of halal food at her events, but the industry is ready to embrace her and the diversity she brings.    

I fit in pretty well as someone who doesn't fit in, if that makes any sense. They want to see people with different identities… different stories and different perspectives. Somebody who can teach them something that they didn't know before while obviously still being entertaining and funny,” explained Hindy.

While Hindy’s faith and stereotypes around her identity do seep into her act, she isn’t explicitly written for a Muslim audience. Her witty remarks and hilarious stories about her life, which are all based on true events, humanize her as a Muslim Canadian; an identity that is often informed by the media rather than real life interactions.

Comedy became a breakthrough for fostering understanding. From jokes about struggling to have a crush reciprocate feelings to witnessing anti-Muslim protestors outside of a mosque and thinking ‘wow, these people go to the mosque more than me, like damn I wish I had your consistency’, Hindy utilizes storytelling to reach out to her audience and build a relationship.  

“[I]t doesn't even necessarily have to be specifically or explicitly about Muslim issues or Muslim struggles, obviously those are really enlightening and they're great informational pieces for the audience, but even just you ranting about the same thing that somebody else would rant about which is just very mundane, just shows how relatable you are and how much of a connection that we all have,” explained Hindy.

Hindy has become a familiar face in the Toronto comedy scene. She was sought out for her talent but her hard work and reputation among producers keeps her busy performing an average of two shows a week. Impressively, that’s only about 10 per cent of what she spends her days doing.

Hindy completed her bachelor of engineering at McMaster and a masters in clinical engineering at the University of Toronto. She recently started her first full time job as a biomedical research engineer at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health so it’s only a matter of time before this milestone in her life inspires the newest additions to her comedy set.  

In conversation, Hindy can’t help crack a joke or two — or every five minutes— often followed by a ‘you know what I’m saying?’ and her contagious laughter. Comedy is her superpower, she uses it to spread awareness, break down stereotypes and share herself unapologetically with the world.


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Education is a priority. This is something we are used to hearing in our society not just from our peers, but our parents as well. We are told that time management is the key to healthy and balanced life, and the prioritizing is necessary for time managing, especially in post-secondary education. However, that balance has diminished, and education has been prioritized over our personal lives.

Between commuting, studying, working hard and trying to find room for sleep, I hardly have time to say hi to my mother sometimes. By the time I get home, she is already asleep and all I can think about is doing the same.

Ideally, family time should be factored into our daily lives and our parents should be prioritized just like we prioritize our studies. But this is no longer the case.

However, on top of the stress of getting our assignments in on time and finding some room to do some last-minute studying for midterms, I now find myself stressing over when the next time I will be able to spend time with family will be.

This is not intentional. This is just how we are forced to respond to the demands of university life.

The standards seem to suggest that if you are in university, in order to succeed you should factor out work and family to give an adequate amount of dedication to your schoolwork and find a way to factor in extra curriculars to improve our CVs.

But how can we factor out these necessities and still manage to live the university life? For many of us, a part-time job is the only way we can afford to pay for our meals and with rising living costs in Ontario, unless you are fortunate enough to have your parents’ financial support, work is a necessity.

When bursaries and financial aid can’t cover for your university expenses and if your workload is more demanding than most, there is always the option of a holiday job if you are willing to take away from perhaps the one time you may be able to breath between books in the semester.

So, if school and work are both necessitates how can we find the time for family while keeping up with these demands. According to the Guardian, “It’s often said at Cambridge that students have to sacrifice one of three aspects of their lives to survive: work, sleep or their social life.”

I can personally vouch for this, where my social life has dwindled down to asking a friend to grab a self-serve coffee with me five minutes before our lecture starts and then walking in two minutes late to lecture.

Sacrifices must be made, but when sleep is a luxury, coffee seems to be one of my greatest expenses. In addition to coffee, with a total of three hours of my day being spent commuting, I also need to factor in the meals I need to spend on for my 12-hour school days since meal prep doesn’t always suffice.

University life has made me realize how important it is to find time to share a meal with my family, if I can ever find the time to do so. With the holiday break on its way, I’m hoping that without the stress of making it to lectures on time, I may be able to find a way to balance between work, school and extra curriculars to spend some time with my family. If only finals weren’t around the corner.

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By: Sasha Dhesi

A few weeks ago, my mom left the country to visit some relatives. With me in Hamilton and my brother juggling university, work and a research job, neither of us are home particularly often, leaving my dad by himself. My dad started calling me at least twice a day, and began asking me what he was supposed to do for fun now that his wife and kids were too busy for him. I had to confront something I’d never really considered before: my dad’s just as needy as I am.

I never really viewed my parents as people who needed me in any way. Sure, I help out around the house and take care of my parents, but it always felt more one-sided, and that I needed them for support and care. After all, while they’re a constant in my life, I’ve only been in theirs for a fraction of the time. I was lucky enough to have parents who nurtured a healthy environment for me to grow in and I saw them as superheroes, making it difficult for me to see them as people who may feel insecure from time to time.

Chances are, growing up, you saw your parents as superheroes in some sense. If you were lucky enough to live in a healthy and stable home, they took care of you and most of the problems in your life. Your parents most likely hid most issues that were affecting your family so that you could continue living a carefree childhood. But, as you grow up, this changes. Now that you are an adult, you have to face the reality that your parents are just normal people who happened to have raised you. As your parents age, you may feel the onus of their care fall onto you, their next of kin, but if you’re anything like me, that also conflicts with your growing desire for autonomy.

It’s well known that university marks the beginning of a slow break away from your parents. Even those who opt to live at home for their undergraduate degree find themselves staying later and later on campus, usually juggling school, work and a growing social life. This usually brings forth the inevitable internal dilemma of leaving your  older parents on their own. My parents are both in their fifties and suffer from several chronic ailments. They both have histories of heart disease and have lost close friends and loved ones to cardiac arrest. One particular reason I have to go home sometimes is to just make sure that they’re doing okay; something I’ll admit is a little irrational. But as we get older, the dynamic between our parents undeniably changes.

I’m going to level with you: I have no idea how to deal with this. Do I give up on all my dreams of traveling and living abroad one day on the assumption that my parents may one day need me to care for them? Do I jump the gun and leave them in the lurch now, and only contact them when I need something? No matter what decision I make on Friday when I decide whether or not I want to visit them, it feels like a decision between these extremes. There’s a double whammy of guilt going on here, where I’m losing out on what I want or being overly cold to the people who raised me. It’s an odd place to teeter.

As someone who’s South Asian, a cultural clash also comes into play. For those who are unaware, many South Asian cultures stress familial bonds, and it’s not uncommon for people to live with their parents for their entire lives. I personally grew up with my dad’s grandma, who lived with us until her death in 2014. Now, my parents understand social contexts, and by no means are forcing me to stay with them for the rest of my life. But every time I mention going abroad, or looking at grad schools even a few towns away, my mom always deflates ever so slightly as she remembers that our relationship isn’t nowhere near as close as hers was with her mom.

Now that you are an adult, you have to face the reality that your parents are just normal people who happened to have raised you.

Ultimately, it’s just come down to taking it day by day. I call my mom in the morning, and my dad in the evening. I haven’t thrown away my autonomy just yet, but I’m not willing to completely separate myself from my parents. I can’t tell you some magical way to maintain your familial relationships, but I can tell you that a call goes a long way and that even just telling them that yes, you’ve eaten, and yes, your friends are fine, and no, you’re not doing drugs, can go a long way.

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