Posts Tagged "steps"


Tessa Virtue steps into the style spotlight for new ‘uplifting’ fashion campaign

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Growing up, Tessa Virtue faced no shortage of strong female role models.

“I was so lucky. I grew up with an incredibly strong grandmother, mother and sister,” Virtue says. “All three, independent, fierce, clever women who were hard workers, had goals and visions for themselves, and were really ambitious.”

“And, they didn’t apologize for those goals.”

The trio’s individual and combined influence left a Virtue with a sense of “limitless,” she recalls.

“I really believed that I could do or be anything,” she says with a smile.

While she didn’t pause to think much on it then, she’s now keenly aware of the fact that her inspirational upbringing, surrounded by a network of strong women who promoted the underlying message of “yes, you can!”, wasn’t always the case for other young girls.

“I didn’t realize that not everyone felt that way. That, not everyone felt that privilege,” she says.

The realization has been a contributing factor to the increased visibility of Virtue in media and advertisements in recent years — primarily those following the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics where she and ice-dancing partner Scott Moir stole the spotlight for their riveting routines — that allows fans and followers a glimpse into Virtue’s life that goes beyond her on-ice achievements.

“For whatever reasons, after the Pyeongchang games, there was a different awareness of both Scott and me … but it provided so many unique opportunities. And, hopefully I can have some kind of impact for young girls to look up to,” she says humbly. “I feel very privileged to be able to be considered any kind of role model.”

Olympic ice dance gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada hold up the Canadian flag after their winning performance at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on Tuesday in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo: Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press)

Olympic ice dance gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada hold up the Canadian flag after their winning performance at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games on Tuesday in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Paul Chiasson /

Canadian Press

Her visibility on social media platforms such as Instagram, where she boasts a following of 364,000 and counting on her account @tessavirtue17, is one area where she works to constructively (and carefully) share her struggles and successes, in the hopes of leaving a positive impression on those who may happen to scroll by.

“I’m conscious of that. And I try to do that in a way that is authentic,” she says of fully realizing the scope of her role via social media and beyond. “I think, often, about how a nine-year-old girl would feel if she were to scroll through my Instagram. And, what messaging I’m sending, both objectively and subjectively. I think, ‘What kind of role model am I?’”

Focusing on the type of content she shares — positive messages and happy shots of herself attending events or with friends and family —  has kept her somewhat safeguarded from the rampant online trolling that plagues many celebrities online. And, when she does face negativity, she doesn’t allow herself to get too caught up in it.

“You put yourself out there and I think there is always vulnerability with that,” she says. “Whether that’s standing at centre ice and waiting for the music to start, or posting something on social media for everyone to criticize, you just have to hope that the good outweighs the bad.”

Her ambition to present a positive role model to young girls and women led her to a recent collaboration with the Montreal-based fashion brand RW&CO. The campaign, which sees her featured alongside Canadian actress Karine Vanasse and First Nations activist Ashley Callingbull, the first Indigenous woman to be crowned Mrs. Universe, aims to promote “powerhouse” working women, in various stages of their careers.

“The campaign is so in line with my messaging and the things that I’m trying to accomplish now, outside of sport,” Virtue says. “And it’s something that I can relate too, also.”

Virtue hopes people pick up on the collaborative, supportive air of the campaign stars and feel empowered to introduce that outlook into their own lives.

“The culture now of this competition that’s ingrained in us, to pit women against other women, and this unrealistic standard that we’re all held to — all these issues are pervasive,” she says. “We can only be stronger for women when we support one another.”

Speaking on a hot, sunny day in July at a studio space in Montreal during a brief break in shooting images for the campaign (with her mom looking on in support), Virtue reflected on how, at 30 years old, she’s reached a point in her life where she’s “transitioning,” personally and professionally.

“And I’m looking to other women to support and uplift me,” she says of the changes. “So, I think it’s really neat that (RW&CO. is) putting together, really, a movement to incorporate so many things. And, they’re not just talking the talk.”

To mark the release, the retailer will be running a contest for Canadians to nominate an inspiring woman in their lives. The winner will receive a donation to the charity of her choice.

