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Canada Needs Voices and Doers for The Sake of Our Mental Health

October 22nd, 2014, was a day that shocked many living in Canada and even individuals from and living in other countries. That was the day that a gunman invaded Parliament Hill. On getting there, he shot a young soldier who later died. Lockdowns were occurring from place to place. It was a scary day in Ottawa. After things calmed down, news spread that the gunman was linked to an Islamic terrorist group but that news at the time (and even now) was not supported by much proof. Irrespective of that, the talk around Canada was that the country has been ripped of its innocence and that terrorism has struck us.

Terrorism is not a joke. It is definitely something to be taken very seriously – but amidst fear, we should not compromise balance. Comparing media reports on what could have motivated that gunman to do what he did, the reports that carried more weight were that this person had a drug abuse problem and he was angry with the bureaucratic system. Those were the reports that had more words than the Islamic militant group reports. There are lots of people who are homeless and struggling through mental illness, in downtown Ottawa. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “1 in 5 Canadians will develop a mental illness at some time in their lives”. Recently, it was stated in a CTV News article that about 1.2 million children in Canada have mental illness, but less than 20% receive adequate treatment. Canada has a worrisome mental health issue but what has unfairly trumped that and gained more attention as well as government response is terrorism – and a loss of innocence.

Canada lost its innocence way before the 21st century. In the 19th century, Natives were starved, so that Whites could be able to settle in Canada. There was also, around the mid-90s, the internment of Japanese-Canadians. None of us that are living, ever witnessed an ‘innocent’ Canada. Hence, there seems to be a mix up between being accustomed to a modern, civil Canada and an absolute dismissal of Canada’s history.

With the uprising of terrorism in different parts of the world, every nation should re-check security policies. That is the right thing to do, but again, there must be a balance. Canada has a mental illness problem. Thus as the government tries to protect Canada and prepare the nation for any threats, attention also needs to be paid to the scary occurrence of mental health cases. There should be a balance.

Peace,

Chiamaka

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