Canada

Remembrance Day: Yes, it still matters to us!

Yes, it still matters to us

RemembranceDayDisclosure

What does Remembrance Day mean to you? Depending on your age, the answers to this question could be quite varied. With the passage of time, the message of why we celebrate the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month gets a little more lost; at least this is my impression.

For my grandfather, Jack Ferris, who was a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II, his answer would be very different from that of my six-year-old daughter. And my father’s answer would differ from my own. For me, Remembrance Day is a day that I set aside to remember and appreciate the bravery that was exemplified by my grandfather and others like him. I take the period of silence seriously; I keep my mouth closed and my heart open.

For some Canadians, it means a day off from work; now we have even more reason to look forward to this day. So now it’s about accomplishing chores and sleeping in, and perhaps we get too busy to stop at 11 a.m. to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

For children, I wonder if they just look forward to the fact that they get an assembly; time away from the classroom. Are they using the moment of silence to really ponder what generations before them did in order for them to stand in that very gymnasium? Or are they passing notes and eyeing their crushes? Are teachers and parents alike sharing the message loud and clear to those following us in the lineage that men and women fought and are still fighting to keep our freedom, our luxuries and our safety?

Do we see Nov. 1 as a day to start wearing a poppy, or are we focused on the next commercial holiday with the introduction of Christmas decorations and festive melodies in stores? Are we forgetting to honour these brave men and women; forgetting to remember?

WHAT DOES REMEMBRANCE DAY MEAN TO CANADIANS?

I was curious about how Canadians view Remembrance Day so I decided to ask. Here is what I learned in response to my question, “What does Remembrance Day mean to you?

It means to remember people who died in the war and so people remember the symbol of poppies to remember soldiers that died in the war. It’s important to remember them because they are trying to give us freedom and peace and make sure there’s no bad people anymore. – Little S, 6

Several of the people I knew from my combat engineer unit (I got out of the army in 2002) have been killed or really messed up in Afghanistan. I think about that all the time. Especially during that moment of silence; I get pretty choked up. – Brian MacKenzie, 36

To me it means my freedom carried on the backs of others; the brave men and women of our armed forces. Thank you! – Brenda Jeffery Doub, 37

Remembrance Day makes me stop and think about what my Dad and many other Canadians have had to face in their lives; things which I have not had to deal with. The day makes me think of our freedom, which we take for granted all year-long. – Roger Ferris, 62

It’s for remembering all the soldiers that fought in the war. At our assembly (at school) all the classes make a different wreath and someone from each class brings it up and hangs it up on something. During the moment of silence we remember and think about the war and stuff. – Ranger Martin, 8

It means how people lost their lives by getting shot in the war. We talk about why they did it and all that. – Cooper Martin, 6

Our siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles fought in the very firm belief that it was the only way to preserve the way of life they cherished, for their descendants and for people of other countries. Remembrance Day is a prompt; a reminder to us to reflect for a few minutes, on those who have stepped up to act on our behalf, and, for me, to be thankful. The pageantry and ceremony of services, and the tradition of wearing a poppy, serve to help focus that reflection. I’m glad we have this special day. – Wynn Downing, 69

Remembrance Day lets us pay our respects for those who fought to make our country free. It’s a reminder every year to help keep them in our hearts. – Daysha Christmas, 16

YES IT STILL MATTERS

Though only a small sampling, after reading these quotes, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve taken note around me and I’ve seen many men, women and young children proudly displaying poppies over their hearts. I’ve noticed commemorative wreaths displayed on the war memorials in my city and I’ve noticed that many “friends” on my social media networks have changed their profile image to that of a Remembrance Day poppy.

I’m concluding that in general, Canadians of all ages are enthusiastic about paying tribute to our country’s heroes and taking time out on Nov. 11 to honour these men and women. It’s good to be Canadian. And we are Canadian because so many brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Lest we forget.

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

Guest Post: The Safest Cities in Canada – Low on Crime & High on Family Values

Downtown London

When you’re raising a family, it’s important to be sure that you’re living in a safe, kid-friendly location. Fortunately, there are many places in Canada that fit that description, so it’s not difficult to find the right city for your family. According to a study profiled in Today’s Parent, the top five family friendly cities in Canada are Quebec City, Ottawa-Hull, Halifax, Winnipeg, and Calgary, with Quebec City achieving the best rating. However, the city of London in Ontario is also gaining recognition as a safe, family friendly city due to its low crime rate and excellent health care, among other factors.

