Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

TVO Launches New Digital Public Archive #retro

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Radio Podcasts, Sports, Technology, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on February 28, 2011 at 1:00 AM

Polka Dot Door – Photo Courtesy of CNW

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Explore four decades of historic TVO gems at

February 23, 2011 @ 08:00AM

Toronto – TVO is pleased to announce the launch of its new digital Public Archive, a free online resource that unlocks four decades of made-at-TVO educational programming that stands the test of time.

The centerpiece of TVO’s 40th-anniversary celebrations, TVO’s Public Archive is full of rare moments in television history including:

* popular Saturday Night at the Movies host Elwy Yost’s conversations with film legends of the 70s and 80s;
* insights from some of the greatest minds in science and technology like Richard Dawkins, John Polanyi, Carl Sagan and Steve Wozniak;
* interviews with political leaders including every Ontario Premier since John Robarts;
* rare moments with Canadian icons like Mordecai Richler, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and John Candy;
* and Canadian heroes like Jane Jacobs, June Callwood, and Roberta Bondar.

TVO’s Public Archive features beloved TVO programs that have defined TVO over the years. It launches with over 375 programs and segments that would take more than five days to watch. The site includes episodes of Polka Dot Door, Today’s Special, Prisoners of Gravity, Imprint, Realities, Studio 2, the interviews portion of Saturday Night at the Movies, The Education of Mike McManus, Between the Lines and more. It also includes the new “Think Again” podcast series where programs are re-cut and re-mixed, examining important issues and placing them in context of the world today. New content will be added to the Public Archive regularly.

TVO’s Public Archive is a valuable resource for researchers, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and anyone who wants to learn more about the cultural history that has made Ontario what it is today. Visit to explore content by program title, year, guest, subject or playlist.

To book an interview with CEO Lisa de Wilde or a virtual tour of TVO’s Public Archive with Producer Craig Desson, please contact Lesley Slack at (416) 484-2600 x 2281 or email

“Our Public Archive is full of nostalgia, but it is much more than that. It’s a place where all Ontarians can hear from some of the best thinkers and writers of our time talking about what matters. It is also a creative space where vintage TVO programs are re-cut and re-mixed to address contemporary issues in the new Think Again podcast series.”


Craig Desson, Producer

“The launch of our Public Archive is one of TVO’s most ambitious projects to date. We’re delighted to both enrich the availability of smart online Canadian media content and re-introduce some of the programs that have made TVO such an important part of life in Ontario.

Everything we do at TVO is about engaging people in ideas and issues that are shaping our province and our world. We view our Public Archive as an ‘archive of ideas’ that adds historical context to the political, cultural, social and economic themes we are exploring today.”


Lisa de Wilde, CEO

About TVO
TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. Celebrating 40 years, TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and supported by thousands of donors. For more information, visit

Where to Find TVO

On air:

Cable channel 2 (may vary in some areas),

Rogers TVO HD channel 580

Bell TV channel 265

Star Choice channel 353





Rogers On Demand

Rogers On Demand Online





Hundreds of Digital Media Enthusiasts Gather for PodCamp Toronto

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on February 27, 2011 at 1:00 AM

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Canada’s Largest digital media unconference draws passionate amateurs and professionals together to share and learn

February 25, 2011 @ 01:00PM

Digital media enthusiasts of all stripes are converging on the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson University on Saturday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, Feb. 27 for the fifth annual PodCamp Toronto. Last year 900 people from Toronto’s new media community attended during our two-day unconference. Organizers are confident of a good turnout with (at the time of this writing) over 1,300 people signed up to attend this year’s event.

PodCamp Toronto is a facilitated, participant-driven event centred on digital and social media. The firstPodCamp was held in Boston in 2006. Since then new media communities in numerous cities have held PodCamps.

The PodCamp Toronto community is a diverse group of participants who are amateur and professional content creators and communicators. This includes folks from all kinds of different areas of new media – writers, producers, photographers, designers, podcasters, developers, and bloggers.

When someone signs up to attend PodCamp they become a participant. Because we’re a unconference, we ask our participants to provide the programming and sessions. To speak at PodCamp is to share knowledge, expertise, and perspective while facilitating a discussion. Participants at PodCamp bring their curiosity and passion for digital media. Participants at PodCamp exercise the “Law of Two Feet”. When a participant finds they are not learning or contributing to the discussion, they must find a discussion where they can learn something by taking their “two feet” elsewhere. Participants also cross-pollinate ideas by spreading discussion ideas as they go. In addition to lots of conversation in the halls, last year, we had a vibrant Twitter stream of ideas emerging from sessions.

PodCamp Toronto is a not-for-profit event organized by volunteers and operated under a licensing agreement with The PodCamp Foundation.

PodCamp Toronto 2011 is a free event thanks to the generous support of our tremendous sponsors.

Canada poised to become northern tiger

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 26, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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U.S. could lose business to Canada, according to new comparison of tax regimes

February 23, 2011 @ 08:00PM

Today, Prof. Jack Mintz, director of The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, released a paper co-authored by Duanjie Chen analyzing tax regimes of 83 developed and developing countries. In a global economy, this kind of comparison is a strong indicator of future investment, job and economic growth for those countries.

“Over time, wage rates will slowly equalize around the world, so we are getting to the place where tax rates on business will be a key factor in determining where capital flows and business sets up shop,” Mintz said.

Mintz has frank advice for the United States: “Either reduce your exorbitant taxes on corporations and get in line with international rates, or face a bleeding of capital, business and jobs to more competitive countries, including Canada because of its geographic proximity, as well as developing nations.”

While Canada finished mid-pack amongst the countries studied, this is a vast improvement over competitiveness just six years ago.

“In 2005, Canada was the fourth highest taxed jurisdiction in the world. Since then, corporate tax cuts in Canada have made Canada an attractive place to do business – but there’s still work to do.” Mintz said. “Corporate taxes should still be reduced further, and to scrap planned corporate taxes reductions would be a job killer – plain and simple.”

Is Canada on its way to becoming a northern tiger? “Yes,” said Mintz. “The future looks bright for Canada. The combination of resource wealth, a favourable tax regime and our proximity to the U.S. is very positive.”

There are, however, two clouds on the horizon.

“The threat posed by the unfavourable U.S. tax regime is so great, that the damage done to the U.S. economy could seriously affect Canada. And the political threat to continued corporate tax cuts could send uncompetitive signals to global businesses. We need those cuts to take Canada to the OECD competitive average, and businesses have already factored in those cuts.”

A copy of the paper is available at under the “latest papers” section.

Making A Difference For Kids On Family Day

In Beauty, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 25, 2011 at 1:00 AM

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February 23, 2011 @ 02:00PM

Ottawa – On Ontario, Family Day families braved the bitter cold to make colourful snow angels on Parliament Hill. Each snow angel represents a child in care or future children in the care of a Children’s Aid Society in Eastern Ontario that is ‘waiting’ for a family today or may need a family tomorrow. ‘Waiting’ is not in the literal sense, but rather a notion that due to a limited number of foster families currently available, some children and youth may be with families that are challenged to meet their specific needs. Also, youth currently in group care, may not get the chance to experience family-based care due to the shortage of foster homes. On any given day, we have 1,100 foster families for 3,200 children in care in Eastern Ontario.

We’re always going to needy families; unfortunately, there will always be children and youth who must come into care, each with their own individual needs. We need the opportunity and the option to place them with a family that best suits their needs. The children and youth in care are as diverse as the families we see today. It’s important that we have a similar diversity in our population of foster parents to care for them.

This fun, family event is held each year to celebrate families, acknowledge the work of foster and adoptive families, and build the awareness of the need for more foster and adoptive families.

The adult population of Eastern Ontario is a little over 1 million. If 1% of that population came forward to become a family for children in care…all children in care would have the opportunity to connect with a family that can provide them with life-changing experiences and long-lasting relationships.

For more information on fostering and or adopting in Ottawa visit For information on fostering or adopting in Eastern Ontario, visit

New Annual “BlackCreek Summer Music Festival” Set to Launch in Toronto in June 2011 at the Rexall Centre at York University

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 24, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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Inaugural Season to Feature Symphonic, Pop, Opera, Jazz, Broadway, Country and World Music Concerts With Renowned Artists Including Plácido Domingo, James Taylor, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, The London Symphony Orchestra, Conductors Lorin Maazel and Marvin Hamlisch, and Classical Concerts Featuring Spoken Performances by Dame Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones.

February 23, 2011 @ 10:00AM

Toronto, ON – Beginning on June 4, 2011, with Plácido Domingo in concert, and with such renowned artists as James Taylor, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones and the London Symphony Orchestra to follow, the new BlackCreek Summer Music Festival will launch its inaugural season at the Rexall Centre on the grounds of York University in Toronto. The 2011 season spans 14 weeks, from June to September, and includes a wide array of programs by some of the most revered names in pop and jazz, along with rousing symphonic evenings, Broadway showstoppers, world music and iconic country artists, all performing “under the stars.”

“The Rexall Centre, with its ideal octagonal amphitheatre configuration, has been re-imagined as a brilliant new concert venue,” commented Kevin Albrecht, CEO of iSport Concerts Ltd. and the BlackCreek Limited Partnership, producers of the Festival. “It will offer excellent sightlines; state-of-the-art lighting, video, and sound design; and, most importantly, an intimate connection to the stage. The BlackCreek festival will provide a superior entertainment experience; one that is affordable offers accessible programs from a wide-ranging menu and has been designed to appeal to music lovers of all generations and from all walks of life.”

The BlackCreek Summer Music Festival is intended to become an important cultural destination for the city of Toronto, southern Ontario, and the Golden Horseshoe region. “The arts are a vital part of the everyday experience, and the outdoor summer music festival, in particular, is an essential highlight of the urban lifestyle in cities like Chicago with Ravinia, in Washington, D.C. with Wolf Trap, and in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl,” stated Jeff Melanson, Cultural Advisor to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “But despite its vast size, Toronto — with some 8 million people living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area centered around the GTA— has not, until now, seized the opportunity to create a large scale, outdoor summer destination for audiences to see and hear an eclectic mix of the world’s leading musicians, singers and entertainers. BlackCreek changes that dynamic and at the highest level of artistry. This is a private sector initiative and an unparalleled opportunity for all of us. I for one cannot wait until opening night.”

