Old Systems vs New Realities

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Making ‘system’ change is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. Remove the fact that fear often overwhelms many people as they think about change, doing something differently, even if the old way of doing things is no longer working. The other great challenge is that our experiences provide us with outdated data to make our decisions on. How do we move from the way things used to be to the way things need to be in order to create policies that match the new realities?

Currently our system of ‘Social Services’ in Canada is outdated and the reality is that transitioning children out of the Child Welfare System at the age of eighteen is counter-intuitive. The age of children/young adults leaving home is increasing. Many families are providing support not only emotionally but financially long past the age of eighteen. Staying at home longer provides most young adults an opportunity to go to or continue and complete their schooling, save for a house or help them make ends meet as they work at minimum-wage jobs. This is not the case for our most vulnerable children as they are asked at the age of eighteen to make it on their own.

Recent studies have indicated that raising the age of support to the age of twenty-one or some studies to the age of twenty-five would be a great start in reducing the number of young adults living in poverty as well as increase their chances of making a successful transition into the ‘adult’ world. It will take more than just raising the age, it will take a new way of doing things. It will mean finding a new way to support young adults complete their schooling, find better paying jobs, assist these young adults learn the responsibilities of caring for what we hope is eventually their own home. It will also be trying to provide the long-term emotional support many of us receive from our families but take for granted.

One such program in Winnipeg is called the SAIL Program (Supported Advancement to Independent Living).Knowles Centre’s SAIL Program helps youth living in care of the child welfare system to gain the skills and competencies they need to gradually transition to living independently in the community as young adults.At Knowles Centre’s Annual General Meeting in June there was a celebration honoring the achievement of many of the young adults from the SAIL Program who are completing their schooling and or finding employment. Moving towards increasing their independence.

When Knowles Centre started the SAIL Program to support the transition from the child welfare system to adulthood it was done by recognizing that by doing what has always been done was no longer working. It took the new realities of today and applied it to a solution that provided the hope for better outcomes for young adults. Knowles Centre’s SAIL Program tries to mirror the support parents have recognized their own children have required in order to increase their chances for a better future.

If we as a city, province, country are truly serious about ending poverty, about creating a more inclusive society, we must free ourselves from the ways we have always done things and move towards focusing on creating new and better realities.

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Where My Sandals Take Me: Whiteshell Provincial Park, Canada

 

A Picnic Spot

A Picnic Spot

The rugged beauty of the Canadian landscape is often found just minutes away from the cities. The western edge of Whiteshell Provincial Park is found a short sixty minute drive northeast of Winnipeg. The Winnipeg River system and its six generating stations has transformed the western edge of the Canadian Shield into a diverse, lake-filled, outdoor paradise. The intermingling of the rocky granite, boreal forest and waterways has become a haven for city dwellers to get their taste of nature.

At the Base of Pinewa Dam

At the Base of Pinawa Dam

The Pinawa Dam was Manitoba’s first Hydro-Electric Generating System. Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park offers an abundance of picnic spots and hiking trails to enjoy nature’s wonderland. On a beautiful fall day we will capture the warmth of the midday sun as you watch the leaves turn from the green of summer to the yellows and reds that paint the landscape of Whiteshell Provincial Park. The waterways are home to the haunting sounds of the Loon, numerous wildlife, flora and fauna. The sights and sounds of the forest bring an inner peace to each hiker as they make their way through the trails that lead to numerous viewpoints and historical remnants of Canada’s first inhabitants.
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Leaving the Pinawa Dam area and taking the short drive back along the gravel road that joins the main road leading to Pinawa one must take a moment to visit the swinging bridge. Pinawa’s swinging bridge is part of the Tran-Canada Trail System.

