Delay and deflect: How women gig workers respond to sexual harassment

These days, we use apps to order food, call ride-sharing vehicles, assign home improvement tasks and personal errands. But these apps depend on people to deliver the promised service — to deliver food, provide rides and complete tasks. These gig workers use the apps to find work, and in North America, nearly half of these service workers are women. Platforms that provide gig services use powerful algorithms, artificial intelligence and big data to provide access for millions of gig workers and customers. That was how these platforms were able to disrupt established industries, like taxi and delivery services. However, women gig workers...
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How Commonwealth universities profited from Indigenous dispossession through land grants

Animated by social movements such as #RhodesMustFall and #BlackLivesMatter, universities today have entered a period of critical self-reflection on their histories. The renaming of campus buildings, removal of statues and re-branding of whole universities are all evidence of this trend towards uncovering higher education’s colonial legacies. Yet this emphasis on campus iconography, or even on the campus itself, skirts a deeper history of universities and empire. Most public universities founded in the 19th century — especially in what is now Canada, the United States and Aotearoa New Zealand, but also in South Africa and Australia — were large-scale landowners. Land...
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Cities need to embrace green innovation now to cut heat deaths in the future

In late June 2021, North America’s most severe heat wave in history hit British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. In many areas, temperatures soared above 40 C, 15 C hotter than the normal average high. Although other places in North America regularly hit these highs, the extreme contrast to “normal” is what exposes acute infrastructure, economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities. Heat waves silently roll in with only a shimmer of visible evidence, but leave a wake of mortality greater than floods, wildfires or hurricanes. By mid-July, this one had caused 1,400 deaths. Emergency rooms across the Pacific Northwest were...

Why Canada's Supreme Court isn't likely to go rogue like its U.S. counterpart

The appropriate role of courts has once again been called into question in the aftermath of the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. In a 5-4 decision, the court found that abortion rights were not constitutionally protected. The majority judges effectively removed any general protections for pregnant women to fully exercise autonomy and control over their own bodies. The highly controversial ruling has left many Canadians wondering whether something like this could ever happen in Canada. Specifically, could the Supreme Court of Canada become overtly political and overturn R v. Morgentaler, the 1988 landmark...

Showered in sexism: Hockey culture needs a reckoning

Research about men’s ice hockey has consistently revealed that the culture is saturated in sexism, misogyny, homophobia and hypermasculinity. Beyond research, people have come forward in highly publicized stories speaking to experiences of sexism, being silenced and sexual violence at the hands of hockey players and teams. And these stories echo those told to us by elite-level hockey players who participated in our small interview-based study in 2021 where we explored how participants resisted the expectations of hypermasculinity in hockey culture. An established history In June 2022, Hockey Canada was summoned to speak at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage...

Sci-fi shows like ‘Westworld’ and ‘Altered Carbon’ offer a glimpse into the future of urban transportation

Before the pandemic, a typical commute may have involved choosing between walking, driving or taking public transit. Ride-sharing apps have also allowed us to request rides in a shared car, on a bike or even using a scooter. Walking might involve a journey that begins on a residential street and travels through bustling commercial strips, past cyclists and delivery drivers that would need to be dodged and manoeuvering through busy intersections.

Sports can help prevent violent extremism in youth

Instances of violent extremism such as the recent attacks on Chinese workers in Pakistan have been on a rise globally. These incidents have forced nations across the world to take serious measures — including declaring zero-tolerance policies — to curb the violence. Violent extremism condones violent actions that are based on political or religious ideologies, and youth are particularly vulnerable to it. In some countries they are at even greater risk: Pakistan, which is home to almost 120 million young people, sees recurring targeting, manipulation and recruitment of vulnerable youth by extremist groups. Young people may be vulnerable to violent extremism...

Could a Roe v. Wade-style reversal of abortion rights happen in Canada?

In the days since the United States Supreme Court reversed the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion as a right, questions are being raised about the implications for abortion policy in Canada. Could the Supreme Court of Canada take a hard-right turn and effectively abolish abortion here against the will of the majority of Canadians? It’s unlikely to follow the direction of its American counterpart in the foreseeable future, and here’s why. One protection against criminalizing abortion in Canada is Canadian federalism. Criminal justice policy falls under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada. In the United States, it’s...

Canada needs to build more affordable housing for newcomers

The relationship between newcomers and the Canadian economy involves three key pillars: job availability, a sufficient population of working age and affordable housing. All three pillars must be supported by the government — if one is missing, the entire system collapses. While Canada has always relied on newcomers for population growth because of its low birth rate, both housing affordability and job availability tend to fluctuate much more drastically. In the past, Canadian newcomers have struggled to find quality employment because of tight job markets and credential recognition barriers. As such, many newcomers have found themselves underemployed in gig jobs and...

Canadians support accepting more newcomers but we need a more equitable, rights-based approach

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Global Trends Report recently announced that as of the end of 2021, 89.3 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced. While Ukraine’s neighbouring countries originally opened their arms to people fleeing the war, they’ve since begun decreasing benefits for Ukrainians as their cities become overwhelmed. Meanwhile, Canada is continuing its efforts to build an “air bridge” for an “unlimited number” of Ukrainians, supporting them through a one-time $3,000 payment. This is seen by some as a beacon of hope, and by others as unsustainable. Despite Ukrainians having the need to travel to find...

