Will You Vote to Save My Canada?

_DSC3524Even countries as multi-cultural as Canada have an identity. ‘My Canada’s’ identity is founded on certain cultural beliefs and values that serve as the cornerstone of who we are as people. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines these values we have as people. How do we stay true to My Canada? How do we not let fears, racism, intolerance lead us away from the ‘My Canada’ we have worked so hard to build?

Whether we live together in confidence and cohesion; with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future.
– Lester Pearson

living flag 2014

My Canada is:

  1. a nation founded on accepting diversity, valuing democracy and a strong desire that all Canadians are entitled to the freedoms afforded to us through our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  2. a country with a vision for a society based on human rights.
  3. one where we defend and protect the human rights of all Canadians through the creation of policies that strive towards an equal and just society.
  4. one that recognizes the right of all global citizens to be afforded the opportunity of peace.
  5. one that will stand-up though negotiation and dialogue in helping create and maintain world peace.
  6. a country of peacekeepers and defenders of human rights.
  7. a place where we remember our veterans, our ancestors who fought hard to create a country where we recognize the human right of equality for everyone.

I am a proud Canadian, but also a Canadian who is concerned some of our identity, our culture is being lost to a Prime Minister who does not put the safety and dignity of all Canadians, of all people into his policies. A Prime Minister whose actions jeopardize our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Harper’s Canada:


  1. creates an increasingly large gap between the wealthiest Canadians and the rest.
  2. creates Tax Policies that even his former finance minister believed favoured only the wealthiest of Canadians and was unfair.
  3. has watched and done nothing as student and household debt has increased
  4. ignores issues surrounding the human rights of women and children who are victimized and find themselves marginalized through poverty.
  5. continues to ignore the issues of tax fairness by not holding companies accountable to the creation of full-time jobs for Canadians in exchange for decreased tax rates and continues to ignore the hording of capital in off-shore accounts.
  6. ignores the long-term effects of environmental issues related to our water, air and our future
  7. ignores or silences the voices of scientists and economists
  8. is responsible for the crumbling human and physical infrastructure of our cities
  9. ignores the right of all Canadians to an education, health and fair and equal work.
  10. ignores the government’s responsibility for protecting the enshrined human rights of all Canadians.

In Harper’s Canada fairness is no longer the reality. In Harper’s Canada we are at risk of losing all we have worked so hard to achieve as a nation. We are at-risk of losing our identity.

silenceOn Election Day, I will remember all those brave Canadians who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to create ‘My Canada’. I will remember their courage, their sacrifice in order to ensure I live in a country where every individual is respected, valued and guaranteed the rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I will vote as I remember that sometimes the greatest threat to ‘My Canada’ does not come from the outside, but rather our greatest threat to our rights enshrined in our ‘Charter’ can be found right here at home.

I will not stand by and do nothing as the values of ‘My Canada’ is destroyed. My vote will do something because my vote is to save ‘My Canada’.


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Election Canada: Democracy at Risk?

canadaThe Syrian Refugee Crisis is considered the most devastating refugee crisis since the Second World War. The UN High Commission for Refugees says there are four million registered Syrian refugees, though that number is almost certainly low. We often consider ourselves an evolving society. A society that learns from past injustices as we move to a society that is founded on basic democratic principles as well as the universal values of human rights. If we are learning anything from the responses of our current government and this political election campaign ‘My Canada’ is showing our vulnerability as well as our reluctance to do the right thing in the face of tactics that are based on fear mongering rather than evidence, human rights principles and our own Canadian Rights and Freedoms.

Had our current Prime Minister ever taken the time to visit our Canadian Museum of Human Rights he perhaps would identify how precarious civil liberties are. He perhaps would  recognize his reactions to the Syrian Refugee Crisis is all to similar to the response of our Government during the Jewish Refugee Crisis of World War II.

It was 1939 and 907 Jewish refugees aboard the German transatlantic liner St. Louis were seeking sanctuary from Nazi Germany. Canada refused to take them in and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps.