BlackCreek’s artistic advisors and programming directors have been working for the better part of one year to create a stellar line-up for the inaugural season, and at the same time cultivate long-term relationships with artists and their managers for the years to come. The internationally esteemed conductor, Lorin Maazel has been signed to a three-year contract as Artistic Advisor, Classical Programming. Marvin Hamlisch–the multiple Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning composer and pops conductor– has been engaged to serve as BlackCreek’s Artistic Advisor for Broadway and Pops concert presentations.

Opening night on June 4 will offer a concert by revered tenor, Plácido Domingo — making his first Toronto appearance in over a decade — and special guest soprano, Sondra Radvanovsky, internationally-acclaimed star of the Metropolitan Opera, accompanied by the BlackCreek Festival Orchestra and the BlackCreek Festival Chorus under the direction of Robert Cooper. Tickets for the Plácido Domingo concert, which are expected to be in high demand, will go on sale on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., and can be purchased online at or by calling 1-888-860-7888.

An annual summer residency by Lorin Maazel has been established that will bring the maestro’s Virginia-based Castleton Festival Orchestra to Toronto as part of its expanding international profile. The Castleton series of two concerts will include an evening of music inspired by Shakespeare, highlighted by Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring narration by Academy Award®-winners, Dame Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons.

BlackCreek will also host an exceptional series of three concerts by the illustrious London Symphony Orchestra, which has not performed a classical program in Toronto since 1980. The series of three concerts, all conducted by Lorin Maazel, will include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony featuring German bass René Pape in his Canadian debut, an evening of Russian composers and other favourites, and an all-American program featuring James Earl Jones narrating Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.

The BlackCreek Summer Music Festival will also offer performances by outstanding musical entertainers from the worlds of pop, jazz, country and beyond. June 25th will bring an intimate evening with the quintessential James Taylor and his legendary band. The great troubadour and singer/songwriter’s warm baritone is among the most recognized voices in popular music and his guitar playing has established its own standard.

On July 2nd Grammy-award winning vocalists and jazz legends, Diana Krall and Tony Bennett will perform American popular standards in an evening that is sure to delight music fans of all ages. The two first toured together in August 2000, but this will be the first time these two artists have appeared together in Toronto.

For BlackCreek’s premiere season, Marvin Hamlisch will conduct The BlackCreek Festival Orchestra and Chorus in an evening of “The Very, Very Best of Broadway,” starring Tony Award-winners Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell, returning to Toronto for the first time since their Broadway triumph in Ragtime, together with Martin Short and other Broadway leading ladies and gentlemen to be announced shortly.

Additional artists and concert programming will be announced in the weeks to come.


Situated on the campus of York University, adjacent to the Black Creek Conservation Area, the Rexall Centre was built in 2004 as the main tennis venue of the Canada Masters tournament and is also the home of the Toronto offices of Tennis Canada and the Ontario Tennis Association. “The Rexall Centre is excited to host Toronto’s next great entertainment attraction, the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival,” said Michael S. Downey, President, and CEO of Tennis Canada. “We can’t wait to demonstrate the versatility of our facility in staging world-class concerts. With rental proceeds benefitting our mission to grow tennis in Canada, tennis players around the country should also be very pleased that another form of live entertainment is coming to our tennis centre.”

For the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival concerts, the amphitheatre will seat between 11,000 and 14,000 spectators — including 41 private luxury boxes — depending upon seat and stage configuration for the individual performances. The open-view stage has been designed by celebrated architect and acoustician, Mark Fisher, who has designed all of the last decades’ Rolling Stones and U2 concert tours, as well as projects for Cirque du Soleil and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The venue will be highly congenial to symphony orchestras, while state-of-the-art lighting (for both the stage itself, as well as ambient lighting of the venue), along with up to six jumbo video monitors and sound reinforcement by top acousticians, will ensure that audiences can savour the music being performed from any seat.


The BlackCreek Summer Music Festival is pleased to feature a web-based computerized ticket purchasing system provided by Outbox Technology whereby tickets are sold by the venue directly. Ticket purchasers simply click on an artist profile on the BlackCreek website and they are immediately directed to an easy to use ticketing page that allows them to select tickets based on an interactive seating chart showing available locations and price levels.

Outbox Technology’s intuitive, innovative and ground-breaking platform manages and processes multi-language and multi-currency world-wide ticket sales for Cirque du Soleil, as well the Montreal Canadiens, the Bell Centre in Montreal, and the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Outbox recently entered into a partnership with AEG Entertainment, one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment presenters in the world, to provide the ticketing software for over 100 arenas and venues worldwide beginning in June 2011.

Fredric Rosen, Outbox’s co-CEO and the former builder and CEO of Ticketmaster, commented that “I am excited about launching our ticketing service in Toronto with the BlackCreek Festival. Our system will provide patrons with secure, reliable and easy access to all of the great concerts that have been assembled for the inaugural season, as well as for those in the years to follow.” He added that “with Outbox, the transaction resides with the venue; and the venue is the destination and the brand. It’s the best customer service experience that can be offered and we look forward to forging a long-term relationship with the client.”

Tickets for the Placido Domingo concert will go on sale on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 1-888-860-7888. The BlackCreek Summer Music Festival Box Office at the Rexall Centre will open for single-ticket sales on Saturday, May 7, 2011, with box office hours from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Groups of 14 or more may receive discounts on single-ticket prices for select concerts. For further information please contact

For general information, or to sign up for the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival alerts, please visit our website at

Programs, dates, and artists subject to change.

Hold on to your budgeting resolutions

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 23, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of CNW

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A new interactive budget calculator helps Canadians better manage their finances in 2011

February 22, 2011 @ 11:45AM

OTTAWA – An easy-to-use interactive budget calculator that does the math for you has been launched by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to help Canadians see how much money they take home and where they’re spending it.

A budget can help you find ways to pay off debt faster, achieve your financial goals and find ways to make your dollar stretch further. But making a budget and sticking to it can be difficult.

“The budget calculator shows you where your money is going. It’s divided into categories that prompt the user to consider every possible source of income, savings, and expenses,” explains FCAC Commissioner Ursula Menke. “It’s so much easier to manage your finances and change your spending and saving habits when you can see how daily spending, even your daily cups of coffee, adds up over a year.”

FCAC already has a paper-based budget worksheet on its website. But this new interactive budget calculator does the hard work for you. It can be downloaded as a spreadsheet and saved onto your computer to help you keep a close eye on your finances.

“A carefully crafted budget is a very good financial tool that helps you manage your spending. It makes it easier to reduce unnecessary expenses and save regularly,” adds the Commissioner. “It’s also important to be financially prepared for any unexpected expenses. If people spend their own money, rather than borrowing it in an emergency, they avoid expensive interest charges. A budget is a key to avoiding the debt trap,” she stresses. “So as we take a step into the next year, FCAC wants to raise awareness of the importance of budgeting and being financially prepared.”

No more need to cringe at the word “budget.” FCAC’s budget calculator, other tools, and publications can be found on You can also view Rodney Noriega’s, Success Story. He incurred a lot of debt while studying for his business degree from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He explains how he uses FCAC’s tip sheet Making a Budget and Sticking to It to better manage his finances and reduce his debt load.

The INTERAC Financially Fit contest launches on Facebook: Are you Financially Fit?

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 21, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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February 18, 2011 @ 02:00PM

Toronto, ON – Social network enthusiasts are now able to connect with INTERAC by following its dedicated Twitter handle and Facebook page.

How financially savvy are you? Our new Facebook contest, which runs until March 2, tests your personal finance know-how with a fun, simple quiz. Whether you’re a financial fitness flunky or a money management maven, you could win a cash prize to help brighten your 2011 outlook.

Some financial food for thought based on our latest Financially Fit news release:

* More than three-quarters of Canadians (77%) report that they will achieve financial health in 2011.
* Nearly 2 out of 3 Canadians have a positive view of their current financial health. But we’re still cautious as nearly 70% worry about money matters.
* 72% of Canadians say they’ll stick to a budget in 2011, yet only 44% used a budget in 2010.

Through our Facebook and Twitter pages, we want to listen and talk with Canadians about money management and other topics that matter to them, as well as create a platform for discussion around INTERAC product and services.

INTERAC is one of Canada’s leading payment brands and Canada’s only domestically run, coast-to-coast debit payment network. INTERAC Debit and INTERAC Cash enable Canadians to access funds withdrawn directly from their bank account through Automated Banking Machines and point-of-sale terminals across Canada. INTERAC branded services also include INTERAC Online, for secure online payments directly from a bank account and INTERAC e-Transfer™, for secure money transfers, including from your mobile phone. Interac Association members and business partners ensure that INTERAC services remain among the most secure in the world through comprehensive fraud prevention and detection solutions.

About Interac Association
A recognized world leader in debit card services, Interac Association is responsible for the development and operations of the Interac network, a national payment network that allows Canadians to access their money through Automated Banking Machines and point-of-sale terminals across Canada.

Interac Association was founded in 1984 and is comprised of a diverse membership that includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, caisses populaires, merchants, and technology and payment related companies.

Other related services offered by Acxsys Corporation, whose shareholders are the architects of the Interac network, include: Interac Online, for secure online payments directly from a bank account; Interac e-Transfer, for the transfer of money from a bank account to anyone with an email address; and international services, which provides Canadian cardholders with point-of-sale access at nearly 2 million U.S. retailers, and PULSE, Discover, Diners Club International and UnionPay cardholders access to ABMs in Canada.

®, TM: Interac, the Interac logo, and Interac e-Transfer are trade-marks of Interac Inc. Used under license.

Entertainers bring hope and inspiration to some very special kids and kids-at-heart New Ability Online Website and Online Community is full of fun, helpful ideas and practical advice

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 20, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Honourable David C. Onley – Photo Courtesy of CNW

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New Ability Online Website and Online Community is full of fun, helpful ideas, and practical advice

February 16, 2011 @ 10:00PM

Toronto, Ontario – Every child who imagines and pursues his or her potential unbounded by his or her disability, is victorious. On February 15, 2011, over 100 people gathered at The Music Room at Hart House at the University of Toronto to celebrate abilities, possibilities and families, and the relaunch of The Ability Online website and online community, designed by Momentum.

Inspired by an actual Ability Online client, entertainers Justin Hines, Maddy Rodriguez and Jordan Francis, used lyrics and music to encourage the audience to do whatever they needed to do to turn their heart’s desire into a shiny, new reality. The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario unveiled the state-of-the-art website and online community at the event that was hosted by radio Celebrity Colleen Rusholme from Boom 97.3.

