Category Archives: New to Canada

Deerhurst Resort – Kid Friendly, Quick Getaway!

By Sameera Ali

Deerhurst Resort

We have spent so many vacations at home that we have even run out of ‘fun’ activities for the kids to do at home. The idea of spending one more vacation cooped up in an endless routine of ‘push, cry, complain, time-out’ made me frantically search for an escape this past March Break. I was looking for someplace fun and affordable where a 3-4 day getaway won’t make a big dent in the wallet. That’s when I came across the Deerhurst Resort.

Embracing Peninsula Lake, Deerhurst Resort is a year-round retreat in Muskoka, one of National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s ‘Best of the World 2012′ recommended places to visit. It is also just a short five-minute drive from downtown Huntsville and 45 minutes from Algonquin Park which makes it easy for you to check out the area.

It was just a short 2 and half hour drive from our home in Mississauga which was great for my family as I have four kids ranging from 10 to 1 year old kids. Short trip also means less pee pee breaks! Score!

Indoor pool at Deerhurst Resort

The resort offers hotel style rooms that are located in the main building or condo vacation rentals, which are one bedroom suites complete with a working  kitchenette that includes all the essentials. They also have a separate living room, complete with a fireplace, TV and convertible sofas for family time. For our family of six, this was the best option.

We got there a little before check in time at 4 pm and the staff was courteous and efficient and all our keys and towel passes – to access the pool area – were ready for us. Once we entered the suite, we were pleasantly surprised to see the suite looked exactly as advertised on the website. The view over the golf course in winter was very pretty.

A concierge called us promptly to ask if everything was ok and if we wanted any help. She also let us know about all the activities and events happening at the resort that day which I found to be very helpful. In the coming days we also received daily emails keeping us up-to-date on daily March Break activities. Being a busy mom I really appreciated that.

Deerhurst Resort

March Break activities included:

Indoor rock climbing  was inlcuded in the March Break package, reservations are required.

One had to pay extra for dance classes, Kids and Critters, Dog Sledding,  Horse Sleigh rides  and Decades – The Musical. 

Use of 11,000 sq. ft. holiday play zone including a variety of giant inflatables (slides, jumping castles, ball pits, army style obstacle course), Xbox stations and much more all guaranteed a great family time together.

Pony riding at Deerhurst Resort

My kids did the Pony program at the Stables and we were so impressed with our guide Stephanie. She was really great with my kids and took extra time with us. Well worth the money.

We spent most of our days at the playzone or in the pool. Both were not too crowded and were considerably clean. My kids had a blast at the indoor pool! The daily family movie nights were another hit.

For food we passed on the Eclipse Restaturant located right at the resort, instead we got Pizza from Ginos one night, made sandwiches from patties I had brought from home the second night and had Dinner at Kelseys the third and last night. We also did breakfasts (eggs, omelettes, toast) and lunches (pasta, sandwiches) at the suite. It was a little bit of work for me, but the nifty little dishwasher made it easy for me to clean up.

Decades - The Musical, Deerhurst Resort

The highlight of my visit was the Decades Musical Show presented right within the resort! Oh what a marvelous production!

Canada’s longest running musical variety show and also renowned as the show that helped launch Shania Twain’s career, Decades mixes chart topping hits from the 50s to present day incorporating a wide range of artists from Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga. The 2014 line up has been revamped with newer content and hits than ever, including songs by Pharrell Williams, Mumford & Sons, Lorde, Katy Perry and Robin Thicke to name a few. The theatrical performance features over 65 songs and300 costumechanges in 90 minutes, all delivered by an incredibly talented cast. It was a feast for my eyes and ears and I totally got ‘Jiggy With it’ when a cast member pointed at me!

All in all it was a great stay, one we will remember for a long time. Infact we will be back soon in fall to check out the amazing Muskoka fall colors and go hiking along the Algonquin trail.

About the author:

Sameera Ali is a full-time freelance content writer /SEO expert and a mom of four wonderful kids who keep her busy and forever thankful.

Opinion: An Open Letter To Kathleen Wynne

By Amber Hasan

Letter to Kathleen Wynne

Dear Premier,

As a woman, I always felt happy and empowered seeing you climb the political ladder; that too at such a late stage in life. Then you became the Premier of Ontario, and in you I saw hope that may be one day, my self or my daughter can also follow your precedent.