Canada turned away Jewish refugees

During pre and post war Canada from a historical perspective there was strong public opinion that supported Canada’s refusal of Jewish Refugees. Anti-Semitism resulted in our Government and many countries around the world refusing to accept Jewish Refugees. The result was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

We certainly cannot change the past but we can learn from it. Our current government response and the response of our Prime Minister although similar to our government of the 1930s has one major difference. The difference today is that public opinion has called for our government to do more. Our government hides behind ‘Safety and Security’ to justify their inaction. Breeding fear, rather than leading our nation in this humanitarian crisis.

“We have this leadership that is appealing to our base instincts of fear, hatred, selfishness, greed. That’s what our government is doing to appeal to voters. And I think we’re better than that. I know we’re better than that,” he said.

“We want a leader who inspires us, who talks about co-operation, about fairness, about justice.”

Tony Turner, Former Federal Scientist

Mia Rabson in the Winnipeg Free Press wrote an excellent article called Niqab debate distracts from actual women’s issues in Canada . What has become a hot topic in this election campaign; especially in Quebec; is about two women who refused to uncover their face. Two of over 700, 000 new Canadians since 2011.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada says since the rule barring the face coverings from being worn took effect in 2011 two women have been refused the chance to take the oath of citizenship because of it. Yes, read that again. I said two.

Mia Rabson

First of all the rule barring the face being covered took place during this government’s mandate. Let’s be clear these woman were more than willing to show their face to a female official before taking the oath. Willing to prove their identity. Whether we agree with the idea of the Niqab is not the issue here. The issue is about freedom of religion, faith and beliefs. These two woman were not jeopardizing Canadian safety or going against Canadian values. As a matter fact when taken to court, the Supreme Court found that the rule barring face covering did not meet the standards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

charterIn fact becoming a Canadian should have made the wearing of the Niqab a choice, a religious freedom. Just like the other rights of education, language and all other rights found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada supported this right.  Our Prime Minister is dividing us on issues. Human Rights issues. Issues that make certain religions and practices acceptable and others unacceptable. Even the NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has softened his support of the wearing of the Niqab in an effort to regain votes in Quebec after poll results showed his support for these woman lost him favour. The playing of politics at the expense of our Canadian Charter, at expense of human rights is taking us down the wrong path. Despite the Supreme Court ruling our Prime Minister is playing the politics of fear and hatred.

The Prime Minister has vowed to fight the Supreme Court decision.

What other rights are in jeopardy at the expense of politics and the economy”?

no scienceWe have the issues related to the freedom of our Canadian Scientists. In one of my past blogs called Canada: What is it We Believe In?  I discuss how Canada’s decision-making processes is no longer evidence based but fear and ideologically based. It jeopardizes our future economy, health and environment. Democracy is at risk if we deny the public to information. If decisions are made without providing the people you are elected to represent access to data, research and evidence. Freedom of Information is a fundamental freedom that in a real democracy we all should have. Our voices are being silenced as we are asked to believe what is said without the evidence to support it. Our current Government has made comprehensive cuts to our research budgets and made it more difficult to share the data collected with the public which undermines our basic fundamental rights as Canadians..

Without science neither the public nor its leaders can be sufficiently knowledgeable to make informed decisions. Decision-making becomes little more than an exercise in ideology and the use of power. Nobel Prize-wining climate scientist Andrew Weaver argues that “we have a crisis in Canada.” This crisis, he says, “is in terms of the development of information and science to inform decision-making. What we have replaced that with is an ideological approach to decision-making.”

Academic Matter, May 2013

red+dressesWe also have the tragedies of all the ‘Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Woman’ which in an RCMP report on the issue gives evidence to our countries need to do something about not only Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Woman but the violence against all woman and as per the RCMP report especially woman in poverty.

Violence against women is a significant societal issue. According to the World Health Organization, it affects one-third of women around the globe and represents a health problem of “epidemic proportions.”1

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview

In one of my previous blogs called Bystanders to Neglect and Violence I discuss our need to understand our responsibility to protect all our children and vulnerable citizens. We need to all believe everyone is born equal and we must work together to find a way that we remain equal no matter what race, culture or circumstance we find ourselves in. However our current government continues to ignore the human rights issues of our vulnerable citizens. ‘It isn’t even on our Radar’ he has been quoted as saying. How does something identified as a health problem of epidemic proportions not end up on our radar?

