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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Puns to Ponder

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 17, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Ponders on Puns - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Brikena Ribaj Ponders on Puns – Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Brikena Ribaj

Tip of the hat to Chris for the pointer. He and I have such a great time together playing with language. I thought I’d share with you all what he just sent my way.

Enjoy. And as a medievalist, my very favorite would have to be number one.

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Because ALL One Needs is Music – Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There

In Culture, Entertainment, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 16, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Does a Review of Todd Hayes

Brikena Ribaj Does a Review of Todd Hayes

By Brikena Ribaj

I don’t think one chooses music. I truly believe it chooses one. I was asked recently why I’m such a fan of indie music. I remember saying something like, ‘well, I suppose I was born that way. Or something. It’s one of those truths, you know? You just know it. Sort of like knowing your name, you just do, you know?’ The awkward-sounding answer made full sense to me. Can’t say the same for my interlocutor.

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Pet Shop Boys and Nietsche?!?!

In Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 15, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Comments on the Pet Shop Boys

Brikena Ribaj Comments on the Pet Shop Boys

By Brikena Ribaj

I often refer to the music-loving Socrates as Nietzsche portrays him in his work Birth of Tragedy. Music is the best form of language, per Socrates. And I concur fully not just because it is Socrates’ attitude per Nietzsche but because I happen to share the same attitude experientially. So, those who get mad over not getting showered with attention when music is playing an active part in the discourse need to, well, find other ways to cope.

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Creating Things: Profile of Roger McTair (Originally Published on Impowerage.com)

In book reviews, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Roger McTair Creates Magic - Photo Courtesy of Seneca College's Website

Roger McTair Creates Magic – Photo Courtesy of Seneca College’s Website

Roger McTair is a director, poet, professor and writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has had short stories air on CBC Radio and BBC Radio.

He was born in Trinidad and Tobago on October 7, 1943. Not having much to do while growing up galvanized his love of creating things.

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Study Finds New Technology For Fossil Fuels Can Cut CO2

In Business, Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 12, 2017 at 12:00 PM
EPRI Did a Revealing Study on Electricity - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

EPRI Did a Revealing Study on Electricity – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has found the replacement of fossil fuels technology with electric ones would result in energy savings. The energy savings are as high as 71.7 quadrillion BTUs.

These savings would cut CO2 by 4,400 million tons between 2009 and 2030.

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Rookies

In Business, Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Sports, Writing (all kinds) on February 11, 2017 at 3:00 AM
A Rookie's Story is Told by Rachel Muenz - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A Rookie’s Story is Told by Rachel Muenz – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Rachel Muenz

Jo Henday, Sister:

I should be proud of you but I’m not. Not of a single shot.

Your first goal came off my stick, remember? The puck was pinned to the boards by a couple pairs of skates and there were five of us from both teams working at it in a clatter of wood. Some kid kept cross-checking me in the back – no penalty – but I fought my way through the press of jerseys and dug the puck out. I flung it towards the net because I knew you were there.

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Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 9, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Comments on Lost in Translation - Photo Courtesy of IMB

Brikena Ribaj Comments on Lost in Translation – Photo Courtesy of IMDB

By Brikena Ribaj

Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) is another good Fall title for me. It takes place in Tokyo and the most relatable bits in the film are Charlotte and Bob, the two main characters, exploring the busy, urban streets of Tokyo together, thus sharing their isolated togetherness and bonding in a place where the leading currency is utter linguistic unfamiliarity and unequivocal confusion.

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Ist Brüno In oder Aus? Ish sage Aus!

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 8, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Movie Bruno

Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Movie Bruno

By Brikena Ribaj

A screening of Brüno (2009) in a German-speaking setting is one thing. A screening of it somewhere else is something else.

I explain.

As a German speaker, I have a healthy list of reasons as to why this film vexed my ears. The whole grammar thing does a number on me. File it under occupational hazard.

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The Inkwell – Selection from Upcoming Book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Beauty, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 7, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Larenz Tate is the Star of the Movie The Inkwell

Larenz Tate is the Star of the Movie The Inkwell – Photo Courtesy of Starpulse.com

Set in 1976, this movie features the staple afros, braids and other various styles of Black hair at that time. The interesting thing of note is that the family of Drew Tate, the main character in the movie, are depicted as working class and activist.

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Listen`in (Defunct Proposal to the CBC) – Selections from Upcoming Book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Business, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on February 6, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Paul da Silva and Donna Kakonge Worked on a Creative Concept Called Listen'in - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Paul da Silva and Donna Kakonge Worked on a Creative Concept Called Listen’in – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A proposal for a thirteen part series exploring issues of race,

culture, and identity. The series will provide a forum for discussions on these topical issues through a Documentary approach as well as through discussions in an informal, and relaxed setting amongst people who are both well informed and passionate about these issues. The setting could be in a community, a cultural setting.

