Author: Merle Jacobs Page 2 of 7

Was RN, and now Sociologist Professor in Toronto. Health & Critical Human Rights.
Early Years in Myanmar and lived most of my life in Canada - a country that I love. AngloBurman. Think &discuss.

Good Relationships are a 2 way experience – even with cats

I dedicate this blog post to my (Anglo Burmese) good friend Dean and his lovely Queen Silvia who passed away recently. She was the apple of his eye and bonded since birth. Looking at their relationship gives me hope for mine with Kayli and Bella.


I picked up, on July 9th with the help of my brother, 2 female kitties from the Toronto Cat Rescue around 7-8 months as they were found – sisters I am told and not feral. They are still learning their names which I changed as one was named Blue. Bella and Kayli are not my first cats, remember Daisy my last (2018) cat? I was close with all my feline family but this time our bonding is taking longer.

Interacting with them, I started to think about relationships because the first thing they did was to hide from me. If they could not see me all was well. So I kept them in my large bathroom for a few days. Safety was their number one goal as their food was not a problem – they ate when I was not around. No matter how much I felt love for them or spoke in a sweet voice, they were having none of me until on the 4th day they did not hide but stayed far so I could not touch them. Then I let them into my bedroom and locked the door so they could not hide in the rest of the home where it would be difficult to find them. Another step in the relationship. Now they live in the bedroom but still aloof. They know I bring them their food and treats – that’s nice but go away so we can eat. One step at a time. They have to learn to trust.

Made me think about how many other relationships are much the same. The lack of trust hinders a relationship where both parties can enjoy the interactions understanding the comfort level of each party. Sometimes letting another person into a paired relationship (they have each other – I am the outsider) can be problematic. I saw this as both would come and look at me and then one would run calling the other (they talk a lot to each other). There I was left alone. In human relationships, we can lock other people from joining our groups when we view them as intruders – the outsider who just is not one of us. They don’t look like us, speak the same language or behaviours that are different. We humans can learn from our furry friends – their loyalty and love when they trust you.

As the days went on since July 9, every day showed improvements. I could touch one or both on the heads when I was in bed and they were on the floor. Then they would run. Last night both Bella and Kayli jumped on my bed, (I am sure they did this when I was asleep) and allowed me to pet their heads – nothing more, and off they went after a few minutes. I was elated, wanting more but knowing the relationship was on their terms. I acknowledged that they now trust me a little more because when I am in the room they no longer hide but have begun to play non stop – but I must not go near them or off they go under the bed or chair where they love to sleep – that is where they still feel safe. Yes, I could grab them and force them to let me pet them, but I am building trust on their terms.

Take away thought – trust and feeling safe are the foundation of a good relationship even with other humans. Sometimes we have to wait for people to come and interact with us and not push them on our timeline. ©

Did COVID19 make us count our blessings?

Models use mathematical equations to estimate how many cases of a disease may occur in the coming weeks or months. They help researchers simulate real-world possibilities in a virtual environment. COVID19 has provided researchers to understand how many cases occur linked to our behaviours.

Big moments like graduations and weddings not held in the usual rituals, meetings on Zoom or Skype, loved ones dying alone, no hugs as people were told to social distance and now wear masks. No more bumping into another person in a store and automatically saying “sorry’ even if they bumped into you. Humans are inherently social creatures where memories are made from interactions. The need to belong, to enjoy the company of others which is called bonding can be seen worldwide according to cultural norms and values. Social contact is said to influence our behaviour, cognitive, and emotional responses.

With the entry of COVID19 into our world, we have been experiencing Social exclusion which is in usual societal interactions an effective form of punishment. We know that Social Networks are part of the Social Determinants of Health in Canada. It is very important as we have learned from research that support from families, friends & communities is associated with better health. Those enjoying strong social ties appear to be at low risk for psychosocial and physical impairment. The lack of social support is associated with depression and other psychological problems and in some cases even mortality. In general, social support seems to be an important moderating factor in the stress process and it’s consequences to health.

COVID 19 has made us limit ourselves to engaging in social support other than virtually. Virtual humans cannot substitute the real human experience. Research has detailed that when people do even an easy task, and another person is nearby, they tend to do that task better than when they are alone. Research than placed virtual humans and found performance in the virtual human condition was worse than in the alone condition. We have learned the value of our relationships in a new way – sometimes the very relationships taken for granted. I have often said, “Love never dies”. Sitting with myself during social distancing, I have found this to be true. Loving relationships do stay with us even when we are apart.