Since 1997 we’ve had a presence on the world-wide-web and have provided a unique online community to enrich the lives of children and youth with all kinds of disabilities or chronic illnesses. Within this secure and monitored environment, our members meet, learn, develop skills, and enjoy the company of others who have faced similar challenges says Ability Online Executive Director, Michelle McClure.

“However, our aging technology was making the site difficult to navigate for most and inaccessible for many. Along comes Momentum with a complete site rebuild – a complex and daunting challenge. When our kids feel good about themselves, they start to imagine their potential and look beyond their disabilities” adds McClure. Now they will be able to do this and more in a state of the art website which will be unveiled by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David C. Onley.

“We help our kids accomplish things by giving them the skills, information, and confidence they need to turn their dreams into reality. Self-esteem and empowerment soar. I have seen the incredible impact our programs have on the kids and families who come to our site looking for friendship and support and leave with so much more,” adds McClure.

Highlights / Key Facts:

* Ability Online is a unique online community dedicated to enriching the lives of children and youth with all kinds of disabilities or chronic illness.
* Within this secure and monitored environment, Ability Online members meet, learn, develop skills and enjoy the company of others who have faced similar challenges.
* The new website replaces old technology and is full of fun, helpful ideas and practical advice
* The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario unveiled the new site February 15, 2011, at Hart House, University of Toronto.
* Entertainment at the event was provided by Justin Hines, Maddy Rodriguez, and Jordan Francis.
* Maddy and Jordan performed original pieces inspired by an Ability Online member.
* Colleen Rusholme from Boom 97.3 hosted the event.

About Ability Online

Since 1992, Ability Online has provided a unique online community to enrich the lives of children and youth with all kinds of disabilities or chronic illnesses. Within this secure and monitored environment, our members meet, learn, develop skills and enjoy the company of others who have faced similar challenges.

Canadians invited to test their tax literacy

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 19, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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ToImage result for Taxeso many tax provisions left unclaimed says Evelyn Jacks, Canada’s most trusted tax author

February 16, 2011 @ 07:00AM

Every year millions of Canadians leave real money behind—and lots of it–by failing to file tax returns to their family’s best advantage, including lucrative refundable tax credits that increase monthly income, Old Age Security, and numerous deductions that reduce taxes payable. This is money that could be used to maximize investment opportunities, says Evelyn Jacks, author or the 6th edition of Essential Tax Facts and 45 other books on the subject.

“In fact, filing a tax return is the single most significant financial event in the year for millions of Canadians, and one of the first places cash-strapped investors should look for ‘new money’” says Mrs. Jacks, who served as a member of the federal Task Force on Financial Literacy, which released recommendations for a national strategy on financial literacy last week. “Tax literacy, therefore, is a very important subset of financial literacy.”

Mrs. Jacks has included a series of quizzes to help Canadians test their Tax IQ in her annual guidebook this year.

“Do you know what you don’t know? That’s the challenge,” says Mrs. Jacks, who is also President of The Knowledge Bureau, a national educational institute focused on excellence in financial education for advisors and their clients. “Simple quizzes can bring taxes to life for Canadians who are less than excited about the annual tax filing task. Once hooked on their new tax knowledge, we hope that readers will take the opportunity to drill down and learn more about the latest tax changes and over 200 quick and easy Essential Tax Facts contained in the book so they can participate more fully in claiming available tax preferences.”

Even those who choose to pay for tax preparation can benefit, says Mrs. Jacks. Increasing your tax knowledge will help you to ask better questions, and get more than your money’s worth from your relationships with financial professionals.

What’s New? 11 Key Tax Profile Changes for 2011

* Employees: Learn about new Tslip reporting, changes to employment deductions and credits, new stock option rules for executives, lucrative moving expenses, increased truckers meal claims and how the new HST may affect your tax write-offs.
* Single Parents: Use new rules for income and benefit-splitting with your ex and the kids
* Boomers & Kids: Use your RRSP to buy a home, finance education, avoid clawbacks
* Seniors: Get ready for new early CPP benefits: split income from pensions and investments
* Families: Use public transit, charity, and activity credits; write off more medical costs
* Investors: Use last year’s capital losses this year, maximize 1% prescribed interest rates, lower dividend gross-ups, and tax credits.
* Proprietors & Property Owners: Watch out! Avoid traps in new audit letters from CRA, and understand how to tap into EI for maternity, parental and other special benefits.
* Delinquent Filers: Learn to avoid penalties & recover taxes owed to you from 10 years back!
* In Debt? Understand the difference between good and bad debt, from a tax point of view
* New Executors: Understand how to minimize, defer taxes filing final returns
* Newly Disabled? Tap into new medical, disability, and other tax supports.

“Tips on minimizing taxes are the most wanted financial literacy skill for 79% of Canadians” National Survey on financial literacy by the CICA, January 2010


Winnipeg-based Evelyn Jacks is President of The Knowledge Bureau, a national educational institute focused on providing continuing professional development for financial and tax advisors. She is the author of over 45 books on tax, personal finance and leadership issues and recipient of numerous national and international awards including the prestigious Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is also a member of the Task Force on Financial Literacy, appointed by Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.

Books by Evelyn Jacks, including Essential Tax Facts, Master Your Taxes, Make Sure It’s Deductible, Get Your People to Work Like They Mean It, can be found at Chapters Indigo; Amazon; the Knowledge Bureau and in better bookstores everywhere. Follow Evelyn Jacks on her Blog:; on Twitter:

About The Knowledge Bureau

Knowledge Bureau is a leading national educator focused on continuing professional development for an inter-advisory team of professionals that work with Canadians who want expert service in the area of tax, investment, retirement and estate planning. It also publishes books for consumers on financial education. For more information visit

About The Task Force on Financial Literacy

The Task Force’s report, entitled Canadians, and Their Money can be downloaded here.

Waleed Abdulhamid and Kae Sun headline FREE BHM concerts‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 18, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Photo of Kae Sun Courtesy of Google Images

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WALEED ABDULHAMID KUSH (February 18) and KAE SUN (February 25) close out Music Africa’s FREE festival of Friday night concerts celebrating Black History Month.

FREE at the Gladstone Melody Bar, every Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The series features some of the top African artists living and working in the city. Presented by MUSIC AFRICA & Gladstone World. Thanks to CIUT-FM 89.5 FM.

Music Africa, presenters of AFROFEST, is a community organization dedicated to promoting African music and culture. Discover Africa in the Heart of Toronto!

NOTE: Music Africa is seeking a professional Sponsorship Coordinator to secure sponsorship opportunities with corporate, private and business sources for Afrofest 2011. Please see attached.

February 18th – Waleed Abdulhamid Kush: You’d need to search far and wide in the city to find a singer or musician who doesn’t rave over Waleed’s abilities. Born in Sudan, he has been a fixture on the Toronto music scene since 1992. Equally adept on the guitar, bass, flute, drums, and any number of African instruments, he is also an accomplished composer. Waleed was a founding member of the award-winning bands Radio Nomad and Balimbo, and later the African jazz-fusion band Kings of Kush. Onstage he is known for his striking vocals, his innovative bass technique and his speed and precision on percussion. He and his band play a driving, dance-oriented, percussive blend of pan-African music that delights a crowd and gets everyone hitting the dance floor. A real treat.

February 25th – Kae Sun is of the generation of performers who seem equally at home anywhere in the world, whose music reflects their multi-layered personal histories. Born in Ghana, he grew up listening primarily to hip-hop. An Ontario resident since 2001, his music is equal parts soul, pop, reggae, and of course hip-hop – A sound sometimes described as urban folk. His debut EP Ghost Town Prophecy was so well received it gave Kae Sun the freedom to self-produce most of the songs on his follow-up CD, Lion On A Leash. Released in 2009, it made many critics’ lists of top indie releases of the year. The songs are socially conscious without being preachy. The singer is talented and charismatic. The band is tight and high-energy. The show… Is not to be missed.

Music Africa thanks to the great support of the fans who had a great time at the Blandine and Resolutionaries Marimba Band concerts earlier this month.

The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto (One block east of Dufferin): (416) 531-4635

Music Africa gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council.

The Entrepreneur

In Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Religion, Sports, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 17, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Photo of Stephan Bevan – Courtesy of Facebook

Stephan Bevan's Profile Photo

“Back in about 1993, when I was 23-years-old, started experiencing muscle spasms in my leg and it would last for about a minute,” says Stephan Bevan CEO of Adventure Capitalism. “In January I met my wife, and we have been married for about 17 and a half years.”

In January 1994, Bevan experienced the muscle spasm. It was so bad he had to lie down on the ground while shoveling the snow and he felt like he was dying and it was going on for about eight months.

“My doctor set me up for EKG,” Bevan says. “I started getting an ice cream headache. I got pins and needles on the left side of my body. My wife called the ambulance. I was living with my parents at the time. In an instant, I lost all movement on the left side of my body.”

There was a brain tumour on the left side of Bevan’s body and it had been growing and it caused a hemorrhage. With a tumour, it was a double whammy.

“I was in the hospital in total for five and half weeks. They started me on radiation. Because I was 23-years-old at the time, I had a good chance of survival. That was in January, in July, my wife and I got married.”

Bevan went through the physiotherapy and managed to work his way through it.

“I managed to use my left side again. It was a similar effect as a stroke. The brain and body had to learn how to walk and how to use my arm. Still, have only 60 percent use of my left side. I’m lucky there are some people who have completely lost mobility. I spoke in front of the doctors. The fact I lived through that surprised a lot of the doctors and nurses. Here I am 17 years later.”

In about 1997, Bevan and his wife Sylvia started learning about business doing things like network marketing. They started a computer sales and repair company. In 2002, Bevan was working with Honeywell Aerospace as his full-time work.

“We started an investment club. We were giving away copies of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. We created our investment education club… If you ever meet me you would see I still have a disability, but it was uncomfortable for me to speak in front of people. I would shake. I got more comfortable with it.”

Bevan learned to face many of his other fears. On his 10th wedding anniversary, Bevan and Sylvia went to the Haliburton Tree Canopy Tour.

“My wife was a really big support. Terrifying to walk on a thin plank. The tour guide said there are many able-bodied people who get up there and decide to come back down. I had to climb up a 40-foot pole. This was in New York. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways. I could do it because of the Haliburton Canopy Tour.

“Whenever someone asked me to do speaking, I always said yes. Need to continually stretch my comfort zone. Real estate investing, stock trading, vending machines, multiple streams of income.”

In 2002, the Bevans got an opportunity for e-commerce. Alan Ginsberg, Ebay’s top-seller became his mentor and that is how they started selling online. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in 2002 and eventually they became good at it and other companies approached them to do it for them.

