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Cycling one way to help needy

October 10, 2018 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Toronto Star (Wednesday, October 10, 2018) 10 people. 10 solutions for poverty, Oct. 8 Joe Mihevc’s idea to incorporate cycling solutions is fantastic in that it simultaneously tackles poverty, fitness and the environment. However, some people — especially those living in poverty — may not know how to ride a bike. I grew up in poverty and learned to ride as an adult. Unfortunately, if this skill is not taught at home it is unlikely to be picked up elsewhere, and learning after early childhood comes with a lot of stigma and embarrassment. This skill should thus be taught in early elementary school for those not fortunate enough to have already learned at home. It would help overcome the mobility issue that limits the options of the poor, a point that was almost universally mentioned by the 10 people in the article. Kai L. Chan, Montreal © Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996 - 2018 Letter as it appeared online.

‘Bottle ladies’

December 29, 2016 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Globe & Mail Published December 29, 2016 Marcus Gee’s article on Toronto’s “bottle ladies” (The Secret Lives Of Bottle Ladies – Dec. 24) was a refreshing look into the invisible poverty of parts of the highly diverse Chinese community of Toronto. This community generally keeps its head down and is not associated with negative social behaviours, so has not attracted the attention or sympathy of social activists. When I was a child, and before Toronto’s initial Blue Box recycling program, I, too, collected empty beer bottles and cans (found in alley ways and park garbage bins) to return for a refund at the Beer Store. It was a means to make a little honest money to counter growing up in poverty. Although Mr. Gee notes that the women collecting bottles in his story are not doing it primarily because of money, I can assure you there are many who do it to supplement a meagre income and lifestyle. Poverty and its hardships for some members of this community are acute because they lack (among other things) the social capital and knowledge of the charitable services etc. available to them. If only my parents had known about food banks…

Learning poor

November 22, 2013 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Globe & Mail (November 19, 2013) Reading this essay (What I learned in law school:  The poor need not apply (Nov 17, 2013)) made me think of my own story of escaping poverty and the challenges that are common for those of lesser means to overcome institutional hurdles. Poverty meant I worked long hours in part-time jobs at restaurants and supermarkets as a student, while peers could devote themselves to studying or socializing. The part-time income disqualified me from student financial aid, even as less honest and affluent peers found ways to milk the academic loan system. Coming from a family where my parents had just primary education and scraped by on minimum wage, I was clueless about the workplace for university grads, while my peers could rely on their family social connections to help them secure good employment. Nevertheless, my story had a happy ending – I graduated with a doctorate and found gainful work that took me to Singapore, New York and now Dubai – though I know many capable people who were not as fortunate. As reader Dianne Cooper (Talking Point, Nov. 16) notes, it should come as no surprise that fairness is not embedded…

Tough on crime just for the poor

April 10, 2010 Articles, Letters
Letter to the Toronto Star (Sunday, April 10, 2010) Tough on crime just for the poor Re:  Former MP Rahim Jaffer connected to conman, April 8 I was intrigued to read that the Crown in Rahim Jaffer's court case very generously offered the former MP a favourable plea bargain.  When I was 17 years old growing up in poverty and arrested as a young offender, the Crown sought six month's closed custody (i.e. jail time) for a school fight I got into. I had to aggressively fight against the Crown and won a favourable ruling (probation with no incarceration) from the judge who presided over my case.  Eighteen years later I am an alumnus of University of Toronto and Princeton University.  I wonder what path my life would have taken had I spent six months in jail.  Seems to me that the tough on crime model only applies to people from lesser backgrounds. Kai Chan, New York http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/793115--tough-on-crime-just-for-the-poor © Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2010

What to do: young offenders

March 18, 2010 Articles, Letters
The Globe & Mail: Letters to the editor (March 18, 2010) What to do: young offenders I was arrested twice as a young offender (Tory Bill Proposes Publicizing Names Of Violent Young Offenders – March 17), so I read carefully the proposed changes to the legislation.  For the most part, harsh sentences do not deter crime and actually work against rehabilitating offenders.  My brief time in incarceration only ensconced me more deeply in the criminal culture: While in detention, I befriended hardened offenders.  Most of the people I met in juvenile detention were good persons, who just happened to come from unfortunate backgrounds (poverty, dysfunctional families etc.). I always wonder how much talent our country is wasting by not making these young offenders do something productive with their lives (e.g. getting them involved in sports/arts/culture), rather than leaving them to wither in detention. I eventually went on to get a PhD at Princeton after graduating from the University of Toronto.  Teenage years are rough for everyone. K.L. Chan, New York http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/march-18-letters-to-the-editor/article1503730/ © Copyright 2010 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc.  All Rights Reserved.




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