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Posts Tagged "people"

13Sep

Town Talk: Treana Peake’s at-home rock concert benefits South Sudanese people

by admin

ENCORE: Fancy having the Nickelback band and signers Barney Bentall, Jim Cuddy, Shawn Hook and Stephen Kellogg perform at your Gleneagles waterfront home. That happened when the Obakki clothing line owner, Treana Peake, staged the second annual White Envelope fundraiser at her, spouse Ryan and neighbour Judith Stewart’s estate-style properties. Ryan is a Nickelback band member. The event reportedly raised $400,000 to help sustain the Obakki Foundation’s educational, clean-water and other sustainable projects in South Sudan and nearby nations. Treana welcomed former South Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal who is now a Toronto-based singer, screen actor (The Good Lie), political activist and leadership lecturer. His maxim: “Turn your eyes inside yourself and, as you change, saturate yourself with information that can enhance your new skills.”


At his Gleneagles home, Nickelback guitarist-songwriter Ryan Peake joined Barney Bentall and others to entertain White Envelope fundraiser guests.

Malcolm Parry /

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REVVED UP: The recent 10th annual Luxury & Supercar Weekend brought more exotic vehicles than ever to VanDusen Botanical Garden. As usual, a previous-evening reception filled Niels and Nancy Bendtsen’s Inform Interiors store.


With much high-end merchandise of their own, Inform Interiors owners Neils and Nancy Bendtsen always host Luxury & Supercar preliminary receptions.

Malcolm Parry /

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Luxury & Supercar Weekend co-organizer Nadia Iadisernia’s ensemble complemented a McLaren 720S Coupe beside Gastown’s Inform Interiors store.

Malcolm Parry /

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Cars inside included the show’s darling, a battery-powered 1,900-horsepower Pininfarina Battista costing around $3.5 million. That would get you a tasty West Vancouver home or, to those fully exploiting the Battista’s mojo, perhaps a visit to crowbar hotel. On the Inform store’s Water Street sidewalk, a 720-horsepower McLaren 720S Coupe was tagged at $401,910. The sky-blue coupe complemented L&S Weekend co-principal Nadia Iadisernia’s Ferrari-red Diane von Furstenberg dress and Ferragamo heels that together cost less than the $1,460 needed for the McLaren’s optional coloured brake calipers.


Danny Jadresko showed his 2,510-horsepower 1964 Pontiac Acadian to Luxury & Supercar Weekend principal Craig Stowe at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Malcolm Parry /

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FANCY DANNY: Parked beside swanky-panky dreamboats on the VanDusen lawn, an Ontario-built Pontiac Acadian cost maybe $3,000 in 1964. Today, having gained a 10.3-litre, twin-turbo engine developing 2,510 horsepower, it could be worth $1 million. That said, not much, if anything, remains of the ho-hum two-door sedan that Victoria-based Danny Jadresko bought in 1983. He and bride Sandy later honeymooned in it. With son Cody, and aided by Quebec-based custom-car builder J.F. Launier, the Jadreskos spent 18 years developing the Acadian into a “street outlaw” that can blow the doors of most European exotics. Meanwhile, their W&J Construction and Woodsmere Holdings firms opened the doors to thousands of single- and multi-unit homes they’d built, including 600 units in Langford that rent for $800 to $1,200 monthly.


Some royalties from school principal David Starr’s Like Joyful Tears, part-edited by wife and vice-principal Sharon, benefit the Obakki Foundation.

Malcolm Parry /

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HOMEWORK: For the principal of Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, David Starr, it entails writing books. His refugee-themed debut work, From Bombs to Books, and its seven successors were aimed at young readers. The latest, Like Joyful Tears, “is my first big-boy book,” Starr said. It has a Canadian woman help a South Sudanese massacre survivor relocate to Canada. Starr’s novel was aided by his own dealings with refugees, and polished by editor-wife Sharon, who is vice-principal at Port Moody Secondary. Partial royalties from it benefit the Obakki Foundation.


A 65_RedRoses film still of the late Eva Markvoort overlooked Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden who lives with transplanted lungs.

