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Posts Tagged ‘canada’

Photo: CNN
A man walking through a Vancouver tent city in March. According to CNN, “Researchers in a new study found that homeless people who received direct cash transfers were able to find stable housing faster.”

Some years ago I asked a woman who headed an excellent Rhode Island nonprofit for housing whether she gave money to panhandlers. She said she did not, and I thought I shouldn’t either. But Mother Teresa had said to smile at people in need. I found I could manage that.

The belief that giving money leads panhandlers to buy drugs has long been the common wisdom. But a new study from Canada suggests it’s wrong.

Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman reports at CNN, “You’ve heard this refrain before — giving money to homeless people is not the best way to help them because it might be squandered, or spent on harmful habits.

“But a new Canadian study makes a powerful case to the contrary. The study, dubbed ‘The New Leaf Project,’ is an initiative of Foundations for Social Change, a charitable organization based in Vancouver, in partnership with the University of British Columbia.

“Researchers gave 50 recently homeless people a lump sum of 7,500 Canadian dollars (nearly $5,700). They followed the cash recipients’ life over 12-18 months and compared their outcomes to that of a control group who didn’t receive the payment. The preliminary findings, which will be peer-reviewed next year, show that those who received cash were able to find stable housing faster, on average. By comparison, those who didn’t receive cash lagged about 12 months behind in securing more permanent housing.

“People who received cash were able to access the food they needed to live faster. Nearly 70% [maintained] greater food security throughout the year.

The recipients spent more on food, clothing and rent, while there was a 39% decrease in spending on goods like alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. …

“Said Claire Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Foundations for Social Change, ‘We really think it’s important to start testing meaningful risk-taking in the name of social change.’ …

“The 115 participants in the randomized controlled trial were between the ages of 19 and 64, and they had been homeless for an average of 6 months. Participants were screened for a low risk of mental health challenges and substance abuse. Funding for the initiative came from a grant from the Canadian federal government, and from donors and foundations in the country.

” ‘One of the things that was most striking is that most people who received the cash knew immediately what they wanted to do with that money, and that just flies in the face of stereotypes,’ Williams told CNN.

“For example, she explained some cash recipients knew they wanted to use the money to move into housing, or invest in transportation — getting a bike, or taking their cars to the repair shop to be able to keep their jobs. Others wanted to purchase computers. A number of them wanted to start their own small businesses. …

“Direct cash transfers are not ‘a silver bullet for homelessness in general,’ and the program focused on ‘a higher functioning subset of the homeless population,’ Williams said, but she believes the research shows that providing meaningful support to folks who have recently become homeless decreases the likelihood they will become entrenched. …

“The study shows there are advantages for the taxpayer, too. According to the research, reducing the number of nights spent in shelters by the 50 study participants who received cash saved approximately 8,100 Canadian dollars per person per year, or about 405,000 Canadian dollars over one year for all 50 participants.”

More details at CNN, here.

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Photo: Allison Stocks
Recent carbon dating has revealed that the oldest clam garden known to science was built about 3,500 years ago,” says the Guardian. It’s in Canada’s Vancouver area.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy the verbal style some indigenous people use when speaking of traditional ways or of ancestors. If it is not disrespectful to say so, it transports me to a place in the imagination where wizards and Hobbits reside — different from my own place in a way that feels both magical and close to Nature.

In Vancouver, Adrienne Matei writes for the Guardian, “On winter nights for the past six years, a group of 20 people have rustled through dark, coniferous woods to emerge on a Canadian beach at the lowest possible tide, illuminated by a correspondingly full moon.

“An elder offers a greeting to the place and a prayer, then the team of researchers, volunteers, and First Nations ‘knowledge holders’ lights a warming fire and begins its work. At sites outlined by stones placed hundreds or even thousands of years ago, some begin raking, or ‘fluffing,’ the top three inches of the beach, loosening rocks and mud — and a remarkable number of old clam shells.

