Five Pie Recipes to Try on Pi Day

It’s March 14th, aka 3/14 or 3.14, and you know that that means — Pi Day! Seeing as so much of the East Coast is housebound due to a blizzard, it’s a great day to tackle a pie project, because pie is a) delicious, and b) a great way to pass the time when you’re stuck indoors. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite savoury and sweet pie recipes, most of which can be made using pantry ingredients and won’t require a trip to the grocery store:

Continue reading “Five Pie Recipes to Try on Pi Day”

Five Pancake Recipes to Try on Pancake Tuesday

Happy Pancake Tuesday! Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras. For those who celebrate Easter, this is the last day of indulgence before the period of fasting known as Lent begins. It’s also a great opportunity to eat pancakes for dinner in the middle of the week (as if I needed an excuse). I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite pancake recipes, ranging from classic to totally indulgent: Continue reading “Five Pancake Recipes to Try on Pancake Tuesday”

My Heart Hurts. Here’s What I’m Doing to Fight Against #MuslimBan

mosque(via Reuters)

Five people died in a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City tonight. (Update: CBC now reports 6 dead, 18 wounded.) I feel utterly despondent about the state of things right now. I know I’m not alone in feeling like what has unfolded in recent days is nothing short of evil, and it’s hard not to feel crushed by the weight of it all.

I’ve been Googling “What can Canadians do about #Muslimban?” all weekend, trying to figure out what I can do to make a difference. What follows below is a brief and hastily assembled list of action items, based on information I’ve gathered from Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook over the last few days. It is by no means complete, and I would love to hear from anyone who has suggestions for things that could be added to this list.

1. Understand the ramifications of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). Under the STCA, refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in. This means that refugees currently seeking asylum in the US can’t apply to come into Canada instead. Justin Trudeau tweeted earlier this week that Canada will welcome refugees, but we can’t actually do so under the current law.

2. Make some noise. For starters, you can sign the YouLeadNow petition calling on Trudeau to welcome those fleeing violence and deportation under Trump. Next, you can get in touch with your Member of Parliament to tell them you want Canada to stop honouring the STCA immediately. (If you’re not sure who your MP is, use this link to look them up using your postal code.) What should you tell them? Here’s a phone script I got from Tumblr user twolakes, which you could also adapt to send via email:

“Hi, my name is YOUR NAME and I’m a constituent of MP NAME. My postal code is THIS. I’m calling to see if and when MP’S NAME is advocating in Parliament for a repeal of the “Safe Third Country” agreement. Under this agreement, refugee claims are denied to persons who entered the USA prior to coming to Canada. Given that in the more than a decade since the law has been passed no other country has been given Safe Third Country status, this bill functions as an agreement on refugee claims between the USA and Canada, and the President’s recent order clearly goes counter to Canada’s long standing policies on asylum by discriminating against certain groups. The US Government’s prohibition of persons holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, from entering or transiting through the United States means that the USA is no longer a safe country for these persons and as such they should be allowed entry to Canada. I am calling to request that the Safe Third Country Agreement be repealed, or alternately, that the United States no longer be considered a safe country for refugee claimants from these countries, or that alternate measure be taken to provide asylum in Canada to persons whose freedom of mobility has been affected by this act. Once again, my name is YOUR NAME, my phone number is PHONE NUMBER, and I can be reached any time; I would appreciate being informed of status on this urgent matter and will be calling back next A TIME DURING THEIR OFFICE HOURS to follow up if you are unable to return my call by then. Thank you for your attention to this matter and have a good day.”

3. If you can, donate to organizations committed to fighting this executive order (among other things). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was granted a stay that temporarily blocked the policy from taking effect over the weekend, but their fight is far from over. You can also donate to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Here in Canada, No One Is Illegal is fighting against the STCA and could use your support.

4. Use the rest of your dollars to make a statement. You may have noticed that #DeleteUber is trending on Twitter. While I urge you to come to your own conclusions as this story is developing quickly, I’ll also take this opportunity to remind you that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently joined the Trump administration’s economic advisory board. Support businesses that reflect your values.