I was wrong. Because it never occurred to me that the woman who just couple of months ago stated that her sexual orientation should not be brought up in defining her role and position, would one day be using her ‘Gay Card’ to label myself and thousands of parents like me ‘homophobe’; just so you could ram a controversial, bizarre and politically motivated sex-ed curriculum, designed by a convicted pedophile Ben Levin and implemented by you and your racist, discriminatory lot who look down from the Legislature building at thousands of parents and call them ‘cons’ of the Conservative Party.

Its desperate times when one starts calling names, or when one points a finger at my friend’s Hijaab calling her a radical parent, or calling me a politically motivated woman, or calling the Christian man holding the largest placard, an ignorant. If only you could look at us as just parents, concerned parents, who are only asking for their right to parent. If only you could have the courage to accept or the heart to understand the psychological, emotional and physical pain and suffering we are going through every day in our struggle against your approved curriculum. Yes the best defense is a good offense! 

On March 27, 2015 you said:

The final thing I want to say is, if after you have read the curriculum and you still disagree, you have permission to withdraw your child from class, you have that permission, that is your right… and it has always been your right, and that is a very important thing and that is what I wanted to say to you.

You lied because when I myself, and other parents, sent the opt out letters to schools about complicated sexual minorities, six gender theory, anal sex, we were told we CAN NOT opt out of these sessions as per the Human Rights Code of Ontario.

Isn’t this preferential treatment for one set of human rights over another? There was and is only one set of rights that stands and protects everyone alike and it is NOT known as Men’s rights or Women’s rights or Gay rights or Queer’s rights but as Human Rights – makes sense?

Parents Protest at Queen's Park, April 2015

So now we are the bad guys for encouraging our children to bully because we keep them home on Pink Day and because we do not want to expose our children in very early grades to sexual concepts they should not be made aware of at that tender age and because we strongly object to the transgender indoctrination which will lead to additional confusion.

The proposed concepts of transgenderism and gender fluidity are already being taught, NOT to grade 4 students but to kindergarten kids. They have been read books authored by writers of adult content. I know some schools where kindergarten teachers brought skirts and makeup and our little ones were coaxed into wearing those, boys and girls alike, and later their pictures were displayed in the school. All this without the parent’s consent!

For me and hundreds of thousands of parents like me, your being gay and celebrating it is NOT an issue, madam Premier. The issue is that you are forcing it on our innocent children and us and then also want us to celebrate this forced lifestyle under the Trojan horses of Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Education.

So who has the phobia now? Us? Or the small few intolerant bigots ripping us of our parental rights are the ones with phobias?

Too much for a premier to handle important issues like budget, auto insurance premiums (Ontarians paid upto 4 billion dollars too much in car insurance) and Hydro One so she chooses the one that comfortably forces her Homophobic Rhetoric on the poor residents.

According to the Toronto District School Board’s survey, the most common type of bullying is for ‘body image’- the reason given by 27% of high school students. The second biggest reason in Toronto schools is ‘cultural or racial background.

Why do we not celebrate a ‘Let’s Pretend To Be Fat Day’ or ‘Turban Day’ or ‘Hijaab Day’?

There is an entire bullying awareness week in November every year. Why is there an entire day dedicated to celebrating your lifestyle, paid with OUR tax money? Why does this type of bullying warrant extra attention or focus vs. all other forms of bullying?

This isn’t about ‘inclusion’ or ‘diversity’ at all. Diversity is about representing everyone equally. These initiatives by your good-for nothing, power and attention hungry, politically corrupt government, do not represent your voters or Ontario’s concerned parents or the hard working immigrants or the strong women but only represent a single community, and a certain agenda, quite exclusively.

This is NOT happening!

Call me homophobe, call me ignorant, tell me to duck my face in sand because I don’t want to open up to the realities of the new era as defined by you, waste my tax money on parades safeguarding the rights of a handful of people, glorify yourself not as the first Woman Premier but as the first Lesbian Premier: I won’t back off, from my children, from my rights as a parent, and from my rights as a proud Canadian.

Sincerely,

A concerned parent

About the author:

Mother to a bunch of crazy cakelets,  Amber is a kind of a jill-of-all-trades and master of none. She can be reached via www.amberhasan.com or on Twitter @amberShasan 

Images: 123RF, MetroNews
Video: Youtube/MuslimMoms.ca

Opinion: Why Parents Are Appalled At Being Labelled And Abused

By Khaula Mazhar

Opinion: Why Parents Are Appalled At Being Labelled And Abused

We parents are appalled at being abused with derogatory comments. We oppose the new Health and Physical Education (sex ed.) Curriculum and that is all. Here are some of the issues we have with these new revisions.

