C/O David Menidrey, Unsplash

As fall holidays approach, the Ontario government releases guidelines for Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day and Halloween events

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Halloween looked very different than a regular year’s, as was the case for other fall holidays such as Thanksgiving. 

In 2020, traditional door-to-door trick or treating was not recommended for York, Peel, Toronto and Ottawa public health regions. Although some other regions were allowed to celebrate Halloween trick or treating, the Ontario government asked that extra precautions be taken. 

This #Halloween, traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended for @YorkRegionGovt, @cityoftoronto, @regionofpeel & @ottawacity #PublicHealth regions due to high transmission of #COVID19. Stay safe & follow public health advice. https://t.co/eXAwIUuTz6 pic.twitter.com/rzXCHffTBc

— Ontario Ministry of Health (@ONThealth) October 19, 2020

This year, due to vaccinations and lower case counts, individuals of all age groups should find themselves able to celebrate Halloween this year. These precautions are important for McMaster University students to consider, whether they go trick or treating alone or with friends and family. 

For children in Ontario, this means that trick or treating will be able to go ahead, but with some precautions

These precautions include remaining outdoors as much as possible, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, maintaining physical distancing when possible, interacting with others for only brief periods of time and using hand sanitizer.

“Be creative; fashion a face covering into your costume design, but remember a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering,” said Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, in his address to the province. 

“Be creative; fashion a face covering into your costume design, but remember a costume mask is no substitute for a proper face covering.”

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

Disinfecting pre-packaged candies is not among the precautions necessary for those going trick or treating this year.

Along with Halloween-related guidelines, the province also released similar sets of guidelines for Thanksgiving and Remembrance day. These guidelines emphasize minimizing the number of people attending events, using outdoor spaces and sanitizing regularly.

Hosting #Thanksgiving dinner at your house this year?

Remember that knowing someone does not reduce the risk of transmitting #COVID19. Keep following good #PublicHealth practices: https://t.co/391DaQMi5I
#CelebrateSafely pic.twitter.com/3w2GkrpJN1

— Ontario Ministry of Health (@ONThealth) October 9, 2021

People should also adhere to the current provincial gathering limits set at 100 people outdoors and 25 people indoors. 

If a gathering includes vaccinated and unvaccinated people, Moore advises that masks stay on even indoors. This is especially important for older people and those with chronic medical conditions. 

For all three holidays, the province emphasized the importance of staying home and engaging in a virtual celebration for individuals showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

Moore noted that this applies to all individuals, regardless of the severity of symptoms. 

“If you are sick, even with mild symptoms, you should not be participating in social events like Halloween,” said Moore. 

“If you are sick, even with mild symptoms, you should not be participating in social events like Halloween."

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

As well, the province emphasized that, especially for those individuals who are unvaccinated or at an elevated risk for COVID-19, the safest way to gather continues to be on virtual platforms. 

“We know from experience [that] it is exactly these kinds of events that can lead to spikes in transmission. But, provided we do our best to follow the guidelines in place, we can enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family while also keeping our community transmission low,” explained Moore. 

“We know from experience [that] it is exactly these kinds of events that can lead to spikes in transmission. But, provided we do our best to follow the guidelines in place, we can enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family while also keeping our community transmission low.”

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer

As of Oct. 8, the Ontario government has now administered 22 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are not vaccinated can book their vaccination on the Ontario website at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario

It is important for McMaster students to consider all necessary precautions as they plan their fall festivities. By remaining aware of government recommendations and regulations, students can ensure that they are protecting themselves and those around them.

A poppy created and sold on eBay by Julie Fearnley in 2018. Photo C/O Julie Fearnley. 

By Sarah Homsi, Contributor

cw: homophobia

As vibrant, red poppies take residence on jackets and over people’s hearts, they act as a solemn symbol to remind us of those who have fallen during times of war. 

This year, the lead up to Remembrance Day feels different. My various social media platforms have been overwhelmed with people disputing the rainbow poppy. Some are seething over its alleged disrespect to the symbolic and traditional red poppy, as they believe that breaking the tradition of having a red poppy, which represents remembrance and peace, will dishonour our veterans. Meanwhile, others are applauding its inclusion of a historically persecuted group, because it recognizes the 2SLGBTQ+ veterans that have fought for us. The Internet has not been this divided since the white/gold versus blue/black dress fiasco of 2016. As is the case for most viral internet debates, misinformation is being spread.

Never seen something so disrespectful in all my days, What does LGBTQ have to do with the war? Red represents Blood, Black represents widows and loved ones, Green represents land the blood was spilled on.

