• With protests at two Ontario schools this week making the news, attention has turned once again to the topic of dress codes. As Andrea Stokes, the mother of a student who drew national attention for a dress code violation in 2014, said, it’s “getting to be that time of year again.”

    Most of the conversation around dress codes has focused on the unnecessary sexualization of teen girls, and the issue of whether dress codes promote rape culture. But as the protests have gotten louder, more administrators are speaking up to say no, dress codes aren’t just about distraction. While the rules vary from school to school, Yahoo Canada found five reasons why institutions say their dress codes are necessary.

    To uphold school principles
    Nicholson Catholic College is a public high school in Belleville, Ont. The school’s motto is “Enlightened by Knowledge. Enriched by Faith.” Originally founded as a private school in 1960, the school is part of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School

    Read More »from Five reasons schools have dress codes
  • There’s been much controversy surrounding Eugene Melnyck’s public plea for a liver and his ensuing successful transplant. Some say the owner of the Ottawa Senators used his wealth and public profile to his advantage, jumping the queue ahead of other Canadians on a wait list. Regardless of diverging opinions on that subject, there’s no denying his case has raised awareness of life-saving live donations tremendously.

    “Canadians die every day waiting for an organ,” says Aubrey Goldstein, president of the Canadian Transplant Association and a liver transplant recipient himself. “Many people don’t realize how much impact they can have with a donation.”

    While people often associate organ donation with a dying person’s wishes, live donation is becoming more common, with people getting used to the idea of sharing a piece of themselves while they’re alive and well.

    The most urgently needed organs from living donors are kidneys and livers. More than 3,420 Canadians are waiting for a kidney and

    Read More »from The Melynck effect: NHL owner's plea raises awareness on organ donations
  • Round Island, British Columbia. (Courtesy of BCOceanfront.com)Round Island, British Columbia. (Courtesy of BCOceanfront.com)

    Soaring real estate prices are an obsession for people living in Vancouver.

    Mortgaged homeowners worry how they’ll make their payments if interest rates go up. Younger people wonder how they’ll ever scrap up the down payment for even a shoebox-sized condo in one of the city’s many glass towers, never mind an average modest family home that gives not much change from a million dollars.

    So the idea of buying an entire island off the B.C. coast for the price of condo or even less within an easy boat trip to Vancouver or Victoria might be very enticing.

    It sounds romantic. Leave the hustle of the big city behind and telecommute, working to the sound of waves lapping on your private beach while you contemplate the maritime vista from your home overlooking the shore.

    A CTV News report this week noted three-hectare Round Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, is on the market for just $380,000 or the undeveloped property.

    But before you go see your bank manager, it’s worth

    Read More »from B.C. island may be on sale for just $380,000, but the reality of living there isn’t idyllic
  • With warmer, dryer weather here, that means more people will be getting out on their bikes. Whether it’s commuting to work, cycling for fitness, or going for easy-going evening rides with your kids, biking is one of those feel-good, fresh-air physical activities that burns calories, improves health, and contributes to a greener planet.

    And depending on where you live, it’s safer in some places than others. While comprehensive, uniform data comparing cycling safety in cities across the country is lacking, a few studies have looked at some of Canada’s best biking spots. Perhaps not surprisingly, West Coast cities consistently come out on top.

    The country’s least bike-friendly cities appear to be St. John’s, Moncton, Charlottetown, Montreal, Ottawa, and Edmonton.

    St. John’s ranked lowest on the Bike Score, which was created by UBC’s Cycling in Cities Research Program in partnership with the Seattle-based company that developed Walk Score. It’s calculated by taking into account factors

    Read More »from The most dangerous cities to cycle in Canada
  • On Sunday morning, a distraught man called 911 saying that his father had gone crazy and was armed with an assault rifle in the house. 

    “He’s shooting a gun,” the man said, adding he thought his father just shot his mother and that he was next.

    The dispatcher advised him to stay hidden and tried to reassure him saying that police officers were almost there.

    But when York Regional Police arrived on the scene at 5:41 a.m. that Sunday, they burst through the front door only to find Vincent Yan, his wife and their two young children sleeping inside their Richmond Hill, Ont., home.

    Yan and his family were the unsuspecting victims of a fake 911 call that police refer to as swatting. 

    What is swatting?  

    According to the FBI who first warned about this practice in 2008, pranksters place a convincing call to 911 about a fake emergency, such as a bomb threat or a threatening gunman, to get police ­— usually a SWAT team — to respond.

    How does it happen?

    The agency, which declined to comment,

    Read More »from What is "swatting" and why does it keep happening?
  • Fred Hahn, president of CUPE, Ontario speaks to high school teachers and their supporters on May 14.Fred Hahn, president of CUPE, Ontario speaks to high school teachers and their supporters on May 14.
    Students at three Ontario school boards are getting an early summer break this year: final exams have been cancelled.