Problem: Information Overload

Proposed solution: Start by showing six year olds pictures of sexual body parts and teach them ‘proper’ terms for each.

Parents’ concerns: A discussion about ‘private parts’ will no longer have much privacy. Once kids are sitting together being shown pictures and given information they don’t actually need, they will overcome their natural shyness and modesty. They will talk and joke about their parts openly, and the teacher will not be there every second with every child to supervise. All sorts of unwanted information and ideas will be exchanged. Many parents have experienced this and it came about only after the sex ed. class.

There are many children coming from traditionally modest cultures or religions that will not have had such exposure, will giving them this exposure stop them from seeing something on the internet or television? No.

It will however get them curious about something they were not previously aware of and aggravate the situation. They will go out of their way to find out more.

The obvious solution: Teach parents the dangers lurking out there. Monitor kids for what they are watching on T.V. and what games they are playing on the internet. The teacher will not come into individual homes to do this; it is the parent’s job. Put limits on the kids, they do not need to see programs that are not age appropriate or play every game on the net. There are sites that are safe like TVO kids etc. Parents must teach their children not to talk to strangers and if even a friend or family member makes them feel uncomfortable they must inform the parents immediately. The relationship between the parent and child must be so strong that the child knows it can come to the parent with anything even if threatened or ashamed of something that may have happened.

The response from Ms. Wynne: Parents are homophobic.

Problem: Sexting

Proposed solution: Talking to grade four students about the dangers of sexting and the implications of sending sexually-explicit digital images.

Parent’s concerns: Many of the children will not be fully aware of sexting or sending sexualized pictures. Many will have no idea at all, however after the class they will. First make children aware of the possibilities and then request them not to do it? Children think they can find ways to outsmart adults, it is their nature, many of them will defiantly try to find ways to do it ‘safely’ and then feel proud of themselves.  Does the administration actually believe that kids will only discuss this in the class with teachers? No, and those children who knew nothing about all this will now have a whole new topic to explore.

The obvious solution: No cell phones for kids until they get to high school. Monitored internet and television time. Kids do not need to be given gadgets with internet that they can take to the privacy of their rooms and then be left alone. They need to call their friends? Use the landline. The want to play a game or watch a movie, they can do both on the common television. Do they need a computer/laptop/television in their own rooms? No. We as parents need to learn to say no and set limits.  We are seeing the disturbing effects of the ‘selfie’ culture. The need for constant approval based on how one looks needs to be nipped in the bud.

Kids should be out playing, reading books, watching age appropriate shows and just being kids! The argument that kids are growing up faster than they were years ago is stupid considering that we as parents are letting them. We still need to set boundaries and we can do it. We are losing the fight to the media all around us because we are letting them win. The media is now raising our kids for us, we need to take control now. The government should be working with the parents to empower them, not take away what influence we have and hand it to the school.

Since everything will be based on teacher prompts, those discussions could lead in any direction. Not all those directions will be suitable to every child. There will not be enough classroom time for the teacher to handle every child’s needs. This is asking too much of the teachers. This is a parent’s job. The real solution is to provide parents with the right information. Why does the government not want to do this?

Ms. Wynne’s response: The parents are homophobic.

Problem: STIs, teen pregnancies, rape/abuse

Proposed solution: Teach grade six that masturbation is normal and healthy. Teach grade seven and eight that anal and oral sex are ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STIs. As long as both partners consent, of course.

Parents’ concerns: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what our concerns are with this.

Ms. Wynne’s response: The parents are homophobic.

The Real Problem: Sex Obsessed Mass Media

The problem is there is too much sex everywhere, what does this say about the state of our society right now? Rather than exposing our children at an even younger age to sex, thus bringing about an even earlier onset of puberty in the future (will we then be showing one year olds flash cards to teach them about sexual body parts?) why are we not focusing on reducing the amount of exposure to sex the kids are getting?

Is it really impossible to limit internet and the amount of gadgets we give our kids? Is it really impossible for us to keep track with what books they are reading and what movies they are watching? Is it impossible for us to say ‘no’ to certain television programs? Can we not set limits and curfews? Can we not monitor their activities? It is difficult, but none of this is impossible. As kids get older, they can have more freedoms and of course the older kids definitely need an updated sex ed. curriculum. But our younger children need us, they need boundaries. We are seeing the negative effects of too much freedom, why aren’t we learning from this?

Why is the government not supporting parents in this fight to protect our children’s innocence?

What is it that especially disqualifies us from the job that we are doing?

Is it that we are parents? Is the government ‘parent’ophobic?

