Monday, October 29, 2007

I am one of those people who is afraid of heights including flying. I fly because I have no other reasonable choice but wherever I can, I take the bus or train. I keep track of airline safety records and of air crashes and try to choose to travel in planes based on their good track record. I know this is ridiculous. One cannot avoid bad things altogether. A plane with the best record could have a bad day. But I make my bets on good record.
Hearing about the Q400 Turboprop jets also known as Dash 8 landing problems and near misses does not give me confidence at all. I will not take one of these planes to go anywhere. It is for this reason I do not travel on charter planes. I understand that these are older planes that are over-hauled and sold to vacation companies.
The Scandinavian Airlines has cancelled its contract with Bombardier to buy 27 of these planes because passengers do not have confidence in them anymore.
I think the customer should be vigilant when it comes to flying to ensure that they get the best plane and pilot to carry them up in the air.
Luckily no life was lost in these landing crashes but the fear in the hearts of many of the passengers will remain for a long time.
Bombardier stands behind the Q400. Where else would they stand? They invested a lot of money in these planes and they are not about to wash it down the drain and admit there is a terrible manufacturing problem with them. Instead of standing by these planes they should commit themselves to pull all these planes out of the skies and go over the manufacturing details so as not to risk the lives of innocent travellers.
As for me I will not venture into the Q400 aka Dash 8.
Do you research the airlines in which you travel? If you are going on a boat cruise do you research the company? I urge you to do and not leave things up to chance.

(Mumbi Kaigwa (top)
local radio show host Mzi (r) with Kenyan drummer (l)

Thanks to the CBC, where I get up to date information about whst's happening in the city, I heard of the Kenyan storyteller giving a presentation at Art Space in the Old Market Square area. I heard the announcement around 8:30 and it was to take place from 1 - 2 p.m. and being as spontaneous as I am, I decided I would go. I am glad I went. I got there a little after 1:30 but it was worth it.

Fifth anniversary, FemFest organizers reached beyond Canada's borders for the very first time this year by inviting Kenyan playwright Mumbi Kaigwa to perrforming her own play They Call Me Wanjiku.

Mumbi's personal story inspired me. She gave up her paid job with the UN to follow her passion and her passion brought her to Winnipeg. She conducted several sessions of her work and storytelling various groups in Winnipeg including the Aboriginal groups in particular the Graffiti Gallery. The session at the Writer's Guild Office where I attended was her fifth she said.

Like most southerners she said she was confused by everyone saying "what a beautiful day" when she was absolutely freezing in Winnipeg's warmer fall day -13. She did not want to hear how cold it gets in the winter.

It was a delight listening to this confident African woman with important knowledge about her craft.

Like most cultures, storytelling is a tradition in many families though some of us do it more than others e.g. people of African descent and the First Nations people. They still use this method of communication more frequently and more informally than some other cultures. Yet, she was saddened that her grandmother did not pass on all the stories that were available for every occasion in Kenyan culture. She said there is a song for most events including male circumcision; songs for marriage, births, deaths and critical events in cultural day to day living.

Kaigwa has taken her storytelling to new heights and at the same time empowering and transforming lives by her stories. Her methodology is interviewing people and then taking parts of each story and making it into a performance piece to which many people can relate.

During an interview on CBC she said that because of her story a woman who always wanted to be baker was motivated to follow her passion and today that woman is enjoying her work as a baker and feeding others with her wonderful delights.
She said she knew her work impacted her audience in a special way because afterwards people will relate how it did. It is the most exciting part of her work because she gets to make a difference in people's lives.

The audience teased her about returning in the Winter. Kaigwa could not see how that is possible, hugging herself just imagining the cold. She however may be back next year to work with Casmiri who is a local dancer and musician of Mozambican birth and by now pretty well know in the city. Hopefully, they will be able to bring her back so that more people can be influenced by her story. Kaigwa brought her own personal drummer to accompany her stories and songs.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Global pins hopes on show Da Kink
New series based on stage play about hair salon
The CBC’s got Little Mosque On The Prairie. CTV’s got Corner Gas. Could Da Kink In My Hair be Global's chance at a breakout home-grown situation comedy?

Da Kink creator and star Trey Anthony doesn’t want to focus on that kind of pressure, saying she’s simply delighted that she got the network to greenlight the show, based on her beloved stage play of the same name about a boisterous hair salon in Toronto’s Caribbean community.