The United Nations has deemed the state of our reservations in Canada are like those in third world countries. A UN investigator has indicated it is a crisis.

Canada consistently ranks among the top of countries in respect to human development standards, and yet amidst this wealth and prosperity, aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds,”

James Anaya

harpermanYesterday protestors went to the street singing ‘Harperman’ a song by a former Canadian scientist. The band Blue Rodeo has also gone to the airwaves to speak of the injustices and our democracies at risk. There was a speech at the University of Winnipeg by Ashley Callingbull-Burham who asks the questions:

“Why are indigenous women not considered a priority? How can a leader say that?” she asked. “We are a priority. We are human beings, as well. It’s damn time we were treated like that.”

Ashley Callingbull-Burham, Beauty queen more than just a pretty face Mrs. Universe address elicits tears

Today is another day in the election campaign and we need to have our voices heard. To stand-up for a caring, compassionate Canada. A country not ruled by fear but rather of hope. A country built on creating a future for all Canadians as well as understanding our role in the world as peacekeepers rather than a country that sees war as the road to peace. Canada had built a reputation as a country who could build consensus. A country that could listen to both sides and try to bridge the gap and bring people together. A country that made the world a better, safer place.

I want that Canada back. I know I am not alone.


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Election Canada: Fear, Untruths and Inequality

ptopagandaThere may be people still deciding who to vote for and unfortunately there are still a large number of people who may not vote at all. Those individuals are most likely the young and marginalized. It is important that everyone vote. On the surface it may appear that politics and the promises don’t impact you but in reality, Canada is changing. We are in time when our current government policies are divisive and favour a small segment of the population.

Let’s examine a few of those policies, statements that raise our fears:

The Conservatives and our current Prime Minister boast that they are the only party that we can TRUST with the economy. In this age of information it is often hard to get through the Propaganda to the Truth.

Neglecting the Rights of Everyone

Propaganda: Conservatives and their Low Corporate Tax pledge is good for Canada. They are promising more of the same. Is it good for all Canadians.

Truth: In 2006 Canada’s net debt was $492-billion (and falling). In 2015 is at 6.2 billion

Benefits the Few:

  • The general federal corporate income tax (CIT) rate has been cut by one third from 22.1% in 2006 to 15% today. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the annual cost is $12 billion of reduced tax revenues
  • Investment in machinery and equipment and in intellectual property combined is below the 2006 level in real dollar terms, and has fallen from 7.2% to 6.2% of GDP
  • At tax time, corporate insiders get to play by different rules. They only pay tax on 50%of their stock option income. Just as a note: If you or I got a bonus or a cash buyout we would have to pay at the designated Progressive Tax Rate based on our income.



The Rest of Us:

Tax cuts are not for us: In 2014, for the first time in Canada’s history, more than half of the federal government’s revenue was shouldered by personal income taxes.

  • Record-high levels of student debt and a post-secondary education system that is out of reach for an increasing number of Canadians threaten Canada’s long-term prosperity. Canadian youth unemployment is double that of the general population.
  • Household Debt is a major problem. The median family owed 110 per cent of its after-tax income in 2012, compared with 78 per cent in 1999.
  • The Risk – Current policies has put Canada in the position of the United States in 2008. A fall in housing prices (most Canadians biggest Assets), an increase in interest rates would bankrupt many Canadians. As well many Canadians are unable to put away for retirement be it in RRSPs, Tax Free Savings and many have part-time jobs and jobs without company pensions. Their sole source of Retirement may be CPP and OAS.
  • Risk of underfunding Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. Our current Government see CPP contributions as a tax rather than an investment and would handcuff this government and next governments in raising CPP contributions to address the needs of the aging population. The current government has already raised OAS eligibility has already gone from 65 to 67 meaning many of us will have to work longer before we retire….This would be part of Harper’s Balanced Budget Legislation.


It is important to note that there is no current research that supports providing tax breaks to the few provides long-term sustainable growth. In fact the research supports it is not only not currently working but from a historical perspective has never worked.

In fact as in Thomas Piketty book Capital in the Twenty-First Century discusses at length the risk of economic and government policies that creates wealth for a few rather than works towards diminishing inequalities. It is a recommended read that reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. Takes us past the propaganda and a little closer to the truth.

