Taroudant – Following United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recent blunders over the issue of the Sahara, the Jewish Moroccan Community of Toronto, Canada has issued a statement expressing its solidarity with and commitment to Morocco and its sovereignty over the Sahara.In an exclusive press release issued to Morocco World News, the president of the Jewish Moroccan Community of Toronto Simon Keslassy said that the Jewish community in Toronto hails “the peaceful march held Sunday in Rabat” as “a solemn moment to reaffirm loudly that the Sahara was, is and will always be Moroccan and an integral and indivisible part of the territorial integrity of the Kingdom.”The Jewish community said that “our hearts and our souls are present in Morocco to celebrate with our compatriots this great peaceful and civilized march,” despite the long distance which keeps us apart. The statement affirmed “Our bonds of fidelity and loyalty to our most respected and beloved His Majesty King Mohammed VI –- May God glorify him — and our unwavering commitment to the glorious Alawite Throne.”The Moroccan Jews of Toronto said that they remain very attached to “our native country, Morocco,” adding that they are “united and strongly mobilized behind our Sovereign to thwart the maneuvers and conspiracies of the enemies.”They added that they are all mobilized to defend Morocco’s national sovereignty and ready to defend the very relevant, realistic, and credible initiatives that Morocco has presented to end permanently the issue of the Sahara.“We made it our patriotic duty to lobby in the new federal government of Canada so that Canada can join the community of nations that support our cause, the Moroccan Sahara.”During his recent visit to Tindouf and Algiers on the Sahara issue, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon abandoned his diplomatically required impartiality and neutrality and described Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces as an “occupation.”After Ban Ki-moon’s unprecedented remarks, Morocco organized a march on March 13 in Rabat, where more than three million people from all regions of Morocco marched and raised patriotic slogans denouncing the United Nations Secretary General’s statements regarding the Sahara.The Moroccan government released a press release expressing its strongest protest against the remarks made by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his visit.
Melissa Kuzler shares her story about mental illness at last week’s Mental Health Innovation Forum.It started with incapacitating headaches that would turn Melissa Kuzler’s world upside down.A visit to her family doctor to find out what was wrong would leave her shaken.It was 2009 and Kuzler, who was attending college, was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. It explained the headaches, her feelings of loneliness, and the changes to her eating and sleeping patterns, but it did little else to help her at the time.“I had a hard time accepting the diagnosis. I began to self harm and had thoughts of suicide,” Kuzler told the crowd at last week’s Mental Health Innovation Forum in Pond Inlet.After Kuzler got her diagnosis, she lost her job, left school and “slept so much, hoping to escape the pain I was feeling; hoping I would wake up happy – or not at all.” She tried to take her own life.She existed in a dark place with little support from the people in her life, who offered only platitudes or dismissed how she was feeling. She was fine, or simply being a drama queen, they told her.But somewhere within Kuzler, a feeling persisted. It was hope.Though its appearances would be fleeting during the next few years, the glimmers of it that she saw compelled her to prove she could be successful in spite of her mental health issues. She enrolled at Brock in 2010 and set her sights set on a degree in psychology.After struggling to get through her first year, including attempting suicide for a second time, she worked up the courage to connect with a caseworker at Services for Students with Disabilities, a brave move that proved to be a turning point.“I realized she just genuinely cared about me and wanted to see me succeed. I think this is when I accepted my diagnosis,” Kuzler recalled.There were still moments when she would be overcome and had to push herself out of a deep low. There were still thoughts of suicide, too. Still times when she would self harm.And still thoughts of hope.“I still hoped that I would pass and graduate and succeed,” Kuzler said.She did. Last year, she completed her four-year psychology degree. Today, she works as a teaching assistant and speaks regularly about her depression with the intent of educating people about living with mental health issues and prevailing.Kuzler took a deep breath and paused thoughtfully before launching into her story at Monday’s forum, the final workshop in a two-year joint initiative with Niagara College, Pathstone Mental Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association aimed at addressing mental health challenges faced by post-secondary students.Called More Feet on the Ground, the initiative’s goal is to train faculty, staff and students how to recognize, respond to and refer to treatment those university and college students who are experiencing struggles with mental health. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.The approach includes an online training tool that has been used so far by 635 people at Brock, Niagara College and elsewhere.History professor Mike Driedger is one of them. The training has given him greater understanding of the student experience he said.“It’s really important for us as educators because we see a large sea of students in the classroom that we’d like to get to know but can’t,” Driedger explained.But he noted faculty are there to support students and that includes being able to recognize when things are not right, responding accordingly and referring students to help.“When we’re in our complicated role as educators, it’s really helpful to have that straightforward recognize, respond, refer tool to know what to do and if we don’t, our job is made easier by this large network (of people who can help) that keeps growing,” he said.The more who do recognize when someone is struggling, and talk openly and sensitively about it, the better, Kuzler noted.“Contrary to the stigma, mental health (issues) are not a sign of weakness that we should silence,” she said. “Let’s engage in the transformative powers of talk and never stop.”