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  • The air is cold and biting. With the wind chill it feels like minus 30.

    It’s the kind of cold that there is little defending against. It simply rips through your clothing like a knife though paper. I’m lying on the road in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in downtown Toronto.

    And it too, is cold and hard. I check the traffic lights.

    20,19,18.

    Being on the ground, with cars on all sides is mildly unnerving. Even while under the protective eye of the Toronto police, who stand off to the side, watching. The stream of pedestrians stepping over and around my body does nothing to comfort me.

    Check the lights again,

    12,11,10.

    Despite the cold, I must work my camera. Which means my hands must be exposed. Which means my hands have lost all feeling from the wind, and keeping them steady is near impossible.

    My lack of sleep over the last three days is not helping any aspect of this situation.

    3,2,1.

    I get up and run back to the corner.

    If you’re thinking that scenario sounds anything less than pleasant, you’d be entirely right.

    But if you’re thinking that it sounds like anything less than the most meaningful action that I’ve ever taken part in…

    … you’d be wrong.

    Looking back at my first and second years of university - times marked by intense feelings of dissatisfaction, by a lack of purpose, and by a desire to walk away from it all - and comparing them to my feelings while lying at Yonge and Dundas, it may be hard to fathom how the jump between the two came about.

    The easy answer is my work with Oxfam. It was through that work that meaningless essays were replaced by fundraising events.

    Unfulfilling lectures were replaced by rich and deep outreach conversations, with educational opportunities, with political advocacy, and with an ever-expanding Oxfamily.

    It was through OXFAM that I was given a deep sense of meaning and direction, two things school had simply failed to offer. As incredible as those experiences have been however, meaning and direction will only get you so far in minus 30-degree weather.

    NO. What was needed to end up on the ground that day was OUTRAGE.

    … outrage at seeing in video form how effective AIDS medication was.

    … at learning that Canada had the opportunity through bill C393 to provide generic versions of these drugs at low cost to those in need around the world.

    … outrage at learning this opportunity was not being taken.

    … outrage at a failure to act.

    … outrage at a failure to save lives.

    YES, it was outrage that made me lie down in the cold and it is outrage that will keep me doing so,

    until changes are made.

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