With the above in mind, I understand that need for missing the extra hug from a grandchild, a face to face meal with parents, or a BBQ with friends. The new normal of wearing a mask has allowed for us to socialise and meet – even if it is in units of 2 to 3 bubbles. All this has allowed me to become more grateful for having family, friends, and work colleagues. I value all of them in my life with the differences and caring that each brings to our relationships. The flowers on this page are for all of you – saying thank you for being in my life.

Perhaps, COVID19 has made us count our blessings.

Who is dying from COVID19 in Ontario: how do we move information to action!

8,430 Canadians have died from COVID19 in Canada. They are family and friends, not just a number. The News Media has helped us keep up with the information and presented how Seniors, Minorities and people in low-income neighbourhoods are more likely to be harmed by COVID19.

Cases continue to rise in Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces that have accounted for a majority of Canada’s death toll and caseload ever since the pandemic began. Living in Ontario prior to COVID we were fighting back against the Ford’s government cuts to education, social services.  People are out on the streets for Black Lives in Ontario, a good issue to promote a better society. What about being out protesting for “Seniors in LTC Lives Matter.”

Authorities have revealed that postal code data shows people in minority and low-income areas of Ontario are three times more likely to test positive than predominantly white and wealthy neighbourhoods.

Ontario has the highest number of for-profit care homes in Canada, with 57% of the more than 600 facilities owned or managed by for-profits with 17% fewer workers. Residents of for-profit nursing homes in Ontario are far more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and die than those who live in non-profit and municipally-run homes. Long-term care is the front line of Canada’s battle with COVID-19, accounting for as many as four out of every five deaths  Ontario’s home care system provides care to more than 730,000 Ontarians.

Doug Ford and his PC government are moving ahead with their new home and community care legislation. The new regime set out for home and community care dismantles most if not all public governance of home care. All remaining publicly owned & controlled home care would be transferred to an array of provider organizations including for-profit and non-profit organizations. The legislation is permissive, repealing the previous Home Care and Community Services Act and enabling the provider organizations to structure, contract, subcontract & run home care in an array of different ways that they would develop themselves.  In May, the Toronto Star reported that “three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade.” Mike Harris( former PC Premier) has profited a lot from his part-time boardroom-based job with Chartwell. According to the Toronto Star, he was paid $229,500 last year.

As I was reading the news about COVID19 and LTC – it seemed distant. People’s lives are in danger and it has become a back page issue. Why are we becoming numb to the deaths in Canada and around the world? This is ageism. Are we upset about racism, LGBTQ injustices but not about ageism?

As Canadians, we need to ask this question – why are people who are unable to care for themselves, those who live in minority and low-income areas have a higher number of deaths in Ontario? Are we advocating for them? Write to your MPP in Ontario  – send them an email !!!!  as an MPP should help their constituents with petitions or raise this issue with the government. Doug Ford- Help us understand why you are not acting in the best interest of Ontario, but in the best interest of Mike Harris?




Canada is like a cappuccino – white on top, brown and blacks on the bottom – requires stirring up

Apart from the treatment of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Black racism goes back to 1793 when Britain gave legal protection to slavery by an Imperial Act that permitted the entry into Canada of “Negroes”. Canadians often romanticize their role in aiding runaway slaves but they were subjected to racist policies.

Chinese labourers in Canada were subject to horrific working conditions, they were paid one-quarter of the wages of “white” workers and there was the head tax. The uprooting of Japanese Canadians in 1942 and incarcerated in jails and internment camps, were forced to work and had their property confiscated, while South Asian Canadians were denied the franchise, unable to enter professional occupations, had restricted property rights and were subjected to discrimination in housing.

In recent years we saw a shift away from interest in true race relations, especially Anti Black Racism in favour of addressing the patterns of systemic or endemic racial disparities, as well as Diversity within a Multiculturalism framework within Canada. In 2000& 2007, I published and stated the following;
“Diversity training for hospital staff and the nursing profession was viewed as a method to cultivate a climate of tolerance. Occupational culture guides and interprets the tasks and social relations of work. Anti-racist knowledge instead of diversity training may have changed the culture that exists within the profession and in the work environment. The system is Euro-centric in training in spite of the diversity of the population.” “Perhaps since guns and violence have brought racism back to the surface in Toronto in 2006, we may see these researchers jump on the bandwagon and engage in studying racism in nursing. We know, however, that since the 1980s, racialised scholars such as Wilson Head (1985) and even the Ontario Hospital Association (1994) have discussed racism in the hospital system.” Jacobs (2007) The Cappuccino Principle: Health, Culture and Social Justice in the Workplace. Ontario: de Sitter Publication. All these discussions and studies inform us that change did not occur even within the Health Care system.