“In 2007, we were selling on Amazon and eBay. We became the biggest pickup for Canada Post and UPS in our area.”

The company Adventure Capitalism makes in the low six-figure sales in e-commerce between Bevan and his wife.

“We never slept, we never took vacations. Steady six figures with our business now. Finding a balance between work and family. Purposely make dates every week. And have business hours in order to maintain that. You can have a successful business, but if you lose your family in the process, there’s a problem.

“Balancing your family and your relationships with your business. Customers will always be there. The family is forgiving; sometimes things cannot be repaired, so it needs to be a priority. Our faith is number one, number two is our marriage (our family), other relationships with family and then number four is our business.”

For more information about Stephan and Sylvia Bevan’s web design and search engine optimization business, please visit:

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… Paint it

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 16, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR


Powder Room, CIL Magical Twightlight and Buffy

By Gail Bergman PR

CIL Paints Offers Big Ideas for Small Spaces

February 14, 2011 – When it comes to small spaces, don’t paint yourself into a corner. Use colour to open up your surroundings to endless possibilities instead.

“Paint colour is the simplest and most economical way to make a small space appear larger,” says Alison Goldman, Marketing Communications Manager for leading Canadian paint brand CIL Paints. “When space is at a premium, every square foot counts, so a can of paint and a little imagination will go a long way in making the most of your living area.”

Whether you’re tackling one small room – like a powder room, sitting room or vestibule – or an entire condo, the same tricks apply to make ceilings look higher, entrances seem wider and walls appear to recede, Goldman says. There are several ways to create the illusion of space with paint, from choosing the right colour, to applying the right finish, to understanding the role of natural light, she adds.

CIL offers these big ideas for painting small spaces:

Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR


· Draw the line: Painting a horizontal stripe around a small room actually makes it look deeper and wider. Whether the stripe is applied on all four walls or on only one wall as a focal point, the effect causes the eye to see the room as wider than it is. If the room is narrow or short, try painting thin vertical stripes in two tone-on-tone shades to achieve a similar effect.

· Be a colour schemer: Cool colours, like soft blues, creams, purples and greens, will make even the smallest area feel open and airy. Choosing colours from the same colour family, and using different shades of a single colour, also helps. Dark colours are often thought to make a room seem smaller, but with the right selection, can be used to create a luxurious or intimate mood in your small space. Avoid contrasting colours, however, since they will be visually distracting.

· Shed light on the matter: Lighting is key in opening up a space. Assess the amount of natural and artificial light coming into the room. Good lighting is known to make paint colour appear lighter, so rooms that have a lot of natural light may tolerate a warmer colour. Similarly, if there’s too much light, a cool colour choice may actually make a small space too icy.

· Avoid distractions: The secret to painting a small area is to prevent visual distractions. Whenever something jumps out at you, the eye loses its sense of continuity and a person begins to feel cramped. Try painting the trim in the room a different shade of the main colour by adding black or white to the base. This will cause the trim to fade into the background. Use patterns sparingly. If you’ve been itching to try the latest in stencils and faux finishes, for example, a small room is not the best place to do it.

· Have tricks up your sleeve: If you’re faced with low ceilings, make the walls appear taller by painting a one-foot border around the edge of the ceiling in the same colour as the walls. Another way to create the illusion of height is to paint the bottom half of a wall in a darker colour than the top. Using glossy paint sheens also makes ceilings look higher and rooms appear larger because the resulting shiny surface reflects more light.

“Small spaces are less forgiving than large ones so it’s important to plan ahead and think things through,” says Goldman. “If all else fails, simply paint a room the same colour as your furniture – the room will appear so spacious, you’ll be wondering where the walls went.”

For more ideas about painting small spaces or to locate a CIL retailer near you, visit or call 1-800-DURABLE (387-2253).

New Air Cooling Unit is Hot

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 15, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR

Dulux Inspirations

By Gail Bergman PR

First-of-its-kind ductless air conditioner reduces some bacteria, odours and viruses

Markham, Ontario – February 10, 2011 – Here’s a really hot idea as far as cool products go. A first-of-its-kind air conditioning product is now available in Canada that improves air quality, while solving room temperature problems, significantly decreasing energy costs and reducing humidity in the home. It also acts as a heat pump to warm the house in winter.

Called the Daikin QuaternityTM ductless system, the product is the only air cooling unit that improves indoor air quality, helping to protect against infections and allergies. Containing an advanced air cleaning and purification system, it decomposes and removes unwanted bacteria (including E. coli), allergens, molds, odours and other hazardous chemical materials.

Whereas traditional cooling systems are designed to run on full load when they start up, ultimately leading to energy waste, Daikin systems conserve energy by delivering only the amount of cooling – or heating in winter – needed to maintain the desired temperature or humidity setting in a room, resulting in energy savings of up to 30 per cent. A built-in dehumidifier allows users to set and monitor relative humidity for optimum comfort, enabling the humidity to be lowered without reducing the temperature.

“With Daikin Quaternity, the temperature always feels comfortable, whether it’s a living space over the garage that tends to get too hot or cold, a high-humidity area like a bathroom or fitness area, or an entire floor of a home,” said Tom Loughran, President of Markham, Ont.-based Comfort Connections, distributor for Daikin, one of the top heating, air filtration, and air conditioning manufacturers in the world.

“The unit redefines the way the world thinks about cooling and heating,” said Loughran, comparing the ground-breaking technology – called inverter technology – to a car accelerator. Unlike traditional air conditioning systems, the unit will not frequently start and stop, rather it will operate at energy-conserving levels by gradually increasing the speed of the compressor as needed to either cool down or heat up a room. Just like a car is more efficient traveling on a highway than it is in stop-and-go city traffic, Loughran explains that the unit reaches the set point faster and maintains a more constant temperature compared to traditional systems.

The easy-to-install unit comes with two components: an indoor wall-mounted unit – operated by a wireless remote controller – that regulates air flow in rooms, and a unique outdoor condensing unit that is quiet, ozone-friendly and connects to the indoor unit via small, insulated lines designed to prevent energy loss, a smart alternative to inefficient ductwork.

“With warmer temperatures around the corner, now’s the time to start thinking about better ways to cool your home this summer,” noted Loughran, adding that Daikin produces a wide range of other cooling and heating units with varying features and price points.

The Daikin Quaternity retails between $3,600-$4,200, plus installation, with other Daikin models starting from $2,100. Comfort Connections can arrange for a free assessment of a home’s cooling or heating needs. For more information or to locate a dealer near you, visit or call 1-800-755-0490.

The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans

In Beauty, book reviews, Culture, Education, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 13, 2011 at 6:00 AM
The Color Complex is a Book that Discovers Some Blacks Obsession with Colour - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

The Color Complex is a Book that Discovers Some Blacks Obsession with Colour – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Image result for Diverse black people

Too many black folks are fools about color and hair.
-Mabel Lincoln, interviewee in Drylongso: A Self-Portrait of Black America, by John Langston Gwaltney (1)

The Color Complex mentions the references made to skin colour in Spike Lee’s movies such as School Daze and Jungle Fever. Is hair one of the factors that lure many Black men like Flipper (Wesley Snipes) in Jungle Fever to white women? Why is it that it seems like the more successful a black man is he will have a white woman as his wife or girlfriend? Do black men have more a complex about colour and hair than black women do? Is this evidenced in the fact that fewer black women marry outside of the race and MAY feel more comfortable marrying and dating men darker than they are?

Movies by Spike Lee and other African-Americans do lead to questions and insights about skin colour and hair – what about the films and videos found in Canada? There are a number of home-grown productions that can be looked at that directly or indirectly deal with hair, such as Clement Virgo’s Rude.

The colour complex does manifest itself in a number of situations. This links to the ideas found in “Internalized Oppression” by Suzanne Lipsky. It is just another expression of black self-hatred. Black hair, being a marked difference from European ancestry can be a symbol or a target for expressing black self-hatred.

In The Color Complex, an attractive medium-toned Black woman in her 20s was told by a man she was dating that she was too dark and that it was important for him to have light-skinned children. I can completely relate to this comment. A light-skinned (biracial) man I dated for almost three years was walking with me at a beach close to my house when he expressed a comment about my colour. This was months after we broke up and I knew that he had started seeing another biracial person. It was the night when we were walking and he commented on how dark I was. It made me think that he never complained about such things when he was in bed with me for all those years, but I was too stunned to say anything. During our relationship, I do not remember an instance when my colour ever seemed too dark for him. Actually in the summer when he would tan to a shade closer to mine he would seem to be almost in a rivalry with me to come close to my dark brown shade. It’s interesting how colour can become a cruel reminder of why you may no longer be with someone.

A light-skinned woman with long straight hair comments about how her looks separated her from a relationship with her siblings. Although as a dark-skinned woman with African hair (who would not change a thing if I could turn back the hands of time if push came to shove) does not have a lot of sympathy for the problems associated with those who have skin and hair privilege. It is only fair that in my quest to talk to women who are wearing their hair naturally that I also include those people who are by self-definition black and may have straight or wavy hair, such as light-skinned Blacks, biracial people who identify as black and Africans from Ethiopia and Somalia who on average seem to have a different texture to their hair.

*Reference is made to a manuscript The Bleaching Syndrome by Ronald Hall

As is stated in the introduction of The Color Syndrome the book is not trying to make anyone feel bad for having light skin or straight hair (naturally or chemically). The conviction is to inform. This is my aim as well with my thesis, to build understanding around the concept of black hair.

This book goes into a historical analysis that mentions among many things the “one drop rule” for blacks in the States. With this rule in effect in the States, not being sure of how much it holds true in Canada, what is black hair? How exactly do you define it? Is the hair of an Ethiopian just as black as mine is? The hairstyle books seem to define it as super curly hair and seem to have no problem with it, but I feel it is a bit problematic.

*Reference is made to Harriet Jacob’s Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl

The thing about having a broad definition about black hair is that it does not factor in that those without super curly hair get treated differently. Such as during slavery, those with light skin and straighter hair would get preferential treatment, be the first to be educated, seen as more worthy by whites by garnering more money on the auction block. Later in history during the Black Renaissance exclusive black social clubs, elite neighbourhoods, churches, and schools would also be restricted to people who could pass a paper bag test in terms of colour and who most likely had “good hair.” (25-28).