NEVER change the poppy. What right do you have?

Fuck your Rainbow Poppy. pic.twitter.com/TKwYrOgtFX

— Brooke💋 (@BrookeCutler_) November 3, 2019

The heteros are cool with white poppies for peace and purple poppies for animals but god forbid there’s one rainbow poppy in honour of the lgbt soldiers that died for this country. Smells like homophobia to me

— ☽◯☾ (@horrorwIw) November 4, 2019

Images can often convey news faster than words. The image of the rainbow poppy that has been circulating online, a grainy yet colourful enamel pin on a black background, was taken from a UK-based seller’s eBay page. This seller has been selling the item for many years but has since taken it down due to the controversy. 

As many of us have borne witness to people getting in heated debates over the rainbow poppy, ask yourself if you have actually seen anyone donning it. While people have been fervently accusing members of the 2SLBGTQ+ community of pushing the “gay” agenda, it should be noted that the rainbow poppy was never part of any sort of campaign from members of this community. Rather, it was something being sold on eBay that Twitter discovered, which resulted in arguments on what is the most appropriate way to honour our veterans.

Regardless of whether or not the rainbow poppy was put forward to be distributed and worn in November — even though they were not made with the intention of being widely distributed and worn — one cannot ignore the hate that was spread as a result of this dispute. Those adamantly opposed to the rainbow poppy seem to be using it as an opportunity to condemn the 2SLGBTQ+ community, promoting a fictitious narrative that there was actually a plan to make rainbow poppies a mainstay.

https://twitter.com/19Warrior85/status/1191332761208053760

Apparently, anything other than a red poppy is disrespectful to some, despite the existence of purple, white and black poppies, all holding a different meaning. Those arguing against red poppies are implying that representation has no place when we honour those who have fought. A lot of the arguments made against the rainbow poppy were instances of homophobia, masked under the guise of saying these arguments were intended to respect the vets. Some people have made it very clear that they can pick and choose which lives to honour, and which to not. 

Whether or not you support the existence of a rainbow poppy, we should all take the time to reflect on why we remember, as well as refrain from propagating hate rooted in baseless claims. Remembrance Day is about remembering those who risked their lives for our country, but we must also remember the groups our history textbooks often don’t cover. Their lives have just as much meaning. Additionally, we should all reflect on how quickly we share random images on social media without giving them a second thought.

 

Last Friday, members of the McMaster community gathered at Convocation Hall for the annual Remembrance Day service. From the sound of the bagpipes, to the trumpet call of the Last Post to the singing of O Canada, the ceremony remained as traditional as it has been for nearly a century.

The McMaster Alumni Association tries its best to bring tribute to the graduates and undergraduates of McMaster who were in the World Wars and the Afghanistan War.

“The [McMaster Alumni Association] has always felt that it’s an important thing to honour the memories of our fellow alumni, and it’s a way for us to keep the names alive for even 60, 70 or 80 years after,” said Karen McQuigge, director of alumni advancement and graduate of the class of 1990.

“I think what is unique about McMaster, is that every year we stop and we read the names of the individuals who died in the wars and it’s become one of those traditions that I think we are most proud of to be able to do this for the university,” she added.

Suzanne Labarge, the chancellor of McMaster, delivered the main address for this year’s service. She told the story of Stuart Ivison, a McMaster alumnus, Baptist minister and during the Second World War, a chaplain in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Major Stuart Ivison served on the front lines in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

During his military service, Ivison’s frequent letter exchanges with his family back home served as an eloquent chronicle of his experiences in the war.

The letters quietly rested over the years in a shoebox until just recently when the Ivison family decided to donate the correspondence to McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

“Collectively, the letters are an important window on our history and an invaluable document of the experience of military service and combat.  Individually, many of the notes are nothing less than works of art,” Labarge said in her address.

While the event had a high turnout this year, McQuigge describes some of the troubles they faced in the past.

“I’ve been in the Alumni office for 18 years and about 10 years ago, I was actually quite worried. We weren’t getting as many students out to the service,” she remarked.

In recent years however, there has been a sudden surge in students coming out on Nov. 11 to pay their respects to war veterans.

“We haven’t really changed the service; we may change the poem, the address, and having the student gospel choir participating, but mostly it is the same,” she stated.

McQuigge found it very admirable that current students are coming out more to the service and that they considered it important to remember.

“I think that is the most heartwarming thing that I have seen and learnt from the student body today. I really believe that this service will always be an important part of the McMaster experience and our students are leading the way.”