Image: 123RF

7 Fun Things To Do At A Maple Syrup Festival

By Sadaf Afshan

Family friendly activities at Maple Syrup Festivals

Maple Syrup Festivals are a much loved Canadian spring time tradition. A visit to a sugar shack is a great way for the entire family to enjoy the freshness of spring after being cooped up indoors during winter.

Here are some fun-filled activities that you can enjoy with kids at a Maple Syrup Festival:

Learn how maple syrup is made

A visit to a sugar shack will walk you through the process of maple extraction with tours of the sugar bush to see how maple sap is tapped from trees. You will see demonstrations of early Canadian settlers’ techniques for the production of maple syrup – through the use of cauldron when preparing the sweet syrup, right up to modern methods. At some sugar shacks you can also see how the natives made maple syrup with the help of logs and hot rocks. Many will feature costumed interpreters and provide hands-on and interactive activities along the way.

Pioneer way of making maple syrup

Learn fun facts about maple syrup

Did you know that it takes about 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of maple syrup? Or the fact that North America is the only place that has both the sugar maple tree and the proper weather required to produce maple syrup? These are just some of the facts that you can learn during a visit to a Maple Syrup Festival.

Fun facts about maple syrup

Learn about pioneer life

At many sugar shacks visitors can visit heritage homes or museums where they can learn about pioneer life. Costumed interpreters offer guided tours and hands-on demonstrations of how life was for Canadians a couple of centuries ago.

Victorian Farmhouse at Maple Syrup Festival

Enjoy a wagon ride

Many maple syrup festivals offer horse drawn wagon rides whereas others offer tractor drawn wagon rides. Either ways it’s a fun way to enjoy nature.

Horse wagon rides at Maple Syrup Festival

Buy treats from the Gift Shop

Maple Syrup, maple candies, maple cookies, maple butter, old-fashioned maple taffy – you can purchase a wide variety of farm fresh fine foods from the Gift Shop.

Maple treats at Maple Syrup Festival

Watch Cooking Demos

At many Maple Syrup festivals visitors can watch live cooking demonstrations and learn how to make maple treats like candies, taffy etc.

Cooking demonstration at Maple Syrup

Enjoy pancakes with fresh maple syrup

After a fun-filled day enjoy some hot pancakes with fresh maple syrup under a pavilion nestled in the woods.

Pancakes with maple syrup

There are many more activities families can enjoy such as children’s entertainment, crackling fires, pony rides, romps in the hay bale, play area and farm animals. Before going do check the specific festival’s website to know about the activities offered. Dress up warmly and wear proper footwear since most of the activities are outdoors.

So make sure to take your kids to a sugar shack near you this spring. They will surely love the experience.

About the Author:

Sadaf Afshan is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca She also writes a food blog My Culinary Adventures and owns an Islamic Clothing business Chosen Path Abayas.

 

Have you ever been to a Maple Syrup Festival? Which is your favorite place for enjoying Maple Syrup Festivals? Which activities do you enjoy most there? Please share your experience with other Moms in the comments section.

 

Opinion: Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Teachers’ Perspective

By Mariam Mazhar

Opinion: Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Teachers’ Perspective

As a Muslim parent I feel frustrated by the entire buzz about the updates being made to the Health and Physical Health Education (Sex-Ed) Curriculum. I have been reading almost every new post and news coming in the media, and have been talking to fellow educators on this issue. I have reached a point that I am clueless about the future of my kids and I feel helpless.

For a moment I stop and imagine that it’s already September and this new Sex Ed curriculum is implemented throughout Ontario, including my kid’s school. So what’s next? Should I pull my children out of public school and home school them?  Or should I register them in an Islamic school?

Sad truth is, I cannot afford any of it. I do not have the time to home school my kids, do not have finances to send them to Islamic school and moving away is out of question. In such a situation I have to come in terms with the new curriculum. My child will have option to skip the class but that worries me even more. If he is not getting firsthand knowledge from his teacher, it will reach him through his peers and most likely in a twisted version.  In such a case I have to gear up and prepare myself to talk openly and confidently to my kids in the light of Islam and Sunnah and what is morally right for them.