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Suggestions for Ethnic Newspapers – Selections from Upcoming book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 5, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Ethnic Newspapers Can Help You to Discover Many Things - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Ethnic Newspapers Can Help You to Discover Many Things – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Suggested Publications

*Aboriginal Voices
$45/2 years
-geared towards examining Native North American culture

*Atin Ito
$30/year
-Filipino publication has one of the highest circulations

*First Perspective
$24.95 – $26.70
-a national newspaper highligting a variety of events concerning Aboriginal
people
-also notes political events and issues

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BC Woman Loves Shea Butter Market Products

In Beauty, Business, Culture, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM
BC Woman's Favourite Shea Butter Market Product - Photo Courtesy of Shea Butter Market.com

BC Woman’s Favourite Shea Butter Market Product – Photo Courtesy of Shea Butter Market.com

A 71-year-old woman in British Columbia (who preferred not be named) loves the Shea Butter Market products that Gifty Serbeh-Dunn owns. “I love them,” she says. “I’ve used pretty well everything that she’s had out. First of all I’ve used her shea butter and the moisturizing cream and the body lotion and the foot cream.”

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Blue Death: A five-part series by the Teeny Tracer on how protestors are destroying money and lives at Dump Site 52

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 3, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

The plight of North Comise garbage: Part one of a five-part series

By Zema Luncher

In homes across North Comise County, the garbage bag is kept hidden from sight in cupboards or garages, unable to socialize with the families it lives with and treated as less than the family dog. After a week, it is stuffed into a bin and left for hours until it is hurled into a truck for a long, crowded journey to an even more crowded landfill. Here, it is dumped in piles with thousands of other bags, left to be torn apart by seagulls, crows and other scavengers, never knowing the taste of clean water or the smell of fresh air.

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Ottawa Woman Loves Shea Butter Market Products

In Beauty, Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Citrus is Just One of the Many Flavours of the Shea Butter Market Lip Balm Products - Photo Courtesy of SheaButterMarket.com

Citrus is Just One of the Many Flavours of the Shea Butter Market Lip Balm Products – Photo Courtesy of SheaButterMarket.com

Christen Bennett, in her early 30s, is a family friend of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn, owner of the Shea Butter Market company. For a time while in Ottawa, Serbeh-Dunn lived with Bennett’s family. Out of friendship and a deep belief in shea butter, Bennett tries to promote the Shea Butter Market products in the Ottawa region.

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SO IS THIS IT?

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on January 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Hyacinth Harewood's Poem Illustrates the Struggles of Life - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

Hyacinth Harewood’s Poem Asks So Is This It? – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

By Hyacinth Harewood

I’m a parasite on an interminable past that will outlast my gourmet greed,
I’m Tantalus in consummation, never stopping eating – under the curse of my past.
Yesterday’s spices drive me to wishing wells of the future that never fulfill water,
Not a drip from the cup to the caking lip.

Come tomorrow ….
Tomorrow never comes,
Intercepted by an interfering today.

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Financial degradation at Site 52 puts species at risk: Part three of a five-part series

In Business, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on January 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

By Zema Luncher

Protests at Site 52 are putting a severe strain on the financial ecosystem, damaging the habitats of taxpayers and politicians, says Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon.

Blockades at the proposed dump site in Teeny Township are not only harming these species but the protestors as well, he added.

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Brainwashed by Site 52 protestors: Part four of a five-part series

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on January 28, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About a Character That Loves Garbage in Part Four of Her Series - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About a Character That Loves Garbage in Part Four of Her Series – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

By Zema Luncher

Charlene Rawston used to love garbage. Instead of keeping it in bins or in the garage, she kept the bags in the living room where she could talk to them and share stories. When Site 52 was first proposed she wholeheartedly supported it, happy that other bags like her close friends would finally have a proper home. But then the protestors came and everything changed.

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Horrific violence at Site 52 shocks county: Part two of a five-part series

In Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Living, Writing (all kinds) on January 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Protests Rock the Small Township Over Garbage - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Protests Rock the Small Township Over Garbage – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Zema Luncher

Local politicians are starting to fear for their lives as protests to the dump site in Teeny Township heat up.

Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon said people have been sending more and more letters of concern about the dump every day.

“My email inbox is always full so other important messages aren’t getting through,” Gudgeon said. “It’s also very painful on my eyes to read them all.

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Camille Nelson’s Album First Words, Why I Love It

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Musical Work of Camille Nelson

Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Musical Work of Camille Nelson

By Brikena Ribaj

This is Camille Nelson, my very good friend.

Camille Nelson is one of my all-time favorite people. Among so many other things, she is also an artist par excellence. Camille is also the one who patiently taught me how to play the guitar, the one with whom I’ve had many an adventure over the years, and the one who simply excels at all she does. And she manages to do it all by being unapologetically good and quintessentially Camille.

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SHEA BUTTER MARKET – BRINGING GIFTS TO THE MASSES

In Beauty, Business, Culture, Health, Living, Media Writing, Pets, Writing (all kinds) on November 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

I CALLED GIFTY SERBEH-DUNN AS SHE WAS FEEDING HER CAT. HER BOYS WALKED BY THE CAT WITHOUT FEEDING HER. HER BIG BOY IS HER HUSBAND WAYNE DUNN WHO HAS A BUSINESS DEGREE FROM STANFORD. HER SMALL 7-YEAR-OLD BOY IS HER SON KABORÉ. SERBEH-DUNN HAS MANY THINGS TO DO SUCH AS FEEDING HER CAT AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS SHEA BUTTER MARKET.

