Friday, October 23, 2009
I can’t imagine the fear a child must feel when he or she no longer has a parent they can rely on or have faith in. Many children throughout this world are in this position. Some babies are born only to be orphaned: some lose their parents to war, natural disaster, disease, and even ethnic cleansing.
But what might seem an even greater tragedy are those children that are emotionally orphaned. Boys and girls living with parents that are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive. The parent is there, but instead of providing a nurturing, healthy and productive environment to grow up in, the child lives with fear, led to believe that they are at fault.
Unfortunately there are children living like this in our own communities. Living in our neighborhoods, not some third-world country half a planet away. They might even be living next door.
We are fortunate in Canada to be blessed with many resources to ease the difficulties in our lives. One is the Kids Help Phone. http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/ Kids Help Phone offers abused children and teens a phone number they can call or an email address they can write to where they can ask questions and receive answers to the most serious of their concerns. A good friend and neighbor of mine dedicates much of her time to helping this resource procure the money (and awareness) required to offer this service.
Charmaine Loverin, survivor of child sex abuse uses her art as a vehicle to drive awareness to organizations that are making a profound change to protect our children. Three out of five children sexually abused are abused by someone they trust. She wants our children to truly distinguish what trust looks like and this campaign is a way of showing how Kids Help is making a difference for our kids who are leaning more towards speaking through the Internet. Kids Help Phone is all about helping kids in more ways than one.
I Have Something to Say
PR Release, October 2009
If you would like to support Charmaine’s cause (or simply offer her encouragement) you can contact her on Facebook: She’ll be in my friends list. Or simply go the her website, http://www.charmaineloverin.ca/
October is Childhood Abuse Prevention Month. Let’s all do something, no matter how big or small, to make life for the children in our communities healthier, rewarding and productive. But most of all, safe for them in their homes. What you do is up to you.
Monday, October 12, 2009
How Much Time Do You Have?
Let’s not fool ourselves. We really don’t have less time today than we did years ago. Sure, it seems like we have more to do, we seem to have more pressing responsibilities. But really, we don’t have less time. We simply have different priorities. And maybe different wants. But our needs haven’t really changed. And we still do have the same amount of time.
We just want to do more.
But what do we want to do more of?
I know some people that are doing more. What they’re doing though is helping their less fortunate friends, neighbors and fellow citizens; citizens of this country and of the planet.
A few of my friends have made the choice to use their time, and not just their spare time, to help make the world better for those that are disadvantaged.
I’d like all my followers to check out a blog with images contributed by a client of mine. Actually, I’d rather call her a friend. Her name’s Catherine, she’s a talented photographer and a wonderful personality. Since late last month she’s been in Africa documenting the work of a group of teenage girls from the Toronto area as they try to help a group of their peers in east Africa.
Here’s the link: girlimpact.org
After you read of the volunteer work Catherine’s involved with, check out her personal blog: www.documentographer.com/blog . I check it quite frequently. And her images are beautiful.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Preserving the Past
I’ve been driving now for 27 years. Yesterday though was the first time I’ve ever run out of gas! Now there was that time in the UK when I realised I wasn’t going to make it as far as the gas station (petrol in the UK of course) but my aunt drove me and a jerry can to the station and back.
Today found me accelerating up a hill and as I changed to third the hesitation was unmistakably brought on by a lack of fuel. Sure enough, a hundred meters or so later the bike was going nowhere. The fuel switch indicated I had already depleted the reserve tank. There was nothing to do but pull to the side.
Half an hour later my brother had arrived with a litre or two and I was off again but this time headed straight to the local Shell station.
Later that evening at a family bar b’que that quick cell phone call to Matthew got us all talking about just how far our ability to communicate one with another has come over the years. Less than 45 years ago some of us didn’t even have a phone. Twenty years ago we were still using a party line at Dave’s cottage. Now I don’t even have a land line; I use a cell phone for everything.
So what did we do in the past? It would have been a long walk to get gas, or at least half an hour to a pay-phone, maybe longer. Would I have been better prepared? Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten myself into the situation at all. Or maybe many years ago I’d have considered the time to walk for gas not as inconvenient as I would now?
Let’s face it, we manage our time, and expect more from it now than we ever did! We used our time for different chores. Twenty years ago, forty years ago and especially one-hundred years ago our time was used to do things that modern conveniences no longer require of us. But now we have less time!
Last week I noticed that jars of jam bought at the grocery store have expiry dates on them! They’re preserves! The reason they have expiry dates is because they’re not made with enough sugar! The manufacturers use thickening agents instead of time and sugar to make them set. Then of course some artificial form of preservative; not sugar a natural preservative.