The following are some more detailed descriptions of Canada’s safest cities for families.

Quebec City

This location scored well with the evaluators because of its excellent health care, progressive child care system, and active Ministry of Family and Children. Quebec City spends the most per capita on parks, recreation areas, museums, activities, and festivals – all of which are family friendly and safe. This city also boasts the second-lowest child poverty rate for kids under the age of five and the lowest housing costs by income.

Ottawa-Hull

This city has plenty of civic attractions and parks, boasting low crime numbers that attract families to the area for excellent safety.  Ottawa-Hull and Calgary tied for the fourth-lowest child poverty rate in Canada.

Halifax

Out of all the crimes that could plague a city, Halifax is most concerned with graffiti – and that means there’s no focus on homicide or other violent crimes because they rarely affect Halifax. Its crime rate is the second-lowest in Canada, with St. John’s taking first place. Halifax also has a wealth of maritime value with a variety of beaches, fishing and sailing opportunities, and a program to address harbor pollution. Its parks, cycling paths, hiking trails, and clean air make it a great place to raise a family. The only downside to Halifax is its low high school completion rate: the second-lowest in Canada. In general, this city is a solid destination for a safety-conscious family.

Winnipeg

This city scored well in environment and community involvement, which are two important initiatives for a family friendly location. Volunteering is a popular activity in this area, so kids learn the importance of helping others early in life. Winnipeg is the third-best city in per capita charitable donations and is well above the midpoint in education and child care. The only caveats for families considering this city are relatively high poverty and violent youth crime rates.

Calgary

The United Way raises more money per person in Calgary than in any other location included in the study. This city also enjoys a healthy economy, low child poverty rates, and very little business for its food banks. Assaults, property crimes, and drug offenses don’t affect Calgary as much as other cities in Canada. However, Alberta’s health care, education, and low spending on civic attractions leave it at the bottom of the list of the top five safe, family friendly Canadian cities.

London

Located in the impressively safe province of Ontario, London is a great addition to this list of top family friendly cities in Canada. In 2006, the province of Ontario reported the lowest crime rate in Canada for the third year in a row: 5,689 per 100,000 or roughly 5.7%. This province also outperforms all others on health care with short waiting lists for treatment and very few childhood injuries. Its per-child spending on child care is the second-best out of all Canadian provinces.

London’s wide variety of safety programs includes a Children’s Safety Village which enables children to put what they learn about safety into action when they “practice” being safe in this kid-size model village. Additional programs such as Neighborhood Watch and Pool Safety help to keep families and children safe in this pleasant city.

If you live in any of these cities while you raise your family, you’re in good hands, so enjoy spending time with your children as you watch them grow up in a safe place.

Maria Rainier

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees and what it takes to succeed as a student taking a bachelors degree program from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

City Mom

All Aboard!

ED-8292-0048 HT with Moon

Choo-choo…chugga-chugga-chugga…choo-choo!

What’s that you ask? Well that is the sound of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and it’s coming to London!

The Holiday Train will be making its London stop at the Richmond St. railway crossing between Oxford St. and Central Ave at 8:30 p.m. tonight – December 1st.

This is the 12th year that the Holiday Train will be making its trek across Canada and the United States, all in the name of fighting hunger.

Since 1999, the train has traveled 85,764 miles, has raised 4.8 million dollars and generated almost 2.3 million pounds of food donations for local food shelves. If you do attend, be sure to bring along some non-perishable food items and/or a cash donation to contribute to this worthy cause . Every dollar donated gives Food Banks 4 dollars in purchasing power.

Look for this year’s train to arrive with 14 decorated rail cars and a modified box car that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers like Juno-award winner Melanie Doane.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to get into the holiday spirit and to contribute to a good cause. And if you’re not from London be sure to check out the Holiday Train schedule to find out if it will be making a stop in your city!

Happy Holidays! :)

I Love Bugs! Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway

 CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT.  HE IS THE W INNER OF THE BOBS & LOLO TICKET GIVEAWAY.  ENJOY THE SHOW ROBERT!

Listen up London (literally) because on Saturday November 6th Treehouse TV’s Bobs & LoLo are coming to London and you’ll have a chance to win 2 tickets to their morning performance.  Contest information will be displayed at the bottom of this post. 

If you have a young child then you likely know Bobs & LoLo.  With catchy, toe-tapping songs like “I Love Bugs”, this singing duo quickly becomes a family favourite. 