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Bicycle Time

In Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 25, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Rachel Muenz

The road unrolls before him, cracked and purple-grey. The pavement is worn but good, better than that behind him, cratered and half-repaired with uneven disks of tar. On either side, trees slide past the corners of his eyes, their branches reaching for his arms. Beyond the trees, the hunched forms of hills, shadowed and filmed with pale green, rise and fall. He feels the hum of the tires in his chest, right through to his heart. It is pure joy.

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Black Women Share Career Experiences (Originally Published in the Charlatan Newspaper)

In Culture, Writing (all kinds) on November 22, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Nov. 6 presented a rare opportunity for five black women professionals to share their personal experiences, success strategies and encouragement with Carleton’s black community.

“It’s good to see someone there in the image of yourself succeeding,” said Kathy Wilkinson, a member of Perspectives.

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Ode to Silence

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 20, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Loves Portland, Oregon - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Brikena Ribaj Loves Portland, Oregon - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

By Brikena Ribaj

One of the reasons I love Portland, OR, well, other than it being home to the best bookstore I have seen in North America, Powell’s, is how quiet it is.

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Franz Ferdinand Concert Report

In Culture, Entertainment, Events, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 16, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Franz Ferdinand Concert - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Franz Ferdinand Concert - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Franz Ferdinand is on tour promoting their new album Tonight with Franz Ferdinand. We saw them in concert last night and I am happy to report that they delivered. They performed for one and a half hours and the energy of the band was in harmonious synch with that of the crowd.

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Taylor Swift?! Uh-huh!

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 12, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Rocks to Taylor Swift

Brikena Ribaj Rocks to Taylor Swift

By Brikena Ribaj

Today I rocked to country.

Yes. I did.

I rocked to country music.

The reason I say this twice is because, well, for lack of a better phrase, I don’t do country. I don’t know why. I just can’t. I am not attracted to it. I never was. While I’m sure that country music feeds many people, it doesn’t manage to feed me in any way. Not even with carbs. It’s a preference issue, you see. For example, I love Verdi, Wagner, Beethoven, and Mozart but I don’t care for Schumann. I love Indie rock but basically everything about Grunge bothers me. And, yes, Nirvana is an exception. Kurt Cobain is bigger than any genre. And I loved him. Very much. I still do. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” continues to be a high-frequency track. It’s not grunge, it’s classic. So there are exceptions within certain genres, of course.

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Excerpt from Spiderwoman

In book reviews, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 11, 2016 at 3:00 AM
This is the Cover Art for the Book Spiderwoman - Photo From Dreamstime.com

This is the Cover Art for the Book Spiderwoman - Photo From Dreamstime.com

Spiderwoman is the third book that I officially published, actually the fourth if you include the short story I did for Headlight Anthology. This book was a long process that started with stories I did in a Carleton University creative writing class with Tom Henighan. You can buy the book at: http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged.

Garbage Strike

In Culture, Environment, Health, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 10, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Comments on Toronto's Garbage Strike - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Nick Goodwin Comments on Toronto's Garbage Strike - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Nick Goodwin

Okay, so Toronto’s morale doesn’t seem to be out of whack at all. Maybe a little unfocused but somehow people are remaining happy even with the increasingly gross trails of garbage leading from overflowing containments. Are we to improvise and use our creative minds to construct this trash into something we can all gawk at? We need to come up with something.

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It’s A Great Deal

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Religion, Restaurant Reviews, Technology, travel, Uncategorized, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2016 at 3:00 AM
This is the Cover Art for the Book The Write Heart - Photo From Dreamstime.com

This is the Cover Art for the Book The Write Heart - Photo From Dreamstime.com

Can you imagine that I am offering free life coaching on any of your life’s challenges for the low, low cost of one book sale from you? Yes – this is not a gimmick – it is true.

We can do the life coaching through email if you are long distance, or we could do it over the phone if you are local. We can also use such services as MSN and Yahoo Messenger if you prefer a more instant approach to the life coaching. I look forward to hearing from you. Make your dreams come true!

Muttluks to the rescue!

In Culture, Education, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 6, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Rachel Muenz

They protect your feet from extreme cold when playing in the snow. Military personnel use them to keep the pads of their feet from burning up on the hot ground of Afghanistan. Broken glass and other hazards won’t hurt you because of these boots. You are a dog, after all, and you don’t always pay attention to where you’re walking whether you’re just fooling around or saving lives.

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Simply People Festival to Celebrate Disabilities

In Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Writing (all kinds) on November 4, 2016 at 3:00 AM
The Simply People Festival is Happening on July 21st - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

The Simply People Festival is Happening on July 21st - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Simply people was formed about five years ago after forming CANWAPPS. CANWAPPS stands for Canada-wide Accessibility for Post-secondary Students. This is a national non-profit organization that is geared towards increasing accessibility and inclusion for post-secondary students with disabilities.