Malcolm Parry /

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BREATH AND LIFE: At the Vancouver Playhouse recently, Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji screened, 65_RedRoses, their 2009 film about since-deceased cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort. The fundraising event promoted CF awareness and organ donation. Although the lauded movie wasn’t an Oscar contender, attendees Alison Snowden and David Fine won one for their animated short, Bob’s Birthday, and earned three other Oscar nominations. Like Markvoort, Snowden received donated lungs, but survived. After a virus destroyed her own, Snowden was put into an induced coma for a month and deemed to be too weak for transplant surgery. Business and personal partner Fine said “a breakthrough idea” entailed awakening her and rebuilding strength during non-stop treatment by ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) heart-lung-bypass technology. It worked. Donated lungs arrived, Dr. John Yee undertook the surgery, and Fine and the recovering Snowden completed another Oscar-nominated short, Animal Behaviour. Snowden’s proposed acceptance speech at the February, 2019 Academy Awards ceremony would have praised VGH, her surgical team and Canadian medicine generally. However, the award went to Toronto director-writer Domee Shi’s Bao.


The Sequoia Quartet’s Catherine Teng, Kai Chow, David Han and Davin Mar demonstrated the prowess of VSO School of Music students.

Malcolm Parry /

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BRAVO: The effectiveness of the 16-year-old VSO School of Music was clear when four students performed at Ronald McDonald House recently. Sequoia String Quartet violinists Catherine Teng, 16, and Kai Chow, 15, violist Davin Mar, 14, and cellist David Han, 13, played works by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and others, with intelligence, clarity and youthful confidence.


Wally Buono, here with Moray Keith of a syndicate seeking to buy the B.C. Lions team, will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame.

Malcolm Parry /

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FOOTBALL FAME: B.C. Lions fans still sang “Roar, you Lions, roar” in 2003 when Pasquale “Wally” Buono left the Calgary Stampeders to be the local team’s head coach. Roar they did, through five West Division championships, two Grey Cup wins and one loss (2004 to the Toronto Argonauts). After retiring in 2018, Potenza-born Buono will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame Oct. 4 and possibly called “the pride of all B.C.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As we consider electing more parliamentarians with no more authority than pets on a leash, a Scottish high court judge has ruled that parliament’s role in scrutinizing the government is a central pillar of the UK’s constitution, which follows naturally from the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

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604-929-8456

31Jul

Police trying to ID 2 people following attack on man in wheelchair

by admin

Weeks after a man in a wheelchair was attacked in East Vancouver, police have released surveillance images of two people investigators believe might have information on the crime.

The victim was assaulted on the morning of July 7, in the underground parking lot of an apartment building on Cecil Street. Authorities said the attack left the 44-year-old in serious condition in hospital.

On Wednesday, the Vancouver Police Department shared images of a man and woman that were captured on a CCTV camera in the area, and asked anyone with information on their identities to come forward.

“The VPD believes the two individuals in the photos, a man and a woman, may have information about this assault. We are hopeful that the public can assist us in identifying the pair,” Sgt. Jason Robillard said in a statement.

Authorities have not described either of the people in the images as suspects in the attack.

The man is believed to be white, with a slim build and blonde hair. He was wearing a denim jacket, a shirt with a large “O” on the front, black shorts, black flip-flops and a black baseball hat.

The woman is also believed to be white, with a medium build and shaggy orange or blonde hair. She was seen wearing black cropped top, a red jacket, green camouflage-print Capri pants and sandals.

Police urged anyone with information that could help investigators solve the disturbing attack to contact the department’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541.

assault motorized wheelchair

31Jul

Research program to help people in the DTES get jobs

by admin

A new research program is looking at innovative approaches to support people with mental health and addictions issues in finding and keeping suitable jobs, with $364,235 in government funding.

“At its heart, this research project is about helping people find and keep meaningful employment by meeting them where they are and providing them with wraparound supports,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We know that when people get jobs where they feel valued, it improves their quality of life, provides a sense of purpose and enhances self-esteem and social belonging.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association – Vancouver Fraser Branch, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, is conducting research to better understand the unique labour market issues of the Downtown Eastside and influence how care services are provided to at-risk people. The project concludes in February 2020.

