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Photo: Caiaimage/Robert Daly
Canadian doctors who want less pay think the money would be better spent elsewhere.

At first blush, it seems counterintuitive that doctors would reject more money, but like the Oklahoma teachers who went on strike after getting a raise, they were concerned about the priorities of the whole system.

Catherine Clifford reports at CNBC, “In Canada, more than 500 doctors and residents, as well as over 150 medical students, have signed a public letter protesting their own pay raises.

” ‘We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations,’ the letter says.

“The group say they are offended that they would receive raises when nurses and patients are struggling.

” ‘These increases are all the more shocking because our nurses, clerks and other professionals face very difficult working conditions, while our patients live with the lack of access to required services because of the drastic cuts in recent years and the centralization of power in the Ministry of Health,’ reads the letter, which was published February 25. …

“Canada has a public health system which provides ‘universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay,’ the government’s website says.

“The 213 general practitioners, 184 specialists, 149 resident medical doctors and 162 medical students … ‘believe that there is a way to redistribute the resources of the Quebec health system to promote the health of the population and meet the needs of patients without pushing workers to the end,’ the letter says.

” ‘We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be canceled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the health care workers and to provide health services worthy to the people of Quebec.’ …

“On February 1, the [Médecins Québécois pour le Régime Public] published a letter denouncing working conditions of nurses. ‘The nurses are exhausted by a heavy workload. They argue that the chronic lack of staff and the fatigue caused by repeated overtime, sometimes mandatory, for lack of replacement of the team, have an impact on the safety of patient care,.’ ”

More here, at CNBC. I’m impressed by how well these doctors appreciate that overworking nurses and staff can interfere with their own jobs — and with patient outcomes.

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Photo: Julie Van Rosendaal
EthniCity chef and kitchen manager Ajoy Sehgal helps immigrants to Canada as they acclimate to a new land and develop food and hospitality-industry skills.

I’ve written before about how immigrants often start their own businesses, especially food businesses. And I’ve also blogged on nonprofit organizations that use a food business to acclimate refugees to US job expectations and teach marketable skills. (Beautiful Day, “Granola on a Mission,” is a favorite.)

Today I have a story about the same sort of thing going on in Canada — and how great it’s been for both immigrants and customers.

Julie Van Rosendaal reports at CBC News, “Sharing a meal remains one of the best ways to get to know someone, and to learn more about different cultures and backgrounds.

EthniCity catering, a non-profit social enterprise run by Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers, taps into the culinary knowledge of new Canadians, turning their cooking skills into a business, while helping prepare them to work in the food and hospitality industry.

” ‘It’s training for us also,’ says chef and kitchen manager Ajoy Sehgal, who worked in kitchens around the world, including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and throughout the Middle East, before coming to Calgary. ‘They may not be chefs, but they bring expertise about their cuisine. We hope they take something in return.’

“Founded in 1997 as a Collective Kitchen, EthniCity Catering began as a peer support group for women in a church basement and has grown into a full commercial kitchen, providing work experience and training to immigrants during their transition to Canada. …

“Each course runs for 10 weeks with a group of 16 students, who learn in the classroom as well as in the kitchen and on location at catering jobs, under the wing of Sehgal. The group generated $216,000 last year, with profits reinvested into the program. …

“The Centre for Newcomers serves over 10,000 new Canadians each year. With a staff of 130 in their northeast office and students and visitors often in the building for classes and other events, the caterers have a built-in customer base for morning coffee and pastries and unique lunch offerings. …

“EthniCity caters groups of up to 500, and offers their homemade appetizers — pakoras, fatayer, spring rolls, samosas, satay and the like — for customers to bake themselves at home.

“The menu is inspired by cuisines from around the world — the regular menu includes chickpea chaat and bahjis, Philippine pancit noodles, Thai green curry, Indian korma, Arabic mujaddara, Greek moussaka and Russian stroganoff. New dishes are regularly added, and they create custom menus. …

” ‘We’re trying to give them exposure to as much as possible,’ says Sehgal.” More here.

