15/06/2017

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society announces a Canadian first: The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

 A new UNICEF report released today highlights the challenges that high-income countries like Canada face in meeting global commitments for children. Canada does comparatively well in some aspects of child and youth well-being, but lags farthest behind other countries in concerning indicators of child health and violence.

In Oh Canada! Our Kids Deserve Better, the Canadian Companion to the global report, UNICEF digs deeper into the data around child well-being in Canada, busting many of the myths commonly held about what it's like to grow up in Canada.

UNICEF's global report, Report Card 14: Building the Future, reveals that Canada ranks 25th out of 41 rich nations when it comes to child well-being. When compared against 21 indicators related to progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals for children and youth, Canada ranks in the middle – a place it has held for more than a decade. Of these indicators, seven have improved over time but more have worsened.

"I've spoken to so many Canadians from across the country who believe ours is a great country for our kids to grow up in, but it's time to face the facts: too many of our children are unhealthy, unsafe and unequal," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "This is not a picture of difficult lives for a few, but of a country with the potential to create better lives for many children and youth. This report shows us not only where we rank, but also how we can get to the top, and build the Canada all of our kids deserve."

Child homicide, suicide, bullying at alarming levels

Canada has the fifth-highest rate of bullying at 15 per cent, ranking 27th out of 41 countries. Unlike many of its peers, Canada has been unsuccessful in bringing bullying rates down over the past 10 years. Canada's child homicide rate is higher than average, ranking 33rd out of 41 countries. Canada also ranks 31st out of 41 for teen suicide.

"The findings of this report are tragic because they paint a picture of Canada that many of us don't want to see," said Morley. "Yet we must confront reality: our kids are being pulled down by the weight of too many pressures, and they're not getting the support they need. It's our shared responsibility to look at the facts and resolve to do better."

Air quality barely below safe levels

Canada's air pollution is just barely below the safe level set out by the World Health Organization. In fact, air quality hasn't improved in Canada in the past 10 years, placing it behind the United States.

"When we can't even promise our children clean air to breathe, we have to really stop and ask ourselves, as a country, what are our priorities? When did it become OK to put our kids' health at such risk?" said Morley. "We are hoping this 150th year of Canada's Confederation is the baseline to move the needle. It's time to get to the top of these league tables, to a Canada where children are at the heart of not only our values, but our actions too."

UNICEF Canada calls on all levels of government to:

Invest more and earlier in children. All levels of government need to cooperate to put in place universal, progressive policies and programs for the early years combined with a capacity to identify those falling behind.

Make data-driven decisions to prioritize efforts to improve child well-being. Improved monitoring and measurement of child well-being will ensure investments are made wisely and policies put in place with greater positive impact – focusing on the measurable indicators where Canada is lagging.

Develop a Global Goals strategy. Engage in the development of a pan-Canadian strategy to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, which incorporates key targets for children's rights and well-being.
UNICEF Canada also calls on Canadians to:

Dream for Canada's children. Start a conversation in your family, community and workplace about what you want for your children, and take action to keep those dreams alive.

Engage your communities and cities. Agree to tackle specific lagging indicators of child well-being and challenge each other to improve your rankings, or beat the national average.
UNICEF Report Card Key Findings:

Overall, Canada ranks 25th out of 41 rich nations in child well-being.
Most areas of child well-being showed no improvement or worsened in Canada over the last decade.
22.2 per cent of Canada's children are living in relative income poverty, placing Canada 32nd out of 41 countries.
Canada ranks 29th of 41 countries when it comes to unhealthy weight of children. Nearly 25 per cent of young people are obese, above the average of 15 per cent.
Canada ranks 27th out of 41 countries in bullying, with the fifth-highest rate of 15 per cent.
Canada ranks 33rd out of 41 countries in child homicide, with a rate higher than the average.
Teen mental health has been declining: 22 per cent of adolescents in Canada report mental health symptoms more than once a week. Canada ranks 31st out of 41 countries in the teen suicide rate.
90.8 per cent of 15-year-olds in Canada achieve baseline competency in reading, mathematics and science, the fourth best result.
71 per cent of 15-year-olds report being aware of at least five or more environmental issues.
UNICEF's Report Card Series

As the world's knowledge leader for children, UNICEF is committed to collecting and sharing critical information on the situation of children around the world. For the past 17 years, UNICEF has published a Report Card series on the well-being of children in industrialized countries. By making this data and analysis publicly available, parliamentarians and policy makers will have the information they need to make decisions in the best interest of every child, and all Canadians, including those working in the child well-being sector, will have the tools they need to be a part of the solution. For more information, visit www.unicef.ca/irc14 and join the online conversation with the hashtag #SDGsForEveryChild.  

12/06/2017

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society announces a Canadian first: The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

At the prestigious new headquarters of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society on Sussex Drive, the Society's CEO, John Geiger, announced Canadian Geographic's new project, The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. 

For Geiger, atlases are great tools to bring people together for a common cause. "It is our hope that this atlas will help Canadians to build a better understanding of our Indigenous Peoples, appreciate their contribution to building our great country, and ultimately begin the process of reconciliation."

This ambitious, ground-breaking educational resource is unprecedented in scope, in the level of Indigenous participation and Indigenous-led content creation. The Atlas content will be produced in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Métis National Council (MNC), the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and Indspire. These partners represent unparalleled breadth, depth of knowledge, expertise and strong ties to their respective communities and networks. They will contribute to various aspects of the project from content and design, to promotion, distribution and integration into classroom use.

Lack of appropriate educational and financial resources for Canada's Indigenous students has long been cited as a contributing factor to the marginalization of Indigenous communities. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission made a strong call to action in its report, citing education in Indigenous communities as a top priority.

This unique Indigenous-led educational project will provide Indigenous students with a much-needed tool kit to help them learn more about their people, geography and culture. The Atlas will also provide Canadians with a valuable resource to build a better and more informed relationship with Canada's Indigenous Peoples.

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada will include the print atlas, an online interactive atlas and app, giant floor maps, and various other types of maps for educators, along with a teachers' guide. These teaching resources will be available to all Indigenous schools and to over 19,000 Canadian Geographic Education members. The process of developing the Atlas will also build a constructive working relationship, which will help to develop future Indigenous-led content and perspectives, in school curricula across Canada.

The project aims to ensure that Indigenous voices are heard and understood.

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada is funded by the Government of Canada and for the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, the map will make a positive contribution to Canada's educational landscape and will be a distinct and long-lasting way to mark Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.

"There is no relationship more important to our government than the one with Indigenous Peoples. That is why we are pleased to support the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and its partners in their initiative to provide Canadians with a new Indigenous educational resource," says The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "As we continue down the path of reconciliation, let's work to ensure that the next 150 years are marked by respect, co-operation and partnership with Indigenous Peoples."
The Atlas partners are encouraged by the project and its aim to get Indigenous-led teaching tools into educators' classrooms. "The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada will be an invaluable learning resource that will educate Canadians on the unique history, and geographic distribution of the people of the Métis Nation as well as the territories the Métis opened up in Canada's northwest," says Guy Freedman, Senior Policy Advisor for the Métis National Council.

Similarly, Roberta Jamieson, CEO of Indspire, says her organization is thrilled to be a part of this much-needed educational initiative. "The Atlas provides resources for all Canadians to better understand our shared geography and positions us to build healthy relationships for the future."

And in this time of reconciliation, Ry Moran, Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says exposing Canadians to Indigenous concepts of the land and of Canada is essential. "The maps we draw today are often not reflective of the traditional territories and other ways of seeing the land through the eyes of Indigenous Peoples."

The Atlas and resources will be distributed by January 2018 and remain available for use even after the initial project ends.

Catholic Sisters Illustrate Faces of Poverty & Offer Solutions

In response to the federal government's call for consultations on its Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto held an event to share personal stories and offer targeted solutions.

"Poverty isn't straightforward: it runs the gamut from lack of dental care and healthy food to housing insecurity and economic inequality," says Sr. Thérèse Meunier, Congregational Leader, Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. "Our Sisters have been on the front lines for over 165 years and understand many of the issues that are important to people living in poverty."

The May 12, 2017 event was held at the Sisters' residence in Toronto. A video of the presentations is available for viewing: Click here. Individual videos for each 4-minute story are also available: Click here.

In addition to other Sisters, staff and special guests, MPs Julie Dabrusin, Toronto-Danforth, and Rob Oliphant, Don Valley West were in attendance. Both were moved by the event.

"Rooted in their historic commitment to social justice, peace and care for the earth, the Sisters offered both imaginative and creative suggestions for a Canada that is more inclusive, more welcoming, more just and more sustainable" says Mr. Oliphant "The Sisters reminded us of the need to build a country where all could participate and all could thrive."

"I was touched by the presentations made by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and how they shared personal stories based on their work," says Ms Dabrusin. "Their stories had an impact on me and I have already had the opportunity to share their experiences in my work in the House of Commons. I will continue to be guided by them."

In a few words, Sister Sue Mosteller was able to sum up the overarching theme of the event: "… Because caring for our less fortunate citizens is NOT simply about money, but about the kind of society we are creating together."

According to the government's website, individuals and organizations can submit consultations until June 30.

Since 1851, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto have worked alongside their neighbours making inroads into poverty, homelessness, injustice, education and health care. 

06/06/2017

"Buying Sex is not a Game" Campaign - Video builds awareness of the consequences of sexual exploitation

Beacon of the Freed proudly launches its "Buying Sex is not a Game" campaign, intended to raise awareness among the general public and visiting tourists of the often-invisible, but devastating, consequences of sexual exploitation. During major events, such as those held in Montreal throughout the summer, the high demand for sexual services grows at an alarming rate. This campaign, which is mostly Internet-driven, directly targets potential clients. Once again this year, we have received funding from the Secrétariat à la condition féminine du Québec to run this campaign and send a clear message.

The campaign, launched a few days before the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal – an international sporting event sadly recognized as one of the most harmful in terms of human trafficking – combats the normalization of sexual exploitation and educates the public about its consequences. This shock video, filmed in the style of a popular television program, is a complimentary creation of Luminance Studio that uses the absurd to make people aware of the hidden reality faced by victims of sexual exploitation. In a seemingly light but very sarcastic tone, the video captures the viewer's attention through its dynamic qualities and humorous tone, and then goes on to reveal the stark reality.

Actors Louis-Philippe Berthiaume and Christopher Hall have agreed to lend their voices (in French and English, respectively) to this project. Through the use of online positioning and broadcasting strategies, the video will show up in search results for certain keywords associated with sexual exploitation, and will be displayed in other ways. It will also be circulated through Facebook, YouTube and various partners.

"Beacon of the Freed is not taking a stance in the debate on prostitution. We want people to understand that no-one knows what part of prostitution is in fact sexual exploitation, but clients cannot make the distinction. So when you buy sex, you run the risk of exploiting a woman, man or child and causing them grave harm, even if you do not see it," says Nathalie Khlat, President of Beacon of the Freed.

The following organizations are supporting the campaign in a spirit of solidarity: Quebec Native Women Inc., Marie-Andrée Fogg, Attorney, Legal Aid Office – Immigration Law, Children's care International, YWCA Montreal.

Beacon of the Freed is a non-for-profit that raises awareness of present-day slavery among governments, organizations and the general public, through concrete and comprehensive actions, so that this issue is acknowledged and the fight to end it is organized and effective. Social intervention, prevention and training services are also available.

One in Every Four Children Robbed of Their Childhoods, New Save the Children Report Reveals

 One quarter of the world's children are being denied the opportunity to have the childhoods they deserve and grow to their full potential, a new report from Save the Children has revealed. Launched to coincide with International Children's Day, June 1, "Stolen Childhoods" has found that at least 700 million children worldwide have had the promise of a full childhood brought to an early end. The reasons vary from extreme violence and conflict, often driving families from their homes; early marriage and pregnancy; child labor; poor health; malnutrition and food insecurity; and not having the chance to go to school.

The inaugural End of Childhood Report includes an index of 172 countries, ranking the best and worst places in the world for children to have a safe, secure and healthy childhood. Childhood is least threatened in Europe, with Norway, Slovenia, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden ranked at the top, respectively. Childhood is most threatened in West and Central Africa: Niger is ranked the lowest, followed by Angola, Mali, Central African Republic, and Somalia.

The U.S. ranks 36th, between Bosnia and Russia, well behind other developed nations, including Norway, France and the United Kingdom, and also lagging behind Portugal, Spain, Japan, Lithuania and Greece.

"All around the world, childhoods are at risk. Even here in the U.S., the most vulnerable children are being robbed of their chance to learn, grow, play and be safe," said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children. "Save the Children is committed to ensuring that every last child has the opportunity to reach their full potential."

To better understand the United States' low country ranking, Save the Children also conducted a state-by-state analysis in its U.S. Complement to the End of Childhood Report, finding that childhood is most intact in New Hampshire, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont; while childhood is most threatened in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma, respectively.

The U.S. Complement ranked all 50 states on five key factors that can end childhood in America, including infant mortality rates, child homicide and suicide rates, adolescent birth rates, child food insecurity rates, and rates of children not graduating high school on time.

"Hundreds of millions of kids don't go to school – 1 out of every 6 school-aged children – because they are forced to work, don't have the resources they need, or simply because they are girls," said Dr. Jill Biden, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Save the Children. "Without education, children will face a lifetime of obstacles, but with it, the possibilities are endless. This report has shown us just how many children are being left behind – now we must act to protect them."

The End of Childhood Report and its U.S. Complement also found that:

Every day, more than 16,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday
About one quarter of all children under five suffer from malnutrition, which stunts growth physically and mentally
One in six school-aged children worldwide is currently out of school
Conflict has forced nearly one child in 80 from their homes
168 million children in the world are involved in child labor – 85 million in hazardous work – which is more than all children living in Europe
One girl under 15 is forced to marry every seven seconds
Every two seconds, a girl around the world gives birth
Every day, more than 200 boys and girls around the world are murdered
An estimated 750,000 U.S. children drop out before graduating high school each year
More than 541,000 U.S. children live in households with severe food insecurity and experience hunger regularly
Nearly 230,000 babies were born to girls aged 15 to 19 in the U.S. in 2015
In line with its Every Last Child Campaign, Save the Children is calling on governments to properly count, include and invest in all children, so they have access to essential services. The organization's global call to action is to ensure that no child dies from preventable or treatable causes or is subjected to extreme violence; is robbed of a future as a result of malnutrition, early or forced marriage, early pregnancy, or forced labor; and that they have access to a quality education.

"In 2015, the world made a promise that by 2030, all children would be in school, protected, healthy and alive, regardless of their income, geography, gender or identity. This is not an impossible target – in fact, increasing childhood expectancy around the world is definitely within reach if we deliver on our commitments," added Miles.

To download and read the full report, visit www.EndofChildhood.org.

01/06/2017

Canada's Home Depot stores sell 'orange doors' to help end youth homelessness

Home Depot stores across Canada kicked off the annual Orange Door Project in-store fundraising campaign today to help end youth homelessness. Until July 2, customers shopping at Home Depot Canada stores or garden centres can support the campaign by donating $2 at the checkout in exchange for a paper orange door.

"In Canadian neighbourhoods, kids as young as 13 are experiencing homelessness. Together, we can shine a light on this serious social issue and inspire our friends, family members and neighbours to take action to help," said Jeff Kinnaird, chair, board of directors, The Home Depot Canada Foundation and president, The Home Depot Canada.

Donations to The Orange Door Project campaign support organizations that provide safe, stable housing and the life skills development programs that lead to brighter futures for homeless and at-risk youth. The Home Depot Canada covers all administrative costs of the campaign, ensuring that 100 per cent of customer donations benefit local youth shelters, drop-in centres or aid organizations.

Donations can also be made online, at orangedoorproject.ca.



According to Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey, homelessness can begin as young as age 13 – and if not addressed, can lead to years on the streets.

Since 2007, the Orange Door Project campaign has raised $6.6 million and helped more than 300 Canadian non-profit organizations.

In November 2016, The Home Depot Canada Foundation reached its $10 million goal to help prevent and end youth homelessness and doubled its commitment to $20 million by 2018.

The 10 stores that raise the most funds during the campaign will have their donations matched by The Home Depot Canada Foundation.

Together Against Bullying, A Shared Responsibility Concerted Action Plan to Prevent and Counter Bullying 2015-2018

 In an effort to prevent and counter bullying, the Québec government is supporting 14 projects as part of the new financial support program for indigenous initiatives.

Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Native Affairs, and Francine Charbonneau, Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying, made the announcement today.

Kelley said, "The quality and calibre of the many projects submitted by Aboriginal communities and organizations reflect a strong desire to take action against the bullying phenomenon. It comes down to raising awareness among as many youths as possible—as well as adults—about the importance of being involved. I'm convinced that these initiatives will have a positive impact on many lives and will help foster a safe and healthy environment in our communities."

The Ministère de la Famille is contributing to the program's implementation with $100,000 in funding for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and $150,000 for 2017-2018, while the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones will see to the program's administration. In addition, the Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Ministère de la Sécurité publique are participating in the implementation of the financial support program and, together, were responsible for selecting the projects.

The 14 selected projects are as follows:

Kitigan Zibi Anighinabeg Bullying Disengagement Curriculum: Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Band Council;
Counteract bullying!: Conseil tribal Mamit Innuat;
Tsi Tekaiahnon:ni Satén:ti – Walk in the Footsteps: Kanesatake Mohawk Council, in collaboration with the Crime Prevention Committee;
Let's fight bullying!: Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre;
Mobilization facilitator for the fight against bullying: Centre de santé Tshukuminu Kanani, in collaboration with the Natashquan school;
Bullying awareness and prevention campaign for Aboriginal youth: Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre;
Preventing Discrimination, Preventing bullying: Promoting Inclusivity and Fostering Self-Esteem: First Nations Human Resources Development Commission of Québec;
Adjusting educational resources to create a safe, tolerant school environment adapted to the realities of Aboriginal students in an urban setting: First Peoples Innovation Centre;
Kaskina Mamo Mackwesitaw – Bullying awareness campaign: Attikamek community of Obedjiwan social services;
Putting a stop to bullying is everyone's business!: Algonquin community of Pikogan health centre;
Awareness campaign to promote a healthy community environment: Centre Santé et mieux-être collectif de Mashteuiatsh;
Action plan to counteract bullying: Mikizicec school in the Algonquin community of Kitcisakik;
Taking measures to fight bullying together: Saguenay Native Friendship Centre;
Laleu sharing circle on bullying: Université du Québec à Chicoutimi's Centre des Premières Nations Nikanite.

The call for projects was launched last September by the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones and the Ministère de la Famille. Aboriginal organizations and communities had until November 26 to submit their projects.

26/05/2017

20th Annual Butterfly Ball Raises $850,000 for Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre's Human Trafficking Services

 Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre™ (Boost CYAC) is excited to announce that its largest annual fundraising event -- The Butterfly Ball® -- has raised an unparalleled $850,000. The sold out event hosted 430 guests and took place last night at the Four Seasons Hotel. Anchor of CTV's ETALK and co-host of CTV's Your Morning, Ben Mulroney hosted the evening.

Each year this event raises critical funds for Boost CYAC, enabling the centre to continue to support children and youth who have experienced abuse. Some of the funds raised last night will support much needed sex trafficking support services for children/youth under 18 years.

"I cannot fully express my gratitude to the countless individuals responsible for the success of last night's gala," stated Boost CYAC President & CEO, Karyn Kennedy. "Our sponsors, donors and guests were so very generous in their support of Boost CYAC. My sincere thanks go to our Honorary Chair, Suzanne Rogers, Co-Chairs, Daniela De Gasperis and Vanessa Mulroney, and the Butterfly Ball committee. This success would not be possible without their leadership and commitment."

Guests were wowed by a brilliant performance by Flamenco star, Carmen Romero and donned their dancing shoes with BELLOSOUND. Master auctioneer, Brett Sherlock of Christie's Canada skillfully navigated energetic bidding in the live auction. Items included dinner with the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honorable Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his wife Mila in their Montreal home, a trip to New York for Fashion Week, VIP passes to the Masters in Augusta and an original piece of art by Canadian contemporary artist, Charles Pachter. Guests were treated to a $200 gift card from DAVID'S Footwear.

"Toronto Police Service is a proud partner of Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre," stated Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders. "I am honoured to have been a part of the evening and would like to send my congratulations on such a successful night. Funds raised last night will help to support the critical work Boost CYAC does to support Toronto's youngest victims of sex trafficking."

About Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (Boost CYAC)

Boost CYAC is an innovative community response to child abuse investigations and interventions. A partnership among local community and government agencies, it brings together all professionals involved in child abuse cases under one roof, for a coordinated, interdisciplinary response to child abuse victims in Toronto. In addition to housing Toronto's only child & youth advocacy centre, Boost CYAC offers a number of direct services including, primary prevention, public education, trauma assessment and therapy and court preparation for child witnesses. boostforkids.org

23/05/2017

Law Society expresses grave concerns regarding human rights violations against members of legal profession

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns regarding human rights violations against members of the legal profession across the globe.

Lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty or for their security. The Law Society of Upper Canada urges all governments to comply with international human rights laws, including the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The Law Society's Human Rights Monitoring Group recently issued public statements regarding the following lawyers and judges:

Arrest and detention of Justice Paul Ayah Abine in Cameroon
Charges against law professor Benny Tai in China
Conviction of lawyer Mohamed Ramadan in Egypt
Intimidation of lawyer Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores in Guatemala
Threat of disbarment against lawyers in Lahore, Pakistan, who offer services to Kulbhushan Jadhav
Harassment of lawyer Robert Sann Aung in Myanmar
Arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima in the Philippines
Conviction of lawyer Muharrem Erbey in Turkey.
The Human Rights Monitoring Group is a group of benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada appointed by the Law Society's governing body to monitor human rights violations that target members of the legal profession and the judiciary as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

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19/05/2017

Concern About Arrest of Hamilton Freelance Journalist

 The News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) is gravely concerned about the arrest of Hamilton area freelance photojournalist David Ritchie on Tuesday night at the scene of a crime, echoing yesterday's statement from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).

On May 16, 2017 at approximately 7 PM local time, freelance photojournalist David Ritchie and Global News photojournalist Jeremy Cohn were arrested by Hamilton Police Services at Evans Rd. and Highway 5, where a 10-year-old girl died after being struck by a car. Ritchie is facing a charge for obstructing police.

Ritchie is a freelance photojournalist who is well known throughout the Hamilton area. He has stated that he was respecting the standard crime scene protocol for media by waiting behind the perimeter that had been put up by law enforcement officials.

NPAC is deeply concerned that this type of police aggression is an infringement of the freedom of the press and believes that a free and independent press that holds public authorities accountable is the foundation for rights and freedoms of all Canadians.

Hamilton police have not yet provided any detailed explanation as to why officers at the scene felt it necessary to detain the two journalists. Based on information from witnesses and other journalists at the scene, neither Cohn or Ritchie were in the way of officers' work or disrespecting any police tape or other barriers erected to establish a perimeter.

"Covering breaking news—including tragic events such as this one that tore a young daughter out of a family's life forever—is part of the work journalists are compelled to do," said CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey. "This includes, in these moments, interacting with police and other first responders.

"Usually, journalists and first responders understand and respect that each of them has a role to play, and these roles can be complementary when everyone behaves in a responsible manner. Arresting someone because you wish to restrict their work, or because you believe your policing duties extend to questions of morality, is an abuse of that relationship and of all Canadians' Charter rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

"The CAJ calls on the police service and the Crown to present a fulsome account of why these actions were necessary and drop the charges against Ritchie."

16/05/2017

GMP Securities to Donate 100% of Trading Commissions in Support of Covenant House Toronto's Anti-Sex Trafficking Initiative

GMP Capital Inc. (GMP) (TSX: GMP), a leading Canadian diversified financial services firm, announced today that its subsidiary GMP Securities L.P. will hold a Charity Trading Day on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in support of Covenant House Toronto and its five-year, comprehensive, $10-milion anti-sex trafficking campaign, "Just Like a Girl You Know."
GMP Securities L.P. will donate 100% of all agency trading commission dollars from institutional equity trades generated that day to support Covenant House.

GMP Capital Inc. is also proud to be the title sponsor for the inaugural 'Grand Commission' being held the evening of June 7, 2017 at the Ritz Carlton Toronto. The Grand Commission is an innovative twist on the classic gala. The event, in support of Covenant House Toronto, merges interactive corporate and philanthropic giving with an elegant affair.

"GMP is a strong supporter of Covenant House – an organization focused on providing vital services to homeless, abused, trafficked and exploited youth in our community. Specifically, Toronto has been identified as a sex-trafficking hub. We are proud to lend our support through a charity trading day and title sponsorship of The Grand Commission Gala to help raise awareness and much needed funds for this serious problem," said Harris Fricker, President and Chief Executive Officer, GMP.

ABOUT GMP CAPITAL INC.

GMP is a leading independent diversified financial services firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada, providing a wide range of financial products and services to a global client base that includes corporate clients, institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals in two integrated reporting segments. The Capital Markets segment provides investment banking, including advisory and underwriting services, institutional sales and trading and research through offices in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bahamas and Asia. Wealth Management consists of GMP's non-controlling ownership interest in Richardson GMP Limited. Richardson GMP Limited, Canada's largest independent wealth management firm, is focused on providing exclusive and comprehensive wealth management and investment services delivered by an experienced team of investment professionals. GMP is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "GMP". For further information, please visit our corporate website at gmpcapital.com.

ABOUT THE GRAND COMMISSION

The Grand Commission, sponsored by GMP Capital Inc., is an innovative twist on the classic gala. The event, in support of Covenant House Toronto, merges interactive corporate and philanthropic giving with an elegant affair.

All proceeds will go towards Covenant House's comprehensive anti-sex trafficking campaign. The Grand Commission's title sponsor, GMP Capital Inc., is leading the way with a Charity Trading Day. Other companies and individuals are joining in to support the event.

This "golden age" soiree at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, will be a celebration of the day's giving. The night, hosted by Cheryl Hickey, features a cocktail reception, sumptuous dinner, special live entertainment, and an after dinner exclusive poker game. Further information about The Grand Commission can be found at www.thegrandcommission.com.

ABOUT COVENANT HOUSE

Covenant House Toronto is Canada's largest agency serving at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth – as many as 250 youth daily. The agency provides 24/7 crisis shelter, transitional housing and comprehensive services, including education, counselling, health care, employment assistance, job training, and aftercare.

Toronto has been identified as a hub for sex trafficking, which is largely a domestic crime. Most victims are Canadian girls as young as 13 and on average 17. Covenant House has helped thousands of victims since it opened its doors in 1982.

The agency's five-year plan to counter sex trafficking includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services. It also includes a research and evaluation component and the creation of online resources.

15/05/2017

Portenier bursary competition offers safety training for independent journalists exposing human rights abuses

 Independent documentary-makers and freelance journalists working to expose human rights abuses can apply for a bursary to help them obtain hostile environment training, more usually made available to journalists working in war zones.

The 2017 Portenier Human Rights Bursary competition, offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, opens today and closes on June 15.

The annual bursary, introduced in 2015, is sponsored by the documentary filmmaker Giselle Portenier, whose work on human rights abuses has been internationally acclaimed.

When the bursary competition was established Ms. Portenier said: "Human rights abuses continue unabated in the 21st century, and human rights defenders worldwide need the support of journalists and documentarians to help them shine a light on these injustices. Some of the worst abuses are committed against women and children, sometimes as a result of war, but often systematically, in the name of culture and religion.

"The purpose of this bursary is to help ensure the safety of journalists and documentary filmmakers as they expose some of the most egregious abuses of human rights in the world today."

The bursary provides C$3,000 towards a hostile environment course of the winner's choosing from a range of approved course providers in Canada, the USA or Britain. It is open to qualified independent applicants of any nationality, experienced or novice, working on significant projects for which funding is in place. The rules are available on the Forum's website.

The bursary is awarded by an independent jury with expertise in the field, including a representative of the UK-based Rory Peck Trust, which offers safety training bursaries and other support to freelancers.

Last year's Portenier winner was Eman Helal, an Egyptian photojournalist whose work documents sexual harassment and attacks against women in her country. Applications were received from freelancers and independent documentary-makers in 25 countries.

In 2015 the Portenier was won by Jason O'Hara, a Toronto filmmaker working on a documentary about abuses in the clearance of favelas in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Portenier herself is currently making what she says may be her most important film yet. In The Name Of Your Daughter is a documentary that will give a voice to some of the most courageous girls in the world: Tanzanian children who risk their lives to stand up for their human rights and avoid female genital mutilation and child marriage.

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma is a charity whose work is supported by The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Radio-Canada, CNW Group and by individual donors. 

11/05/2017

Women Go Topless in New York to Celebrate 25 Years of Equal Rights

The summer of 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark 1992 court decision establishing that women have the same right as men to go bare-chested in public places throughout New York State. Celebrating this milestone with a summer-long series of outdoor events is the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society (ToplessPulp.com), a book club founded in the summer of 2011 to give women in New York an opportunity to safely exercise their right to go topless in city parks, plazas, and other public spaces.

The group's events in past years have included boating on Central Park Lake, book discussions on the steps of the New York Public Library, picnics in Washington Square Park, figure drawing sessions on the High Line, and a 13-mile bicycle tour of the city – all done topless. Last summer, the group produced an acclaimed all-female, fully nude outdoor production of The Tempest in Central Park to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. (Full nudity is permitted outdoors in New York as part of the performance of a play or other artistic exhibition. Toplessness is permitted at any time.) The group's activities have been covered by media throughout the world, including the New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, and Salon.

The events planned for this summer (all of which are free of charge) include meet-ups in many of the city's most popular outdoor spaces, and range from adventurous to simply relaxing: a gathering of 10-20 women reading on the grass in the park, as unconcerned about baring their breasts under the sun as the countless topless men in the park are about baring theirs. "A woman's chest is no more inherently sexual than a man's," said the group's co-founder, Alethea Andrews. "Eighty years ago, men weren't allowed to take their shirts off in public, and today that seems ridiculous. Years from now, it will seem just as ridiculous that we ever restricted women in this way. Once people get used to the sight, it's really no big deal."

The group welcomes inquiries from any women interested in coming to one of their events, and can be reached by email at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, on Twitter at @toplesspulp, or through their website, ToplessPulp.com.

10/05/2017

Celebrating the Right to Equal Marriage and Continuing the Work for LGBTQ2S Human Rights

 The 519 is excited to be partnering with Canada Post for an event that will highlight the struggles for marriage equality in Canada, and celebrate this important moment in the country's history. In this event, as part of the Canada 150 celebrations, Canada Post is releasing a new stamp to commemorate the hard-fought right of equal marriage in Canada.

During the struggle for equal marriage in Canada, The 519 served our communities by providing free, accommodating non-judgemental space where individuals, organizations, activists, and non-profit groups were able to meet, organize and work towards the goal of equal marriage. Many of our members and staff were an active part of the movement and we are proud to have been part of that journey and legacy.