As a teacher, I am still waiting for proper guidelines to teach this tricky subject and I am hesitant just like most of the Ontarian teachers but a decade old curriculum surely needed revision. I come from a visible Muslim community for whom talking about sex is almost a taboo and not everybody understands this. However, this sex education is not just for Muslims but for all other religious and ethnic communities. I talked to some of the teaching staff across different boards in Ontario and here’s what they had to say about the new sex education curriculum:

‘I am pretty sure that most of my fellow teachers will teach these topics in a way that is truthful but also age appropriate. Not to mention with their student’s well-being at heart. The language I would use relating to the same topic for younger grades in comparison to older grades is substantially different yet provides those students with the understanding they need. People hear the topics and automatically apply a scary/negative/dirty connotation to it and blow it out of proportion. Keeping our students informed and giving them the tools they need in life is the main goal here, not corruption of our youth. Have some faith in your educators! I am reassuring parents that they can have faith in our judgement as educators to deliver the program in a professional, age appropriate manner to their children. We always have to take the complicated curriculum expectations and decide the best way to teach them to each unique group of students we have. I just feel that we need to be careful to not be so defensive of people having a differing viewpoint that we judge them as ignorant or use sarcasm about where they got their information. Let’s also remember that parents aren’t teachers and so are coming to this with a different perspective. A few people have seemed rather defensive in their responses and I think it’s important to remember that not everyone has to agree with your viewpoint and if they don’t there is no need to be judgemental about it.’

 ‘Schools have a role to play in educating kids about sexuality, but the real issue is who should be doing the teaching and when. Programs need to be taught by competent educators. Understanding the student’s readiness to learn is also paramount, as children develop differently. It needs to be taught by well-prepared, highly skilled teachers who are comfortable delivering the program. Otherwise, it will do more harm than good.’

‘If parents were teaching their kids, that would be great. But especially those parents who are opposed to the curriculum, you know they’re not talking about sexting over dinner. They’re just not. And so it does fall to the schools. I want [parents] to understand that they should be their kids’ number one source of information, and anything else that they get – from schools, or other reliable adults – is just icing.’

‘For some families, their religious beliefs don’t allow the act of masturbation, and when their child’s teacher tells them that this act is ok, parents aren’t ok with this. Now, because we as teachers are diverse and have our own unique values and beliefs on the subject, parents worry those teachers’ opinions, beliefs, and practices may come across in the lesson. Since our roles as teachers are so impactful, parents fear that their kids will be influenced by their teachers on the subject because an in-direct message was passed down with the lesson. They fear that their children will become curious now of things they’ve learned, which can be problematic. That’s why I feel that there is a need for open dialogue between admin, parents and teachers on how the subject is going to be taught. Teachers need to be sensitive, that’s all. If teachers are going to be inclusive in the ways that we teach to help students be successful, like we’ve been taught through differentiated instruction, etc., then we also need to be inclusive in the way that we teach sex education to our students, being sensitive to their individual beliefs, and being careful not to pass down our own beliefs on the subject.’

‘So, how will new teachers be trained, and what kinds of workshops and in-house training will be offered to current? Further, how will administrators deal with the students whose parents have decided that such instruction is not appropriate? Jamming this program through with a September 2015 start date is asking for failure. More time is needed to train, discuss and to familiarize teachers with the material.’

Personally, I believe that parents should be the ones teaching children about sex, especially since it is such a controversial subject among families of different social, religious and cultural backgrounds. The schools should encourage parents to talk to their children at different stages of their development and perhaps offer helpful material, but further than that, it is not their job. I conclude that teachers have too many responsibilities. And I would rather find interesting ways to teach math than sex. Are you in favor of transferring more responsibilities to teachers, from families? My answer to that is this: It is not a good idea.

 Image: 123RF

Opinion: The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

By Muneezah Jawad Butt

The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

The debate about the new and ‘updated’ Health and Physical Education Curriculum is not a religious one. It’s a moral and ethical one and more so it’s about parental and children’s rights.

The government is setting up something that they think will prevent children from catching STD’s, pregnancy, sexual abuse physically and mentally. However they are not addressing the main problem. Why are children being placed in such situations in the first place? This is what needs to be nipped in the bud.

Teaching little children how to read sexual cues is not the answer. Making sure they aren’t in a position to receive the cues is the solution.  If my child was given a lecture on Masturbation in any other environment other than a school setting by an adult it would be tantamount to sexual abuse. Where is our right to raise our children as we see fit?

Seeds of ideas are being planted in to the minds of children that don’t know how to process them. There is an age for everything. I’m not being naive, I know that my children do and will know more then they let on, however I make the effort to control what my children are exposed to at home; from electronic devices, to the company they keep, I do my best. So the presumption that my kids know as much as everyone else is wrong. Each child is unique and you cannot shove the information down their throats when they are not ready. You are overloading a mind that is unable to fully comprehend what they are learning. Just like you would not teach a grade one student Calculus, the same way you cannot skip a general and natural process of growing up at the relevant speed.