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Happy Canada Day! – Every Day

In Culture, Events, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 1, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Have a Great Canadian Day - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Have a Great Canadian Day - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

Muay Thai

In Culture, Education, Health, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 28, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin is Discovering Muay Thai Boxing - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin is Discovering Muay Thai Boxing - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I have begun researching the art of Muay Thai boxing. The reason being is because I have been given the opportunity to create a mural on the wall of a soon-to-be Muay Thai boxing studio. The Remix Project has given me the opportunity to help with the creation of this mural.

So far, I have learned a few basics in regards to the history and importance of Muay Thai boxing. Muay Thai was born in Thailand. The practice of this fighting technique dates way back to a more primal time. It was originally formed as a technique that the people of Thailand could use to defend themselves from neighbouring countries that had the intentions of invasion. One of the most unique factors is that the techniques of Muay Thai have always been passed on orally rather than through documentation or written instruction. There are few written records.

Muay Thai is a large part of Thai culture. Even in times of peace, the military leaders encouraged the practice of these self-defense techniques. In this cultural environment many people choose to make a living through Muay Thai competitively. In some cases of poverty it is some people’s last resort of survival.

Like any sport, over time it has evolved and become a little safer and more commercial. Still, Muay Thai boxing is a part of the Thai culture that continues to affect the whole world.

I am excited to post more details on this subject as my knowledge and experience increases.

Tabi make ninjas happy

In Culture, Health, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on October 24, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Discovered There Are Special Shoes for Ninjas - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Rachel Muenz Discovered There Are Special Shoes for Ninjas - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By Rachel Muenz

Most people in Toronto put on high-heels, polished oxfords or running shoes when they go to work. Matthew Wright puts on a pair of tabi.

Tabi are a traditional type of shoe worn in Japan mainly for festivals and are essentially like mittens for your feet, keeping the big toe separate from the rest of your toes. They also happen to be the favoured footwear of ninjas.

Wright has been making training tools and fixing swords for people who practise ninjutsu for about three years.

“I’m very lucky with my profession that I get to say I’m a full-time professional ninja,” he says. “It’s very awesome.”

He says he finds wearing regular clothes strange because he is used to wearing his ninjutsu uniform all the time at work.

“When I go out, I feel I’m putting the costume on. I put the jeans on. I put a shirt on and I look in the mirror and I think I look very funny,” says Wright, who has practised ninjutsu for two years. “I don’t put Gators on, I put my tabi on.”

The shoes look cool but there is more to them than that.

Greg Tremblay, a full-time ninjutsu instructor at Kageyama Dojo in western Toronto also wears tabi every day to work. He says these unique shoes give a ninja’s balance a boost with their split-toe design.

“The big toe is absolutely of prime importance for balance,” Tremblay says, tugging on his own toe  that is poking through his well-worn tabi. “It’s where all your balance comes from and so having that toe separated from the rest of them adds to that feeling of balance.”

You wouldn’t think so, since the cotton tabi tend to slip, but this actually helps with a ninja’s training, says Tremblay who’s at the rank of seventh dan in ninjutsu and bears the title of Shidoshi.

With Canada’s icy winters, training with tabi help simulate a situation where you might be fighting on a slippery, snowy road, says Tremblay, who opened Kageyama in 1996 and has been doing ninjutsu since the early 80s.

The easy-slide fabric forces ninjas to concentrate on their balance instead of taking it for granted.

Wright agrees cotton tabi improve a ninja’s stability.

“They allow me to grip surfaces that are uneven,” he says from the beige mat in one of the dojo’s training halls. “I can feel the terrain so it allows me to really work on my balance.”

Tabi are also easier to clean than other shoes.

“You can throw these in the washing machine and wash them,” Tremblay says, clapping a hand on his tabi-clad foot. “They’re just kind of like really thick, convenient socks.”

There are also more durable, rubber-soled tabi called jika tabi, which ninjas use mostly for outdoor training. In Japan, this type of tabi is used by construction workers.

Wright says jika tabi are excellent for training on hardwood floors because they grip much better than cloth tabi. Jika tabi also make it easier for him to train with his problem knee.

“With a rubber sole, my foot doesn’t slip so I can really feel where the pressure is on my knee,” Wright says, gesturing to his left leg. “It allows me to have a lot more power and accuracy.”

Some moves can only be done wearing tabi.

Amon Kage, who’s been training in ninjutsu for three years but has only been at Kageyama for a week, says he wears tabi just for one type of strike.

“The only reason I actually use them is because of the toe kick,” Kage says. “That’s the only footwear you can effectively use [for the kick].”

This move is a kick with the big toe to any target on an opponent’s body, says Kage, a literature student at the University of Toronto. The split toe is what allows a ninja to pull it off.

When buying tabi, Wright says he wants ones that don’t bite between his toes but have a seam that fits tightly to his foot. He says he still needs some space in the toe area for movement, but not a lot.

“If there’s too much space . . . it doesn’t hold nicely and it’s like wearing a loose sock and you’re trying to move,” he says, running his hand along his new-looking navy tabi. “It’s just uncomfortable all the time.”