That list is making me hungry. And I’m remembering one of the things I loved about the years we lived near Rochester, New York — the annual international food festival held outside the museum. If I was lucky, my husband would babysit, while I walked around in a happy haze, tasting everything. Mmm.

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Photo: Vince Talotta / Toronto Star
Tom McKeon’s flight was diverted to Canada on 9/11. He says the warm welcome he received made him lose his cynicism. The musical
Come From Away recounts that many lives were changed in Canada that day.

The kindness of strangers is the never-ending story that provides reassurance about the world when it’s needed. In this instance, the thousands of people whose airplane flights were diverted to Canada on 9/11, were welcomed by Canadians in a life-changing moment. The musical Come From Away lets audiences experience what those travelers experienced.

Bruce DeMara writes at the Toronto Star, “Beverley Bass was the pilot of an American Airlines plane, the 36th of 38 flights diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11, 2001. Hers is one of numerous stories dramatized in the hit musical Come From Away.

“Bass had seen the show 97 times. Sunday’s red-carpet premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, with a new, all-Canadian cast was her 98th. ‘Honestly, there are still times when I’ll tear up.’ …

“Many of the 7,000 who unexpectedly landed in Newfoundland that day had their lives altered by the generosity of their hosts, but Come From Away has given a certain celebrity status to those whose stories are told by the musical.

“ ‘I receive messages and emails every day from people all over and now I’ve even gotten involved in school projects because . . . I can’t say no to the kids,’ Bass says. …

“Bass has also become involved in volunteering, including taking part in relief efforts last summer when Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas. …

“Tom McKeon, whose character in the show is a cynical New Yorker named Bob, said he’s pleased with how he’s portrayed. …

“Kevin Tuerff, who owned an environmental marketing company in Austin, Texas, said he decided to ‘pay it forward’ a year later on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and subsequent ones, giving his employees $100 to go out and perform random acts of kindness. … He has most recently become involved in helping refugees and immigrants.

“Being an American refugee — it’s taken me (many) years to reflect on this — but it’s now opened my eyes to the global refugee crisis. So now I’m personally very heavily involved in advocating through my church in helping immigrants and refugees,’ Tuerff said. …

“Hannah O’Rourke lost her eldest child, Kevin, a Brooklyn firefighter trained in rescue operations, on Sept. 11. His body was recovered almost two weeks later in the rubble of the twin towers.

“But O’Rourke made a friend for life in Beulah Davis, whom she met at the Royal Canadian Legion, where O’Rourke stayed and where Davis still volunteers. Davis is also a character in the show and the two women, who call each other every two weeks or so, have been reunited in Toronto in recent days. …

“The loss of her son has taken a heavy toll, O’Rourke added.

“ ‘I (used to be) more outgoing and full of the devil and that. Ah, there’s not a minute of the day that you don’t think, “now he would be enjoying his children and his grandchildren,” ‘ O’Rourke said.

” ‘But I will never forget Gander.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: Meghan McMenamie
A 17-metre tall totem pole, carved from an 800-year-old cedar tree was raised at University of British Columbia on April 1, 2017. It represents the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system for native children.

Although it’s been many years since I’ve seen her in person, I have kept tabs on my childhood best friend Carole through Facebook. She has always had an interest in tribal rights as her uncle by marriage was Sioux. So I was not surprised that she posted this article about a totem pole meant to aid healing. The story is about Canada, but the same abuses occurred in the United States.

The CBC News reported, “The University of British Columbia is now home to a 17-metre tall totem pole that represents the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system. The pole was carved by Haida master carver and hereditary Chief James Hart …

“Indigenous children across Canada were forced to leave their families and attend the church-run, government-funded boarding centres for Aboriginal children that operated in Canada for more than 100 years.

“A Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools documented the litany of abuses that took place in the system … The pole, carved into a 800-year-old cedar tree, has special figures representing different aspects of the residential school experience.