It’s a vicious cycle, you will teach them these concepts, and they will become more curious about them.  It’s ripping the concept of being a child from the child and it’s honestly a travesty. We will have the next few generations of children totally confused and stressed because their minds were polluted with all sorts of biased information. Even if we pull our kids out from such classes they will still have to mingle with those poor souls who did have to listen to it and will be influenced by it.

We are slowly but surely moving towards a society where morals are becoming looser, families no longer spend quality time together and the smart phone is our new best friend. This new curriculum is just the final nail on this coffin.

Image: 123RF

Are We Ready?

By Rahila Ovais

Are We Ready For The Revised Health And Physical Education Curriculum?

Ontario parents are not holding back their concerns when talking about the new Health and Physical Education (sex-ed) curriculum introduced by the Wynne government. While we may question the appropriateness of these ‘updates’ and also voice our concerns and discomforts on the topic, have we also considered how else do/can our kids get this information?

The internet is an open world to all of us. Do we monitor our kids 24/7 with their devices, at school (whether public or private), out with friends or at a family sleepover?

While I disagree with some of the terms of this curriculum, I want to know how we as parents are going to teach our kids about these pressing issues. Let’s say, if we withdraw our kids from the class for that day, how do we ensure our kids will not hear something further misconstrued from their friends?

And then what’s wrong with kids learning the names of their body parts or consent? I believe every kid should know how to say NO, and yes as early as 4 years old and there is a very valid reason for that too. Child abuse is a topic like an elephant in the room, it happens where you least expect it and these days our children are at risk via multiple exposures, not just physical abuse but also online! How do we ensure safety of our kids?

Will you have this talk with your kids? Not just talking about puberty but also explaining to them about the risks of sexting or any unwanted sexual touching? Can we be as open with our kids when discussing this topic as school teachers might be?

The real question is: if we are opposing this new curriculum or if we wish to have it revised, in which case, what are our options? What would you do to inform your kids about the risks of today’s society? We can have every reason to oppose this new curriculum, but what are we going to do for our kids in this regard? We can’t keep them sheltered. What we can do is raise awareness.

We must remember that living in Canada we, our kids and our families are exposed to these challenges day in and day out. Our kids are going to eventually learn about this one way or the other. What we can do is further our teaching of religious, cultural and moral values. That is what we should focus on. Instead of being reactive, let us put our efforts on being proactive in this situation. Ideally we all would like this curriculum to be revised making it more age-appropriate but the government has made it quite clear that won’t be happening. So now we must jump into action on how to communicate to our kids that not everything they learn from school applies to our lifestyle, our religion and our values.

Now is our opportunity to strengthen our bonds with our kids, to give them a heightened understanding of our religion and moral values. That’s where our focus should be. We need to educate ourselves and then only can we educate our kids clearly identifying the challenges of being a Muslim in these times.

About the author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself.

Image: 123RF 

Fifty Shades Of What The Hell?

By Khaula Mazhar

Parents Say No!

 

We wanna make sure they get the right information, Mr. Speaker.

 ~ Kathleen Wynne to the Speaker of the House in response to MPP McNaughton’s question on the new sex ed. curriculum consultations.

 

What is that right information? I really ‘wanna’ know and I am sure other parents would like to be enlightened as well. We would like to know how can you be more concerned with our child’s safety than us. If this is such a concern for you, why was everything so hush-hush?

Maybe because the new curriculum is going to be pretty much the same one that was proposed in 2010?  Then it would make perfect sense because children in grade one really need a graphic lesson on sexual body parts. They will need it to… let’s see…be prepared for when they …when they what? They are in grade 1. The only concern a six year old has is getting a snack on time. That is the only concern they should have. How about teaching them in depth about the digestive system? Eating and pooping is something they have been doing every day, they should learn all about that first.

As for stranger danger, you don’t need to show six year olds pictures of organs to explain to them strangers shouldn’t be touching them. If a stranger comes up and touches them anywhere they need to yell their little heads off.

A class full of little kids, together, showing them pictures of something we parents go through so much trouble teaching them to keep private! ‘Remember your bodies are private and if someone makes you uncomfortable…?’ So now private parts aren’t private?

Yes I am aware that there is a lot of information on the internet. My question is why a six year old would doing online unattended in the first place?

Which brings me to the conclusion that you consider the majority of us parents to be mentally incompetent. Parents have this ‘talk’ with their kids when they feel the time is right. In accordance with their religious and cultural beliefs which are to be respected, because it is everyone’s right. Remember rights? You are all about rights, so please stop shoving your opinions down our throats. But you don’t think we can parent our own kids, so you are assigning this job to teachers. Who gave you the right to take away our rights?