Next blog will look at where we are with Human Rights.

Research and Suggested Reading:

Fixing Canada Without Raising Taxes on (Most) Canadians

Corporate Tax Cuts: Big Price Tag, Little Return

Conservative Economic Action Plan: success or disaster?

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

79 economists who think balanced budget laws are bad economics

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Election: What Kind of Canada Do We Want?

_DSC3588The Canadian Election campaign is about half over and it is hard to get past the mendacity that seems inherent in being a politician. Whether it be from the political posturing, negative campaign ads, endless promises to political statements that seem to lack any basis in fact. Where the goal seems to be to get elected at any cost rather than about civic and social responsibility. It is the frustration of the voter. Who do we vote for? Who do we believe?

This election, like all elections comes down to deciding what kind of Canada we want. Do our current political parties, our political leaders share their vision for Canada? The Canada we need to become is not going to happen through policies and practices that are not founded in Human Rights. Creating a society that is inclusive, values people, cares about the environment, is compassionate and develops hope rather than despair will only happen with policies committed to human rights.

The United Nations indicates that a Human Rights-Based Approach requires policies that create the following:

Elements of good practices under a human rights-based approach

  • Programmes identify the realization of human rights as ultimate goals of development
  • People are recognized as key actors in their own development, rather than passive recipients of commodities and services.
  • Participation is both a means and a goal.
  • Strategies are empowering, not disempowering.
  • Both outcomes and processes are monitored and evaluated.
  • Programmes focus on marginalized and excluded groups.
  • The development process is locally owned.
  • Programmes aim to reduce disparities and empower those left behind.
  • Situation analysis is used to identify immediate, underlying and root causes of development problems.
  • Analysis includes all stakeholders, including the capacities of the state as the main duty-bearer and the role of other non-state actors.
  • Human Rights standards guide the formulation of measurable goals,targets and indicators in programming.
  • National accountability systems need to be strengthened with a view to ensure independent review of government performance and access to remedies for aggrieved individuals.
  • Strategic partnerships are developed and sustained.

Which of our current political parties comes closest to these standards for the creation of a ‘Fair and Just Society’? It is difficult to determine this through words. We must judge through actions rather than words. Not by what they say but by their actions and the results of their actions.

actionOver the last ten years we have seen ‘My Canada’ have a widening gap between those that have and those that do not. We have watched as our taxation system and the loop holes created provide off shore tax havens to the wealthy. We have seen full-time jobs turn into part-time jobs without benefits. We have watched as youth unemployment has increased. We have watched as Canada has ignored our responsibility to the environment.

We must demand more from our leaders than veiled promises. We must demand to know their vision for Canada.

  • What is your energy plan for our country?
  • How will we create a society where we create good paying jobs for our young adults and families? Jobs with benefits?
  • How will we create a taxation system that works to create a Canada founded on the principles of human rights?
  • How will we create an evidence-based system?
  • How will we create an inclusive society that provides the opportunity for everyone to benefit from citizenship?

The people of Canada are a kind, compassionate and generous nation. We care about each other. We care about our planet. We care about global issues. We strive for a better world.


When we vote and we all most vote, it must be a vote for Canada. A vote for humanity. A vote for a society based on the principles of human rights.


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Painting our Canvas

Three Tables Beach

Three Tables Beach

“Today was about chasing sun-rays, beach waves, & sunsets. All things beautiful that give you peace are worth chasing. Everything else isn’t.”
April Mae Monterrosa

Perhaps one of the most beautiful things to behold is a sunset. I have been fortunate enough to find myself in many parts of the world taking a moment to appreciate a sunset. Whether on the Canadian Prairies or on one of the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, Costa Rica or most recently the North Shore on the island of Oahu to name but a few, a sunset like a snowflake or people, no two are exactly the same.

The romance of a walk on the beach, holding the hand of your girl as the sun glistens on the water. Skinny dipping or drinking wine by the pool as the sun disappears from view. A time to reflect on the day of those things we didn’t get a chance to do.