The project team is examining individual placement and support (IPS) and peer support to increase access to employment. IPS has been extensively researched internationally and proven to be effective compared to standard employment services. This B.C.-based research will be groundbreaking, as it uses medical professionals as an entry point to service delivery. 

“Our vision is to embed social and health services in a one-stop integrated model of care for people living in the Downtown Eastside,” said Skye Barbic, lead scientist, University of British Columbia. “To date, little work has focused on the impact of employment as a health and social intervention. Our project aims to bring together systems that are traditionally difficult to navigate for people living in the Downtown Eastside.” 

“People with mental illness who choose to work deserve to have the support they need in order to be successful,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “When people are working, they feel connected. We all understand that meaningful employment is important to people’s lives.”

Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers at the Downtown Community Health Centre refer patients to the program, which is housed just across the street. Of the 72 participants, half will receive this approach and half will receive treatment in the form of traditional employment supports.

“To our knowledge, no study or project has examined individual placement and support embedded in primary care settings for complex populations and few have looked at the value of adding peer support to individual placement and support,” said Michael Anhorn, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association – Vancouver Fraser Branch. “This project complements the redesign of downtown primary care services and is an expansion of the longstanding partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide individual placement and support services.”

Through IPS, participants receive supportive entry into the workforce based on their personal needs. Employers are also supported in navigating any challenges that arise. Wraparound services include housing support, help getting identification, filing taxes, support with social relationships, money management, financial planning, debt consolidation and mental health and substance-use support.

Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is providing $364,235 through the Research and Innovation stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP’s goal is to increase employment and work experience opportunities in communities throughout B.C.
  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects around B.C. in 2019-20.

Learn More:

Learn how CEPs are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Canadian Mental Health Association: https://cmha.ca/


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24Jul

Accessible parking scofflaws a problem for people with disabilities | CBC News

by admin

Vincel Miele feels frustration and anger when he sees an able-bodied person parking illegally in a spot designated for people with disabilities.

“For them it’s a convenience, I suppose,” said Miele, 69, as he drove through the parking lot of Lansdowne Centre in Richmond in his specially-designed van. 

Miele was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. 

“It just takes away from someone that does need it and, in a lot of cases, can’t go about their business because they can’t find a parking spot where they can get in and out independently.”

Miele’s van lets him get out into the community independently, but he needs to park in a special, wider disability stall so he can use his van’s ramp to get in and out of his vehicle.

Vince Miele, 69, was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He wants people to know how inconsiderate it is when someone who doesn’t need the spot takes it anyway.

Miele also wants to see improvements to what he calls a patchwork system of fines and enforcement in B.C.

He said rules, penalties and enforcement levels vary across Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver, for example issued more than 1,600 tickets for parking in accessible spaces in 2018, while Surrey issued 24.

Miele would also like to see tougher fines for those who violate disability parking rules, and stricter rules for disability parking on public and private property. Fines can be as low as about $60. 

‘They swear’

While driving in another Richmond parking lot with CBC News, Miele spotted an able-bodied person with a disability parking decal in an accessible spot.

The driver said she was waiting for her mother, who has a disability. She was legally using the space but Vince doesn’t get why she had to take the spot he needed instead of waiting somewhere else.

This Canada Post truck was spotted parked in a disability parking spot on Homer Street in Vancouver. The corporation said it has launched an internal investigation. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

“It’s a problem … mostly for people that use wheelchairs because they really depend on that wider spot,” he said.

Miele spoke to the driver. The conversation went well but he said drivers can turn nasty.

“They swear. Yeah. They tell you to mind your own business,” Miele said. “They tell you to, whatever off, and sometimes worse.”

Vince Miele says when able-bodied people park in the wider accessible parking spaces — like the driver of this white van has done — it inconveniences people in wheelchair vans, like the one on the left. (Vince Miele)

Private lots make own rules

A Lansdowne Mall spokesperson said it enforces parking rules, especially for disability stalls. Offenders, she said, are fined or towed.