Both Wright and Tremblay say it’s best to buy directly from a supplier rather than the Internet. Tremblay finds it easiest to get his tabi directly from Japan, which he visits often.

He says they cost about $15 to$20 Canadian and the larger sizes are around $30 to$35 and last three to nine months before they wear out, depending on how often they’re used.

If you have to buy tabi over the Internet, asking questions is important to make sure you get the right type and best quality, the two ninjas say.

“Ask if they’re Velcro,” Wright says. “If they’re Velcro that’s usually the first sign that they’re not good tabi.”

High-quality tabi have metal tabs at the back that can be adjusted for a better fit.

While Tremblay wears tabi as often as he can, the navy blue ones for ninjutsu, the black jika tabi for outdoor training, and white ones for doing Japanese archery, he avoids wearing them in public. He wore a pair of rubber tabi similar to rain boots when he went out only once.

“I wore them one time on the subway and everybody noticed,” he says with a smile. “It’s totally not something that a ninja would actually wear because then everybody knows you’re a ninja, right?”

For the People

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 22, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Watched Sesame Street as a Child - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Watched Sesame Street as a Child - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I wonder if it’s strange that I relate my childhood to movies that I watched as a kid. Or children’s show such as Sesame Street. I guess it’s a good thing. I turned out to be polite, kind, respectful and considerate. Perhaps the creators of these shows had some of our best
interests in mind. It’s the least I could hope for.

I found it interesting the other day when I picked up a plastic bag full of carrots and read the side of the bag. There was an ingredients section listed on this bag of carrots and I wanted to know what
on earth could be added to a bag of carrots so I read in deeper. I was relieved to discover that the only ingredient listed was, of course, carrots. Kind of scary though, that so many of our foods are manmade. Some kids in the world might think that pasta trees or Cheerios plants exist somewhere in the galaxy. Assume not and count out no possibility, on both counts.

I’m 20 years old and at this point in life, the least I can do is try and set an example for people. To live by a code of respect and decency is the least I can do. Truly, it’s the least that all of us can do. Beyond making a living and feeding a family. Beyond politics and laws. People aren’t born to be hostile creatures. You don’t see us with fangs or claws. We weren’t given the tools to be predators. We were given the tools to consider.

We were given the privilege to be opinionated and to build our own stories. Each individual person with a story, a position, an opinion, an up bringing, and a direction.

Need help? Just give me a call with tobacco

In Business, Culture, Education, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on October 17, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By: Rachel Muenz

Before I climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I thought tobacco was bad. But now I know that it can be good, depending on how you use it. Tobacco can help students like me get the confidence they need to make their dreams soar.

It is here at the University of Toronto’s First Nations House where I meet Grafton Antone, one of two Aboriginal elders there, to talk about the work he does with students at U of T. In exchange for that information, I must give him a tiny packet of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

Antone explains tobacco is sacred in Aboriginal culture because it is how natives communicate with Creator, their supreme being, when they need guidance.

“The smoke carries our prayers up to Creator and Creator said, ‘if you want anything, just give me a call and here’s my telephone,’ says Antone, holding up a piece of dried tobacco and laughing. This is why elders are given tobacco in exchange for information and counselling. It’s a way of asking for help.
Students can also bring the elders other gifts. Antone shows me the large block of pink salt stone he got from a student earlier that day who told him it came from Pakistan. He turns it in his hands so I can see the hole in the top where a candle can be put inside and lit to make the stone glow.

Just like lighting the salt stone, Antone helps feed the fires of students’ dreams with his booming laugh and encouraging words so they can shine with success.

“I work with people’s dreams and make them happen,” says Antone, who’s been an elder at First Nations House since about the year 2000.

Antone shows me how he does this by asking students questions and learning what their dreams are. Knowing a bit more about students, he can then bounce ideas off them for how they can go about achieving those dreams.

“That’s where we build; we build on our relationship,” Antone says. “We build on our conversations and that’s what I do. I dialogue with you and in dialoguing with you I’m able to work with you.”

But there’s only so much Antone can do to help a student. Overall, the student needs to have a goal and has to want to achieve that goal in order for Antone to give them guidance.
“A bird needs to have a dream to fly,” he says.

Kathy Marsden agrees. She’s been the native counsellor at the Aboriginal Resource Centre at Georgian College in Barrie for the past 12 years.

“If they’re [the students] not internally motivated, nobody can motivate them to change,” Marsden says. “The support services are about empowering, helping them to work things through themselves, not doing things for them.”

Like Antone, Marsden also uses Aboriginal teachings to help native students at the college. Her main way of helping students is by using what she calls “the medicine wheel approach.”

The medicine wheel is another important symbol of most First Nations, though it differs from group to group. It is a wheel divided into four sections: red, black, white, and yellow. The wheel stands for many different things, but Marsden’s counselling methods focus on the four parts of the self the wheel symbolizes: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
Marsden mostly deals with the emotional part in her counselling but she says the four areas overlap.

