Sunday, September 23, 2007

HIghlights of the Horace Patterson Foundation night of elegance and excellence
Lisa and Natalie Bell the singing sisters performed a couple songs which livened up the atmosphere. The young women are very talented and enjoy giving back to the community. Karon Chester did a fantastic job as MC. She is an articulate, beautiful woman who has recently married to one of the nicest guys around.
There was a debate between two talented, bright and articulate young women Ms Delly Dyer and Ms Martha Mayen on a difficult topic: Parents should take responsibility for their children's action or behaviour(something to this). Excellent points were made on both sides. Delly Dyer debated for this position. She said that parents should realize that they are role models for their children and should be aware of their actions at all time. On the other hand, Martha said that sometimes parents cannot prevent their children's bad behaviour because the children may choose to do the wrong thing even though they know what is right and parents cannot always be blamed for their children's behaviour. She also said that it takes a village to raise a child and not only the parents - the community shares the responsibility.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Horace Patterson Foundation
The Horace Patterson Foundation celebrated its 15Th anniversary with an evening of elegance and excellence at the Centro Caboto Cultural Centre. It was packed. I am sure there were more than 200 participants at $43.00 a plate. It was a Black and White affair. Ms Lois Patterson, President took the time to remind people to wear black and white and also to bring an item for the Winnipeg Harvest. There was a lovely meal of chicken and calypso rice with a light tasty dessert of Mango gelate and a touch of cream at the top.
Ms Adoma Patterson Founder of the Dumisani Productions,flew in from Hawaii to present the keynote address and to participate in this important milestone of the Horace Patterson Foundation, developed to honor and carry out her father's work in promoting education among young Black students.
Chioma spoke about finding one's purpose in life and the importance of pursuing one's dream and not allow anyone to design that dream for you. She delivered a powerful, thoughtful presentation that won her a standing ovation. She called on the Horace Patterson Foundation to reach out to children who are living in violent homes, who do not have the resources available to them as more fortunate children. These are the children who needs a chance to pursue their dreams and a chance to fulfil their potential.
Congratulations to the seven scholarship recipients of $1,000 dollars each.
The recipients are: Antoninette Melissa Bryan, Patricia Maria Kumbakisaka, Kweku Paul Matthews, Martha Johnson Mayen, Elizabeth Onyebuchi Okolo, Angelo Fabian Phills, Mario Dominic Phills.
Congratulations to HPF for putting on a classy, successful and enjoyable event. May they continue to support our youths towards that important educational pursuit.
The City of winnipeg is buzzing with the sudden resignation of the City’s top civil servant Annitta Stenning, CAO, with no explanations forthcoming from either the Mayor or Ms Stenning. All we hear is that it was an amicable separation. On top of that a replacement in the form of harvard unversity graduate, a Mr. Alex Robinson has been appointed as interim CAO immediately. Robinson has been with the city since 1991. Coun. Jenny Gerbasi told CBC News she was stunned by the news and disturbed by the appointment of Stenning's replacement and that this is a terrifying prospect.
"The person who has been appointed acting CAO is actually in charge of the EPC secretariat, which is political staff, so now we've gone from having an administrative leader in charge of all the departments to having a political appointee in charge of the entire City of Winnipeg," said Gerbasi, councillor for Fort Rouge - East Fort Garry. I am sure this matter will engage community activists for the next little while.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Junk Food at schools gone underground
Students at one high school in Winnipeg launched a group on the popular Facebook social-networking site calling for school leaders to "bring sugar back" to the school.
The Winnipeg schools are making an effort to ditch junk food from their premises and supply healthier alternative to students. However the addicted students are leaving school and dashing over to McDonald's to get their fixes.

This is expected. Students are not going to bite immediately but I'm with the establishment on this one. Keep doing what you are doing, the students will come around in time. Besides, I think that the students who desire healthy foods' right should be respected.
Threat to security at University of Winnipeg Downtown Campus

The University of Winnipeg boosted security on its downtown campus Thursday morning after university officials found troubling graffiti on a bathroom wall.

"There was a message left on the wall of one of our public facilities that indicated a threat — not in the near future, but within a couple of days — to the university community," university spokesman Dan Hurley told CBC News Thursday morning.

"It might just be a case of graffiti, but it might also be a more serious situation, so the university is treating it seriously."

From let: Yisa Akinbolaji, Gerald Folkerts, Cornelius Buller and Ray Dirks with samples of art on display.

THE celebration of a life-long commitment planted the seed for an art exhibition highlighting human relationships gone very wrong.
"I invited my friends there and that was a plan of God to go beyond that," explains Nigerian-born painter and mosaic artist Yisa Akinbolaji of how his wedding guests hatched a faith-based, multimedia project on the topic of human trafficking under the banner of Invisible Dignity.

The 50 piece exhibit, Unveiling the Mystery, is the culmination of two years of research and reflection on trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of indignity for Invisible Dignity project co-ordinator Cornelius Buller, one of Akinbolaji's wedding guests.

