Quebec Gets Serious

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Premier François Legault intends to hit the non-vaxxers where it hurts—in their wallet.

This past week, the Premier announced plans for instituting a ‘health contribution’. A new tax to be levied against anyone who refuses to be vaccinated.

A risky move? Yes.

Would this proposed tax violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Infringe on the right to life, liberty, and security of the individual? Probably.

Are voices raised in protest? Of course.

Will the new tax get people to roll up their sleeves? The day of the announcement, 7,000 Quebecers registered for their first dose.

Carrot and Stick?

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

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Resolute Resolutions

More hope than intention, New Year’s resolutions usually stumble and fall by the wayside long before the spring thaw. Ice cream sneaks back into your freezer, the treadmill that was practically a steal on Black Friday becomes a high-tech hanger, and that French class you swore you were going to sign up for? Yeah, didn’t happen.

Some people are more resolute than others. They take that January 1 idea and run with it—right into the freezing waters of the Bay of Fundy.

Kathryne Maguire/Facebook

Meet Kathryn Maguire, her sister, Susan Ingraham, and her niece, Tanya Horgan.

Kathryn Maguire/Facebook

These intrepid New Brunswick women took their first polar dip at Bayshore Beach on New Year’s Day 2021—and kept right on dipping.

Once a month, every month, they pack their swimsuits and take a road trip. Throughout the last year, they’ve dipped into the frigid waters at beaches around the Bay of Fundy. A bonding experience, a tradition they’re happy to continue into 2022.

Kathryn Maguire/Facebook

The family that freezes together—stays together.

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The Vaccine Divide

It’s getting bitter out there.

Not the cold, the rancour and hostility surrounding the vaccination debate. A local company has been getting some flake lately for trying to walk the Great Divide between their vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees.

Chapman’s, the ice cream people. The company that kept their entire staff on payroll for a year while they rebuilt a plant that had burned down. The people who secured two ultracold freezers for the Grey-Bruce Health Unit to store the Pfizer vaccine in 2020. That Chapman’s.

Management decided to encourage, not mandate, vaccination by giving all vaccinated staff a dollar an hour pay raise. Basically, giving the vaccinated what the company was spending on testing the unvaccinated.

They’re not firing anyone, they’re not forcing anyone. They’re just saying, “Hey, it’s not right. We’re paying to have the unvaccinated tested, but we’re not giving the vaccinated anything.”

Sounds fair, right?

Not to the anti-vaxxers. They posted hate-filled messages on Facebook, and tweeted up storm, demanding a boycott on Chapman’s.

The boycott backfired. Big time.

The hashtag #IStandWithChapmans blew up, and the brand is receiving more interest and support than ever.

I’m thinking…Chapman’s for dinner?

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Help!

No question, the last two years of lockdowns and restrictions have been a pain. More painful for some than for others…

In 2020, with domestic abuse on the rise due to pandemic imposed isolation, the Signal for Help campaign was launched. A joint project created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and a Toronto advertising agency, the campaign centered around a simple hand gesture. A subtle, quiet signal a woman could make while on a video call where she couldn’t speak freely. A gesture that meant HELP!

Social media spread the word—and the hand gesture, with a TikTok video posted by a Canadian user going viral. A video which may have saved the life of a North Carolina teen.

Social media is blamed, and rightfully so, for spreading misinformation, but every once in a while they get it right.

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Sikh Saviours

A walk in the park—the very expression means easy.

Just not in this park…

B.C. Parks

Golden Ears Provincial Park in B.C. isn’t a Sunday stroll and ice cream kind of place. It’s 555 square kilometres of serious nature—and bears.

If you hike the trails at Golden Ears, keep your eyes open, and watch your step. You can’t count on being rescued by a group of international students who unwind and tie their turbans together to make a ten metre rope—or can you?

This past Tuesday, Ajay Kumar, Arvindjeet Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Kuljinder Singh and Gurpreet Singh received commendations from the RCMP and the cities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. RCMP Supt. Wendy Mehat, an officer for twenty-one years and a Sikh herself, presented the young men with a commemorative coin and a community leader award for their quick thinking and ingenuity.

CBC

Rick Laing, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue manager, arrived on scene to find the young Sikhs had done his job for him. “I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. Ingenious.” Laing declared the rescued man “extremely lucky” that the Sikh group of hikers happened by when they did. “At least one person slips on the rocks and drowns in this area every year.”

