The U.S./Canada land border is re-opening: Here’s what that means

Some hopeful travelers say that the opportunity to cross the U.S./Canada land border should have happened a while ago

The world’s longest undefended land border will re-open to fully vaccinated Canadians for non-essential travel on Nov. 8.

The land border between Canada and the United States first closed on March 20, 2020. After 19 months, those with American friends and family or those just looking to get some cross-border shopping done will now be able to cross the land border.

The news was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Breanna Sherman, 23, normally visits her family in Florida once a year for the holidays, but border closures have barred her from doing so.

“This December, it will have been two years since we last saw them,” said Sherman.

Among the family who Sherman has missed is her cousin’s newborn daughter, born in May 2020, which the pandemic has kept her from meeting.

“I hoped I would see her in December of 2020, but that didn’t happen,” said Sherman. “When I eventually meet her now, she’ll be one and a half, not even a baby anymore, which is sad.”

“It will be fun to not only be in Florida for the first time in two years, but also continue that tradition of driving and sitting in the car with my family for two days.”

Michelle Lam, 22, says that although she’s enthusiastic about visiting the U.S. again, the lineups she expects at the border are worrying.

“I feel like it’s going to be chaos at the border,” said Lam. “I’m kind of nervous about it.”

While air travel into the United States has remained open to Canadians with proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered three days before they travel, some feel that driving is a more affordable and easier alternative.

“Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford to fly. It’s just more accessible to everyone that wants to travel,” said Sherman.

Lam shares Sherman’s sentiment, saying “I feel very safe travelling by land, because it’s me and my car driving across the border as opposed to flying in the States, where I have to go through an airport and sit in a tube with however many people for X amount of hours.”

Before travellers get ready to hop over the border for a weekend, there are a few details to pay attention to.

All travellers, whether coming in by land, sea, or air, must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the United States and are required to show their proof of vaccination.

After speculation, the United States confirmed that travelers with  a combination of either FDA-approved doses, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen, or those approved by the World Health Organization, which include AstraZeneca, are considered fully vaccinated.

Travelers arriving by land or sea — that is by car, bus, boat, ferry or train — from the United States must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours of their expected arrival into Canada.

The news of the re-opening did not come without criticism from hopeful travelers.

“It really makes no sense to me that it’s taken the U.S. this long to open the border,” said Sherman. “Not only are our vaccination rates way higher, but they could have just asked for proof of vaccination and a recently negative Covid test.”

The Canadian government reopened its land border to U.S. travelers in early August. As it currently stands, 74 per cent of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated, compared to 57 per cent of Americans.

Lily Cowper is a dual-citizen of the U.S. and Canada. She has flown to Florida and Virginia twice to visit her family since May 2021. Her travels did not come without complications.

“Everytime I went, there was so much drama,” said Cowper.

Cowper said that the cost and requirements for COVID-19 tests made visiting her family in the U.S. a cyclical headache.

“Every time I went back and forth, I had to pay hundreds of dollars extra and had to change my flight,” Cowper explained.

Cowper and her boyfriend went to visit her family in Virginia in September. After taking multiple tests to ensure they received results in time for their return flight to Canada, the test that did come on time contained a lab error. As a result, they were turned away from their flight.

Cowper says that she and her boyfriend each paid the equivalent of $300 CAD to receive a last-minute airport test to re-enter Canada.

“I’m happy that they’re finally opening up [the land border] and I hope they drop the testing requirement,” said Cowper.

The option to cross the land border into the U.S. without proof of a negative COVID-19 test is a cost-effective decision that Cowper says should have happened a while ago.

“It’s about time. Why are we constantly living in the past if we’re vaccinated?”

For Cowper, the opportunity to get in her car and drive to the U.S. could not come sooner. She says that the re-introduction of a more simplified way of travelling from one country to another is necessary.

“This whole two years has been so complicated, the rules are always changing, they don’t make sense,” Cowper added. “All I want to do is visit my family.”


Graphic by James Fay


“I’m moving to Canada”: being a Canadian during an American election year

Why Americans insist on “moving to Canada” before every election

I know there is an important election going on in the States when my American friends start saying “I’m going to move to Canada.” And with election season upon them, it’s almost guaranteed that every American I talk to from now until Nov. 3 will bring this sentiment up in some way, shape or form. Each person expresses it differently, from my American friends jokingly proposing Green Card marriages, to my great-aunt in Texas posting memes on my Facebook wall about “Trump Air” airdropping all the “butt-hurt liberal snowflakes” somewhere over Saskatchewan.

