A year in review

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A local, national, and international look at the year that passed

Taouba Khelifa
News Editor

2012 has been an interesting year for the University of Regina, and for the international community. Each day brought with it stories from around the world – stories of hope, aspirations, humor, heartbreak, anger, and the stories of the best and worst of humanity. The following is a look at the year, in review.

URSU Drama
The University of Regina’s Student Union had a year of lows. With the surprise resignation of past president Haanim Nur in June, URSU was left president-less until September’s by-election saw Nathan Sgrazzutti voted in as the Union’s new president. Later that month, allegations erupted citing Nur’s resignation as part of an embezzlement scandal between URSU and the CFS Saskatchewan chapter. If things couldn’t get any worse, URSU ended its 2012 fiscal year with $202,484 in the red as their financial audit showed a deficit in the Owl’s revenue, and deficiencies in information services. Needless to say, 2012 has left students angry, betrayed, and without many answers or much accountability.

A Strategic Plan?
The fall 2012 semester kicked off with students, faculty, and staff concerned about the possible changes that the U of R may be going through over the next few years. With a decrease in government funding to post-secondary education, the U of R has been facing major financial and resource constraints, leading to institutional budget cuts and increasing student tuition. Students and faculty fear that as the University’s administration continues to move towards a more corporatized post-secondary education model, the heart and soul of true university learning will be lost for the sake of wealth and money.

Voting for Mayor
Michael Fougere was elected as Regina’s 34th Mayor on Oct. 24, replacing Pat Fiacco’s 12-year Mayoral rule over the city. Nine candidates ran for the position of Mayor in the election, with Fougere winning 42.2 per cent of the votes. Throughout the election campaign, Regina’s multi-million dollar stadium project was a major issue of debate and discussion, with Fougere being the sole candidate in support of funding the agreement. In the midst of a housing crisis and soaring homelessness and poverty rates, many people question whether a new stadium is really worth the money, when other issues seem more pressing.

Let them Stay
Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi, two U of R students, are still facing deportation to Nigeria for violating the terms of their study visas. Last summer, the two women say they mistakenly worked off campus for two weeks, not knowing that their visas did not legally allow for this. Upon finding out, the students quit their jobs. However, when the Canadian Border Services Agency was made aware of the situation, a nation wide deportation order was made, forcing Ordu and Amadi to take sanctuary in a Regina church. The two have been in sanctuary since June, with the federal government showing no remorse or leniency for their case. Ordu and Amadi’s story has gained momentum in Regina and across the country, with local student groups and community organizations rallying the government to let the girls stay and complete their education. Both students are in their third year of studies.

Food Sovereignty
2012 has been a year of many firsts for student organized food security projects. Spring kicked off the first ever Green Patch, a student run-garden behind the library. Producing a variety of vegetables and herbs, the Green Patch beautified the campus, and provided students with a chance to reconnect their relationship with food and the land. The Green Patch also provided workshops and educational sessions for students and community members about food consumption, waste and composting, and tips on how to start a garden at home. Two-thirds of the food grown in the garden was donated to Carmicheal Outreach.

Pipelines
The Northern Gateway Pipelines project was proposed in mid-2000’s by Canadian crude oil company Enbridge, with hopes of building twin pipelines from Alberta’s oil sands to Canada’s West Coast. Nearly 13 years later, and the Gateway Pipelines project is still fighting its way through the courts, and strong opposition from many First Nations groups, environmental organizations, the Liberal BC government, and the federal NDP opposition. Many critics of the Gateway project say that with so much opposition, Enbridge’s project is but a “pipe dream.”

Return to Canada
Having spent his entire youth life detained in Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr was finally repatriated to Canada on Sept. 29, to serve the remainder of his sentence. Captured at the age of 15 during a firefight between a village group in Afghanistan and US military officials, Khadr was convicted of war crimes and became one of the youngest Guantanamo Bay detainees. Khadr’s case made headlines in Canada when the federal government refused to seek extradition or repatriation for Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, despite urgings and pleas from Amnesty International, UNICEF, and other prominent human rights organizations.