So, what does this have to do with phones and me running out of gas? Throughout the many years you and I have been on this planet there have been many advances to our quality of life. The ones I’m thinking about right now are mostly conveniences. Some of those conveniences are great, cell phones for instance. Look at the time my cell phone saved me yesterday! But some aren’t so great; fruit preserves with expiry dates!
Why don’t we take some of the time saved due to our new conveniences and use it to do some things like we did in the past?
A dozen mason jars will run you between seven-fifty and ten bucks at Canadian Tire. Three dollars will get you a kilo of sugar and your local fruit/veg stand will supply you with enough locally grown fruit to fill those jars for less than five. A packet of gelling agent like Certo will cost you another three dollars, and if you’re patient you can eliminate this item. Four hours and twenty dollars later and you’ve got yourself twelve jars of no “best before” dated, homemade jam. Get organized with five other friends, arrange a swap date and you’ve got twelve jars of six assorted varieties of homemade preserves. Take a trip to the grocery store and those twelve jars of jellies and jams will cost you more than forty dollars!
This week I’m going to preserve an act of the past by preserving the fruits of the present. The use of my cell phone saved me two to three hours at least this Saturday. I’ll use that time later one evening to preserve for my future. I’m looking for five others that would like to join my endeavor and later this month swap preserves.
Who’s up for some preservation?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
There’s no such thing as a free lunch...
It’s hard to go anywhere in the downtown core of Toronto and not be confronted with those that beg. Most ask for change, few are aggressive, But few receive a positive reaction from the public. A lot of us believe that these people are panhandling, lazy, and not wanting to work individuals. And the begging has spread. Living in the beach I see them daily. Sitting on the pavement, begging pennies.
Few of these folks receive more than the quickening of the pace away from them or an “I don’t have any change”. But many of these folks are truly deserving of our change. Or if not our change, maybe a cheap meal. And at least a kind word.
My local grocer has a deli section that sells prepared meals. The packaged ones you grab on the way home late from the office. A chicken leg with rice and some green beans: or mashed potatoes and a pork chop. Later in the evening these hot meals are half-price: guess they’re going to be thrown out anyway. So I’ll grab one with my daily shopping. Then I’ll give it to the panhandler at the corner.
Some of us have been led to believe that beggars are asking for change to buy drugs and alcohol. I’m sure many are. But the majority truly need your loose change to buy a meal. So why not buy them a meal? Or give them an apple from your bag of groceries?
So what do I mean by there being no such thing as a free lunch? Well there are free lunches, aren’t there? A company rep or an important client will quite often buy you lunch. Or your boss buys you lunch. When your boss buys you lunch don’t for one moment think it’s free. You earned that lunch. You also earned the lunch that sales rep bought you. You just didn’t pay for it out of hand.
You went to work one morning with five bucks in your pocket. Your boss bought you lunch. You’re going home that evening with five bucks more in your pocket than expected. So why not use that five-dollar bill to buy the homeless person you see every day on that busy yet lonely street corner?
Believe me, that’s not a free lunch to that person either. That person begging change on the pavement has paid for that meal with their self esteem, their pride and the scorn of most that pass him by.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Lessons learned... or not
Garbage pick up has resumed in this city of ours. Most have had 3 pick-ups. We in the Beach have had two pic ups of garbage and one of recycled materials. Tomorrow we have another pick up of recyclables. We were all inconvenienced by this work stoppage. It made some think quite extensively about the way this city is managed. It made a lot of us question the amount of waste we create. But some have decided that the city, and its residents need to stop creating physical and fiscal waste.
On almost every street corner of this city resides a gaggle of newspaper boxes. Some of them demand coins to open and remove the contents. Others though are open to all and their contents are free to all.
But are they really free?
These free daily periodicals may be free to those that read them, but they’re not free to those that don’t read them. The residents of this city pay for the clean up and disposal of them. Most free newspapers end up littering the streets of our city. They wind up on TTC property, in parks and on park benches, in the gutters and vacant spaces, especially throughout the fringes of the downtown core.
Ironically, most of these publications would want you to believe they promote public awareness and claim the higher ground when environmental issues become the flavor of the day. In fact, the publication most likely to be found littering our streets has just published a cover article entitled “The 100 Mile Myth”. How can a publication promote an ethical environmentally responsible way of life, yet create a publication that encourages litter and wastefulness in the way it delivers its message?