“Global was really great about it, and we were totally on the same page creatively in terms of how we wanted the show to go,” Anthony said in a recent interview alongside her friends and castmates, Ordena Stephens-Thompson and Ngozi Paul, who’s also one of the show’s creators. “I just hope people watch it and enjoy it, and I’m trying not to think about anything beyond that.”

Global has been promoting Da Kink In My Hair heavily. Airing it just before The Simpsons on Sunday night — the show premieres this weekend — is a sure sign the network is dreaming of its own Cancon smash hit, says Damion Nurse, the show’s executive producer.

“This is the only Canadian show they’ve got premiering in the fall, they’ve given it a great time slot, they’re putting a lot of advertising behind it — so they really do have high hopes for it,” Nurse says.

“They believe in the project. So we’re excited and just crossing our fingers now to see what happens.”


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Manitoba Women's Advisory Council held a Lunch and Learn session today which featured three professional women from the Ukraine who spoke about trafficking in the Ukraine and what they are doing to curb this horrible situation. The women Luba Maksymovych, Halyna Fedkovych and Iryna Trokhym of the West Ukrainian Centre "Women's Perspectives", Lviv Ukraine, shared information and sought collaboration from Canadian women's groups. The trafficking problem is so huge they cannot do it alone. These women all worked in a non profit organization that helped to educated women on trafficking, what they had to look for before embarking on a job quest. The venue was packed to capacity by mainly service providers and women from non-profit organizations in the city.
Thought some of their English was not that great it was easy to understand them. One woman said she was shocked to find out in 1998 at a conference in Finland she was asked why there were so many young girls from Ukraine prostituting in Finland and where there were lots of prostitutes in their country. She said that because of poverty, women are seeking genuine employment to help feed their children and despicable traffickers prey on them.
She said they teach women never to give up their passports and to always have a return ticket, to check their work agreements carefully before leaving. She said they are making some headway.
Violence against women in the Ukraine is also rampant and until recently, it was considered a matter for the family and there was no law to protect women. Even the police in the Ukraine did not take women's complaint seriously. The session was enlightening in the fact that what is happening to women in Canada is not special to Canadian women but it is something that affects women everywhere in the world. This is more need for women to band together on a global scale to fight for equity, safety and respect.

Facts on Human Trafficking
Number of people trafficked worldwide: 600,000 to 800,0001
Number of people trafficked within the United States: 14,500 to 17,5002
It should be noted that these statistics vary based upon the source, with some sources having the number of individuals being trafficked in the millions.
Average enslavement: 2-5 years (some victims are enslaved for more than 20 years) 3
Common forms of human trafficking: Agriculture, domestic service, mail order brides,
prostitution, sexual abuse/exploitation of children, and sweatshops.4
Top cities for trafficking: According to the report Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California released in February of 2005, 80% of the documented human trafficking cases in California occurred in San Diego, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.5 Routes for trafficking: The Trans Border Institute documents that many victims are trafficked into Mexico from other countries and from within Mexico, into California; from California they are either trafficked within the state or to other parts of the United States. Trafficking is more prevalent on the West Coast of the United States than on the East Coast.
Victims’ County of Origin: While trafficking has been documented in almost every country,the top three countries of origin of human trafficking victims are Thailand, Mexico and Russia. There is evidence of reverse trafficking, with Americans being trafficked from the United States into Mexico and abroad.6
Tactics used by traffickers: Withholding of legal documents, threats and acts of physical harm to victim and victims’ family, rape, kidnapping, isolation and confinement, denial of medical care, manipulation and psychological abuse.
Number of traffickers in 2004 who have been convicted by the Federal Government: 437
Other assistance for victims: Victims may be eligible for a T-visa, which allows them to remain temporarily in the United States. After 3 years, the victim may be eligible for permanent residence status if he/she meets the following conditions: 1) he/she is of good moral character,
2) he/she has complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation during the 3 year period, and
3) he/she will suffer extreme hardship if he/she is removed from United
1 United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, (TIP), June 2004
2 Ibid.
3 Turning Pain Into Power: Trafficking Survivor’s Perspectives on Early Intervention Strategies, March 2005, Family Violence
Prevention Fund
4 Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California, February 2005, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley
5 Ibid.
6.San Diego Task Force on Human Trafficking
7 Report on Activities to Combat Human Trafficking, Fiscal Years 2001-2005, United States Department of Justice
8 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rescue and Restore Project