Students United
The seven-month-long student strike in Quebec saw triumph and victory this year, and become one of biggest student movements in North America in the past decades. Fighting for better and affordable education, the Quebec student movement was able to pressure the province’s government to implement a tuition freeze, and repeal the controversial Bill 78, which had initially criminalized the students from protesting. Despite its victory, the students in Quebec say there is more work to be done, and this year they hope to advocate for free education for all.

Newsmaker of the Year
In the annual vote for Canada’s 2012 Newsmaker of the Year, the Canadian Press has been greeted with outrage after announcing that the title goes to Luka Rocco Magnotta – a man accused of killing and dismembering the body of international student Jun Lin, and mailing various parts of the body to political offices in Ottawa, and elementary schools in BC. After a global manhunt, Magnotta was arrested in Berlin and his trial begins later in the year. Magnotta received 22 per cent of the votes, earning him the title, and finishing ahead of Vancouver-area teen Amanda Todd, and her international story of online bullying and suicide.

KONY Fail
What Jason Russell, founder of the non-profit Invisible Children, wanted was to start an international movement to help capture African militia leader and indicted war criminal Joseph Kony. What transpired was a heated controversy about the movement’s legitimacy and morality, resulting in Russell’s public mental meltdown, and a failed campaign. Regardless of KONY 2012’s failure to achieve its goal of capture Kony, the campaign held international attention, and included the youth in discussions around war crimes, militia groups, and international justice.

Innocence Lost
Nearly two weeks before Christmas, mothers, fathers, and siblings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut experienced a tragedy that forever changed their town. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School with a gun on Dec. 14, killing 20 children and 6 adults, before killing himself. The school shooting was the second deadliest school shooting in American history, and the tragedy has opened up much debate about gun control policies in the country. In 2012 alone, there were 5 other school shootings in the USA.

Women’s Education
Fifteen-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has become an image of hope and inspiration this year to women worldwide. A women’s right activist, Yousafzai promoted education amongst girls in her town of Swat Valley, a place where the Taliban had banned women from going to school. Fighting against this ban, Yousafzai encouraged girls to go to school, and shared her life story with the world through an online blog she wrote for BBC. On Oct. 9 as she made her way home from school, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an attempted assassination by the Taliban. She is currently being treated in the UK, and her story has reached a worldwide audience, inspiring many girls to dream big.

Stratosphere Jump
Austrian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke several world records in October when he jumped from a balloon hovering 24 miles above the Earth’s surface. Baumgartner reached speeds above 700 miles per hour, breaking the speed of sound as he pierced through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Arab Spring
Going into its third year, the Arab Spring is still strong, as the international community continues to witness the power of people overthrowing their governments, and fighting for freedom in their countries. 2012 has seen the continuous massacre of the Syrian people by dictator Bashar al-Assad, some hope in Egypt as it went into its first ever democratically held elections, and the highs and lows of a region where the people have lost their fear, and are standing up for their values and beliefs.

Natural Disasters
Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha were two natural disasters the devastated the world, leaving behind much destruction and death. Hurricane Sandy swept through 7 different countries near the Caribbean and northeastern America in October, killing more than 250 people, and leaving behind $65.6 billion in damage, the second costliest after Hurricane Katrina. In December, Typhoon Bopha swept through southern Philippines with winds of 260 km/hr. Bopha destroyed villages, wiped out homes and farms, and left more than 600 dead.

Palestine
In what has been a historic moment for the United Nations, and the state of Palestine, November saw the UN vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, issuing what Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has coined “the birth certificate” for the country’s international recognition. Of all UN members, 138 voted in favour of recognizing Palestine, while 9 voted against. Among those who voted against the bid were Canada, the United States, and Israel.

We are Still Here
December ended with much worldwide panic as many prepared to call 2012 their last year on earth. As the Mayan Long Count calendar only records up to Dec. 21, apocalypse theories have been shared, explored, and discussed throughout the year, with rumors that the end of the world will bring with it explosions, zombies, and war. Come Dec. 22, and people worldwide woke up to their regular routines, with the earth still in tact.

Photo courtesy of uregina.ca

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