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Archive for the ‘It's About School People’ Category

This is Regent Park!

In Government, It's About School People, Them Kids, Toronto on August 15, 2012 at 15:46

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My daughter and I would take the 506 streetcar across the north end of Regent Park and she’d ask, “why there were bars on the window.”  I honestly had to tell her that, “I didn’t know, but in a few years those bars are going to come down and you’re not going to recognize this place.”  Canada’s oldest and largest social housing project has and is changing.



Toronto…its New York, without all the stuff

In Canada, Design, Fashion, Food, Government, It's About School People, Me Myself & I, Money, The Junction, The World Comes To Toronto, Toronto on August 16, 2011 at 09:21

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A tip of the hat from New York Magazine’s David Sax.

Cheers although a tad cheeky.


The full article can be found here “The architectural boom has yielded new downtown museums, opera houses, and hotels like the Ritz, Thompson, and soon-to-open Shangri-La (with two Momofukus) while gentrifying far-flung areas like the Junction with requisite coffee shops, pop-up galleries, and poutine-slinging restaurants. Of course, all that growth has come with acute growing pains, including some god-awful traffic; a dearth of affordable housing in a sea of new condominiums; and a polarizing, conservative mayor who has, to many a Torontonian’s chagrin, scuttled proposed rapid-transit lines, eliminated bike lanes, and refused to attend this summer’s gay-pride parade. “

The New GG is a MAN!

In Canada, Customer Service, Government, It's About School People, Politico, YouTube on July 8, 2010 at 15:48

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Well for all of those who felt Wayne Gretzky, Don Cherry or William Shatner, should have been chosen as our next Governor General, at least this person is old, white and a man.

Joking aside I’m not one to cheer for much that Harper does for our country, however this pick, from all accounts is a good one.

He may not have the TV flair of  past CBCer’s Adrienne Clarkson

and  Michaëlle Jean

but the soon to be  former President of the University of Waterloo looks like he’ll more than make up for that with political understanding of how the Government works, and doesn’t work.


You can read Tobi Cohen and Mark Kennedy’s full article in the National Post here

Incoming GG vows to defend Canadian heritage

OTTAWA — Calling him a man who “represents the best of Canada,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced legal scholar David Johnston will be Canada’s next Governor General.

Johnston, 69, the bilingual president of the University of Waterloo is expected to assume the role Oct 1.

“My wife and I have always believed that service, whether it is to family, community, university or country is our highest calling,” said Mr. Johnston in a speech Thursday. “We are proud to have this opportunity to serve Canada and our fellow citizens.

“As the representative of the Queen of Canada, who is our country’s head of state, I pledge to be a stalwart defender of our Canadian heritage, of Canadian institutions, and of the Canadian people.”

Mr. Harper and Mr. Johnston met earlier Thursday morning ahead of the official announcement.

“Mr. Johnston has a strong record of public service, a broad base of support and an impressive list of achievements,” Mr. Harper said in a statement Thursday morning.

“He has extensive legal expertise, a comprehensive understanding of government and a deep appreciation of the duties and tasks now before him.”

Mr. Harper chose Mr. Johnston upon the advice of a special committee created to look at all the possible candidates.

The committee met for several weeks and consulted hundreds of people in the process.

A spokesman for Mr. Harper said Thursday that the process was deliberately constructed so that Mr. Harper would get non-partisan advice and that the next governor general would represent all Canadians, not just the current Conservative government.

“David Johnston represents the best of Canada,” Mr. Harper said…

…Mr. Johnston is set to take over for Gov. Gen. Jean, whose term officially ends on Sept. 27. Gov. Gen. Jean will then begin a four-year post as special envoy to Haiti for the United Nations.

A relative unknown when she first stepped into the role on Sept. 27, 2005, Gov. Gen. Jean became a favourite among the masses both within and outside Canada.

This country’s first black in the post, Gov. Gen. Jean was the third woman to hold the post and among the youngest to reside at Rideau Hall with her Quebec filmmaker husband Jean-Daniel Lafond and school-aged daughter Marie-Eden.

Fluent in five languages, the award-winning Radio-Canada and CBC television journalist fled her native Haiti during the authoritarian regime of Francois Duvalier at age 11.

She settled in Quebec and studied languages and literature at the Universite de Montreal before continuing her schooling in Italy.