EasyPark vice-president Gary Kohr said private lots — the kind you might find at malls, grocery stores or below ground at some highrise towers — are only obligated to include a certain number of disability parking stalls.

The buildings’ owners arrange enforcement, he said, and can waive tickets.

Private parking lots are only required by law to maintain a certain number of accessible spots, according to one lot operator. Enforcement of lot policies is up to the owner — who has the option to waive a ticket. (Vince Miele)

“The owner of the property will define the rules of engagement,” Kohr said, adding most owners follow guidance from operating companies like EasyPark, with fines starting at about $60.

City bylaw officers have no jurisdiction over private lots, he said.

Lorraine Copas, executive director of the accessibility advocacy group SPARC BC, said police can enforce rules on private lots, if called.

A CBC News team spotted this driver on Granville Island parked in an accessible spot with no permit. The vehicle’s back end encroaches onto a second accessible spot. (Ethan Sawyer/CBC)

Cities vary

Kohr would not say how many delinquent drivers his company tickets for breaking disability parking rules.

Numbers from Metro Vancouver’s four largest cities show a wide disparity in numbers of tickets handed out in 2018 for offenders on city-controlled lots and on-street parkers.

Vancouver handed out the most tickets — over 1,600. Burnaby issued 138, Richmond issued 107, while Surrey handed out 24. 

A City of Surrey spokesperson explained that’s because bylaw officers only actively patrol four locations in the city for violations, two of which are at city hall. 

Miele says it’s not just the malls — rule-breakers are commonly seen on Richmond’s streets and lots.

Richmond spokesperson Clay Adams said the city doesn’t have the power to enforce disability parking rules in private lots, leaving it up to drivers and lot owners to respect the parking laws.

“It really gets down to individual drivers and how much they want to respect the legality, but also the moral element, of these kind of parking stalls.”

Priorities

Miele wants to see rules for disability parking — on public and private property — better enforced, and a uniform, hefty fine to apply across B.C.

“Make it $400 as a even number,” he said. “Maybe that’ll get people’s attention.”

Most of all, he wants to see a change in attitude from some able-bodied drivers.

Vince Miele is an advocate for people with disabilities. He uses a special wheelchair-lift-equipped van that he can drive on his own. But if the wider accessible parking stalls in a lot are taken up, it’s hard for him to deploy the ramp and get out of the van. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“I mean, is part of parking closest to the entrance that critical for the guy that has to run in and grab a case of beer or go buy a pack of smokes?” he asked.

“I think they should give … their heads at least one shake. Maybe two or more.”


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8Jul

Training program helps people gain experience, secure forestry jobs

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More than 100 people will get training and work experience in the forest sector, giving them opportunities for job success and improved lives, through $3.3 million in provincial government funding.

“One key way to reduce poverty is to open doors for people to new jobs and careers,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This program, through training and work experience, will prepare people for a wide variety of forestry jobs, putting them on the path to better opportunities.”

On behalf of government, Stillwater Consulting is delivering the Advanced Forestry Training program in three communities: Cranbrook, Kamloops and Nanaimo. Students will earn 11 different industry certifications, including silviculture surveyor certification, occupational first aid – level 3 and basic chainsaw operator. The program includes a three-week job placement with local forestry employers.

“Our program gives participants knowledge, skills and certifications in different areas of forestry in just 19 weeks,” said Aaron Byng-Hall, project manager, Stillwater Consulting. “Our graduates become environmental technicians, recreational trail builders, silviculture surveyors and wildland firefighters. For someone looking for opportunities after a mill closure, the program provides a great way to expand on what they know and turn that into a new career.”

“In light of recent record-breaking wildfire seasons, there is an increased demand for people who can work in the woods,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program is recruiting students for a July 22, 2019, start date in Kamloops and an Aug. 12, 2019 start date in Cranbrook and Nanaimo. Overall, 36 students per city can participate, with a total of 108 spaces. People interested in applying can contact WorkBC Offices in Cranbrook, Kamloops or Nanaimo.