The two-venue exhibit featuring works by Akinbolaji, now of Manitoba, fellow Winnipeggers Ray Dirks and Gerald Folkerts, Jo Cooper of Frontenac, Que. and Steve Prince of Hampton, Va., opens Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, and on Monday, Sept. 24 at Booth College Library.

The idea of human trafficking alternately engaged and horrified Buller, 52, who began researching the topic when employed an ethicist for the Salvation Army.

"If this is going on in the world and we don't do something about it, that really says something about what we are about," says Buller, now executive director of Urban Youth Adventures, a joint initiative of Camp Arnes and World Vision based in the city's North End.
"Our own dignity is up in the air, it's questionable, until we address the question (of human trafficking)."

Despite his own extensive research, Buller says statistics on human trafficking in Canada are difficult to nail down. Worldwide, an estimated 27 million people are enslaved for prostitution or forced labour, and in some cases, parents give away or sell their children.

Instead of focusing only on the ugly and depressing side of the issue, the art exhibit features work that illuminates the humanity in every person and celebrates relationships, says Folkerts.

"If we think of the dignity that is inherent to every person, if it's invisible, it's not because its not there but because we're blind to it," explains the painter who will be contributing his series of paintings of faces and feet to the exhibit."

"What we're trying to suggest and do in our art is to bring it to the fore, the inherent dignity that is in us."

That approach intrigued singer/songwriter Steve Bell, one of the performers at a benefit concert connected to the exhibit. After years of touring, he's witnessed too much sadness in the world to pass up on participating in a project that celebrates and promotes the dignity of all people.

"I like the focus on celebration rather than warning," explains Bell. "And I like the fact that it is art based. Art has a way of putting us a little off balance so we can see something in a new way. It's a very powerful medium for opening up new paths to compassionate living."

Hosting the exhibit and some of the educational events of Invisible Dignity was a good fit for the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, explains curator Ray Dirks. "We try fairly aggressively to be involved with pieces that are more than nice piece of art," he explains.

"I've worked pretty much all my adult life around this theme. We need to get to know each other and see each other in the eyes of God."

Buller collected a diverse and wide group of participants and supporters from across denominational lines for the $30,000 exhibit and related events. That widespread involvement of faith groups and organizations means more points of connection within Winnipeg to each other and the larger issue of human trafficking, he says.

"For whatever reason, it's very easy to not be engaged with our neighbours, to be a community," says Buller. "In a city with so much diversity, we have to be very conscious of building community, of knocking down barriers."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What does this mean?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he "profoundly disagrees" with a recent decision by Elections Canada to allow Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs.

Speaking at a news conference at the end of the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, Harper said Elections Canada is subverting the will of Parliament by permitting women to cover their faces at polling stations
Will the PM rescind this decision?

Is it fair that people can vote all covered up? There should be some way to identify people who are voting. Perhaps an identifying booth to check out the women and their identities. This is so important when the polls are tight. I know where many of us immigrants come from rigging votes is not unheard of, what makes you think we'd change. People should be allowed to wear their hijabs but should not be allowed to vote unless checked out.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Winnipeg Artist's Untimely Demise

The Winnipeg art community is grieving the loss of one of their own, a relatively young artist Angie, from Indo-Trinidadian background. I was walking home from work when I bumped into a friend who is an artist. She told me she was returning from a funeral and showed me a picture of the dead woman from a booklet containing full-colour pictures of a number of her art works. I was shocked. It was Angie. Angie took her own life. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She was such a nice person, there was a gentle spirit about her. She spoke softly and intelligently. I never knew she might have suffered from depression. There were so many questions I wanted to ask. Was this a medical problem or a pyscho-social problem? When one takes one's own life, one asks what could have been so desolate in a person's life that they feel life is no longer worth living. It's pretty sad and sobering too as a human being.
Angie has recently taken to selling Mary Kay but I felt she was not suited to that line of work. She did not have that kind of bold faced brashness to make someone buy a product that they did not really want or could afford. May her gentle soul rest in peace.
Students Rule in Canadian Classroom
As school terms begins, there are many teachers whose guts may be tied up in knots to find out who they have in their classrooms. Because among those little angels are usually some vicious devils dressed up like children. Many of these children have parents just like them and no amount of complaining or asking for parental support makes a difference. IN fact some parents also join with their children to abuse teachers.
Recently on W-Five I heard many teachers talk about violent incidents with children. The most aggravating this is that nothing appears to be done about it. Teachers are expected to grin and bear it.
Research is showing that one in 5 teachers are leaving their preferred profession (because of the inherent danger in it) after five years. They just walk away not able to take the abuse and not getting the appropriate support from School administration. Do we have to get bullies for teacher to match the bullies in the classroom? Do our teachers have to learn karate and judo; counselling, psychiatry, nursing and what not? What about those children who are there to learn and whose parents have taken the steps to train them properly? We expect more from our teachers without giving them the support they need. It is not fair to teachers.
There was a time when teachers were respected, admired and feared by students today teachers have fallen from grace because of lax school administration who are afraid of parents themselves and perhaps of the very students they want their teachers to faecde.
We are cuddling bad children and hoping that all bad children can be rehabilitated. They can't. We need special schools like a boot camp where kids can work out their anger physically and in a setting that is created for such behaviour. They should not be allowed to terrorize teacher and other students with little or no consequence. Teachers should be allowed to sue school boards if they are hurt or traumatized on the jobs perhaps then they would seriously address this problem.
Increasing teachers are called upon to engage in a he-says she-says confrontation in front of principals. Students rule C
All they need is a little training counselling what we need is trained support work in assisting in carrying out their task.