During her mandate, she launched a new Governor General’s Award in recognition of culinary and gastronomic excellence and won over many hearts during an emotional visit to her native Port-au-Prince after Haiti was ravaged in an earthquake.

Although she came to be known for her intelligence, poise and charm, Gov. Gen. Jean’s reign was not without controversy.

You can read Gloria Galloway and John Ibbitson’s full article in The Globe and Mail here

Next governor-general unveiled

…The 69-year-old was chosen by a special committee appointed by Mr. Harper and led by Kevin MacLeod, the Canadian Secretary to the Queen and Usher of the Black Rod for the Senate – considered to be Parliament’s top protocol posting.

Mr. Johnston was likely chosen for his constitutional knowledge and level-headedness, observers say. The committee reportedly nixed candidates from the sports, entertainment and art worlds, preferring someone who is well versed in the inner workings of federal government.

The Sudbury, Ont., native became a highly respected legal expert after studying at Harvard, Cambridge and Queen’s University. He captained the hockey team at Harvard, nabbing a spot as a minor character in a novel his dorm mate was writing at the time. Erich Segal’s Love Story became a pop-culture icon in the early 1970s.

Before becoming president of the University of Waterloo, Mr. Johnston spent 15 years as the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University.

His legal work dipped into the political realms, and he was lauded for being non-partisan, having worked for both Liberal and Conservative governments…

Courtesy of the Prime Minister of Canada website here

PM welcomes appointment of David Johnston as Governor General Designate

8 July 2010

Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today welcomed the appointment of David Johnston as the Governor General Designate.  Mr. Johnston, a respected lawyer and academic, will assume his new duties as Governor General on October 1.

“Mr. Johnston has a strong record of public service, a broad base of support and an impressive list of achievements,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “He has extensive legal expertise, a comprehensive understanding of government and a deep appreciation of the duties and tasks now before him.”

Currently serving as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo, Mr. Johnston has also served as President and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University and has held teaching positions at several prominent Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario.  He has published extensively and has served as Chair, member or advisor to two dozen government agencies, boards and roundtables.

“David Johnston represents the best of Canada,” said the Prime Minister.  “He represents hard work, dedication, public service and humility.  I am confident he will continue to embody these traits in his new role as the Crown’s representative in Canada.”

The Governor General Designate was selected following extensive national consultations by an expert advisory committee.  His exemplary record of public service has earned him the respect, support and admiration of many prominent Canadians in politics, government, academia, parties of all stripes, and in every region of the country.

Mr. Johnston resides outside of Waterloo, Ontario.  He is married to Dr. Sharon Johnston.  They have five children and seven grandchildren.

International Women’s Day

In Business, Canada, Government, It's About School People, Me Myself & I, Money, Women on March 8, 2010 at 13:57

Just a tad…

I am surrounded by Strong Women in my life.  Today’s acknowledgement of International Women’s Day, is unfortunately not so much of where women stand now, but how far they still need to go for equality between the sexes.


You can find the full text at Status of Women Canada website here.

To find out more about International Women’s Day you follow this link to their website.

Strong Women. Strong Canada. Strong World.

In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on member states to proclaim a day for women’s rights and international peace. Following the United Nations’ lead, Canada chose March 8 as International Women’s Day.

Each year at this time, Canadians celebrate progress toward equality for women and their full participation, reflect on the challenges and barriers that remain, and consider future steps to achieving equality for all women, in all aspects of their lives.

Over time, International Women’s Day has grown into a week-long series of commemorative events and activities across the country. International Women’s Week 2010 begins on Sunday, March 7 and wraps up on Saturday, March 13.

We encourage all Canadians – women and men, girls and boys – to promote International Women’s Day / International Women’s Week. Better yet, why not organize your own IWD/IWW event in your community, organization, workplace or school?


March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), the highlight of International Women’s Week (IWW). Each year at this time, Canadians celebrate progress toward equality for women and their full participation, reflect on current challenges and consider future steps in achieving equality for all women, in all aspects of their lives.

International Women’s Week 2010 begins on Sunday, March 7, and wraps up on Saturday, March 13. The Government of Canada’s theme for 2010 is Strong Women. Strong Canada. Strong World.