Today, more than ever, The 519 continues to provide space for change through a number of important programs and services to meet the emerging needs of the LGBTQ2S communities. Today that space also reflects our leadership in building the capacity of public and private organizations and institutions to create inclusive spaces of their own. We also continue to work towards finding systemic solutions that address the social and economic barriers faced by the LGBTQ2S communities.

The fight for equal marriage that culminated in the Civil Marriage Act in 2005 represents the struggle and hard work of those who were at the forefront, but that time in history also stands for the power of working together and creating meaningful dialogue between the people, civil society, government and the courts. The 519 continues to believe in that power of conversation and is working even harder today to create a world where matters of equality and freedom are discussed and resolved with openness and love.

To know about our programs and services, our activities during Pride Toronto, or to learn more about our capacity building initiatives for organizations, media or general public, please contact us.

About The 519:

The 519 is a City of Toronto agency and a registered charity committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ communities in Toronto and beyond. We have an innovative model of Service, Space and Leadership and through our programs, services, and capacity building initiatives – we strive to make a real difference in people's lives while working to promote inclusion, understanding and respect.   

Devastating fires in group homes are the tip of the iceberg; Ontario continues to fail First Nations and other children in care

Two weeks ago, it was reported in the media that a youth from a Northern First Nation community died in a fire at an Ottawa group home. In February, another group home fire claimed the lives of two individuals. Both tragedies are just two examples where young people in care face many unimaginable risks while under the province's care and protection.

For First Nations children, who are disproportionately represented in the system, their situation is exacerbated; too often, many find themselves "placed" in homes located hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of kilometers away from their communities. They are left isolated and cut off from their family and communities, their language and culture, and the natural advocates in their lives.

The unimaginable burden the Province places on First Nations children and, in turn, their communities reinforce, rather than heal, the ongoing legacies of the Indian Residential School system. First Nations children continue to pay the price.

Ontario's child welfare system is responsible for about 3,000 young people living in group homes, while another 15,000 children and youth live in foster homes operated by agencies and service providers.

Too often, young people in care have little or no say in where they are placed to live. It is sometimes difficult to know whether the children's aid societies, responsible for placing young people in a group home setting, are confident about the quality of care provided to young people. Equally unclear is whether the Province has a clear picture about what happens to children and youth in their placements.

When children end up in the child welfare system and are placed in foster care or group care, they will have to wage their battles to survive in a profoundly inadequate child welfare system. Some of these young people will benefit from the services they receive while in the care of the state. Many will not. And some will die as a result of the instability and chaos they experience living in the system.

As the spate of recent deaths show, this is a crisis and Ontario's most vulnerable children are suffering. Immediate action is needed to ensure that young people in residential care are placed in homes that are safe and nurturing, and where they are not put at risk. It is unfathomable that we live in a Province where we must say that, at a minimum, we need to take steps to ensure children survive our attempts to protect them.

While we urge all levels of government to continue to work with Indigenous partners and others to fundamentally change residential care, we call on the Province to immediately:

Identify children and homes at risk and talk to the children there. They must assess what supports are needed to improve the home;
Create a roster of clinicians (e.g. mental health professionals) and trained Child and Youth Workers who can be quickly deployed to homes in crisis to support young people;
Convene a panel of practitioners and educators, including those with knowledge of culturally anchored services and interventions with Indigenous children to guide this emergency response;
Determine the number and situations of First Nations children living in group homes in southern Ontario and takes steps to ensure their needs are being met.
Our office supports the Nishnawbe Aski Nation's (NAN) calls for the Office of the Chief Coroner to call a discretionary inquest into the deaths of the two young people at two separate group homes, and for the Government of Ontario to require that an inquest be held any time a child dies in a group home setting.

Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (the Advocate's Office) reports directly to the Legislature of Ontario and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children and youth, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children.

The Advocate's Office can also conduct investigations and make recommendations to improve children's aid society services and services provided by residential licensees where a children's aid society is the placing agency.

The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement. For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

03/05/2017

4 in 5 Canadians believe next generation of women are just as likely to experience sexual assault

Despite an increasing awareness about sexual harassment and domestic violence in Canada, a new study from the Canadian Women's Foundation reveals Canadians feel the outlook is bleak for the next generation of women (Gen Z or those born after 1999). Timed with the launch of the Canadian Women Foundation's annual May-long Campaign to End Violence, the survey indicates that four-fifths of Canadians (79 per cent) believe that Gen Z women are just as or more likely to experience sexual assault.

This negative view about the future is also true for other forms of violence, including online harassment (87 per cent), physical violence from a partner (81 per cent), and sexual harassment in public (70 per cent) and in the workplace (64 per cent). A further 79 per cent of Canadians believe Gen Z women will be just as likely or even more likely to feel unsafe because of their gender.

"This should be a wake-up call for all Canadians," says Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women's Foundation. "Young women are telling us loud and clear they're worried about the future of gender equality in Canada. We've made significant progress to date and we can't afford to lose these gains, or have our progress stall. Gender equality benefits everyone, and we all have a responsibility to make it a priority. This work isn't just for ourselves. It's for the next generation and for all Canadians."

According to the survey, women (89 per cent) are more likely than men (69 per cent) to believe Gen Z women will experience sexual assault. This is especially true among millennial women (ages 18-34), with 93 per cent believing Gen Z women are just as, if not more, likely to experience it.

Fear of losing progress made towards gender equality

According to the survey, one-third (36 per cent) of Canadians believe we are at risk of losing progress already made on gender equality due to today's social and political climate. Forty-two per cent of women agree with this sentiment, compared to 28 per cent of men. Young women are particularly concerned, with 49 per cent believing we are at risk of losing progress already made.

What's even more concerning is that half of Canadians (49 per cent) fear that we will not be able to make new progress on gender equality. Over half (59 per cent) of all women, and seven in ten (69 per cent) millennial women feel that Canada is at risk of failing to advance on gender equality.

"Freedom from violence is a cornerstone of gender equality," says Anuradha Dugal, Director of Violence Prevention Programs at the Canadian Women's Foundation. "But violence against women is still very common in Canada. We need to stop being complacent and recognize that violence against women is unacceptable. We can make a genuine impact by helping those in crisis, supporting them to rebuild their lives after violence, and helping young people learn to prevent future violence. This is the best way to create long-term, systemic change."

A call to Canadians to help end violence against women

The Canadian Women's Foundation's annual Campaign to End Violence, which runs May 1 to 31, raises awareness and funds for over 450 emergency shelters and violence prevention programs across Canada. Funds go to shelters and violence prevention programs that help women rebuild their lives, counsel children who have witnessed abuse, and teach teens about healthy relationships. To learn more about the annual Campaign to End Violence and how you can donate and help, visit www.canadianwomen.org/campaigntoendviolence.

Methodology:

From April 13 to April 17, 2017, the Canadian Women's Foundation partnered with Maru/Matchbox to conduct an online survey. The sample included 1,004 randomly selected Canadians aged 18 and over from Matchbox's Canadian panel, the Angus Reid Forum. The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to Census data by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About the Canadian Women's Foundation

The Canadian Women's Foundation is Canada's public foundation for women and girls. We empower women and girls in Canada to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership. Since 1991, we've raised money and invested in over 1,400 community programs across Canada, and are now one of the ten largest women's foundations in the world.

We take a positive approach to address root causes of the most critical issues facing women and girls. We study and share the best ways to create long-term change and bring community organizations together for training and to learn from each other. We carefully select and fund the programs with the strongest outcomes and regularly evaluate their work. We have a special focus on building a community of women helping other women. Helping women creates safer families and communities, and a more prosperous society for all of us. We invest in the strength of women and the dreams of girls.

For more information, please visit www.canadianwomen.org. 

New OHRC report reinforces concerns about racial profiling

A new report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) confirms that racial profiling is a daily reality that damages communities and undermines trust in public institutions. In Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario, the OHRC combines social science research with lived experiences gained through consultation with over 1,600 individuals and organizations.

The report provides personal accounts that show the harmful impact that racial profiling has on Indigenous, Black, Muslim and other racialized individuals, their families, their communities, and society. It draws on information from an online survey, applications to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and extensive province-wide engagement with affected communities, legal and academic experts, educators, human rights practitioners and police, among others.

Under suspicion highlights how racial profiling is often the result of seemingly neutral organizational policies, procedures and decision-making practices, and deeply rooted institutional cultures. The OHRC heard that dealing with racial discrimination – including racial profiling – can have a negative effect on people's mental and physical health. Racial profiling can be all-encompassing and affect nearly every aspect of a racialized person's public life – from shopping, to driving and getting around, to attending school.

"This report confirms what racialized communities have known for generations: racial profiling is real," said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. "Rebuilding trust requires concrete action to address racial profiling in all its forms."

In Under Suspicion, the OHRC commits to creating specific policy guidance to help individuals, community groups and organizations in law enforcement, child welfare, courts and corrections to prevent and address racial profiling. The OHRC will collaborate with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to develop resources and tools to address Indigenous peoples' experiences of racial discrimination. The OHRC will continue to use its full range of legal powers to actively challenge racial profiling.

"Let's bring it back to the children," Four Years Later: Rana Plaza Victims Seek Fair Compensation from Loblaws and Bureau Veritas in a Proposed Class Action in Toronto, Ontario

​Today will mark the fourth anniversary of the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza collapse is considered to be the largest industrial disaster in history: it killed 1,130 people and left another 2,520 seriously injured. The Rana Plaza collapsed as a result of serious building safety defects. Many of the injured required amputations while others are permanently immobilized. Many of the victims were young women and girls.

The Rana Plaza building housed several garment factories that employed over 5,000 garment workers who produced apparel for major Western brands, including Loblaws' Joe Fresh brand. It is alleged that orders for Loblaws represented 50% of all apparel made in one of the largest garment factories in Rana Plaza which occupied the illegally constructed top floors. Shortly after the collapse, Galen Weston Jr., the Executive Chairman of Loblaws Companies Ltd., publicly acknowledged that "the top floors of the building should never have been built". He stated that the scope of the audits undertaken on behalf of Loblaws at Rana Plaza did not cover structural integrity and that "workers were exposed to unacceptable risk".

Rana Plaza was originally constructed as a four-story building licensed for commercial use, but doubled in size through the allegedly illegal construction of several additional precariously canter levered floors required to accommodate increased garment orders from Loblaws. The ninth floor was under construction at the time of the collapse.

The proposed class action commenced in Ontario on behalf of the victims of the collapse and their families seeks fair compensation from Loblaws and Bureau Veritas, the firm retained by Loblaws to audit the Rana Plaza factories that produced Joe Fresh apparel.

The Plaintiffs allege that Loblaws assumed responsibility to the Rana Plaza garment workers to ensure that they worked in safe and legally operated factories. They allege that Loblaws voluntarily adopted Corporate Social Responsibility standards, which required that its suppliers comply with local safety laws and regulations. They also allege that Loblaws failed to require – and Bureau Veritas failed to recommend and perform – adequate and reasonable audits that would have detected the serious safety hazards that resulted in the collapse of the Rana Plaza. It is alleged that the collapse and the harm to the garment workers were foreseeable to both Loblaws and Bureau Veritas.

The motion for certification of the proposed class action was heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice between April 3 and April 13, 2017. Loblaws continues to vigorously defend the claim, which seeks to provide access to justice, including fair compensation, to the victims and their families.

"This is an important suit for garment workers in developing countries who have the right to work in safe environments that are not a threat to their lives. Western corporations which seek to benefit from the low cost of labour in countries with notoriously poor records for workplace health and safety must be held accountable when the workers that produce their products are exposed to unnecessary risks and are injured or die as a result of unsafe working conditions. Compliance with safety laws and regulations, industry standards and best practices ensures the health and safety of the workers in global supply chains," said Joel P. Rochon, partner at Rochon Genova LLP. "This class action aims to reaffirm one of the foremost policy goals of the Class Proceedings Act, to provide access to justice to the thousands of garment workers who were injured and to the family members of the injured and deceased"

The garment workers and their families are represented by Joel P. Rochon, Peter R. Jervis, Lisa M. Fenech, Obaidul Hoque and Golnaz Nayerahmadi of Rochon Genova LLP in Toronto, Canada.

19/04/2017

2016-2017 Out of the Cold Program Ends with Report Showing Growing Demand Exceeding Supply

The 2016-2017 Out of the Cold Program (OOTC) comes to an end on Monday, April 24. As the program closes, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services released for the first time an annual report titled "Out of the Cold – 30 Years Later – A Growing Crisis" indicating 2016-2017 season data. The report highlights that there were 13,199 overnight stays this season, representing a year over year increase of 9%.

In an attempt to manage demand, the program added capacity, increasing space by 6%. Despite this increase, total occupancy across the program is now 96%. As a result, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services predicts that the OOTC program will be at full capacity within two years; forcing dozens of men and women to find alternate accommodation each night.

"The Out of the Cold program is a life-saving community movement that is quickly headed towards full capacity with associated dire effects," said Neil Hetherington, CEO, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services. "Without a decrease in demand or added mats, there will be homeless people turned away each night."

The newly released data shares some encouraging results. "We've seen positive, long-term impact through case management work," continued Hetherington. "Out of the Cold guests who choose to work with a client intervention worker have a 42.5% chance of moving into permanent housing solutions."

The report goes on to demonstrate that one of the lowest-cost, high impact opportunities to move guests from OOTC into housing lies with adding more client intervention workers. In addition to housing solutions, 278 referrals were made to off-site programs and services, including Ontario Works, as well as education and health resources for guests to improve their current situation.

The OOTC program was originally intended to be a short-term solution with the immediate goal of preventing unnecessary deaths during extreme weather. It has evolved into an institutionalized program, heavily relied upon by the homeless with consistent occupancy regardless of extreme weather patterns. Program reliance points to the broader issues surrounding decent, affordable housing in Toronto and poverty in the city.

"What Dixon Hall does every day is crucial — not just meeting the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness, but also tracking trends so we can see the big picture more clearly," said Pedro Barata, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Public Affairs at United Way Toronto & York Region. "This report proves it's time for a more holistic approach to addressing rising demand. All of us, from service providers to funders to government and other partners, need a coordinated approach to solving this crisis — one that improves access to safe, affordable shelter at every level."

Please visit http://bit.ly/OOTC2017 to read Out of the Cold – 30 Years Later – A Growing Crisis" which provides all statistics surrounding usage and demographics of the guests.

About Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services is a multi-service agency located in east downtown Toronto. For more than 85 years, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services has offered over 45 supportive programs and services to seniors, youth, homeless men and women, the unemployed, and other vulnerable populations in Toronto.

About Out of the Cold

The OOTC program is run by volunteers who open their places of worship to Toronto's homeless. Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services works with 16 faith-based organizations, providing support in ensuring certain shelter standards are met and case management is delivered in order to provide guests with an opportunity of long-term housing solutions.

OOTC guests are provided a safe and warm place to stay and two hot and nutritious meals. In addition, some sites provide additional supports including clothing, nursing care, and laundry facilities. Each site provides shelter once a week from November – April annually.

Since 2003, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, supported by the City of Toronto, has provided management and operations support to the faith groups.

"Let's bring it back to the children," Canadian Human Rights Commission's Annual Report to Parliament

 In its newly released 2016 Annual Report to Parliament, Canada's human rights watchdog is shining a light on how too many children in Canada are being left behind when it comes to their basic rights of dignity, safety, education and family.

"Ensuring that children are given equal opportunities to thrive, regardless of their individual challenges, is the best way of ensuring human rights for all," says Chief Commissioner Landry in the report's opening message. "How they are treated today, will determine, in large measure, how they will treat others tomorrow."

The report presents the stories of five young Canadians and their individual experiences with discrimination and exclusion. The stories are heartbreaking but also inspiring accounts of the struggle for acceptance that too many of Canada's children must face:

"No support" is about the issue of child welfare services on First Nations reserves. It tells the story of Cheryl — a courageous First Nations girl who spent her childhood being passed around the on-reserve foster care system before becoming a mother at the age of 18.
"Nobody's business" is about trans rights. It tells the stories of two bright, gender-diverse kids, Jake and Charlie.
"Left behind" is about the issue that students with disabilities in Canada are facing overwhelming barriers and challenges within our school systems. It tells the story of Jenna, an autistic girl living in Northern Canada, and the exclusion she faced at school.
"Locked out" is about the issue of migrants, both adults and children, being held in detention in Canada. It tells the story of a young girl who­—together with her mother—spent 385 days in Toronto's Immigration Holding Centre.
The Commission's Annual Report also offers updated statistics on the Commission's discrimination complaints, as well as a glimpse at the new work being done at the Commission as part of its "people first" three-year strategy.

19/04/2017

Women and Newcomers Lead Canadian Trust, Contrary to the Global Storm of Distrust

Canadians are proud of qualities that make our country different from others, and enduring levels of trust across government and business appears to be the latest example, according to the 2017 Environics Communications CanTrust Index. There is no doubt that recent events in some nations point to waning consumer trust and rejection of elites, and it may be tempting to paint the Canadian trust landscape with this same broad brush. However, the newest research finds that trust among Canadians is holding steady in most areas, and in some cases trust is growing.

The CanTrust Index looks at trust levels in various entities to do what is right for Canada, Canadians and our society among Canadians overall, examining Newcomers (those who have been in Canada 15 years or less) and trends between genders and regions. This year, we find the highest levels of trust are with new Canadians, women, and residents of Québec. In contrast, people living in Western Canada are less trusting in several areas we surveyed.

"Our data tells a uniquely Canadian story – not one of despair, but one of hope – when it comes to levels of consumer trust in this country," says Bruce MacLellan, CEO of Environics Communications. "As Canadians, the many universal and accessible public services we enjoy have fostered a strong sense of trust in hospitals, universities, government and elected leaders. We also see enduring trust in news organizations and key sectors of the economy such as food retailers, drug stores and small business."

High trust in not-for-profit sector leads in steady category

The overall pecking order when it comes to levels of trust in Canada's major sectors has not changed significantly in the past year. Overall, the not-for-profit sector continues to be most trusted, by 57% of respondents, to do what is right for Canada, Canadians and our society. The news media ranks second at 50%, down slightly from 54% in 2016. Small and medium sized businesses rank third at 41%, also down slightly from 44% last year. Governments rank next at 39%, a virtually identical result to 2016, and large corporations retain their hold on last place at 27%.

As with the 2016 CanTrust Index, New Canadians hold higher levels of trust in all sectors, with government being the largest difference in 2017 at 64% (tied with not-for-profits) when compared with trust among the general population (at 39%). Trust comes in large part from having positive experiences, and new Canadians seem to be pleased with their country of choice.

Regionally, people in Québec are generally the most trusting, particularly of small/medium sized enterprises (55%) and large corporations (44%). In contrast, trust levels among Ontarians stand at 34% and 22% in these categories, respectively.

Trust in CEOs and senior bosses still highest; trust in Premiers lowest

For a second year, the Environics Communications CanTrust Index asked Canadians about their trust in the leaders in their lives and at work, at local and national levels. Once again, Canadians ranked their CEO or most senior boss as the leader they trust the most, at 51%. Women scored their bosses higher at 54%. Virtually tied for first were mayors at 50%, the Prime Minister at 44%, and Premiers were last at 30%. Calgarians are least likely to trust their Premier (21%), below Torontonians (28%) and Ontarians more broadly at 26%, suggesting that relatively low popularity of Premiers Wynne and Notley is negatively impacting trust levels.

Women are more likely than men to trust Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (46% vs. 40%). Higher trust is also seen amongst people in Ontario (49%), Québec (45%) and Atlantic Canada (56%). On the other hand, Calgarians have the lowest trust for the Prime Minister at 27%. Thankfully, people in Calgary like their Mayor, who received a 55% trust rating.

Among New Canadians, trust in public figures is higher across the board, and we see an increase in their trust in Prime Minister Trudeau (64%). This group also trusts their CEOs and bosses (61%) more than Canadians as a whole (51%).

"In the wake of a rise in protectionism and distrust in immigrants in some countries, our two years of data suggests a culture where New Canadians are driving a hopeful future for companies and governments in Canada seeking to build consumer trust," said MacLellan.

A new leader on the scene, President Donald Trump of the United States, sets a new low for trust by Canadians at only 13%, when asked how much they trust the new POTUS to have a positive impact on the two nations and their working relationship. Among females, this trust level is only 8%. We asked this question just before Prime Minister Trudeau visited Washington, D.C.

It is hospitals that are high, while marijuana manufacturers are at the bottom

When asked to rank their overall level of trust in various industry and public sector categories, Canadians report the highest trust levels for hospitals (62%), followed closely by universities and colleges (60%). The highest private sector industries were retail pharmacies at 48% and food retailers at 45%.

The industries that have the lowest trust levels amongst respondents are energy, pipelines and resources (26%), pharmaceutical companies (22%), real estate agents and brokers (21%), social media platforms (20%) and marijuana producers (13%). Responses from Canadians about their level of trust in the marijuana industry – an emerging industry we examined this year – show that this industry has much work to do to build trust. Trust levels around issues related to marijuana manufacturers are the lowest of low, potentially placing governments in a precarious position as legalization proceeds.

Product sampling and word-of-mouth still top-trusted information sources

Canadians continue to trust people they know, as well as their direct experience with products and brands, more than any other sources of information about a brand, service or product. This year, 76% of study participants cite sampling a product or service as their most trusted source of information about a brand, product or organization (up from 73% in 2016). Word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know come in a close second at 74%, which is on par with our data from 2016. Significantly more New Canadians – and more women than men – trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know.

Editorial content, or stories in media like newspapers, TV, radio or online news sites, remains the third most trusted source of information, with a trust score of 57%. People in Québec have higher trust levels in traditional and online editorial content (at 67%) than the national average.

When looking at preferences related to online news sources only, search engines (newly added to this year's survey) ranked as the most preferred source of news about current events at 71% (even higher than word-of-mouth).

Only 27% of respondents indicate that they trust information shared by a company or organization on social media, but we see a different story when it comes to information shared on social by a friend or family member. Forty-two per cent of Canadians trust information shared on social media by friends or family members – reiterating the value of word-of-mouth and information from people we know are acting as an information filter.

Trust in blogs from 'bloggers you follow' is at 29%, down five points from 2016 – a drop in trust in blogger content could be attributed to concerns about biased, sponsored posts or fake reviews.

"Influencer marketing offers brands an authentic way to communicate with people, but with recent concern around fake reviews, and greater transparency around sponsored payment, trust in this source is being challenged," says Vanessa Eaton, Senior Vice President at Environics Communications. "It serves as a reminder to marketers of the importance of finding the right 'fit' with influencers, building strong relationships and creating authentic, credible content."

The CanTrust Index also examined differences in trust between higher and lower household income (HHI). Using $60,000 HHI as the boundary, the research found no significant differences in trust between these households.

About the CanTrust Index

The 2017 Environics Communications CanTrust Index, based upon an annual online survey of a sample of 1,500 Canadians 18+ years of age, was conducted between January 16 to 26, 2017. It is nationally representative by region, age and gender.

For more information, visit CanTrustIndex.ca.

18/04/2017

Rainbow Railroad Announces Emergency Response Plan for LGBTQ People at Risk in Chechnya - urgently requests Canadian Government assistance

With recent reports of abductions, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and deaths targeting gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a Canadian non-profit human rights organization announced today an emergency response plan to assist those in danger.

Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad actively assists LGBTQ people escape danger through its global network of safe routes.

"Since we first received initial reports of gay concentration camps being established in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately re-classified Eastern Europe as a priority region," explains Executive Director, Kimahli Powell. "This means we're expanding our on-the-ground contacts as well as increasing our capacity to identify and assess new or alternative safe routes out of Chechnya."

To assist in this effort, Rainbow Railroad is working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental organization currently leading the campaign to rescue those facing danger in Chechnya. The two organizations will work together to identify individuals who need to be evacuated – with Rainbow Railroad providing direct travel assistance.

"An important part of our emergency response plan is to support the Russian LGBT Network in their rescue campaign," says Powell. "This includes fundraising to support the organization while allocating resources to increase the number of people we can support in the region.. In addition, we are formally requesting the Canadian government provide direct assistance to those in need by way of emergency visas."

Powell says providing and expediting humanitarian visas, refugee resettlement, or any other legal entry is essential given the level of threat LGBTQ people face not only in Chechnya, but in many parts of the world currently. According to the 2016 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's (ILGA) State Sponsored Homophobia report, 73 countries still criminalize homosexuality. The death penalty may be applied in 13 UN member states.

"The situation in Chechnya is part of a global pattern of ongoing state-enabled or state-sanctioned violence against LGBTQ people," Powell says, citing Indonesia, Bangladesh and The Gambia as three recent examples. "This is why the number of people who reach out to us each year is growing."

Last year, Rainbow Railroad received 600 requests for assistance, and was able to help 81 individuals reach safety. To date, the organization has assisted more than 300 people escape to safe countries. Each case requires thousands of donation dollars to help just one person escape persecution in their home country.

Rainbow Railroad is calling out to Canadians to help today by going to www.rainbowrailroad.ca/donate.

About Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is a volunteer-led charitable organization that assists LGBTQ people seeking safe haven from state-enabled violence, persecution and the threat of death where homosexuality is criminalized. We provide information, connections, and funding for travel and other associated costs. To get on board with Rainbow Railroad and help save LGBTQ lives, visit www.RainbowRailroad.ca or go to Facebook.com/RainbowRailroad.

The Zoryan Institute Reflects on the Regressive Trends in Human Rights during Genocide Awareness Month

​The Zoryan Institute reflects on the resurgence of populism and nationalism as regressive trends to Human Rights during Genocide Awareness Month.
Throughout the month of April, the world over commemorates the crimes that cannot be reversed and the irreparable failures of the past. From the International Day on Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda (April 7th) to Holocaust Memorial Day (April 23rd -24th) to Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day (April 24th) to the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare (April 29th), we are reminded of the obligations to prevent the threat of genocide from manifesting itself in the world.

In this month of reflection, we find that around the world denial narratives and hate speech continue to be major challenges to democracy and human rights. For example, earlier this month at a large public gathering, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, employed strategic dehumanizing language by likening supporters of Fethullah Gulen to a cancer virus:

"We are purging every member of Fethullahist terrorist organization, in the police, and in state institutions, and we will continue cleansing them. ...We will eradicate this cancer virus from the body of the country and the state. We won't give them right to live because they divided the nation and ummah (Islamic community)."

Erdoğan's increasingly dictatorial rule in Turkey illustrates the dangers of a leader and a country that vehemently denies its complicity in the genocidal events of 1915. Through statements such as these, Erdoğan has brought back to life dehumanizing narratives once directed against Armenians in the early twentieth century by physicians and political leaders, such as Dr. Mehmet Reshid, Governor of the Diyarbekir Vilayet, who stated in 1915:

"Even though I am a physician, I cannot ignore my nationhood . . . My national identification takes precedence over everything else . . . Armenian traitors had found a niche for themselves in the bosom of the fatherland; they were dangerous microbes. Isn't it the duty of a doctor to destroy the microbes?"1

Genocide scholar Vahakn N. Dadrian, in his book The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, cites a series of threatening letters, written by Dr. Nazim, to the Armenian press and the Armenian Patriarch leading up to the Armenian Genocide. Among the many letters and threats was this: "Know that the Turks have committed themselves, and have vowed to subdue and clean up the Armenian gâvurs [infidels] who have become a tubercular microbe for us."2

In the years preceding the Holocaust, medical and pseudo-science metaphors were employed in the Nazis' delegitimization, dehumanization and demonization of the Jews. It has been well-documented that the Nazi Party had a particular focus on associating Jews with scientific and medical terminology such as growths, parasites, microbes, germs:

"The Fuhrer holds the cleansing of the medical profession far more important than, for example, that of the bureaucracy, since in his opinion the duty of the physician is or should be one of racial leadership." Martin Bormann, Personal Secretary of Adolf Hitler, 19413
Here is an interesting union between the immense breakthroughs in scientific knowledge, notably the burgeoning popularity of the field of eugenics and Social Darwinism in the 20th Century, and ideology. This convoluted union of pseudo-science and ideology has had a profound impact on constructing a language of dehumanization, whereby metaphorical repetition manifests into the intent to destroy.

Take for example, the rape centers established in Bosnia from 1992 until 1995 -- centers wherein forced impregnation of Serbian "seed" would biologically displace Bosnian "Muslimness." Under the directorship and medical discretion of Radovan Karadzic, a medical psychologist and poet, Bosnian Serbs re-applied similar dehumanizing language solidified by the Ottoman Empire and Nazi Party. Here, Karadzic implemented a "biological solution" for those who are a "problem" people: the cholera, bacilli, baneful germs, "brute," "gangrenous appendixes," mongrels, and microbes.

The early 1990s were also tragically marked by the Rwanda Genocide, a genocide that was incited by hate propaganda against the Tutsi minority through various radio broadcasts and newspaper articles. Prior to the official outbreak in April 1994, Kangura -- a racist newspaper in Rwanda -- began publishing dehumanizing articles against the Tutsi minority, including this article in March 1993 stating: "A cockroach gives birth to a cockroach … the history of Rwanda shows us clearly that a Tutsi stays exactly the same, that he has never changed….the inyenzyi [cockroaches] who attacked in October 1990 and those of the 1960s are linked ….their evilness is the same." The United Nations would later lament in 2004 on the collective failure to protect 800,000 individuals, primarily Tutsis, from the genocide in Rwanda.

More recently, there has been a spike in violence against Kurdish communities in Turkey, including the imprisonment of 13 elected officials of the pro-Kurdish democratic opposition in Turkish parliament on alleged terrorism charges and the Turkish government's direct control of 82 municipalities in the Kurdish southeast region of the country. Turkey's incapacity to engage with its minorities in an honest historical reckoning is a clear sign of the future to come: one in which state interests and proclaimed self-defence come at the expense of democracy, plurality, and human rights.

Unfortunately, some of these regressive trends are also seen in Western democracies today. Donald Trump's successful campaign for the US presidency was a vivid illustration of this politics of dehumanization and intolerance. Sometimes overtly, sometimes through metaphor and casual banter, he spoke to many Americans' discontent by putting into question basic principles of dignity, equality, and tolerance. Trump garnered support and attention by stereotyping migrants, vilifying refugees, attacking a judge for his Mexican ancestry, mocking a journalist with disabilities, dismissing multiple allegations of sexual assault, and pledging to repeal reproductive rights. In June 2015, while announcing his candidacy for president, Donald Trump publicly and shamelessly likened Mexicans to "rapists":

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best… They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists… And some, I assume, are good people."

These regressive trends and observations serve to remind us that words matter. A century has passed since they served as instruments for legitimizing genocidal policies by turning Armenians into "microbes," Jews into "germs," and Rwandans into "cockroaches." Time and again, discursive tactics of denial, such as proclaiming that genocide was an act of self-defence, manifest into justifications for hate and dehumanization. These tools serve to further divide national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups, sanction perpetrator impunity, and criminalize historical inquiries and testimonies. When the perpetrator denies the crime of genocide and gets away with impunity, then history repeats itself.


1 Vahakn N. Dadrian, "The Role of Turkish Physicians in the World War I Genocide of Ottoman Armenians." Holocaust and Genocide Studies 1, no. 2 (1986): 169-92.
2 In Vahakn N. Dadrian, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, 3rd revised edition (Providence: Berghahn Books, 1997), p. 216.
3 W. Weyers, Death of Medicine in Nazi Germany (Philadelphia: Lippincott Raven Publishers, 1998), p. 45.