And in still other ‘houses of worship’ throughout Virginia and in such cities as Philadelphia and New Orleans, a fine-toothed comb was hung on a rope near the front entrance. If one’s hair was too nappy and snagged in the comb, entry was denied (27).

Information like this establishes how far-reaching the politics of hair are:

Students on Black college campuses also claim that skin color affects their social opportunities, especially within the Greek system. Some maintain that membership in the more exclusive organizations still depends largely on having the right hair texture and skin color. However, many “Greeks” dispute this claim, arguing that skin color has never been a factor distinguishing Black fraternities and sororities since most were founded at the turn of the century when the vast majority of students were mulatto. Others confess that when students from varied backgrounds started attending college, color did start to become a factor in the hierarchy of Greek organizations: the more elite the fraternity or sorority, the lighter-skinned its members. The highly regarded Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity must still contend with the reputation for being partial
toward Blacks with light skin and “good” hair (30).

Just as much as blacks may have created a world where light skin and straighter hair can provide privilege, there are also cases where it falls short in determining black radicalism or militancy.

In proclaiming “Black is Beautiful,” some dark-skinned leaders even questioned the militancy of light-skinned Black radicals, believing that they had benefited too long from color privilege to understand oppression. Dedication to the Black cause occasionally judged by how well someone’s non-kinky hair could be styled in an Afro, or by how willing a light-skinned radical was to sleep with someone who was darker (36).

This book also notes that the money made between dark-skinned and light-skinned blacks is proportional to the earning difference between blacks and whites. Light-skinned blacks earn a dollar for every 72 cents dark-skinned black makes. This also translates into hair since it is closely linked to skin colour. This also draws into question all the lawsuits that have been filed by black women about their hairstyles.

*Reference is made to Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – I would like to take the reference made about hair directly from the book

Angelou’s story is one example of many references made by black authors about hair and skin colour.

In the “Embracing Whiteness” chapter it is pointed out that businesspeople like George Johnson, founder and chief of Johnson Products who make skin bleaches and hair straighteners say he is only providing a service to black women, rather than “getting rich off black women’s insecurities”(43). There is an increasing number of women who are turning away from these products and going more natural. Will these companies be changing with the times too? Perhaps they have already shown signs of doing so since there are a number of products that promote natural ingredients and are made for natural hair that is more mass produced.

These beauty practices have a long history. While still under the cruel and dehumanizing conditions of slavery, many Negro women tried to alter the texture and appearance of their hair. Most of the time, a slave woman kept her head wrapped in a “do-rag,” or bandanna but on a special occasion, she might straighten her hair with some kind of grease, as her African ancestors may have done. House servants fared better in this regard because they had access to hog lard, margarine, or butter. Sometimes they could even borrow “Miss Ann’s”fine scissors to give themselves a stylish trim. But field hands had to use shears and axle grease, which was not only tough to remove but also caused the hair to stretch and break (43).

*Reference is made to a book Madam C.J. Walker: Entrepreneur by A’Lelia P. Bundles
(more is written about Walker in Hairraising).
*Reference is made to a turn-of-the-century song called “Nappy Headed Blues”

My hair is cantcha, don’tcha.
You can’t comb it.
Don’tcha try.
Nappy, that’s the reason why.

Until the 1960s most Black women, and some Black men, regularly straightened their hair. It was rare for a Black woman to be seen in public with unprocessed hair, and those who dared risked the ridicule and even the chastisement of close friends and family members. When the Afro became fashionable during the sixties, it was radical in more ways than one. It not only associated the wearer with the politics of the Black power movement but, for women, it also signaled the abandonment of the hair-straightening products they had been conditioned to use since childhood. The Afro eventually went the way of all trendy hairstyles, and by the mid-seventies, most Blacks (although not as many as before) had returned to processing their hair (47).

Sociologist Bertice Berry found through an analysis of Ebony, Jet, Essence between 1985 and 1987, that a third of the ads were meant to fix the “bad hair” that is supposed to afflict many blacks. I have noticed in these magazines that they are filled with hair ads, as well as many community newspapers.

Perhaps there is a historical base for the desire for straight hair among Blacks:

One Black model and businesswoman, Naomi Sims, maintains that the use of hair straighteners and dyes should not be considered just a White assimilationist practice. Long before Parisian women of the 1920s made straight hair fashionable, the women of the Swahili and the Hova of Madagascar were straightening their hair with heavy oil and parting it down the center. And ‘Beatle bangs,’ named for the hairstyles of the Beatles of the sixties, can be traced back to the women of Chad, who twisted their hair into dreadlocks and then cropped it straight across the forehead. The same is true for hair coloring. Black women who dye their hair a lighter shade are often accused of trying to look White, but for a long time, African women have been coloring their hair with henna, ochre, plant dyes, and other natural substances. In one tribe, women traditionally dye their hair blond, a cosmetic practice hardly related to wanting to be White (48).

*Reference is made to George Schuyler’s Black No More, about a scientist who invented the machine that could magically transform Black people into Whites

The desire to lighten one’s skin and alter one’s features can be seen as a form of Black self-hatred. Yet Black women who straighten their hair or bleach their skin are in a sense behaving no differently than women of other cultures, who bind their feet or tighten corsets around their waists to achieve a culturally defined feminine appearance. Still, the reactions of Blacks to the grooming habits of other Blacks are deeply rooted and complex. When a White woman with brown eyes wears blue contact lenses, she might be thought vain for doing so, but most people would not assume that she was denying her heritage. When a White woman bakes under the hot sun all day to tan her pale skin, she might be admonished for risking skin cancer, but few would conclude that she hates being White. And when a White woman perms her straight hair, she is rarely accused of wanting to be something that she is not. But nearly everything the Black woman (or man) does to her (or his) appearance is interpreted politically (54).

When a thin-lipped White actress gets a collagen injection to give her a more sensual Negroid-looking mouth, or when a White rock musician wears dreadlocks for a more “street-wise” appearance, it is simply not the same as when a Black woman straightens her hair or goes great lengths to avoid prolonged sunlight. Whites can dabble in practices that make them appear more Black, but for many African Americans, enbracing Whiteness is a matter of economic, social, or political survival (54-55).

In the workplace, this books notes that there is a move for blacks to look less European. The authors mention that in professions like academia and journalism, blacks are wearing African garb and unprocessed hair. The reason is that these professions are supposed to promote freedom. Since both these areas are career goals of mine, this must be the reason for why my hair is not processed.

Alice Windom, coordinator of the James T. Bush, Sr., Center at the University of Missouri-St.Louis thinks whites influence in Africa has created a colour complex. She mentions that in Zambia there is a phenomenon called “Fanta faces and Coca-Cola bodies,” which is a result of women bleaching their skin. The same thing takes place in Uganda, I have seen it for myself and it is a terribly saddening sight for a Black North American wanting to find assurance of her Blackness in Africa. The same disease of self-hatred plagues Africa it seems as much as it plagues Canada or the States. And most likely all over the world. These would make for other interesting areas of investigation.

Psycho-sociological theories like these might adequately explain color prejudice were it not for one important fact: around the world, ancient stories and proverbs praising the value of pale skin, especially in women, long preceded the arrival of the White man. In Central America, thousands of years ago, bronze-brown Aztec women during courtship used to smear themselves with an ointment made of yellow earth, since the golden skin was considered more attractive than brown (57).

*Possible interview: Bertice Berry, a sociologist and stand-up comic (mentioned on pg. 62).

It has been found in the late thirties and early forties, self-hatred among Black children was expressed in the fact that many of them chose to play with white dolls instead of black ones. I had a few black dolls when I was younger, but much more were Barbie dolls with blonde hair and blue eyes. I loved these dolls and they always played major roles in the scenarios I would act out with them. It is sad to know that my upbringing in the seventies had not changed that much since 30 or 40 years prior. What I really liked about Barbie dolls was the hair. I loved combing it, braiding it, maybe cutting it. It’s hard to even call the black dolls I had black because they never looked like me, they all had hair like Barbie’s except darker. I could project a lot of my fantasies and desires into these dolls. These dolls inspired many hours of play in me. I even created a magazine called Miss Sassy which featured many drawings of my White Barbie dolls on the cover, and some other fictional women, mainly White as well. Even in creating my own media I was not doing anything differently than what already existed in the media at that time. And sometimes this is still true of many media moguls now, such as the man who owns Black Entertainment Television. (This part could be included in the analysis of the media).

It seems like many dolls of today has not changed much from ones I had in the seventies:

Dr. Powell-Hopson currently serves as a consultant to Mattel Toys and has helped that company develop a special line of dolls for Black children. One doll, called Shani, the Swahili word for “marvelous,” has dark skin, full lips, and a Negroid nose. Shani has two Black friends of different skin tones called Nichelle and Asha. Yet each of the new Black dolls has long hair flowing below the waist. More recently, Tyco Industries has introduced an African-American doll named Kenya. Her long, thick, curly hair can be straightened with a moisturizing solution or it can be styled in cornrows. Kenya comes with colored beads and a manual describing various ways to style her hair. It will be interesting to see what effects, if any, playing with such dolls will have on the future choices of African-American children given the Clark doll test (64-65).

It is said that children rely on hair texture, facial features, and eye colour to determine blackness, rather than skin colour. A part of this thesis that deals with children could be very interesting.

Charles H. Parrish was a pioneer in exploring skin-colour stereotyping in black teenagers. In the 1940s junior-high students used about 145 different terms for varying skin colour, many of which I heard at that age (to myself and others), such as “brown skin,” “tar baby,” “high yellow.” Teenagers at this age also have very well developed ideas about hair as well which is talked about in the September issue of Essence.

Historically, the one-drop rule has both helped and harmed the Black community. While increasing its numbers, the rule has fractured the community’s solidarity. In so broadly defining a genetically varied population with a wide range of features and skin colors, the rule has created a race grouping more social than biological. Nowhere else in the world does a single race encompass people whose skin color ranges from white to black, whose hair texture varies from tightly curled to straight, and whose facial features reflect the broadest possible diversity. Were it not for this artificial grouping, part of the legacy of racism, Blacks might not criticize each other so harshly for having skin or hair that does not meet some arbitrary standard (80).

How does this one-drop rule affect the definition of black in Canada? And what role does the definition of black in Canada have on hair?

As the twentieth century closes, I believe that black women have come to better appreciate the array of beauty we portray, despite subtle, and not so subtle, pressure from the media, the workplace and the larger society to conform to their standards of attractiveness.

Yet I am sometimes troubled that too many of us still make snide and cruel comments about the politically, professionally or socially acceptable way to wear our hair.
We would be a lot stronger as a people if we used that energy to support each other economically, emotionally and spiritually.