“If someone’s under emotional stress, it’s affecting them in all those other areas,” she says. “It’s affecting them mentally, so they can’t concentrate on their academics. It’s affecting them physically; oftentimes they can’t sleep, so I don’t just deal with the emotional part.”

Balance is the aim of Marsden’s approach. She has students fill out a medicine wheel chart to show which of the four areas they need to work on. Eating well and getting enough exercise are some of the things she might help a student with in the physical part, while self-confidence issues could be a part of both the emotional and spiritual sections of the wheel.
“Depending on how lengthy the sessions are we may just deal with one specific aspect,” Marsden says. “But that’s OK. If it helps them get on with their lives, then that’s great.”

Helping students with those emotional problems can be hard.
Antone says that every single student that comes to see him is a difficult case in its own way, but it’s especially hard when the student is angry. Surprisingly, to help students get past their anger, he eggs them on to make them angrier.

“Sometimes when people are angry, it sometimes requires you to get a little bit more angry ‘til you realize that maybe that’s not really the right thing,” he says. “They catch themselves, they calm down and then I’m able to talk to them and maybe bring them down the good path.” The good path can mean forgiving people and treating them better instead of being mad, Antone adds.

Marsden agrees that anger shouldn’t be ignored even though most people see it as a negative emotion.

“The way we look at it is, all our emotions are given to us by Creator so we have to honour all those emotions and it’s how we deal with them that counts,” she says.

Smudging ceremonies are also a way that elders and native counsellors might help students deal with stress and other problems.

In his tiny office at First Nations House with the window open a crack, Antone shows me how smudging is done.

He takes a large shell from a table at the back of the room and sprinkles some grey-white sage leaves into it. He lights them on fire and smoke begins to curl up to the ceiling. I sweep the smoke over myself with my hands three or four times as Antone says for me to do. It has a spicy sweet smell and, as Antone says, “it makes you want to start cooking turkey.”

Aboriginals believe everyone has an energy surrounding them. The smoke from the sage or other plants First Nations use in smudging, such as sweetgrass, works like a shower to wash away negative energy, Antone says.

“What it does is it works with the thinking. It’s good for people and it’s supposed to bring understanding and it’s supposed to clear your mind,” he says. “And in the clearing of the mind it gives a new space, a new time, a new beginning for you to be able to walk the future.”

I feel calmer after bathing myself in the sage smoke and wish I had known about smudging during my last set of assignments.
But smudging doesn’t work for everybody.

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” Antone says.
He adds that postsecondary education is a kind of smudging, because by gaining knowledge, the energy around people changes too.

Learning about the Aboriginal worldview helps students with their personal growth, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an Aboriginal studies professor at the University of Toronto.
Unlike mainstream society, the native viewpoint focuses on the success of everyone as a group rather than the success of one person, Wesley-Esquimaux says.

“When it’s all about you and all you’re concerned about is getting to the top of the game, then you don’t care who you step on,” she says. “Whereas with the Aboriginal worldview it’s not like that, it’s not competitive, it’s about trying to help each other get to a good place.”

By thinking of helping other people instead of just themselves, students not only become better people, they also become part of a community, Wesley-Esquimaux adds. Because of this, they avoid the loneliness and homesickness students often experience when they first get to university or college. Taking part in native community activities like potlucks and feasts means that students gain the support of many people and aren’t left on their own to deal with the transition to university or college.

“They [the students] seem to enjoy the inclusive nature of it. They like being involved in putting together feasts and spending a lot of time with each other,” she says. “They like that part. They don’t feel so isolated.”

Marsden says this idea of community and getting students involved is important at Georgian College as well. Though her counselling services are just for native students, the Aboriginal Resource Centre, like First Nations House, also has events and activities for all students and they have an elder on campus who everyone can visit for help.

“We’re not exclusive, we’re inclusive and that’s a huge factor,” Marsden says.

Changing students’ ways of thinking either through seeing an elder or learning more about Aboriginal culture can help them overcome seemingly impossible challenges at school, Antone says.

“It is not impossible, it’s only the space that you’re sitting in or the environment that you’re engulfed in . . . if we move you over just that much,” he says, holding his hands about an inch apart, “All of a sudden you say, ‘Oh I can see it, I understand it now.”

With a bit of nudging, students see solutions to problems that they were blind to before.

Talking with students and hearing their stories is what Antone enjoys most about working at First Nations House.
“I like to listen to people and I hear their stories. That’s how I can get a story.”

But it also makes him happy when he sees students carrying on what he’s taught them by performing various First Nations ceremonies themselves.

Passing on knowledge is what he really seems to love.
“I changed you,” he says with a laugh. “I smudged you. You’re no longer the same person as you were when you came in here.

You now have an access to the Aboriginal understanding.”
It’s true.

When I first climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know what First Nations culture was, though I’d read a lot about it.
Now I know a little something, and as I walk away from First Nations House, up the dreary wet street, I’m happy and confident. I know more about who I am.

All because of a little bundle of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

Live for your element

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Opinion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on October 16, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Enjoys Cottage Life - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Enjoys Cottage Life - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

Fishing is definitely one of my favourite things. I always look forward to the summer because I figure there is a good chance that I will find myself out in the wilderness at least once or twice. I love camping and also visiting cottages.