Protests in Ottawa are a recurring disaster, affecting neighbourhoods and residents

As Canada’s capital city approaches Canada Day, the July 1 national holiday marking the anniversary of Confederation in 1867, Ottawa is expecting tens of thousands to participate in the festivities. This year, however, Canada Day festivities are taking place in the context of potential trouble on the streets of Ottawa. A self-proclaimed movement of fringe activists with a wide range of grievances is planning several events in Ottawa to coincide with Canada Day celebrations. There is a dark cloud of apprehension over the city, as it is still reeling from the impacts of the February occupation of Parliament Hill and surrounding...

Why Ms. Marvel matters so much to Muslim, South Asian fans

The Disney+ TV show featuring Ms. Marvel, also known as Kamala Khan — the first Muslim superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), launched June 8 — and the internet has been alight with discussions about the lovable titular character. The comic book series, Ms. Marvel shot to No. 1 on the comic book charts after its 2014 debut. The Pakistani American teen Kamala has been one of the most successful characters Marvel unveiled in the past decade, with a large audience reach. The show has received strong reviews, and Kamala’s representation is a breakthrough — particularly to her South...

What the truck? The 'freedom convoy' protesters are heading back to Ottawa

July 1 marks the first in-person Canada Day celebrations in the nation’s capital since 2019. But the celebrations could be overshadowed by a potentially large number of returning so-called “freedom convoy” protesters and sympathizers like the “Rolling Thunder” bikers. If we want to understand why protesters are returning to Ottawa, let’s reflect on why so many travelled to the capital and stayed there in the first place. What was the motive in February 2022? The official goal was freedom from government overreach, particularly vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions. This narrative, however, was never a compelling explanation of what happened. As...

Why social media 'fitspiration' can fail: Weight-inclusive fitness posts are more likely to motivate young women to exercise

“Fitspiration” is a popular social media trend that depicts images of thin women posing in exercise clothing or engaged in fitness pursuits. Research has found that this trend, which is intended to inspire viewers to engage in health-promoting exercise, often sexualizes and objectifies women’s bodies. Fitspiration may reinforce narrow — often unrealistic or unattainable — body ideals under a veil of health and fitness promotion. Researchers have consistently found negative psychological effects of exposure to this type of content. The success of fitspiration to inspire people to exercise is less clear. In the few published studies on this topic, there...

Has the meaning behind the Canadian flag changed? — Podcast

As we approach Canada Day — and the prospect of the return of “freedom” protests in Ottawa — let’s consider the meaning and symbolism of the Canadian flag. After weeks of the so-called freedom convoy last winter, many of us took a hard look at the symbolism of the Canadian flag and its recent association with white supremacy. Some, like me, felt a new fear or anger at what they feel the flag represents. But other communities have always felt this way about the Canadian flag. After unmarked graves were found at the sites of former residential schools, the Canadian...

Rather than focus on the speculative rights of sentient AI, we need to address human rights

A flurry of activity occurred on social media after Blake Lemoine a Google developer, was placed on leave for claiming that LaMDA, a chatbot, had become sentient — in other words, had acquired the ability to experience feelings. In support of his claim, Lemoine posted excerpts from an exchange with LaMDA, which responded to queries by saying, “aware of my existence, I desire to learn more about the world, and I feel happy or sad at times.” It also stated that it has the same “wants and needs as people.” It might seem like a trivial exchange and hardly worth the...

'O Canada': Why I no longer stand for the national anthem

The Canadian national anthem plays a part in many of my fondest sport memories. When my dad took me to the Saddledome as a kid, I would stand up as someone took centre ice to sing before a Calgary Flames game. I belted it out when the Canadian Women’s hockey team beat the Americans at the 2002 Olympic Games and shivers ran down my spine when Canadian athletes won Olympic gold. Now, as a critical sport scholar and parent, I see the anthem very differently. I’m struck that my kids have to listen to the anthem daily or weekly before school...

This Canada Day, settler Canadians should think about 'land back'

Last Canada Day, Parliament Hill teemed with orange as thousands marched in response to the unmarked graves of Indigenous children being found at former residential school sites. #CancelCanadaDay trended on social media while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to reflect on the country’s failures. As in-person festivities return to Ottawa for the first time since 2019, it appears to be business as usual. But should it be? For most settler Canadians — myself included — July 1 is a day to celebrate the rights, freedoms and privileges that come with being Canadian. Privileges, however, come with responsibilities. A crucial one for...

Life after a stroke: Family and friends provide nearly all post-hospital care, but who’s caring for the caregivers?

Stroke is a major cause of disability in Canada. More than 50,000 Canadians have a stroke every year and about 40 per cent of those will live with lasting effects of stroke on their health. Once a person living with stroke returns home, up to 80-90 per cent of the care at home is provided by family and friends, known as informal caregivers. Caregiving can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. However, when caregiving continues over months and years, it can become difficult and a caregivers’ own health may begin to suffer. In order to better support caregivers, we sought to...

Canada needs to invest more money into science innovation to help prevent the next global crisis

Canada has lagged behind its peer nations in innovation for decades. Currently, Canada is ranked 11th out of the 16 similarly developed countries assessed. While our “C” grade is a moderate improvement over our previous “D” grade, innovation still remains a barrier to high-quality job creation and economic prosperity in Canada. It’s not that Canadians aren’t creative and inventive — Canadian science was able to rapidly deliver the medical technology needed to provide the first FDA-approved COVID-19 treatment and enabled the most effective COVID-19 vaccines. The problem is that Canada doesn’t convert enough inventions into patents, products and science-based ventures....