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By: Michael Klimuntowski

The Royal Canadian Legion’s national poppy campaign begins every year on the last Friday of October and goes on to Nov. 11. I implore the McMaster community to wear the poppy on their left breast, just above our hearts.

Over the years there have been efforts championed by groups such as the Rideau Institute and campus clubs across Ontario that seek to provide what they portray as an alternative to the red poppy. These groups claim these white pacifist poppies signify peace and do not glorify war.

This campaign is reprehensible for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the white poppy campaign takes away resources and the focus from the Legion. The proceeds from the red poppy campaign go to help veterans and their families with the costs of food, medicine, heating costs, home repairs, transportation and valuable community services. When you buy a red poppy, you are helping the Legion care for the legacy of the veterans and those who have fallen on hard times. These few days before Remembrance Day are when the Legion is best able to reach the most number of people in order to help Canadian veterans and their families.

Secondly, the advocates of the white poppy campaign have distorted the meaning of the red poppy. Last year over 18 million Canadians wore a poppy to honour the hundreds of thousands who perished in conflicts that have defined our history. It has been remarked by historians that it was at Vimy Ridge when Canada was born as a nation. It was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian military collaborated and defeated the German Army without subordination to British Command. Canadians fought valiantly during the Second World War at the Battle of Normandy, liberating Belgium and the Netherlands with countless acts of heroism. In Korea, the Balkans, Afghanistan and other global hotspots Canadians responded to the challenges thrust upon the global community. Those who cannot see the heroism of such sacrifices don’t know where to look. The lives and actions of the Victoria Cross recipients, distinguished soldiers and those who paid the ultimate price are testament to the contrary.

The poppy is the internationally recognized symbol of Remembrance. Its symbolism has been immortalized by Canada’s Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. In Flanders Fields, McCrae’s final stanza describes the shared responsibility that towers over us:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

In remembering the human casualties, we do not glorify war. We commemorate the sacrifice of those who participated. No one who wears the poppy supports war over peace — this is a false dichotomy. There are times in the affairs of nations when war is justified, when the terms of peace are egregious, and the price is one we are not willing to pay.

The pacifist poppy smears our veterans; those from conflicts long ago and as recently as military action in Afghanistan. It attempts to make a political debate out of a simple act of commemoration and sign of respect. The question begs to be asked — is nothing sacred?

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By: Teresa Park

Once a year, Canadians come together to commemorate the brave who died and those still fighting for our freedom. But as November passes, poppies are put away, and we move on.

But for some, every day is Remembrance Day. There are those among us who are in invisible pain, living in neither the present nor the past. For many veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, each day brings back the worst moments of their past – often through vivid visions and nightmares.

PTSD is a mental disorder that can manifest after traumatic experiences such as war, sexual violence, and major accidents. People with PTSD often describe feelings of “numbness” and “emptiness.” They might avoid certain activities, public spaces, or socializing with others for fear of triggering past memories. At times, they are unable to feel any positive emotions, and have little or no plans for the future. Depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse, and anxiety disorders are conditions that commonly occur with PTSD.

The Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey of 2013 estimated that 5.3 percent of Canadian war veterans are currently experiencing PTSD, a number that has doubled since 2002. Generally, one in six members of the Canadian military report experiencing symptoms of mental or alcohol-related disorders. In the 1990s, many war veterans suffered in silence, but as soldiers begin speaking up about their psychological wounds, they also start raising awareness.

There are support systems in place for those suffering from the condition, including clinical counseling and Paws Fur Thought, a non-profit organization that provides trained service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Unfortunately, there are still many who go on living in pain, and due to limited resources, there are also those who remain stuck on long wait-lists, unable to receive timely assistance. This past summer, three veterans, Steve Hartwig,

Jason McKenzie, and Scott McFarlane, marched across Canada to raise awareness about military-induced PTSD. The campaign, “Into No Man’s Land” solicited $15,000 for mental health initiatives.

PTSD is not a sign of weakness nor is it an indication of failed resilience or readjustment. Our troops’ battles do not end simply because they are back on Canadian soil. Let us support our veterans as they continue to show bravery and strength every time they reach out for help. Lest we forget.

For more information and ways to help, visit Wounded Warriors. Get involved with McMaster’s very own COPE: A Student Mental Health Initiative to help fight the stigma against mental illnesses.

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A front-page editorial from the Nov. 10, 1939 edition of The Silhouette discussing Armistice Day and the conflict of the day: WWII. (Click to enlarge.)