This theme reflects the government’s action to encourage more women and girls to participate in leadership roles, thereby helping them thrive, reach their full potential, fulfill their dreams and build a more prosperous Canada.

For Canadians, equality means women and men sharing in the responsibilities and obligations, as well as in the opportunities and rewards, of life and work. In Canada, leadership is key across society – from the private sector to governments to the general public. Leadership is important, so that people of all origins, generations and backgrounds can participate fully in our country’s economic, social and democratic life, and ultimately, in improving the state of the world.


  • In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on member states to proclaim a day for women’s rights and international peace. Following the United Nations’ lead, Canada chose March 8 as International Women’s Day.
  • International Women’s Week 2010 takes place from Sunday, March 7, through to Saturday, March 13.
  • This year, the theme is Strong Women. Strong Canada. Strong World., reflecting the Government’s firm belief that increasing women’s participation, and access to leadership roles and opportunities will help women and girls reach their full potential and help build a more prosperous Canada.
  • Canadian women have made enormous strides. The current Government has the highest percentage of women in Cabinet in Canadian history. The House of Commons currently has 67 women.
  • Women are also increasing their participation in other aspects of Canadian life. Currently, women make up the majority of full-time students in most university faculties.
  • The labour force participation rate for working-age women (15-64 years) has risen from 68.2 per cent to 74.3 per cent over the past decade (1997-2008). In 2007, women made up 35 per cent of all self-employed individuals.
  • There has also been a long-term increase in the share of women who are working in managerial positions.  In 2007, 35% of those employed in managerial positions were women.

46664…20 years after being released, thank you for black history month

In Canada, It's About School People, Me Myself & I, Politico, TIA (This Is Africa) on February 11, 2010 at 10:07

Just a tad…

Five years after the release of Nelson Mandela from Robben Island (You can watch it in YouTube here),  Canada’s House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month.  Originally a week long celebration dating back to the 1970s, it was expanded to this month-long tribute in 1995.  Being a black man in the year 2010 isn’t such a hardship.  Although I’ll never know how hard it was for my brother, my father, my grandfather or those before, I know things, at least here in Canada are a whole lot better.  Lets just hope it continues that way for the generations to come.


Some great digital archives Celebrating  Black History Month at the CBC here

If you’d like more info on 46664 click here


South Africa marks 20th year of Mandela’s release

CBC Thursday, February 11th, 2010

South Africans on Thursday celebrated the 20th anniversary of former president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

Thousands gathered for commemorations near Cape Town at what was known in 1990 as Victor Verster, the last prison where Mandela was held during 27 years of incarceration.

The crowds milled around a three-metre-high bronze statue erected at the prison in 2008 depicting Mandela’s first steps as a free man. Exactly 20 years ago, Mandela emerged from Victor Verster on foot, hand-in-hand with his then wife Winnie, fist raised, smiling but resolute.
Read more:


Nelson Mandela’s 1990 release marked in South Africa

BBC Thursday, 11 February 2010

Celebrations are being held to mark 20 years since the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, a key step towards ending apartheid in South Africa.

In Cape Town, prominent figures took part in a commemorative walk at the prison where he spent the final months of his 27-year imprisonment.

Mr Mandela, now a frail 91-year-old, is expected to make a rare public appearance on Thursday evening.

He became the country’s first black president in 1994.

Mr Mandela spent most of his sentence in Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, and later in Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland.

Before his release, he lived in a cottage in the grounds of Victor Verster prison in a rural area some 50km (31 miles) from Cape Town, with his own cook.

You can read the full article here:


South Africans mark Mandela’s release from prison

Mail & Gauardian -Wendell Roelf – Groot Drakenstein, South Africa – Feb 11 2010

Chanting “Viva, Nelson Mandela, Viva,” thousands of South Africans marked 20 years on Thursday since the anti-apartheid icon walked to freedom after 27 years as a political prisoner.

Now a frail 91-year-old, Mandela did not attend the celebrations at the Drakenstein Prison near Cape Town, although a huge bronze statue of him marching from jail, fist pumping the air, towered over the crowd much as Mandela’s image towers over South African politics and society to this day.

Among the predominantly black crowd of well-wishers waving the black, green and gold flags of Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) were fellow “struggle” heroes present on that momentous Sunday two decades ago. “It was all a bit chaotic and I must tell you we were unprepared,” said millionaire businessman Cyril Ramaphosa — then a senior mining union and ANC official — recalling the chaotic scenes that followed Mandela’s release.