In our home we all stop what we’re doing when one of Bobs & LoLo’s videos come on TV.  Little S loves to sing and dance along.  When I heard the news of their planned performances I was excited and I wanted to know more about them so I decided to ask. Bobs and Lolo shared the story of how they met, their inspirations and some of their future plans.

City Mom: Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Bobs & Lolo: We first connected at a Girl Guide camp on Vancouver Island when we were kids. After a fun-filled weekend of campfire sing-along’s, silliness and laughter, our friendship was sealed!  We went to different elementary schools but ended up filtering into the same high school (Dover Bay Secondary). Our friendship continued to grow from there and we began singing together in the school choir.  We also studied piano with the same music teacher and hit the courts together as power forward (Bobs) and shooting guard (Lolo) on the Dover Bay girls’ basketball team. Go Dolphins Go!

CM: How did Bobs & LoLo come to be?
B&L: We didn’t start our B&L adventures with a real plan; it really just evolved from our friendship and a mutual interest in working with children. “Bobs & LoLo” were actually our nicknames in high school, so we were B&L long before songwriting and children’s entertainment was introduced to our lives.  

Before we started our musical adventures, Robyn (Bobs) was teaching elementary school prior to which she had completed a degree in linguistics at the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Education at UBC. Lorraine (Lolo) previously worked in the fields of environmental education and non-profit fund development.  Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Human Kinetics (Exercise Science) from UBC.

Songwriting and performing really started out as a side project for us. It was a fun way to create some content for our jobs working with children.  We never dreamed it would lead to running our own small business much less national television!

Our very first show was in the spring of 2003 at an event hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium for patients from the BC Children’s Hospital. We had only written 5 songs at that point and we volunteered to basically sing them over and over throughout the event. That first performance opportunity led to us doing lots of local birthday parties which eventually led to our first CD.  That led to bigger shows and so on. 

Our biggest “break” to date has definitely been the broadcast of our music videos on Treehouse TV. We feel so fortunate to have been able to get our On Your Feet DVD in front of the right folks in Toronto.  The opportunity to connect with families across the country through Canada’s national preschool network has been amazing.

While the partnership with Treehouse is still relatively new, the TV exposure has already opened up new performance opportunities for us, and we’ve been able to build our CD and DVD distribution beyond Western Canada. We’re hoping this is just the start, and we’ll be able to keep things go, go, growing in the upcoming years.

CM: What is it about your songs and performances that you think children like so much?
B&L: We put a lot of energy into making our music educational, family focused and listener friendly for all ages. We want our music to engage and inspire children to learn more about the topic at hand, to care about the world around them and above all to get up and dance!

We think the kids really respond to the music first and the storyline of the songs  second. We also think the kids really enjoy connecting with us as ‘real’ people given that they often live in a world filled with animated or make-believe characters.

CM: What message are you hoping to share with children?
B&L: Our main goal is to really just inspire kids to care about the world around them. We try to use the tools of music, movement and make-believe to connect children with positive messaging about the natural world.  At the same time we want to show them that their actions can make a difference for themselves, the people around them and the planet. It’s conservation messaging at a level that’s appropriate for preschoolers.

CM: What do you like most about being Bobs & LoLo?
B&L: Performing for young audiences is by far the best part!  The things kids say, the way they move and the endless energy our audiences bring to our shows is rewarding, inspiring and motivating. We can both honestly say that we would not be performing or putting in the long hours behind-the-scenes without the kids cheering us on (parents too)!

CM: What is your favourite Bobs & LoLo song?
B&L: It’s hard for us to pick a favourite. The choice for us really comes down to the children`s top picks. Our current favourite songs to perform are Raindrop Pop (they really seem to love this one!), I Love Bugs (interpretive bug dancing by preschoolers is awesome!) and Cindy Seahorse (the best cuddle song ever!).

CM: Do you write your own songs?   Where do you get your inspiration for writing them?
B&L: We do write all of our own songs. We write about things we love like nature, friendship and family.  We usually just try to tell a story with the songs and the lyrics and music come together naturally.  It’s a really organic process for us. We don’t follow a formula or have a real system for songwriting. Writing the lyrics is a fun, creative process that we like to do together. Sometimes the final version of a song is completely different from what we started with and other times we come up with something that works right away. Songwriting is a nice break from the regular office work and occasionally it’s a good excuse to enjoy a bottle of red wine.