If I go camping with my family it is always a great time. We try to spend time together and play cards, sit by the fire and go for walks, maybe play catch or badminton. We usually have a few laughs and hang out like friends. When I was younger I definitely took advantage of hanging out with my family. Of course, as people get older relationships develop and form new dynamics.

I have loved fishing ever since the first time my Dad taught me how. It is not so much the thrill of the catch as it is the peace of mind. I don’t ever mind if nothing bites. I just love being near the lake and taking in the peace and quiet. Never mind the mosquito bites and sunburns.
When I am fishing I am in my element.

That’s one of the reasons I love skateboarding. When I have my music playing and I’m cruising I am definitely in my element. I live for the peace of mind and the comfort of joy.

I can recognize this focus in others. My mom reads her book with a side of cottage cheese and she is in her element. My dad hangs out in the backyard and he is in his element. My brother plays his guitar and he is in his element.

The point is, if you find yourself going back to an activity for the peace of mind and clarity then you have found your element. Cherish this privilege.

E Reece & Core Elements

In Culture, Entertainment, Events, Music, Writing (all kinds) on October 15, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Elevated Mental Recordings

E REECE & Core Elements

WHAT YOU NEED

(Produced by Brian Boland)

ALBUM: http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/ze9zuz

INST: http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/dty7by

VIDEO LINK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS72m24Zr7c

Read the rest of this entry »

A short trip on a long journey, taken, Only by the Night

In Culture, Media Writing, Music, Writing (all kinds) on October 12, 2016 at 3:00 AM

By Alex Scott

With the passing of time all things change, some for better and some for worse. Not everything that is new is better, and sometimes we lose something tragic. The art of buying music has been all but lost, and it is rather sad to see it go. A visit to the music stores will quickly reveal the dying business, and the endless rows of movies, TV shows, figurines, novelettes, and other such crap they must sling to try and stay alive.

What have we lost? Sure it is much easier to download music these days, if you have enough virus protection and fight your way through the jungle of media available online. Or you can take the noble route and purchase your albums online for a small fee. But buying music online will never be the same as the real thing. What you lose is the essence of music, the indescribable feeling of looking through the work that so many artists have committed their lives to.

I took a trip to the music store recently, a trip down memory lane it seemed to be. It had been quite some time since I had bought a CD, but I was very excited. Maybe I am alone, but to me there is nothing that can replace the way it feels to buy a CD. I will gladly pay more just for the sheer experience. After all, when you compare the cost of a CD to many other things, it really doesn’t cost that much at all. A simple lunch at any burger joint or sandwich shop is over $10, and CD’s are now mostly under $15.

After looking through the racks of music I decided to purchase the Kings Of Leon – Only by the Night. I had only heard one song from them, as they were new to Canada at the time, but the unique vocal sound and the mix of rock and rhythm and soul immediately drew me into the sound. Now they have started tearing up the charts in Canada with 2 songs in the top 30 and you can hear them on the radio, but a small part of me feels like I can be proud that I “discovered” them on my own.

Just the act of buying a CD is exciting. To really hear music you have to commit yourself to it. You need to listen. When you are surfing music on limewire or the apple store you don’t get the same appreciation in 5 or 10 second clips. But when you leave the store and you have invested in the music, then you are truly ready to hear it.

Then you take the time to look over the artwork on the album cover, read the song listings, and when the moment is right you crack open the plastic. That familiar sound of scrunching plastic as you fight the casing, and then you crack open the case and you just can’t wait to pop it in. There is even that smell as you take the disc out, the smell of the printed leaflet that you would recognize anywhere. You almost hold your breath as you slide the disc into the CD player. You don’t know what it is going to be yet, you have no idea what is about to hit you, you are at the top of the rollercoaster just hovering and waiting for the rush to hit you.

As the first few bars of Only by the Night hit my ears I knew this was going to be a fun ride. The haunting melody trickles in slowly, and then the bass follows, and it starts to take a hold of you, and you are immediately, gently but firmly, taken to another place. The first track, Closer, is really one of the best tracks on the album, it sets the tone for the rest of the album perfectly, but it is extremely difficult to pick one favourite on the album. Closer is very slow and melodic, and it makes fantasy seem very real… the song doesn’t tell you where to go; it just lets you get away. The unique style allows you to hear and listen to the lyrics without losing focus on the music, you can read into the lyrics as much or as little as you want, it lets you do the interpreting.

The next track kicks it up a notch with Crawl, a heavier, dirtier sound. More distortion and more rock to it. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to sing out loud and pound the steering wheel with your fists and nod your head with the beat. It’s like the big twisting loop after the free fall you just took in the first track.