The Rose Petal, James W. Hodddinott

Sunsets are a simple pleasure filling my mind with thoughts and ideas as I reflect on life and the world around me. There was almost an eerie calmness amongst those sitting or standing, as each of us in our own way, breathed-in the sun’s grandeur as it kissed us all good night. I’ve never been one that sees the sun setting as the end but rather as a reminder of nature’s wonder and it’s beauty that is there for us to enjoy. That same wonder and beauty can be found inside each of us if we just give it a chance to come out. Sometimes as April Mae Monterrosa indicates our own beauty like that of a sunset can be hidden by the dark clouds that we can surround ourselves with. Those dark clouds take hold of our brush as we chase after things that can never bring us the happiness we are all so desperately in search of.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

Last night the sunset was more magical, hypnotic than most I have experienced but alas the only camera at my disposal was my mind. The sun provided the men, women and children sitting on Sunset Beach three sunsets in one. The first one painted the sky with bright oranges, and hues of pink colouring the pale blue sky and the waters of the Pacific as it slowing descended behind the clouds that lay far beyond the horizon. If you turned your back or believed sunset had ended as the clouds captured the sun bringing on dusk, you would have missed the sun’s resurrection as it came back to life spreading saffron beams throughout the darkening sky.  Even the once dark clouds, that marred the horizon, became amber and gold as the sun widened its brush colouring the night sky.



Once again as it appeared dusk had erased the sun’s canvas when like the rabbit being pulled from a magician’s hat appeared high in the night sky rose-coloured clouds scattered with hues of yellow and red reminding us that even when the sun is gone, what was, still remains. Like the sun, each of us have the power to paint our canvas and to add colour to the canvas of those around us. Are we chasing after those things that will truly bring us peace?

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Where My Sandals Take Me: Maui

_DSC2686 (2)

Getting back to sun, nature, walking everywhere you go helps you find yourself. Living life simply. A coffee in the morning, a walk on an endless sand beach or  a hike along West Maui’s Coastal Trail in Kapalua. If the morning doesn’t bring you peace then sitting on the beach at sunset as the sun kisses the ocean good night certainly will.

With the falling value of our Canadian Dollar it is good that for me most of the best things about a Hawaii life are free. When you add 30% to your bill even what seems like a great deal isn’t. Maui is also not the cheapest of the islands as food costs are high, much higher than home and when you add the exchange even buying the basics is expensive.

Saying all that a visit to a Farmer’s Market for fresh Pineapple, Mango, Papaya and a new favorite Passion Fruit is a special moment. Not all Farmer’s Markets are created equal and we really enjoyed the Market in Honokowai be it small and hard to find parking but staff are very helpful and you have an opportunity to sample many of the products. However to combat the plunging dollar just gave a person another reason to enjoy the beauty of nature.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail by photograph:

The Kapalua Coastal Trail

The Kapalua Coastal Trail

The Hike Begins: Kapalua Golf Villas

The Hike Begins for us from Kapalua Golf Villas

A view of Oneloa Beach

A view of Oneloa Beach


The Rugged Shoreline

The Rugged Shoreline


A beautiful flower along the trail

A beautiful flower along the trail


Looking Back from Honolua Store

Looking Back from Honolua Store

@All photos taken by James W Hoddinott

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Five Things Losing 50 lbs. Taught Me?

Healthy in Hawaii

Healthy in Hawaii

Over the last few months I have gone through some increased understandings about the importance of knowing the DATA as we make important decisions. How often do we ignore what the numbers tell us when it comes to our health? We can get on the scale or have high blood pressure or even elevated cholesterol and seem to think if we keep eating and exercising in the same way somehow things will magically get better.

I had someone tell me the other day that they wanted to lose weight but were not prepared to change their eating habits. Thinking if they just exercised a little more, that late night bag of potato chips would be okay. It is a little bit how I used to think. I didn’t think weighing myself was important or paying attention to those signs my body was telling me that I was not as healthy as I should or could be. I had all these perceptions about a healthy lifestyle that as it turned out wasn’t supported by data or more specifically what my own body was telling me. I needed to learn to be a better listener.