In addition to providing a visual representation of strong female role models, the partnership provided Virtue and her campaign co-stars with the opportunity to donate a portion of their fee to a cause of their choice. Callingbull directed her share toward a shelter for Indigenous women and children, while Vanasse chose a women’s shelter in Montreal.

Virtue, chose to promote another passionate platform, highlighting her efforts as an ambassador for the Canadian organization FitSpirit, which works to promote and support physical activity and athletics programs for young girls.

“It’s something that is so close to my heart,” she says of the role. “Obviously, I’ve reaped the benefits of sport and activity. But not many girls, as it turns out, even have the resources available to them to be physically active or to maintain that as they go through high school. So, FitSpirit is connecting with schools and giving that accessibility to young girls and youth at a time when they might otherwise drop out our prioritize other things.”

“It’s an opportunity to be active and connect with other girls — and to realize the power that those lessons and the sense of building self confidence and self worth that will carry forward for them.”

Recalling a recent visit to a school with FitSpirit where she met with young girls in the program, she recalls, with evident pleasure, sharing her enthusiasm for athletics with the girls — and how she took a little bit of something away from the visit for herself, too.

“They were so curious and it’s so obvious that they’re capable of taking over the world,” she says of the energetic assemblage of youths. Needless to say, it left her feeling inspired.

“When we realize the powerhouse of that sisterhood and the camaraderie among women — there’s no stopping us,” she says.

Flash fashion: Style talks with Tessa Virtue

Canadian Olympian Tessa Virtue may be known more for her on-ice moves than her off-ice style — but, these days, the 30-year-old athlete and ambassador is putting a lot more emphasis on what she wears.

“I lived in either sweatpants or athletic wear,” she says with a laugh of her go-to uniform during her training days. “I was really of two extremes, which plays to my personality as a bit of an extremist. I was either in full-on workout wear or black tie. So, I didn’t have that middle range.”

But, now, as she ventures confidently into her next career adventures that see her stepping away from amateur sport, she says she’s having fun exploring her personal style as she spends more time in the “corporate sphere” and much less time on the ice.

“It has definitely evolved over time,” she says of her fashion sense. “Now, I would say my personal style is pretty classic and refined — with a bit of a twist. I like to have a bit of an edge to every outfit.”

Virtue recently took time away from her busy schedule to dish four tidbits about her personal style. Here’s what she had to say:

On how she chooses her outfits: “I definitely dress based on my mood. I like accessorizing differently. Having classic, quality pieces and mixing in graphic tee, a headband, a pair of funky boots or a belt and changing the outfit entirely.”

On here greatest style influence: “My mom has always shopped for me. I’m so lucky that I have an in-house stylist.”

On her MVP (most valuable piece): “I love a good blazer. Whether it’s jeans, a T-shirt and a blazer, or a power suit, I think that would be my staple.”

On her most cherished item: “My grandmother’s necklace.”

Postmedia News was a guest of RW&CO. in Montreal. The brand neither reviewed nor approved this article.

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Province won’t change Robson Square steps despite accessibility complaints | CBC News

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The ramp that zigzags across the steps at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver will not be modified to address accessibility concerns because of the “architectural significance of the site.”

Accessibility consultant Arnold Cheng says the ramp, which was designed in the 1970s by Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, is too steep to safely navigate in a wheelchair or while pushing a stroller.

Cheng says the ramp is also a tripping hazard for people with visual impairments because the stairs are all the same colour, which makes it difficult to determine where one step ends and the next one begins.

“A lot of people use architectural significance to justify not making any changes, but historically it has not been a problem for many, many buildings,” he said.

“The Louvre in Paris has more historical significance than Robson Square, but they have changed a lot of things over the years.”

Any changes to the design would have to be approved by the provincial government.

Arnold Cheng, accessibility assessor for spectrum ability, rolls his wheelchair up the ramp he says is unsafe at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Changes coming

The province conducted accessibility audits of Robson Square in 2010 and 2018, both of which determined the stair ramps may be difficult for some people to use.