The city would do well to ban free periodic publications. It should at least ban the distribution of unsolicited publications. Ban boxes on street corners that don’t require payment to open. If a publication is free, it should only be available at the publisher’s office or delivered to the reader’s home and only if requested.
Free publications, including mass mailings of junk mail cost us all in disposal fees. We as tax payers pay for the clean up, pick up and disposal of all discarded printed products. No matter if they’re delivered to us free, deposited in newspaper boxes at no charge or simply left at street corners.
Free printed matter, whether advertisement or editorial isn’t free. We all pay for it. If it wasn’t printed no one would have to pay for it. The city should not allow it to be printed in the first place!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I’ve become soft in my old age. I’m really not that old, but I’m older than I was a number of years ago. What do I mean about becoming soft? Well it’s the whole “what you eat is what you are” thing.
Happy city... Happy food
I’ve started buying eggs that are free range. Costs me an extra buck fifty or so. I’ve also started buying pork from the market. What it comes down to is I’ve started buying happy food. If the critter I’m eating was happy throughout its life, it’s gotta be better for me and better for the whole grand scheme of things. Happy food equals happier consumers!
I still hunt, and I still fish. But if I shoot something in the bush, or reel something in on the lake, I know it lead a productive and natural life. A happy life!
If everyone in the city were to buy a dozen free range eggs each month instead of factory eggs, we would be promoting happy chickens and happy food!
I’d much rather eat fried eggs from birds that scratched and picked from the dirt than from some factory floor, in a one foot by one foot square cage.
Let’s eat happy food, and be happier!
Monday, August 17, 2009
If you do not have property in Toronto but wish to grow vegetables or flowers you can apply for an allotment. In my neighborhood there is one at the foot of Leslie St. But there is a long waiting list. If you would like to acquire a small lot to grow your own veggies you need to call the city on February the first. Right away: when you get out of bed: before you put the coffee on! It’s like signing you’re kids up for swimming classes. Thing is though, there are more pools than allotments. And there are less allotment properties than applicants!
Why don’t we have more allotment properties in our city?
There are acres of vacant unused land throughout the city. What would it take to create public allotment gardens, available to the residents of Toronto for a nominal fee from the hundreds of open, public, city owned green spaces that literally litter our city?
The city of Toronto spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to cut grass, prune trees and shrubs, plant annuals and maintain the perennials they plant yearly.
Why not turn a portion of the vast acreage of city, that is unused land, over to the public? They can cultivate it themselves, produce their own veggies and flowers. Self-sufficiencies become tax savings and environmental victories!
I’d like to see the city to go green. I’d LOVE to see the city encourage its citizens to go green, AND become more self-sufficient!
Let’s give those who want to grow green a place to do it! We need more allotments and better access!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Let’s get our city to a higher level of quality living.
If where you live has a back yard, front yard, or terrace, put up a bird house. Or maybe a bat house. Great either way for keeping the bugs down and getting the kids (and us older, don’t want to grow up ones) interested in so much stuff!
First of all there’s the interest in the environment. Then there’s the whole idea of putting hammer to nail and creating something useful. Useful for the little creatures around us.
A bird house, a bat house; less bugs and a great family project!
Send me pictures.
So many people, so little purpose!
...Oh, but that is God's conundrum!
What sense is there to our lives if we lack purpose? If we lack purpose, we live either foolishly or without consideration.
This past Friday afternoon afforded me the best view one can possibly have of my city. (For those of you living afar, I’m referring to Toronto. It’s only my city because that’s where I live and work. On many days I find myself wishing it weren’t my city.) Why was this the best view? Well, at three miles out, on a beam reach doing six and a half knots, Toronto is at it’s best! You can’t hear it, you can’t smell it!
I have my problems with Toronto. I’m sure many people do. I’m sure most people have problems with the areas they live in, be it urban, rural or isolated. Having problems or concerns is one thing, but not doing anything about it is something completely different!
If we honestly care about the environment which we live in, or our interaction with those around us, and think there’s any purpose to our lives, then maybe we should all come up with some constructive ideas to make life better for ourselves and others in our community. It really shouldn’t take much.
I have a challenge to all.
Over the next two weeks I’m going to illustrate ten ideas that I believe will help make this city of ours, or any community for that matter, a better place to live in. Some of my ideas are easily implemented with a simple change in one’s daily routine, others will need the actions of city council. But, all will be within the realms of possibility. No magic, no science fiction!
So, what’s the challenge? Follow through with the implementation of at least half the ideas I publish, or come up with, and fulfill five out of ten of your own ideas. I’ve not completed my list yet, I’ve five or six ideas so far. I’ll post one tonight, later.