Unbanned only nine days previously, ANC leaders were given just 24 hours’ notice to prepare for the release of Mandela, who four years later would become the first black president of a country dominated by a white minority for 300 years.

Ramaphosa and his associates had to fly to Cape Town in specially chartered aircraft, while security outside the prison in the heart of South Africa’s winelands was organised by a Catholic priest who knew “nothing about guns”.

You can read the full article here:

It’s Monday..sure you can start singing too

In Canada, It's About School People, Music, South of the boarder, The Social, Them Kids on November 23, 2009 at 21:07

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Yup a week late but I wanted to post this on a Monday!  With the third year of this awesome project coming next May 3rd, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is bringing this newly minted Canadian tradition to the US in 2010.   With over 2000 schools participating in last 2 years throughout North America this could be grow into a fantastic annual event for songwriters, singers, musicians and music fans in general.

OCC NAMM Brings Canadian Tradition of ‘Music Monday’ to U.S. for Third Year to Inspire Appreciation of Music Making in U.S. Schools and Communities Simultaneous North American Musical Performance Aims to Promote the Benefits of Making Music for Everyone and Kicks off NAMM’s National Wanna Play Music Week In May CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ — NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, announced today that it will join the Coalition for Music Education in Canada in its sixth annual Music Monday event May 3, 2010, to demonstrate the importance of music education programs throughout North America, and to celebrate the many proven benefits of playing music for people of all ages. The two organizations are encouraging schools and after-school programs, organizations, groups and individuals across the U.S. and Canada to participate in Music Monday by either performing the designated Music Monday piece or a song of their choice at the exactly the same time on May 3. The song will be sung and played by all schools and participants across the U.S. and Canada at 10 a.m. Pacific time, 11 a.m. Mountain time, 12 p.m. Central time, 1 p.m. Eastern time and 2 p.m. Atlantic time, and 2:30 in Newfoundland. NAMM is also encouraging people to pick up any instrument of their choice and play anytime on that day. NAMM has supported the Coalition for Music Education in Canada’s Music Monday event since its inception in 2004. This is the third year that NAMM has hosted this galvanizing event in the United States and featured it as the kick off event for its “National Wanna Play Music Week.” The number of North American schools participating in this annual event has grown to more than 2,000, representing nearly 700,000 students. “This partnership highlights the many benefits that music making brings to our children and to our schools,” said NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. “We hope to see more countries join in to support music education around the world.” Help grow participation in this event and register your school or organization as a participant in Music Monday by Upon your registration, NAMM will provide you with a free support kit specifically created for schools, after-school programs, groups or organizations to implement a Music Monday event in your community. To learn about past U.S. Music Monday events, or to find a music store or music lessons in your area, This year’s Music Monday song will be announced shortly by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada. Many arrangements of the designated song will be added to the Coalition for Music Education in Canada’s Web site by the end of the year. As a not-for-profit association, NAMM has supported research to examine the effects of music on children and adolescents. The studies have shown that playing music positively affects the development of cognitive skills in children and teens. The activity also builds confidence, instills self-discipline, increases productivity and helps kids and teens connect socially with their peers. Studies specifically show that playing music:

  • Develops skills needed by the 21st century workforce: critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, and teamwork
  • Keeps students engaged in school and less likely to drop out
  • Improves the atmosphere for learning
  • Helps communities share ideas and values among cultures and generations
  • Provides a sense of belonging for teens
  • Gives teens the freedom to be themselves, to be different, to be something they thought they could never be; to be comfortable and relaxed in school and elsewhere in their lives
  • Helps adolescents release or control emotions and coping with difficult situations such as peer pressure, substance abuse, pressures of study and family, the dynamics of friendships and social life, and the pain of loss or abuse.