Pinawa's Swinging Bridge

Pinawa’s Swinging Bridge

An easy trail walk takes you through the forest and along the river to enjoy the forest as well as the sounds of wildlife. On a warm summer day from the suspension bridge you can watch many tubers gently enjoying the slow meandering river as the current takes them along the river to Pinawa’s magnificent golf course. On the trail however, civilization seems non-existent as you become lost in the awe-inspiring beauty found with each step. There is something a little more special in the forest and trail in the fall. There is a calmness, a peacefulness that is different from any other season. It is as if the landscape is showing off its beauty one last time before winter turns the lakes to ice and the trail to a blanket of snow.

Pinawa Heritage Trail

Pinawa Heritage Trail

From the Heritage trail you can make your way into the town of Pinawa where the white-tail deer often out number the people.

Resident of Pinawa

Resident of Pinawa

Rent a boat, a kayak or canoe in town and enjoy the waterway from the Pinawa marina or just find a place to take a picnic to enjoy some of Canada’s natural beauty. If you are spending some time take the time to fish either from shore or in a boat. You may be lucky to catch a “Jack” or a “Pickerel” or perhaps a Goldeye. You can even find a nice bay to anchor where it won’t matter if you fish or just lay back and relax allowing each breath, every sound to bring you closer to the peace found in nature’s natural splendour.

Whether you take a day or decide to spend a week or more on the western edge of the Canadian Shield. The Pinawa area of Whiteshell Provincial Park will capture your heart and soul as you enjoy some of Canada’s beautiful landscape.

A Piece of the Canadian Shield

A Piece of the Canadian Shield

 

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Where My Sandals Take Me: Tenerife, Canary Islands

Punta Bravo

Punta Bravo

They say the Canary Islands have the perfect climate with temperatures rarely going below 20 degrees Celsius and with the locals finding it hot when it goes above 30. It is much more than what many call the perfect climate that make the island of Tenerife on the Canary Islands the perfect place to visit.  As a Canadian the Canary Islands is a new discovery. The Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii being the usual places of choice. Of course the Europeans have made the Canary Islands a holiday destination forever. It was easy to see why.

South side of Tenerife

South side of Tenerife

Tenerife has something for everyone. Tenerife’s holiday hot spots are often divided into the north and south part of the island. With the very dry, sandy beaches and the towns of Los Cristianos. Playa de la Americanos and Costa Adeje in the south. Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz to the north. If you landed in the south airport and visited the beautiful port towns it wouldn’t be hard to spend your entire holiday enjoying the golf, beaches, restaurants, shopping and night life of this part of Tenerife. Doing so however would mean that many of the Tenerife’s treasures would remain undiscovered.

Mt. Teide

Mt. Teide

The dominating landscape feature of Tenerife is Mt. Teide. It is certainly worth a day trip to Mt. Teide which can easily be done on your own or a tour bus. It is a busy place but takes you into a different place from the sandy beaches of the south shore. If you come from the south be sure to drive all the way to Puerto de la Cruz so you see the lush green forest found on the north side of Mt. Teide.

Teide National Park

Teide National Park

Teide National Park includes an enormous volcanic crater 30 miles (48 km) in circumference, surrounded by beautiful rock formations with the majestic Mount Teide keeping eye on the location for the shooting of the original Planet of the Apes. We took the one day tour to Mt. Teide that included a little bit of everything. Our tour began in the beautiful town of Puerto de la Cruz. The tour was going to offer us a glimpse of not only Mount Teide but also Masca, Los Gigantes and Icod de los Vino to get a taste of some of the Canarian Wines and a glimpse of the Dragon Tree. The tour gave us a great glimpse of the wide range of landscapes found on the island of Tenerife.

Masca

Masca

I can lay claim to having driven the famous ‘Road to Hanna’ on the island of Maui, Hawaii on two occasions and have the T-Shirt to prove it but I took the advice of the Tenerife locals who said a tour bus was the best way to see Masca. The road to Masca is narrow and is one lane that has traffic travelling both ways. It is a popular tour location so there are many of the smaller tour buses that are found on the roads making driving much more difficult. On numerous occasions as we made one of the hairpin turns we encountered a car coming towards us and had to stop as the car went in reverse to find a spot wide enough to let us pass. The scenery is breathtaking which makes the drive worthwhile. There is a hiking trail that looks like a must for the young and adventurous.

Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz

We spent the majority of our time on the north side of the island which is lush, full of vegetation, banana plantations and of course those mystical black sand beaches. Puerto de la Cruz is a gem. An old port city that is more typical of a Spanish town with a Canarian flare. To spend a day walking in Puerto de la Cruz means a really good work out through cobblestone pathways, ocean side promenades, parks and plaza, restaurants and shops. Walking along the ocean you will see beachgoers everywhere putting their towels on any spot available to enjoy the warm afternoon sun.  _dsc6264

What sets Puerto de la Cruz a part from the southern destinations is the abundance of old villas, the protective fortress the marks the landscape protecting the centre of town from an invasion from the sea.

Tenerife can not be enjoyed in just a short visit but deserves your time. Our two weeks on the island was a mere glimpse into what the Canary Islands has to offer.

Tenerife also deserves more than one post. My next posts will describe in more detail the beaches, the patios and culture of Tenerife which is what makes it truly one of the great holiday destinations.

 

 

 

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Where My Sandals Take Me: Malaga – Spain’s Forgotten Gem

_dsc5375When people think of traveling to Spain, Malaga is not the first place that comes to mind. Malaga however,  has a bit of everything. Malaga will not only satisfy the most discerning traveller but leave them wishing they could stay longer. From the museums, to a taste of Spanish culture, to the many beaches, shopping, great food, easy access to the Costa del Sol as well as historic, picturesque towns like Granada; Malaga will not disappoint.

_dsc5662There are beaches just a 10 minute walk from the historic centre of Malaga. Beautiful sand and since Malaga is a harbour the sandy beaches are sheltered from the waves. The one surprise for us was the water at all the beaches along the Costa del Sol was colder than we expected. The beaches are different from what we have experienced in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Hawaii or Australia. What you do get however, is the unique European beach life. From Beach Restaurants, to long, sheltered pathways providing the beachgoers, cyclists or joggers a scenic journey along the Mediterranean. It is a memorable experience that will awaken all your senses. The sights, sounds and smells bring the beach to life.

Early Morning at the Beach

Early Morning at the Beach

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CENTRO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO

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Museo Picasso

The Museo Picasso in Malaga is just one of the numerous and enchanting museums. One could spend their entire holiday exploring the Art and culture found in the birthplace of Picasso. However, with so much else to do it becomes a nice way to get out of the summer sun. The Contemporary Art Museum has a vast collect of modern art and is free. As you walk and explore you will find what seems to be a museum on every corner. If you want to get a look at how people in Malaga used to live I would recommend the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares which for a couple of euros per person you can spend an enjoyable two hours getting a taste of history. Many of these cultural attractions are found in or around the historical centre. Meaning you can walk everywhere and if you get tired or need a break you can stop and have a coffee and a pastry at one of the many patios that will awaken your palate.

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Mercado Central de Atarazanas

A trip to  Mercado Central de Atarazanas gives one a great opportunity to see the diverse food choices found in Spain. It is divided into sections where you will find the diverse selection of fruits and vegetables found in the region to the abundance of fresh fish and seafood of the Mediterranean. It is not just the wide selection of foods that make this a great experience but it is the people. From the buyers to the sellers there is an energy found in this market that just can’t be experienced by your visit to Costco. _dsc5643The freshness of all the products could not be beat. With the opportunity to have a sample as each vendor had a little something different to offer.

It is still the Patios that perhaps make Malaga a great place to have a taste of the European life style and array of foods. We did our best to try as much as we could. Tapas are a great way to have a chance to sample the different bites that a restaurant may offer. The patios were busy but there were no worries as there was always a place to eat.