“When the tide comes back in, it will flush out any rotting organic matter, changing ‘some places that are compact and smelly into a good clam beach again.’ says Skye Augustine, a member of the Stz’uminus First Nation.

“This spot was once a clam garden, an ancient indigenous form of mariculture that coastal First Nations people have used for millennia. It is estimated that they once numbered in the thousands along the Pacific north-western coast, though ruins are all that’s left of most. In collaboration with the W̱SÁNEĆ and Hul’q’umi’num nations, Augustine has spearheaded the first formal clam garden rehabilitations at two sites in the Gulf Islands, in British Columbia, with dozens more to follow.

‘My elders articulated to me that if we want to bring our beaches back to life again, we need to bring people back on to them to care for them as they have been cared for in the past.

” ‘That became my inspiration for my education and career,’ she says. ‘How do we make this clam garden thing happen?’

“For millennia pre-colonization, clam gardens epitomized sustainable food security for Pacific north-western coastal nations from northern Washington to south-eastern Alaska. Modern studies have found that clam gardens have historically been up to 300% more productive than unmodified beaches, that their clams grew larger and faster than average, and that the clams did not exhibit any signs of resource stress from over-harvesting.

“To create the beaches, indigenous people built rock walls parallel to a beach’s low tide line, which would trap sediment and flatten the slope of the shore. With continuing tending, such as tilling to improve aeration and the removal of predators like sea stars, these gardens increase or create habitat for butter, littleneck, and horse clams, as well as crabs, chitons, seaweeds, and other useful species.

“Recent carbon dating has revealed that the oldest clam garden known to science was built about 3,500 years ago. …

“ ‘It has always been our duty to be the stewards of the land,’ says group member Nicole Norris, a knowledge holder for the Hul’q’umi’num and an aquaculture specialist. ‘It is the exact same land my ancestors walked. … From the work that we’ve done, we’ve seen the greater ecosystem return – some of the people who live in the local communities have talked about the return of certain birds and plants, and that’s been heartwarming,’ she says.

“In addition to providing food, clam gardens have historically provided the opportunity for ‘grandparents, aunties, and uncles to spend time at the beach with their grandchildren and younger generations, not only teaching about how to tend the environment … but sharing stories, language, spiritual ties to the place,’ says Melissa Poe, who specializes in the social and cultural dimensions of ecosystems at the University of Washington.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Jack Plant
A spirit bear in British Columbia. “A recent study revealed that the white bear is rarer and more vulnerable than previously thought.” says the
Guardian.

When my grandchildren were old enough for a story but young enough for “The Three Bears,” I often created variations on demand. The youngest granddaughter in particular had a range of complicated story lines she wanted to hear, in which Baby Bear had her name and an older brother bear had her brother’s name.

Because almost everyone likes stories about bears, I’m telling three today. All true.

Alexandra Harvey reported the first story for the Guardian. “When Marven Robinson was a kid, any mention of spirit bears was met with hushed dismissal from the elders in his community, the Gitga’at First Nation of Hartley Bay, British Columbia. Since the 19th century, Indigenous peoples in the area learned to keep the bears with ghostly coats a secret to protect them from fur traders.

“As the ancient legend goes, the Wee’get (meaning the ‘raven,’ known as the creator of the world) turned every 10th black bear white to remind people of the pristine conditions of the Ice Age.

“Spirit bears are white-coated black bears that inherit their pale fur from a rare recessive gene. Known as moksgm’ol, meaning ‘white bear, spirit bears are sacred to the Indigenous people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest. …

“A recent collaborative study by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Gitga’at First Nations and academic researchers has revealed that the white bear is rarer and more vulnerable than previously thought.

“Researchers spent eight years combing 18,000sq km of the rainforest, placing lures on barbed wire to collect hair samples from black and spirit bears and map out the presence of the white bear gene. … The study concluded the gene that causes spirit bears is up to 50% rarer than previously thought. Urgently, about half of spirit bear hotspots fall outside of British Columbia protected areas, making their habitats vulnerable to logging, mining and drilling projects.