14/04/2017

PM and Métis Nation Enter into Groundbreaking Accord 

Yesterday the leadership of the Métis Nation came together to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several of his Cabinet Ministers to sign the groundbreaking Canada-Métis Nation Accord. The Accord marks a turning point for Canada and the Métis Nation who will now commence negotiations on shared priorities in a permanent bilateral forum chaired by the Prime Minister.

The priorities agreed to by the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Métis Nation include employment and training, education, housing and homelessness. The Accord also identifies the need to address Métis health conditions and to address Métis youth and the early learning needs of Métis children. Finally, it identifies a need to strengthen the government to government fiscal relationship.

The Accord was the subject of months of negotiation between the Government of Canada led by Minister Bennett and the Board of Governors of the Métis National Council.

"Today marks a reset in the relationship between Canada and the Métis Nation," said President Clément Chartier of the Métis National Council. "A process is in place to deal with issues in a concentrated and collaborative manner and that speaks to the commitment of both parties to get things done."

"I was honoured, on behalf of the Métis Nation of Ontario, to bring forward the concerns and hopes of our citizens directly to Prime Minister Trudeau and key members of the Cabinet," stated President Froh. "These discussions mark an important step in the relationship between the Crown and the Métis Nation based on recognition, rights and respect and the opportunity to begin to move forward in the spirit of cooperation and partnership to realize a better and brighter future for the Métis Nation and, in doing so, for all Canadians".

President David Chartrand of the Manitoba Metis Federation also expressed his support for the process entered into today: " I am optimistic after today's Summit with Prime Minister Trudeau. As equal partners of Confederation, it is important we renew and strengthen the Métis Nation-Crown relationship upon the principles of cooperation, respect for rights, equality and a commitment to end the status quo. The Métis Citizens of Manitoba, and I as their elected President, will be expecting the Federal Government to address in good faith those things of vital importance to us as a people using the foundation of the Canada-Métis Nation Accord we signed today."

"The Accord between the Métis Nation and the Government of Canada is an essential first step towards achieving reconciliation" said Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Vice-President Gerald Morin. "This Accord, and the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism it creates, will be a foundational process to facilitate the resolution of outstanding grievances of the Métis Nation."

President Audrey Poitras of the Métis Nation of Alberta stated: "This accord demonstrates the commitment of Prime Minister Trudeau to working with the Métis Nation on a government to government basis. I look forward to the work we have ahead of us and expect it will result in positive outcomes for the Métis people in Alberta."

President Clara Morin Dal Col of Métis Nation British Columbia called the signing of the Accord, "a tremendous step forward for the Métis Nation. I was honoured to be able to sign such an important document on behalf of the Métis people in British Columbia." She added, "The provisions of this Accord will enable us to help make a difference for Métis people in British Columbia and elsewhere in the Métis Nation."

President Melanie Omeniho of the Women of the Métis Nation stated, "It is a very exciting time to see the government of the Métis Nation put forward the priorities of the Métis People in our Crown-Métis Nation relationship."

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation's homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.   

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12/04/2017

Alarming surge in number of children used in Boko Haram bomb attacks this year - UNICEF

The number of children used in 'suicide' attacks in the Lake Chad conflict has surged to 27 in the first quarter of 2017, compared to nine over the same period last year, UNICEF said in a new report released today.

"In the first three months of this year, the number of children used in bomb attacks is nearly the same as the whole of last year – this is the worst possible use of children in conflict," says Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF's Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

The increase reflects an alarming tactic by the insurgents, according to the report Silent Shame: Bringing out the voices of children caught in the Lake Chad crisis. So far, 117 children have been used to carry out bomb attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon since 2014: four in 2014, 56 in 2015, 30 in 2016 and 27 only in the first three months of 2017. Girls have been used in the vast majority of these attacks.

As a consequence, girls, boys and even infants have been viewed with increasing fear at markets and checkpoints, where they are thought to carry explosives.

"These children are victims, not perpetrators," says Poirier. "Forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible."

Released three years after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, the report provides troubling accounts by children who were held in captivity at the hands of Boko Haram, and shows how these children are met with deep suspicion when they return to their communities.

In interviews, many children who have been associated with Boko Haram report that they keep their experience secret because they fear the stigmatization and even violent reprisals from their community. Some are compelled to bear their horrors in silence as they remove themselves from other groups for fear they might be outed and stigmatized.

The report also highlights the challenges that local authorities face with children who have been intercepted at checkpoints and taken into administrative custody for questioning and screening, raising concerns about the prolonged periods of custody. In 2016, almost 1,500 children were under administrative custody in the four countries.

UNICEF calls on parties to the conflict to commit to the following actions to protect children in the region.

End grave violations against children by Boko Haram including the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict as so-called 'suicide bombers'.
Move children from a military to civilian environment as quickly as possible. Children who have been taken into custody solely for their alleged or actual association to armed groups should be immediately handed-over to civilian authorities for reintegration and support. Handover protocols should be in place in each of the four countries for children encountered during military operations.
Provide care and protection for separated and unaccompanied children. All children affected by the crisis need psychosocial support and safe spaces to recover.


In 2016, UNICEF reached over 312,000 children with psychosocial support in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, and reunited more than 800 children with their families.

UNICEF is working with communities and families to fight stigma against survivors of sexual violence and to build a protective environment for former abductees.

In a crisis that has displaced more than 1.3 million children, UNICEF also supports local authorities to provide safe water and life-saving health services; restore access to education by creating temporary learning spaces; and deliver therapeutic treatment to malnourished children.

The response to this crisis remains severely underfunded. Last year, UNICEF's US$154 million appeal for the Lake Chad Basin was only 40 per cent funded.

Report Highlights Severe Crisis with 30% Increase in Homelessness in Metro Vancouver Region

The Preliminary Data Report for the 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver, prepared by BC Non-Profit Housing Association and M.Thomson Consulting, on behalf of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy's Community Entity, Metro Vancouver found 3,605 people homeless in the region-wide count, an increase of 30% from the previous 2014 count. Click here to download the Preliminary Data Report.

Media are advised that Kishone Roy, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association and the BCNPHA research team are available for interviews on the Preliminary Data Report for the 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver.

"Significant investments in new affordable housing, maintenance of the existing housing stock and coordination of support services for people who are homeless is needed at all levels immediately to address this crisis," said Kishone Roy, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing. "As homelessness has increased in our region, the calls for greater and urgent government action are getting louder. Both the federal and provincial governments, have recently made significant investments but even these are insufficient to address our affordable housing backlog. The BC Affordable Housing Plan released earlier today by the BC Rental Housing Coalition provides a framework to address homelessness and the housing crisis in the province."

Preliminary Report Findings:

A total of 3,605 people in the Metro Vancouver region were identified as homeless on March 8. Of those, 1,032 were unsheltered and 2,573 sheltered.
Region-wide, 828 more people were identified as homeless in 2017 compared to 2014, representing a 30% increase in homelessness and highest number to date.
The largest homeless populations can be found in Vancouver, with 2,138 people, followed by Surrey with 602 people.
Homelessness increased in all communities except on the North Shore, between 19% (Burnaby) and 142% (Delta/White Rock).
Homelessness among Aboriginal people, seniors and youth

Aboriginal people represented 34% of the homeless population, with 746 surveyed individuals identifying as Aboriginal. This is the highest share reported to date in a regional count and is a very strong over-representation compared to the total population.
A total of 230 seniors between 55 and 65 years and another 176 seniors above the age of 65 years, for a total of 556 seniors counted as homeless. Seniors aged 55 and over thereby represented 23% of the homeless population compared to 18% in 2014, as share that has steadily grown.
A total of 199 children under 19 years of age and 179 youth between 19 and 24 years were found homeless on March, for a total of 378. Young people under 25 years thereby represented 16% of the homeless population in 2017 compared to 20% in 2014.
Homeless Count Background:

Homeless counts take place in Metro Vancouver every three years and every year in the City of Vancouver.
The 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver is a 24-hour snapshot of people who were homeless in the Metro Vancouver region on March 8, 2017.
About the BC Non-Profit Housing Association
Formed 25 years ago, BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) is the provincial umbrella organization for the non-profit housing sector comprised of nearly 600 members, including non-profit housing societies, businesses, individuals, partners and stakeholders. Together non-profit housing societies manage more than 60,000 units of long-term, affordable housing in over 1,500 buildings across the province.

Help us spread the word on social media and hashtag #MetroVanCount:

Twitter @bcnpha
Facebook @bcnpha
Instagram @housingcentral

11/04/2017

Unusual Weather Patterns and Dramatic Rise in Home Fire Responses Prompt Red Cross to Urge Support for Families Impacted by Disaster 

 On Giving Day, Wednesday, April 26, the American Red Cross is asking everyone to remember those families whose lives are changed forever by disaster. This one-day nationwide event is being held to help ensure the Red Cross is able to meet its critical mission to help families who have been affected by weather, disasters, home fires, and other emergencies.

Every year, the Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters. That means that every eight minutes the Red Cross responds to a disaster – the vast majority of which are home fires.

"During this year of unusual weather patterns affecting people across the country, it is important to remember that we can't fulfill our mission without the generous support of the American people," said Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern. "Whether impacted by a fire in their home or a large disaster that affected their entire community, people look to the Red Cross for help during moments of tragedy. On Giving Day, we are asking everyone to #help1family, and to support our mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of such emergencies."

In just the first quarter of 2017, Red Cross workers in communities nationwide have responded to an unusually high number of multi-family fires–more than three times the number the year before. In addition, The Weather Channel reports that 27 people were killed by tornadoes so far this year, which is already more than the tornado-related deaths (17) in all of 2016. For disasters like these, the Red Cross is there to provide support to those in need.

Over the past year, Red Cross volunteers responded to 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories, including Hurricane Matthew, the Louisiana floods, wildfires, storms, and other emergencies. More than 32,000 Red Crossers opened nearly 800 emergency shelters providing 206,000 overnight stays, served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks, and distributed more than 2.1 million relief items. In addition, thousands of people across the country were impacted by a fire in their home.

Behind these statistics, however, are individuals and families that rely on their neighbors for help during their time of most need. For example, a gift of $88.50* can support a family of three with a day's worth of food, blankets, comfort and other essentials.

"Every eight minutes we meet a family who has lost everything," added McGovern. "By participating in our Giving Day, your help allows us to provide vital assistance to people in communities across the country impacted by home fires and other disasters."

Funds raised on April 26 will go toward supporting families recovering from disasters such as home fires, tornadoes and floods. Giving Day donations can be made at www.redcross.org/givingday. All donations will be processed on April 26, 2017.

*These dollar handles are based on FY16 data.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About our Giving Day Supporters:
The American Red Cross is grateful for those donors that are making an impact to #help1family by supporting our Giving Day. They include: Sunoco, Willow Springs Foundation, Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Inc, Carvel, The Franzen Family and Jim Hixon. Thanks to the kindness of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to provide hope and urgent relief to people when they need it most.

31/03/2017

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Releases Survey on National Aboriginal Languages Day Showing Majority of Canadians Support Efforts to Preserve, Protect and Revitalize Indigenous Languages

ReOn March 31, National Aboriginal Languages Day, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released results of a national survey showing that the majority of Canadians support legislation to preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada.

"It is important and encouraging that the majority of Canadians understand the need to promote and revitalize Indigenous languages," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Under the Indian Act and through the residential schools, Canada deliberately tried to eradicate Indigenous languages. We must undo the damage done. Our languages are national treasures spoken nowhere else. They are a shared part of our history and an essential element of our right to self-determination. We can work together to support and strengthen our languages, and we must start now."

There are currently more than 50 Indigenous languages being spoken in Canada, but only three are predicted to survive unless there is drastic action. The survey, conducted by Nanos Research, found that nearly three quarters of Canadians (74%) support the creation of an Indigenous Languages Act with the goal of ensuring the preservation, protection and revitalization of Indigenous languages in Canada. The most common reason given for this support was that language is important to culture and identity.

Following strong advocacy by the AFN and National Chief Bellegarde, the Prime Minister stated at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2016 that he would commit to co-developing an Indigenous Languages Act with Indigenous peoples to ensure the "preservation, protection, and revitalization of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit languages in this country." Budget 2017 included funding to support Indigenous languages.

National Chief Bellegarde stated: "I want to hear our Elders whisper the ancient words of the ancestors into the ears of our babies. I want to see our young people speaking our languages on school playgrounds. To Indigenous people, wherever you are, I encourage you to seek out our fluent speakers and learn from them. Insist on your right to have your local languages taught in the schools systems and keep working at being able to speak your language."

National Aboriginal Languages Day was established by AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly in 1989 to create awareness across Canada of the languages of the First Peoples, and to build support for their preservation.

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell- lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between February 25th and 28th, 2017. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Foundation Invests in Second Harvest's New Food Rescue Channel

 Second Harvest, Canada's largest food rescue charity, is proud to announce that they are the recipient of $1.5 million USD from a global foundation to support the launch of a new digital platform for food rescue and delivery, which will be known as foodrescue.ca.

The integrated digital platform will pilot in the GTA, connecting social service agencies with available surplus food. The platform will allow Second Harvest to rescue and deliver more food, focusing on smaller scale donations, adding to its already robust food rescue program. Last year, Second Harvest rescued and delivered over 9.5 million pounds of fresh, healthy surplus food, and is currently tracking at one million pounds a month in 2017.

"We are so grateful for this investment in an innovative solution aimed at feeding more people and reducing food waste," says Debra Lawson, Executive Director, Second Harvest, who notes that the pilot already has the support of six major national retailers and the potential for national scalability.

Second Harvest estimates that approximately 370,000 children, adults and seniors experienced food insecurity in Toronto last year, while over 1 billion pounds of food was wasted. "By connecting food donors directly with agencies," says Lawson, "we are able to ensure that more food gets to those who need it and that it doesn't end up going to waste."

About Second Harvest
Established in 1985, Second Harvest is the largest food rescue charity in Canada. Second Harvest rescues excess, fresh food that would otherwise go to waste, and delivers that food to more than 225 social service agencies in Toronto, feeding people experiencing hunger.​

29/03/2017

Dixonlicious Returns - A culinary celebration in support of vital food programs for Toronto's vulnerable, including homeless men and women

Dixon Hall is excited to announce the return of Dixonlicious, a culinary event featuring some of Toronto's best local restaurants, chefs, and caterers. Now in its third year, the event raises funds for Dixon Hall's vital food programs and supports vulnerable populations in the city's downtown east. Dixonlicious 2017 takes place on Wednesday, March 29th from 6 pm – 9 pm at Daniels Spectrum.

Dixon Hall's food programs provide over 200,000 nutritious meals each year, serving a diverse mix of vulnerable populations. All proceeds from Dixonlicious benefit these vital food programs including Meals on Wheels, homeless shelter programs, Out of the Cold, March Break and summer camps, seniors programs, and HIV/AIDs programs.

The number of people accessing Dixon Hall's meal programs continues to increase, and demand remains high, especially from homeless and vulnerably housed individuals. Dixon Hall's two emergency shelters, Heyworth House and Schoolhouse, remain at 99% capacity and have maintained this rate consistently for three years. The Out of the Cold program, focused on providing shelter during winter months, has seen an 11% increase in occupancy since 2016. The Out of the Cold program serves over 15,500 meals from November through January. As community members continue to face tough decisions daily, juggling financial responsibilities of paying rent vs. purchasing healthy groceries to feed their families, the need for food programs remains constant.

"Dixonlicious is community helping community. It's local culinary experts reaching out to their neighbour offering their talents in exchange for hope where there is food insecurity. Food has always been the way cultures unite as a community." said Dixon Hall CEO Neil Hetherington. "There are far too many people in our community who don't know where their next meal is coming from and now thanks to Dixonlicious we can answer that unknown."

Dixonlicious 2017 will feature delicious bites by Food Dudes, Hooked, Longos, and social enterprise restaurants Show Love Café and Hawthorne Food & Drink. Guests will also experience live entertainment, and get to bid on a selection of silent and live auction prizes including gift baskets, restaurant gift cards, theatre tickets, and home accessories.

Last year, proceeds from Dixonlicious helped bring more than 20,000 healthy meals to people in need – homeless men and women, frail and isolated seniors, Regent Park youth, and many more. This year's goal is to raise $75,000 and increase the amount of meals served to 25,000.

Prime Minister Trudeau to address Women in the World Summit in New York City

 The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that he will participate in the Women in the World Summit in New York City on April 6. The Prime Minister will take part in this event to continue to champion women's rights, and to emphasize the important role we all have to play to advance gender equality.

He will join CEOs, artists, and other activists to discuss how women's economic empowerment accelerates economic growth and the progress still needed to achieve gender equality.

While in New York City, the Prime Minister will also meet with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres to reaffirm Canada's strong commitment to the UN and its mission around the world.

Trudeau said, "We have achieved real progress in advancing women's equality, especially in the past decades, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We need the full and equal participation of women around the world. Our government is determined to continue being a leader on gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and empowering women in the workplace, so we can all realize our full potential, and create a stronger, more prosperous economy." 


28/03/2017

Time is running out for children as famine, drought and war threaten millions

 More than a month after famine was declared in South Sudan, time is running out for more than a million children as drought and armed conflict devastate lives in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.

"A month ago, these countries were on the brink of a hunger crisis. Today, that crisis has become a full blown catastrophe with the clock ticking towards a second declaration of famine," said UNICEF Canada President and CEO David Morley. "Unless we act now, it's only a matter of time before the lives and futures of millions more children and families are devastated."

22 million children at risk

Some 22 million children have been left hungry, sick, displaced and out of school in the four countries, UNICEF said. Nearly 1.4 million are at imminent risk of death this year from severe malnutrition.

UNICEF will require close to $255 million to provide these children with food, water, health, education and protection services for just the next few months, according to a new funding update.

Most of the funds – more than $81 million – will go towards nutrition programs to screen children for malnutrition and provide them with life-saving therapeutic food.

World must act before it's too late

This month, the Government of Canada committed $119.25 million to help scale up the humanitarian response to the crisis, including $9.6 million for UNICEF.

"We are pleased that Canada is taking action to help provide urgent relief to the millions of children and families suffering from malnutrition and hunger in South Sudan as well as in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen," said Morley. "UNICEF has been conducting massive relief operations in South Sudan since the conflict began, and is on the ground in all four countries, intensifying its response in the wake of the famine. But despite our best efforts, the current scale of the crisis is far outpacing the collective humanitarian response."

Of the funds needed, $53 million will be allocated to health services including vaccinations, while more than $47 million will go to water, sanitation and hygiene programs to prevent potentially deadly diahorreal diseases.

The remaining funds will help protect children affected by conflict and displacement and provide them with education services. Cash assistance will also be offered to the most vulnerable families.

The resources needed over the next few months are part of a broader appeal for all of 2017, totaling $712 million – a 50 per cent increase over funding requirements in the four countries at the same time last year.

"Children can't wait for yet another famine declaration before we take action," said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programs Manuel Fontaine. "We learned from Somalia in 2011 that by the time famine was announced, untold numbers of children had already died. That can't happen again."

UNICEF responding to famine threat

UNICEF has been working with partners in the four countries to respond to the famine threat and prevent it from spreading:

In northeast Nigeria, UNICEF will reach 3.9 million people with emergency primary healthcare services this year, treat 220,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five and provide more than a million people with access to safe water.

In Somalia, UNICEF is supporting 1.7 million children under the age of five, including the treatment of up to 277,000 severe acute malnutrition cases through facility-based and mobile health and nutrition services.

In South Sudan, UNICEF, together with partners, has delivered life-saving assistance to 128,000 people in areas affected or threatened by famine, including almost 30,000 children under the age of five.

In Yemen, UNICEF has scaled up activities to respond to malnutrition through health facilities, mobile teams, community health workers and volunteers reaching hard-to-access communities and displaced families. UNICEF is also supporting severely acutely malnourished children and their families with cash assistance and water and sanitation services, including the provision of safe water, supplies and hygiene promotion.
"The continued support of Canadians will make a difference in providing life-saving assistance where it's needed most," said Morley.

Armed conflict a driver of crisis

Armed conflict is a major driver of this crisis, UNICEF said, calling for unconditional, unimpeded and sustainable access to the children in need and an end to the violations of children's rights in the affected countries.

UNICEF also sounded the alarm about a worsening nutrition situation in neighbouring countries.

"As violence, hunger and thirst force people to move within and across borders, malnutrition rates will continue to soar not just in these four countries, but also in the Lake Chad basin and the Greater Horn of Africa," Fontaine said. "If humanitarian agencies do not get the access and resources they need to reach the most vulnerable, lives will be lost."

27/03/2017

Poverty, hunger and disease cripple childhood in Yemen as war completes two years

As the conflict in Yemen enters its third year, families' coping mechanisms are being stretched to their limit, risking a total collapse in resilience. According to a new UNICEF report "Falling through the Cracks", more than 17 million people – or 65 per cent of the population – are sinking deeper into vulnerability, poverty and insecurity. The poorest country in the Middle East, and one of the poorest countries in the world, is facing an economic, social and humanitarian crisis as never before.

"Yemen is at risk of becoming a forgotten crisis, but there are millions of children suffering who we cannot forget, and who the international community has an obligation to protect," said UNICEF Canada President and CEO David Morley. "Thousands of children are being killed, maimed and recruited to fight, while millions more are starving and dying from preventable diseases. We have already allowed two years of war to pass. The world must act now to ensure a third year of fighting doesn't steal the lives and futures of so many more vulnerable children."

Yemen facing food security emergency

Yemen is now the largest food security emergency in the world. The number of extremely poor and vulnerable people is skyrocketing. Every second person in Yemen now lives on less than US$2 a day. Around 80 per cent of families are in debt or are borrowing money simply to feed their children. Families are in general eating much less, opting for cheaper food or skipping meals.

"The war in Yemen is exposing children to more deprivation, disease and grave risk to their lives," said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

Ten million children in urgent need

According to the report, nearly ten million children or 80 per cent of the country's children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Other key findings from the report include:

At least 1,546 children were verified killed and 2,450 maimed between March 26, 2015 and February 28, 2017.
More than two million children are out of school.
Nearly half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
At least one child dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases.
One in two children under age five is stunted.
At least 1,572 boys – some as young as eight – were recruited to fight or were used for support roles.
More than two thirds of girls are married off before they reach 18.
UNICEF calls for four urgent measures

Despite the difficulties in delivering aid, UNICEF remains committed and on the ground providing nutrition screening, vaccinations and other life-saving support for millions of children and families caught up in the ongoing crisis.

UNICEF reiterates its call for:

An immediate political solution to the conflict.
An end to all grave violations against children.
Scaling up the emergency nutrition response to prevent famine.
Unimpeded humanitarian access for the delivery of basic services.

TVO documentary on migrant workers wins 2017 Canadian Hillman Prize

The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today it has awarded the 7th annual Canadian Hillman Prize to TVO for the groundbreaking documentary "Migrant Dreams." Min Sook Lee, the director, writer, and co-producer uses this film to explore the lives of migrant agricultural workers in Canada, bringing national attention and urgency to those who come to this country with hopes and dreams, yet end up being manipulated and exploited.

Judges Bonnie Brown, Tony Burman and Armine Yalnizyan, prominent Canadians with decades of journalism and public policy experience, selected the winner for its sobering depiction of the long-standing injustices facing farm workers in Ontario. Told through the experiences of migrant women from Indonesia, and the tenacious legal aid and union organizers advocating for them, the film exposes the entrenched government structure that facilitates the exploitation of vulnerable workers, and which is proven ripe for abuse by unscrupulous recruiters and companies for personal and corporate profit.

By winning the trust of these brave women, and telling their stories, Lee's work has led to legislative changes in the Temporary Foreign Worker program, and recorded the evidence that led to the criminal conviction of a recruiter, and landmark civil compensation for victims of wage theft and illegal fees.

"Canadians take great pride in opening their doors to Syrian refugees, and to those now crossing dangerously across our southern border. But the failure to address the dire conditions and precarious plight of those we invite here to work in our fields, greenhouses and packaging plants is a pernicious stain on this country's human rights record," said Bonnie Brown. "Migrant Dreams is a wake-up call to all of us, to stand up for the rights of foreign workers to be treated justly and fairly when they're on Canadian soil."

The Hillman judges recognized the Toronto Star and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) with honourable mentions for outstanding journalism. The Star series, "A Workers' Compensation System in Crisis," written by Sara Mojtehedzadeh, examines the quiet dismantling of Ontario's worker compensation system. The series resulted in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board reviewing its drug policies and its treatment of mentally ill workers. APTN investigative journalist, Jorge Barrera, showcased the devastating failure of the justice system when it convicted and imprisoned Connie Oakes, an innocent Cree woman, for second-degree murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta. His investigation, "Quest for Innocence," led to a focus on the justice system and eventually to Oakes' release from prison.

"Canadian journalists have always been at the forefront of investigative journalism and now it is more important than ever that we continue to deliver this high-quality, trustworthy reporting to Canadians and people abroad," said Alex Dagg, Canadian Board Member of the Hillman Foundation and Airbnb's Director of Canadian Public Policy. "From large news organizations to small, independent newsrooms, we had more entries this year than ever before and the body of work we saw was simply outstanding."

The recipients of the 2017 Canadian Hillman Prize and honourable mentions will be honoured at a ceremony in Toronto on March 30, 2017.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation honours excellence in journalism in service of the common good. The U.S Hillman Prizes have been awarded annually since 1950 and the Canadian Hillman Prize since 2011.


21/03/2017

Canada's Students Pleased to See Student Recommendations in Status of Women Report on Gender-based Violence

 The GTaking Action to End Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada released Monday. With the release of this report, students will focus energy on ensuring these recommendations are acted upon without delay.

"The release of this report is an important step towards action addressing gender-based violence on campuses and in communities across Canada," said Bilan Arte, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "The government now needs to move quickly to act on these recommendations, first by ensuring the necessary financial resources are available and second by empowering front line community and campus groups to lead the way."

The report is based on testimony and written submissions provided by stakeholder witnesses, including the Canadian Federation of Students. It contains 45 recommendations to the federal government, including several recommendations called for by the Federation.

Recommendations include:

Urging all jurisdictions to discuss mechanisms, including legislation, by which Canadian postsecondary institutions could be required to implement stand-alone sexual assault policies
Providing sexual violence intervention and sensitivity training for all students and staff during orientation times
Urging all jurisdictions to discuss mechanisms by which the provinces and territories could require all university and college administrations to establish sexual assault centres on campus, with free counselling services
Developing and investing in a nation-wide public awareness campaign to educate the public about consent, healthy sexuality, and bystander intervention
Allocating additional funding to research and data collection that focuses on intersectional violence against young women and girls in Canada
Working with front-line services and community organizations to help them ensure that their services and programs are accessible to all Canadians
For over 30 years the Canadian Federation of Students has campaigned to end gender and sexual-based violence. Most recently it has focused efforts on campus education and policy development and on the development of provincial and federal legislation. In the past year students have successfully secured legislation requiring universities and colleges to develop sexual violence policies in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.

"We know that the prevalence of sexual violence continues to be a significant barrier to accessing and succeeding in college and university for far too many people," said Arte "Students will continue to organize to win legislative change in every province and to ensure campuses have the tools and resources they need to appropriately address sexual and gender based violence.

The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 650,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country. Since 1981, the Canadian Federation of Students has worked with students from across Canada to build a culture of consent on campus and develop best practices to respond to instances of sexual and gender-based violence.

New Second-stage Housing Funding for Indigenous Women and Children

 Indigenous women and children fleeing domestic violence will soon have a new, safe place to call home, with the help of funding for second-stage affordable housing through the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. The federal and provincial governments have committed up to $824,000 for this project, which addresses the unique needs of urban Indigenous families in Halifax.

In August of 2016, the federal and provincial governments announced investments in affordable housing under Federal Budget 2016, which included support for victims of domestic violence. Housing Nova Scotia is investing $5.2 million in federal funding to support the construction and renovation of shelters for victims of domestic violence and transition houses.

Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, along with the Honourable Joanne Bernard, Minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, made the announcement today at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. He said, "The peace of mind that comes with having a secure and stable home is invaluable. These new units, managed by the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre, are another example of our Government's commitment toward ensuring that victims of domestic violence are able to enjoy a safe and stable environment."

Second stage housing is defined as longer-term, individual housing, which the tenant can live in for an extended period of time. If offers programs and services to help them to transition to independent living. This project will include one and two bedroom units intended for extended periods of transition. 

17/03/2017

Government of Canada Increases Financial Support for Veterans

 The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to ensure that Veterans and their families are treated with care, compassion and respect. Increasing the financial security of disabled Veterans, is the first foundational step in supporting mental health and well-being.

The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence announced today that, all Veterans with a Disability Award from Veterans Affairs Canada will receive an additional, tax-free, lump sum payment. He said, "It is important that we recognize our ill and injured Veterans. Through Budget 2016, we have worked hard to reopen offices, hire more frontline staff and increase financial benefits for Veterans. I am proud today to announce that every Veteran with a disability award will receive an additional lump sum payment. This means approximately $700 million dollars for 67,000 Veterans which will directly support their financial well-being."

As announced in Budget 2016, the maximum Disability Award is increasing from $314,723.89 to $360,000. This measure comes into effect on April 1, 2017.

Intended to recognize the non-economic impacts of a service-related injury or illness such as pain and suffering, the Disability Award is provided on a scale according to the level of disability and is in addition to income support benefits.

For those who have already received a Disability Award, no application is necessary to receive the additional lump sum payment. Veterans who received a Disability Award and are getting monthly program benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada, as well as those who received a Disability Award payment within the last two years will automatically get a letter explaining the amount of their additional lump sum payment by mid-April.

Any Veterans who received a Disability Award more than two years ago and who are not currently receiving monthly program benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada are encouraged to contact the Department immediately to confirm their address and banking information.

If Veterans would like to manage their information online and receive communication regarding their Disability Award increase along with other benefits and services, they can register for My VAC Account at www.veterans.gc.ca/myVACaccount. Through this on-line service, Veterans will be able to provide information, if required, to expedite the additional lump sum payment. VAC will reimburse eligible Veterans for financial advice on how to manage or invest the money.

Budget 2016 also provided funding for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to increase from 75% to 90% of a Veteran's indexed military salary. This benefit provides financial security by offering income support to Veterans while they are participating in VAC's Rehabilitation Program or until they reach age 65, whichever comes first. In addition, the enhanced benefit is fully protected against inflation. This means that the existing cap of 2% was removed to keep pace with inflation.

Humanitarian crisis in Thunder Bay

- OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has sent the following letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne:

Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Main Legislative Building, Room 281, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Subject: Humanitarian crisis in Thunder Bay

Dear Premier Wynne:

I am writing to ask you to intervene personally in a humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Thunder Bay.

Shelter House, an emergency shelter there, has announced that, effective April 1, it will suspend its Street Outreach Service (SOS) program. The program is a mobile service that helps people who lack housing, are publicly intoxicated, or living in encampments, providing them with food, shelter, transportation, and addictions counseling.