-A’Lelia Perry Bundles,
Great-great-granddaughter of
Madam C.J. Walker,
Black hair care industry pioneer

*Reference is made to Susan Brownmiller’s Femininity about the triviality of hair. I would like to source this directly

Clearly, hair is less an issue for men than for women. Beginning in childhood, boys conventionally wear short hair while girls grow their hair long. Adult Black males generally keep their hair cropped short, so its texture is usually not that important to them. But from an early age most Black girls, especially those with fuzzy edges and nappy ‘kitchens’( the hairline at the back of the neck), are taught to ‘fix’ their hair – as if it were broken. Short hair is unfeminine but for many long hairs is unmanageable. Still, the hair of Black girls is braided and yanked, rubber-banded and barretted, into a presentable state. And when mothers grow weary of taming their daughters’ hair, many opt to treat it with chemical relaxers. As one Black mother tired of fighting the comb declared, ‘I didn’t have time to mess with that child’s nappy head any longer, so I went and got it permed. It’s been a lot easier on both of us since’ (83).

*Reference is made to Gerald Early’s “Life with Daughters or The Cakewalk with Shirley Temple.” Early is a professor of English and African-American studies at Washington University.

On a vacation trip to British Virgin Gorda, the Black poet, essayist, and writer Audre Lorde discovered just how easily her hairstyle could be interpreted politically. Wearing newly fashioned dreadlocks (a style in which the hair is either braided, twisted, or clumped together in separate strands all over the head), Lorde arrived at the Beef Island Airport and was told by the immigration officer – a Black woman with heavily processed hair – that her entry was being denied. Angry at the snag in her travel plans, Lorde demanded to speak to the woman’s supervisor and was informed that her dreadlocks marked her as a dope-smoking Rastafarian revolutionary. Fortunately, the officer was eventually able to determine that Lorde was not a ‘dangerous’ Rastafarian, and her passport was stamped ‘admit’ (85).

Is Fibromyalgia a Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome?

In Disability, Health, Writing (all kinds) on February 12, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Image result for Vitamin D

By Kathy Tapley-Milton

Is Fibromyalgia a Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men. Previously, fibromyalgia was known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.

Studies on vitamin D continue to show a direct association with chronic pain, poor immune function, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. These symptoms are all associated with fibromyalgia.

A study that appeared in Rheumatology shows that 62 of 75 fibromyalgia study participants were low in vitamin D. The subjects who were low in vitamin D reported more pain, depression, and fatigue.

According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Dec. 2003), vitamin D deficiency is one possible cause of persistent and vague musculoskeletal pain.

A University of Minnesota study of 150 children and adults suffering from vague musculoskeletal pain found that 93% were deficient in vitamin D. The worst vitamin D deficiencies were found in women of childbearing age.

Quite surprisingly I’m finding that many of my fibromyalgia patients are low in vitamin D, even in the sunny southeastern United States. Anyone with fibromyalgia should be tested for vitamin D deficiency. The test is inexpensive and vitamin D supplementation costs pennies.

The largest portion of vitamin D is produced by our own body with the aid of sunlight. Unfortunately, Americans often do not have enough exposure to sunlight for optimum health, according to physician Dr. James E. Dowd, author of the new book “The Vitamin Cure” (Wiley). Dr. Dowd says 55 percent of children and 60 percent of all people in the United States lack healthful levels of vitamin D.

Anyone with fibromyalgia or poor health, in general, should get their vitamin D levels tested. Quite surprisingly I’m finding that many of my patients are low in vitamin D, even in the sunny southeastern United States.

How much vitamin D does the average person need? In the summer, those with at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on their skin most days should take around 1,000 I.U.s of vitamin D3 each day. In the winter, those with dark skin, or those who have little sun exposure on their skin, should take up to 2,000-4,000 I.U.s each day. Those who have darker skin, are older, avoid sun exposure or live in the northern US should take the higher amounts, around 2,000 I.U.’s a day.

Vitamin D is remarkably safe; there have been no deaths caused by the vitamin. People consuming only government-recommended levels of 200-400 IU/day often have blood levels considerably below 50 ng/ml. This means the government’s recommendations are too low and should be raised for optimal health function. High Dose Vitamin D can be purchased at a number of health food or big-name drug stores.
About Dr. Murphree

Dr. Murphree is a board-certified nutritional specialist and chiropractic physician who has been in private practice since 1990. He is the founder and past clinic director for a large integrated medical practice located on the campus of Brookwood Hospital in Birmingham Alabama. The clinic was staffed with medical doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and massage therapists. The clinic combined prescription and natural medicines for acute and chronic illnesses. He is the author of 5 books for patients and doctors, including “Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” “Heart Disease What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You,” and “Treating and Beating Anxiety and Depression with Orthomolecular Medicine.”

In 2002 Dr. Murphree sold his medical practice and now maintains a busy solo practice specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, mood disorders, and other chronic illnesses. He can be reached toll-free 1-888-884-9577 or at 205-879-2383 For more information about fibromyalgia

Book review of Cane by Jean Toomer

In Beauty, book reviews, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 10, 2011 at 3:00 AM
Cane - August 11, 2009

Jean Toomer is the Author of Cane

Image result for Cane by Jean Toomer

I came across this book for three dollars at a Lebanese restaurant in the McGill ghetto of Montreal. It was worth every penny and proves that you can find good books for affordable prices.

Jean Toomer was a genius. Cane is part of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s. This book has influenced such writers as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Eric Walrond, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Rudolph Fisher and his other contemporaries of the 20s. When reading the book, there is no wonder that it had a tremendous impact, and should be revisited for some reasons I will point out now.

The book is unique in style. A combination of short stories, with poetry which all have an undercurrent of the racism that existed during the 20s. Toomer himself was a mixed-race man, living a borderline life between the black and white worlds, and his characters are sometimes white, sometimes black, probably reflecting his inner feelings.

There’s Esther who lusts after a black man who had a religious experience in the street and she spends years pining for him. And then there’s Becky who had two Negro sons who live in a house by the road and no one knows whether she’s dead or alive.

He writes of sorrow such as this between blacks and whites, but also of the beauty of women, and the ugliness of women. For a man, he writes women well.

His description of people and places is so lively, it is like the book is a TV screen where you can hear and see. Here’s one example from his poetry, this one called « Face »:



Like streams of stars,


Recurved canoes

Quivered by the ripples blown by pain,

Her eyes-

Mist of tears

Condensing on the flesh below

And her channeled muscles

Are cluster grapes of sorrow

Purple in the evening sun

Nearly ripe for worms.

His imaginary is startling. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the desperation of living with the race relations of the 20s of the United States. Also, just anyone who loves good writing. The sentences are short and clear. He wastes no words to strengthen his point. Just like chewing on sugar cane strengthens the teeth.  Cane.

Boylesque is the new burlesque

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Sports, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on February 9, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Boylesque


By Nadia Persaud

Benjamin Paley didn’t wear his best underwear the day he went on stage, but when he finished performing Toronto’s burlesque scene would never be the same.

Four years ago Paley was at a burlesque show when he was called from the audience to do an amateur burlesque performance on stage. Paley who had never performed before admitted “it probably wasn’t anything to behold, and I had really bad underwear on.”

After the show Paley a.k.a. James and the Giant Pasty said he was inspired to create his own burlesque troupe- a male troupe. Thus Canada’s first all-male burlesque troupe, Boylesque was born.

He placed ads on the Internet looking for more members and received many applications. A lot came from people who themselves attended shows and were inspired to join. Greg Wong, a.k.a. Wrong Note Rusty, a member for over two years, was one of them.

“I remember sitting in the front row thinking, ‘This act can’t possibly top the next act.’ The next one would be funnier and sexier and really entertaining,” Wong says.

It’s a common theme Boylesque emphasizes in their acts-entertainment.

“I think the most interesting burlesque acts have a story to them. You have to create narrative and character. You can have these burlesque acts that amaze you on pure skill and sexiness but if you’re just doing sexy it’s going to fail. Just giving the come-hither look is going to fail,” Paley says. “What people find sexy are character and personality and talent. If you can make that stuff come alive that’s how you’re going to really entertain the audience.”

Matthew Smith a previous audience member saw the last Boylesque show, O Manada! True Patriot Lust, a Canadian themed show that featured Canadian icons like lumberjacks, Tim Horton’s, and Pierre Trudeau. “I’ve seen burlesque performed before, but it would just be someone on stage with little clothing, dancing, and their clothes off. What I liked about O Manada! was the writing. It was humorous and all the acts had a plot. It was different” says Smith.

“Part of my goals I started this troupe is to play on all sorts of female traditions. Traditionally burlesque has been a female dominated art form for many years. You want to build from it how do you make pasties male? Or use things like fans and glitter that women use? My first thought was to make a male pasty you can imagine how that went with a glittery cock sock with a tassel on the other part,” Paley says.

They also play with the tradition of stage names. Wong a trombone player, created a band geek persona for his audition and since then he says he tends to play “the guy that hits the wrong note all the time.”

Paley based his stage name on a book he loved, James and the Giant Peach. “A story about a boy that lives in this world and all of a sudden magical things start to happen to him and he meets this cast of characters that take him on these wild adventures and starting this burlesque troupe is what it’s been like for me,” Paley says.

Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque & Boylesque T.O present





Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7 pm and 10 pm

Sunday, Feb. 13 at 8 pm

Monday, Feb. 14 at 8 pm

Doors open 30 minutes before showtime

At The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom – 1214 Queen St. W. Toronto

Tickets Available at


In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Sports, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 8, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Image result for Lennox Cadore



2350 McCowan Road (South of Finch, North of Nugget Ave)





Dog day afternoon at the spa

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 7, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

By: Andre Thurairatnam

After her morning run, she spends a nice relaxing day at the spa – complete with manicure, pedicure and another pampering. She fashionably exits the establishment in her brand new designer shoes and jacket, looking like a model fit for the runway. Rested, and with more confidence than ever, she finally makes her way home to a meal fit for a queen. No, it’s not her birthday, anniversary, or wedding, it’s just another Saturday for Fluffy – the family dog.

According to the Canadian Press and Leger Marketing, over half of all Canadians have household pets, 30 percent of these people being dog owners. If we do the math, that’s about five million dog owners in Canada alone.

Although Fluffy’s Saturday may seem a bit over the top, the reality is that a good portion of these five million dog owners routinely spoils their pets. Owners may feel as though they’re doing a good deed by making their pets “happy”, but could very well be harming them psychologically.