“Spirit bears have long been present in First Nations traditional song, dance, and storytelling. … Before he saw a spirit bear for himself, Douglas Neasloss, co-author of the study and resource stewardship director for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation, doubted they even existed. When he was 17, he went in search of spirit bears, half in jest, with some friends.

‘I just thought they were pulling my leg,’ Neasloss said. …

“Sure enough, as he was walking through the forest, he saw one of the magical white bears making its way toward him, sun shining through the trees, salmon hanging out of its mouth. From that moment on, he knew they had to be protected. …

Research by University of Victoria scientists found, because of their white color, spirit bears have a unique advantage over black bears when catching salmon since they blend into the daylight. Spirit bears’ propensity for catching salmon helps explain their resilience despite being so rare, says Christina Service, wildlife biologist for Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation Stewardship Authority and lead author on the spirit bear study.

“Worryingly, climate change is wiping away salmon stocks, posing a big threat to bears’ food supply. British Columbia’s Pacific salmon populations have declined by over 80% since the 1990s. Neasloss says 2020 has been the worst year yet.

“Equipped with new information about the vulnerability of spirit bears, the question now is how best to protect them. For Neasloss and many others who know the bears intimately, the answer is obvious: Leave it up to the First Nations, the original stewards of the land. … Neasloss is involved in efforts to create a new land designation for the rainforest called an Indigenous Protected Area, a conservation strategy that is gaining traction across Canada. …

“ ‘For the last 150 years, we’ve been on the outside looking in,’ Neasloss says. ‘Drawing a line on the map does not protect an area. The people do.’ ” More at the Guardian, here.

For the second of my three bear stories, I offer one from CNN, where Anna Chernova and Lianne Kolirin wrote, “The perfectly preserved remains of an Ice Age cave bear have been discovered in the Russian Arctic — the first example of the species ever to be found with soft tissues intact. The astonishing find was made by reindeer herders on the Lyakhovsky Islands, which are part of the New Siberian islands archipelago in Russia’s Far North.”

Interesting that indigenous people are involved in that story, too, and that they’re sharing their information with nonindigenous scientists.

There are no indigenous people involved in my third story, as far as I know. According to Travis Anderson at the Boston Globe, a bear has raided a Covid food pantry at a Westhampton, Massachusetts, church. Quoting the church’s website, he writes, “This week the bears decided that they had more need of the food bank than we did, so we’ve had to temporarily disband services.”

The church is looking for a new site.

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Photos: Niijang Xyaalas Productions
Actor Tyler York performing in
SGaawaay K’uuna. Actors had to learn a vanishing language in order to understand their lines in this film about one of Canada’s First Nations.

We’ve had a number of posts about vanishing languages, languages spoken by few people because younger generations are choosing to (or be forced to) speak a language used more widely. Nowadays it’s usually English that leads to not only the loss of a native language but the way of life it represents. As Brian Friel said in his play Translations, about the Irish language and culture, “it can happen that a civilization can be imprisoned in a linguistic contour which no longer matches the landscape of fact.”

Dalya Alberge wrote in March at the Guardian about a new film shot in a disappearing language.

“Plenty of films are somewhat incomprehensible, but a forthcoming movie is in a language that only about 20 people in the world can speak fluently. With subtitles, audiences will be able to understand a feature film titled SGaawaay K’uuna, translated as Edge of the Knife. …

“It is in two dialects of the highly endangered Haida language, the ancestral tongue of the Haida people of British Columbia. It is unrelated to any other language, and actors had to learn it to understand their lines.

“The film is playing an important role in preserving the language, its director Gwaai Edenshaw said. He told the Guardian:

‘I know that, if our language is this far gone, statistically it’s supposed to be over. But that’s not something that we’re willing to accept.’

“The Haida are an Indigenous First Nations community whose traditional territory is Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago of forested islands off the west coast of Canada.

