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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

How can I make life and school more accessible in 2021?

February 8, 2021

Written in collaboration with Aaleen Zhera.

During these trying times, it is important to feel supported and validated. Ontario Tech University has a wonderful group of Equity Advocates that do just this; we are one of them. Together, Arnetia and Aaleen formed the Anti-Ableism group to help you understand that the word ‘disability’ is fine to use, that it is not a bad word and that people with disabilities are not ‘differently abled’; we are beautiful people with some small and some big limitations. It is important to acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with that and our identity encompasses more than our ability. 

There are some questions you are asking that you might need the answers to. Whether you are a member of the vulnerable population or not, we have a few answers for you today. 

  • “How do I dispose and use my mask safely?” 
  • “What can I do to transition from in-person learning to online and vice versa?
  • “I'm immunocompromised, how do I safely shop for groceries?”
  • “I need help to make this online schooling thing easier; what can I do?” 
  • “I noticed University is a lot harder and I am struggling with content the professors keep referring to as easy; what can I do?” 
  • “I think I might have a disability/ have a diagnosed disability that affects my ability to be on the same even ground as my peers; how can Ontario Tech University help me?” 

Is it too much to mask?

We finally have come to the general consensus that masks are the best way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 (along with handwashing) and wearing a mask can prevent the most vulnerable of our population, the immunocompromised and the elderly, from dying of COVID-19. But we frown when we see masks discarded in parking lots or we forget it's on our face and we end up touching it. So, what can we do? 

The proper way to wear a mask is to have your nose and mouth covered. If you have a beard then the mask may not be properly sealed, so you may need extra layering around your beard (such as a bandana). Press the area around the nose of your mask and the metal strip should seal to your nose and prevent glasses from fogging. If you notice your glasses are fogging then adjust your mask adequately to prevent it as much as possible. Masks also need to be layered, many cloth masks do not have appropriate layering. The Government of Canada has great guidelines for making a face mask with multiple layers.

Face masks that are cloth should be washed every day. The Government of Canada has guidelines on how to care for your mask.

Disposable masks can be disposed of by first disinfecting the mask and then placing it into a lidded trash receptacle. This keeps cleaning staff safe during COVID-19. Please do not throw your mask into a parking lot. The Government of Canada lists the following steps to remove your face mask safely:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
    • If none is available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Remove the face-covering by untying it or removing the loops from your ears.
    • Avoid touching the front of the mask when removing it.
  3. Store the face-covering in a paper bag, envelope, or something that does not retain moisture if you will be wearing it again.
  4. After removing the face covering, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

The thought of online school being over, makes me feel relieved but I’m also terrified 

We are all a little bit nervous and wary about what will happen once online schooling is over. Ontario Tech University has a thorough policy outlining different scenarios, it has also been announced that the Winter 2021 semester will mimic what the Fall 2020 semester has been like for students. 

But, once this is all over, what will happen? First, we must remember to breathe and be mindful. Finally, we must remember that we all share this anxiety. The uncertainty is clear for first-year students. But, we must try and learn some great study habits. Here are some suggestions: 

  1. One week before school starts, sleep to your schedule. Try and establish a routine where you get out of bed early to have time to travel to class. Remember that parking takes a while and buses are not always on time.
  2. Once the syllabus is released, spend the first week making a schedule. Try to place all of the exams, tests, assignments and lecture times into the schedule to make it part of your routine.
  3. Make friends. It is so hard to make friends in this online environment because we are physically distant from each other. But there are some events that you can attend to make friends and get more involved with the community during these times.  

Grocery shopping has become a battleground 

As members of the vulnerable population, we have our trials and tribulations with grocery shopping. For some reason, grocery shopping is very inaccessible, but there have been many improvements made. A lot of stores do not advertise this information but they have staff that will help you grocery shop if you need it. Arnetia has utilized this service at the No Frills in Agincourt. 

Our personal recommendation is if you have the extra $5 in funds, is to go with a grocery pick-up service. Many grocery stores across Durham Region offer grocery pickup and even delivery in certain areas. If you need some extra help during this time due to low income, Durham has a large list of food banks where you can get access to nutritious food. 

By Arnetia Bishop-Kent