Despite the findings, the B.C. government will not alter the design.

“There are no plans to update the ramps and as such they should be primarily considered ornamental,” the Ministry of Citizens’ Services said in an emailed statement.

“Access to the building can be attained through a number of other means.”

The province says there is signage to direct people to more than 20 elevators that are located at Robson Square, but more signs and assistance for people with a variety of disabilities will soon be added to the site.

Cheng says he welcomes the changes but he doesn’t think they go far enough. 

“The signage definitely has to be better,” Cheng said.

“For some reason, people think you automatically know where everything is.”

Accessibility consultant Arnold Cheng wants to see improvements to the steps at Robson Square. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Erickson’s vision

Erickson’s father lost both of his legs in the First World War.

Arthur Erickson Foundation director Simon Scott says accessibility was an issue that was always close to the architect’s heart.

“He wanted to make public spaces accessible and enjoyable,” Scott said.

“The steps here, which are part of this wonderful public space, have stairs and ramps so that everybody can enjoy it.”


The Robson Square steps are beautiful but are they safe? | CBC News

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The path at Robson Square in Vancouver that zigzags across the stairwell like a switchback trail on a mountainside is a crown jewel in the late architect Arthur Erickson’s portfolio.

Arnold Cheng doesn’t like it.

“There are two competing camps — people who think it’s beautiful and wonderful and people who don’t think it’s beautiful and wonderful,” Cheng said.

“Quite often, one [camp] is people without disabilities and the other is people with disabilities.”

Cheng, who works as an accessibility consultant, says it’s dangerous to travel down the steep ramp in his wheelchair.

Conversely, anyone pushing a stroller uphill would have a hard time making it to the top of the steps.

“You need stamina,” he said. “Muscles, too.”

Cheng pushes his wheelchair up the ramp at Robson Square in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Is it dangerous?

It’s not just the ramp Cheng takes issue with.

The stairs are all the same colour, which he says can make it difficult for a visually impaired person to tell where one step begins and the next one ends.

“That’s how people start tripping,” he said. “It’s quite a hazard.”

Cheng has a list of suggestions to make the space more accessible: make the ramp less steep; add more handrails and place coloured strips on each step to increase visibility.

Accessibility advocates have raised concerns about the wheelchair ramp at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)


A third-party property management company looks after the complicated land share agreement between the province and the city of Vancouver, which both own portions of Robson Square.

Any alterations to the steps would fall under the province’s jurisdiction. The B.C. government didn’t respond to CBC’s request for comment before deadline.

Arthur Erickson Foundation director Simon Scott says accessibility was an issue that was close to Erickson’s heart.

Erickson’s father lost both of his legs in the First World War, which deeply impacted his son’s designs.

“He wanted to make public spaces accessible and enjoyable,” Scott said.

“The steps here, which are part of this wonderful public space, have stairs and ramps so that everybody can enjoy it.”

Scott says Robson Square was built to code when it opened between 1979 and 1983 and entrances to all buildings on site are equipped with elevators.

James Cheng, architect with James KM Cheng Architects, is pictured in his office in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Working for Erickson

Architect Jim Chang worked on the Robson Square project shortly after he graduated from university.

He remembers working under Erickson’s leadership with a team to incorporate an accessibility ramp into the stairway, which was a brand new idea at the time.

Chang says similar designs are now used all over the world, including a recent project along the river walk in Chicago.

“It’s identical to the same solution we had,” he said. “This is 40 years later.”

Chang is open to making minor alterations to the Robson Square ramp and stairwell but says it’s also important to preserve Erickson’s vision.

“I’m of the opinion that as long as there are other options, like elevators, that if you aren’t comfortable taking those ramps, take the elevator,” he said.

“Everybody has got choices.”

Arnold Cheng, Accessibility Assessor for Spectrum Ability, rolls his wheelchair up the ramp he says is unsafe at Robson Square in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Cheng hopes speaking publicly about his concerns will persuade the government to take action.

“Just because something is old doesn’t mean it can be improved,” he said.