This year, NAMM is encouraging more U.S. schools and organizations to sing and play together and heighten the public’s awareness about how music education empowers children with important tools such as creativity, achievement and social engagement. Many schools across the country have cut music programs because of lack of funding and cannot offer students the proven benefits associated with hands-on musical training. About Music Monday Music Monday is hosted annually on the first Monday of May in North America by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). The special event demonstrates an appreciation for music in our lives and in our schools. Many schools, along with community and professional organizations, perform one piece of music at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, 11 a.m. Mountain Time, 12 p.m. Central Time, 1 p.m. Eastern Time, 2 p.m. Atlantic Time and 2:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. The performance is intended to transcend all genres and unite people through the melody and the act of performing the piece at the same time. The idea is that if one were to open the front door of his or her home and stand on the street on the first Monday in May, one would hear music and the skies would be filled with melody. For more information, visit About NAMM NAMM is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the international musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of approximately 9,000 Member companies. For more information about NAMM or the proven benefits of making music, interested parties can visit or call 800-767-NAMM (6266). MEDIA CONTACT:  Kymberly Drake                Scott Robertson, APR Public Relations Manager      Director of MarCom NAMM                          NAMM 760-438-8007, ext. 162        760-438-8007, ext. 102 Fax: 760-438-8257             Fax: 760-438-8257 SOURCE NAMM

Have fun at Univeristy today

In French Kiss, Have to Laugh, It's About School People, Music, The Social, Them Kids on September 22, 2009 at 09:44

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Welcome to some campy campus fun.  l’Université du Québec à Montréal UQAM students pay homage to the Black Eyed Peas.


The Leafs are back!

In Business, It's About School People, Me Myself & I, Sports, Toronto on September 17, 2009 at 10:59

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The Leafs are back!  The old and the new.  Ryerson and Loblaw Co are planning to create a student athletic centre with a supermarket.  Kind of makes sense.  At least they won’t be wasting this historic building.  Ryerson (soon to be my school for the next 11 weeks) seems to building on their ability to transform unused spaces into mixed use educational options like the old Sam the Record Man site.


As for our current Leafs at the ACC..they lost last night 3-2 to Boston.  Or well something just won’t change



Gardens plan sees Loblaws and arena

Ryerson and grocery giant consider student athletic centre and grocery store

September 17, 2009


Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Ryerson University have confirmed they are in talks to jointly develop the Maple Leaf Gardens as a supermarket and student athletic centre.

The proposal, which could partly preserve the iconic building’s original purpose as a hockey arena, won immediate kudos from people critical of Loblaw’s original plans for a supermarket only.

“I’m delighted,” said former Toronto mayor John Sewell, speaking on behalf of Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens, a grassroots group.

Sewell said the impact would extend well beyond Toronto. “I get three or four emails a day from people like this one: `My son is visiting from Edmonton. Can he get a tour of the Gardens?’

“I believe this is the most famous building in Canada. To have it continue to be used for hockey is terrific.”

Insiders described the discussions as being “at a delicate stage,” and the proposal still faces hurdles.

“Loblaw Cos. Ltd is in discussion with Ryerson University regarding the possible future joint use of Maple Leaf Gardens. The discussions are still in progress and we do not have any information to share at this time. Updates … will be provided as appropriate,” Inge van den Berg, Loblaw senior vice-president corporate affairs, confirmed in an email yesterday.

Ryerson also confirmed the talks separately.

Any plan that includes an arena, however, would first have to meet the approval of the Gardens’ previous owners, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

Maple Leaf Sports made it a condition of the sale in 2004 that Loblaw would not host large sporting events or concerts in competition with its Air Canada Centre, home to the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

A varsity hockey team that plays to relatively small crowds could escape those restrictions, said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Sports.

However, it depends on how big an arena Ryerson wants to build, Hunter said. Anything over 8,500 seats will compete with another MLS property, Ricoh Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Loblaw and we’re very supportive of Ryerson. I’d like to see what the plans are before we comment,” Hunter said in a telephone interview.

Details of the joint venture, including the financing, have yet to be announced. But it could involve government money.

Chris Day, spokesman for Transport Minister John Baird, who also handles the infrastructure portfolio, confirmed the federal government has received an application for funding for the proposed makeover of the iconic arena.

Ryerson’s contribution could come partly from a special levy, approved in a student referendum last spring, to support a badly needed new athletic centre for the downtown campus.

The students voted in favour of chipping in an extra $126 a year in athletic fees – or about $3.1 million, based on the current student body of 25,000 – to support a new centre once it is built for an estimated $30 million.

