For many newcomers to Canada, political engagement is not an immediate priority. Immigration poses challenges, learning a new language, navigating a new community, seeking employment, finding housing, and so much more. It can be completely overwhelming for those newly arrived. But according to Adriana Salazar, a Toronto-based project co-ordinator at Toronto's Mennonite New Life Centre, civic participation is crucial for newcomers who seek to make a life for themselves within Canadian society.
On Wednesday both pro-government and opposition supporters held large marches in Caracas, as well as smaller ones around the country, to mark International Workers Day. While government supporters celebrated a minimum wage increase and the new labour law, opponents of the government demanded a "fair wage."
President Nicolas Maduro marched with the pro-government march in Caracas, while opposition leader Henrique Capriles also marched with his supporters in the eastern part of the capital.
Two marches in Caracas: A city and country divided
The following open letter is addressed to Jim Karygiannis: Liberal Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt.
I would like to bring to your attention my grave concern over your actions and comments that undermine the sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and contribute to the political polarization in Venezuela. By neglecting the facts you are doing a disservice to Canadians and Venezuelans alike, and adding fuel to a conflict that can only be resolved internally.
Alberto Garcia lives in the Petare barrio, in the east of Caracas, but was born in Maracaibo, Zulia state. Like thousands of others, he didn't wait for election results to be announced before taking to Avenida Urdaneta, the road which runs through the centre of the capital up to Miraflores, the Presidential palace.
"Chavez is more dangerous now he has died than when he was alive," Alberto tells me. "He liberated us from the imperialist powers ... here, we have democracy!"
Fifteen year-old Jonayca is also in the crowds, too young to vote, surrounded by a group of friends from school. "We are here for our future," he says, "we want to defend our country."
Best-of-the-net video from The Real News Network: An interivew with Greg Wilpert on the narrow election victory by Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Sol has a long journey to get to work every day, living in Junquitos, an hour's bus drive into the mountains outside of Caracas.
On Sunday, the collectively-run café she works at was shut, but Sol was awake even earlier than usual. At 3a.m., she was helping to organise her local voting station and making sure people knew which table they were registered to vote at. By 8a.m., she was driving around in a car, looking for disabled or elderly people who might need help walking to their voting station. "Of course, we all need to vote," Sol says, "they will not return."