Who knew that a religious symbol could be more than a symbol?

All Golden Ears Park images: shutterstock.com

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Pandemic Art

If you’re traipsing down the sidewalk in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan be careful where you walk. You don’t want to smudge the art.

Nikki Sirett

A recent transplant from Vancouver, Nikki Sirett got to know her new home this past summer—one chalk drawing at a time.

Nikki Sirett

What started as a pandemic escape and a way to use up old art supplies has brought colour to Saskatoon’s streets and put smiles on Covid-weary faces.

Creating chalk designs that won’t last past the first raindrop may seem like a waste of the artist’s talent, but Nikki finds it freeing. “Hey, I’m giving myself two hours, let’s see how big I can make this cat, and how colourful. If it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter—it’s just going to be gone anyway.”

While Nikki usually draws dogs and cats, she occasionally dabbles in less domestic animals like this vibrant fox…

Nikki Sirett

“People love it, which has been super fun,” Nikki’s happy to report. “Kids will stop and be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s such a cute dog. It’s just the best thing ever to make a kid happy.”

Nikki”s gift of whimsy brings out the kid in all of us 🙂

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#National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

CBC.ca

Like Phyllis Webstad of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, I had just turned six when I started school. I assume I was excited, probably a little nervous, but I don’t remember. Phyllis does.

She remembers showing up at her school, excited to be there, proud to be wearing the new orange shirt her grandmother had bought her. She remembers standing there with her classmates, all of them scared and crying as their clothes were stripped off them. She remembers never seeing her treasured orange shirt again.

In 2013, Phyllis’s experience inspired the inception of Orange Shirt Day. A day to recognize and raise awareness of the horrific history and legacy of the Residential School System.

teentalk.ca

This past Thursday, on September 30, Canada marked the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. A day to remember the children lost, the families shattered. To reflect on the injustice that exists to this day. To find a way forward—together.

A way that includes sending people like Blake Desjarlais to Ottawa. Blake is Metís, speaks fluent Cree, and is the first two-spirit member of parliament.

A way that appreciates the talent of actors like Kiawenti:io Tarbell. An up-and-coming star at only 15, Kiawenti:io is Mohawk from the Akwesasne community in Ontario.

A way that applauds the magic in the voices of singers like Mary Nahwegahbow. An athlete and musician, Mary hails from the Whitefish River Nation 500 kilometres North of Toronto.

A way through the heartbreak of the past into a brighter future.

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#Touch of Pink

A romantic comedy you’ve probably never heard of, Touch of Pink, hit the big screens in 2004. Kyle MacLachlan, one of the only well-known actors in the cast, played the advice-giving spirit of Cary Grant.

Yeah, quirky.

Probably why the movie didn’t do all that well in theaters.

Lately, thinking about the possibility of maybe traveling again, a line from the movie came back to me. One that still makes me smile.

Forced to travel to Toronto for a family wedding, Kyle’s Cary Grant complains, “Toronto is not a destination city.”

Funny because true.

Toronto’s a great city, excellent restaurants, theatre, a thriving multi-cultural community, and it’s relatively safe, but it’s on no one’s bucket list. No one saves their pennies for years to finance a trip to hogtown. (Don’t ask. I’m a transplant from Montreal. I have no idea why Toronto has such a charming nickname.)

On a recent list of the Top Cities in the World to Visit, Toronto is conspicuous by its absence. London, Paris, Rome, New York, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai…

Whatever it is that makes a city a Destination City, Toronto doesn’t have it.

I get it. We don’t have tropical beaches, or Roman ruins, or buildings so steeped in history that you stand before them in silent awe.

What we do have is six million people, speaking 180 different languages, living and working together—and crying into their beer when the Toronto Maple Leafs lose, yet again.

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Moving Day

Whether you’re moving on up like The Jeffersons

Or leaving town, every move is a lot of work.

You box your whole life up, load it into a U-haul or moving truck, and get in your car…

Or not.

Leslie Hoyle and Bell Elgie climbed into their—canoe.

The retired teachers, life-long paddlers, decided to take the scenic route from their old home in Georgetown, Ontario to their new life in Perth. Instead of a four-hour drive, they embarked on a four week, 500 km, canoe and portage adventure.

Canadian, eh?

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