In 2016, Shelter House provided shelter to 928 individuals for a total of 20,352 bed stays. The SOS program provided 4,923 transports, and gave out 21,696 amenities such as blankets, coats, food, and water to homeless people in need. And make no mistake: this program saves lives.

All of this work will end for want of $200,000 a year.

There is no question that the SOS program saves money for the province by intervening in the lives of our most desperate citizens before they need medical care or require the attention of police. However, money is not the issue here. This is truly a humanitarian crisis in the making. In the name of treating all Ontarians with the dignity and respect they deserve, please intervene and make arrangements to keep the SOS program in operation.

My union represents some 60 workers at Shelter House, members of our Local 738. They do the work they do because they care deeply about the well-being of their fellow citizens. Please support them in this invaluable work.

I strongly encourage you to invest 2 minutes and 57 seconds of your time learning about this issue by watching Shelter House's video about the SOS program, available at www.shelterhouse.on.ca.

Thank you very much. I look forward to your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

c.
Patrick Brown, Leader, Official Opposition

Andrea Horwath, Leader, New Democratic Party of Ontario

Joe Everett, Unit Steward, OPSEU Local 738, Shelter House

Silvana Cacciatore, President, OPSEU Local 738

OPSEU Executive Board



16/03/2017

World Concern Responds to Drought Crisis in Somalia

 Seattle-based humanitarian organization World Concern is responding to the worsening drought crisis in Somalia.
According to UNOCHA, 6.2 million people in Somalia -- half the population -- are facing acute food insecurity. Of these, nearly 3 million need urgent, life-saving assistance. The prolonged severe drought is raising fears of famine equal to or worse than the 2011 Horn of Africa famine that killed 260,000 people.

"We are gravely concerned about the worsening drought crisis unfolding right now in Somalia. This severe drought is threatening the lives of children and families who are in dire need of immediate assistance. Families have lost entire herds of livestock -- their only source of income, and are migrating in search of food and water," said World Concern President Jacinta Tegman. "World Concern has worked in Somalia for 35 years, and we're on the front lines of this disaster. We were there during the 2011 famine, and we're responding again now with emergency aid to those who are suffering. We ask for prayers and support to assist as many as possible."

World Concern is delivering emergency water to 10 communities, and cash transfers and emergency supplies to drought-affected families in the Sool and Sanaag regions of Somaliland. Eighty-four trucks, each carrying 8,000 liters of water, will deliver water to communities in urgent need. And more than 1,300 families will receive cash transfers to buy food and meet critical needs.

More than 360,000 children in Somalia are acutely malnourished. Two-year-old Saleban was visibly thin and had suffered from diarrhea for two-and-a-half months when World Concern staff discovered the toddler during an assessment of the village where his family is staying temporarily. The family traveled here in search of water and food after losing all of their animals to the drought, said his mother, Xaawo. World Concern helped Saleban get to the hospital, where he's receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition. "We are very grateful to World Concern for their help and kindness that they have shown us by taking care of our son," said Xaawo.

Severely malnourished children under age 3, like Saleban, will receive emergency therapeutic nutrition from World Concern. Our Somalia team made a pledge this week that "No child will die on our watch," and are committed to doing everything possible to prevent child deaths from hunger in the communities World Concern is reaching. An urgent response from donors and the public is needed to help ensure this happens.

For on-the-ground interviews or more information, please contact Communications Director Cathy Herholdt, at 206-794-9775 or cathyh@worldconcern.org.

For more information on World Concern's programs or to donate, please visit www.worldconcern.org.
15/03/2017

Government of Canada concludes case study visit for Tackling Poverty Together project in Regent Park, Toronto, Ontario

​Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs) and Member of Parliament for Spadina–Fort York, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, thanked the community of Regent Park, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and all participants in the Tackling Poverty Together (TPT) project in Regent Park. The Government of Canada is committed to tackling poverty and inequality to achieve real results.

Vaughan said, "It is an honour to be a champion for Regent Park, Toronto—with heartfelt thanks, I am continuously amazed at the openness of this community to share its story and participate in the Tackling Poverty Together initiative. I am grateful for our community partners who have participated and shared their continued efforts towards reducing poverty. Through this research process we are building a poverty reduction strategy that will have real meaning and impact on not only our community members, but all Canadians."

TPT is intended to inform the development of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy and allow the Government of Canada to hear directly from Canadians living in poverty and learn from organizations that deliver poverty reduction programs at the community level.

Tackling Poverty Together

Tackling Poverty Together is a research project in six communities across Canada. It aims to assess the impact of poverty reduction programs locally in communities that have identified poverty as an issue, while learning directly from people who know first-hand what it's like to live in poverty. The project involves gathering qualitative and quantitative information on the impact of government programs on those living in poverty, barriers to accessing the programs, and ideas to improve existing programs.

The Tackling Poverty Together project will be implemented in Saint John, New Brunswick; Trois-Rivières, Quebec; Regent Park (Toronto), Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Tisdale, Saskatchewan; and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Consultations on a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy

The Government of Canada has launched an engagement website where interested individuals and organizations can provide their input and opinions on Canada's Poverty Reduction Strategy. Additionally, Minister Duclos will hold discussion forums and online town halls to hear what Canadians have to say.

The online engagement will be complemented by in-person roundtables with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous organizations, businesses, community organizations, academic experts and Canadians who have experienced poverty.

The Government welcomes all input on the ways to reduce poverty and its impacts, including potential targets, timelines, and indicators for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Advisory committee on poverty

The ministerial advisory committee on poverty will contribute to the development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy by complementing the public consultations. One of the committee's key roles will be to act as a sounding board to help test ideas that are generated in the public consultations process.

The committee's work will build on the consultations by providing independent advice on issues that could include

identifying priority areas of action;
aligning federal government actions to reduce poverty with those of the provinces and territories; and
how to replicate innovative approaches to poverty reduction at the national level.
The committee will operate for one year. Members will be representative of Canada's diversity and will be selected from five key areas, including academia, international expertise, service delivery, business, and people who have experienced poverty.

The committee members will be selected through a call for nominations process. Through this process, the Government of Canada invites interested individuals who have experience with poverty and poverty reduction to apply for the ministerial advisory committee on poverty. The nomination period is from February 13 to March 27, 2017.

Recent Government of Canada initiatives to support poverty reduction

When many think about poverty, the first thing that comes to mind is income. While income is essential for well-being, poverty is not only about a lack of adequate income. Being poor often goes hand-in-hand with other hardships such as poor housing, poor health, food insecurity, low employment and education outcomes, lack of access to transportation and services, and social exclusion. Poverty also impacts social mobility. The multidimensional nature of poverty means governments need to respond to both its causes and its consequences.

Accordingly, the Government of Canada has taken action on a range of issues with a view to reducing poverty in Canada. The Government has introduced the Canada Child Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up, and the middle-class tax cut. In addition to these actions, the Government has also committed to a framework for early learning and child care, a national housing strategy, a new health accord, primary and secondary education reform on reserve, investments in social and green infrastructure, a social finance and social innovation strategy, the development of accessibility legislation and investments for women fleeing violence, to name a few.

The community visit, which took place from February 27 to March 3, is the second case study completed out of six. The case study of Regent Park is intended to provide a broader understanding of poverty in the community as well as assess the impact of poverty reduction programs occurring within the community.

The community visit included speaking with people in Regent Park with a lived experience of poverty. Community members in Regent Park were engaged through a variety of mechanisms, including: surveys, focus groups, interviews and roundtable sessions. The input and feedback collected through these meetings and discussions will provide valuable information, including the impact of federal poverty reduction programs in the community, which will help shape the development of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The project placed a strong emphasis on partnership and engagement with stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto throughout the entire research process in Regent Park. The research explored unique characteristics and perspectives of poverty experienced in the community as well as local solutions and suggestions.

Next stops for the TPT project will include Winnipeg, Manitoba; Tisdale, Saskatchewan; Trois-Rivières, Quebec; and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

The TPT project will release its findings in late summer 2017. All Canadians are encouraged to learn more about what is happening under the Poverty Reduction Strategy by visiting the webpage or joining the online conversation to #ReducePoverty in Canada @SocDevSoc.

SPECIAL WOMEN'S DAY COVERAGE

14/03/2017

Government of Canada concludes first case study visit for Tackling Poverty Together project in Saint John, New Brunswick

Today, Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John–Rothesay, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, thanked the City of Saint John, the Government of New Brunswick, and all participants in the Tackling Poverty Together (TPT) project in Saint John. The Government of Canada is committed to tackling poverty and inequality to achieve real results.

Long said, "I would like to thank the community of Saint John, New Brunswick, for being open and willing to participate in the Tackling Poverty Together initiative. I am grateful for our community members who have shared their struggles and barriers in their daily lives. I am confident that by working with our partners, we will build a poverty reduction strategy that will have real meaning and impact for Canadians."

TPT is intended to inform the development of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy and allow the Government of Canada to hear directly from Canadians living in poverty and learn from organizations that deliver poverty reduction programs at the community level. The community visit included speaking with people in Saint John and listening to their stories to assess the impact of government programs on their everyday life.

During the Saint John community visit, 136 people with a lived experience of poverty were consulted through focus groups and in-person surveys. As well, a roundtable session was conducted with 15 community stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations involved in poverty reduction initiatives and federal, provincial and municipal government representatives. At the completion of the quantitative aspect of the research, 1,000 people in Saint John will have been surveyed. The input and feedback collected through these surveys, meetings and discussions will provide valuable information which will help shape the development of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Next stops for the TPT project will include Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Tisdale, Saskatchewan; Trois-Rivières, Québec; and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

The TPT project will release its findings in late summer 2017. All Canadians are encouraged to learn more about what is happening under the Poverty Reduction Strategy by visiting the webpage or joining the online conversation to #ReducePoverty in Canada @SocDevSoc.

Minister Monsef Heads Canadian delegation to advance gender equality at United Nations

 Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, announced Canada's delegation to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), beginning on March 12, 2017 in New York. The delegation includes four federal Ministers, two Parliamentary Secretaries, provincial/territorial Ministers, Parliamentarians, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. The focus of the UNCSW this year is women's economic empowerment and the changing world of work.

During the UNCSW session, Minister Monsef, as the Head of the Delegation, will underscore Canada's commitment to achieving gender equality through the empowerment of women and girls from coast to coast to coast. This includes supporting women's participation in the workforce through a number of actions in areas such as early learning and childcare, flexible work arrangements, and reform of the federal pay equity regime. Making economic gains for women in Canada requires strong federal leadership, as well as a collaborative approach to working with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous Peoples, and non-governmental organizations.

Canada will co-host a series of side event discussions on critical issues affecting women and girls including: gender-based violence and women's economic empowerment. Ministers will also undertake bilateral discussions with their international counterparts.

Minister Monsef will be joined in the Canadian delegation by her colleagues the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women. A number of Parliamentarians will also join the delegation including Sheila Malcolmson, Marc Serre, Anju Dhillon, Karen Ludwig, Leona Alleslev, Eva Nassif, and Senator Marilou MacPhedran.

Monsef said, "Our government is determined to remain a leader on gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and developing innovative solutions for women's economic empowerment, while advocating strongly for women's rights at home and globally. This year's UN Commission on the Status of Women provides us with the opportunity to underscore our commitment to advancing these issues. With women's full participation in every sphere of society, Canada and the world can achieve their full potential."

The following representatives from non-governmental organizations will be members of the delegation:

Rachelle Venne, Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
Rebecca Kudloo, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
Sally Dimachki, Young Diplomats of Canada
Anne Delorme, L'Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale
Ann Decter, YWCA Canada
Ngozi Otti, African Community Investment Cooperative of Canada
The delegation includes representatives of provincial and territorial governments, including:

The Honourable Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women, Ontario
The Honourable Joanne Bernard, Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act, Nova Scotia
The Honourable Jeanie Dendys, Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate, Yukon
Lise Thériault, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Québec
The Honourable Stephanie McLean, Minister of Status of Women, Alberta
Cathy Bennett, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Newfoundland and Labrador​

13/03/2017

Hitting rock bottom: Children's suffering in Syria at its worst, UNICEF reports on sixth anniversary of deadly conflict

 Grave violations against children in Syria were the highest on record in 2016, said UNICEF in a grim report of the conflict's impact on children, as the war reaches six years.

Verified instances of killing, maiming and recruitment of children increased sharply last year in a drastic escalation of violence across the country.

At least 652 children were killed – a 20 per cent increase from 2015 – making 2016 the worst year for Syria's children since the formal verification of child casualties began in 2014.
255 children were killed in or near a school.
More than 850 children were recruited to fight in the conflict, more than double the number recruited in 2015. Children are being used and recruited to fight directly on the frontlines and are increasingly taking part in combat roles, including in extreme cases as executioners, suicide bombers or prison guards.
There were at least 338 attacks against hospitals and medical personnel.
"We've reached yet another devastating milestone in the Syrian humanitarian crisis. Not only has the conflict entered its seventh year, but more children than ever are suffering the tragic consequences," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO who recently returned from visiting refugee children in neighbouring Jordan. "Canada has shown tremendous leadership in responding to the crisis, but the growing need continues to far outpace the response, at the expense of children's lives and their hopes and dreams for the future."

Nearly six million children require urgent aid

After six years of war, nearly six million children now depend on humanitarian assistance, a twelve-fold increase from 2012. Millions of children have been displaced, some up to seven times. Over 2.3 million children are now living as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Challenges in access in several parts of Syria stand in the way of assessing the full scale of children's suffering and of urgently getting humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable girls and boys. Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, children are dying in silence often from diseases that can otherwise be easily prevented. Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult.

Inside Syria and across its borders, coping mechanisms are eroding, and families are taking extreme measures just to survive, often pushing children into early marriage and child labour. In more than two thirds of households, children are working to support their families, some in extremely harsh conditions unfit even for adults.

280,000 children living under siege

The most vulnerable among Syria's children are the 2.8 million in hard-to-reach areas, including 280,000 children living under siege, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid.

"The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa speaking from Homs, Syria. "Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future."

Yet despite the horrors and suffering, there are many remarkable stories of children determined to pursue their hopes and aspirations. Darsy, 12, now a refugee in Turkey said: "I want to be a surgeon to help the sick and injured people of Syria. I dream of a Syria without a war so we can go home. I dream of a world without any wars."

"We continue to witness the courage of Syria's children. Many have crossed frontlines just to sit for school exams. They insist on learning, including in underground schools. There is so much more we can and should do to turn the tide for Syria's children," said Cappelaere.

UNICEF calls for five urgent actions

Canada has demonstrated global leadership through a comprehensive response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. Last year, the Government of Canada committed $1.11 billion over three years to address the crises in Syria and Iraq, while also matching eligible donations to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund from September 2015 to February 2016, which saw $31.8 million generously donated from individual Canadians. The government's $31.8-million contribution to the matching fund was allocated entirely to UNICEF, to increase the number of vulnerable and conflict-affected children that can access education in Jordan and Syria and to support a life-saving nationwide vaccination campaign in Syria. At the UNGA in September 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also committed $78 million for UNICEF's No Lost Generation initiative, bringing Canada's total contribution up to more than $238 million since 2014.

Still, the needs continue to rise and greater action must be taken to help the vulnerable children of Syria. UNICEF is appealing to all parties to the conflict, those who have influence over them, the international community and anyone who cares about children for:

An immediate political solution to end the conflict in Syria;
an end to all grave violations against children including killing, maiming and recruitment, and attacks on schools and hospitals;
the lifting of all sieges and unconditional and sustained access to all children in need, wherever they are in Syria;
sustainable support provided to refugee host governments and communities for vulnerable children, regardless of their status; and
continued financial support for UNICEF's lifesaving assistance to Syrian children.
UNICEF's publication Hitting Rock Bottom and broadcast quality b-roll is available here.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.

IWD Toronto issues united call to "Stop the hate, Unite the fight"

 Thousands took part in the annual International Women's Day rally and march in downtown Toronto calling for an end to all forms of bigotry, racism and violence against women.

"Our message this year is to unite the fight. Together we are sending a powerful message that as women we say no to Islamophobia, anti-Black racism and all forms of oppression," said Jenny Ahn from the IWD Committee. "We call for gender justice and an end to all forms of violence against women and that includes economic violence. Good jobs with a living wage are vital for all women to have economic independence and to help us provide for our families."

A highlight of today's events was an indoor rally with speaker Shaila Kibria-Carter who has actively supported the families of the six men murdered in the Quebec City mosque attack. "The attack on the Quebec mosque is a tragic reminder that racism and bigotry exists in today's society and in Canada. It is important that people of all genders and backgrounds come together to show loudly and clearly there will be no tolerance for hate, and this is why I am marching today," said Kibria-Carter.

Viktoria Belle spoke about the efforts of hundreds of grassroots women who joined together to stop sexual assault. Belle said, "Survivors of sexual assault and our allies have reached a breaking point. We no longer accept complacency about rape culture and the systems of inequality. We are organizing, mobilizing and demanding change and we remain united and resistant."

The rally ended with an appeal for solidarity from Kiké Roach who told the crowd, "Today we remember the struggles of the women who came before us, who marched and worked and sacrificed to make life better for all of us. We come together to celebrate and defend the gains of the women's movement, but we must remain vigilant to speak out against misogyny and all forms of oppression, knowing that when we stand united we are powerful."

Toronto's International Women's Day March has been an annual event since 1978 bringing together women's groups, community organizations, trade unions, students and women's rights advocates of all genders to celebrate and work for change. For more information on the International Women's Day 2017 visit www.iwdtoronto.ca or follow @IWD_TO.

WFP PROVIDES SCHOOL MEALS TO 
SYRIAN CHILDREN ACROSS ALEPPO CITY

 In March, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing school meals for the first time to Syrian children attending public primary schools in areas in Aleppo city previously inaccessible to WFP and other humanitarian organizations.
 
The meals include a carton of milk fortified with vitamins and minerals and a locally-baked date bar, which provide schoolchildren with the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn in class. Through its local partner, WFP has so far distributed school meals to about 15,000 children at 30 schools in Aleppo since the programme began on 5 March. 
 
The Syrian crisis, soon entering its seventh year, has derailed the educational system in Syria, leaving an estimated 1.75 million children and young people out of school. School meals are a critical component to help bring children back to school in Syria, and ensure every child has access to education, health and nutrition.
 
“This is a turning point for children in Aleppo, many of whom haven’t attended school for years because it was simply too dangerous to go outside due to constant fighting,” said WFP Syria Country Director and Representative Jakob Kern. “Now that relative stability has returned to Aleppo, these daily nutritious meals encourage parents to send their children – especially girls – to school and to keep them there.”
 
WFP has also begun to provide fresh school meals each school day to more than 2,000 children in two schools in Aleppo city. This new programme provides each student with a fresh meal, consisting of a sandwich and piece of fruit or vegetable. The programme employs 20 Syrian women in Aleppo who prepare the meals, which are then distributed by a WFP local partner.
                                                  
In 2014, WFP launched its school meals programme in Syria by providing meals in Tartous, Rural Damascus and Aleppo governorates. By the end of the 2016 academic year, WFP had expanded school meals and reached nearly half a million children across 10 governorates. Until recently, access constraints had prevented the expansion of the programme into some areas.
 
In 2017, WFP plans to scale up its school meals programme to reach up to 750,000 children across Syria. This is in addition to a programme that plans to provide 50,000 out-of-school children with vouchers. 
 
Since January, WFP has provided food assistance to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians returning home to formerly conflict-affected areas in Aleppo city. In addition to distributing ready-to-eat rations with staple food items such as canned chickpeas, meat and tuna, vegetables, olive oil, and thyme, WFP is delivering bulk food to public kitchens that distribute hot meals to families in Aleppo each day.
 

09/03/2017

Juniper Systems provides over 2,000 supplies for orphanage school in Zimbabwe with plans to continue efforts

Juniper Systems, Inc. recently shipped out over 2,000 school supplies to the Lirhanzo Children’s Village, an orphanage and school in Chikombedzi, Zimbabwe, to provide the necessary means for children to learn and grow. Juniper Systems sent a load of supplies at the end of last year with plans to continue efforts by setting up a GoFundMe account and collecting additional donations to send to the village by the end of the month

“As a worldwide company, we care on a global level,” said Cimberlee Foulger, Event Coordinator at Juniper Systems. “The people that work here are truly passionate about helping others, and not just those in our community. We’ve always made an effort to make a difference in the lives of others, and it will always be a priority to continue these efforts as a company.”
After the Juniper Systems office in Birmingham, UK sent the first load of supplies at the end of last year, the organization was thanked for its contributions and anticipated sending additional supplies immediately.  
Founder of Lirhanzo Children’s Village Ezelle Schimper said, “You have no idea how difficult it sometimes is for a rural setup to obtain something as simple as a pencil.”

With 250 students currently enrolled to attend school in the village and little funding for a classroom, children are taught in a chicken run, garage, and under a tree. The village recently started construction on a three-classroom school after receiving partial funding from another organization. Juniper Systems is currently gathering additional funding to provide the materials necessary to finish the school.

“We literally live on a prayer for both the orphanage and the school,” said Schimper. “We are very grateful for any donations towards making life for these children better.”

To read more about the Lirhanzo Children’s Village and make a donation to help finish the school click here.

SPECIAL WOMEN'S DAY COVERAGE

08/03/2017

Indigenous Families Heartbroken Murdered Sons Will Not be Meaningfully Included in the National Inquiry

The Coalition to Expand the Inquiry is disappointed with the sudden and unexplained policy reversal from the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls not to meaningfully include the stories of missing and murdered boys and men.

"The new statement from the National Inquiry acknowledges the real violence faced by our young men, but instead of treating it as deserving of meaningful engagement actually aims to use the often brutal death of our sons merely as tools for another end," said Ernie Crey, Expand the Inquiry Coalition Chair and BC Indigenous leader. "This adds salt to the wounds for families that have already suffered the worst possible tragedy."

The Expand the Inquiry Coalition has worked to find a way where all Indigenous families would be given a seat at the table. "The Coalition will continue to uphold this commitment by putting in place a separate process where the testimony of families that have lost sons, brothers and fathers in tragic circumstances can be heard and made available to the public and policy makers," said Chief Crey.

On January 11, 2016, the National Inquiry released a statement which acknowledged the severity of violence against Indigenous men, stating "the often male aggressor has often been the victim himself of sexual or other childhood violence thus perpetuating the cycle of violence so well documented." Then on February 7, 2017, the Commissioners made an about face and stated they will only hear testimony regarding violence against men as a way to better understand how "violence against male victims underpins the female tragedy."

This development is all the more baffling since meetings held by the Expand the Inquiry Coalition with MPPs in the Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee as well as Senator Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, indicated that the scope of the National Inquiry was sufficiently expansive that missing and murdered men and boys could be meaningfully included.

Burlington Mom Wins Mompreneur® StartUp Award

 A Burlington mom who turned an idea to help her son's teething issue into a sought after baby product, and now a global business has won the 2017 Mompreneur® StartUp Award.

Melissa Seifert-Hyslop, wife and mother of two who lives in Burlington's Orchard area was among six finalists in the fifth annual awards. Although surprised that she won because of the extremely talented competition, she is humbled and honoured. "After a very long 2 1/2 years of research, design, mistakes, re-design, development…and a second baby, the Munch Mitt was launched in retail at New York Toy Fair in 2015 with an overwhelming positive response from trade peers. So much so that the Munch Mitt was profiled in the American Specialty Retailers Association and the Canadian Toy Association list of new innovative products, suggested for retailers to purchase. And now, to receive the Mompreneur honour from my Canadian women peers, I am beside myself! I encourage all moms to take the risk in something they truly believe in. It's hard work and can be challenging but there is no better feeling than knowing you have helped parents and children."

Seifert-Hyslop's journey as a Mompreneur began in 2012 shortly after her oldest son turned one. Her cuddly, happy go-lucky toddler had turned into a teething, grumpy drool monster. Nothing on the market could relieve his teething pain aside from gnawing on his hands; so much so that he developed eczema on them. Since there was nothing available on the market to aid with such a problem, Seifert-Hyslop spent a few years of intense research and development creating the world's first teething mitt, the Munch Mitt. The "handy" sensory teething solution provides easy access pain relief for teething babies who are learning grip and direction. In addition, its black and white patterns and crinkly sound provide sensory stimulation all while protecting baby's hands from irritation due to chewing. The Munch Mitt is made from food grade silicone, is BPA and Phthalate free and has undergone rigorous safety standard testing.

Seifert-Hyslop added, "The Munch Mitt can now be found in over 13 countries internationally, including over 2,600 independent stores in North America. Not only has the trade industry received the Munch Mitt warmly, it opened a door to parents with teething children as well as doctors with teething babies around the world!

Winners were announced March 4 in Toronto at the 2017 National Mompreneurs® Conference. Seifert-Hyslop was named the winner by her peers and the business community.

Munch Baby Inc/Malarkey Kids – FUNctional Products
Munch Baby Inc/Malarkey Kids – FUNctional Products, is an award winning company providing teething solutions for babies aged 3 to 18 months. Launched by entrepreneur Melissa Hyslop, products can be purchased worldwide, including to approximately 2,000 retailers across North America. For more information about Munch Baby Inc/Malarkey Kids – FUNctional Products and to find supporting retailers, please visit www.MalarkeyKids.com. Follow us on Facebook and on Instagram via @MunchMitt.​

07/03/2017

Syrian Children Face Growing Mental Health Crisis, New Report Reveals

A new report by Save the Children has revealed a mental health crisis among children trapped in Syria, as the war approaches the six year mark.

The children's rights organization and its Syrian partners interviewed more than 450 children, adolescents and adults across seven governorates in Syria for Invisible Wounds, the largest study of its kind conducted during the course of the conflict. The report finds that many children are living in an almost constant state of fear, terrified by shelling, airstrikes and ongoing violence, with devastating psychological consequences.

Save the Children's new report shows that the constant psychological strain on children has manifested itself in bed wetting, involuntarily urination in public, speech impediments and children losing the ability to speak altogether, increased aggression and substance abuse. Communities and professionals also report a rise in self harm and suicide attempts among children as young as 12.

Findings show 84% of adults and almost all children believe ongoing bombing and shelling is the number one cause of psychological stress in children's daily lives

50% of children say they never or rarely feel safe at school and 40% say they don't feel safe to play outside, even right outside their own home.

71% said that children increasingly suffer from frequent bedwetting and involuntary urination

Experts say children are now suffering from "toxic stress" as a result of the extreme violence inside Syria, risking life-long impact on children's mental health

Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children, said, "What this research shows is that we are witnessing a mental health crisis among children brought about by six years of war in Syria. Children are soiling themselves when they hear a loud noise, terrified to play outside, afraid to go to school but worried that their futures are being ruined without an education.

"It is a tragedy that can't be allowed to continue -- we can end the toxic stress many children are suffering by stopping the bombardment of civilian areas like schools and hospitals, and reaching everyone with life-saving aid and psychological support."

"Canada's multi-year assistance to Syria is very welcome, and must include funding for children's mental health. Without this support, we risk condemning a generation of children to a lifetime of mental and physical health problems -- we need to ensure that children who have already lost six years of their lives to war don't have to lose their whole future as well."

Mental health experts consulted for this report said findings show children are suffering from a condition called 'toxic stress', which can occur when children experience strong, frequent or prolonged adversity, such as the extreme violence occurring in the Syria conflict.(1) Continuous toxic stress response can have a life-long impact on children's mental and physical health.

The report also highlighted children's fear in continuing their education in the context of continued violence, limiting children's ability to get to and from their schools and safely learn once inside. Almost half of children interviewed said they did not feel safe at school or playing outside.

Zeinab, aged 12, at a displaced persons camp in Hassakeh NE Syria, "When the war came, all the Syrian children forgot everything they learned and now know nothing else except war. I feel like I've seen so many terrible things. I lost out on two years of school, and my brother has grown up and has hardly studied at all. What if I get old and I continue on this same path and I lose out on my entire future?"

In addition to losing out on education, the ongoing violence inside Syria -- particularly airstrikes and shelling on civilian infrastructure like schools -- have a profound impact on children's mental wellbeing, and came out strongly in the report as the primary cause of child mental health issues.

Save the Children is very pleased the Government of Canada recently endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, which aims to reduce the use of schools by armed groups and forces in a conflict and to minimize the negative impact of war on children's education. The children's rights organization, which has long called for Canada to endorse the Declaration, welcomed Minister for International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau's statement that children belong in schools and must be protected.

As the Syria conflict approaches the six year mark, Save the Children is calling for an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated end to the violence, and for:

All parties to stop using explosive weapons in populated areas and attacking civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals, as this clearly came through as the main cause of children's distress and fear.

An immediate end to siege tactics and unrestricted humanitarian access to all areas, so that agencies like Save the Children and our partners can reach the most vulnerable.

The Government of Canada and other donors to make a new global commitment to support children's mental health and wellbeing in emergencies, including sufficient funding for mental health and psychosocial programming inside Syria


(1) Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/; Shonkoff, J P and Gardner, A S (2012) The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress, American Academy of Pediatrics,

Three Critical Accelerators to Closing the Gender Pay Gap for Class of 2020, Accenture Research Finds

Women graduating from university in developed markets in 2020 could be the first generation to close the gender pay gap in their professional lifetimes, according to new research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The report, Getting to Equal 2017, reveals that, within decades, the pay gap could close if women take advantage of three career equalizers and if business, government and academia provide critical support.

With these changes, the pay gap in developed markets could close by 2044, shortening the time to pay parity by 36 years. In developing markets, the changes could cut more than 100 years off the time to reach pay parity, achieving it by 2066 instead of 2168. In Canada, the pay gap could close as early as 2035, shortening the time to pay parity by 24 years.

"The future workforce must be an equal workforce. The gender pay gap is an economic and competitive imperative that matters to everyone, and we must all take action to create significant opportunities for women and close the gap more quickly," said Bill Morris, Canada President and Senior Managing Director at Accenture.

Accenture's research found that, globally, a woman earns an average $100 for every $140 a man earns. Adding to this imbalance is the fact that women are much less likely than men to have paid work (50 percent and 76 percent, respectively). This contributes to a "hidden pay gap" that increases the economic inequities between men and women: for every $100 a woman earns, a man earns $258, the research shows.

The research also identifies several critical factors that affect a woman's ability to achieve equal pay as early as university. Female undergraduates in Canada are currently less likely than their male counterparts to choose an area of study that they believe offers high earning potential (27 percent vs. 51 percent), have a mentor (33 percent vs. 61 percent) or aspire to senior leadership positions (30 percent vs. 47 percent). Additionally, young women lag in adopting new technologies quickly (46 percent vs. 62 percent) and in taking coding and computing courses (60 percent vs. 80 percent).

The report, which builds on Accenture's 2016 research on closing the gender gap in the work place, offers three powerful accelerators to help women close the pay gap:

Digital fluency – the extent to which people use digital technologies to connect, learn and work
Career strategy – the need for women to aim high, make informed choices, and manage their careers proactively
Tech immersion – the opportunity to acquire greater technology and stronger digital skills to advance as quickly as men
Applying these career accelerators, combined with support from business, government and academia, could reduce the pay gap by 35 percent by 2030, boosting women's income $3.9 trillion.