Let’s make our world better to live in. For ourselves and those around us. Let’s live with purpose!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Toronto is in the midst of a civic workers’ strike. We won’t discus here who are to blame or where responsibility for this work stoppage lie, but many people do seem to be suffering. I’m not, I’m simply inconvenienced. But I’ve also learnt a few things from it.
There hasn’t been garbage pick-up in over four weeks. That’s what has caused my inconvenience. We’re double bagging, we’re storing our recycle goods and I’m trying to compost more. And it’s made me think. It’s made me look at my lifestyle and come to some uncomfortable realizations.
We have become a wasteful, over-consuming, uncomfortably high densely populated society.
We take no responsibility for the waste we create, for our over-indulgences or our excessive consumerism. What if there never was, ever again a garbage pick up in this city? What would we do with the excess of packaging we accumulate? The food we cook and do not eat? Or for that matter, the food we allow to partially rot in our fridges before tossing away?
Three generations ago we would never have even considered these questions. We would have simply disposed of our own refuse, garbage and waste. But where and how? In the street, the local park or ice rink? NO, on our own property: our back yards, our gardens; where we grew our vegetables and raised our livestock.
We no longer grow or raise our own food. But as consumers we create a greater amount of waste. And we don’t take responsibility for it. And now we are complaining that those we employ to, have neglected their responsibility. A job we, as tax payers, employ them to do; pay them.
As I have before, and will again, let’s separate the politics from this situation. Let’s not lay blame but look at ourselves. There is garbage to dispose of. And as individuals we should be capable of disposing of our own waste.
We should waste less; purchase only that which we are able to consume, and be capable of disposing of all our over indulgences.
Waste not, want not.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Lament for Confederation
How long have I known you, Oh Canada? A hundred years? Yes, a hundred years. And many, many seelanum more. And today, when you celebrate your hundred years, Oh Canada, I am sad for all the Indian people throughout the land.
For I have known you when your forests were mine; when they gave me my meat and my clothing. I have known you in your streams and rivers where your fish flashed and danced in the sun, where the waters said 'come, come and eat of my abundance.' I have known you in the freedom of the winds. And my spirit, like the winds, once roamed your good lands.
But in the long hundred years since the white man came, I have seen my freedom disappear like the salmon going mysteriously out to sea. The white man's strange customs, which I could not understand, pressed down upon me until I could no longer breathe.
When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.
My nation was ignored in your history textbooks - they were little more important in the history of Canada than the buffalo that ranged the plains. I was ridiculed in your plays and motion pictures, and when I drank your fire-water, I got drunk - very, very drunk. And I forgot.
Oh Canada, how can I celebrate with you this Centenary, this hundred years? Shall I thank you for the reserves that are left to me of my beautiful forests? For the canned fish of my rivers? For the loss of my pride and authority, even among my own people? For the lack of my will to fight back? No! I must forget what's past and gone.
Oh God in heaven! Give me back the courage of the olden chiefs. Let me wrestle with my surroundings. Let me again, as in the days of old, dominate my environment. Let me humbly accept this new culture and through it rise up and go on.
Oh God! Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man's success-his education, his skills- and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society.
Before I follow the great chiefs who have gone before us, Oh Canada, I shall see these things come to pass. I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land.
So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation. So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.
Chief Dan George, July 1st, 1967.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
During the middle of the nineteenth century, the art and science of photography took a hold on the world. It is impossible to live a day now and not somehow be affected by a photographic image. Photography allows us to capture a moment-in-time, create an image and show it to the world. What would we do without it? Or better yet, what did we do without it?
Once upon a time man used oils, pigments, charcoals; he reproduce the visions he had of the world. He reproduced peoples’ faces: scenes of combat, scenes of beauty: landscapes and cityscapes: urban and rural.
With the advent of photography, the reproduction of life as we saw it became obsolete: at least to the painter. Because of this the age of Impressionism happened.
The age of Impressionism gave us Monet and Renoir. We were shown the talent of Alfred Sisley and Mary Cassatt. There are the beautiful scenes of harvest by Pissarro and the harbor scenes by Morisot.
But what of the greatest Impressionist of all time? A Canadian. Tom Thomson.
Tom was born August the fifth 1877, and he died in his fortieth year of unknown causes.
But he died doing what he loved and in the land he chose to recreate for the world to see: on canvas and in oil.
On that day he set forth in his canoe with his paints and fishing gear. His body wasn’t discovered for many days later. But the treasures he left Canadians are there for all to discover.