Patios in Malaga

Patios in Malaga

We never ate indoors. To sit on the patio, people watch and just enjoy the relaxing experience of enjoying food, wine, beer and sangria made each savoury bite more enjoyable. We experienced Espeto de Sardinas on the beach. A Malaga must if you are there in a month that doesn’t have a ‘R’. Not sure why but the locals say it is when the Sardines taste the best.

Huevos Rotos con Patata

Huevos Rotos con Patata

We also tried the French Fries with egg and fresh chunks of garlic (Huevos Rotos con Patata). There is pizza everywhere that no matter which patio you stop at you will not be disappointed. Perhaps the only thing better than food is the prices. We went for Tapas and drinks on the beach and for six of us we only spent seventy-five Canadian dollars. I am not sure my wife and I ever spent more than 20 euros on any dinner which included sangria, beer or wine._dsc5418

Then of course no blog about Malaga would be complete without talking about the fresh bread, pastries and gelato. Walking to the local bakery or café to enjoy a pastry, buy a loaf of fresh bread is a great way to start your day. Gelato of all flavours are found on every street. Dining is never just stopping at one place.

Gelato

Gelato

It is enjoying a variety of foods and beverages on the historic streets and buildings.

Spain has certainly captured our hearts. So we say good-bye to Malaga for now, but I am sure we will see each other again.

Malaga Harbour

Malaga Harbour

 

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Where My Sandals Take Me: Spain

sandalsThe anticipation of a great adventure is often better than the experience, but this is not the case as my sandals took me to Spain. Well to be more exact it was Air France that brought us from Canada to our first stop in Spain, the port city of Malaga.

We were able to spend 23 days in Spain, the first nine of which we used Malaga as our base to explore the Costa del Sol and the Andalucia region. We soon discovered that Malaga had more to offer than even the web-based tour sites indicated. From its bustling Historic Centre, the museums, the beaches, and it is a Foodies delight. Malaga like Spain has much to offer.

Malaga

Malaga – View from Castillo de Gibralfaro

Where to begin?  It started on our trip to Costa Rica where we decided if we could stay longer in one place, use our feet and public transport rather than renting a car we would get to experience our destination in a very different way. For this trip it was clear right from the beginning, our sandals were going to get a work out.

We had booked the first leg of our trip staying at the Suites del Pintor.

The Kitchen and Washing Machine

The Kitchen and Washing Machine

Suites Del Pintor is just steps away from Malaga’s cultural centre, the beach and easy access to the train.

A few steps away from the Suites del Pintor

A few steps away from the Suites del Pintor

A view of Málaga’s Alcazaba

A view of Málaga’s Alcazaba

It is important to note that if you choose to stay downtown a car will not be needed and would be an inconvenience. The Suites del Pintor is part of the Hotel Pintor where you check-in and is just a short five-minute walk away. Don’t worry,  you won’t be the only traveller pulling your suitcase or carrying your backpack down the street. Remember to pack light. We only used carry-on luggage and found we had more than enough room for all we needed and it sure helps as you make your way in and out of the airport.

We spent much of our time in Malaga getting used to the Spanish way of life. In Canada we get up early and I am usually at work before seven in the morning, eat lunch by noon and dinner by five. Lived by the adage that early to bed, early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise. This is not the way of life in Spain.

Malaga despite being a large city is very peaceful in the mornings. It is difficult to find a place for coffee before nine. Lunch isn’t until two and often many restaurants close their kitchens after serving late afternoon Tapas as dinner isn’t until after nine and closer to ten. From midday on Malaga is alive with people. It is a place filled with positive energy. It is a place to socialize and relax on the numerous patios that make up the city centre. We had planned to cook most of our own food but soon discovered we would not experience Spain by doing our own cooking, well at least that is what we told ourselves. Besides food and drink is very reasonable especially compared to Canada. Our friends warned us how expensive Europe is but Spain is an exception. From items in the restaurant to food in the stores we found everything very reasonable.

The Patios at Plaza de la Merced, Malaga

The Patios at Plaza de la Merced, Malaga

The patios and food of Malaga must be experienced. We made it our mission to never eat at the same place twice. That was not hard to do as the choice is endless. More on this in my next post.