Quotes:

Brianna Henderson, Stillwater training program graduate —

“Taking this program definitely changed my life and propelled me into my career. I’m now a junior forestry technician with Atlas Information Management, and getting that job was 100% a result of the Stillwater training. It can be hard to get into forestry if you don’t come from the industry, but after the program I was so much more confident in going to apply for a position like that. Overall, I’m just really thankful that this program exists. It has opened up a world of opportunities for me.”

Tim LaRade, senior project manager, Nupqu Development Corporation —

“Stillwater Consulting’s Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program is completely unique in B.C.’s forest industry. It’s practical, it’s hands on and most importantly, it sets graduates up with the skills they need for immediate success once they join the working world. When our new employees come to us with these skills already, it saves us a lot of training time on our end.”

Shane Holley RFT, general manager, Maple Leaf Forestry Ltd. —

“We’ve hired several graduates of the Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program at Maple Leaf Forestry who initially completed the program’s three-week job placement with us. It’s a great way for both us and the student to get to know each other and make sure the fit is right. We find Stillwater graduates to be well-trained, confident and armed with the skills and certifications we’re looking for on our team.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is providing $3.3 million through the Project Based Labour Market Training stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP’s goal is to increase employment and work experience opportunities in communities throughout B.C.
  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects around B.C. in 2019-20.
  • To be eligible to participate in the Advanced Forestry Training Program, students must meet employment insurance eligibility requirements and live in the city or surrounding areas of Cranbrook, Kamloops or Nanaimo.

Learn More:

Learn how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about project-based labour market training: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Project-Based-Labour-Market-Training.aspx

Find out more about Stillwater Consulting: https://www.stillwaterconsultingltd.com/

Find out more about the Advanced Forestry Training Program and learn how to apply:

Learn more about WorkBC and employment insurance eligibility: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/WorkBC-Centres/Who-Should-Visit-a-WorkBC-Centre.aspx

Connect with WorkBC:


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3Jul

Policy changes put people first

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For people struggling with poverty, small changes can make a big difference.

The first of a series of policy updates by the Government of British Columbia will remove barriers and make it easier for people to get help when they need it most.

The policy changes that came into effect on July 1, 2019, were the focus of a roundtable discussion that Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, hosted with poverty reduction stakeholders and advocates.

“Reducing poverty is about more than broad strokes and big system changes,” said Simpson. “It is also about looking closely at existing policies that, while smaller in scope, can make a lasting impact on the life of British Columbians. It’s about asking ourselves whether these often longstanding policies are helping or harming people. These policy changes, as well as additional changes we will make later this year, are a move away from the mean-spirited policies of the past and toward increasing respect, dignity and opportunity for everyone.”

The updated Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction policies include:

  • decreasing work searches from five weeks to three weeks;
  • ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member;
  • expanding access to the identification supplement;
  • expanding access to and simplifying the application process for the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers category;
  • eliminating the “transient” client category;
  • removing the $10,000 asset limit on a primary vehicle;
  • increasing asset limits for people on income assistance; and
  • expanding the moving supplement for people to move anywhere in B.C.

When people cannot afford to obtain personal identification or are required to sell their vehicle to get onto assistance, they face additional and unnecessary barriers. These types of harmful policies get in the way of accessing services like banking, health services, housing, food, school and/or completing daily tasks, like driving to school or work. These simple and supportive changes will allow people to access essential services and keep them from falling further and further behind.

The changes are part of TogetherBC, B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy. The name TogetherBC reflects the most effective way to reduce poverty in B.C.: strong partnerships with government, non-profits, businesses, First Nations and Indigenous organizations and communities will help reach the people who need assistance most. These changes came from conversations with non-profit organizations, advocates and people with lived experience that illustrated the harmful impact these policies had on the people they were supposed to support.

If people do not have their basic needs met, it is almost impossible to put together other pieces like health, education and employment. Breaking the cycle of poverty is about updating existing policies and creating new ones that rebuild a strong system of supports and services. These changes are part of a larger shift in government to a culture built on empathy and inclusion — one that puts people first.