Each time that I wander into the bush, whether with my camera, fishing rod or rifle, I’m looking for that same scene that Tom Thomson saw when he gave us Jack Pines.
Tom Thomson recorded for us a Canada that all Canadians should have a great appreciation for. He gave us the Birches, Jack Pine and the Pool. Tom saw Canada as we all should. As beauty, serenity and as proof that God exists. Because Canada does.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
How many Canadians can boast of an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination, a Golden Laurel Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award and a New York Film Critics Circle Award? All in the same year and all for portraying the same historical figure on film. And at the wise age of 72!
He was born Tes-Wah-No, and as a young boy was known as Dan Slaholt. Upon entering boarding school he took his father’s first name as his last, because speaking his tribal tongue was forbidden as were native Canadian names. After leaving school he worked as a longshoreman, a logger and a construction worker. His first acting role was not until he was in his mid sixties. But his most important job, and the name we all know him by came about in 1951.
In 1951 Tes-Wah-No became Chief Dan George. By the mid sixties he was a household name in North America. And in 1967 he gave the speech that would bring him to the fore front of the native rights movement.
The speech was entitled Lament For Confederation. He delivered it before 35,000 people on July first, Canada Day, 1967: Canada’s 100th anniversary. He delivered this speech in the hopes it would boost the self-esteem of his fellow natives, showing and imploring them that anyone could succeed as he had, anyone from a disadvantaged background: anyone, even if their government had suppressed them and denied them their true identity.
All true Canadians, new and old, should read Chief Dan George’s soliloquy Lament for Confederation. There’s a lesson in it for all of us. Chief Dan George would be happy to know his words had not fallen on deaf ears and were being heard 42 years later.
Hail to and respect the Chief.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
In Hastings England, on the grounds of the William Parker School, formerly the Hastings Grammar School, grows a Canadian Red Maple. A number of blocks from the school is plaque of commemoration. Four miles to the east, at the Hastings Park ranger station, there is another commemorative plaque. And back in town, at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery there is a life size replica of a log cabin which once sat at a lake side in the Canadian wilderness.
The plaque commemorates Archibald Belaney. Otherwise known as Grey Owl.
Here’s a man that has greater recognition from, and status in, the country he left and denied any physical link to. Archibald became Grey Owl. A man with a history as Canadian as one could ever imagine. But there is more dedication to his existence by the community that he left and denied any common history with.
Grey Owl is the grandfather of the conservation/environmental movement in Canada: maybe the world. And if it weren’t for Grey Owl the beaver would not be one of our national symbols. If it weren’t for Grey Owl the beaver just might be extinct! Has anyone looked at a nickel lately?
Every Canadian should know who Jellyroll and Rawhide were. If they don’t they need to find out.
Every Canadian needs to understand what it means to uproot one’s self from a culture and become part of another. Then become Canadian. And then to contribute to that culture.
Archibald became Canadian. We all need to become Grey Owl.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
When I was seven I was hospitalized for a ruptured appendicitis. Not a fun few weeks: but that’s a story for another time. Before I was hospitalized my mum was reading a book to me at bedtime each night. A chapter a night. No chapter the night of surgery.
That book became very important to me. It became the first real novel I read on my own. My mum read a chapter or two during visiting hours. That was not enough. She left it with me and I finished it.
The book was “Owls In The Family”. The author, Farley Mowat. I went on to read many more of his novels.
They were stories that concerned Canadians. Young and old. They were growing up in urban communities, they were lost in the far north or they were fighting in the trenches of Europe. They owned dogs, or lived with dogs. They built boats and sailed them. They traveled to this great land and they traveled away from it. These characters loved Canada. These characters were Canada.
Farley Mowat is overlooked. His example of Canadian culture is ignored. But Farley Mowat is a true Canadian. His books should be compulsory reading for all Canadian students. Every new Canadian should be expected to have an understanding of Farley Mowat’s Canada.
Farley Mowat’s Canada is my Canada.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Canada enters its 143rd year this coming Wednesday. I’ve been here for 44 of them. That’s almost a third of Canada’s existence as a free independent state. A lot has changed in those 44 years! But you can’t change history! And you can’t change the characters that built that history. Unfortunately though, you can ignore them. And in Canada, I think we have.
Over the last few years we’ve watched as main stream media has told us who have been the most influential and important Canadians, which Canadians are a representation of that ever elusive true Canadian character. Watch this spot over the next week as I write about Canadians I believe to be the most important and representative of true Canadian character and culture.
Many will disagree with my choices but I hope it will encourage them and others to examine what the country means to them. And what really is the character of Canada.