As a Canadian who has never been south of the 49th parallel, I find myself approaching American politics much in the same way I would a soccer match that I put money on. I will watch the Americans play their game and accept whatever happens, win or lose, as being out of my control.

I’ll admit that this year I had intended to skip the presidential debates altogether. The 2016 election was still fresh in my mind and I seriously doubted that the moderator would ask any questions about the tariffs levied on Canadian goods or the renegotiation of NAFTA. But I acquiesced to skimming through a recording of it on YouTube after my Twitter feed was spammed by friends live-Tweeting the event.

As I watched Trump and Biden debate policies for a foreign land, I couldn’t help but think back to the only other president I remember in my lifetime. President Obama’s first inauguration is one of the few experiences from my elementary school days that I can still picture vividly. I remember watching President Obama’s speech from the back of my French class as a substitute teacher yelled in broken French to “ferme la bouche, nous vivons à travers l’histoire.” I ruminated on those words, not being able to fully grasp their significance at the time and, if I am being completely honest, a part of me still doesn’t.

But when I hear an American say “I’m moving to Canada” I get the feeling that I should at least try to understand what those words mean. From the outside looking in, it seems to be the great paradox of American culture. A country with a national identity based upon its unwavering dedication to the democratic process has a population in which half of whom are willing to call it quits at the drop of a hat.

But I can see that there is something quintessentially American to it. All the qualities that American people hold dear are encapsulated in that phrase. The modern American has finally found a way to express the desire for an equal society, the need to leave one’s ancestral home to chase a better life and the escape of a perceived tyranny, (whether it be Republican or Democratic) in under five words. It is as if “I’m moving to Canada” has become the 21st century equivalent to manifest destiny.

And yet, I sense a slight indifference within that saying. I have never heard it phrased as a question of “Can I?’” but always as a statement of “I can.” For a nation that’s in the grip of widespread xenophobia, I find it ironic how lightly its citizens throw around the concept of millions emigrating en masse to a foreign nation with little regard for how those who live there might feel about the idea. There are times when I feel tempted to ask in reply “Why not Japan? Or Australia? Or Sweden even? The weather there is certainly nicer.” But I don’t think that any American would understand what I’m trying to say. For that, you need to be a Canadian, the same way you need to be an American to understand the phrase “I’m moving to America.”


 Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Briefs News

World in Brief: Swapping prisoners, U.S. shooting, and 43 casualties in New Delhi fire

The United States and Iran swapped prisoners last Saturday. U.S. citizen Xiyue Wang was released by Iran in exchange for Iranian Massoud Soleimani. Wang was held for spying charges and Soleimani for violating U.S. sanctions, reported Reuters. This is one of the few acts of cooperation between the two rival countries whose ties have been worsening since the election of President Trump. Leading efforts in appeasing U.S.-Iran tensions were scattered when President Trump retracted the U.S. as a signatory of the 2015 nuclear deal. After thanking Iran on Twitter for a “very fair negotiation,” President Trump said that the deal showed that U.S. and Iran “can make a deal together.”

At least 43 workers died in a factory fire last Sunday in New Delhi. The victims were workers sleeping in the factory. “Most who’ve died were sleeping when the fire broke out and died due to asphyxiation,” said Sadar Bazar’s assistant commissioner of police to Agence France Presse. Although the nature of the fire is still unknown, the Director of the Fire Department of New Delhi said the building did not comply with fire regulations. The Agence France Presse also reported that in many Indian cities, factories are utilized as dormitories for poor workers at night to save money. They are usually located in old and cramped neighborhoods where rent is cheaper.

Three were killed and eight injured in a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last Friday. The three victims were honoured as heroes by the U.S. Navy for trying to stop the shooter, reported the Associated Press. The shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, was shot dead by one of the injured sheriff’s deputies. Alshamrani was undergoing flight training in Pensacola, like many other members of foreign militaries. Whether Alshamrani acted alone, in affiliation to a broader group, or if it was a terrorist act, is still undisclosed.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Texas abortion bill is anti-woman, not pro-life

How abortion punishment contradicts pro-life claims

Republican Texas state representative Tony Tinderholt has reintroduced a bill that, if passed, would criminalize women who seek out abortions, as well as open up the possibility for those women to be convicted of homicide. In Texas, this means that women who choose abortion could face the ultimate form of punishment: the death penalty.

The basic value held by those who are anti-abortion, also known as “pro-lifers”or at least the value they claim to upholdis that an unborn fetus has the right to develop fully and be born into the world. What’s strange is that, rather than focusing their efforts on this simple idea, a number of those who are involved with the extremist anti-abortion movement use violence to get their point across and make a statement.