“Edenshaw said most of the fluent Haida speakers were in his Haida Gwaii homeland. … He added that the community generally lives off the sea and makes dugout canoes and houses from local red cedars. Noting that their numbers were ravaged by smallpox and other diseases in the 19th century, he said a former population of tens of thousands has dwindled to a few thousand today. …

“More than 70 local people worked on the production, with Haida speakers taking incidental roles, weavers creating the costumes and other craftspeople making props. … It is part of a wider push to preserve the Haida language, including a new dictionary and recordings of local voices. …

“2019 is Unesco’s Year of Indigenous Languages, ‘to preserve, support and promote’ them worldwide. Mark Turin, associate professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia and a specialist in endangered languages, told the Guardian that about half of up to 7,100 languages worldwide were ‘severely endangered’ and would likely cease to be used as everyday vernaculars by the end of this century unless action is taken. …

“He pointed to recent research that shows a correlation between indigenous language sustainability and decreased youth suicide within indigenous communities: ‘Speaking your indigenous language [has] public health implications.

” ‘This film – which I’ve watched and loved – has done something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, using a feature movie as a process of language revitalisation.’

More here.

Actors in a film based on a legend of the Haida people of British Columbia had to learn the Haida language to understand their lines. The movie has subtitles.

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refugee-chocolate-hiring-20190216

Photo: Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press
A former refugee who founded the Nova Scotia chocolate company Peace by Chocolate has committed to hiring 50 refugees by 2022 and to mentor 10 refugee-run start-ups over the next few years.

Refugees that a country takes in are often the most grateful people on the planet. Most are highly motivated to succeed and not be a burden. Some start their own businesses, and then, as soon as they get established, look for ways to give back to others.

The Canadian Press reports on one example. “A one-time Syrian refugee who founded a thriving Nova Scotia chocolate company has announced plans to hire and mentor other refugees. Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S., has committed to hiring 50 refugees by 2022, and to mentor 10 refugee-run start-ups over the next few years.

“The now-famous company was founded by the Hadhad family, who fled their home in war-torn Damascus in 2012. They arrived in Nova Scotia with next to nothing in 2016. …

“Tareq Hadhad, CEO of the company, said Peace by Chocolate aims to give back to the country that welcomed his family when so many nations were closing their borders to the Syrian plight. Now he plans to expand on that vision by giving back to other refugees looking to start new lives — as Canadians did for his family when they needed it most. …

“Hadhad said in an interview, ‘Being a refugee is not a choice, it’s not a decision, it’s not a life goal. These people are fleeing their homes because of war, because of persecution.’ …

“Hadhad’s father, Assam, ran a chocolate business in Damascus for decades but it was destroyed in a 2012 bombing.”

Another article, by Fadila Chater at the National Post, notes that the “chocolate company founded by Syrian refugees has produced its first chocolate bar — and given it an Indigenous name. [Its] new milk chocolate and hazelnut bar is to be called Wantaqo’ti (pronounced Wan-tahk-oo-di), the Mi’kmaq word for peace. …

“Founder Tareq Hadhad said via email … it is his company’s mission to translate the family’s concept of peace to all Canadians, starting with the Mi’kmaq of his home province. … Other versions of the bar will be sold using the Arabic, French and Mandarin words for peace.

‘Peace is beautiful in every language,’ Hadhad said. …

“ ‘When we came here as newcomers to this country, we really wanted to support this country to grow and prosper,’ he said.”

The Peace by Chocolate bars are available online, here.

Read more at the National Post, here and at the Canadian Press, here.

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Photo: Mark Sommerfeld for Bloomberg Businessweek
For Deepa Chaudhary and Vikram Rangnekar, seen here with their younger son,  it is now Canada that is the Land of Opportunity, not the USA.

Should we be worried that skilled foreigners are now hesitating to stay in the USA? I think so. But our loss is Canada’s gain.