“The Great Wall of China is actually accessible right now because somebody had the vision to actually make it accessible.”



Despite steps taken, homeless counts show challenges ahead

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The first-ever provincewide homeless-count report shows that while B.C. has taken important first steps to house British Columbians, more work needs to be done to prevent and address homelessness in B.C. communities.

According to the report — which brings together statistics from 24 communities over the past two years — at least 7,655 people are experiencing homelessness across a broad demographic of individuals, families, youth and seniors. Indigenous peoples and former children in care are significantly overrepresented.

“Too many British Columbians — working, on a pension, suffering from illness — have been left behind for far too long,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This level of homelessness should never have been allowed to take hold. The numbers we’re seeing make us even more determined to make housing more available and affordable for all British Columbians.”

The B.C. government began working with partners to take action on homelessness soon after being sworn in last year by fast-tracking modular housing in 22 communities, and supportive housing for Indigenous peoples, seniors, and women and children fleeing violence.

“Having a place to call home, knowing there is somewhere to go that is safe and secure means different things to different people,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “For some, it is a new start, opening a door to new opportunities. For others it is hope, relief from grinding despair.

“At the same time, we know there are many more people who still need a safe place to call home. We continue to work closely with all our partners to find solutions, build new housing and deliver effective supports. The kind of homelessness we’re seeing today didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight, but we haven’t waited to get started.”

The report is the first time this information has been compiled on a provincial level and will help government, community partners and housing providers develop better supports and services to help people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Government will release a homelessness action plan as part of B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy in early 2019.

“This report is another reminder of why we have made it a priority to rebuild the social programs people rely on,” added Simpson. “Many people living on the street are struggling with challenges that are intensified through their experience of being homeless. You can’t live on the street and not be affected both mentally and physically by the constant struggle.

“In the coming months, we will be looking to other levels of government and our community partners to help us deliver a wide range of supports, with a focus on early intervention services that will help prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.


Celine Mauboules, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC —

“The report provides important baseline information including demographic and service needs of individuals experiencing homelessness and is an important step to understanding and addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Finalizing the report was a significant undertaking and we are grateful for the support we received from participating communities.”

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association —

“That nearly 8,000 British Columbians on a typical night have no place to call home is a problem that has persisted for far too long. For some time now, we have advocated for a report like this that looks at homelessness at a provincial level. Good baseline data will allow us to track the impacts of the historic provincial investments being made into housing and poverty reduction, and our collective efforts in solving a crisis that reaches every corner of British Columbia.”

Quick Facts:

  • In March 2018, the Province provided the Homelessness Services Association of BC with $550,000 to co-ordinate homeless counts in 12 communities, compile that data with data from other communities and prepare the provincial homeless count report.
  • Investments in housing and supports for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness include:
    • more than 2,000 modular homes in partnership with 22 communities;
    • 2,500 supportive housing units;
    • $734 million over 10 years for 1,500 spaces of transition and second-stage housing to provide a safe place for women and children escaping violent relationships;
    • $550 million over 10 years for 1,750 new units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, both on- and off-reserve; and,
    • expanded eligibility for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER). More than 35,000 households will benefit from the enhancements. The average RAP payment will go up by approximately $800 a year and the average SAFER payment will go up by approximately $930 a year.
    • In addition to over 2,000 permanent, year-round shelter spaces available throughout B.C., the Province is working with municipalities and non-profits to provide 1,454 temporary shelter spaces and 772 extreme weather response shelter spaces and will open additional shelters throughout the season as needed.
  • Investments to make life more affordable in B.C. include:
    • $472 million over three years to increase income and disability assistance rates by $100 a month, a move that benefits 190,000 people in the province;
    • $20.9 million over three years to increase earnings exemptions for everyone on assistance by $200 a month, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn; and,
    • $214.5 million over three years to create a new transportation supplement for people on disability assistance.

Learn More:

2018 Report on Homeless Counts in B.C.: www.bchousing.org/home  

Homes for B.C., a 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC

B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction

For more information on B.C.’s RAP and SAFER: www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications

A backgrounder follows.

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