Dog owners have been known to go over-the-top out of “love” for their pet. Everything from letting your dog sleep on your bed, to painting their nails, to feeding them gourmet meals three times a day.

Lisa Wagner of Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid in Vancouver, B.C. warns that dogs who get used to this type of treatment tend to become over-dependent on their owners.

“Dogs really thrive on being given things to do and being told that they’re smart,” she said.

In this day and age, people forget that dogs were originally bred to serve a purpose, whether it be hunting, guiding, herding, sledding, etc. When dogs feel as though they aren’t living up to their purpose, there is a chance they may suffer from low self-esteem issues.

Lauren Molloy of Banda Mastiffs in Zephyr, Ontario urges that the number one thing to keep in mind is to let your dog be a dog. Do not treat it like a human being. Molloy has seen her share of spoiling behaviour in her 21 years experience with dogs.

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Image result for Pretty dogs

“I have seen many people, with small dogs in particular, in baby backpacks or carriages, and I really think that is ridiculous. They have legs. I have Mastiffs, and they carry my things in backpacks when we go out, and they love it,” She said.

Matt Belvedere of Barks n’ Rec doggy daycare in Mississauga, Ontario concludes that the best preventative step to “over-humanizing” your dog is to have it become comfortable around other canines. He strongly believes that having your dog fully socialized and comfortable around other dogs is the number one thing you can do for it.

“It’s more important to socialize your dog than to give it a walk every day,” Belvedere said.

Wagner also recognizes the importance of socializing your pet.

“If dogs don’t understand how to communicate with other dogs, they become fearful of them creating aggression problems,” she said.

Wolfram Klose of the Havelberg Dog Academy in Orona, Ontario, however, says that rewarding your dog for good behaviour is not something to frown upon. Reinforcing good habits by feeding your dog treats, or buying them a new toy is highly effective in moderation. Klose swears by this system.

“A dog should know the difference between play and work,” he said. “It is all right to spoil your pet a bit, but on the other hand, you expect him to listen and behave well in certain situations.”

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Image result for Pretty dogs

What it all comes down to is balance, moderation, and discipline. The old saying is that if you treat your dog like a human, they will treat you like a dog. Fluffy deserves to be treated like a dog. You’re the one who deserves the spa day.

Girl power in hockey (Originally Published in Amöi Magazine)

In Culture, Entertainment, Writing (all kinds) on February 7, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Image result for Girls playing hockey

By Donna Kay Kakonge

Fran Rider, Executive Director of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association says Canadians are born with an interest in hockey. She came from a sports-minded family and started playing around 1967.

“It has powerful opportunities, many of the girls are teachers, professors, they’re highly educated,” she says. “There are many police officers. The young girls have role models in life, not just in sport.”

When Rider was younger, she says there weren’t many opportunities for women to play hockey. They could watch the sport, but the playing was a different story.

“I saw an ad in the Toronto Telegram, I used to go to the Leafs’ games and played in the backyard and always desperately wanted to play and when the opportunity arose I got involved.”

Currently, there is no professional women’s hockey like in basketball, football or hockey for men. The AA league is for recreation. The AAA team is national women’s hockey where the women travel and are in the Olympic Games.

The Ontario Women’s Hockey Association was formed in 1975. When the association first started out they received support from Shoppers Drug Mart and Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion. The International Ice Hockey Federation moved towards a full world championship in 1990 making it possible for Canadians to play in the Olympics.

“The goals of the OWHA have been to grow the interest of the game throughout Ontario, Canada, and the world,” says Rider. “It’s a universal game, the bigger objective of hockey is to win the game, but the bigger objective is to get more support for women’s hockey and the sport.”

Rider also says diverse women playing hockey creates role models.

“Angela [James] was one of the superstars by far and way ahead of her time,” Rider says.

Angela James played for the Olympic women’s hockey team. She grew up in Flemingdon Park in Toronto.

“It’s funny because I’m retired from hockey now,” says James. “When I was younger, I played in my neighbourhood with my friends, played in the outdoor arena. It’s pretty much what everybody did in my area.”

James is a Senior Sports Coordinator at Seneca College on York University’s campus.

“I’m biracial,” James says. “My father’s from rural Mississippi and my mother’s from Ontario. My father who probably has never put on a pair of skates in his life – most of his kids play hockey and are [good] at it. I don’t know if it goes back to the faster muscle twitch.”

James, who lives with her partner, has three children. Chatting with her on a traditional hockey night in Canada, she reflected on the highlights of her hockey career.

“The first world championship…the second world championship was another. The provincial championship was always a great highlight. There were so many it’s hard to say which one. The action on the ice, the way the game is played, the skating. It’s a winter sport, I enjoy that. Also friendship, it’s a team sport off the ice.

“I was playing up until last year,” says James. “I officiate; I’m involved in coaching my son’s team. It’s pretty much still a hockey house here.”

James hasn’t decided yet whether she will be returning to hockey this year.

“I’d play out of York University; they do have a league there. I’d probably play the AA, I could play the AAA, but it’s just too much of a time commitment.”

For all of James’s success with hockey, she has recently been inducted into the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame based in Nova Scotia.


Word count: 600 (without title and byline)

Music Africa

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 6, 2011 at 5:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

An emerging star on the Toronto music scene, BLANDINE kicks off Music Africa’s FREE festival of concerts celebrating Black History Month. Friday night at the Gladstone Hotel.

The entire series is FREE at the Gladstone Melody Bar, every Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The concert series features some of the top African artists living and working in the city. Presented by MUSIC AFRICA & Gladstone World. Thanks to CIUT-FM 89.5 FM.

Music Africa, presenters of AFROFEST, is a community organization dedicated to promoting African music and culture. Discover Africa in the Heart of Toronto!

February 4th – Blandine: Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Canada, Blandine has been exposed to the best African, American and European music all her life. It partly accounts for her ability to mimic such great singers as M’bilia Bel, Chaka Khan, and Mariah Carey. During her teen years in Toronto she developed her distinctive classical/ R&B/ Afropop vocal style, and by age 20 had performed at festivals throughout North America. She later landed a role as a backup singer on tour for Canadian artist Melanie Durant. In 2009 Blandine made the decision to venture out as a solo artist, her debut CD will be released later in 2011. She says her album will contain songs in all the different African, pop, R&B and dance genres she loves. Expect to hear an earful from Blandine in the very near future, this talented young singer-songwriter is here to stay.

February 11th / 18th / 25th – Please see attached

The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto (One block east of Dufferin): (416) 531-4635

Music Africa gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council.

For more information call 416-469-5336, reply to this e-mail, contact, or check

Colour Zoning Hot Trend for 2011

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 5, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Sico has introduced a new colour zoning leaflet, available free of charge at retailers across Canada, that features a range of creative design and colour ideas.

Sico Photo 1(2)

Blocks of colours bring walls to life, highlight room features

Longueuil, Quebec – February 1, 2011 – Looking to freshen up your home décor? Zone in on colour.

According to leading paint brand Sico, colour zoning is coming back in a big way this year and that means more and more Canadians will be using their walls as a canvas to create original, dynamic living spaces.

Colour zoning, or using blocks of colour to highlight walls and room features, “is the hottest trend in home décor right now, from using paint to create shapes like squares, rectangles, stripes or circles on walls, to outlining special architectural elements and furnishings,” said Dominique Pépin, Marketing Manager for Sico and a Chairholder of the international colour forecaster Color Marketing Group. As a result, Sico has just launched a new colour zoning brochure that features a range of creative design and colour ideas.

“It’s all about using colours creatively to add interest to spaces and bring rooms to life,” Pépin explained, attributing the growing popularity of colour zoning to an increase in people’s desire to express themselves through home décor. “People today invest more time in decorating their surroundings and are demonstrating this by using colour in unique ways to deliver personal style to their living spaces.”

According to Pépin, colour zoning is an ideal way to express oneself because it presents limitless possibilities. “Using graphic elements on an empty wall is an easy and inexpensive way to dress up a room, whether adding a touch of fun, sophistication or flair.”

Colour zoning, or using blocks of colour to highlight spaces, has become the hottest trend in home décor. Featured on the walls of this living room are Sico’s Call of the Loon (6183-41) grey and Egyptian Rose (6080-31) pink.

bazelASA 008

bazelASA 008

For example, colour zoning techniques can be used to visually separate a dining area from a living room, create an illusion of a headboard or fireplace surround, produce a medallion effect on the ceiling around a chandelier or frame decorative items like mirrors, photographs or paintings, she suggests. With the right combination of colours and shapes, colour zoning can even take the place of artwork.

Pépin offers this advice on getting started with a colour zoning project:

Get the look: Determine the feeling you’d like to create in your room, then, study the size of the space and placement of furniture to see where colour blocks would best fit. If you have a low table, for example, you may choose to give the room more height by painting a different colour zone on the wall extending from the top of the table to the ceiling. If your space is small, you can give it the illusion of being larger by painting a horizontal stripe – on one wall or all four – which makes the room appear wider than it actually is. If you have a bare wall, consider giving it personality and dimension with an artistic creation featuring varied shapes in different colours and sizes, or paint a large square on the wall to create a backdrop for a favourite painting or piece of furniture.

Map it out: Once you decide on the type of look you’re after, sketch the shapes to be painted on a piece of paper. Be aware that circles and curved lines or overlapping shapes tend to invoke a light and fun feeling, whereas rectangles and sharp edges can create a more serious space. Make sure your design is mapped out in a geometric, visually-balanced arrangement. Then, measure and draw out the shapes on the wall using a light pencil. If your design involves straight lines, outline them with painter’s tape. Using a paintbrush rather than a roller, carefully paint within the lines of your shape. For a clean edge, limit the amount of paint on your brush.

Colour is key: Draw colour inspiration from paintings, fabrics or flowers in the room. Keep in mind that using hues from the same colour family conveys a sophisticated, soothing look whereas contrasting colours deliver a more dynamic feel. For a harmonious décor, choose colours from the same colour sample card, but in varying intensities. For eye-catching contrasts, select complementary colours (those that are opposite one another on the colour wheel), using both light and dark punch colours to brighten up a neutral-toned room. Combinations such as Sico’s Call of the Loon (6183-41) grey and Egyptian Rose (6080-31) pink add refined elegance to a living space, whereas a mix of more energetic colours like Sico’s Impatiens (6033-63) pink, Ming Red (6052-65) and Dynastic Orange (6065-64) create a fun and playful look.