Actually life is the same way. It gives us signals that what we are doing is working or not working. We need to pay attention to the information we are getting and make the changes needed to get the necessary results. When I went for my physical in December I went in thinking that my doctor won’t be happy. I was right, he wasn’t. Going in my perception was that I had gained a little weight and maybe would need to lose 10 pounds to get back to my slightly (my perception) overweight self of a year ago. I never believed a person should weigh themselves. My perception was I had gained weight.  The data I used of needing a bigger pant size as a 36 waist had led to a 38. Shirts were a little snug. So in reality what could a scale and the rest of my data the physical would give me tell me that I didn’t already know.

Well when I hopped on a scale it was a shocker. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would get so heavy. Trouble was although my body was telling me what I needed to know I wasn’t listening. My energy level was down, a little more moody and my knees were sore. I told myself that was more caused by stress of the job, getting older and a busy schedule. As we often do we rationalize things so we don’t need to change our behaviour. The scale, the elevated cholesterol and now for the first time ever high blood pressure. The data told the truth where as my perceptions allowed me to rationalize the truth to make me feel things were out of my control. They were caused by outside sources and out of my control. Thinking like that gave me permission not to change. Just to keep on doing as I was doing.

The scale woke me up to the truth. If I wanted different results I would need to change. I would have to take control. The result was in three months I lost almost 50 lbs and now here I am six months later weighing in at 176 pounds which is exactly 50 pounds less that day I hopped on the scale in the doctor’s office. I didn’t do any crazy fad diet just used data and changing what I did. Here are the five simple tricks….

1) Decided to pay attention to the Data

I used a program called My Fitness Pal to help me collect data and set goalsmyfitness pal. Counted calories, set eating and fitness goals and put a plan in place based on the data. Not all food is created equal. Although some may say My Fitness Pal is time-consuming and doesn’t provide enough detail about the food we eat for me it provided that balance so I could monitor my intake of protein, fat, carbs, sugar, salt and those essential areas like Vitamin A, C, potassium and iron to name but a few.

It also allowed me to set fitness goals and track not only my calories taken in but burned as well. I set manageable weekly weight loss goals that I kept track of a daily basis using the data of calories consumed and energy burned.

This calorie counting gave me the information so I understood the impact of my exercise and food I was eating.

2) Avoided late night or binge eating. Ate what I need not necessarily what I wanted.

It is so easy to have that late night snack. For the first two months I spent breaking that habit. It wasn’t easy as my impulse was to eat something when I was hungry even if it was at eleven at night. At times I did give in but when I did I looked at my calorie intake for the day and calories output. Calories burned versus calories consumed. I then chose a snack based on what my body said I needed rather than what I craved or that late night impulse high fat or sugar food.

3) Made my lunch everyday

Paid attention to what I ate. Foods that kept me fuller and are nutritious. When I didn’t bring a lunch I would either not eat which made me binge at supper or if I went out the choice of healthy alternatives was limited. My prepared lunches and food for the time I was at work made it easier to stick to my fitness goals.

4) Ate more often but in smaller portions

I haven’t eaten off a big plate for six months (other than when going out). Basically controlled portion size. Ate what I needed not what I wanted. Plate size makes a difference. We seem as part of our human nature to want to fill our plates no matter the size of the plate. The smaller plate allowed me to do that but it didn’t take as much food.

I also had a healthy snack in the morning usually a banana in the morning and then some ‘Greek Yogurt’ in the afternoon. Not allowing myself to get to hungry but also not gorging myself. I paid attention not only to what I ate but how much. I then had to record everything I ate into My Fitness Pal so there was accountability to what I was doing. I got to see my results everyday.

5) Worked hard and stuck to the Plan

There is no quick fix. It requires a plan and then to stick with it. It has been hard work and I still have a goal. I am no longer using My Fitness Pal but still use what I learned about food and exercise to maintain that healthy lifestyle. I built-in exercise into my lifestyle. I found how much better I feel going for that walk or in the cold months going on the treadmill was great. Many days I didn’t feel like it but did discover if on those times I chose just to do ten minutes, then I stuck to it. It was getting started that usually stopped me before so I needed to change my mindset. Exercise became part of my schedule, my lifestyle. I am not a jogger, so walking was my choice. When on the treadmill I increased intensity by increasing incline and I do monitor my heart rate when exercising so I use data then as well.