Ryerson’s athletic facilities, currently located beneath its historic quadrangle, do not include a rink. The Ryerson Rams hockey team and its fans must schlep from downtown to George Bell Arena, near Keele St. and St. Clair Ave. W.

“In the grand scheme of university sports facilities across Canada, Ryerson’s sports facilities are not great, to put it politely,” said 27-year-old documentary media student Jermaine Bagnall, who played basketball as an undergraduate.

“To have `home ice’ within walking distance would definitely help school spirit.”

In 2004, shortly after it bought the Gardens, Canada’s largest supermarket chain won city approval to convert the Art Deco building into a supermarket – a move that outraged hockey fans and heritage buffs.

But the project fell by the wayside as Loblaw focused on rising competition from Wal-Mart. There was also speculation the cost of converting the Gardens was more than Loblaw had bargained for.

Partnering with Ryerson, which badly needs a new student athletic centre and arena for its hockey team, could silence the critics and possibly bring in government agencies to help finance the plan.

The concept was already winning praise yesterday from longtime critics.

“It would be a win-win,” said Councillor Kyle Rae, who represents the local ward. “The neighbourhood has been wanting this for a long time.”

If a deal is reached, Ryerson could expand its athletic facilities and possibly open them up to community use, he said.

Noting the Gardens was originally built in 1931 during the Great Depression, Bob Rae, MP for Toronto Centre, said its revival during the current recession would make for an “interesting historical parallel.”

The historic site on Carlton St. looms large in Toronto’s psyche, even among non-hockey fans. It has played host to Beatles and Elvis concerts.

The last NHL game was played there in 1999.

Councillor Joe Mihevc, who was the lone dissenting vote against the supermarket-only proposal in 2004, said he likes the latest twist.

“Imagine people going back to Maple Leaf Gardens and seeing university or other players on that ice,” he said.

With files from Robert Benzie and Bruce Campion-Smith

What was it like before there were guns on the streets?

In Coppers, Government, It's About School People, Law & Order, Loss of Life, Me Myself & I, Media, The Junction, Them Kids, Toronto on September 4, 2009 at 13:40

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Guns! You can’t get away from them.  If it’s a break and enter down the street, an assault in the east or west end or a murder somewhere in the city, guns are playing a huge part in the not so great part of living in Toronto. This weekend the CBC has a two night mini-series called ironically, Guns.  A dramatic, thought provoking, slam it in your head and heart look at guns in the big city.  Directed and Produced by husband-and-wife filmmakers David Sudz Sutherland (Love, Sex and Eating the Bones) and Jennifer Holness, it just might take people living in Toronto to show what it’s like to have guns end up in the wrong place, within the wrong hands in Toronto.  Guns begins on CBC Television Sunday at 8 p.m., with the second part to follow Monday at 8 p.m.



Which 5-year-old will end up lying in an alley?

Sep 03, 2009 04:30 AM


I happened to be in my 5-year-old daughter’s class, reading to them, when I was struck with the question of who in 15 years would be the victim of a homicide?

This is not a thought I normally have, because mostly I think about work, what I am going to get for lunch today, and why the hell the Leafs can’t get it together. But on this particular occasion I could not get that thought out of my head.

Reading this newspaper from week to week, I am struck when I see the faces of the young men who are felled by gun violence. I think back to when these men were little boys with toothy grins instead of sullen, expressionless faces. Back to when their parents read to them and tucked them in at night, just like I will tuck my daughters in tonight after they beg for just one more story.

Which one of you 5-year-olds will be lying in an alley, alone?

I grew up in Scarborough, specifically Malvern. But that was the Malvern of the 1980s, which isn’t the Malvern of now. Back in the day, there wasn’t the trade in guns or drugs like there is currently. I had never seen a gun in person until I joined the militia. Growing up, the worst we had to fear was that someone was going to try to beat you up.

“After school, man, you are dead!”

Now, those words carry much more weight. We send our kids off to school and pray that we don’t get the phone call. We pray that we don’t see a colleague rush up to us at lunch asking if our kid goes to such and such school, because they heard it was on lockdown after shots were fired.


For the uninitiated, lockdown is the procedure where a school goes into battle mode – all doors are locked, the windows shuttered, curtains drawn and no one goes in or out of the building. Some schools go through this more than others.