    Classes resumed in the Rainbow, Peel and Durham districts on Wednesday after teacher strikes were ruled illegal earlier in the week. Athough the unions are threatening to be back on strike in June 10, the Ontario government is promising back-to-work legislation this week that would prevent those strikes.

    With teachers back at work, the question turned to what will be required of the returning students. The answer, in a nutshell: not much. The provincial government said final exams have been cancelled; the students will be graded instead on their schoolwork throughout the semester.

    Students were also told before the strikes began that they weren’t expected to work on any class assignments or projects while the strike was in effect.  There’s now a one-week moratorium =on any assignments or assessments, meaning students won’t have to hand anything in until early June –

    Read More »from Thanks to strikes, some Ontario students won't have final exams
  • A portion of one of B.C.'s special commemorative provincial birth certificates.A portion of one of B.C.'s special commemorative provincial birth certificates.
    When a child is born, their name, date of birth and sex are recorded on their birth certificate.

    Penis: M. Vagina: F.

    But a group of transgender British Columbians wants that to end. They’ve filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging that identifying newborns as male or female discriminates against transgender individuals.

    “Every time a compulsorily gendered person is requested to produce a birth certificate which does not ‘match’ either their gender identity or their gender presentation or both, they are exposed to ridicule, censure, discrimination and/or life-threatening danger,” says the complaint filed by the Trans Alliance Society and eight transgender people.

    Although transgender people can apply to change the sex designation on their birth certificates, it’s an unnecessary barrier, the complaint says, and one that is not helpful for gender variant transsexuals, gender non-conforming cisgender or intersex individuals.

    The human rights tribunal did not respond

    Read More »from Transgender group wants sex dropped from B.C. birth certificates
  • A volunteer at the Food Bank transfers food donated by a supermarket to charity in France. (Reuters)A volunteer at the Food Bank transfers food donated by a supermarket to charity in France. (Reuters)

    Wasted food is a tremendous global problem. Depending on how you define waste, anywhere from 30 per cent to – in developed countries – upwards of half the food grown for human consumption ends up being thrown away.

    Almost everyone involved, from farmers to consumers, bear a share of the blame but France is taking a radical step to address it by targeting its supermarkets. A new law will make it illegal for large grocers to dispose of food that’s still edible into the garbage stream.

    The law, approved last week by the National Assembly, requires store operators to donate unsold still-edible food, whether packaged or fresh, to charities. To ensure compliance, they’ll be required to make contracts with recipient organizations.

    Food no longer fit for human consumption must be processed into animal feed or compost.

    It took a grassroots campaign by one French politician to bring about the legislation because, as in Canada, this serious issue flies pretty much under the public’s radar.

    Read More »from Would France’s anti-food waste law work for Canada?
  • It was March 1944.

    War had ravaged Europe for almost five years. In a few months, thousands of Canadian and other Allied troops would make landfall at Normandy in the D-Day invasion. In a little more than a year, the Allies would accept Germany’s surrender.

    But the Commonwealth officers in the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III – Canadians among them - were planning an operation of their own.

    Under cover of darkness the night of March 24, 80 airmen crawled through a 400-foot tunnel they’d dug by hand, secreting the dirt out for more than a year hidden in pant legs and pockets.

    The daring breakout was immortalized in the 1963 movie “The Great Escape,” starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.

    The fictional, Americanized film was a huge success but there were only two Americans involved in the real escape. About a third of the 2,000 men involved were Canadian; others were British, Australians, New Zealanders and other Commonwealth airmen.

    “It’s terrific entertainment but it’s a

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Escape: author recounts untold story of WWII drama
  • A man carries his luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013. A man carries his luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013.

    This week, anyone flying out of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson Airport with Air Canada will want to pay special attention to their baggage, emotional and otherwise. The airline began issuing red tags to those passengers whose carry-on luggage conforms to the company’s size regulations. Every passenger is allowed one standard suitcase or bag measuring no more than 23 by 40 by 55 centimetres, and one personal item, like a backpack, laptop bag, or handbag. If your effects exceeds these limits, no tag for you. You’ll be asked to check the offending piece of luggage for a $25 fee.

    When the crackdown announcement was made last week, it was met, predictably, with collective grumbling. The salvo represented a new turn in the so-called Carry-on Crisis that began last fall when the airline announced it would start charging for checked bags on domestic flights. (A fee had already been attached to international trips.)

    Air Canada claims it’s clamping down on carry-on transgressions as a way to

    Read More »from Dear Air Canada, you’re clamping down on the wrong behaviour

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