Now that I am where I need to be I continue to weigh myself weekly and will not let my weight get above 180. If it gets close I know I have slipped and must get back on track. I haven’t stopped eating any of the foods I like, actually never did, but do so in moderation and as part of my overall lifestyle. I pay attention to what I put into my body and am aware of the cost of some of the high fat, high calorie foods I may crave. Is it easy? It wasn’t and still isn’t but it is getting easier. My thinking has changed, I am a little smarter about foods and know some of my perceptions on healthy eating and exercise have become more refined.

I just turned 55 and I feel better and healthier than I did 15 years ago. Knees no longer hurt, I can easily walk over 10 miles in a day, without getting tired or sore (good shoes make a difference). I am wearing pants that are size 32 waist and they at times can be loose. Even my neck size has decreased. My blood pressure is great. I have more energy and mood swings are gone.

There are lots of weight/diet plans out there and in the end people will find what works for them. I chose to go with a healthy diet that paid attention to what my body needed as well as made exercise part of my life. I chose to change my lifestyle. I chose to take control of my health. For me it worked.

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Celebrating Inclusive Education

Yes I canOn Thursday, February 19th, 7 pm at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg  Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children celebrates students, families, educators and community at the Yes I Can!! awards.

The Yes I Can Awards celebrates those individuals who are making a difference in the education of students and children but more importantly recognizes the accomplishments of the students themselves and the incredible differences they have made in their own lives and often in the lives of others.

Manitoba Minister of Education, Peter Bjornson has proclaimed the month of February as ‘Inclusive Education Month.‘ Minister Bjornson has been and continues to be a committed supporter of creating Inclusive classrooms, schools and of celebrating the successes of students at the ‘Yes I Can Awards’.

Yes I Can Awards 2014

Yes I Can Awards 2014

In 2014 over 500 people attended the Yes I Can Awards with many students receiving International Yes I Can Awards nominations.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Yes I Can Awards. The awards ceremony will once again be hosted by the always humourous Glen Cassie. This years ceremony will be opened by a girl’s drumming group from Knowles Centre called ‘Four Direction Singers’.

The 2015 Yes I Can Awards will celebrate the achievement of students and educators from across Manitoba.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards are presented to exceptional children and/or youth to recognize their achievements in the following categories:

Academics; Arts; Athletics; School and Community Activities; Self-Advocacy; Technology; and Transition.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards also recognize the achievements of those that assist in making Inclusion possible. The areas recognized are:

Teaching, Leadership, Certificate’s of Recognition, Outstanding Achievement, Outstanding Educator, Teacher of the Year and Educator of the Year.

The MCEC Yes I Can! Awards also provides scholarships:

MCEC awards Transition Scholarships to encourage life-long learning of individuals with exceptionalities and Academic Scholarships to encourage and support the future of education for students working with exceptionalities. Scholarships are funded by MCEC from proceeds from the annual conference and through donations to the Winnipeg Foundation. The Winnipeg Foundation manages the Morris and Yale Hirsch Memorial Scholarship fund and the Winn Thompson Fund, both of which assist MCEC in funding these scholarships.

Please mark your calendars and attend the 25th Annual Yes I Can Awards at 7:00 pm at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg Manitoba. The Yes I Can Awards will be an evening that will touch your heart and provide inspiration that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.




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Jane Jacobs: How not to wreck cities

Interesting Article about cities and ideas how to make them better as well as what doesn’t work

My favourite writer about cities, and a favourite of generations of my students, is Jane Jacobs, a sharp-tongued critic whose polemics were grounded in a strongly positive view of cities. She wrote her best-known book, The death and life of great American cities, when she was a New Yorker, but within a few years she had moved to Toronto, where she spent the rest of her life.

She loved cities and thought that the preservation of their livability and attractiveness was a key to the well-being of society as a whole. It’s central to Jacobs’s concept of cities that they are natural, that they grow organically out of the ways people choose to interact with each other.

As a result, in Death and life, she was scornful of the visions of planners and architects who wanted to create buildings, neighbourhoods, and parks in response to their ideas of…

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Blog: Saturday night in Paris

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Our Freedoms are Fragile

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