Using a mix of energetic colours, such as Sico’s Impatiens (6033-63) pink, Ming Red (6052-65) and Dynastic Orange (6065-64), pictured on the walls of this shelving unit, creates a fun and playful look.

“When it comes to colour zoning, the only limit is your imagination,” said Pépin. “Be adventurous – some of the most unexpected colour combinations can look terrific and make for a great conversation piece.”

Sico’s new colour zoning leaflet is available free of charge at retailers across the country. To locate a retailer near you or to test colour combinations online with Sico’s unique Virtual Decorator web tool, visit

About Sico (

Sico is a brand of AkzoNobel, the Canadian leader in decorative paints serving the consumer, professional renovation and construction markets. AkzoNobel produces and supplies a wide range of paints, coatings and specialty chemicals, including the leading Sico brand. The company employs nearly 2,000 people in three manufacturing plants, four distribution centres and more than 225 corporate stores across Canada. Dedicated to delivering high-performance solutions and quality products, AkzoNobel has unrivaled technical expertise that meets the current and future needs of its customers.


In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on February 4, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Dulux Inspirations, a first-of-its-kind electronic handheld device, creates instant colour schemes by capturing any colour and automatically suggesting ideal corresponding hues for a room.

Home Office, CIL Sapling

Point, Click and Voilà… an Instant Colour Scheme

First-of-its-Kind Electronic Paint Colour

Selection Tool Banishes Decorating Blues

January 31, 2011 – Choosing paint colours may not be as easy as a snap of the finger, but thanks to a new innovation by leading paint brand Dulux Paints, it’s now as simple as a click of a handheld device.

Called the Dulux Inspirations tool, the first-of-its-kind electronic device is unique in that it creates instant colour schemes by capturing any colour – featured on a fabric, piece of clothing, photo, rock, leaf, or any other object – and automatically suggesting ideal corresponding hues for a room.

Being billed as a major breakthrough in the paint industry, the new technology promises to change the way people choose paint colour in store, says Brad Elkins, Senior Brand Manager for Dulux Paints.

“Feedback from our stores across the country indicates that colour selection is the biggest challenge consumers face when buying paint,” Elkins says, adding that Dulux introduced the electronic colour measuring tool to make the process less stressful – and even fun – for shoppers. “Now, with a single click, consumers can see first hand, right in the store, which colours go together best before investing in paint, and then make quicker, easier and more confident purchasing decisions.”

All consumers have to do is bring an item featuring a favourite colour into any ICI Paints, Glidden, Color Your World or Betonel store. They then place the Dulux Inspirations tool on the item, click a button, and up comes a perfect colour match displayed on the built-in screen. Beside the replicated colour are electronic swatches of other colours – both matching and contrasting options – that work best with the scanned hue and can be featured in other design elements in the room.

“After scrolling through the choices, customers choose the combination of colours they prefer for their room, and leave the store to rest assured that the colours they’ve selected for their walls and trim co-ordinate well with the furniture and accessories in their living space,” Elkins says, adding that the stores will provide shoppers with colour chips for every colour scheme option to take home.

Looking for the perfect shade to start your colour scheme? Dulux – billed as the paint brand that “knows the colours that go” – offers these tips:

Explore your surroundings. Pay attention to what colours make you feel good. Is it certain hues of flowers, trees, grass, even sky? What about a colour featured in a painting, on a book cover, sofa or a favourite shirt? Record the colours you’re drawn to by clipping them from magazines, taking photos or making notes, and then compile them in a folder. After time, you’ll notice a pattern in your preferences.

Get in the mood. Determine the kind of feeling you’d like to create in your room. Warm colours such as reds, oranges, and yellows tend to create a vibrant, exuberant environment, while cooler colours like greens, blues and violets have more tranquil characteristics, emitting an inviting and comforting feel.

Go with your personality. If you’re an optimistic, outgoing person, you may choose yellow for your living space. Dependable, calm people may be drawn towards blue, energetic and confident people may prefer red, while those who love nature may lean towards greens or browns. People who like socializing may find an affinity with oranges, and creative personalities may choose purple as their colour.

Consider the space. Certain colours tend to suit specific rooms. More vibrant colours, for example, go well in a playroom, a kitchen or other active family spaces. Softer colours work best in bedrooms, bathrooms and office areas since they create a more calm and peaceful atmosphere.

For more information on colour schemes or to sample the new Dulux Inspirations tool, visit or call 1-800-268-0534 for an ICI Paints, Glidden, Color Your World or Betonel store near you.

Butting Out

In book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 3, 2011 at 1:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

I have started the journey of quitting smoking – this time for good.

On Sunday, I had one cigarette. That in itself is a real accomplishment for me. I have been using the aid of nicorette gum to help with cravings. I also called the Smoker’s Helpline to find out that cravings do not last forever, it is good to distract yourself and also may help to make a list of things to do and stick to it. I also found out something shocking. With the amount I was smoking at my height of addiction…I was losing 1.5 hours every day just smoking! Shocking! Wow…every day mind you. That averages our to 10.5 hours each week. That is like basically spending a one night’s good night’s rest each week simply smoking. Absolutely amazing. Not to mention how much I was spending on cigarettes which was in excise of more than $3,000.00 CDN per year. I hope that this will encourage others to quit smoking. It really is an important and vital step to make for your overall well-being.

Upcoming events for week of Jan 31‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 2, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Dear Friends,

We are excited to invite you to a night of Kirtan (musical meditation) and ancient chants with our special guest, Badahari Dasa. He has been practicing Bhakti Yoga for four decades and will be sharing his extraordinary meditation and musical skills with us at Urbanedgeyoga on Mon, Feb 21st. You may know him from his melodious chanting during the annual InSpirit festival and this is a not to miss an opportunity. Register at

We also bring you Krishna fest this Sunday, Feb 6th at 11AM to experience the combined effect of exciting musical meditations, a delicious feast and an insightful presentation on ‘A future for your heart’s longings’. Check details and RSVP at

Events for week of Jan 31st

Mon 31st, Live Kirtan Yoga – beats to illuminate and uplift: Kirtan Yoga is a simple yet powerful technique that uses the energy of ancient sound vibrations to tap into the supremely attractive source of all happiness. It will be a guided meditation exercise. Details and RSVP at

Tue 1st, Yoga- relax, meditate and revitalize: A 60-minute yoga class designed to stretch your muscles. Flow through a variety of postures starting with Sun Salutation. Rhythmic music of traditional Indian drums, cymbals, and tambourine in tune with the pace of the postures. Find details and RSVP at

Wed 2nd, Case of mistaken identity- the culture of enjoyment: Explore the 5000-year-old tradition of Bhakti-yoga and discover a framework and practice that will awaken good fortune in your life. This is a 4 part course modeled on the 5000-year-old tradition. Find more and RSVP at

Thu 3rd, Vegan cooking classes-world foods: A trip to the beautiful south-east is truly not complete without a taste of the delicious cuisines. There is an art to cooking these delights and our in-house expert will share these secrets in a structured classroom environment with you. Join us for an interactive cooking class and RSVP at

Fri 4th, Everyday wisdom from Bhagavad Gita – a timeless treatise: Find answers to questions : Is Karma the universal teacher, why do bad things happen to good people, the nature of consciousness, finding happiness in the daily grind, does the world have a purpose and what is the art of love and relationships. Discover yourself through an interactive study of this Yoga classic of the ancient east recommended by teachers around the world. Find details and RSVP at

Quote of the week: Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is a renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind. (Bhagavad Gita as it is)



Videotron created 827 jobs in Québec in 2010

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More than 4,000 jobs in 10 years

January 28, 2011 @ 12:00PM

Montréal – The positive public response to Videotron’s products and services is reflected not only in the high customer satisfaction rate but also in the job market: Videotron created no fewer than 827 new jobs in 2010, driven by its entry into the mobile market and its status as Québec’s most respected telecommunications carrier. The latest wave of hiring has boosted Videotron’s workforce to more than 6,000. In all, the company has created approximately 4,200 jobs in 10 years.

A magnet employer in a cutting-edge industry
Videotron is a magnet employer to which talented people naturally gravitate. “Videotron operates in a leading-edge industry and our people work in a heady swirl of technology, entertainment, and product/service development efforts,” said Robert Dépatie, President & CEO of Videotron. “The challenges associated with our move into mobile services in 2010 are a good example of our dynamic working environment. Videotron is also a growing company that offers a broad range of career opportunities in all parts of Québec. Our employees truly are on the front lines of the tech revolution.”

“Over the years, Videotron has become the uncontested industry leader,” Mr. Dépatie noted. “Today, we can say that Videotron has also become an employer of choice for Quebecers.”

Keeping the promise
Videotron created 230 jobs over and above the hiring targets it announced in January 2010. It has invested more than $1 billion in its mobile network and created more than 4,000 jobs in 10 years. The numbers clearly show that Videotron has kept its promise to offer Quebecers the best possible customer experience, observed Robert Dépatie.

“We have been making capital investments and creating jobs in order to achieve several goals: to have competent employees in Québec ready to respond to customers promptly, to continue developing and maintaining our network in order to keep it among the most reliable and robust in the industry, to innovate by developing new communication and entertainment applications, to understand consumers’ existing needs and anticipate new ones,” Robert Dépatie said. “But at the end of the day, all these efforts pursue one overriding objective: the optimal customer experience.”

Numerous openings
Videotron continues hiring to fill new positions. The company is looking for talented people for jobs in a wide variety of fields: engineering, network operations and management, installation, sales, marketing, IT and customer service. To view Videotron’s current job offers, go to and click on the link to the job board.
See what new employees have to say at

1. Les Affaires, “Le classement des 150 entreprises les plus admirées au Québec 2010,” February 20, 2010.

Videotron Ltd. (, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable television, interactive multimedia development, and Internet access, cable telephone, and mobile telephone services. Videotron is a leader in new technologies with its interactive Digital TV service and its broadband network, which supports high-speed cable Internet access, analog and digital cable television, and other services. As of December 3, 2010, Videotron was serving 1,808,900 cable television customers, including 1,204,800 subscribers to its digital service. Videotron is also the Québec leader in high-speed Internet access, with 1,246,500 subscribers to its cable modem service as of December 3, 2010. As of the same date, Videotron had activated 122,900 handsets on its mobile telephone service and was providing cable telephone service to 1,109,100 Québec households and organizations. For the fifth consecutive year, Videotron was named Québec’s most respected telecommunications company by Les Affaires magazine, based on a Léger Marketing survey.

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