The third song is the song that hooked me on Kings of Leon, Sex on Fire. Sometimes you just know, the first time you hear a song, you just have to hear it again. The sound is just so unique and it just makes you feel something deep inside, something you can’t even put your finger on. You don’t know what it is, but everyone can relate to the feelings of longing, of wanting someone or something you just can’t have. Again this song isn’t so much about the lyrics, and certainly not about sex. Sure they are catchy and you will want to sing along, but the lyrics are masterfully in tune with the underlying feeling of the song. This is definitely one song that people will still be listening to ten years from now. From the opening reverberating riffs of the song right to the finish you don’t want this ride to end.

Use Somebody again takes another turn, mixing it up between a gentle beginning focused on the vocal styling of Caleb Followhill and building into a rocking rhythm, and then fading off the way it started. Manhattan is another melodic tune that will stay in your head for days. It is amazing how the album all blends together, each song so unique and different, yet maintaining the same flow and feeling of the whole album. After listening to the album a few times any one of the tracks on the CD can pop into my head at any time, they are all so powerful.

Track 6 is another favourite on the album – Revelry. It starts with pure vocals, slowly laying out the fabric from which the song is woven. “The time we shared it was precious to me, all along I was feeling the revelry.” Once again, Kings of Leon has an amazing ability to take simple lyrics and let the listener run with them, delicately wrapped in a blanket of sound. The vocals really are the highlight in this song, and they provide most of the melody with the guitar and drums playing a backup role.
I don’t even need to go into the rest of the album, suffice it to say that if you listen to the first half of the album, you will enjoy the second half just as much as you enjoyed the first half.

Unlike many albums, it does not fade into hastily composed filler tracks. Notion is another favourite track of mine, taking a more upbeat turn which makes you want to tap your feet to the beat. I Want You slows it down just a little bit again, with lots of soul and longing, and some very curious lyrics that stimulate your imagination.

The last track Cold Desert puts the finishing touches on a wonderful journey. It is the slowest song on the album, and is better for listening to before bed than during a workout, but it really feels like “the end” of the album. If you were listening to this album for the first time and didn’t look at the track listings at all, you would still know the end was near, as it gently fades off. But just as you think it is all over the track comes back for one last encore and finishes strong. It is the kind of finish to a song and the finish to an album that makes you sit in silence afterward, soaking it in, because there isn’t quite anything that can follow it, and the best act to follow it really is silence. That is the precise time and moment that you will know you have listened and heard something amazing, and you will never feel the same again.

There are maybe a dozen or so albums in my life that I have felt so strongly about as the Kings of Leon – Only by the Night, but I am certainly glad I made that trip to the music store. Even though it costs more the experience of music is invaluable to me, and I will always own that disc for the rest of my life to hear over and over again, to pull out of a dusty box 30 years from now and to play it again, to bring me back to this time and place in my life when I first heard it.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back at the music store soon… in fact I have my next album already picked out, I am waiting for the release of one of my favourite bands, a Canadian band that started under the name Big Wreck… that’s right, Thornley!

Mute

In Creative Writing, Culture, Living, Writing (all kinds) on October 10, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Kirk Verner Writes a Poem - Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

By Kirk Verner

Timid lips finally spew jargon.
You have less of an accent than expected.
Racing eyes, rarely locking.
Your fear lies in direct eye-contact.

Crossed arms, your knuckles are white again.
You look like a librarian, neat and gentle.
Your wet palm leaves streaks across the shadows on the table.
A chill in the air shall calm you with time.

Hair Chat

In Beauty, Culture, Health, Uncategorized, Writing (all kinds) on October 3, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Four lovely women, a fifth one coming later, volunteered their time on a January afternoon in 1998 to sit down at Salon Utopia and chat about hair. Here are the details of their chat which will hopefully stimulate your own discussions. Read the rest of this entry »

”Honouring our past, celebrating our present, reaffirming our future” (Originally Published in Pride Newsmagazine)

In Culture, Events, Writing (all kinds) on August 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM

The Canadian Hispanic Day Parade (CHDP) is run by a non-profit organization created to share with all Canadians and new immigrants, Latin language, food, culture, and sense of celebration. Their main objective is to promote the cultural heritage of the Latin American people residing in Canada. On Sunday August 21st, 2005, the CHDP, held their 5th Annual Canadian Hispanic Day Parade beginning at the Jane and Sheppard Mall and ending at the John Booth Arena located at Jane and Shoreham.

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The Petition of Freelove Allen – aired February 7, 2002 for CBC National Radio Syndication

In Culture, Education, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on July 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Intro: Did you know that slavery didn’t just happen in the United States, but it happened in Canada too? If you didn’t, now you know. And you’re going to find out about a lot of aspects of black Canadian history with a four part series produced by Rob Corbett and written and narrated by Donna Kakonge.

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The Life of Mary Ann Shadd Cary for CBC National Radio Syndication

In Culture, Education, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on July 29, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Mary Ann Shadd Cary lived a multi-faceted life as a teacher, political activist, journalist and lawyer in the nineteenth century.

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Josiah Henson – February 2002 for CBC syndication, National Radio News

In Culture, Education, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on July 28, 2016 at 3:00 AM

“When my feet first touched the Canada shore, I threw my self on the ground, rolled in the sand, seized handfulls of it and kissed them and danced around, till, in the eyes of several who were present, I passed for a madman.”

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