When my niece was in her kindergarten to Grade 8 years, her school went through this three times in a year. K to 8. Fast forward to her high school and the number still hovers around three to four. On what planet is this acceptable?

Which one of you 5-year-olds…?

I knew one of those former 5-year-olds who showed up in the pages of the daily newspapers. He was a fixture at my niece’s birthday parties. If you pay attention to these things, you might recognize his name: Keyon Campbell. He was shot in his driveway after warming up his mother’s car. He was a good kid who had a part-time job, liked to play ball, and had ideas about his future.

Almost 20 months after his murder no arrests have been made in the case. This is altogether too typical. My question here isn’t how this murder is going to be solved. That’s police work, and ultimately that will be found out when Keyon’s murderer is caught for another crime, possibly after another life is lost. More than likely, his. My question here is how do we prevent another former 5-year-old from picking up the gun in the first place?

This violence isn’t localized any more, and it’s not just criminals killing criminals, as some of the voices on the call-in radio shows would have us believe. It isn’t staying in places like Malvern or Rexdale. Or on Gottingen St. if you happen to live in Halifax. Or in Surrey if you live in Vancouver. It’s all over. It’s in the 905. It’s in the Annex. It reaches the Rosedales and the Forest Hills through murders like Dylan Ellis and Oliver Martin. The circle of violence is widening and the young men involved are getting more diverse, more desperate and harder to reach.

There’s been a call for doing big things like banning guns. I don’t know how that is going to change anything because the guns used in these crimes are illegal.

One thing that can make a big difference is thinking small. By thinking small, I mean person-to-person contact. My wife, Jen Holness, and I run a small film production company and we worked with a teacher and principal at Elia Middle School, a feeder school for C.W. Jefferys, the school where a student named Jordan Manners was killed.

Through a four-month period we taught 25 kids – 12- to 14-year-olds – how to make movies and we called this program “Through Our Eyes.” We brought in talented film professionals such as cinematographers and costume designers to speak to our group. They also mentored the kids, and we had them write scripts and practise shooting. Every week. These kids made seven great films (which you can see at but they also made huge inroads in finding out things about themselves they never knew; pushing themselves out of their comfort zone to achieve stuff they thought impossible.

Teachers and parents told us that the experience had an impact on the kid’s lives, both inside and outside the school. One of our kids had been really introverted and he had a mentor, a director named Aaron Woodley. As Woodley was prepping a movie starring Mariah Carey, he was helping our student make an animated film. This experience helped transform a shy kid into a class leader.

There are a few people and small companies doing similar initiatives, and not just in film. I think most fields can get kids excited if the experience is informal education and it’s project based. A lot of us talk about these problems as if some government body will enact a bill that will magically make the problems go away. If more of us from a variety of different fields got involved with the schools and started thinking small, I wonder what would happen to these 5-year-olds and former 5-year-olds?

Sudz Sutherland is a Toronto-based filmmaker. His two-part dramatic miniseries Guns, starring Colm Feore and Elisha Cuthbert, airs on CBC Sun., Sept. 6 at 9 p.m. and Mon., Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.

Knocking on the Junction’s Door. Roncesvalles we are feeling your pain

In Bikes, Business, It's About School People, The Junction, Toronto, Transportation on August 21, 2009 at 08:46

Just a tad…

Wow Ronce Peeps just can’t get a break.  It’ll be over soon but what’s the cost of “beautification”?  The Wiki’s state, “Beautification is the process of making visual improvements in a town or city, typically to an urban area. This most often involves planting trees, shrubbery, and other greenery, but frequently also includes adding decorative historic-style street lights and other lighting and replacing broken pavement, often with brick or other natural materials. Old-fashioned cobblestones are sometimes used for crosswalks; they provide the additional benefit of slowing motorists.  Beautification projects are often undertaken by city councils to refurbish their downtown areas, in order to boost tourism or other commerce. Often, this is also spurred by broken sidewalks, which pose a safety hazard for pedestrians and potentially insurmountable obstacles for wheelchair users. These projects are frequently part of other larger projects such as construction, especially in conjunction with ones for transit, such as streets and roads and mass transit.” or

When city council decides to make changes, how do you as a citizen of the neighbourhood in question find out about the changes?  Better yet, after finding out do you get a say as to the changes?  One of the biggest eye sores, both in the look of what the “beautification” has done and how the community feels about those changes are residents living on or near St. Clair West.  A strip just east of Keele to Avenue road has been a head ache for all involved.  How does local government and community work together to make this pop, instead of fizzle?  Answers people we need answers.