"Gender equality is an essential element of an inclusive workplace, and this extends to pay," said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture's chairman and CEO. "Business, government and academia all have an important role to play in closing the gap. Collaboration among these organizations is key to providing the right opportunities, environments and role models to lead the way for change."

More Women Than Ever Now Holding Top Corporate Jobs in Canada

 Gender diversity at the top of Canadian corporations is coming incrementally, but a tipping point may soon be within sight, according to the 12th annual report from global talent acquisition firm Rosenzweig & Company.

Each year, the Rosenzweig Report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada tracks how many women hold the highest executive positions at Canada's 100 biggest publicly-traded companies. These leaders of industry – CEOs, CFOs and others – are critical when it comes to changing corporate culture and enhancing diversity.

There are now 48 women in these key positions, up from 42 the previous year (a 14.3% increase) and more than double the 23 women with those jobs in the first Rosenzweig Report in 2006. Women now hold 9.02% of these important jobs, compared to 7.9% a year ago, and only 4.62% in 2006.

"There's still much room for improvement but this is a positive signal when it comes to gender equality in business and society in general," says Jay Rosenzweig, Managing Partner of Rosenzweig & Company.

Adds Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs: "Women's engagement in decision-making is essential to the success of Canadian businesses, and at the core of our values of diversity and inclusion. While Canada can be proud of its history, we have more work to do."

"It's time to really double down on our efforts to support the advancement of women entrepreneurs, women in leadership roles and women decision makers," says Dawn Farrell, President and CEO of TransAlta Corp., and a member of the Canada-U.S. Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, established concurrent to the recent meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump. "I'm excited by the prospects of working with female CEOs both here in Canada and the United States on what we can collectively do to make a difference and move the bar. Jay's report will keep us honest."

Another member of the new council promises to open doors wider for women. "I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to creating better conditions for women entrepreneurs by defending more access to capital, and promoting stronger networking and support," says Monique Leroux, president of the board of Investissement-Québec, and former CEO of Desjardins. "This will not only be a benefit to women but also to our society. We have to continue to work together for the growth of our businesses, and to position Canada in international markets in order to contribute to creating a better world."

More and more male leaders – political and corporate – are calling for change; and at a faster rate.

"If the success of Toronto and Canada will ultimately depend on our ability to attract and keep talent, the most sensible place to start is with the biggest of all of the underrepresented groups, namely women," says Toronto Mayor John Tory. "For many reasons, it's the right thing to do."

The annual Rosenzweig Report tracks the largest publicly-traded companies in Canada based on annual revenue ranging from $47 billion down to $2.4 billion. Each of these companies is required to file with regulators management circulars with names and compensation of the top five or more executives.

With a 12-year track record, many leaders are acknowledging its role as a catalyst for change.

"Each year the Rosenzweig Report serves as an invaluable reminder that the advancement of women is proceeding incrementally at best in many C-suites and boardrooms across the nation," says Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Board, Royal Bank of Canada, former President and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and a founding member of the 30% Club. "By aggregating and quantifying results, the Report highlights the fact that only modest gains are being made, hopefully providing a fact-based impetus for corporate Canada to move beyond more talk and get straight to more action."

Adds author and media executive Kirstine Stewart, "What's more, the millions of women and men who marched worldwide on January 21 for gender equality cannot be ignored. It is Our Turn."

Here are some key learnings in this year's Rosenzweig Report:

Of the 532 executives, 484 are men and 48 are women. The number of men remains the same year over year, but women increased by six. In percentage terms, women now hold 9.02% of these important jobs compared to 7.98% a year ago and only 4.62% in 2006.
Of the 100 largest companies, 39 now have at least one woman in a top leadership role; this is up from only 34 companies the previous year.
In the 25 largest companies, there are now six women at the top level; up from four the previous year.
In the corner office, there are six women CEOs.
Rosenzweig & Company is a high-end global talent management firm that focuses on designing, building and acquiring world class teams for its diverse client base.

Class Action Launched Against Canada for Prolonged Administrative Solitary Confinement in Federal Institutions

Koskie Minsky LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP have commenced a class action against the Attorney General of Canada alleging systemic infliction of prolonged administrative solitary confinement upon prisoners incarcerated in Federal Institutions.

In prolonged administrative solitary confinement, prisoners are placed in small cells and are denied any meaningful human contact for at least 22 hours per day, for a period of at least 15 consecutive days. This treatment is imposed in instances where the prisoner has done nothing wrong and is not being punished.

The Statement of Claim, issued on March 3, 2017, alleges that by virtue of this practice in federal correctional institutions, Canada has been negligent, has breached its fiduciary duties, has breached various rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has subjected class members to false imprisonment, intentional infliction of mental suffering, assault, and battery, and has been unjustly enriched.

Jullian Reddock, a prisoner currently incarcerated in the Donnacona Institution in Quebec, is the proposed representative plaintiff on behalf of the class. His counsel believes that thousands of individuals will be included in this class proceeding.

Kirk Baert, co-lead counsel at Koskie Minsky LLP, has stated "Canada has repeatedly ignored calls from domestic and international groups to end the barbaric practice of prolonged administrative solitary confinement, and by doing so, has committed numerous wrongs and breached its statutory obligations owed to prisoners, for which it should be forced to account".

Michael Rosenberg, co-lead counsel at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, has stated "This case provides a voice to these vulnerable class members who have been left to languish in prolonged administrative solitary confinement. They have suffered serious harm and they deserve access to justice".​

06/03/2017

Nunavut hosts USA workshop on Indigenous Suicide Prevention

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are pleased to report on some of the steps being taken to address suicide in Arctic States with the closing workshop of the RISING SUN Initiative (Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups – Strengths United through Networks). This was the third of a series of collaborative workshops held under the auspices of the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, focusing on ways to effectively prevent suicide among Indigenous people in the circumpolar region.

The objective of the RISING SUN initiative was to develop a set of common definitions, measurements and standards to help healthcare workers in different systems better serve their communities, while helping policymakers measure progress, monitor the implementation of interventions, and identify local challenges to implementation. Participants examined how the RISING SUN complements key strategies such as ITK's National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy. The workshop was also used as a platform for Finnish delegates towards the recently developed Mental Wellness Strategy for Saami Peoples and towards the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council between 2017-2019.

ICC, ITK and CIHR look forward to working with Finland who takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council for 2017-2019 with suicide prevention as a continued shared priority.

"I was encouraged by the participation, particularly from those individuals who live in circumpolar communities. It is clear that mental wellness and suicide prevention is an urgent priority across the north. The network that has been created must be sustained and the work that remains must always be centred on community needs," said Okalik Eegeesiak,
Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) is the national representational organization for Canada's 60,000 Inuit, the majority of whom live in 53 communities spread across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Northwest Territories), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador).                                            
02/03/2017

L'Oréal Paris Celebrates Inspirational Canadian Women of Worth and Donates $110,000 to Their Charities

 L'Oréal Paris today proudly announced the inspirational recipients of its inaugural Canadian Women of Worth program. The signature philanthropic program embodies the L'Oréal Paris belief that 'Every Woman Is Worth It' by elevating and celebrating women who find beauty in giving back. The 10 Women of Worth Honourees will be celebrated and awarded more than $100,000 in charitable grants at an Awards Gala on March 8, International Women's Day, hosted by L'Oréal Paris spokesperson, award-winning actress and humanitarian, Blake Lively.

"We have been inspired and awestruck by the hundreds of Women of Worth nominations we received about extraordinary Canadian women who are selflessly volunteering their time and talents to make Canada a better place," said Stephanie Binette, General Manager, L'Oréal Paris in Canada. "Our first Canadian Women of Worth are advocates for refugees and the homeless, and champions for women and youth in need, among many other important causes. We applaud this year's Honourees, and look forward to celebrating their worth, generosity and innovation on International Women's Day."

The Women of Worth program honours Canadian women who selflessly volunteer their time to serve and improve their communities. In its inaugural year in Canada, the program received more than 350 nominations which were judged by L'Oréal Paris, Points of Light, the world's largest volunteer service organization, and esteemed volunteer leadership experts. Selection criteria was based on the impact of the cause on the social fabric of the community, the nominee's ability to meet an unmet community need or concern, as well as the passion and innovation she has demonstrated to effect change.

Public Invited to Vote for National Honouree
One of the 10 Women of Worth Honourees will be selected as the National Honouree and will be awarded an additional $10,000 grant for her charity at the Awards Gala. The public can visit www.womenofworth.ca to read more details about each Honouree's inspirational cause and vote for their favourite until March 7. Voters can cast one online vote per email address each day. These votes will be a core factor in the judging panel's selection of the National Honouree.

The inaugural Canadian Women of Worth Honourees are:

Abirami Abi Kirubarajan, Multicultural Youth CAN in Mississauga, Ont. – has aided more than 700 Sri Lankan youth in their transition to Canada

Audrey Guth, Nanny Angel Network in Toronto – provides free relief childcare services to mothers who are battling cancer to enable them to get the care and rest they need

Betty Lorraine Cornelius, CANGRANDS in Belleville, Ont. – assists extended "kinship" families raise children when their parents are unable or unwilling to

Cheryl Perera, OneChild in Richmond Hill, Ont. – spreads awareness, lobbies government and fundraises to rescue and rehabilitate human trafficking survivors

Deanna McCarron, Kidzact in Dayton, N.S. – offers free dance and gymnastics programs to local youth in exchange for their pledge not to drink or use drugs

Eva von Jagow, DueNORTH from Montreal / Stittsville, Ont. – provides and promotes access to nutritional food for students in Nunavut to give them a better foundation for learning

Kirsten Bourque, Street Feet at Sunshine House in Winnipeg – provides essential foot care to homeless and street-involved people in Winnipeg's Inner City

Lia Grimanis, Up With Women in Toronto – offers strategic career development program to recently homeless and at-risk women to help them rise above the cycle of poverty

Nayiri Tavlian, Hay Doun in Montreal – provides vocational counselling and life coaching to Armenian refugees so they gain confidence and succeed

Sheliza Kassam, Children's Birthday Miracles in Calgary – has held birthday celebrations for more than 4,000 underprivileged children and their families
Each Honouree will receive a $10,000 grant for her charity, as well as a trip for two to the Awards Gala in Toronto and marketing support to increase visibility for her charity from L'Oréal Paris.


02/03/2017

Dixonlicious Returns - A culinary celebration in support of vital food programs for Toronto's vulnerable, including homeless men and women 

Dixon Hall is excited to announce the return of Dixonlicious, a culinary event featuring some of Toronto's best local restaurants, chefs, and caterers. Now in its third year, the event raises funds for Dixon Hall's vital food programs and supports vulnerable populations in the city's downtown east. Dixonlicious 2017 takes place on Wednesday, March 29th from 6 pm – 9 pm at Daniels Spectrum.

Dixon Hall's food programs provide over 200,000 nutritious meals each year, serving a diverse mix of vulnerable populations. All proceeds from Dixonlicious benefit these vital food programs including Meals on Wheels, homeless shelter programs, Out of the Cold, March Break and summer camps, seniors programs, and HIV/AIDs programs.

The number of people accessing Dixon Hall's meal programs continues to increase, and demand remains high, especially from homeless and vulnerably housed individuals. Dixon Hall's two emergency shelters, Heyworth House and Schoolhouse, remain at 99% capacity and have maintained this rate consistently for three years. The Out of the Cold program, focused on providing shelter during winter months, has seen an 11% increase in occupancy since 2016. The Out of the Cold program serves over 15,500 meals from November through January. As community members continue to face tough decisions daily, juggling financial responsibilities of paying rent vs. purchasing healthy groceries to feed their families, the need for food programs remains constant.

"Dixonlicious is community helping community. It's local culinary experts reaching out to their neighbour offering their talents in exchange for hope where there is food insecurity. Food has always been the way cultures unite as a community." said Dixon Hall CEO Neil Hetherington. "There are far too many people in our community who don't know where their next meal is coming from and now thanks to Dixonlicious we can answer that unknown."

Dixonlicious 2017 will feature delicious bites by Food Dudes, Hooked, Longos, and social enterprise restaurants Show Love Café and Hawthorne Food & Drink. Guests will also experience live entertainment, and get to bid on a selection of silent and live auction prizes including gift baskets, restaurant gift cards, theatre tickets, and home accessories.

Last year, proceeds from Dixonlicious helped bring more than 20,000 healthy meals to people in need – homeless men and women, frail and isolated seniors, Regent Park youth, and many more. This year's goal is to raise $75,000 and increase the amount of meals served to 25,000.

​When: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 6 PM – 9 PM
Where: Daniels Spectrum at 585 Dundas Street East
What: An evening of delicious food and beverage pairings, musical entertainment, and a live and silent auction
How: Purchase Early Bird Tickets up until March 8th at special prices -- $90 per ticket, $60 for youth (under 30). Tickets include food, drinks, entertainment, and a charitable tax receipt. Purchase online via www.dixonhall.org or by phone at 416.863.0499 x 2066.
Why: Proceeds support vital programs that provide food for people in need

28/02/2017

A deadly journey for children: The migration route from North Africa to Europe

​Refugee and migrant children and women are routinely suffering sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and detention along the Central Mediterranean migration route from North Africa to Italy, UNICEF warned in a new report.

'A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migrant Route' provides an in-depth look at the extreme risks facing refugee and migrant children as they make the perilous journey from sub-Saharan Africa into Libya and across the sea to Italy. Three quarters of the refugee and migrant children interviewed as part of a survey said they had experienced violence, harassment or aggression at the hands of adults at some point over the course of their journey, while nearly half of the women and children interviewed reported sexual abuse during migration – often multiple times and in multiple locations.

Last year, at least 4,579 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya, or 1 in every 40 of those who made the attempt. It is estimated that at least 700 of those who lost their lives were children.

"The Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe is among the world's deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women," said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. "The route is mostly controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a better life. We need safe and legal pathways and safeguards to protect migrating children that keep them safe and keep predators at bay."

Recent data in a survey of women and child migrants in Libya during late 2016 reveal the appalling level of abuse along the migration route. At the time of the survey, 256,000 migrants were recorded in Libya, including 30,803 women and 23,102 children - a third of whom were unaccompanied. The real figures, however, are believed to be at least three times higher.

Most children and women indicated that they had paid smugglers at the beginning of their journey, leaving many in debt under 'pay as you go' arrangements and vulnerable to abuse, abduction and trafficking.

Women and children also reported harsh and overcrowded conditions, including lack of nutritious food and adequate shelter, in Libyan detention centres run by both Government and armed militias.

"Children should not be forced to put their lives in the hands of smugglers because there are simply no alternatives," said Khan. "We need to address globally the drivers of migration and work together toward a robust system of safe and legal passage for children on the move, whether refugees or migrants."

UNICEF has developed a six-point agenda for action for children uprooted, including:


Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives.
Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give them legal status.
Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services.
Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.
UNICEF is urging governments and the EU to support and adopt this agenda for action.

Since the start of the response in late 2015, UNICEF has continued to respond to the needs of children who are on the move, stranded or seeking asylum in Europe. This includes providing 182,500 refugee and migrant children with a wide range of services. The children's agency is also expanding its Mediterranean program in Greece and Italy, supporting government efforts to improve reunification and child protection services.

Despite operating challenges in Libya, UNICEF, along with its partners, continues its efforts to address the protection and humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable children in the country, including refugee and migrant children through municipalities with which UNICEF signed memoranda of cooperation in April 2015.  
27/02/2017

WFP CONCERNED ABOUT DESPERATE REPORTS COMING FROM FAMILIES INSIDE WESTERN MOSUL

ERBIL – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation facing families in western Mosul, where more than 750,000 people are living in dire conditions.
 
While access to reliable information about the conditions inside western Mosul is limited, WFP’s monitoring team and partners have spoken to a number of families inside the city as they assess access and availability of food. Through telephone interviews, many distressed families said that food was unaffordable, while others said they could not access food at all. Due to increased fighting, people are afraid to leave their homes, making it even more difficult to search for essential food items.
 
“The situation is unbelievable,” reported a 46-year-old man from inside the city. “There is no food, no clean water, no gas for heating, no medicine and no services.”
 
“WFP is monitoring the frontlines and remains ready to provide immediate food assistance as soon as families can be reached safely,” said WFP Iraq Representative and Country Director Sally Haydock. “We are hearing from some families that food has drastically risen in price and is unaffordable. In extreme cases, people cannot access food at all. We appeal to all parties to the conflict to facilitate immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to all Iraqis in need of assistance.”
 
So far, WFP has provided ready-to-eat food for over 6,000 people who have fled villages to the south of western Mosul. Most have made their way to Hamam Al Alil, Qayyarah Jeda’a and Haj Ali camps. WFP has enough food in stock to cover the immediate needs of 770,000 people who reside in the western Mosul area.
 
A recent WFP survey has found that food in western Mosul has become scarce as supply lines have been cut, and that prices of all food items have gone up significantly. As most families have been without income for the past two-and-a-half years, many people are struggling to feed their families.
 
Thanks to contributions from Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United States, WFP has provided ready-to-eat food for over one million people since the start of the Mosul offensive in October 2016. This support has been provided to all families displaced in camps and those remaining in eastern Mosul, as well as those in retaken areas within the Mosul corridor.
24/02/2017

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom meets children and families affected by Boko Haram violence on Niger trip

- UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom this week travelled to Diffa, south-east Niger, to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin where Boko Haram violence has caused huge population displacements. Hundreds of thousands of children across the region have been forced from their homes, are out of education and at risk of malnutrition.

In areas affected by the violence in Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, 2.3 million people are now displaced, making this one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa. The Diffa region currently hosts over 240,000 internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees – including 160,000 children.

"As a father, it is hard for me to imagine how many of these children are caught up in this conflict. During my trip I have heard dreadful stories about children fleeing on foot, leaving everything behind, including the safety of their homes and classrooms," said Bloom, who first travelled to see UNICEF's work in 2007.

Bloom met with children such as 14-year-old Amada Goni who has been living with his family in Garin Wazam, a camp for displaced persons. When the crisis began, many of Amada's friends joined Boko Haram, some voluntarily, others not. He opened up to Bloom about the terrible nightmares he has and how he still doesn't feel safe since his village was attacked eight months ago. Amada now goes to the UNICEF-supported psychosocial support unit every day where he gets help to deal with the trauma he faced and where he has met new friends.

"When I go there to play, I feel good, I feel relieved, I feel much better. It helps with the nightmares," he told Bloom.

"It is extremely hard to comprehend this situation when you are not there. I saw the depth of the pain and suffering these kids are going through. This is not something any child should experience," said Bloom. "However it was amazing to witness the smile on Amada's face as he played basketball with his friends. This is the result of UNICEF's work."

"So many children in Niger and across the Lake Chad region have been uprooted by this crisis," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF's Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "They have suffered unimaginable violence and abuse, they have lost their families, their homes and missed out on years of education. What these children need most is an end to the violence, and until that is possible, we must do all we can to support them in rebuilding their lives."

During his time in Niger, Bloom also visited Bosso on the border of Nigeria where he met 13-year-old Eta, who fled with her family when her house was burned by Boko Haram. Now attending a temporary school opened by UNICEF, she dreams of becoming a doctor, working for the well-being of her community.

"This visit has been extremely moving. Every single child I met is affected by this conflict and in desperate need of basic services such as clean water, psychological care and education to help them recover from the atrocities they have suffered and witnessed. They deserve a childhood," said Bloom.

UNICEF and its partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have increased the level of assistance to thousands of families in the region, with access to safe water, education, counselling and psychosocial support, as well as vaccines and treatment for malnutrition. However, a shortage of funding and difficult access due to insecurity have hindered the delivery of humanitarian assistance to thousands of children in need.
23/02/2017

Canadian Definition of 'Ending Homelessness' Released Today

 In Canada, there has been no single, agreed-upon definition of what it means to end homelessness. The Government of Canada, in preparation for Canada's first National Housing Strategy, has encouragingly identified ending homelessness as a priority. Communities, policy makers and advocates across the country have done the same. However, until today, there has not been a cohesive vision of what an end to homelessness in Canada really looks like.

In a major step forward, The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) of York University, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) have released Canada's first definition of ending homelessness. The definition is based on consultations conducted across the country.

"A national definition can help us address concerns and skepticism about what it really means to end homelessness and help drive our efforts by providing clear goals," said Alina Turner, lead author and Fellow with The School of Public Policy. "There was so much variation internationally in the definitions and the measures different communities used, that it was difficult to see what progress was being made. This makes it difficult to determine the benchmarks for success."

The definition comes at an opportune time: "As the Government of Canada takes steps towards launching a National Housing Strategy, we need to have agreement on what ending homelessness means. Then, we can all hold ourselves accountable to achieving that goal," said York U Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub).

The national definition takes into account factors such as poverty, access to affordable housing, mental health and life cycle stage. These factors interact in complex ways to impact homelessness.

It also takes into account the perspectives of people who have experienced homelessness. For many, an end to homelessness means more than housing. It means safety, security and affordability.

"We need to be able to spell out exactly what we mean when we say we're ending homelessness; this needs to be backed up by evidence and it has to resonate with those experiencing homelessness," said Dr. Turner.

Future work will include how to implement the definition in communities across Canada. Adaptations of the definition for key groups, including youth and Indigenous peoples, will be explored as well.

Some of the indicators in the new definition include:

Participants in a homeless-serving system must report high satisfaction and have been included in the decision-making to develop and deliver services.

All unsheltered persons should be engaged with services and have been offered low-barrier shelter and housing at least every two weeks.

The total number of unsheltered persons and emergency-sheltered persons is consistently decreasing year over year towards zero; the community has reduced its initial baseline total unsheltered and emergency-sheltered count by 90 per cent.

The length of stay in emergency shelters and length of being unsheltered is consistently decreasing year-over-year towards zero. The community has reduced the initial baseline length of stay in homelessness (unsheltered and emergency sheltered) by 90 per cent.

No more than 10 per cent of those who exit programs return to homelessness within 12 months.
About

The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute at York University that is committed to conducting and mobilizing research so as to contribute to solutions to homelessness.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness leads a national movement of individuals, organizations and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada.

The School of Public Policy is Canada's leading policy school. The School was founded in 2008 by renowned economist Jack Mintz with a vision to drive policy discourse with relevant research, outreach, and teaching. Its faculty is composed of scholars with exceptional credentials, and experienced practitioners, working together to bridge the gap between government, business, and academia.​

Canada to welcome 1200 Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh

Canada plans to welcome approximately 1200 survivors of Daesh this year, including vulnerable Yazidi women and children and their families, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Minister Ahmed Hussen announced today.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said, "Our Government is committed to offering protection to survivors of Daesh, and we are committed to taking the necessary time to do this right. Our operation aims to bring to Canada those at the greatest risk, and to give them the support and services they need to make a new home, and to restart their lives here."

It is expected that nearly 400 government-assisted refugees will have arrived by February 22, 2017, which is 120 days from the date of the motion passed by the House of Commons last fall.

Canada is working with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), with the cooperation and support of the Iraqi government, to identify vulnerable Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh both inside and outside of Iraq. While neither Canada nor the UNHCR makes selection decisions on the basis of religion or ethnicity alone, it is expected the majority of the 1200 Canada will welcome will be Yazidi. While vulnerable women and children are being identified, the total includes their family members in order to keep families together.

Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative in Canada stated, "Canada and UNHCR are working very closely to identify and resettle some of the most vulnerable survivors of Daesh who are willing to be relocated to Canada from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where the local authorities and other partners are involved in the process. Canada's response to the plight of survivors of Daesh, through humanitarian funding for essential services in countries hosting refugees and displaced persons in the region, and through the resettlement of survivors, is commendable."

In addition to the 1200 government-assisted refugees Canada will welcome, we are also facilitating the private sponsorship of individuals who fall within this vulnerable group. More Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh will arrive in Canada as privately sponsored refugees.

All individuals will have an immigration and security interview by an experienced visa officer, comprehensive security screening and biometric checks as well as medical exams. As part of the screening process, additional work is being done to identify settlement needs.

These individuals have experienced severe trauma, thus coordination with the settlement community in Canada is underway to ensure that settlement services are available to meet the particularly acute needs of those we are welcoming.

The estimated cost for this initiative is $28 million.​​​

22/02/2017

Elton John AIDS Foundation Will Introduce Open Road And Survival Pictures' New Film The Promise And Accompanying Awareness/Fundraising Venture At Its 25th Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party

At the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF)'s 25th annual Academy Awards Viewing Party to be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at West Hollywood Park, Sir Elton John and David Furnish will introduce Open Road and Survival Pictures new film – The Promise – which tells the story of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey at the outset of World War I. Written by Terry George and Robin Swicord and directed by Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), The Promise stars Oscar Issac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon.

"We have only to look at the horrific HIV/AIDS outbreak that followed in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in the mid-1990s to understand the direct connection between human rights atrocities and public health crises like the AIDS epidemic," said EJAF Founder Elton John. "Through our friendships with the Manoukian family and producer Dr. Eric Esrailian from UCLA, David and I became more personally aware of the Armenian Genocide and its timely relevance to social issues today. The film's theme #KeepThePromise can be interpreted as keeping the promise to remember and learn from the atrocities of the past, as well as keeping the promise to end AIDS. At EJAF, we are committed to #KeepThePromise and raise awareness about this powerful film that uses classic storytelling to inspire people to take action today. We are honored to share the important timing of our Oscar-night event to introduce people to The Promise."

In addition to sharing EJAF's vision for championing human rights, The Promise team at Survival Pictures has taken the unprecedented step of making the commitment to donate all proceeds from the film to nonprofit organizations including EJAF and other human rights and humanitarian groups. As part of this commitment and to inspire Party guests to give generously, Survival Pictures will match the pledges guests make to EJAF via text and live auction purchases made during EJAF's Academy Awards Viewing Party with the goal of making this a record-setting evening.

"Such giving has never happened with a film of this scale, we wanted the world to know about it, and we are incredibly grateful," said EJAF Chairman David Furnish. "We are honored to announce this generosity, thanks to the late philanthropist and humanitarian Kirk Kerkorian, on the eve of EJAF's 25th annual Academy Awards Viewing Party. Not only is The Promise committing to support EJAF's work, but matching funds will be provided to inspire donors even more throughout the event and live auction."

Survival Pictures has also developed a social impact campaign for The Promise to help educate the global public about the genocides and mass atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries, the discussion about the legal definition of genocide, and historical denialism. The impact campaign will inform and inspire people to take action so they become part of the anti-genocide movement led by human rights organizations like EJAF as well as change-makers dedicated to ending crimes against humanity and bringing perpetrators to justice.

The film sets a love story in the midst of the growing unrest in 1914 Turkey leading up to the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. As the Great War looms, the mighty Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Constantinople, the once vibrant, multicultural capital on the shores of the Bosporus, is about to be consumed by chaos. Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac), arrives in the cosmopolitan hub as a medical student determined to bring modern medicine back to Siroun, his ancestral village in Southern Turkey where Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived side by side for centuries. Photo-journalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale), has come here only partly to cover geo-politics. He is mesmerized by his love for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian artist he has accompanied from Paris after the sudden death of her father. When Michael meets Ana, their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men. As the Turks form an alliance with Germany and the Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities, their conflicting passions must be deferred while they join forces to survive even as events threaten to overwhelm them. Promises are made and promises are broken. The one promise that must be kept is to live on and tell the story.

"The Armenian Genocide must, of course, never be forgotten and should be recognized, but our current headlines show that the same patterns of human rights violations are being replicated in too many parts of the world today," said producer Dr. Eric Esrailian. "We are honored to have the support of Elton, David, and the entire EJAF family, and by joining forces, we can help the people in the world who need assistance right now."

ELTON JOHN AIDS FOUNDATION – At EJAF, we believe AIDS can be beaten. We act on that belief by raising funds for evidence-based programs and policies, and also by speaking out with honesty and compassion about the realities of people's lives. Sir Elton John created EJAF almost 25 years ago, first in the United States in 1992 and then in the United Kingdom in 1993. Through hard work and with the help of our network of kind and generous friends and supporters, the two foundations together have raised more than $385 million over the past quarter century to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS. The U.S. foundation focuses its efforts on programs in the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean, while the U.K. foundation funds HIV-related work in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Join us in speaking out, taking action, and contributing to our efforts to achieve a world without AIDS. For more information, please visit www.ejaf.org.

Prime Minister announces Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples​

As part of the government's commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the review of laws and policies related to Indigenous Peoples. "Today, we are meeting the commitment we made to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and to all Canadians to review the laws and policies that relate to Indigenous Peoples. The Working Group of Ministers – in partnership with Indigenous leaders and a broad range of stakeholders, including youth – will assess and recommend what statutory changes and new policies are needed to best meet our constitutional obligations and international commitments to Indigenous Peoples. Through this initiative and the other steps we have recently taken, we are working on a complete renewal of Canada's nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples."

The Working Group of Ministers responsible for the review will examine relevant federal laws, policies, and operational practices to help ensure the Crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to Aboriginal and treaty rights; adhering to international human rights standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

The Working Group will work with Indigenous leaders, youth, and experts on various legal and policy questions relating to Indigenous Peoples.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, will chair the Working Group, which will comprise six ministers who have significant responsibilities for the relevant statutes and policies to be reviewed.

As its first order of business, the Working Group will develop a rigorous work plan and principles, which will reflect a whole-of-government approach that addresses all Indigenous Peoples.

Supported by the Privy Council Office, the working group will comprise:
The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
The Hon. Dominic Leblanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (Chair)
The Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health
The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
The Hon. James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources 

21/2/2017

Nearly 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen - UNICEF

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada welcome Canada's continued leadership in championing the rights of children affected by armed conflict

 Almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year, as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.

"Time is running out for more than a million children," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "We can still save many lives. The severe malnutrition and looming famine are largely man-made. Our common humanity demands faster action. We must not repeat the tragedy of the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa."

In northeast Nigeria, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobi. Fews Net, the famine early warning system that monitors food insecurity, said late last year that famine likely occurred in some previously inaccessible areas of Borno states, and that it is likely ongoing, and will continue, in other areas which remain beyond humanitarian reach.

In Somalia, drought conditions are threatening an already fragile population battered by decades of conflict. Almost half the population, or 6.2 million people, are facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance. Some 185,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, however this figure is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.

In South Sudan, a country reeling from conflict, poverty and insecurity, over 270,000 children are severely malnourished. Famine has just recently been declared in parts of Unity State in the northern central part of the country, where 20,000 children live. The total number of food insecure people across the country is expected to rise from 4.9 million to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

And in Yemen, where a conflict has been raging for the past two years, 462,000 children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014.

This year, UNICEF is working with partners to provide therapeutic treatment to 220,000 severely malnourished children in Nigeria, over 200,000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan, more than 200,000 severely malnourished children in Somalia, and 320,000 children in Yemen.
 The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada, commend Canada for taking a strong stand against attacks on education through endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and supporting the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

Canada's commitment to the Declaration was announced earlier today by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, at the Paris Ministerial International Conference on the 10th Anniversary of the Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, hosted by the Government of France.

