A group of Canadian students from Brandon university in Brandon, Man., Canada, and American students from Minot State university gathered together in the International Peace Gardens for the 57th annual Peace Garden Conference on Oct. 16.
This particular conference was dedicated to the memory of David McLeod, a professor from Brandon University who had helped plan the conference for most of the 57 years it had been going.
Several students, both American and Canadian, had previously prepared papers to present to the group as conversation starters.
Submitted Photo --
Minot State University students attended the 57th Annual Peace Garden Conference on Oct. 16 also attended by students from Brandon University in Brandon, Man.
The first topic of the morning was border patrol. The paper presented was titled: "A Comparison of Canadian and Border Issues: Development and Underdevelopment." It was presented by a Brandon student who had previously worked on the border.
His paper stated that the U.S. government wants to view both its borders as the same although there are major differences. With the Mexican border, there are many more issues with people coming in to the country illegally and trying to work, but with Canada this problem is much smaller.
The U.S. government wants to rebuild many of the posts within Canada, even the ones that average about five cars a day at its busiest. The cheapest remodel would cost at least $11 million in taxpayer money.
Who was there
Participants included Laura Bakke, Belinda Blowers, Joshua Brown, Trina Cooper, Paige Gray, Aaron Gyles, Caleb Karna, Jamie Larson, Jordan Mack, Brita Martin, Jordan Maurer, Nikki Nolden, McKenzie Sellie, Nathen Shaw, Josh Stevens, Teddy Thorsgaard, Zachary Walls and Liz Warsocki. Faculty were Jynette Larson and Ernst Pijning.
The paper also argued the need for border patrolmen from Canada to have some kind of firearm. Many of them only have pepper spray and a club to use against people who would try to attack them while they are being checked.
This paper brought out a lot of opinions. There were horror stories from people about border crossings that had taken four hours because they had to have their cars taken apart or they had to be questioned for long periods of time because they seemed to be "up to something." Many of the arguments stated the patrolmen need to use better judgment and not pick on certain people because of their looks or where they are from.
Another issue brought up from this paper was the issue of all space between the crossings. With all the open fields and rivers in North Dakota that span the border, it was argued that both the U.S. and Canadian governments should spend more money patrolling those places instead of just roads.
Two different papers discussed health care.
The first paper was presented by a Brandon student. It was titled "Health Care: Fight for the Right." His paper was about health care in Canada and how the United States needs this health care because some 15 percent of Americans don't have health insurance and one of the leading reasons that many people have to file for bankruptcy is because of medical bills and not being able to pay for it.
Canada pays 70 percent of their total health-care needs through their taxes and Americans already pay 60 percent for similar reasons but not everyone has health coverage. America is one of the strongest and richest countries in the world yet has one of the highest infant mortality rates.
Another issue in the paper was paying for private insurance and how much people pay for their insurance. Most of the time they are paying for their treatments 20 times over before they even get the treatment because of how much their insurance cost and how hard it is to get.
This topic brought on a great amount of discussion. Some argued they didn't want to pay for other people's mistakes. For instance, if a person smoked and became sick with cancer, some people at the conference thought it wouldn't affect them if an unknown person died because they couldn't afford medical care. Someone argued against this point, saying you should help others that aren't as fortunate as yourself. The statement that the U.S. needs to have universal health care because in the long run it will greatly hurt Americans brought on a heated discussion for the afternoon sessions.
During the afternoon session, many interesting topics were discussed, including the controversial issue of health-care reform in both countries.
The second discussion was prompted by Minot State student Melissa Elker with a paper titled "The Future of Health Care." Although her paper focused on the health care issue in the United States, both countries were mentioned.
The discussion following was varied and everyone had thoughts and opinions. The main question asked by Elker was whether our health care system here in the United States is sustainable and what is its future?
Students from both schools agreed on the fact that each system has holes, but also recognized some points of the current systems are beneficial. These thoughts were further expressed by ideas of the health-care system in the U.S., in which government, state officials and prisoners are receiving public health care, paid for by taxes, while everyday Americans struggle to get and retain health care. A Canadian student asked, "Why should only these people receive that same right?"
Also discussed was the waiting list for medical care in Canada. Although everyone is provided "free" health care through the public health-care system, they could wait huge lengths of time before actually receiving it. So in this system, one problem feeds into another. The schooling is federally funded, but there are only a certain amount of spaces in these schools. This leads to a lack of doctors, which in turn leads to the long waiting list. So the question remained: Which system is better, is either one better, and how could we meld the good parts together to retain a useful system for us all?
The other topics discussed throughout the day were on President Barack Obama's and Prime Minister Stephan Harper's administrations, and also on the war in Afghanistan. A few questions asked were, "will receiving the Nobel peace prize affect Obama's strategies at war, and what is the future of Afghanistan? Is there a potential for peaceful government or should the effort be forgotten?"
All students agreed the war in Afghanistan has built a stronger bond between Canada and U.S,, but Canada has determined to pull out of the war in 2011, and worry that may leave Americans to pick up the slack.
All of these issues in both countries are controversial, and it's proving difficult to find a solution. A Canadian student summed it well with a comparison of drips in a glass. He said drips of water in a glass may seem tiny and useless alone, but eventually the glass will be full. Just as in the efforts being made in health-care reform and the war in Afghanistan, the small movements being made will lead to a bigger picture. These ideas can also be summed up by a quote by Obama, "Success is not something to wait for, it is something to strive for."
Minot State University students Belinda Blowers and McKenzie Sellie participated in the 57th Annual Peace Garden Conference.