5. Last but not least, PLEASE stop hiding behind #MeanwhileInCanada memes. Islamophobia is thriving in Canada precisely because we’re turning a blind eye to it. Keep educating yourself, calling it out, and fighting stereotypes. We’re better than this.

Five Things You Can Do About Mental Health Stigma

I love #BellLetsTalk Day so much, I want to shout it from the rooftops. But it’s only the beginning — the conversation about mental health doesn’t end here. You can help fight stigma every day by using these strategies:

5thingsstigma

Learn to separate fact from fiction.

Mental illness is misunderstood. By learning more about mental illness, you can become a better ally and advocate for people who may not be able to advocate for themselves.

Unlearning some of our assumptions about mental illness can be very difficult. We’re constantly being bombarded with negative messaging around mental illness — think about how many times you’ve heard that depressed people are lazy, or that people with anxiety should just get over it, or that schizophrenic patients are dangerous to society. Think about how easily the media points a finger at mental illness every time there is a mass shooting. (For the last time, mental illness is not the cause of gun violence.) We are constantly being exposed to misinformation about mental illness, which exacerbates the stigma around these issues.

By learning more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for different mental health conditions, you can help dismantle false assumptions about mental illness, which will help reduce the stigma around these conditions. A good place to start? This Canadian Mental Health Association list of common myths about mental illness.

And stop using the word “crazy.”

Words matter. According to this Mic.com article, “Using ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ in everyday speech — be it as a throwaway adjective or an insult — can be hurtful to people who live with mental illness.” As Lydia X. Z. Brown puts it, “Using that kind of language sends the message that it’s OK to trivialize mental illness.”

“Crazy” is a filler word, and your brain uses it as a shortcut when it can’t think of a more precise way of describing something. It’s easy to just stop saying it. When speaking or writing, focus on accuracy:

What’s happening in the U.S. is really crazy unbelievable.
My cat starts meowing at 6 a.m. and it’s really driving me crazy ruining my mornings.
I can’t believe this news story about Amanda Bynes, she’s totally crazy dealing with mental health issues and deserves some respect and privacy as she works to get better.

Expand your vocabulary and drop the word “crazy.” I promise you won’t miss it.

Be there for the people around you.

Isolation and loneliness are common by-products of mental health conditions, and they become a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more alone you feel, the less help and support you seek out, which in turn aggravates your condition, which makes you feel even more alone, and so on.

How can we break this cycle? Check in with your friends to show your support. This can mean being a good active listener if your friend wants to vent, or just letting them know you’re there for them if they don’t want to talk. Bell Let’s Talk has a few good phrases you can use to open up a conversation:

  • I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.
  • I’ve noticed you’ve seemed down lately.
  • Is everything ok?
  • How can I help?

Conversely, here are a few things you should avoid saying to someone who’s dealing with a mental health condition:

  • Relax!
  • Chill out!
  • You’ll get over it.
  • It’s not a big deal.
  • Just think positive.

Little things can make a big difference to someone who’s struggling. Sometimes all you need is for someone to ask how you’re doing.

Use your knowledge to help eradicate the stigma around mental illness.

There’s a lot of shame associated with depression and anxiety. I spent years hiding the way I felt from everyone I knew, including my family and close friends, because I didn’t know much about mental illness and didn’t want to appear dysfunctional in any way. As you can probably guess, that did a lot more harm than good in the long run and I’m still dealing with the after-effects years later.

Stigma silences people and exacerbates their suffering. When you understand the causes and symptoms of mental illness, it becomes easier to talk about it openly, and the more we talk about it openly, the less stigma exists around these issues. So challenge stereotypes, stand up for people, and really listen if someone tells you they’re struggling.

And if you’re worried about your own or a loved one’s well-being, seek help.

According to the CMHA, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age. It accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds in Canada.

Those stats break my heart. Death by suicide is preventable, but we need to look out for one another. If you or someone you know is in crisis and requires immediate assistance, call 911 or head to the ER. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention is launching an integrated Canada-wide distress and crisis line service later this year, but until then, learn to recognize the signs and find a place to get help.

Mental illness isn’t a choice. By showing your support for someone who’s living with a mental health condition, you are contributing to their recovery.

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That’s it for me today. Thanks for following along with my #BellLetsTalk Day posts!