There is a long and unfortunate history of anti-abortion extremist violence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Vandalism, arson, assault, abductions, bombings, and shootings—abortion clinics across these countries have seen the worst. Sadly, this is far from being an issue of the past. In 2015 alone, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized; a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire; and three people were killed (along with several others injured) in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If extreme pro-lifers really are pro-life, then why do they use such violent—and sometimes fatal— methods in their attempts to make themselves heard? If one is truly pro-life, should they not value all lives, rather than only the lives of unborn fetuses? What about all the lives lost in these brutal anti-abortion attacks? Moreover, what about the lives of the women seeking out abortions in those clinics themselves?

When it comes to the concept of punishing a woman by death penalty for her choice to have an abortion, the same line of questioning should be used to critique this bill. If someone is against abortion for the sake of the sanctity of human life, but they are fine with implementing the death penalty as punishment for abortion, can their arguments really be taken seriously?

No part of the term “pro-life” seems to track with the concept of imprisoning a woman for life or sentencing her to death for making reproductive choices for her own body. In fact, a belief in the death penalty could be considered extremely “anti-life”.

The proposal of these cruel, sexist bills under the guise of a “pro-life” mindset is misleading at best and—at worst—utterly inhumane. Tinderholt is using this abortion bill as a mirage to veil the truth of the matter: that the extreme end of the anti-abortion movement was never about protecting human life. It is, and always has been, about stripping women of their reproductive and human rights.

Archive Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Crying out for change

We must never forget the victims of shootings in the United States

I am a student, a millennial, a daughter and a lot more. The reason I’m writing this is because I can’t sleep, I can’t go to school, I can’t walk around or go out with my friends without being scared. I lay awake thinking of the headlines, the numbers, the names and the families.

I’m not one of them. I didn’t lose a friend or family member to gun violence, but I am still so bothered. The recent shootings in the United States have pushed me beyond my limit. So here’s my question: What’s it going to take? How many more students, millennials, children, parents, friends and family members have to lose their lives? Have you watched the news coverage? If yes, then you’ve seen their yearbook pictures. That’s all we get—a yearbook photo and a name, and then they’re gone.

I walk into class thinking of the quickest exits in case of an emergency. I can’t go to a club without the thought that I won’t hear screams or gunfire over the music. Maybe you think I’m overreacting. Maybe you think this isn’t my business because I’m not an American citizen; but I am a citizen of the world. I have a voice and I’m so, so tired. Tired of seeing innocent people hurt, tired of seeing people who just wanted to go out with friends never come home and tired of being afraid. I go to bars and restaurants, to school and concerts, and so do you. It could be me and I refuse to be apathetic just because it didn’t happen to someone I know.

I want to know when it will be enough to tip the scales. I want to know why they didn’t tip a long time ago. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I had so much hope for change. I believed that, if anything was going to spark change, it would be that horrific event. I was wrong. In the last year, in school after school, at clubs and churches and concerts, people have been killed. After the Parkland shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started an amazing revolution, but it’s barely reported in the news anymore. The Borderline Bar and Grill was hosting a college night which allowed 18+ clients for one night, when the gunman walked in and ended 12 lives, just a few weeks ago. Yet the media has already moved on because a more recent shooting happened somewhere else. The violence has been everywhere and it seems constant. I am asking anyone reading this: Aren’t you tired?

I want to act, I want to change, I want to yell and shout and make something happen—then I remember I can’t. I’m not loud enough, strong enough or important enough to create that change because I am one person. I am alone. So I’m writing this to express what I feel because I don’t know what else to do. We watch the news, we see their faces, and then we see them replaced by the next faces, moved aside and too quickly forgotten. Shock dies down, but they died first. How is it possible that we talked about the death of Harambe in my class for five weeks, when the lives lost in mass shootings are practically forgotten the next day? The world moves on so quickly, but the victims couldn’t, so why should we?

The news shows us the facts, the families, the sadness and then moves on to the next story. I’m not asking for them to change. I’m asking for all of us to take on a small piece of responsibility. To not forget their names or their faces. I feel heavy with the weight of the victims. It feels like everyone else is moving forward and forgetting too fast, and I am carrying them.

Let’s not forget them. Let’s carry them together. We are from the same generation as so many of the victims, and we are the ones who will make a change. Let’s start now. Research, speak up, make change, but most of all, remember their names.