” ‘It is called reconciliation. It is about a time before, during and after Canada’s Indian Residential schools,’ Hart explained. …

“A family unit, wearing the regalia of yesteryear, is supposed to represent Indigenous people getting their strength back together. Above that a canoe and a longboat travel over water, symbolizing a people moving forward. …

“Survivors and their family members participated in the emotional process of hammering in the nails. …

“The pole stands at the University of British Columbia’s Main Mall between Agronomy Road and Thunderbird Boulevard, looking towards the future site of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.” The healing work will continue.

More.

Photo: Margaret Gallagher/CBC
James Hart is a Haida master carver and hereditary chief who carved the Reconciliation Pole. He said the work was very emotional for him.

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Art: Rene Meshake
Ojibwe artist Rene Meshake was part of a group of indigenous storytellers from Canada who attended the Untold Stories conference in Ireland in May.

As many people know, there was a dark period in US history when authorities thought is would be a good idea for indigenous children to be separated from their language, families, and culture. The same thing happened in Canada. Today, those children and their children are reclaiming their voices and telling their own stories.

Here is Catherine Conroy at the Irish Times: “On a Friday morning in a house in Dublin, I sit down to speak with three indigenous storytellers from Canada. They are here for a conference called The Untold Stories of the Past 150 Years/Canada 150 at [University College Dublin]. …

“Maria Campbell, Rene Meshake, and Sylvia Maracle, from Canada’s ‘Indian Country,’ accompanied by indigenous historian Kim Anderson, tell me a story of pain, resilience and the rebuilding of a shattered community through stories.

“Sylvia Maracle is an activist and storyteller from the Tyendinaga Mohawks. She believes their stories will resonate with Irish people, ‘with colonisers having come and disrupted what was probably the natural order.’ …

“She tells me of a conversation she had with an Irish taxi driver when she arrived. ‘He asked, “Are people recovering their memories?” I said, “They were always there, we just didn’t have the conversation.” He said, “That’s what happened here.” ‘ …

“Maracle believes in the power of storytelling as a force for rebuilding their communities. She feels privileged to have been ‘old woman raised’ by her traditional grandmother. …

“Maracle tells me that people now visit Maria Campbell ‘because they want this good medicine, this traditional stuff.’

“Campbell agrees that storytelling is medicine. ‘I grew up with a great grandmother and she never spoke English, she was a total “savage” according to the priest because she never converted.’

“But while Campbell grew up with stories, she always felt split between her traditional home life and her life outside. It was only after she stopped using drugs and attended her first ceremony in her late 20s that she realised the healing power of the stories, which came from ‘the old ladies, always women laughing.’ It was a revelation to realise ‘that you’d got this medicine, everything you need to help put yourself back together.’

“Campbell tells a story about the effects of colonisation that she learned from her teacher, the Old Man. …

“He had been trying to explain to her the effect of colonisation on their community’s wahkotowin, which in English means kinship, ‘but if you look at the word bundle, it’s all of our laws, it’s the way that we talk to each other, the way that we laugh.’

“He threw [a] jigsaw in the air. ‘He said, ‘”That’s what happened to us, everything was shattered and wahkotowin flew. Maybe you have three pieces, maybe she’s got half of one, if we come back together and we start to rebuild that, you bring your three pieces, you bring yours, and soon we’ll make the picture.” ‘…

“She recalls one story she wanted from her father that he would not give. ‘Then he got diagnosed with a terminal illness and I had to do the translating for him [in hospital]. I kind of went to pieces when we were driving home. He pulled to the side of the road, rolled me a cigarette, and he said, “That story you want, I’ll give it to you now.” He retold it and she understood now that it was a story about death, not the funny story she’d always thought it was.

“She translated and published the story. ‘In my family’s way, they were telling me that they trusted that I would treat it with integrity.’ ”

More at the Irish Times, here.

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Photo: CivilEats
The rooftop garden at Montreal’s Santropol Roulant, which has a Meals on Wheels program that addresses food waste.