One of the tensest moments of my first year at McMaster didn’t happen when I was writing exams, or fighting with my roommate, or handing in a late assignment. It happened on Nov. 11 when I was sitting in the basement lecture hall of Togo Salmon.

The professor was lecturing straight through the 10:30 a.m. class. When 11:00 a.m. rolled around, the time traditionally reserved as a minute of silence in respect for those affected by war – through combat or collateral, a student raised her hand. “Shouldn’t we stop lecture for a minute right now?” she said, and outlined her case: that would be the most respectful thing to do.

There was a long, awkward silence. Then, the professor said no. I don’t remember her reason; it was long and convoluted, and very passionately against recognizing the moment. But then the student argued back, and more students jumped in, until finally, several minutes past the 11:00 a.m. mark, the room lapsed into 60 seconds of awkward silence.

While that particular minute was spent more in embarrassed quiet for the uncomfortable circumstances than in thoughtful contemplation, it has come back to me every November since, as I dwell on war and peace, Remembrance Day, poppies, and everything this time represents.

The squabbles of that morning seem petty in comparison to what it was viagra jelly like to be on campus in the war-torn days of yesteryear.

There was a time on McMaster’s campus when the impact of war was not a once-a-November focus, but rather a daily occurrence. Old Sil headlines from World War II call for blood donors during a European shortage. In desperation, they appealed to women to donate, as men were traditionally the exclusive donor group.

One front-page article from Nov. 3, 1944 warned that the military status of all male students would now be checked, and “every student must have on his person at all times either a postponement, a discharge, or a rejection paper.” If it was found that any men were “unable to produce these necessary qualifications, their names will be turned in to N.M.R.A. immediately. Within a few days they will receive their military call-up.” (The N.M.R.A. was the National Resources Mobilization Act, which recorded and policed conscripted Canadians for military service at home and abroad.)

The paper from that time period is also peppered with lists of fallen alumni and students. It serves as a sombre reminder for all we take for granted today as students.

For the first time in several years, I’ll be in a position to actually attend a Remembrance Day morning ceremony. But if you’re in lecture (and whether or not your professor pauses), at work, at home or elsewhere, I still encourage you to stop what you’re doing for a moment. Not to glorify war but to be thankful for all that we have today, the people we owe that to, and what we want tomorrow to be.

 

Compiled by Aissa Boodhoo-Leegsma and Julia Redmond

McMaster holds annual Remembrance Day ceremony on campus

University officials look on as a piper plays at the Nov. 11 ceremony.

On Nov. 11 students, staff and alumni filed into Convocation Hall to participate in a service to remember the fallen and current veterans. President Patrick Deane read roll-call and Chancellor Wilson delivered a commemorative speech. The service had musical accompaniment by organist Rev. Philip Gardner, bugler George A. Murga-Martinez and piper David Waterhouse.

As part of a McMaster tradition, President Deane read the Honour Roll which bears the names of the 35 McMaster graduates and undergraduates who died in World War II. Chancellor Wilson’s speech noted how soldiers in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry suffered inordinate losses at Dieppe, but how the failures of WWII contributed largely to later Canadian successes in Holland and Vimy Ridge. He concluded on a note of gratitude and honour towards all veterans and service men and women.

 

Hamilton hosts an Anti-Poverty Caucus

Three of the panelists listen attentively during the first portion of the event, which featured speakers from Mac.

On Nov. 9 the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction sponsored an All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus at the Hamilton Convention Centre. Approximately 80 members of the community attended the event.

Four McMaster students first spoke about the impact of poverty on women and the intersection with class-based issues. Another McMaster speaker, Dr. Tim O’Shea, who is well-known as the doctor who disrupted Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s funding announcement at McMaster, spoke second.

The event advertised four panelists MP Chris Charlton, Conservative MP Michael Chong, Liberal Senator Art Eggleton and Conservative Senator Don Meredith, who were meant to contribute to a broad discussion of poverty in Canada.

 

Provincial mental health report released

A new mental health report was released this week, dealing specifically with post-secondary students and institutions in Ontario.

The report, based on the Focus of Mental Health Conference that was held in Toronto in May 2012, highlighted the insights into the subject areas including student experience, healthy workplaces, and stigma elimination that were addressed at the event.

The conference welcomed over 270 delegates, and was organized by Colleges Ontario, Council of Ontario Universities, the College Student Alliance, and the Ontario Undergraduate Alliance.