Canada joins more than 50 nations in support for this critical international Declaration, established in 2015, which works to ensure the protection and continuation of education in armed conflict.

In the midst of conflict, school is a vital source of safety and hope for children, allowing them to learn, play and recover from trauma. Education is critical for the positive development and well-being of children and youth at a time when they are at their most vulnerable as it provides emotional, physical and cognitive safety. Education is also vital for enabling economic recovery, social stability and peace in the most fragile of contexts.

However, recent years have seen devastating damage done to children's access to education in emergencies. Education is increasingly interrupted, delayed or denied due to targeted attacks by armed non-state groups, state military and security forces and armed criminal groups. Schools and universities have also been used for military purposes in many countries experiencing armed conflict over the past decade.

Canada is globally respected as a defender of children's rights and as a leading advocate on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. We are greatly encouraged by Canada's continued leadership in investing in educating and protecting children affected by conflict and crises. Canada should continue to champion support to ensure the respect and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of hostilities, including schools, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Canada's continued leadership on these critical issues will play a key role in supporting some of the world's most vulnerable children to continue to learn and reach their full potential.

20/02/2017

Muslim Association of Canada Grateful for Support in the Face of Anti-Muslim Protest

 The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) issued the following statement regarding the anti-Islamic protest at their Toronto Place of Worship.

The protest began as Muslim Canadian men, women and children emerged from their Friday afternoon prayers. Congregants were met by disturbing signs expressing Islamophobic rhetoric.

"No Canadian should feel intimidated when walking into their synagogue, church, temple or mosque. We are thankful to our fellow Canadians who joined with us today against this attack on religious freedom and Canadian values.

The safety and security of our worshippers is paramount. We thank Toronto Police Services for their on-going support and their swift attention.

We also thank our fellow Torontonians and Canadians who have expressed their support."

For further information on MAC, please visit: http://www.macnet.ca/English/Pages/Press%20Releases.aspx

Number of Ukrainian children needing aid nearly doubles to one million over the past year - UNICEF

 As the volatile conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fourth year, one million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance - nearly double the number this time last year, said UNICEF.

The increase – an additional 420,000 girls and boys – is due to the continued fighting and the steady deterioration of life in eastern Ukraine, where some 1.7 million people have been internally displaced, and many families have lost their incomes, social benefits and access to healthcare, while the price of living has sharply risen.

"This is an invisible emergency – a crisis most of the world has forgotten," said Giovanna Barberis UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. "Children in eastern Ukraine have been living under the constant threat of unpredictable fighting and shelling for the past three years. Their schools have been destroyed, they have been forced from their homes and their access to basic commodities like heat and water has been cut off."

Hundreds of daily ceasefire violations put children's physical safety and psychological well-being at risk. The situation is particularly grave for the approximately 200,000 girls and boys living within 15 kilometers on each side of the 'contact line' in eastern Ukraine, a line which divides government and non-government controlled areas where fighting is most severe.

In this zone, 19,000 children face constant danger from landmines and other unexploded ordinance and 12,000 children live in communities shelled at least once a month. Thousands of children are regularly forced to take refuge in improvised bomb shelters.

Teachers, psychologists and parents report signs of severe psychosocial distress among children including nightmares, aggression, social withdrawal and panic triggered by loud noises.

More than 740 schools – one in five in eastern Ukraine - have been damaged or destroyed.

UNICEF once again calls for all sides to immediately recommit to the ceasefire signed in Minsk in August 2015 and to respect international humanitarian law, including allowing unrestricted humanitarian access.

"After three horrific years, children in eastern Ukraine urgently need lasting peace, so that their unnecessary suffering ends" said Barberis.

UNICEF is appealing for US$31.3 million to provide health and nutrition support, education, clean water, hygiene and sanitation as well as protection for children and families affected by the conflict. So far, approximately 10 per cent of the appeal has been funded.

Bringing Elders and Youth Together in Rankin Inlet​

On Friday the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CanNor, announced an investment of over $440,000 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to renovate the Elder and Youth Centre in Rankin Inlet.

Bains said, "The Government of Canada is pleased to invest in the renovations and improvements to the Elder and Youth Centre in Rankin Inlet. These upgrades will help the residents of Rankin Inlet, while providing training and jobs for Inuit."

The Centre will be a space where elders and youth can meet to share experiences and Inuit traditional knowledge. New programs will encourage inter-generational activities, including mentorships and workshops, helping to enhance the health of the community. Further, the training experience provided to workers and the creation of a full-time position will help to enhance employment opportunities for members of the community.

This investment will support renovations to expand the size of the Centre by adding a meeting room and office space. The renovations will include clean technology upgrades by installing LED lighting and repairs to walls, windows, and doors to increase the energy efficiency and improve the quality of the building. The total investment in the project is $593,000 over two years. CanNor is investing $442,650, with the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet contributing $100,350 and the Government of Nunavut adding $50,000.

On February 13, 2017, first grade students, including six-year-old Sasha (in red sweater), hide during shelling in a part of the school building with strong walls. The school does not have a basement which can be used as a bomb shelter. Sasha’s house is located some 15 kilometers from the contact line in Toretsk, Donetsk Region, Ukraine. Sasha and her sister, Diana, have been living with their grandmother in this house since the beginning of the conflict in 2014 while their parents live in Donetsk city where they work. © UNICEF/UN053119/Zmey (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)
10/2/2017

Ottawa Food Bank and Sakto's Jamilah Taib Murray Partner to Raise Funds for Babies in Need


Diane Weyermann, Participant's Executive Vice President of ​The Ottawa Food Bank and Jamilah Taib Murray, Chairman of Ottawa-based Sakto Corporation, announce fundraising luncheon Heels for Meals. Heels for Meals is a fundraiser in support of the Ottawa Food Bank's Baby Basics Program, which provides much needed baby food and infant supplies to struggling families across the city.

"A staggering 36 per cent of our clients are children, with nearly half of them being babies under the age of two," said Michael Maidment, Executive Director of the Ottawa Food Bank. "We are honoured to partner with Sakto Corporation to raise funds to help children in need in our community."

In 2016, baby items were the only category at the Ottawa Food Bank that saw a price increase for every product. The Ottawa Food Bank purchased $110,803 worth of baby food and supplies during the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year. While this was an eight percent increase in funding from the year prior, it was still not sufficient to keep up with demand.

"As a mother, I know that investing in children is the greatest achievement of all," noted Jamilah Taib Murray, Chairman of Sakto Corporation and a mother of five children. "Infants are the most vulnerable and the Ottawa Food Bank's Baby Basics Program is committed to assisting struggling parents in our community provide essentials for their infants. That's why we're delighted to partner with the Ottawa Food Bank for such a worthy cause."

All proceeds from Heels for Meals will go to the Ottawa Food Bank's Baby Basics Program.
Heels for Meals Event Details:
When: Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 12 – 3 p.m.
Where: Social (537 Sussex, Ottawa, ON)
What: A fundraising event for the Ottawa Food Bank's Baby Basics Program featuring a luncheon and cocktail reception. A silent auction with high-end heels and handbags, and unique accessories will contribute to funds raised for the Ottawa Food Bank.
Tickets: $125 – tickets can be purchased online.

10/2/2017

World Renowned Artist and Filmmaker Ai Weiwei Teams with Participant Media and AC Films on Human Flow

Prime Minister of Canada and President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announce the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Inuit leaders signed a declaration today in Iqaluit to create the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. The Inuit Nunangat Declaration demonstrates the shared commitment to a renewed Inuit-Crown relationship between Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Government of Canada, and underscores the common goal of creating prosperity for all Inuit, which benefits all Canadians.

Trudeau said, "Last December, I promised that federal ministers and Inuit leaders would meet regularly to tackle important issues. Today, we're making good on that pledge by signing the Inuit Nunangat Declaration with our Inuit partners. While much remains to be done to address the unique social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues that Inuit face every day, we will move forward together, based on a respectful, renewed Inuit-Crown relationship, for the benefit of all Canadians."

The Committee will advance shared priorities between Inuit and the Government of Canada, including the implementation of Inuit land claims agreements, social development, and reconciliation between Inuit and the Government of Canada. The Committee will monitor and report back on progress on advancing these priorities moving forward.

The Committee includes the Prime Minister and select federal ministers, President Natan Obed on behalf of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Chair/CEO Duane Smith on behalf of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, President Aluki Kotierk on behalf of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., President Jobie Tukkiapik on behalf of Makivik Corporation, and President Johannes Lampe on behalf of the Nunatsiavut Government. The Committee also includes the presidents of the National Inuit Youth Council, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada as observers.

Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said, "The Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee will play an important role as we take action on the priorities that matter to Inuit and Canadians. This committee will enhance cooperation between Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the federal government, allowing us to continue renewing the relationship between Inuit and the Crown in a sustainable and positive way."

As the new Inuit-Crown relationship moves forward, immediate action will be taken to address painful memories of the past, including relocations and the treatment of Inuit during the tuberculosis epidemic of the 1940s-60s.
Participant Media and AC Films are partnering on Human Flow, a documentary directed by world renowned artist, activist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei. The feature-length film, which explores the global refugee crisis through footage and interviews in more than 22 countries, is produced by Ai Weiwei, Chin-chin Yap, and Heino Deckert. Andy Cohen of AC Films with Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media are executive producing. The film is currently in post-production.

Ai Weiwei notes, "Human Flow is a personal journey, an attempt to understand the conditions of humanity in our days. The film is made with deep beliefs in the value of human rights. In this time of uncertainty, we need more tolerance, compassion and trust for each other since we all are one. Otherwise, humanity will face an even bigger crisis."

Filmed over the span of a year, Human Flow was shot by 25 film crews in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Serbia, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand and Turkey. Ai Weiwei artfully captures the massive and shocking breadth of the global migration crisis in this epic film, which portrays the plight of today's 65 million forcibly displaced individuals – the highest number ever – forced out of their homes by war, famine and climate change on long, treacherous journeys in search of new lives.

Human Flow comes at a crucial and defining time, striking an important and emotional chord in light of recent events regarding refugees and immigrants.

Diane Weyermann, Participant's Executive Vice President of Documentary Films, added, "Ai Weiwei is a master of his craft and infuses emotion and urgency in this poignant and compelling film about the global refugee crisis."

Executive producer Andy Cohen said, "From wastelands of war and persecution, Ai Weiwei takes us on a global odyssey, never losing sight of the individual among this massive human flow – even when confronted by the guns and walls of the 'free' world."

David Linde, CEO of Participant Media, commented, "There is no better place than being here in Berlin at this critical moment to announce this powerful film to a global audience. We are thrilled to be working with an artist and filmmaker of Ai Weiwei's caliber and exceptional vision to tell this essential story."

Ai Weiwei's recent exhibitions include Laundromat at Jeffrey Deitch in New York, Ai Weiwei: Libero at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, #SafePassage at Foam in Amsterdam, and Ai Weiwei at Cycladic at the Museum of Cycladic Arts in Athens. Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 and now lives in Berlin. He has made twenty documentaries about social and political issues that have won major film festival awards.

Human Flow continues Participant's strong track record of producing influential documentaries that empower social change. Most recently, the company premiered An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and sparked a growing dialogue on the pressing issue of climate change.

Ai Weiwei is represented by United Talent Agency for Human Flow.

06/02/2017

Toronto Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup re-affirms right to inclusion, regardless of beliefs

 "Anyone with the barest knowledge of recovery knows timely help is a matter of life and death," said Lawrence Knight. Knight's struggle to list agnostic groups with the Toronto A.A. Intergroup ultimately led him to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

On January 18, 2017, representatives of the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup, Knight and A.A. World Services Inc. and the General Services Board of Alcoholic Anonymous Inc. met to formally resolve Knight's human rights claim. Lawrence Knight is ecstatic. "This is huge. There can be no doubts for A.A. chapters around the world - a desire to be sober really is the only requirement."

Knight and GTA Intergroup agree that it is not A.A.'s practice to exclude anyone, including A.A. groups, based on creed: "All groups, regardless of their belief system form part of the A.A fellowship. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking and any two or more people who come together for the purpose of being sober may call themselves an A.A. group, as long as they have a desire to be sober, and provided they have no outside affiliation".

GTA Intergroup has re-affirmed that any A.A. group in the Greater Toronto Area that acknowledges or adopts the suggested 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous can be recognized as a member of Intergroup with the right of representation on The Floor of Intergroup, regardless of how their members interpret and apply those steps in their own lives.

Mr. Knight said, "Many groups, such as Chicago's Quad A have been running agnostic A.A. groups continuously for over 35 years acknowledging or adopting the traditional 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous and state unequivocally their membership is open to 'all people with a desire to stop drinking. There are no further qualifiers or disqualifiers.'"

As noted on the Quad A web site, "The atheist, agnostic and freethinkers meetings function no differently than other A.A. meetings - allowing recovering alcoholics to gather on a regular basis as autonomous groups. We share and learn how to live sober and rewarding lives."

Given this understanding between the parties, the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup representatives have indicated the groups that were removed from the meeting lists in 2011 can be re-listed.

Megan Evans Maxwell, Knight's lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, was "thrilled to support Larry's tenacity and passionate advocacy. There is no question in my mind. What Larry did was save lives."

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides free legal assistance to people in communities across Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.

GTA Intergroup is the body of Alcoholics Anonymous in The Greater Toronto Area that serves as a forum for discussion and a focus for cooperation and coordination among AA groups in the GTA in carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to the suffering alcoholic. There are more than 117,700 A.A. groups around the world.

Help us commemorate 20 years of Toque Tuesday!

Join Raising the Roof and our Partner Agencies across the country in celebrating 20 years of selling toques, socks, and mittens in support of long-term solutions to homelessness.

Together, we can put an end to homelessness for the 235,000 Canadians who experience it each year.

What can I do on Toque Tuesday?

On Tuesday, February 7th, we invite you to attend the Partner Agency event in your community and buy a toque. You can also JOIN ON THE CONVERSATION! Share your #ToqueSelfie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ToqueTuesday, #rtrtoque, and @RaisingtheRoof.

Where can I purchase my Toque?

From morning to night, volunteers and 50+ community Partner Agencies across the country will take to the streets, shopping malls and transit hubs, encouraging passers-by to purchase toques, mittens and socks. All events can be found on Raising the Roof's online calendar. Toque items can also be purchased online at www.raisingtheroof.org/toque-shop.

What items are available?

We've got you covered from head to toe! Several different toques are available, as well as mittens, socks, and a brand new baseball cap. Please visit the website for our full list of toque items.

Where does the money go?

Since 1997, Raising the Roof's Toque Campaign has raised more than $7 million in support of long-term solutions to homelessness. 50% of each item sold directly benefits community agencies across the country, with remaining proceeds (after campaign costs) supporting Raising the Roof's national homelessness prevention initiatives. This means that each and every toque purchase is making a real difference.

A big THANKS to…

Our National Partners – the Canadian Traffic Network and Paul Davis Restoration – for their incredible support of the Toque Campaign and Toque Tuesday events. We also thank our community Partner Agencies, volunteers, and supporters who each year make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

About Raising the Roof:

Raising the Roof provides national leadership on long-term solutions to homelessness through partnership and collaboration with diverse stakeholders, investment in local communities, and public education.

For more information, visit: www.raisingtheroof.org

Maybelline New York and The Girl Project announce their new Canadian partnership with Girls Inc. Canada

 Maybelline New York is pleased to announce its expanded partnership with The Girl Project, Glamour's philanthropic initiative dedicated to providing girls with access to a quality education. In 2017, Maybelline New York Canada is committed to supporting educational programming to Girls Inc Canada, reaching over 160 girls with the critical support they need to succeed in school.

Maybelline New York and Girls Inc. Canada hosted an event on Saturday, January 28th to celebrate the kickoff of this partnership where 60 Girls Inc. girls from the Toronto area were invited to celebrate the start of their journey. Cammie Guest, Maybelline New York Canada's brand director said:

"Maybelline is proud to be working with Girls Inc Canada, inspiring girls to make it happen in their lives. Maybelline New York is a brand that strives to empower all girls and women. By giving girls tools to grow strong in their lives, they become more confident which then gives them the potential to make things happen in their lives? We want to be there to support them in every way possible"

Maybelline New York Canada's lead makeup artist Grace Lee was there to also share her "Make it Happen" life journey with the girls: "I loved encouraging these young women to follow their dreams and how important an education is now matter what they decide to achieve in life. I 100 percent believe in the values that Girls Inc Canada stands for. Strong, smart and bold. "

Maybelline New York will also sponsor the Girl Zone afterschool program where girls from the Durham & Ajax area will be able to meet with four speakers including successful figures from the science, sport, business and creative world, inspiring them to be bold and make it happen in their lives. At the end of the Girl Zone program in May, Maybelline New York will put on a fabulous event to celebrate the girls' progress in their education and lives. Maybelline New York will also have some special in store displays in April 2017 to give consumers the chance to help give back to Girls Inc. Today, girls are continuously confronted with messages in media and culture that promote negative stereotypes and images," said Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc. "This partnership will strengthen our work in Canada to inspire girls to rise above limiting messages and set and achieve their goals. We are thankful for Maybelline New York's leadership in supporting our mission."

Through Girls Inc. Canada Leadership and Community Action, girls build leadership skills and create lasting social change through community action projects. With support from women in their communities, girls celebrate the heritage of girls and women as leaders and social change agents and realize their own power as community resources and trustees of the common good. Maybelline's association with Girls Inc Canada through its partnership with The Girl Project matches perfectly the brand's values by encouraging Canadian girls to Make it Happen in their lives.

The Girl Project is Glamour's philanthropic initiative dedicated to providing access and tools to the more than 50 million girls around the world who aren't getting a quality secondary education. The Girl Project helps girls in and out of classrooms, by supporting scholarships, safe transportation to school, mentorship and confidence--‐building programs, as well as training for the professional world. Join Glamour and our partners CARE, Girls Inc., Communities in Schools, Plan International USA, She's the First, and The Lower Eastside Girls Club as we unlock the incredible potential of girls everywhere. Because educating a girl doesn't just transform her life, it changes the world. For more information, visit www.TheGirlProject.com.

The world must make faster progress to end female genital mutilation by 2030
​Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the 2017 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM

"It irreparably damages girls' bodies, inflicting excruciating pain. It causes extreme emotional trauma that can last a lifetime.

"It increases the risk of deadly complications during pregnancy, labour and childbirth, endangering both mother and child.

"It robs girls of their autonomy and violates their human rights.

"It reflects the low status of girls and women and reinforces gender inequality, fueling intergenerational cycles of discrimination and harm.

"It is female genital mutilation and cutting. And despite all the progress we have made toward abolishing this violent practice, millions of girls -- many of them under the age of 15 -- will be forced to undergo it this year alone. Sadly, they will join the almost 200 million girls and women around the world who are already living with the damage FGM/C causes – and whose communities are already affected by its impact.

"In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals recognized the close connection between FGM/C, gender inequality, and development – and reignited global action to end FGM/C by 2030.

"In 2016, more than 2,900 communities, representing more than 8.4 million people living in countries where UNFPA and UNICEF work jointly to end FGM/C, declared they had abandoned the practice.

"In 2017, we must demand faster action to build on this progress. That means calling on governments to enact and enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of girls and women and prevent FGM/C.

"It means creating greater access to support services for those at risk of undergoing FGM/C and those who have survived it. It also means driving greater demand for those services, providing families and communities with information about the harm FGM/C causes – and the benefits to be gained by ending it.

"And ultimately, it means families and communities taking action themselves and refusing to permit their girls to endure the violation of FGM/C.

"Let us make this the generation that abolishes FGM/C once and for all – and in doing so, help create a healthier, better world for all."

Journalists for Human Rights Launches Redesigned Dibaajimo.com Platform with Accenture to Help Train Indigenous Canadians in Journalism

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) has launched the redesigned dibaajimo.com, a free digital learning platform to train indigenous peoples across Canada in fundamental journalism skills and help them begin careers as journalists.

Dibaajimo, derived from the Ojibwe and Cree word "dibaajimowin" — meaning a story or a narrative — is an innovative platform that provides indigenous Canadians with journalism training, connections and resources. The core of the platform is a 22-module training course that provides a foundation in journalism basics. Participants can also use the site to make story pitches to editors and access additional resources and story archives. The site is updated continually, with a renewed curriculum slated for release this spring.

The platform was redesigned for JHR's Indigenous Reporters Program by Fjord, Accenture Interactive's design and innovation unit, to address the connectivity challenges that are a reality of living in Canada's most-remote communities. The redesign was funded through Accenture's Skills to Succeed initiative, which aims to equip more than 3 million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business by the end of 2020.

"We are thrilled to launch a digital resource of such quality and utility," said Rachel Pulfer, JHR's executive director. "Working with the Fjord/Accenture team has been both inspiring and enormously productive. The resulting training platform is explicitly designed to help us equip a cohort of new indigenous journalists with the skills they need to succeed and put them on a pathway of opportunity from remote reserves to jobs in the media industry."

JHR's media studies have shown that reporting on indigenous peoples in the Canadian media is often inaccurate, negative in tone, and rarely written by journalists who are indigenous. "Now we have a powerful tool to help us realize our goal to train 100 indigenous people each year with the skills to become professional journalists and drive media-literacy programs in these remote communities," Pulfer said.

The online distance-learning platform is an integral component of the community media training offered through JHR's larger Indigenous Reporters Program, which strives to increase the quality and quantity of indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media. JHR trainers use the Dibaajimo platform as they work with remote First Nations communities in Ontario to provide skills training and mentorship to community members who want to pursue careers in journalism, as well as to promote civic engagement through media-literacy training to the communities as a whole.

"We redesigned Dibaajimo to give budding journalists in Canada's remote communities a central knowledge-sharing system and enhanced journalism training, even when connectivity isn't optimal," said Scott Weisbrod, group service design director and studio head at Fjord.

Trainers, trainees and aspiring indigenous journalists can access the platform on their mobile devices and quickly download learning modules when they have Wi-Fi access for offline use later.

"The re-launch of a new, fully mobile resource for aspiring indigenous journalists across Canada, which evolved from a web-based tool piloted in Northern Ontario in 2013, is an example of how Accenture's Skills to Succeed initiative is taking demand-led skilling programs to scale with technology and digital solutions," said Deb Swartz, Corporate Citizenship program lead at Accenture in Canada. "Globally, we are optimizing our use of technology to accelerate the reach of our Skills to Succeed partners with jobseekers and entrepreneurs cost effectively and, in turn, improve employment and entrepreneurship outcomes."

To date, JHR has worked with 13 First Nations communities in Ontario, including communities where trainers are currently placed: Lac Seul First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, North Spirit Lake First Nation and Eabametoong First Nation. Beyond the community-based media training, the Indigenous Reporters Program invests in and builds the professional skills of indigenous Canadian reporters by providing scholarships to journalism students and coordinating paid internships for emerging reporters. In the last two years JHR's Indigenous Reporters Program has placed 19 indigenous media interns with mainstream media outlets, and 10 of those interns have since been hired [full-time]. The program also offers professional development workshops for newsrooms and journalism programs across Canada on how to report more effectively on indigenous communities, which includes providing historical and cultural context, as well as best practices, when reporting.

02/02/2017

Canada-wide Class Action Litigation Being Pursued Regarding Sixties Scoop and Comments on Today's Announcement by Dr. Carolyn Ann Bennett M.P., Canada's Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Tony Merchant, Q.C. stated: "Today's announcement by Minister Carolyn Bennett (announcing the establishment of formal negotiations between the Government and Sixties Scoop survivors) is a significant first step in addressing the legacy of the Sixties Scoop Aboriginal Adoption program, which was a devastating program that has visited long-term pain and suffering upon many Indigenous families. The struggles and hardship which many 60s Scoop survivors are still dealing with in their daily lives, make evident the profound impact with this forced adoption program had on the Indigenous Canadians who were cruelly taken away as young children and improperly placed for adoption against the will of their parents. Merchant Law Group has been pursuing Sixties Scoop litigation on behalf of adoption survivors for the past 8 years and we welcome this announcement aimed at bringing closure for survivors of this forced adoption program."

"Merchant Law Group is pursuing Sixties Scoop class action litigation on behalf of survivors across Canada and is prosecuting Sixties Scoop lawsuits before the Courts in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Federal Court of Canada."

"Adoption survivors have contacted our law firm not just from all over North America but even Europe. Thousands of indigenous children taken away from their homes and culture found themselves adopted out mainly in Canada but also to the United States, and in some instances found themselves in Europe or elsewhere."

Any Sixties Scoop Survivors interested in more information concerning the class action litigation regarding the government's "Adopt Indian Metis program" which saw First Nations, Métis and other aboriginal children placed in forced adoption may provide their contact information at http://www.merchantlaw.com/class-actions/current-class-actions/indian-metis-scoop-class-action

Merchant Law Group LLP operates ten law offices across Canada and is well known for pursuing class action lawsuits in Canada.
01/2/2017

Morneau Shepell offers counselling support to anyone affected by recent attack on Muslim community

Decision not to hold inquest into the death of Chazz Petrella is "a missed opportunity," says Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

 The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is disappointed to learn that the Chief Coroner of Ontario will not be exercising his discretionary powers to call an inquest into the death of 12-year-old Chazz Petrella. The Petrellas informed the Advocate's Office of the Chief Coroner's decision on Friday 27 January.

"To say that I am disappointed in this missed opportunity to improve the lives of children with mental health challenges in this province is a great understatement," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "The public has more than expressed an interest and desire to see children and youth in similar circumstances receive the supports they need to thrive and fulfill their potential."

Chazz Petrella was 12 years old when he committed suicide at their Cobourg, Ontario home on 21 August 2014. At the time of his death, many different services and sectors – including healthcare, education, child protection, children's mental health and emergency services – were involved in his life. On the night before he was found dead, Chazz's parents brought him to the emergency ward of his local hospital, but was then released that same night.

"The decision not to hold an inquest seems to imply to the Province that 'There is nothing to see here, move along,'" said Elman. "That services provided to Chazz were considered excellent even as his family disagrees, and that discussions about changes to mental health services in Ontario can be done behind closed doors in downtown Toronto, are incorrect in my view."

Chazz's parents, Elman says, have long been pushing for an inquest that would explore the circumstances of their son's death to prevent similar deaths of children in the future.

"Our Office will explore what steps we may be able to undertake within the limits of our own legislation to ensure Chazz's voice is heard," said Elman. "We will connect with the family and listen, and I will tell them how truly sorry I am at this decision."

About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (the Advocate's Office) reports directly to the Legislature of Ontario and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools).

The Advocate's Office can also conduct investigations and make recommendations to improve children's aid society services and services provided by residential licensees where a children's aid society is the placing agency.

The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement. For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
 Morneau Shepell, a global leader in employee and family assistance programs and trauma event support, has established a 24/7 support hotline that can be used, at no cost, by anyone impacted by the act of terror at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday evening.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the violence that took place in Quebec City," said Stephen Liptrap, Chief Operating Officer, Morneau Shepell. "Such a traumatic event has a huge impact on the families, friends and communities directly affected by this needless loss of life. In this time of heightened tensions, we want to make sure everyone has the right support, which is why we established the support hotline."

The largest provider of employee and family assistance programs in Canada, Morneau Shepell has client organizations in the community where the tragedy occurred and has been providing trauma support to its clients, as needed, whether or not the people have been directly impacted by the killings.

"Anyone having coping problems as a result of the tragedy should not be afraid or ashamed to reach out for help," said Julien Ponce, Morneau Shepell's Executive Vice President, Eastern Canada, and National Leader of the Consulting Practice. "These types of reactions can be expected."

Morneau Shepell's trauma support team has provided assistance after many traumatic events – from the Fort McMurray wildfires, 9/11, the Haiti earthquake, shootings, floods, fires, to death and accidents in the workplace. The Company's Children's Support Solutions also has specialized therapists who provide trauma support for children

30/1/2017

Steelworkers condemn the attack in the Quebec City mosque and offer our condolences

The United Steelworkers (USW) is alarmed and grief-stricken by Sunday night's terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and wounding several others.

"Words cannot convey the sadness and anger we feel today. While such violence is all-too common in today's world, we in Quebec and Canada are shaken by a level of brutal, hateful violence that we are not often confronted with. All Steelworkers, all Canadians and all reasonable people reject this hate-based violence," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

"Quebec is a land of openness, humanism and peace. We know that these values will prevail and overcome this hatred. We are thinking of the victims, their families and our brothers and sisters in the Muslim community. The Quebec we love is built on the values of respect, freedom and solidarity," said Alain Croteau, Quebec Director of the Steelworkers.

Message from the Governor General of Canada Following the Attack on a Mosque in the City of Québec

OTTAWA, Jan. 30, 2017 /CNW/ - Yesterday's shooting in the City of Québec was a terrible tragedy. My wife Sharon and I offer our deepest condolences to all those affected by this horrific attack and extend our support to the entire Muslim-Canadian community at this difficult time.

To be a Canadian is to be a citizen of a diverse, inclusive society. The shooting was an attack on our traditions, our values, on what it means to be a Canadian. Throughout our history, our greatest advances have come as a result of renewing and strengthening our commitment to inclusiveness—to the tolerance of and respect for difference. This is the story of Canada. This is the glue that holds us together and has allowed us to build a society that, while far from perfect, is in many ways the envy of the world.

This is a difficult time, but I am optimistic about our future, and heartened by the outpouring of compassion and support from Canadians across the country in response to this attack. Terrible things can and do happen here, but we have faced adversity before. We have overcome acts of hatred in the past, and we will again.

We stand with all Muslim-Canadians on this and every day.

David Johnston

Canadian Race Relations Foundation condemns attack on Quebec City Mosque

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation condemns the terrorist attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Quebec City, which left 6 people dead and more than a dozen injured.

"Such a despicable act must be condemned by all Canadians as an affront to our humanity and the values of our nation," said Albert Lo, Chair of the Board, CRRF. 'That this cold-blooded attack took place in a place of worship, targeting people at prayer, only adds to our collective revulsion. We are confident that our law enforcement agencies will thoroughly investigate this tragedy and ensure that those responsible for this heinous crime are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"At this time, our thoughts are with the families of those who were murdered and with those who have been injured in the attack," said Anita Bromberg, Executive Director CRRF. "We must stand united against those who seek to shatter the peace we strive for across our nation."

Statement Regarding the Attack at Québec City's Islamic Cultural Centre

 The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) issued the following statement regarding the deadly shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec in Quebec City:

"Following last night's attack at a mosque in Québec City, MAC wishes to offer its most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims.

MAC stands with all Canadians in expressing our shock and sadness at this senseless killing at a place of worship in one our country's greatest cities. In the face of such acts of violence, we must unite more than ever around our values of peace and tolerance.

This isolated incident will not undermine the spirit of openness and understanding in Canadian communities across the country. We are convinced that Canada and Québec remain peaceful and tolerant places of welcome.

In times like this, we need to reflect on our shared Canadian values of diversity, respect and religious tolerance. We urge a continued dialogue among all Canadians to reassert these values that underpin our nation.