CM: What does the future hold for Bobs and Lolo?
B&L: We’re putting together some ideas for a fourth album that we hope to release in the early New Year. We also have many upcoming performances including our shows in London and Brampton this week.  We have a heap of holiday events on the west coast. We are also looking to continue building our relationship with Treehouse TV, and we hope to produce some new content with them down the road. On a personal note, we’re both keen to start families.

Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway
Enter to win a set of Bobs & LoLo tickets.  Tickets are for the 11am performance on Saturday, November 6th at Aeolian Hall in London.  Note:  Performances do not have assigned seating.

How to Enter
Leave a comment and include your name and you or your child’s favourite Bobs & LoLo song. Check out song titles and sample tracks at bobsandlolo.com.

Contest Details
The contest will be open until Thursday November 4th at 6pm ET.  A winner will be selected at random using random.org.  The winner will be notified at the email address used when entering the contest.  The winner will have until 9am on Friday November 5th to accept the prize by responding to the notification email.  If the winner is unable to accept the prize another random winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Find Bobs & LoLo:
Web:  www.bobsandlolo.com
Twitter:  @BobsAndLoLo
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/BobsandLoLo

Ticket Information: Tickets are only $15

Waste Reduction Week / Giveaway

Hey London, let’s step up to the plate and hit one out of the park; funny, I’m not even a baseball fan but this timely analogy seems fitting as we’ve got quite the challenge ahead of us. Starting today and running until Sunday, October 24th Waste Reduction Week (WRW) is taking place and London is at the forefront of this initiative.

HISTORY
WRW dates as far back as the mid 1980’s when a number of environmental organizations rallied together to hold waste reduction events. In 2001 these organizations came together to create the national event now known as Waste Reduction Week in Canada. The Recycling Council of Ontario was the leader of the efforts put in place in our province and London has been a determined member of the RCO for many years.

GOAL
The WRW action is a call to all Canadians to reduce their waste; plain and simple. Many of us are already doing our part in our homes and at work to reduce our waste. This dedicated week is designed to remind and motivate individuals and families to share their experience and find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.

STATISTICS
In 2008 London accumulated an overall total of 159,380 tonnes of waste. Of that total:

  • 59 percent or 93, 650 tonnes were delivered directly to a landfill
  • 41 percent or 65,730 tonnes of total waste was diverted
    • 9,400 tonnes were reduced on-site (at home) through composting and/or grasscycling
    • 18,270 tonnes were reduced through centralized composting
    • 27,660 tonnes were recycled through the curb side program, multi-residential program, materials delivered to the Community EnviroDepots, public space bins and electronics
    • 10,400 tonnes were reduced through other programs such as wood and scrap metal waste and white goods

HOW TO GET INVOLVED
There is a multitude of ways in which you can contribute and you’re probably already doing many of them but here are some helpful tips to assist you this week:

  1. Visit the websites linked above to find new ways to follow the three R’s and to learn of the programs London offers.
  2. Visit City Mom each day this week to learn of new ideas to carry out waste reduction in your home.
  3. Participate in the City Mom challenge and giveaway.

THE CHALLENGE

  1. After reading this post, go out into the world and practice the three R’s in as many new and unique ways you can.
  2. Come back to City Mom, click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ link at the top of this post and share your experience with us.
  3. You can enter as many times as you would like with a new idea that you have implemented each time.
  4. Entries must include something you did to support Waste Reduction Week.
  5. Challenge is open to Canadian residents only.

THE GIVEAWAY

  1. The submission that has received the most ‘Thumbs Up’ votes (City Mom will not be voting) by 5:00PM ET on Sunday October 24th will receive a package of two Filtrate High Performance  furnace filters by 3M (to fit your furnace). These filters are designed to help your furnace perform more efficiently; this will save you money and reduce energy consumption. Filtrate High Performance filters also contribute to improving the air quality in your home for the health and safety of your family.
  2. The winner will be contacted at the email address provided during entry.
  3. Good luck, have fun and happy reducing!

MONDAY’S WASTE REDUCTION TIP
Send your child to school with a waste-free lunch:

  • Use reusable containers for sandwiches instead of sandwich bags
  • Buy lunch items in bulk or family size to reduce packaging
  • Use a thermos for beverages instead of juice boxes or bottled water
  • Use a reusable lunch bag instead of plastic or paper lunch sacks
  • Send an absorbent cloth for wiping up after lunch instead of wipes or napkins

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net Photographed by Nuttakit.

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