Recent U.S. news stories suggest that Meals on Wheels in this country is about to lose some of its funding, but in Canada, the program for housebound residents has been growing and innovating for years. It now hopes to share its knowledge.

Meredith Bethune writes at CivilEats, “The rooftop garden at Santropol Roulant in Montreal looks like any other at first glance, with 40 self-watering containers and a small greenhouse lining the 1,500-square-foot rooftop. …

“Santropol Roulant—’the Rolling Santropol’ in French, is named after the café at which the founders previously worked. It was originally founded in 1995 to connect youth with seniors, and over the past 20 years it has expanded to include a Meals-on-Wheels food delivery program, a rooftop garden to grow food for those meals, including compost for the garden, a three-acre farm off site, and much more. …

“The Roulant’s Meals-on-Wheels program is staffed by volunteers who cook and deliver about 100 meals per day, five days a week to seniors and other local clients with a loss of autonomy….

“The power of waste reduction became an important part of the Roulant’s work in 2001, before it had established an agriculture program. Kitchen scraps were collected and delivered to a community garden, eventually reducing their waste by 40 percent. Three years later, the group began experimenting with urban farming techniques, growing produce for the kitchen in unused spaces like balconies, patios, and rooftops. …

“The Roulant also supports several collectives that use space in their building, including SantroVelo, a bike collective that began in 1996 as a place to store delivery bikes or fix flats. Today, the building houses beekeepers, worm composters, mushroom growers, and urban fruit-picking collectives, all of which function like autonomous teenagers: They live at home, but operate independently. …

“While the Roulant’s waste reduction methods have come a long way since in 2001—the vermicompost collective now hosts several long tables and towers of soil-making worms in the basement—they can’t compost every type of waste, particularly leftover cooked food and meals. The kitchen aims to prepare precisely as much food as they need to serve their clients each day, sometimes there are last-minute delivery cancellations and other mishaps.

“So in 2014, the Roulant began selling leftover products at what they call their ‘general store.’ … No one staffs the general store. Instead, the Roulant posts a price list and a cash box for customers to make change, and they haven’t lost any money yet. Though this new program generates some extra revenue for the organization, its main purpose is waste reduction.

“Through innovative solutions like the general store … Santropol Roulant is trying to reduce waste as much as possible. They also want to share these strategies with other Meals-on-Wheels programs around North America.”  More here.

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Photo: Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax firm Fowler Bauld & Mitchell won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for its work on the Halifax Central Library.

Sandy and Pat drove up to Nova Scotia from Rhode Island this year, a trip that had been on their bucket list for some time. I loved hearing their blow-by-blow account when they returned and, among other things, their enthusiasm for the Halifax Central Library, where returned books reshelve themselves with little-to-no human assistance.

I Googled around to see what I could find about the library.

CBCNews reported, “The team behind one of Halifax’s architectural diamonds has won a crown jewel of an award. Fowler Bauld & Mitchell, the Halifax-based firm that designed the Halifax Central Library, was one of 12 recipients announced Thursday of the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture. …

“Halifax’s library was lauded by jury members as an ‘inviting, light and playful public space.’

” ‘This outstanding new civic building is a community gathering place that responds to the diversity of its users, accommodating many more activities than the traditional library,’ the jury wrote.

” ‘The jury commends the process of early user engagement that led to the design, and the public’s embrace of the building is a testament to its value.’

“The library has been a resounding success since the day it opened, with visitor numbers far exceeding expectations. A big reason for its success was in the design process, which relied heavily on community consultation and inclusion, said [George Cotaras, the architect of record for the project]. …

“The proof that people’s opinions mattered and were considered showed on the day the library opened, said Cotaras.

” ‘They knew what it was going to be like but they had never been able to see inside and when they came in they went, “Wow,” and people were going around saying “Wow, that was my idea. I suggested that.” ‘ ” More.

Can’t help thinking that community involvement would be a good idea for every area of public life.

Photo: Anjuli Patil/CBC
A view from the second floor of the new library.

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