Please spare me your logic, I experienced this first hand last year with my daughters. The teacher gave a lesson and conveniently crossed it off her list. Where the hell was she when the little demons of sexual curiosity were running rampant in the different corners of the class? Where was she when a little girl told my daughter she was going to “shove a pencil up my v—–?” And the dozens of other little horrifying discussions my daughters brought home, that the teacher did not care to listen in on and clarify in the class. All this after the ‘sex ed’ class. Thanks teachers, I appreciate how you totally defecated and I had to scoop your poop.

But you know exploring bodies and feelings and sex is okay and just the thing to discuss with six year olds because you want to encourage them to be masturbating by grade six and having anal sex by grade seven because we all know they aren’t going to practice abstinence. God forbid that.  Seriously grade eight girls pushing for learning about consent? Why are grade eight girls concerned about consent? Why are kids in grade eight having sex?

So we might as well teach them how to fool around in a way they don’t end up with an unwanted pregnancy. How about we teach them all about the reality of having a baby? If they knew what the hell women go through to bring life into this world maybe they would realize sex is not just fun and games to be experienced with a number of different partners the second they get the chance. It comes with a responsibility to take care of one another. It is a beautiful thing to be experienced at the right time, yet it has been degraded into something low and cheap. It has lost its value.

But we want a modern society, not a backward one. And a modern society is all about sex and being absolutely uninhibited, just as it was at the height of many empires throughout history. That should be the only thing on our young generation’s mind all the time. Never mind that the downfall of the Greek and Roman civilizations came about when their society became obsessed with sex. It’s not like history ever repeats itself.

About the author:

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Suggested reading:

A Tale of Three Empires 

Downfall of American Civilization

Global Views on Premarital Sex

Event Report: ISNA Community Forum On The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

By Rumina Rizvi

ISNA Community Forum

A hot topic in the news these days, the suggested updates to Healthy and Physical Education Curriculum are giving many parents sleepless nights. It is the same set of ‘updates’ that had to be backrolled a few years ago after a public outcry against it. This time however its proponents are in no moods for arguments, consultations, announcing that the changes will be implemented in the academic year beginning in 2015.

Sister Sumera Wasiq, a community worker, organized a community forum at ISNA Canada premises recently, inviting speakers, guests and concerned parents to talk about the proposed changes to the curriculum.

The guests at the event included Sheikh Alaa Elsayed, Regional Minister Charles Sousa and Jason F. Policy Director.

Hina Mirza Zuberi, media and events coordinator ISNA, Canada welcomed the attendees and guests to the forum.

The congregation started with recitation of Qur’anic verses and their English translation. Sheikh Alaa Elsayed welcomed the parents and expressed his gratitude on a large turnout on the cold week night. He requested all parents to be patient and kind to the guests and write down their questions to be handed to the guests for the Q/A session to be conducted later.

The turnout was amazing, with more than 1500 people showing up to a standing room only.

In the questions and answers sessions and manifests in September, Charles Sousa from the Ministry of Finance said parents can exempt their children, he said:

‘The religious schools and home schoolings would be exempt. It would not be integrated into the other subjects, contrary to the 2010 curriculum which states Cross-Curriculum and Integrated Learning is actually just that, crossing subject matter into other classes, and even refers to Language, Social Studies and Science’.

The parents however were not satisfied with the replies and had ambiguities on what to be expected out of the curriculum after its release.  Their major concern was for their children’s innocence and vulnerability and also protecting their rights, values and religious beliefs. They could not come to terms with finding the curriculum to be age appropriate with explicit materials being used for explanatory means.

Concerned parents were asked to write to their MP’s and MPP’s in opposing the curriculum and implementation in the coming fall of September onward in all public school in entire Ontario.
Another peaceful demonstration by the parents will take place next week (today, February 24, 2015) at Provincial Legislature Queens Park, Toronto at 11am. It is also expected to generate some heat and pressure on the Minister of Education and the Premier.

You can watch a video of the session here.

Parents opposing the curriculum can also sign up to the petition here.

 

Disclaimer: The event was only hosted on ISNA Canada premises, however it did not represent the opinion or viewpoint of ISNA Canada, and ISNA will not be held liable to ideas expressed by the organizers.
Image: ISNA Canada FB page 

Tax Credits For Families

By Nadia Ali

Tax Credits for Families

It’s that time of the year again, when we start collecting all paperwork in preparation for filing our taxes. The tax deadline is April 30, but families start the prep work by the start of the year. Whether you are a new immigrant or a family trying to make sense of all tax ‘speak’, here are the most common tax credits that all families would be coming across when they file their taxes.