Mental health remains an area of focus at McMaster. In particular, services on campus are wary of the time of year; students are under additional pressure with the weight of end-of-term work and exams.

The Student Health Education Center (SHEC) is one of many organizations that offer support to students. Meagan McEwen, SHEC Outreach Coordinator, feels that there is a “need to address Mental Health during our most stressful time of the year – exams.”

Collaborating with different groups on and off campus, SHEC will host a number of “stress-buster” events, including providing dogs for stressed students to interact with, and serving hot chocolate and coffee with the support of OPIRG McMaster.

McEwen believes that, “there seem to be [fewer] opportunities for students to take a break and relax during these exam periods, while making them aware of all the different support networks students have on campus.”

A few weeks after Canada jumped to the aid of its allies in the Second World War, The Silhouette published issue number one in its tenth volume. On the front page of the Oct. 6, 1939 edition, there was a story about the opening of McMaster’s branch of the Canadian Officers Training Corps. Students were invited to register in the for-credit course. Passing the exams qualified them for the rank of lieutenant in the infantry.

Some things have changed since then. But other things are quite similar.

On the second yellowed page of Volume 10, I found an editorial, written by someone holding the job that I’m holding now. I’ve authored pieces about Halloween costumes, Woody Allen and bacon. This guy wrote about a month-old global war.

It wasn’t the article I expected. It could have been written last week. Wars don’t fix societies, or their economies, it said. Wars don’t create freedom. And while the winners of wars might intend to pacify and rebuild the losers, it usually doesn’t work out so nicely.

The Silhouette called on the United States to keep out of WWII. “Democracy might well fail to survive a completely worldwide war such as the last one,” it said, and America would be needed to pick up the pieces at the war’s end, restoring democratic values across the world.

Canadians of the 1930s weren’t ignorant as they headed into the fray against Germany. They weren’t brainwashed. Canada’s independence from Britain was too recent for it to hold back from supporting its ally, but its citizens had doubts.

But the doubts didn’t win after the war. For good or bad, America and its supporters are still overseas, pushing democracy on their adversaries.

Remembrance Day was last weekend. Veterans of the twentieth century’s great wars are becoming fewer and fewer. Some of us students might have stopped to reflect. Our grandparents or great grandparents went through hardships we won’t have to endure. We’re meant to be thankful, knowing full well that we’ll never understand what it was like to be young in 1939.

But remembrance isn’t always about acknowledging how our time is different than theirs. Sometimes, it’s about realizing how it’s the same.

So be thankful, but not dismissive. The deaths didn’t stop in 1945. We’re not here at McMaster to register in Training Corps courses, but we’ve got a lot to learn about the world.

 

An editorial entitled “About the War” was published on page two of the Oct. 6, 1939 issue of The Silhouette, less than a month after Canada declared their participation in the Second World War. The text of it appears below. 

Canada is at war. Probably you have heard about it. Now, no one in Canada can reasonably believe that war can solve the ills of the economic and social world. Nor can democracy really be saved by war. For the purposes of prosecuting the campaign the very principles of democracy for which it is fighting have to be scrapped, with an inevitable setback as a consequence.

But the British Empire has seen fit to register its active disapproval of Germany’s international tactics. Canada has thrown in her lot with the Empire, and no matter what our attitude may be toward the idea of war, it behooves us as citizens of the Dominion to lend our entire and unreserved support to Canada in her time of need. For the immediate present the need for university students as active fighting men is not great, but enthusiastic participation in the Officers’ Training Corps and earnest study in our academic courses, especially in the sciences, constitute our most effective contribution to the cause. Determined preparation should be the keynote of our immediate program.

This with the hope and the prayer that the victors (as it appears most likely the Allies shall be) will deal with the conquered nation so humanely and so rationally as to obviate the very causes of this militaristic socialism against which we are fighting.

But that is only a hope, and it may be dispersed at any time. An enemy blunder may at any moment arouse a blind hate that will seek to crush to extinction all that opposes it. May we express our sincere hope, then, that the United States shall keep out of the war. England and the Empire obligated herself to preserve the sanctity of Poland. We are fighting this war for honourable as well as for selfish reasons, and it is, therefore, our struggle. Much as the active support of the United States would help in our immediate crisis, the larger opportunity for it to help will come after the war is over. Democracy might well fail to survive a completely worldwide war such as the last one. It would be after the war is over that a great and democratic neutral power could aid the other great powers to re-establish soundly the principles of democracy throughout the world. We feel that the preservation of an enormous area of calm sanity and democratic stability is necessary in the cause of freedom.

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