In general, as early as 1985 adverse or systemic effects of racism have been acknowledged in Canada, for example in a Supreme Court decision (OHRC v. Simpson-Sears 1985 (2 S.C.R. 536); see Black, 2004). Beck, Reitz and Weiner (2002) have, however, lamented that the 1996 amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and federal Equal Employment Act have actually weakened accountability for systemic discrimination.

In the same year, 1985, Ontario’s Equal Opportunity Plan rescinded the first provincial employment equity act in Canada, putting the onus on individuals, employers, unions, professional and other tribunals to address discrimination, with the result that enormous sums of health care dollars are being used to settle racial disputes out of view of the public eye with few accountability mechanisms in place to either prevent or de-escalate conflict (Hagey et al, 2005).

The social reproductions of institutionalized injustice, notably the ethos of white superiority exist today. The silent voices of the “racialised” others speak loudly to the dominant culture of compliance that is protected in self-serving professions and groups.

These past few weeks we have been talking about Millennials and Gen Zs who are out on the streets of the USA and Canada with a reawakening of civil rights and social justice within the framing of Black Lives Matter. If this is a moment in North America, accountability must be a key factor, as well as true policy actions around Anti Black Racism. Unlike researchers who at times discuss social phenomena as only that which is observed, we know social phenomena is also experienced. Observation enables critical reflection to become clear to the observer. This is one of the reasons that so many different racial groups are on the streets for 18 days demanding that “Black Lives Matter” is critically reflecting on structures that influence our day-to-day lives such as policing and statues.

In order to understand the groups today in North America streets when watching TV, remember that they are named according to their birth years. As of 2020, the breakdown by birth years looks like this:
Baby Boomers: Baby boomers were born between 1944 and 1964. They’re current between 56-76 years old Gen X: Gen X was born between 1965 – 1979 and are currently between 41-55 years old –Gen Y: Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 26-40 years old –Gen Z: Gen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1995 and 2015. They are currently between 5-25 years old. Baby Boomers were on the streets in 1968 – it is their grandchildren who are protesting today.

The general public only understands what they view and read via the media/social media. Thus the politics underlying how decisions are made concerning civil rights is in their focus since ” I cannot breath” came to their attention. In addition, given that people in the streets are getting their voices heard via media and we are discussing this for the past 18 days within our own circles is significant. We live in a culture that has allowed brutality, be it racial or otherwise to exist since the founding of Canada. Advocacy can be advanced for those of us who are watching those in the streets. We can write to our MPs to make structural and policy changes that would make Canada an equitable society.

As Martin Luther King Jr. admonished, “…our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Black Lives Matter – Canada: Do we need to Educate New Canadians?

Did you know in Canada?
The first recorded black person to set foot on land now known as Canada was a free man named Mathieu da Costa. Travelling with navigator Samuel de Champlain, de Costa arrived in Nova Scotia sometime between 1603 and 1608.

Black slaves arrived in Canada only towards the end of the seventeenth century. In the early 17th century, French colonizers in New France began the practice of chattel slavery. People were treated as personal property that could be bought, sold, traded and inherited. The first slaves in New France were Indigenous peoples a large percentage of whom came from the Pawnee Nation located in present-day Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.  Slavery continued after the British conquest of New France in 1763. The territory was eventually renamed British North America, and Black enslaved people came to replace Indigenous enslaved people. Compared to the United States, enslaved people made up a much smaller population in British North America.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2020:
“The Code prohibits discrimination on several grounds related to race. These include mainly the grounds of colour, ethnic origin, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship and creed (religion). Depending on the circumstances, discrimination based on race may cite race alone or may include one or more related grounds. Each of these grounds is also discussed separately below. The ground of race can encompass the meaning of all of the related grounds, and any other characteristic that is racialized and used to discriminate. In practice, all grounds that may have been factors in a person’s experience should be cited if a human rights claim is made.”

Although it may be helpful to many, this long definition does not address the discrimination that occurs to Black Lives, even from those who can claim discrimination under the same act.

I remember in 2014, the case of a young black man who spoke up about his treatment at a Chinese Restaurant.
You can read this racist act that occurred in Toronto if you Google Emile Wickham.

“In the early hours of May 3, 2014, Emile Wickham and three of his friends went out to eat in downtown Toronto for Wickham’s birthday. The group chose to celebrate at Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, a mainstay in the area for nearly two decades, in part because they saw other people eating there at that hour.