We thank the various police forces and emergency services for their rapid response. We would also like to thank the entire community for the support it has shown to the victims. Together, we can defeat all forms of extremism and intolerance."

Mass shooting at Mosque assault on tolerance

Unifor pledges to continue to act in solidarity with the Muslim community and offers its support to the people of Québec City, following the deadly terror attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.

"While this terrorist act targeted the Muslim community, it is an assault on all who believe in tolerance and respect. This heinous attack is a reminder that we must continue to work vigilantly against Islamophobia and all hate-based violence," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Unifor extended its support and sympathy to the loved ones of the victims, to the injured and their families and to traumatized survivors. Six lives were lost and five others are fighting to survive after they were shot by two gunmen in a targeted attack of hate while attending Sunday evening prayers.

Dias added, "Our resolve and determination to oppose hate and face down Islamophobia remains firm."

Unifor is adding its voice to condemn this hate. The union believes that diversity is our strength, and we will remain united in the fight for social justice and equity both at home in Canada and around the world. Together we are stronger.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every sector of the economy. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.

Message from Archbishop Christian Lépine to the Archbishop of Quebec:



Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix
Archbishop of Quebec

Dear Cardinal Lacroix,

In the face of the attack perpetrated in Quebec City, I wish to express to you, on behalf of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Montreal and of myself, my most heartfelt solidarity with you, with the diocesan community, with the victims' families, and with the Muslim community.

Nothing can justify acts of murder against innocent people. We are called to reaffirm continuously, whatever our beliefs, that as human beings we are all brothers and sisters, and we are all equal in dignity.

Taking a moment of silence, we ask God to keep us ever respectful with hearts set firmly on peace.

+Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal
27/01/2017

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Toronto Law firm wins precedent-setting case - Appeal court upholds $3.17 million personal injury award

 The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust:

"Today, on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we remember the more than six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the countless other victims of Nazi brutality.

"The Holocaust serves as a tragic reminder of the horrors that can be born of racism and hate. We must always remember those who experienced the worst of humanity – in ghettos, cattle cars, and Nazi death camps – and never forget our collective responsibility to prevent the seeds of intolerance and hate from taking root in our communities, country, and world.

"As we take time today to reflect on the haunting legacy of the Holocaust, let us pay tribute to the strength and spirit of the Jewish people and the many others who persevered during one of the darkest periods of human history.

"Today, and every day, we reaffirm our commitment to stand against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and prejudice in all its forms. It is through this commitment that we remember those we have lost and honour those whose stories must never be forgotten."
Pace Law Firm has won the appeal of the longstanding personal injury case of Jason Walters.

Mr. Walters was beaten by a rival gang member while in custody at Toronto's Don Jail in 2008.

Following a long and drawn out litigation, the court had awarded $3.17M in damages at trial.

This week the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the decision.

"This was a very difficult case that we have been managing for over eight years," said Al Pace, CEO of Pace Law Firm.

"Our team never gave up on Jason or his family. We invested years of time and expense to push this case forward because we believed in it. Through every aspect of the litigation- discovery, mediations, pre-trials, case conferences, and ultimately the trial and appeal, we continued because we knew it was the right thing to do," said Mr. Pace.

The team involved included lawyers Don Fiske, Andrew Camman, Michelle Arzaga, Alex Voudouris and Al Pace.

Today, Mr. Walters, now 33, survives with permanent injuries that have left him brain damaged and with limited mobility. He has a daughter, J'la, 10, who lives with her mother.

His mother, Pearline Samuda, who cares for him, now knows she has the financial means to care for her son throughout his life.

I am incredibly grateful to the team at Pace Law Firm who never gave up hope on Jason", said Ms. Samuda. "Jason is making his way back and now I know, when I pass away, he will be taken care of."

It is believed the case has been precedent setting in how the jail system manages its inmates.

"The extraordinary effort, which I believe we demonstrated in this case, is representative of the level of commitment we make for all of our clients," said Mr. Pace.

Founded in 1980, Pace Law Firm is one of the largest personal injury firms in Ontario.

26/1/2017

Family literacy program helps newcomers to Canada learn in their first languages

Every wedding is unique -- glamorous or low-key -- it is a celebration of your next step forward. This year is also a celebration for the Toronto Star National Bridal Show as we celebrate our 40th year bringing best-in-class wedding content to Canadians. In celebration, we are proud to share our new show features as we continue to deliver fresh, all-inclusive content for all bridal couples. We have created the place to be for all brides, grooms, their families and friends to get the edge in creating the ideal -- both for budget and for taste -- wedding! Join us at the Enercare Centre (formerly the Direct Energy Centre) from February 3rd - 5th, 2017 for a must-see show!

In other newsworthy announcements - For the first-time event in a mass consumer show, the National Bridal Show is proud to announce the inclusion of LGBTQ programming -
Two LGBTQ couples will be walking the fashion show catwalk for the first time in a national bridal show in Canada!

Introducing the Canada Gay Weddings Lounge is the place to be for all types of bridal couples, friends and family to hear from real couples, get expert advice and tips for unique weddings at all budgets and to support LGBTQ couples in Canada. We will also have some tasty drinks and prizes to give away, come prepared for a good time! Help us spread that word -- the National Bridal Show is bringing more visibility to LGBTQ community!
The National Bridal Show connects a wide array of couples with the best wedding vendors in the business. We encourage all attendees to come prepared with questions, budgets and ideas as they participate in our show features:

Our brand new Wedding Hacks Tent, sponsored by Simple Skincare and brought to you by AS Special Events Party & Tent Rentals will offer a variety of experts sharing tips and tricks to hack your wedding -- from floral to wedding themes and everything in between, our Wedding Hacks sessions are bound to intrigue and excite attendees.

In yet another new feature this year, our planning centre will give bridal couples an opportunity to get more hands-on with specialists in certain weddings areas -- travel, wedding planning and more! Our experts from Flight Centre, Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, Urban Scribes Design Studio and more will be on-site to inspire all bridal couples.

The new has not ushered out our all-time favourite features such as the iconic Amanda-Lina's Sposa Boutique designer gown sale offering up to 70% off top-brand wedding gown designers, including Sottero and Midgley, Maggie Sottero, Stella York, Allure Bridals and many more!

Back by popular demand, we are happy to invite all Brides-to-be complimentary entry to the show all weekend! Brides must register to take advantage of this feature.

Another high demand feature is back again -- our Wedding Checklist! Featuring over $6,000 in wedding gift certificates, Bridal couples are able to chat with vendors and secure their entry into the contest. We encourage all attendees to participate by picking up their show program on the way in.

There's more where that came from, make sure to check out all our contests and special offers at the show!

Don't miss out -- our renowned bridal trends fashion show is back! Get a preview of the latest fashion trends in wedding dresses, tuxedos, bridesmaid and groomsmen attire, mother of the brides and your entire wedding party. See below for our fashion show times.

EVENT DETAILS:

WHEN: Friday, February 3rd: 5:00pm to 9:00pm, fashion show: 7:30 pm.

Saturday, February 4th: 10:00am to 7:00pm, fashion show: 1 pm & 5 pm.

Sunday, February 5th: 10:00am to 6:00pm, fashion show: 1 pm & 4 pm.

WHERE: Enercare Centre (formerly Direct Energy Centre), Hall D, Toronto
COST: Online & at the door: $15


The National Bridal Show is owned and operated by Metroland Media Group, a subsidiary of TorStar Corp. We have extensive experience delivering innovative consumer engagement programs that offer timely and relevant content to consumers while conceptualizing and executing best-in-class brand activations. We also operate

Employment and Social Development Canada settlement agreement on gender information collection

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has reached an important settlement agreement resolving a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission filed in 2012 by Christin Milloy with respect to its practice of collecting sex and gender information for the Social Insurance Number (SIN) program and the Social Insurance Register.

The terms of the settlement were approved by the Canadian Human Rights Commission on January 18, 2017.

Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre,Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues said, "Our government is committed to protecting trans and other gender-diverse persons from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes. That is why we tabled Bill C-16 to enshrine protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression into law. We will continue to work with and listen to the trans and other gender-diverse community about how to best address their needs, protect their rights and affirm their equal status in our society."

In 2015 ESDC ceased requesting supporting documentation for anyone who requests a change to their gender designation in the Social Insurance Register. The department will amend its SIN client-facing documents and procedures to indicate that providing sex/gender information is optional, and allow at least three options (male/female/3rd option) for completion of any sex/gender question.

The Honorable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development stated, "As a government, we feel that this settlement is a step in the right direction. My department is committed to reviewing its data collection to determine when it is justifiable to ask an individual for their gender as a condition of receiving a government service or for other legitimate purposes. As well, I've asked that the department continue to participate in government-wide discussions on gender designation issues and support the work of the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, MP Randy Boissonnault."

ESDC recognizes that personally-identifiable sex or gender data can only be collected if there are legitimate purposes, for example to inform gender based analysis and policy and program development, and will review the collection of sex/gender data in all its programming and benefits.

WFP PROVIDING LIFE-SAVING FOOD TO PEOPLE RETURNING TO EASTERN ALEPPO CITY

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has stepped up support to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians returning home to the ruins of eastern Aleppo city, providing families with hot meals, ready-to-eat canned food and staple food items such as rice, beans, vegetable oil and lentils.
 
Much of the infrastructure in eastern Aleppo city has been heavily damaged, leaving people returning to their homes in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Last November, about 157,000 people fled eastern Aleppo city as military operations devastated large parts of the city.
 
WFP supplied nine public kitchens with 20 metric tons of food, which is being used to prepare hot meals twice a day for 40,000 people in eastern Aleppo city. WFP is also providing ready-to-eat food for 45,000 returnees and displaced people in eastern Aleppo city. Additionally, over 10,000 people sheltering in western Aleppo city have received food rations.
 
WFP provides 45 metric tons of wheat flour daily to partners operating eight bakeries in Aleppo city. The bakeries use the flour to produce and distribute bread  to families, including people in the formerly besieged areas of the eastern part of Aleppo city such as Mshateyah, Tareeq Al Bab and Al Bayyadah.
 
Throughout 2016, WFP assisted four million people per month across 13 of the 14 governorates in Syria. Access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas generally improved last year, allowing WFP to reach almost 1.5 million people in these areas through cross-border and cross-line convoys, as well as through air operations.
 
However, over the past several weeks, access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas has worsened due to security restrictions. Notably, only two inter-agency convoys have taken place in the last two months, one to Khan Al-Sheh in December and another to Moadamiya in January.
 
Additionally, due to recent heavy fighting in Deir Ezzor city, WFP suspended airdrop operations to the city from 15 January. WFP is closely monitoring the situation and will resume airdrops when  security allows. 
 
WFP continues to call on the Syrian government and all parties involved in the conflict to allow immediate, safe and secure access to all areas across Syria, particularly those that remain besieged by warring parties.
 
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
24/01/2017

City of Westmount moves to settle with victims of sexual abuse by its former employee, John Garland

The world's struggling children to receive 664,000 gift-filled shoeboxes from Canadians

 Between 1953 and 1987, John Garland worked in the City of Westmount's Parks and Recreation Department. Mr. Garland misused his position of power and trust to abuse sexually some of the children and teenagers in his care.

The City acknowledges that the effects of sexual abuse can last a lifetime and be devastating for victims, their families, and a community. This is particularly true when the abuse is directed at the most vulnerable among us, our children.

Protecting and ensuring the safety of our community's children is at all times a priority for the City. We are profoundly saddened and sorry that these terrible events occurred.

Mr. Garland's actions were first brought to the attention of the City in the Spring of 2015 by Class Representative, Mr. Matthew Bissonnette. The City has since worked tirelessly to understand what happened and conducted a thorough investigation into the allegations of abuse. Not only did the investigation reveal to the City what transpired during Mr. Garland's tenure at Westmount, but it also allowed it to make sure that the safeguards in place today protect the community from sexual abuse.

While the past abuse that occurred in Westmount cannot be undone, the City wishes to impact the present and the future meaningfully and positively, by being an active participant in the movement to create a society free from childhood sexual abuse. Only through a frank and open discussion of the reality of such abuse can we build a safer world for our children.

The more open we are about sexual abuse, the more comfortable it becomes for children to come forward earlier so that the abuse can stop. In short, Westmount is committed to removing the veils of secrecy, shame and denial that for decades have shrouded the issue of childhood sexual abuse.

It is with that in mind that we are issuing today's statement.

The City expresses its sincere regrets to those who were sexually abused by John Garland, and hopes that the settlement it has submitted for approval by the Superior Court of Quebec can, in some small way, help with their healing process.

Rather than fighting a lengthy legal battle with the survivors, the City chose early on to conduct an investigation, to work with Mr. Bissonnette, to find a way to provide meaningful compensation to class members and to design a simple and discreet process for victims to come forward while maintaining strict confidentiality. Mr Bissonnette has applauded the City's frank and honourable approach to the lawsuit.

Starting today, class members can contact Class Counsel, Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, to learn about the proposed settlement and how to submit an eventual claim.

All communications with Class counsel are covered by solicitor-client privilege and will remain strictly confidential.

A toll-free information helpline exists for sexual assault victims of all ages. The service provides free, bilingual and confidential support and guidance, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout Québec, at a toll-free number: 1 888 933-9007 or 514 933-9007 for the Montreal region. Information is also available at www.agressionssexuelles.gouv.qc.ca..
Canadians lovingly invested the time and money to pack 664,525 shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and many other items during the 2016 Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign that recently ended.

Distribution of the shoeboxes in the developing world has already begun. During the next few weeks, children in Haiti, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Chile, Guatemala, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Gambia will be receiving shoeboxes packed by caring Canadians.

The 664,525 boxes donated in 2016 was 66,052 or nine per cent fewer than the 730,577 in 2015, but still consistent with the annual totals achieved during much of the last 10 years. The reduction in shoeboxes in 2016 is being attributed to tough economic times in several parts of Canada during the past year.

"We are extremely thankful to Canadians, many of whom are unemployed or facing significant economic uncertainty, for their generosity in continuing to support this vital program year after year," said Randy Crosson, Director of Operation Christmas Child Canada.

"Each shoebox that someone fills with gifts is an opportunity to show hurting children that they are loved by God and by us, and the sacrifices Canadians have made will once again bless children – many of whom have never before received a gift."

All children who receive a shoebox are invited to attend The Greatest Journey, Samaritan's Purse's 12-week evangelism and discipleship program. Since 2009, almost five million children have made decisions for Christ through The Greatest Journey.

Year-Round Option: The 2016 shoebox total for Canada includes 9,161 that were packed online. Thousands of Canadians took advantage of Operation Christmas Child's convenient Internet option that enables visitors to donate at PackaBox.ca. They chose shoebox gift items while also uploading personal notes and photos. Canadians can use PackaBox.ca year-round to pack shoeboxes for hurting children.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and hand-delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 130 countries hurt by war, poverty, natural disaster, disease, and famine.

Samaritan's Purse Canada: Operation Christmas Child is a program of Samaritan's Purse Canada, a Christian relief and development organization that takes its name from Jesus Christ's biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Like that Good Samaritan, who found a beaten man and helped restore him, we aid victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution. Besides Operation Christmas Child, our initiatives include providing safe water, vocational skills, and agricultural supplies and training to families in the developing world. Learn more at SamaritansPurse.ca.

23/1/2017

Family literacy program helps newcomers to Canada learn in their first languages

Learning as a family in your first, second or third language improves the skills of both children and adults. That is why ABC Life Literacy Canada (ABC) with support from HSBC Bank Canada (HSBC) developed the HSBC Family Literacy First program. The program is in its third year and provides engaging learning modules with stories and activities to support families learning in their first language while providing an opportunity to practice skills in English and French.

Since the program launched in 2015, seven learning modules have been created and are being used by families and literacy and learning organizations across the country. All modules are available in English and French, and are also translated into either Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, or new this year, Arabic.

"Parents are a child's first and most important teacher. When parents have the skills they need to live a fully engaged life, they are better able to help their children succeed," says Mack Rogers, Director of Community Programs, ABC Life Literacy Canada. "The learning resources help families build essential skills in their first language which they can then apply to English and French and other aspects of their daily life."

Each of the HSBC Family Literacy First modules includes an original story and supporting activities that engage the entire family and reinforce literacy skills. The modules are available online at FamilyLiteracyFirst.ca for families and literacy and learning organizations. Modules are supported by easy-to-use Facilitator Guides for parent, teacher, and learning centre facilitator program delivery. HSBC employee volunteers also provide their support by delivering the program at organizations in their communities.

"An important part of the program is delivery of the workshops by volunteers," says David Kuo, Head of Branch Network, Ontario, HSBC Bank Canada and HSBC Family Literacy First volunteer. "Since its inception in 2015, hundreds of HSBC employees have given back as volunteers with the program. When our employees volunteer as a team, they feel a connection to their colleagues, local communities and to wider society."

The first of three new learning modules for 2017 is now available for free download at FamilyLiteracyFirst.ca. Literacy organizations and parents can register online to access the new module and all previous modules. Finding time each day for learning together as a family improves the skills of both parent and child leading to better literacy for all.

Momentum Builds for Domestic Violence Leave in Workplace Contracts - Steelworkers

 United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1-405 reached a three-year agreement with Trickle Creek Resort and parent company Resorts of the Canadian Rockies that includes domestic violence leave provisions for the first time.

"For the first time, there is language that specifically deals with domestic and family violence," said Jeff Bromley, lead negotiator for Trickle Creek Lodge employees. "In a workplace that is predominantly female, that process and protection outlined in their collective agreement is a good resource to draw on should the employee and the employer ever encounter it."

The union was also able to negotiate wage increases of 5% over three years along with improvements in vacation, health-care coverage and bereavement leave. Members voted to ratify the new deal on Jan. 18.

"Steelworkers are having success and building momentum around domestic violence leave provisions," said Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director. "Provincial governments will have to follow suit, so all employees will have these protections."

Workplace domestic violence leave provisions provide those experiencing violence with time off for legal, medical, counselling or other appointments without jeopardizing their employment. Leave provisions maintain confidentiality while reducing the stigma often experienced by those in domestic violence situations.

The Province of Manitoba added domestic violence leave provisions to employment standards legislation in 2016. A private member's bill is under consideration in Ontario. Members of USW Local 1-207 at Rivercrest Care Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., negotiated domestic violence leave provisions for the first time, ratifying their contract Jan. 18.

Since March 2016, Steelworkers have successfully negotiated domestic violence leave provisions in seven contracts in three provinces: B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

The focus on domestic violence leave provisions is the work of an anti-violence initiative by the USW National Women's Committee – Let's End Violence Against Women and Girls. The initiative includes a presentation, brochures, white ribbon pins and posters.

Members of the Steelworkers across the country are presenting the materials at membership meetings and in bargaining with employers to raise awareness, break the silence and take steps to end violence against women and girls.

Domestic violence against women and girls continues to be a problem in Canada, with one in three Canadian women over the age of 16 experiencing sexual assault in their lifetimes. Recent research found that domestic violence often follows people to work, putting safety and jobs at risk. Collective bargaining can play an important role in keeping people safe and supported at work.

USW Local 1-405 based in Cranbrook, B.C., is a diverse union representing over 1,200 workers in sawmills, pole plants, credit unions, insurance services, hotels, ski resorts and municipal workers in the East and West Kootenays.

Coalition of agencies launches ad campaign to challenge Islamophobia & racism

 A coalition of national and provincial organizations and agencies has partnered to launch an awareness raising campaign that encourages Ontarians to stand up to Islamophobia and racism.

OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, the Canadian Arab Institute (CAI), the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have collaborated with media studio Mass Minority on a range of public education strategies, including public service announcements and a social media campaign.

One 30-second PSA features a family enjoying a day at an ice-skating rink. They return home to find the words "Muslims go home" spray-painted on their garage door. Neighbours arrive to assist in the clean-up.

A second 30-second PSA features a classroom where a student is telling racist jokes. A classmate intervenes to stop him from sharing another offensive punch line.

The theme of the public education campaign is "Break the Behaviour." It includes a website where visitors are encouraged to sign a pledge that they will reject Islamophobia and racism in all its forms, and commit to working to overcome inequality and achieve a shared prosperity for everyone.

"With the arrival of Syrian refugees over the course of the past year, many of us working in the immigration and refugee sectors were concerned about rising Islamophobia," says Debbie Douglas, Executive Director at OCASI. "It was important that we work with partners to ensure that we encourage Ontarians to stand up to Islamophobia, wherever they see it."

The most recent data from Statistics Canada indicates that Muslims in Canada have experienced a doubling in hate crimes over a three-year period. No other group has reported such a significant rise. Recent polls by Forum Research and Abacus Data also indicate that Muslims experience bias and discrimination more often than any other group in Canada.

"Canadians have by and large been incredibly welcoming of Syrian refugees and newcomers. However, there is troubling evidence of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment in our communities which makes such a campaign both timely and necessary," says Amira Elghawaby, Communications Director at the NCCM.

"Arabs, regardless of their religion, can face discrimination because of their ethnicity or place of origin," adds Raja Khouri, president of the CAI. "It can go beyond hate messaging to discrimination in job opportunities and barriers to participating in various aspects of public life."

"Human rights systems play a key role in holding institutions and individuals accountable for discrimination. But to create a culture of human rights, we need to empower individuals to challenge racism and Islamophobia in the moment," says OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. "This campaign does just that – it encourages us all to see ourselves as human rights accountability agents."

Expanded versions of the PSAs will be posted on social media. For more information about the campaign, visit www.breakthebehaviour.ca

20/1/2017

Looming famine threatens child survival as 5 million face starvation in Somalia

The lives of hundreds of thousands of children are at risk as millions face the threat of famine in Somalia, warns World Vision.

The International children's charity says that the fragile country is facing a health and nutrition crisis as a result of continued drought and conflict.

Describing the country's malnutrition situation as "alarming", World Vision Somalia's National Director, Simon Nyabwengi, urged the international community to provide an immediate and concerted response to help save lives of the most vulnerable children.

World Vision aims to support 530,000 of the most severely affected people through:

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes
Food security programmes
Health and nutrition programmes
Shelter and livelihoods programmes

Simon Nyabwengi, National Director World Vision Somalia said, "The crisis in Somalia risks sliding into yet another famine unless we act urgently and swiftly. Some 320,000 children under age 5 are acutely malnourished, and 50,000 of them are so severely malnourished they risk dying without emergency intervention. Compounding the crisis is the continued displacement of people as a result of fighting. This is one of the key factors curtailing our effort to build the resilience capabilities of villagers and communities in especially remote parts of Somalia."

"Everyone in the humanitarian sector is on high alert and we don't want to see children dying again. Humanitarian organizations have become better at predicting such disasters and there is a looming crisis at hand, with heart rending consequences for children and their families and we must act now to prevent deaths. The landscape in Somalia is littered with animal carcasses. We must save the children, who will surely follow if we do not provide food, water, and health and nutrition assistance now."

Odds stacked against GTA homeless in fight to the death

A body found frozen to death in an unheated van, a man beaten to death in a bus shelter, another burned to death in a makeshift shelter, etc. – the odds of survival against disease, sexual and physical violence, fire, and the cold for the homeless and those less fortunate across the GTA and surrounding communities are stacked in favour of mortality. On Saturday, January 21, 2017, Engage and Change's Project Winter Survival will package 3,000 survival kits for distribution to those in need through approximately 200 social service agencies, homeless shelters, and outreach providers situated throughout GTA and surrounding areas: 8:30 am, The Bargains Group Ltd., 890 Caledonia Rd, Toronto.

While outreach workers and shelters do their best to meet the growing demand of those in need year round, winter in the GTA and surrounding area communities inflicts additional hardships for the city's most vulnerable. "The growing plight of our city's homeless goes from critical to deadly during the volatile winter season," said Jody Steinhauer, Project Winter Survival founder. "City cut backs and overcrowded conditions mean increased numbers in need of warmth and shelter are left to fend off the elements as best they can. Unfortunately, the 3000 kits that we provide can only offer marginal relief."

'THE NUMBERS ARE STAGGERING!"

Statistics are rough at best but there is an estimated 5,000 people sleeping outdoors and in shelters including about 1000 homeless kids each night, with 9% of the homeless population sleeping rough (2013). As per this release, Project Winter Survival has received in excess of 12,500 requests for kits, a 20 percent increase over 2016. "The numbers are staggering," said Steinhauer. "Tragically the growing number of requests for kits far exceeds the total number of survival kits that we are able to fund through the generous support of our corporate and community partners. The call to action for more kits is NOW!"

Thanks to the patronage of its corporate and civic partners including Canada's five big banking institutions, Project Winter Survival will give Toronto's community of street and shelter dwellers a fighting chance to beat the odds. Each kit contains such items as sleeping bags, clothing, food, and personal and health care items that often make a difference between life and death. Since its inception in 1999, Project Winter Survival has assembled and distributed more than 30,000 winter survival kits to GTA and surrounding area homeless. For those less fortunate, a mere $25 donation per kit to Project Winter Survival translates into a lifeline of hope against the threat of death by exposure. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.engageandchange.org.

Thousands of Canadians Expected to March in Solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

 On Saturday, January 21, 2017, Canadians will rally in support of the Women's March on Washington. Participants will march and rally in solidarity with millions around the world, one day after the U.S. presidential inauguration.

The Canadian Women's March is travelling with nearly 400 people from Eastern Canada on buses to Washington, DC, to participate in the Women's March on Washington. Thousands of other women and men will also be travelling from Canada to Washington, DC to be part of this historic march on the U.S. capital.

For those unable to attend that event, over 500 sister marches are being held in more than 32 countries worldwide, including 30 Canadian cities - and counting.

"Canadians are coming together to say loud and clear that discrimination will not be tolerated, and that we stand in support of all those who have been the targets of hatred within Canada and abroad," said Marissa McTasney, from the National Committee of the Canadian Women's March. "This is a show of equality, solidarity, diversity and inclusivity. We are marching in support of indigenous peoples, people of colour, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQI+, people with disabilities, women and others."

The outpouring of support from across Canada reflects its wide diversity, bringing together business owners, social justice groups, religious communities, labour groups, politicians, artists, students, girls, boys, women, men, and non-binary individuals, just to name a few - everyone who believes that women's rights are human rights will be marching on January 21, 2017.

The marches, organized by a grassroots coalition - including many first-time organizers - will collectively be one of the largest international demonstrations ever assembled.

Please visit canadianwomenmarch.ca for information on local sister marches
canadianwomenmarch.ca | info@canadianwomenmarch.ca | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
19/01/2017

Over 40 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey missing out on education, despite massive increase in enrolment rates - UNICEF

Steelworkers Win Domestic Violence Leave

 Nearly half a million Syrian refugee children are currently enrolled in schools across Turkey. But despite a more than 50 per cent increase in enrolment since last June, over 40 per cent of children of school-going age – or 380,000 child refugees – are still missing out on an education, UNICEF said today.

"For the first time since the start of the Syrian crisis, there are more Syrian children in Turkey attending class than there are out of school," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth, speaking after a visit to UNICEF programmes in southern Turkey.

"Turkey should be commended for this huge achievement. But unless more resources are provided, there is still a very real risk of a 'lost generation' of Syrian children, deprived of the skills they will one day need to rebuild their country."

Turkey is home to more than 1.2 million child refugees, making it the top child refugee hosting country in the world.

In partnership with the Government of Turkey, UNICEF is helping strengthen education systems, increase access to learning and improve the quality of inclusive education for Syrian and vulnerable Turkish children.

Since 2013, UNICEF has helped build, renovate or refurnish nearly 400 schools, and trained some 20,000 Syrian volunteer teachers. Approximately 13,000 teachers receive monthly incentives.

Efforts are also under way to include Syrian children in a national programme that grants cash allowances to vulnerable families for them to send, and keep, their children in school.

Across the region, a total of 2.7 million Syrian children are not in school – the bulk of them inside the war-torn country itself where millions of children remain in danger as the conflict nears its sixth-year mark. Around 300,000 children are trapped in 15 areas that are under siege across Syria, and a further 2 million are in areas that are largely cut off from essential humanitarian aid as a result of fighting and restrictions to access. This includes 700,000 children in areas under ISIL control.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.
The United Steelworkers (USW) National Women's Committee's anti-violence initiative has led to new contract language at the bargaining table for workers in Alberta.

Rivercrest Care Centre employees, members of USW Local 1-207, have ratified a new three-year agreement that for the first time includes contract language for domestic violence leave.

"New provisions on domestic violence leave are an important precedent because domestic and sexual violence is still a problem in Canada," said Ray White, President of USW Local 1-207. "Thanks to the anti-violence work by our Women of Steel committee, we're doing something about domestic violence by negotiating leave provisions at the bargaining table."

The new contract for 160 employees at Rivercrest in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., also includes 3% wage increases over the term of the agreement in an economic climate where rollbacks have been the opening position of health-care sector employers. The deal provides new night-shift premiums and updates language on a discrimination-free workplace consistent with the Human Rights Code in Alberta.

"I'm proud of these Steelworkers for taking action. They've taken our campaign to end violence against women and made practical steps to address it through workplace bargaining," said Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director. "If we can get more employers adding leave provisions, provincial governments will have to follow suit, so all employees will have these protections."

Workplace domestic violence leave provisions provide those experiencing violence with time off for legal, medical, counselling or other appointments without jeopardizing their employment. Leave provisions maintain confidentiality while reducing the stigma often experienced by those in domestic violence situations.

Momentum is building for adding domestic violence leave provisions to laws and union contracts to protect workers. The Province of Manitoba added domestic violence leave provisions to employment standards legislation in 2016. A private member's bill is under consideration in Ontario. Members of USW Local 1-405, hospitality workers in Kimberley, B.C., negotiated domestic violence leave provisions for the first time, ratifying their contract Jan. 18.

Domestic violence against women and girls continues to be a problem in Canada, with one in three Canadian women over the age of 16 experiencing sexual assault in their lifetimes. Recent research found that domestic violence often follows people to work, putting safety and jobs at risk. Collective bargaining can play an important role in keeping people safe and supported at work.

The USW Women of Steel anti-violence initiative – Let's End Violence Against Women and Girls – includes a presentation, brochures, white ribbon pins and posters.

Members of the Steelworkers across the country are presenting the materials at membership meetings and in bargaining with employers to raise awareness, break the silence and take steps to end violence against women and girls.

www.usw.ca/anti-violence
18/1/2017
Long-time volunteer awarded for years of working with offenders in Toronto community
Susan Vella named as the Lead Commission Counsel for The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls
 The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is pleased to announce the 2016 James A. Murphy CAC Award of Excellence was presented to Mr. Niels Bjelbo yesterday at a ceremony held at the Keele Community Correctional Centre (CCC) in Toronto.

Don Head, Commissioner, Correctional Service Canada said, "I would like to congratulate this year's James A. Murphy CAC Award of Excellence recipient, Mr. Niels Bjelbo. CSC is extremely grateful for the tireless efforts, advice and support given to us by CACs across the country. Their contribution is instrumental in creating safer institutions and ensuring public safety results for Canadians."