Graphic by @spooky_soda



Trump’s “shithole” comment is plain old racism

The president’s choice of words with regards to immigration contradict the age-old American Dream

On Jan. 11, President Donald Trump was reported to have referred to Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a White House meeting about immigration reform, according to The Guardian. His response came as a reaction to the idea of allowing immigrants from those countries into the United States, according to the same source.

The Internet was quick to erupt with outrage following the horrific statement. Many people, including notable journalists such as Don Lemon and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah are labeling Trump as racist. The comments came as Haiti was preparing to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck eight years ago, according to CNN. According to Time magazine, individuals from Haiti have been under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since the devastating earthquake struck the island back in January 2010. CNN reported that Trump appears to have ignored the fundamental humanitarian purpose of TPS, which allows people to live and work in the United States if their countries are affected by natural disasters, war or any type of political conflict that would prevent citizens from safely returning to their homeland.

Following Trump’s comment, an opinions piece in the Washington Post argued that American news media “has long treated black and brown countries like ‘shitholes.’” The news media in the United States has systematically reported on Haiti and African nations as poverty stricken and disease ridden—and that’s when those countries are even considered worthy of coverage in the first place, according to the same article.

However, I believe the news media did an exceptional job of calling Trump out on his racist comment. Essentially, what the president is asserting is that he doesn’t want to welcome anyone from those countries no matter how qualified they may be, all because of where they come from. A fundamental value of the United States is the American Dream—the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you can still make it there. You don’t have to be rich to be worthy nor do you need a college degree.

Part of what’s important to keep in mind is that, not only was Trump’s comment exceedingly racist, but it’s also inaccurate. According to Vox, 30 per cent of people born in the United States have college degrees whereas 43 per cent of African immigrants have college degrees. Additionally, 10 per cent of white Americans have advanced degrees compared to the 25 per cent of Nigerian Americans who do. These facts completely refute Trump’s ignorant opinion about people from Africa. In my opinion, the fact that Trump seems to believe an entire country should not be welcome in the United States is the textbook definition of racism. You can’t dismiss entire countries whose populations are not white—let alone refer to them as “shitholes”—and not expect to be called a racist.

I believe there have been numerous examples of Trump demonstrating he is indeed racist, despite many people only now starting to realize it. It’s especially appalling that words such as “shithole” are being used to describe entire countries and continents by those in the White House. For years, African immigrants as well as Haitians and Salvadorans have been coming to the United States and bringing up the learning and entrepreneurship rate—thus helping make America a greater nation, according to The New York Times.

Politically speaking, it would also make no sense to exclude parts of the world seeking entry into the United States given that an influx of immigrants will only help better the economy in the long run. In my opinion, Trump’s racist comment is yet another piece of evidence that the United States is being led by a man who applies policies that will “make America white again.”

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin 


Why kneeling speaks louder than words

Colin Kaepernick’s protest has emphasized the debate on freedom of expression

Colin Kaepernick, an American football quarterback, took the country by storm after kneeling during the anthem at a National Football League (NFL) game in September 2016. His reasons for doing so weren’t out of spite or insult, but rather to protest against the continued violence and injustice towards people of colour in the United States.

Kaepernick’s form of protest spread as other athletes followed his example, even branching off into other sports, such as basketball. Unfortunately, not everyone approved of this type of protest. U.S. President Donald Trump, for one, reacted harshly, calling a player who kneels during the anthem a “son of a bitch,” according to The Guardian. Furthermore, Trump said athletes who kneel or show any “disrespect” to the national anthem should be fired, according to CNN. His words sparked protest and shock throughout the sports world. Across the different leagues in America, athletes voiced their contempt towards President Trump. Notable examples include the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Lebron James, who spoke out against Trump, calling him a “bum” on Twitter.

In light of Trump’s comments, the Golden State Warriors basketball team refused an invitation from the president to visit the White House. Even football player Tom Brady, a close friend of Trump’s, sided against him, calling his words “divisive,” according to CNN.

President Trump has twisted a protest against racism into a matter of disrespecting the very essence of American pride. This isn’t the first time Trump has been insensitive towards issues of race, as demonstrated by his poor handling of the events during the Charlottesville riot. Yet with all his claims of others disrespecting the flag, according to the Washington Post, on Oct. 12, Trump made a joke during a bugle call, which is a military tradition that consists of raising the flag to show respect.

Although Trump claims Kaepernick’s protest is an instance of disrespect towards the American flag, it is bringing up the topic of the right to freedom of expression. When Kaepernick knelt in protest, he didn’t intend to ridicule the sport or the NFL, nor did he want to insult the symbolic or literal importance of the American flag. He wanted to bring awareness to a critical issue dividing Americans. He was protesting against issues of racial violence and police brutality—acts that are happening in America.