The group was seated and ordered food, but a waiter told them they would need to pay upfront for their meals before they could be served. It was the restaurant’s policy, he said.”

Wickham and his friends discovered they were the only ones that had been asked to provide money upfront. Also the only black diners at the restaurant. A Toronto Star profile of the restaurant published in 2017 named Mr. Li as the son of Ron and Ann, an immigrant couple from Guangzhou, China who opened the restaurant in 1997.

This went to the Human Rights Commission of Ontario in November 2015, and Mr. Wickham in 2018 received $10,000. Roger Love, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre who represented Mr. Wickham, said, “it’s a common misconception that anti-black racism occurs only at the hands of white individuals and that many cases his office handles to deal with racialized perpetrators.”

“Unfortunately, there’s the notion that some races are more valued than others and often the idea is that blacks are the least worthy,” he said. “So whoever else feels like they’re above a black person on that hierarchy can subject black people to anti-black racism.”

“Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters said he doesn’t know how prevalent experiences like Mr. Wickham’s are because though it is widely reported that black people experience profiling, they face many barriers in seeking justice: the human-rights complaints process can be difficult to navigate, lawyers are expensive and cases that deal with race are often very difficult to establish and prove, he said.”

How do we teach Anti-Black Racism to New Canadians? Racism has a long history in Canada, starting with our Indigenous First Nations. New Canadians can learn the stigmas that exist, and it is this concern that I raise the question: how do we educate New Canadians before they get these learned behaviours which they can learn from their interactions within the system and with other Canadians.

You can read Ontario’s, but there is nothing in this strategy that educates New Canadians. Perhaps Mr. Floyd’s murder in the USA, which has brought the message to Canada, can help all of us. This is a moment for all of us. If we do not make the needed changes, who will?

Maybe we do not need education for New Canadians but recognizing the United NationsInternational Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024) to formally acknowledge that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose rights must be promoted and protected in Canada.
Promoting these rights and educating all Canadians that Anit Black Racism is long-standing and different from the wider understandings of Racism which is also painful. Listen to this tweet from

Cameron Welch who took to TikTok to share the rules his mom makes him follow as a young black man in America.  

I have heard the same rules given by Black Canadian parents to their children in Toronto.

After listening to Cameron Welch, and reading Canda’s history, I rest my case that Anti Black Racism is different from the Racism that I have experienced both Systemic and in my everyday life.

In Canada, we say that it is from the Bible that helped structure our laws due to the early settlers. The following states:
God cares how we treat each other because we’re all created in His image (Genesis 1:27). He makes no distinction between the inherent value of one race or ethnicity over another.

  • God cares about people regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, and social status (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).
 Apart from policing, let’s address Black Racism via the Social Determinants of health.
The Globe and Mail

Canada and COVID19

COVID19 has been with us since March 2020 and many of us have been physically distancing, working from home and feel isolated. The TV, Zoom, Netflix has become our best friends.

Having read articles, and listened to our PM on what our government is doing for us, I decided to place some links for you to follow if you need Mental Health advice or if you know a student or are a student who needs financial help. I hope this helps.

Mental Health

Student aid






Mike Sloan (@mikelondoncan) · Twitter – My tribute

A tribute is something that you say, or write that shows your admiration, gratitude, and also to show respect.

I have been following Mike on Twitter who has taught me to laugh in spite of death knocking at his door. He is wise and I want to pay him a small tribute for his life while he is still living in London Ontario. Every day I go to his twitter account to find out how he is doing and then find that he has posted the progress of his illness and then a witty post. His cat is important and I understand the role of our four-legged family who are there with us in time of need. Thank you, Mike, for allowing so many of us into your world and sharing so many meaningful insights into what is going on in this stage of your life.

Please read this that appeared on CTV and remember to live each day.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford – watch his actions

Jordan B Peterson


The faster the Ontario Human Rights Commission is abolished, the better @fordnation. There isn’t a more dangerous organization in Canada, with the possible exception of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education:

Seems like Doug Ford listens to the people- like Jordan B Peterson who was calling for the Human Rights Commission to be abolished. 
“The Ford government ordered Ontario’s universities and colleges last summer to put in place policies by the end of 2018 guaranteeing free speech, or they would face funding cuts.”

Daisy will no longer be posting to her blog

I forgot to let you know that our wonderful Daisy went to Kitty Heaven in March 2018 after 15 years of love and confort to her human family.


Till we meet again

Well, this part of the blog will  no longer have post. Francisco Antonio De La Maza (Paco) will be missed.

June 19, 2018. RIP – Till we meet again.



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