In layman’s terms, a tax credit is the amount of money you can use to lower the tax you owe to the government in a given year. For example, you are working and the total tax deducted from your income equaled $5000 during 2014. When you calculate your tax credits for 2014, these amount to $1500. The government will refund this $1500 to you when you file the taxes and claim these tax credits. Even if you are currently unemployed and therefore not paying taxes, your tax credits can be claimed by your spouse to obtain the refund by offsetting against their taxes.

At the time of filing taxes, accurately calculating all tax credits you are entitled to will help to get a nice, hefty check for the refund. Even if you get your taxes filed by a professional, it’s wise to be aware of these common tax credits to make sure your accountant does not miss out any. And more importantly, to save all receipts of these expenditures to submit to your accountant at the time of filing taxes.

Children’s fitness and art activities

This year you can claim a maximum of $ 1000 related to children’s fitness expenses. If you paid $ 800 for summer camp and swimming lessons, keep all these receipts, as you can claim the whole amount as a tax credit. Another $ 500 can be applied to any art classes your children may have enrolled in. When enrolling children in arts, music or other activities, please don’t forget to ask whether the program qualifies for either fitness or arts tax credits. The great news is that you can claim both the children’s fitness amount and the children’s arts tax credit for the same child for eligible programs.

Childcare expenses deduction

If both spouses are working/studying and avail childcare, the amount of childcare you paid to the nanny, nursery school, babysitter, or an after-school program can be claimed as tax deduction. Childcare expenses can be claimed up to a maximum of $8,000 per child under age seven, and $5,000 per child age seven to 16.

Allowable child care expenses are those paid to enable the parent to earn employment income, carry on a business, attend an eligible program at a designated educational institution for at least three consecutive weeks, or carry on research or similar work for which a grant has been received.

Fees for day camps and day sports schools, private schools (the portion of tuition costs relating to child care services), boarding schools, and overnight sports schools and camps can all be claimed as childcare expenses.

Even if you utilize services of a home-based babysitter, ask them to give you receipts for the payments you make to them. More importantly, if a relative is helping you take care of your children while you work, and you are paying them, you can even claim these payments under childcare expenses.

Elderly Parents

If you have parents or parents-in-law living with you who suffer from a disability or illness, you could be eligible to claim tax credits for each parent. The caveat in this situation is that they should be residing with you at the same address and not living separately. The parent or grandparent must at the time have been a resident of Canada, and the tax credit is not available if they were just visiting you.

Public Transit

The public transit pass tax credit is available for the cost of passes for commuting on buses, streetcars, subways, trains for e.g. MiWay, GO, Presto, TTC, etc.  Taxpayers can also claim the transit pass tax credit on behalf of a spouse, and children under age 19. So, do keep those transit passes safe; or if the pass does not provide important information such as date of validity and amount paid, you should also retain dated receipts or credit card statements to support the tax credit claim.

Medical Expenses

Generally, all eligible medical expenses can be claimed, even if they were incurred outside of Canada.  When medical expenses are reimbursed by an insurance plan, only the portion not reimbursed can be claimed.

There is a long list of eligible medical expenses, including:

  • payments to medical practitioners, dentists or nurses, or to public or licensed private hospitals in respect of medical or dental services;
  • additional costs related to the purchase of non-gluten food products;
  • expenses paid for training courses for a tax payer or a related person in respect of the care of a person with a mental or physical impairment, who lives with or is a dependant of the taxpayer;
  • cost of purchased or leased products, equipment or devices that provide relief, assistance or treatment for any illness;
  • remuneration for tutoring persons with learning disabilities, or other mental impairments, if the need for such services is certified by a medical practitioner.

There are also some exclusions from medical expenses that can be claimed. For example, non-prescription birth control devices, drugs and medications that you can purchase without a prescription like multi-vitamins, funeral and burial costs, and gym memberships, to name a few. You cannot claim medical expenses for which you are reimbursed by your employer or are entitled to be reimbursed. Amounts paid for purely cosmetic procedures are not eligible for the medical expense tax credit.

Hopefully your tax filing experience will be easier this year. 

About the author:

Proud mom to a six year old boy, Nadia Ali has earlier worked with Ernst & Young as an auditor. She is now a tax professional at H&R Block and is looking forward to another busy tax season.