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Photos: Minister Nancy Allan making a point, emcee Manju Loda, singer Aiza Luna; speakers: Ms Ang'er Ruay and Ms Flor Marcelino MLA for Wellington

Women's History Month
The annual Women's History Month celebration hosted by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Hon. Nancy Allan) was moved from the Legislative Building for the first time and held at the Norwood Community Centre.
For me this was a refreshing change. It was easier to access, not that I mind climbing up the stairs at the Leg. (great for the legs) but there wasn't the long line up to sign in, something new that started last year to increase security. More important though, having it in a community centre makes it more accessible to women who would not have normally attended such events. I think the Minister should try and decentralize this event more and take it to the various community centres where it can be exposed to more ordinary women.
From the look of things I did not feel that there were less people. The demographics might have been different. Instead of the office types that may have been dropping in for a free lunch, there were more community people and for me that's always a big plus.
Another big plus we were pleasantly disappointed not getting a brown-bagged subway but instead some ethnic delicacies though I am sure more fattening. We can give a little for Women's History Month.
Minister Nancy Allan, dressed in a beautiful black and silver-trimmed sari, welcomed everyone and declared that this Women's History Month was themed to honour immigrant women who have made significant contributions and achievements that benefitted the community. She shared her own personal journey into politics. She followed her mother's footsteps who was one of the first rural women to run for office. Though her mother did not win a seat, it inspired Nancy to work for the betterment of women in our society. It was fitting that the Guestspeaker was Flor Marcelino, first Women of Colour representative in the Manitoba Legislature. Ms Marcelino shared her experience of immigration and how she finally ended up in the highest seat of power in the province. Ms. Ang’er Ruay a member of the lost boys and girls from Sudan, who has experienced the Sudanese war and displacement in refugee camps spoke about her experience and expressed her gratitude to Canada for giving her a chance but she could not forget home. She returned recently and found the situation very bad. She is studying to be a nurse practitioner at the University of Manitoba and she vows to return to her homeland to take care of the people who desperately need good medical care.
Aiza Luna, a young Filipina singer performed a couple of songs at the end of the program. She has a powerful voice and did a fantastic job singing some popular songs.
Ms. Manju Loda, Winnipeg self-taught artist and a member of the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council performed the duty as the emcee.

There were the usual information booths helping to connect people to services that they need and resources within the community. All in all it was a fabulous event. Looking forward to next year.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Racism targets ‘visible’ minorities in France, UN independent expert says

2 October 2007 – Following a mission to France, a United Nations independent expert noted that “visible” minority immigrants are targets of Racism and called on the government to enact policies to address “widespread, entrenched and institutionalized discrimination.”

“Racism is alive, insidious and clearly targeted at those ‘visible’ minorities of immigrant heritage, the majority of whom are French
citizens,” the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay J. McDougall, said in a statement issued last week.

“Young people’s hopes and dreams are being denied; they see no possibility of upward mobility because of their skin colour, their religion, their surname or their address (in what’s called the sensitive suburbs),” said Ms. McDougall, who visited France from 19 to 28 September.

Many victims of discrimination are stranded in “socially and geographically Isolated urban ghettos,” where unemployment is as high as 40 per cent, she Noted. “They feel discriminated against and rejected by rigid notions of French national identity to which they do not conform.”

The Independent Expert also voiced concerned regarding statements made during the recent electoral period by French political leaders and candidates which she characterized as unwelcoming at best and racist at Worst.

“The Constitutional promise of equality is the vision, but not the reality of modern France,” she stated. “France’s leaders must live up to that promise.” She urged authorities to make concerted efforts towards an acceptance of cultural diversity.

“Currently, there is a widespread feeling within the communities of new minorities that to become a citizen of France is not sufficient for full acceptance; that acceptance will be granted only with total assimilation that forces them to reject major facets of their identities,” she
explained. “Only when a way is found to shed the colour of their skins, hide the manifestations of their religion or the traditions of their
ancestors, only then will they be accepted as truly French.”

During her visit, Ms. McDougall travelled to Paris, Marseilles and Strasbourg, and held meetings with Government officials, religious leaders, academics, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups, academics and others working in the field of minority Issues, discrimination, racism and gender issues.

She also stopped in the Paris and Marseilles suburbs that were the scene of urban upheavals in 2005 to talk directly to those affected by the turmoil.