This trip would not have been as special without the help of LinkedIn.  In my networking with fellow writers I had the opportunity to get know the Spanish author Ana Marie Sanchez Peralta.

My wife and I with Spanish author Ana Marie Sanchez Peralta

My wife and I with Spanish author Ana Marie Sanchez Peralta

I can’t say enough about the hospitality her and her husband showed us. Helping us get to experience Malaga and the Costa del Sol and making us feel part of their family. People may live what seems like a world apart but upon our first meeting we felt a special connection as if we had always been a part of their lives. Our first taste of Malaga was with them for lunch in the historic centre and coffee at Castillo de Gibralfaro. A couple of days later we had the opportunity to take the train to meet them in their home town and experience some of the must try foods on the beach just a five-minute walk from their home. We met their two wonderful children who took the time to spend a day on the beach with a couple of Canadians. They showed us that one of Spain’s most endearing qualities remains the importance and closeness of family. My hope is they do find their way to Canada in the future so we can show them the warmth of Canadian hospitality.

That was the start of our Spanish adventure. It was just a taste of what was yet to come. Great food, beautiful sites and the friendliness of the Spanish people.

Ana de las estrellas

Ana de las estrellas

 

 

 

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Tahquitz Canyon: What We Can Learn from the Legend

Tahquitz CanyonWhen you tell someone you are going to Palm Springs their first thought is always golfing. They may then start to think about the restaurants, the retirement communities, the casino, shopping but rarely does the conversation lead to hiking. The Palm Springs area is filled with opportunities for an active holiday. There is cycling or for the less-trained two-wheel enthusiast biking trails. There are great hiking trails in the local and surrounding areas from the unique environment found in Joshua Tree National Park to the many trails found in the surrounding Mountain Ranges.  The great weather lends itself to those people who love to walk, especially in the morning before the heat scorches the landscape in mid-afternoon.

Part of my travels have always included hiking and visiting the wonders of nature. There is something relaxing about taking the opportunity to become one with nature. A visit to Palm Springs would not be complete without a visit to Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon. They are minutes from downtown Palm Springs and offer a glimpse into the history of the area. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have been in the area for about 5000 years. I would recommend when visiting one or both of the Canyons that you take a guided hike. It doesn’t cost any extra but offers you a history and better understanding of the area.

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The Legend of Tahquitz like all myths offers us a teaching that is still relevant today. Tahquitz was a Shaman with many gifts to share with his people. He was to serve as the Guardian Spirit which came with the responsibility and power to do good. It was the belief of the Cahuilla Indians that Tahquitz was given a great responsibility to help his people. At first these gifts were used to help the people but eventually he began to use his power for his own selfish reason.  Tahquitz was eventually banished from the tribe and in a great ball of fire took refuge in the Canyon. It is here where legend tells us he steals the souls of people.

The Legend of Tahquitz is in fact all to real. How many people are given the responsibly and power to do good for the people but in the end give in to their own selfish needs? There is a belief in the culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians that everyone has a purpose in life and it is each of our responsibility to fulfill that purpose. This is the belief of many cultures and many societies. A belief in the importance of taking care of each other, taking care of the earth.

How many souls are taken by the greed and selfishness of those in positions to do the most good for people? How many souls are stolen by the selfishness that robbed Tahquitz of fulfilling his life’s purpose?

The Legend of Tahquitz and a hike into the Canyon is a great opportunity to reflect on how fragile nature and the human spirit is. An opportunity to reflect on our purpose to creating a better world.

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Visit the Canyons:

Indian Canyons

Tahquitz Canyon

 

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The Magic of the Aurora Borealis

 

Manitoba

One of my Colleagues is an amazing photographer. I love to take pictures, but he takes it to an Art form. I encourage you to visit this photo of a “Lone Tree with the Aurora Borealis illuminating the Landscape taken in Manitoba, Canada.”

More of his photos can be found here.

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