Roncesvalles gets a remake

The caffeinated calm of a Roncesvalles café gets a run for its money from the construction outside

Aug 21, 2009 04:30 AM


Shops on Roncesvalles are aquiver.

A jackhammer is ripping the street to shreds. The only way to be heard over the thunderous crash-bang of metal and pavement is to neglect conventional manners and repeat questions and answers with escalating bluntness.

“Everybody’s mood changes,” says Cherry Bomb manager Patrick Newmark, sweeping the empty café on a weekday afternoon while the street roars behind him.

But Newmark, like many people here, realizes repairs are probably needed along aging Roncesvalles Ave., where the water and sewer pipes are approaching 100 years old and the streetcar tracks are set to expire within a few years, according to the local councillor, Gord Perks.

Like others along this strip, Newmark doesn’t have all the details, but he knows the street is getting more than just pipes and tracks.

It is destined for new sidewalks and streetcar stops that Perks hopes will turn Roncesvalles into a “model village,” a paradise for pedestrians, cyclists and shop owners alike.

Along Roncesvalles the sidewalk will be extended onto the street at each streetcar stop, lining up with the entrances to the new streetcars to create a completely accessible system. Cyclists will be able to ride onto these “bumpouts,” which will also make more room for patios and street merchandise.

The construction will happen in two stages: the first, already underway, will involve the street’s infrastructure; the second will focus on street renewal.

Perks says the general concept for the makeover is the outcome of a series of meetings with stakeholders, including residents’ groups looking to beautify the street.

“We went through all these very elaborate models and finally settled on a notion that will I think be the first example anywhere in North America where you have a streetcar running in mixed traffic, where you can step right from the sidewalk onto the streetcar,” Perks says.

Some TTC stops will be shifted during the redesign, which will lead to the elimination of three Sunday stops: southbound at Wright Ave. and Hewitt Ave. in both directions.

There will be one lane of traffic in each direction and about 9 per cent fewer parking spots, down from a 25 per cent estimate that was presented in an earlier proposal, says John Bowker, chair of the beautification committee for the Roncesvalles village BIA and owner of She Said Boom.

The fine-detail design options will be discussed at a public meeting tentatively slated for Sept. 19, Perks says. An earlier meeting was cancelled because of the city strike, leaving residents uncertain about what is to come.

School trustee Irene Atkinson says people do not know what is happening yet and that a public meeting is very much needed.

“An awful lot of people are going to be very surprised if we lose … streetcar stops and there are going to be fewer parking spots,” she says. She worries the project will bring traffic to a standstill.

“It’s going to be in my estimation, a disaster,” Atkinson says, adding the street cannot afford to lose any parking, and that businesses will suffer.

But members of Roncesvalles Renewed, a committee made up of neighbourhood associations, think a pedestrian, cyclist and transit-user friendly street is the way to go.

And above all else, they say the street must be green.

Roncesvalles Renewed wants to break with the city’s traditional sidewalk tree planting, where, stifled in coffin-like planters, trees rarely live beyond five to 10 years. They have their sights set on a “living sidewalk” built with soil cells and unit pavers that would allow roots to grow unrestricted, creating a leafy canopy while soaking up storm water runoff that often causes sewer overflow.

The problem is, that kind of sidewalk could cost four times as much as a regular one, so residents are searching desperately for any grants or government funding they can find, so far without success.

They have scraped together enough of their own money to pay for a few blocks, says Roncesvalles Renewed’s Mary Wiens, but they want to do the whole street.

Wiens is optimistic about a last-minute application for federal infrastructure stimulus money submitted this week.

“We’re closing in on the money,” she says.

The living sidewalk may be more expensive upfront, Wiens says, but “there are a lot of costs that aren’t being calculated in the normal way of doing things,” like the cost of flooding, which a living sidewalk would help mitigate.

“We really believe it’s the way streets should be built,” Wiens says.

The entire project is slated to be finished by 2010.

Gazing northward toward the interminable renewal of St. Clair Ave. W., that is one deadline everyone on Roncesvalles hopes will be met.