Mike Evans, a wide receiver for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, responded to Trump’s actions, saying in an interview with CTV News: “You know people say it’s unpatriotic, but it’s unpatriotic of the president to disrespect our rights.”

White House officials claimed they stood by Trump’s statement, and that it is always appropriate for the head of the nation to defend the flag. I was shocked when I heard the president justify his words by claiming he was protecting the American flag. I was surprised considering the flag was not the focus of the national anthem protests. What is under fire here are people’s constitutional rights.

As Kyries Hebert, a linebacker for the Montreal Alouettes, explained during an interview with CTV, whether it’s fighting for their country or fighting for a cause, people do not fight just to protect a flag. Although it’s an important symbol for any country or cause, people fight to defend and respect the constitution as well as the people it protects.
American athletes are not alone in protesting during the anthem. They’re being joined by their fellow athletes in the Canadian Football League, including players for the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Kaepernick’s and other athletes’ acts of protest have brought attention to a critical issue in America. Despite Trump’s comments, athletes in the United States, and even Canada, haven’t backed down. If anything, the actions to date have served only to reinforce the players’ resolve and unite them on issues of racial injustice and constitutional rights.

Regardless of race or nationality, we are all human. So long as we do not inflict harm on others, we each have the right to say our own piece. However, in today’s society, our words may no longer be enough. If anything, our actions have more power than ever before. As Kaepernick and many others have shown, we must use our actions responsibly—there is no telling how much of an impact they can have in a world where words may no longer be enough.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth 


Are we preserving history or honouring hate?

A pedestal is no place for a Confederate symbol, and taking them down won’t erase the past

An increasing number of symbols commemorating Confederate “heroes” have been taken down throughout the United States and Canada, including here in Montreal. A plaque hanging on a wall outside the Hudson’s Bay department store on Ste-Catherine Street honouring Jefferson Davis was taken down on Aug. 15. Davis was the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and he briefly lived in Montreal with his family after being released from prison in 1867.

The recent violent protest in Charlottesville, Va., encouraged even more people and organizations to remove plaques, statues and monuments that pay homage to important actors of the Confederacy. On Aug. 12, white supremacists and neo-Nazis rallied in Charlottesville to condemn a proposal to remove a statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. A woman was struck and killed by a car that drove through the crowd of anti-racism counter-protesters who had turned up at the rally.

Though tensions around Confederate symbols aren’t a new phenomenon, some argue that taking down such signs threaten the preservation of history. For hundreds of years, the KKK and other white supremacist groups have used various symbols as emblems of their far-right ideologies. The Confederate flag is especially controversial because it has become a symbol of oppression and hatred of black people and other non-whites. Waving the flag is often interpreted as blatant racism in North America.

Though some argue Confederate symbols represent pride in the southern United States, they inarguably carry a heavy burden. For many, the Confederate flag is a reminder of black men, women and children being dragged off public transportation, beaten to death, locked up on unfounded rumours and assumptions and killed for defending basic civil rights.

Statues, plaques and monuments are intended to honour people who have positively contributed to society’s growth and freedom. Davis, for his part, owned hundreds of slaves and led a movement that fought against their emancipation. So, if public officials want to lessen racial tensions and reconcile with citizens of different cultures and races, they must not tolerate public displays that glorify the very people who went to war to maintain slavery and other oppressive systems.

Those who fear history will be erased by removing Confederate emblems shouldn’t worry.

Many have tried to suppress dark parts of North American history, yet they endure. Davis and his Confederate friends will always be part of our history, but they have no place on pedestals. No one has forgotten about Hitler, right? Yet, even naming a garbage dump “Adolf Hitler” was deemed scandalous and inappropriate by Oregonians in the 80s.

Closer to home, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario recently announced that they want to remove John A. Macdonald’s name from their school buildings so that Indigenous children won’t have to attend schools named after an individual who played a key role in developing residential schools and destroying Indigenous culture.

Taking down honourific plaques, statues and flags simply shows solidarity and inclusion towards ethnic groups who have been chronically oppressed and discriminated against throughout history. The goal is not to erase our past, but to reclaim a history which has been “whitewashed” for far too many years. History books are filled with one-sided stories of white heroes protecting their people from evil “savages.”

Cruelty and injustice have been excused for centuries. If dozens of government buildings and plaques have to be renamed and removed to begin righting those wrongs, then so be it.

Graphics by Alexa Hawksworth

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