At Bloomberg Businessweek, Karen Weise and Saritha Rai report, “Vikram Rangnekar grew up in Mumbai, studied computer science at the University of Delaware, and by the waning days of the Obama administration had been working in Silicon Valley for almost six years. …

“Rangnekar received his H-1B in 2010, but his history with employment visas dates to 2005, when he graduated from the University of Delaware and wanted to start a company with two of his former classmates. The U.S. didn’t have an entrepreneur visa, so they moved to Singapore, returning four years later to present their product — Socialwok, a pre-Slack social platform for professional collaboration — to investors at the TechCrunch50 startup conference in San Francisco. They didn’t attract new cash, but all three walked away with the next best thing: a promising job offer. …

“As a young man with a global sensibility and an in-demand set of skills, Rangnekar had no reason to let the uncertainty of a green card application define his family’s life. In the early fall of 2016, he, his wife, and their two young boys made the move north, to Canada.

“Their first few months in Toronto were mostly spent settling in and scouting out decent tacos. [Then in mid-November 2016], Rangnekar’s inbox blew up with messages from friends and colleagues in the U.S. on H-1Bs asking for advice on how to migrate, Rather than deal with each one individually, he registered a website, MOVNorth.com. … In its first two days online last July, MOVNorth.com got 20,000 views. …

“When he and Chaudhary [his wife] decided to move, Rangnekar had an idea for a startup aimed at helping developers use advanced programming interfaces, or APIs, to build apps, but neither of them had a job offer. Still, for Canada at least, they were desirable applicants. …

“At first, after Rangnekar started MOV North, ‘People’s questions were like, “Tell us about Canada,” ‘ he says. ‘That was really it.’ They wanted to know the basics—jobs, schools, snow. Over time, as people began seriously considering a move, they asked detailed questions about the immigration process. ‘I was like one of them on the other side,’ he says. Topics of interest now range from how to get fingerprinted for the FBI background check Canada requires to tips for getting letters from former employers detailing work experience. …

“In MOV North’s early days, Rangnekar tended to the site at night after working on his startup all day. But as the volume of questions coming in increased, so did the amount of time the site demanded. People would email to thank him — then ask for more help. ‘That motivated me because it tells you you’re kinda doing something right,’ he says. ‘Very few people wrote to me about my APIs.’ He began wondering if MOV North could became his primary business.” Now people pay $99 a month to participate in the site’s valuable forum.

Read more at Bloomberg, here.

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indigenous-grocery-language

Photo: CBC News
Canadian grocery stores and art galleries are starting to include indigenous languages on their labels. North West Company, which has grocery stores in more than 120 communities across northern Canada, embraced the idea after it was piloted by a 2015 school project. Snapping QR codes lets you hear word pronunciation, too.

Yesterday, for the first time, Native American women were elected to Congress: in Kansas, a Ho-Chunk, and in New Mexico, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. Of course, it’s about time, but it also seems to be part of a trend bringing more visibility to indigenous people. Very belated, but good.

Canada is actually farther along in trying to address and rectify transgressions against First Nations. The following story covers one aspect of that effort.

Judith H. Dobrzynski writes at the Art Newspaper, “Canada Day, 1 July, [ushered] in a new era for the presentation of Modern and contemporary Canadian art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. The 13,000 sq ft J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art — which added the ‘Indigenous’ to its name last year when the museum established a Department of Canadian and Indigenous Art — [has] reimagined galleries that give primacy to First Nations and Inuit art for the first time.