Quotes:

Trish Garner, community organizer, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) —

“Our income support system should be there when any one of us may need it, just like our public health care, so measures to reduce barriers to access are a move in the right direction. On behalf of the BCPRC, we congratulate the government for these small changes, which signal a culture shift at the ministry, and we hope to see more of these changes in the future to move from a punitive to a supportive approach. Increasing the asset limit, including for cars, will help people transition back off the system by not plunging them into a deep hole just to access support. We will continue to push for meaningful increases in the rates to complement these measures and rebuild our social safety net.”

Jonny Morris, chief executive officer, Canadian Mental Health Association of BC (CMHA BC) —

“CMHA BC welcomes the recently announced changes to B.C.’s Employment and Assistance Regulations that came into effect on July 1. Removing the financial penalty for adults living with parents will benefit people with mental health and substance use problems whose parents may be key sources of inclusion and support. The elimination of discriminatory eligibility criteria that barred people with substance use related health issues from accessing some benefits is a welcome change that ends a longstanding and harmful approach. These changes and others will provide people experiencing mental health and substance use related health issues with improved access to existing income and disability assistance benefits, which we know supports their well-being.”

Doug King, executive director, Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) —

“On behalf of TAPS, this is an important first step in restoring the income and disability assistance process with dignity for all applicants. We’re very happy to see important changes to the moving supplement in the midst of a housing a crisis in British Columbia. It’s important for low-income British Columbians to have the support of the ministry when they find themselves in transition or without a home. We are looking forward to more changes in the future, so that this process can be made more fair and accessible.”

Learn More:

For a detailed description of each policy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019SDPR0047-001258

Read TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy


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1Jul

‘Living my dream’: Sixty people become new Canadians on Canada Day

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Bill and Phyllis Neufeld are British Columbians born and bred.

As Canadians — born in the tiny pulp-and-paper-mill town of Ocean Falls on B.C.’s Central Coast — the Neufelds never had to take an oath of citizenship.

But they have. A few dozen times in what has become an annual Canada Day tradition.

Along with 60 new Canadians from 36 different countries, the Neufelds, sitting in the audience in a ballroom at Canada Place, proudly raised their right hands and pledged allegiance to the Queen and to do right by their country.

“It’s a reaffirmation of our citizenship,” said Bill. “It makes us aware how lucky we are that we are born here.”

It’s also their way to welcome their new fellow Canucks into the family, said Bill, who derives pleasure from witnessing such a momentous occasion. It can get pretty emotional, he admitted. “But I don’t break into tears or anything.”

“I do,” said Phyllis.

A bagpiper kicked off the proceedings, followed by cadets hoisting Canadian flags, a Mountie in red serge, military officers in uniform and dignitaries.

Gabriel George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation provided words of welcome and a traditional blessing and song.

The ceremony touched on reconciliation with First Nations, the original inhabitants of Canada who had welcomed early settlers but not reaped equal benefits from the country, and the need to do better.

B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin presided over the ceremony, hearkening back to history and the initial waves of immigrants who came to Canada fleeing hardship and deprivation.

“You may have faced great hardship and adversity before coming to Canada and you all made sacrifices to be here. I thank you for answering our invitation to make Canada your home,” she told the crowd before leading them in the oath of citizenship.


Devraj Chakraborty, 14, and seven-year-old Kenji Kirby help cut the cake during Canada Day Citizenship ceremony at Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre  on Monday. Photo: Arlen Redekop/Postmedia

Arlen Redekop /

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Jerry and Joyce Kirby watched as their daughter Kenji, 7, performed her first duty as a Canadian: Helping cut a giant Canada Day cake studded with raspberries.

“I am so honoured to be Canadian,” said Jerry, who works in IT. “It’s a very wonderful feeling. I am very emotional I could cry right now.”

The family, originally from the Philippines, moved to Vancouver in 2015 under the federal skilled worker program. Canada, is “the land of opportunity,” said Joyce, a gateway to a better life.

Emilie Cautaert left Belgium in 2012 for what she thought would be a one-year expat stint at an aerospace manufacturing company and ended up staying for love.

She was seduced by Vancouver’s easy accessibility to nature and the diversity and multiculturalism she encountered daily in the city and in her office — a situation that would have been quite rare in her home country, she said.

“In Vancouver, all different nationalities work together. It was new for me. When you come from Belgium, everybody is from Belgium.”