Ethiopian Millennium Celebration
Today I was fortunate to be invited to the Ethiopian Millennium Celebration at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre in Winnipeg, 595 Notre Dame Avenue. The little hall was packed with people, most of them Ethiopians with their families. It was nice to see that there are so many children in this community. The Ethiopian community in Winnipeg is a young one. The children were having fun while the parents tried to keep them quiet during the formal part of the presentation. It reminded me of home. Children and adults are always part of an audience and people appeared to have developed an ear to hear over the natural noises of children as it was at the celebration. There were some special guests in the personage of Dr. Jon Gerard, Leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Harvey Smith, City Councillor and the owner of Palliser Furniture, who owns one of the largest furniture factories in Winnipeg and who employs a large number of new immigrants.
The celebration was open with a prayer by the Minister of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He wore a long black gown bearing a huge gold-plated cross around his next and he held a smaller one in his hand. Members from the community would come up to him and he would offer the cross which they kissed in several places and then hugged or in some cases kissed the Minister. It is obvious that the Minister is highly respected. Like Catholic priests, Ethiopian Orthodox priests do not marry.
Ethiopians follow the Gregorian calendar. According to an Ethiopian woman who sat next to me during the proceeding, this is the original calendar. She said the Western calendar deviated from the original calendar after Jesus' birth.
Another reason said the Guest speaker, Taye Zegege, past President of the Ethiopia Society of Winnipeg, is that one of the three wise men was an Ethiopian and that he took seven years to walk back to Ethiopian (LOL). Anyway, this Millennium is seven years after Canadians celebrated its Millennium and like that time, it went by uneventful.
Mr. Taye gave a brief historical background of Ethiopia, the only African country that was never colonized. He boasted that twice the Ethiopians fought the Italians who was trying to colonize them and twice they succeeded in driving them out. He said Ethiopians are found all over the world because of despotic governments but that Ethiopian has a long history of democracy and good government. He said that Ethiopians embraced diversity because within it million odd square kilometres, there are 80 different cultures with their own distinct languages coexisting in peace. He said that Ethiopia have some of the most fertile lands in the world but there is famine which he claims is man made through poor government and wars and only partly because of drought.
There was a display of traditional Ethiopian clothes followed by a sumptuous meal of injera, chicken, beef, vegetables, seasoned cream cheese, Ethiopian flat bread and samosa. The meal was absolutely fabulous.
The meal was followed by the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The coffee was roasted in the building and the fragrance inhaled and passed around as a feast to the sense. The coffee was brewed in a traditional pot and then served in small espresso containers. Great coffee.
I had a great time. Theinvitation was sent out to the entire community but I was the only person of colour who was a non Ethiopian. Why? We have to move out from our insularity and embrace community life in a big way. That means supporting other communities as they celebrate important cultural events.

St. Norbert's Market on Saturday

It's a bit cold today. Feels like fall. The wind is heavy with water it seems but the rain would not fall. I wish it would. That would save me watering my garden. I have not watered it in a few days thinking it would rain.
Anyway, this morning I drove up to the Farmer's Market in St. Norbert. It's a great place to hang out on a Saturday morning. The place buzz with activities of the Stabroek Market in Georgetown Guyana. People come at St. Norberts with their dogs, some carried in their arms others on leeches. The market has improved since I last went a few years back. There is a canopy for musicians. There was a band there this morning, but I did not stop to find out who they were. There are a lot of fried stuff happening - perogy, hotdog, Filippino egg roll. You can see why some of us get fat. People were guzzling the stuff more than one at a time. I had a hearty breakfast minus the coffee at home. It was nice to get a hot cup of human bean.
I find the produce at the farmer's market a little steep. Not that I do not think farmers deserve to be paid a fair share but they seem to be competing with Safeway and the other box stores. When one drives all the way up there to get produce you would expect it to be a bit more reasonable. Anyway the prices are steeper than before but that would not stop me from going out there. I believe in buying local. It is the thing to do. Of course, I bought more than I can use up in a week. So what do i do? Feed good food to my worms? I do have a vermiculture and making black compost hopefully to spread in my garden next spring.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Best Western Hotel Kitchen Staff
While walking to work this morning I saw two kitchen staff from Best Western Hotel (formerly Charter House)standing outside against the wall smoking cigarettes and wearing their uniforms. Well, I've worked in the Kitchen during Folklorama and we could not leave the kitchen to go i.e. outside the building or in the bathroom wearing our aprons. We had to take it off and this the Coordinator said was the instruction they got from the Public Health Inspector. I have seen people wearing their uniforms in the washrooms at Portage Place, City Place and now this.
I think if this violates public health standards, something should be done about it. The city must do more to ensure that people's health risks are minimized because of these violations