“In each McLean gallery, ‘contemporary indigenous art starts the conversation with Canadian art.’ says Wanda Nanibush, who became the AGO’s first curator of indigenous art in 2016. Nanibush and Georgiana Uhlyarik, the AGO’s curator of Canadian art, have designed the centre’s display of 75 works around six themes: origins, self, land, water, transformations and ‘indigenous2indigenous.’ …

“Works by Canadian artists such as Emily Carr and Florence Carlyle are hung in dialogue with works by indigenous artists including Carl Beam and Rebecca Belmore … For instance, in the ‘self’ gallery, Belmore’s ‘Rising to the Occasion’ (1987-91), a dress that the Anishinaabe-kwe artist wore in a performance responding to a royal visit to Ontario, is paired with Joanne Tod’s painting ‘Chapeau Entaillé’ (1989) of a woman in a similar dress. … Labels in the McLean Centre are now written in indigenous languages (either the local Anishinaabemowin language or Inuktitut), as well as English and French.”

More at the Art Newspaper, here.

Art: Rebecca Belmore
Belmore’s “Rising to the Occasion” (1987-91) is a dress that the Anishinaabe-kwe artist wore in a performance responding to a royal visit to Ontario. It was recently displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

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winnipeg-indigenous-accord-signing

Photo: Walther Bernal/CBC
Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation Chief Lance Roulette signed Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord in June. The new treaty addresses tribal representation in numerous aspects of life.

The “truth and reconciliation” initiatives in South Africa after Nelson Mandela was released from jail set a kind of standard for healing old wounds — or at least for moving on. The idea was that nations must bring to the light of day all the bad things that were done and give everyone a chance to express their pain. After that, acceptance and reconciliation can begin.

A similar process is happening in Canada to heal the injustices done to tribes. One example is in Winnipeg, where the lung association, an arts organization, and many others are working to make amends for the past and create a better future.

Aidan Geary writes at CBC News, “A Manitoba association created by the agency that once ran segregated ‘Indian hospitals’ in the province is among more than 40 new signatories to Winnipeg’s Indigenous accord. …

“The Lung Association was among dozens of Winnipeg-based groups that added their names to the city’s year-old Indigenous Accord [in June]. Other groups include the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, CentrePort Canada, Investors Group, the Manitoba Museum and the Manitoba College of Social Workers.

“The accord was first signed by more than 80 groups [in March 2017]. Signing on means committing to an ongoing responsibility to reconciliation, the city says. Signatories are required to report yearly on the success of their efforts and their future goals.

“For the Lung Association, it also means addressing a legacy of segregation, substandard care and allegations of mistreatment at the hands of tuberculosis doctors from Indigenous patients, [Neil Johnston, president of the Manitoba Lung Association] said.

” ‘We want to make sure that that … never happens again, and we want to help in the healing of people who have survived that care but also the families and make up for the intergenerational trauma that occurred,’ he said. …

“So far, Johnston said its goals include examining and establishing the association’s own history, and speaking to people who experienced the hospitals themselves. From there, the association will work with Indigenous community members to form a plan for reconciliation and improved health outcomes. …

“Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman urged more organizations to sign on, calling the accord an ‘aspirational document’ and an ongoing effort. … ‘We have created a website in which organizations can submit their outcomes on an annual basis and report on what they’re going to work on, and that’s shared publicly so there can be that learning within the community.’ …

“Carol Phillips, executive director of the Winnipeg Arts Council — which signed on in the first year of the accord — said her organization will launch a new Indigenous arts leadership fellowship program this fall, placing two Indigenous fellows into arts organizations to develop management and governance skills.

“She said Indigenous people are underrepresented in leadership positions in arts groups across the country, with the exception of Indigenous-focused arts organizations. She said she’s seen improvement on that front, but not enough.

” ‘There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be Indigenous arts leaders in any arts organization, and that’s ultimately what we want to see happen,’ she said.

“The WAC will also place an Indigenous artist-in-residence in the city’s Indigenous Relations department, she said.

“Values around reconciliation have long been a part of the arts council’s work, she said. But she said it’s important to demonstrate those values and make them clear to the community.

” ‘The city obviously wants an overt demonstration of commitment, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, so we participated,’ she said.

” ‘The thing is, here we are still talking about the sort of exceptionalism of this situation. Our goal is that this is just how things are, and it’s not an exception — it’s how the arts community functions.’ ”

More at CBC, here.

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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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