Cautaert also met her husband, Alex Swinnard, on her first day at work. They are expecting their first child in August.

Coming to Canada was a dream come true for Rajesh Chakraborty, who moved to B.C. in 2014 with his wife and son.

Chakraborty wanted to work in animation, but there wasn’t much of an industry in India. He had a good job, a stable life, but his love of animation drove him to seek opportunities in Canada.

“It’s been my dream to come here and work, now I can say I am living my dream,” he said, smiling ear-to-ear.

His 14-year-old son Devraj, who attends David Thompson Secondary in Vancouver, took the occasion in stride.

When asked what he was looking forward to the most as a new Canadian, he said: “I’m not really looking forward to anything. Just living my life.”


Emilie Cautaert, who is seven and a half months pregnant, at the  Canada Day Citizenship ceremony at Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre on Monday. Cautaert is originally from Belgium. Photo: Arlen Redekop/Postmedia

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In his remarks, defence minister Harjit Sajjan said all immigrants, new and old, share the same story “of coming here for a better life, hope and a brighter future.”

After the ceremony, he said he wanted to convey to the newly-minted citizens that in Canada, the possibilities are endless: “I want them to understand they have the breadth of Canada to choose from and to succeed.”

Even though Monday’s ceremony was his third Canada Day citizenship ceremony at Canada Place, it remains an emotional and inspiring experience for Sajjan.

He wants his Canadian-born kids, age 7 and 10, to witness the momentous occasion first-hand. That’s why he has been bringing his family to the ceremonies even before he was elected to office.

“I want them to understand the feeling,” he said. “When they see it through the new Canadians coming here and taking that oath, it resonates with them.”

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26Jun

Fire mitigation project extended to help more people

by admin


Vulnerable homeowners in areas threatened by wildfire can access free FireSmart advice and support from a government-funded job creation project supported by the United Way. 

Sixteen people will work over the summer to help seniors and persons with disabilities become FireSmart by preparing and protecting their homes from the threat of wildfires in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Clinton and Quesnel. This includes educating people about how to make their homes and property safer and removing vegetation that can fuel a wildfire.

To promote safety for people and communities, homeowners will also receive fire prevention materials and a resource list for assistance and support. The project, originally scheduled to end in April 2019, has been extended by four months to meet community need and to provide more job seekers with more opportunities.

“Connecting people with new skills and opportunities is part of our government’s focus on creating good jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Community-driven projects like this one benefit participants, communities and the labour market, while creating a safer environment.”

The project provides extensive training in the formal FireSmart assessment process. The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way offers this service for free so people in wildfire-prone parts of the province have help protecting their home from potential fire threats. The crews also remove possible dangers, known as fire fuels, such as bushes, small trees or other organic matter, and provide information on how homeowners can further protect their property.

“There is a high demand for skilled workers to provide advice, support and labour in helping prevent the devastating loss of homes during the wildfire season,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Training local people in fire mitigation will help meet the need for skilled workers in this and related fields.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $729,498 through the Jobs Creation Program stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.  

“In being able to provide FireSmart activities at no charge to vulnerable people in communities impacted by wildfires, those homeowners feel better prepared and less stressed,” said Monica Johnson, fire mitigation project manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. “The training and experience we provide to the participants are relevant and definitely increases their employability. We’ve had several participants exit the program because they’ve gotten jobs.”

Quotes:

Clayton Flanders, participant, 100 Mile House Fire Mitigation Job Creation Program –

“This program brings quality changes to both your personal and your professional lives. Not only does it provide important courses needed by future employers, what you learn in the fire mitigation training provides greater safety not only for your own home and neighbourhood but your local community. Thank you for the opportunity to make a big difference not only in my life, but for the others who now feel safer in their own homes.”

Ken Wiebe, homeowner, 108 Mile House –

“We were evacuated 15 days in the 2017 fires. There are people out here who would be absolutely helpless if that happens again. The work is very necessary.”

Florence and Morris Gran, homeowners, Quesnel –

“We are two senior citizens who qualified for the fire mitigation program. Al and his crew of three came to our ranch yesterday and today. They cut limbs, cut junipers, raked and worked steadily. He did not just supervise but worked hard alongside the young men working with him. And we are so grateful. This program is a real asset for seniors.”

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Job Creation Partnerships are one of five Community Employer Partnership programs available throughout the province.
  • To date, since the start of the project in August 2018, 22 people have received training and work experience.
  • Project participants have completed 264 FireSmart assessments and 220 mitigations. The goal is to complete 100 more. 

Learn More:

Learn about how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about Job Creation Partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Find out more about Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way: https://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/

Learn more about FireSmart: https://www.firesmartbc.ca


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11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

by admin

People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


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9Jun

Not ‘just a suggestion’: MMIWG report calls to give Indigenous people rights most Canadians enjoy already | CBC News

by admin

In the wake of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Firls’ final report, attention is now turning toward whether its 231 recommendations will be acted upon.

On Monday, the national inquiry held its closing ceremony in Gatineau, Que., where it delivered its final report to government. The inquiry detailed what it found to be the root causes of the disproportionate amount of violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls and made 231 “Calls for Justice” to address them. 

The inquiry’s commissioners have said the calls for justice are not merely recommendations but legal imperatives based in “international and domestic human and Indigenous rights laws, including the Charter, the Constitution and the Honour of the Crown.”

During a news conference after the inquiry’s closing ceremony, commissioner Qajaq Robinson elaborated on what it means to describe the calls for justice as legal imperatives.

“If we’re talking to access to health — for example the calls for justice that there be holistic, wraparound health services in all communities and isolated communities — that isn’t just a suggestion. It’s because the people in those communities have a right to health, have a right to those services,” she said.

“You legally have to do it. It’s not like we’re asking you to come up with a new framework to understand what you have to do. You signed it already; you’re just not implementing it.”

Commissioner Michèle Audette said the rights the inquiry is talking about seem to be respected in southern Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, holds a copy of the report presented to him by commissioners Marion Buller, centre, Michèle Audette, third from right, Brian Eyolfson, second from right, and Qajaq Robinson at the closing ceremony for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Gatineau, Que., on June 3. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

“But when you live in my North… far, far away, there’s no protection, no services, no accessibility. And it’s still called Canada,” she said. 

While the commissioners say the calls are rooted in existing legal commitments, the final report also states that “Governments are not required to implement these recommendations.”

‘These truths are piling up’

Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report, the national inquiry’s report acknowledges it will take all Canadians to assert their political pressure on institutions and governments to ensure substantive changes come about.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, has been at the forefront of pushing government for equity for First Nations children in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal sided with the society and Assembly of First Nations in a 2016 ruling, finding that Canada discriminates against First Nations children on reserves by failing to provide them with the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere in Canada.

Three years later, and more than a decade since the initial complaint was filed, the case is still not resolved. There have been seven non-compliance orders issued by the tribunal since its ruling.

Blackstock says, looking at the calls put forward by the national inquiry, the most important impact the final report can have is to change the collective Canadian consciousness. In her view, governments don’t make change, they respond to change.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“All of these reports and all these truths are piling up in a way that makes it more and more difficult for people normalize the discrimination and to turn away from it,” she said.

She said key indicators that change is happening will be a shift in public attitude. She said the public should also be looking for on-the-ground, immediate investments in things like safe shelter space for women fleeing violence.

Blackstock said the calls for justice might not be legally binding, but are certainly morally binding. Still, she said it will likely take litigation to achieve the level of substantive reform for which the inquiry is calling.

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan said Ottawa is already taking action on the report through its national action plan to invest in housing and education on reserves and safety on the Highway of Tears.

The prime minister has also promised that the federal government will come up with a national action plan for implementing the inquiry’s recommendations, which itself is among the 231 calls for justice in the final report. The government says this action plan will be developed in partnership with survivors, family members as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments and organizations. 

When asked if the recommendations of the inquiry are legally binding, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs wrote in an emailed statement that “the final report offered recommendations to inform concrete action,” and referred to the inquiry’s terms of reference which include making recommendations to remove “systemic causes of violence and to increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls.” 


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