Mr. Bjelbo first became a volunteer at the Keele CCC driving offenders to and from alcoholics' support meetings. Since becoming the chair of the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) of Keele CCC in 2012, he continues to build relationships between the community and the CCC by talking to neighbouring residents and business owners. In addition, he hosts open houses to give the community the opportunity to tour the CCC and meet its residents, and has planned a beautification project where offenders cleaned and renewed the community.

Several offenders at the Keele CCC have benefited from Mr. Bjelbo's efforts to help them obtain identification documents and find employment. He started a program providing offenders small loans to pay for work boots, uniforms, and transportation. The program sees offenders eventually repay the loans - money that goes to help other offenders find work in the future.

Mr. Bjelbo is a strong advocate and believer in the offender's ability to rehabilitate. His positive nature, care and empathy promote the work of CACs in Toronto and across Canada. Mr. Bjelbo's work preparing offenders for employment, helping with job development and promoting offender involvement in the community is instrumental in encouraging offenders to become law-abiding citizens and creating safer communities.


 The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls is pleased to announce that Susan Vella will be the Lead Commission Counsel and will build the National Inquiry's trauma-informed legal team.

She is a pioneer in advancing claims on behalf of survivors of sexual and institutionalized abuse, and sexual harassment in the civil litigation context for over 25 years. Susan also represents Indigenous persons who are victims of sexual trauma, and Indigenous organizations and First Nations in relation to various matters.

Susan received the Law Society Medal and the Advocates' Society Award of Justice, in recognition of her work on behalf of survivors of sexual violence.

Susan has appeared at all levels of court in relation to civil litigation involving sexual violence, including at the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to the landmark sexual abuse vicarious liability decision of Bazley v. Curry.

Susan has a number of publications on various aspects relative to the issue of pursuing civil justice on behalf of survivors of sexual violence, including co-authoring the textbook, Civil Liability for Sexual Abuse and Violence in Canada.

Susan is a member of the Ontario Civil Rules Committee. Most recently Susan was Counsel to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care's Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients. She was also Commission Counsel to the Ipperwash Inquiry, which examined the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of Dudley George by a member of the Ontario Provincial Police. She was called to the Ontario bar in 1988.

Susan comes to the National Inquiry from Rochon Genova LLP where she is senior counsel.

HAITI: NEW ASSESSMENT SHOWS FOOD INSECURITY HALVED IN THE AREAS MOST AFFECTED BY HURRICANE MATTHEW; HIGHLIGHTS NEW NEEDS 

– Three months after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti, the number of people facing hunger and food insecurity in Grande-Anse and Sud - the most affected areas - has declined steadily from approximately 1 million to 400,000, a recent assessment shows.

However, in the North West, Artibonite, Nippes and La Gonave, although the impact of the hurricane was smaller, its effects coupled with three years of drought and severe flooding have led to a hike in the levels of food insecurity with one million people affected. In total, more than 1.5 million people are food insecure in those six areas following this series of shocks.  

The latest Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA), conducted in December 2016 by the National Coordination for Food Security (CNSA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and FEWS NET, confirms improvements in people’s capacity to feed themselves and their families but at the same time, the need to continue providing assistance in hurricane-affected areas as people rebuild their livelihoods. The assessment also highlights the need to extend assistance beyond these areas in departments where levels of food insecurity have been found to be high.

In the departments of Sud and Grande-Anse, where food assistance was provided from October 2016 onwards, the levels of food insecurity have decreased, respectively, from 79 % after the hurricane to 41 % two months later, and from 78 % to 54 % during the same period. Since the start of the emergency response, under the leadership of the government, WFP has distributed food assistance in those two departments to more than 900,000 people, and fortified foods to more than 20,000 pregnant and nursing women and children under five years old. Meanwhile, FAO has provided seeds, tools, financial resources to more than 21,000 vulnerable households in the departments of Grande-Anse, Sud, Sud-est, West and North West. The levels of food insecurity are highest in the western part of the department of North West (65%), North Artibonite (54%) and in la Gonave island (54%), which were not prioritized regions for emergency response after a first assessment in mid-October.

“The results of the assessment show the very positive impact of our collective efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, but also the pressing need to continue and redirect assistance to new areas with higher levels of food insecurity, as well as initiate recovery interventions”, said Ronald Tran Ba Huy, WFP’s Representative in Haiti.

Nathanaël Hishamunda, FAO’s representative in Haiti, echoed this sentiment: “The conclusions of this new assessment reveal that the different interventions contributed to improving the levels of food and nutrition security of those affected by Hurricane Matthew. We now need to consolidate the gains made by working hand in hand with the government, with the goal of reinforcing our interventions in the most vulnerable communities”.

“The government will continue leading these efforts”, said Chrisner Roche, CNSA’s coordinator, “and results of the assessment will ensure our response prioritizes those who are most vulnerable in the new zones highlighted in the assessment”.

The humanitarian community in Haiti urgently needs US$ 113 million to support food security and agriculture in 2017.  
11/1/2017
20 Years After Diana's Angolan Visit, The HALO Trust says Landmines Are Still Killing Children
20 years since Diana, Princess of Wales walked through a minefield in Angola, The HALO Trust says that mines and unexploded ordnance are still harming civilians and hindering development in Angola and in 63 other countries and territories around the world.

In September 2016 eight people from the same family were killed near Kuito, a town visited by Diana, when a child brought an anti-tank mine into his home. Another child was killed and a further two suffered amputations after encountering an unexploded mortar in Huambo City, only 5 km from where the princess visited.

Diana's 1997 visit to Angola raised global awareness of the plight of landmine victims and the indiscriminate nature of the weapons. States came together later that year to sign the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa. Despite the Treaty's huge success in stopping landmine production and transfer, HALO says that the Treaty's proposed 2025 deadline for a mine free world will not be met without a substantial increase in funding for mine clearance.

Staff from HALO, the world's largest and oldest mine clearance charity, were in the process of clearing the minefield Diana walked through on 15 January 1997. Since then HALO has destroyed more than 92,000 landmines, 800 minefields and 162,000 shells, missiles and bombs in Angola. The minefield where Diana walked is now a thriving community with housing, a carpentry workshop, a small college and a school. But there is still much to be done. Most of the cities in Angola have been cleared but rural areas remain heavily mined and over 40% of the population lives in the countryside. There are 630 minefields remaining in the eight provinces in which HALO works, and perhaps more than 1,000 minefields remaining across the country.

A sharp decline in international assistance has forced HALO to reduce its local demining teams from 1,200 personnel to just 250 in the last few years. Today, fleets of armoured vehicles and specialist equipment are inactive due to lack of funds. Hundreds of trained Angolan de-miners are now unemployed. Meanwhile, estimates for the total number of casualties from landmines and explosive items in Angola vary considerably, from 23,000 to 80,000. The size of the country and length of its conflict have hindered efforts to keep reliable records.

The slow progress of Angola clearance contrasts with that of Mozambique, which was finally declared free of mines in 2015 after 22 years of work by HALO and other operators.
James Cowan, CEO of HALO, said: 'The world cannot turn its back on Angola now that Mozambique has shown us what can be done with the right commitment and determination. All people deserve to be free of the debris of war: its removal is the first step towards regrowth, development and peace. Yet 20 years after Diana's visit to Angola, children are still being killed and maimed by mines. 2017 is the year to re-focus, re-energise and finish the job. Together the world can achieve the Ottawa Treaty's vision of a mine-free world.'

There are 64 states and territories affected by mines and other items of unexploded ordnance such as cluster munitions and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Angola and Afghanistan are among the most severely mine-afflicted states in the world, while Syria, Yemen and Iraq face hugely insecure futures due to the prolific use of IEDs in contemporary conflicts. The Landmine Monitor recently reported that 6,461 people were known to be wounded or killed by landmines and other explosive remnants of war in 2015 -- a 75% increase from 2014 and the highest reported casualty total since 2006's figure of 6,573.
Louis Vuitton launching global initiative to support UNICEF and children in need
 One year after the launch of its global partnership with UNICEF, Louis Vuitton is launching its first #makeapromise day on January 12, 2017 to raise funds for children in urgent need, through its global network of stores.

Nearly 250 million children live in countries affected by conflict and millions more face risk from natural disasters, climate change and fast spreading epidemics. Every day, somewhere around the world, millions of children wake up to lives filled with violence, persecution and hardship. UNICEF works to bring hope for a better life to these children.

On January 12, in 460 Louis Vuitton stores across more than 60 countries, 12,000 Louis Vuitton Client Advisors will act as special advocates of the "Louis Vuitton for UNICEF" partnership and promote the sales of the Silver Lockit: a product specially designed to raise funds for UNICEF.

Since January 2016, the Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership has helped raise $2.5 million to help bring children life-saving humanitarian support in Nigeria and Syria. In doing so, it has brought hope to children who have endured the horrors of war and deprivation. For example, in 2016, 4.5 million children and their families in Syria were protected through the life-saving provision of water.

"They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes great partners like Louis Vuitton working together with UNICEF to ensure all children survive and thrive," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "The more partnerships and innovative alliances we're able to form with corporations like Louis Vuitton, the more children we'll be able to reach with life-saving assistance."

$200 donated to children for every Lockit sold

For each sale of the Silver Lockit pendant (US $600) or bracelet (US $500), US $200 is donated to UNICEF.

On this occasion, Louis Vuitton renews its promise to help children and invites people around the world to join the movement. Guests will be encouraged to come accompanied with someone close to make a pinky promise and to share their promise online with a special hashtag: #makeapromise. As a way of inviting people to spread the word, a special offer will be available that day for those who purchase two Silver Lockits (offer available in all Louis Vuitton stores and on louisvuitton.com for January 12, 2017).

"Charity starts at home," said Michael Burke, President of Louis Vuitton. "Last year, we challenged our teams to come up with a symbolic gesture that would federate people around our cause. The idea of the #makeapromise campaign comes from children: when they make a promise, they mean it and they seal it with a pinky promise. Children show us a simple way to change the world. One year after our successful launch, our teams have come up with this idea to keep our promise alive. It's about joining forces worldwide to raise funds and awareness for children. We believe in the word of mouth. Our goal is to reach as many people and to make a real difference."

UNICEF is the leading humanitarian and development organization working globally for the rights of every child. The aim of the partnership "Louis Vuitton for UNICEF" is to raise funds for UNICEF and help support children who are exposed to conflict, diseases, natural disasters and other situations that threaten their safety and well-being.

Millions of children at risk of violence, conflict, disease

"Millions of children, the foundation of tomorrow's stable, healthy societies are today experiencing violence, conflict and diseases. Now more than ever, the need to stand together for and with children is critical. By making a promise for children, particularly those affected by conflict situations, the customers and employees of Louis Vuitton are showing their commitment to bring hope to the most vulnerable children," said Gérard Bocquenet, Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships at UNICEF.

UNICEF is there, before, during and after humanitarian situations. In Syria, since the beginning of 2016, UNICEF has reached four million children under five with polio vaccinations, 14 million people with drinking water and nearly 140,000 children with school supplies.

Louis Vuitton is also inviting its clients to make direct donations to UNICEF throughout the year and will do so especially during emergencies.

UNICEF does not endorse any brand or product.

To make a direct donation to the children of the world, please visit www.unicef.ca/donate. For more information on the partnership, visit www.louisvuitton.com/lvforunicef
10/01/2017
Study Shows Biological Changes That Could Underlie Higher Psychosis Risk In Immigrants

Toronto Public Health launches program to track all homeless deaths in Toronto 
 A new study could explain how migrating to another country increases a person's risk of developing schizophrenia, by altering brain chemistry.

Immigrants had higher levels of the brain chemical dopamine than non-immigrants in the study, conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College, London. Abnormal dopamine levels are linked to symptoms of schizophrenia. Dopamine is also connected to the body's stress response.

The study was published in the January issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin.

"Schizophrenia is still a rare diagnosis," says Dr. Romina Mizrahi, a senior author and Clinician Scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH. "But if we can understand the factors that increase the risk of this serious illness among immigrants, we can develop strategies such as social supports to mitigate this risk."

As Canada's population and workforce will decline without migration, a set number of immigrants are accepted into the country each year. While it's not feasible to offer stress supports to all newcomers, the approach of identifying those at highest risk and offering evidence-based interventions to prevent schizophrenia is one that Dr. Mizrahi applies to her work with youth, as Head of the Youth Psychosis Prevention Clinic and Research Program.

The current study involved a type of brain imaging called positron emission tomography (PET), and applied two different approaches to examining dopamine levels.

In Toronto, 56 study participants were given a mild stress test to see its effect on dopamine release. People with schizophrenia, and those at high risk, release more dopamine with this test when compared to a matched healthy group of participants. Among the 25 immigrants in the study, dopamine release was higher than 31 non-immigrant participants. This increase was related to participants' experiences of social stress, such as work overload, social pressures or social isolation.

The London researchers showed that the synthesis of dopamine was higher in immigrants. This increase was related to the severity of symptoms among those considered at high risk of developing schizophrenia, and did not occur among non-immigrants at high risk. In total, 32 immigrants and 44 non-immigrants were involved in this part of the study.

Dr. Mizrahi emphasizes that not everyone with high dopamine levels will develop schizophrenia, nor will the vast majority of migrants.

Yet it is well-established through population studies in Canada, the U.K. and Western Europe that the risk of developing schizophrenia is higher in immigrants and their children than non-immigrants. Stress – particularly related to perceived discrimination, social isolation and urban living – is believed to increase this risk. The role of stress also appears to be supported by the current findings on brain dopamine levels.

"This is a first step in integrating social science and biological research," says Dr. Mizrahi. "A next step would be to help regulate stress among higher risk immigrants through social support programs, and see if this reduces dopamine in the brain and prevents psychosis."
Toronto Public Health has launched a new tracking system to address the limited data collected for individuals who have died while homeless and not living in City-funded shelters. The new initiative will gather better data to provide a more fulsome understanding of the scope of this complex issue, which remains a significant issue in Toronto that contributes to health inequities for many vulnerable residents across the city.

"Until now, death data for homeless people in Toronto has been limited to those who were living in City-funded shelters. As a result, the scope of this problem has been unknown," said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's Acting Medical Officer of Health. "This new data will help guide efforts to improve the health of our most vulnerable residents."

The initiative represents a collaboration between health and social service agencies that support homeless people and the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario who will help to verify the data with Toronto Public Health. Data including the deceased individual's age and gender, along with date, location and unofficial cause of death will be collected for homeless people who die while living on the street, at a friend or family member's place, at a shelter or at other locations in Toronto. All individual-level data will be treated as confidential. 

"I am very pleased to see this new initiative launched as it will provide us with a more fulsome understanding of this issue and the true impact on individuals, families and in our community," said Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), the City's lead on this homelessness-related issue. "Until now, gathering data on individuals who have died while living beyond the City-funded shelter system proved very difficult and often involved incomplete information that didn't tell the whole story. I'm confident that this positive step will help us to begin addressing this very complex issue."

More information about the City of Toronto's efforts to protect and promote the health of vulnerable groups including homeless and marginally housed individuals is available at http://bit.ly/2jvh1V7.
Water cuts leave four million people at risk in Syria
Millions of people in Damascus and surrounding areas have been cut off from running water for two weeks. Fighting in and around Wadi Barada, on the outskirts of Damascus where the two primary water sources are located, has resulted in damages to the water network.

Water rationing was immediately introduced allowing some neighbourhoods to obtain water for up to two hours every three or four days. Many residents in the city have resorted to alternative sources such as buying water from private vendors, where prices and water quality are unregulated.

There is a major concern of the risk of waterborne diseases among children. In many areas, families are paying up to US$12 to buy 1,000 litres from private companies.

Children bear the brunt of collecting water for their family. A UNICEF team who visited several Damascus schools yesterday said that most children they met walk at least half an hour to the nearest mosque or public water point to collect water. It takes children up to two hours waiting in line just to fetch water in freezing temperatures.

As part of its wider water, sanitation and hygiene response in Syria, UNICEF has rehabilitated and equipped 120 wells in and around Damascus that cover up to one-third of daily water needs in the city. Since 22 December, those wells have been the only source of water for the entire city of Damascus.

UNICEF has already provided generator sets and spare parts and is delivering 15,000 litres of fuel daily to increase water production and pumping to a maximum of 200,000 cubic metrics per day to reach up to 3.5 million people with drinking water.

This week, daily water trucking has resumed to 50 schools in Damascus, providing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for up to 30,000 children.

These are all temporary solutions and not sustainable. UNICEF is standing ready to support repair work of the damaged water source and network as soon as access is granted.

UNICEF reiterates its call to parties to the conflict to meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilian infrastructure, including water facilities.
Three months after Matthew, UNICEF and its partners continue to bring assistance to affected population
Almost three months after hurricane Matthew, UNICEF and its partners continue to deliver humanitarian aid to those most affected by the category 4 storm.

Over 2 million people including 900,000 children were affected by the hurricane, of which 1.4 million require humanitarian assistance including 600,000 children. In addition to the personal losses of homes and crops, over 716 schools, and many health facilities and the existing sanitation infrastructure all suffered damage.

Together with the government of Haiti, UNICEF and its partners have been able to ensure safe water is available daily to over 281,000 individuals, including over 118,000 children. UNICEF contributed to the cholera vaccination campaign, in November that reached 807,395 people, ensuring the delivery also of information regarding the prevention of cholera. Over 309,213 children between the ages of 1-14 years are included in this figure. In the health sector, UNICEF has restored the cold-chain systems of 37 facilities, has equipped 35 malnutrition outpatient treatment centers in Grand'Anse and South and two inpatient facilities in each of these departments. In education, UNICEF has completed the restoration of 14 schools, with another 107 in various stages of progress. These restored schools have made it possible for 4,200 students to return to class. In total, it's expected that over 36,000 students will return to the schools rehabilitated by UNICEF.

UNICEF works closely with communities on malnutrition that continues to affect children and adults as they struggle to recover from the extended drought and the subsequent effects of hurricane Matthew including persistent risk of disease and loss of livelihood. UNICEF protection interventions are supporting families that have lost their livelihoods, aimed at preventing child separation; it is common for parents to place their children in residential care facilities in the often-false expectation that they will receive access to education that parents can no longer afford. Economic stress is also known to lead to violence, and increased social tension which combine to increase the potential for child abuse and neglect.

To be closer to the population and improve delivery of services to the affected children and their families, UNICEF has opened two sub-offices: one in Les Cayes in the South department and the other in Jérémie in the Grand'Anse department.

"Three months after Matthew, we can already see improvements: safe water is increasingly available, the vast majority of schools have reopened as have a number of health facilities; and areas that are the most difficult to access are receiving assistance. UNICEF is continuing to fulfil its mandate and obligations to emergency and development efforts, "said Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.

To provide these interventions, UNICEF needed funding. UNICEF's appeal for Haiti grew from a pre-hurricane amount of US$ 13.4 million to US$ 36.6 million after hurricane Matthew, and was over 85% funded by year-end as a result of the generosity of donors and their constituents. These funds help UNICEF to cover the most urgent needs of the families and children of Haiti in terms of water and sanitation, health, nutrition, education and protection.

Much remains to be done in the coming year, to enable Haitian children and their families to benefit from safe water, sanitation and the dignity that comes with these, as well as access to protection, education and healthcare services. Once again, UNICEF relies on donors' generosity so that it can continue its mission and remain true to its mandate, which is: a fair chance for every child.

Haiti Receives 82 Tons of Urgently Needed Medical Aid 

About Direct Relief    
               
Established in 1948 with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies, Direct Relief delivers lifesaving medical resources throughout the world – without regard to politics, religion, ethnic identities, or ability to pay. With operations spanning more than 80 countries and 50 U.S. states, Direct Relief is the only charitable nonprofit to obtain Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) accreditation by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Among other distinctions, Direct Relief earns a perfect score of 100 from independent evaluator Charity Navigator, was listed among the world's most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company, and has received the CECP Directors' Award, the Drucker Prize for Nonprofit Innovation, and the President's Award from Esri for excellence in GIS mapping. For more information, please visit https://www.directrelief.org/. 
Direct Relief today airlifted 82 tons of medical aid to Haiti to help treat cholera and other diseases that have spread widely since Hurricane Matthew struck in October, incapacitating the country's already overstretched health care system.

Direct Relief's warehouse staff worked through the holidays to prepare 258 pallets of essential medications and supplies with a wholesale value of $39.9 million. The shipment – the largest by value in Direct Relief's 69-year history – traveled by a chartered cargo jet from Los Angeles to Port-au-Prince.

Dozens of health care companies that support Direct Relief's humanitarian health efforts contributed the supplies, augmented by funds contributed by donors to Direct Relief specifically for Hurricane Matthew assistance.

While the Haiti crisis has faded from the headlines, the situation remains urgent. More than 1.4 million people require assistance months after the storm wiped out food crops and damaged more than 90 percent of fruit and forest trees, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Direct Relief responded to requests for help from Haiti immediately after the storm made landfall, but a critical and ongoing need for aid persists.

"The facilities receiving support from this airlift were especially hard-hit and are struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Matthew," said Andrew MacCalla, Direct Relief's Director of International Programs. "Many of their patients had homes damaged or destroyed and their livelihoods cut off."

"The situation in southern Haiti after Hurricane Matthew is dire, and the risks of disease and famine are dangerously high," said Conor Shapiro of the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, a Direct Relief partner that provides health care, educational opportunities and community development programs.

The supplies on this shipment were requested by 37 Haitian organizations, including St. Boniface, that represent more than 200 health care facilities in Haiti, which often are unable to access or afford the essential medicines they need to meet the demands of their patient populations.

Among the airlift's contents are 16 specially designed cholera modules that include infusion therapy supplies to help rehydrate patients, as well as antibiotics. Each module can treat 40 severe and 60 moderate cases of cholera.

Because cholera prevention hinges on the availability of safe drinking water, Direct Relief is also sending enough P&G Purifier of Water sachets to purify 1.5 million gallons of water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the sachets were "designed to reverse-engineer a water treatment plant, incorporating the multiple barrier processes of removal of particles and disinfection."

Haiti has also seen a rise in cases of diphtheria, a potentially deadly bacterial infection. To help patients suffering from diphtheria, the shipment contains antibiotics and respiratory supplies. Also included in the shipment are hygiene products, soaps, detergent and bleach, and medications to treat chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and depression.

This delivery adds to several from Direct Relief to Haiti since the storm hit, including a 17-ton consignment that FedEx delivered in October free of charge on a chartered 757 flight.

Top five last-minute holiday gifts that give back

The UNICEF Survival Gifts online store is open 24 hours a day and features more than 65 life-saving items for quick sale.

About Survival Gifts

Survival Gifts are real gifts with real impact for children and families around the world. They are delivered year round to reach the most vulnerable children. When you purchase a UNICEF Survival Gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, the recipient receives a card or e-card that celebrates the good their gift is doing, while a vulnerable child or family receives the actual items. Real items come from the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark - the world's largest humanitarian warehouse. The gifts are sent to more than 140 developing countries where UNICEF is working with children, families and communities. For more information or to purchase UNICEF Survival Gifts, please visit www.survivalgifts.ca.

UNICEF Survival Gifts are a great option as 23 per cent of Canadians admit to throwing out gifts

With the holiday's right around the corner, last-minute gift shoppers eager to find something special for their loved ones are running out of time. UNICEF Canada suggests avoiding the crowds and looking online to Survival Gifts, which make gift giving easy.

"With just one click, you can purchase a real gift that will have a real impact on vulnerable children around the world," said Deana Shaw, Vice President at UNICEF Canada. "It takes just a few minutes to buy a Survival Gift online, but the feeling your loved one will have knowing they are helping a child survive and thrive is lasting."

Every day, thousands of children around the world die from preventable causes. Survival Gifts are real, life-saving items shipped to children in 140 countries.

"When you purchase a UNICEF Survival Gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, you can send a personalized e-card or print off a PDF card that celebrates the good their gift is doing, while a vulnerable child or family receives the actual items," said Shaw.

Last year, Canadians purchased more than 10 million Survival Gift items. Through their gifts of Bed Nets alone, Canadians helped protect nearly 5,000 vulnerable children and families from deadly mosquito bites.

Top five last-minute holiday gifts that give back

For Canadians looking for a convenient way to make a difference this holiday season, UNICEF Canada recommends these five life-saving gifts:

1) Backpacks: "A set of backpacks is a great way to give children a sense of pride and support improved learning," said Shaw. "They're sturdy and perfect to carry school supplies to keep children organized for successful learning." A set of four backpacks is $14.

2) Bed Nets: "Malaria accounts for one in 10 child deaths in Africa," said Shaw. "An insecticide-treated mosquito net is a simple and effective way to protect and save young lives." A set of three bed nets is $10.

3) Plumpy'Nut®: "You can boost a malnourished child's chance of survival with Plumpy'Nut®, a therapeutic, peanut-based food," said Shaw. "Three packets a day can help an undernourished child gain up to two pounds in one week, promoting health and well-being." A 21 pack is $12.

4) Restock an entire emergency medical centre: "During emergencies, UNICEF is among the first on the ground to help," said Shaw. "When an emergency strikes, this gift will provide medical supplies to immediately help save children's lives." $50 restocks one centre.

5) Vaccine Pack: "Immunizations are a safe and effective method of protecting children against deadly diseases, ensuring they have a chance to grow up," said Shaw. "A vaccine pack will guard against life-threatening illnesses such as tetanus, measles and polio for 61 children." One pack is $44.

Canadians admit to tossing out gifts

According to a recent Ipsos survey, 23 per cent of Canadians say they usually end up throwing out some of the holiday gifts they receive each year. Three in four Canadians say that many of the people they buy for don't actually need anything.

"Why waste money on gifts that people may not like and probably don't need, when you can give them something that is almost priceless?" said Shaw. "With one click of the mouse, you can not only avoid the mayhem of holiday shopping and parking, but you can give a child a fair shot at life and make your loved one feel good about helping someone else this holiday season."  

The Cree Nation welcomes establishment of an independent commission of inquiry on relations between indigenous people and certain public services​
 

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government welcomes the announcement today by Premier Philippe Couillard of the establishment of an independent provincial commission of inquiry on relations between indigenous people and certain public services in Québec.

More than one year ago, Indigenous women in Val d'Or came forward with allegations of misconduct by certain police officers. Their courage led Indigenous persons elsewhere in Québec to share their own experience of discrimination and misconduct.


​From the start, the Indigenous women, the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador and the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee have called for an independent provincial commission of inquiry to look into and remedy the systemic causes of discrimination against Indigenous persons.

Only such a provincial commission of inquiry will enable the Indigenous women of Québec to share their experience. Only such a commission will be able to identify the systemic issues underlying discrimination against Indigenous people specific to Québec with a view to proposing solutions.

Over the past year, an overwhelming consensus has emerged on the need for such a provincial inquiry. The independent observer of the Montreal Police investigation in Val d'Or, the recent report by the Observatoire sur les profilages on the criminalization of homelessness in Val d'Or, and the National Commission of Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls have all stressed the need to address the systemic issues.

Preliminary indications point to systemic factors such as overreliance on police officers as first responders and on the court system to address social problems, a lack of training for police officers in the reality of Indigenous people and a lack of health and social service resources to address the needs of Indigenous people.

The commission of inquiry announced today is designed to shed light on these and other systemic issues underlying the discrimination experienced by Indigenous persons. It will examine ways to improve for Indigenous persons, not just police services, but related public services, such as health and social services and justice services. This integrated approach is intended to promote effective and durable solutions.

"I am very pleased that today the Government of Québec has heard the calls of the Indigenous women for a commission of inquiry. The inquiry will enable them to share their experience and help to find solutions. This exercise is not about blame. It is about all of us, Indigenous people, police officers and other stakeholders, working together to fix problems. Listening to the Indigenous women will help them begin to heal. I want to thank them for their courage and perseverance – without them, this inquiry would never have happened." – Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come.

The commission of inquiry will complement the work of the National MMIWG Inquiry. The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee intends to collaborate actively with both commissions to eliminate violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and all Indigenous persons and move toward real reconciliation.


MADAGASCAR’S PRIME MINISTER ADVOCATES FOR MORE SUPPORT AND INVESTMENT TO COMBAT CHRONIC MALNUTRITION IN THE COUNTRY
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The results of a new Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study indicate that Madagascar’s economy loses 3.384 billion Ariary (US$1.5 billion) per year – the equivalent of 14.5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – to the effects of malnutrition.

The COHA study is a project led by the African Union Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), developed with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).  The findings highlight the extent of social and economic losses caused by child malnutrition in a given country.

Mrs. Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, the African Union Commission Representative in Madagascar, today officially presented the study report to the Prime Minister and Head of Government of Madagascar, H.E. Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana.

During the ceremony held in Antananarivo, the Prime Minister expressed his concern about the alarming levels of chronic malnutrition in the country. In Madagascar, 47 percent of children under the age of five are affected by stunting (low growth for age). 


“Madagascar has the fifth highest rate of stunting in the world,” said the Prime Minister. “The results of the Cost of Hunger study confirm the urgency of mobilizing more resources and investment to reduce the level of malnutrition and its impact. This is one of the priorities of the National Development Plan. I call on our multi-sectoral partners to join us in this endeavor.”   
Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, the COHA study in Madagascar was conducted by the National Implementation Team (composed of 14 agencies and ministries) with the support of the United Nations and financial partners.
“The study aims to enhance African governments’ awareness of child malnutrition and of the fact that this is not only a health and social issue, but one of major economic concern,” said Mrs. Youssouf. “The African Union supports this initiative in Madagascar because we know that the government is committed to fighting malnutrition.”
Madagascar is the tenth country in Africa to have conducted the COHA study, after Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and Swaziland. The process has revealed that African economies are losing between 1.9 and 16.5% of GDP to child malnutrition.
The official launch of the Madagascar report was followed by a presentation of the ‘MIARO’ integrated project on nutrition and maternal and child health, which aims to prevent chronic malnutrition among children aged 6 to 23 months and pregnant and nursing women, while improving women’s access to reproductive health services in the south of the country. 
The COHA launch comes as the south of Madagascar suffers the effects of drought, exacerbated this year by the El Niño weather event. In November, WFP assisted one million people through general food distributions, cash transfers and nutritional support for the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition. WFP’s ability to maintain this level of assistance over coming months will depend on the availability of funding for its operations.
The Toy Movement's Mission of Goodwill Reaches Mexico
Spin Master Corp., a leading children's entertainment company, has a long history of donating toys to children in need through its global initiative, The Toy Movement. This month, it is building on its mission to bring inspiration, imagination and joy with a special delivery of toys to schools, hospitals, and local charity organizations in Mexico. 
  Just in time for the holidays, more than 18,000 toys were given to disadvantaged children in Tijuana, Mexico. For this activation, The Toy Movement was joined by TECMA Group who temporarily converted their facilities into a gift factory. Employees from Spin Master and TECMA Group volunteered their time, talents and skills to organize the logistical feat of moving, sorting, wrapping and distributing the toys in time for the holidays. Working alongside the employee volunteers were students from CECyTE Santa Fe and CBTis 156 who helped wrap and decorate the gifts adding to the spirit of goodwill and holiday cheer.

Since The Toy Movement's official launch in 2014, more than 50,000 toys have been delivered to children around the world. There is another mission currently underway to provide 50,000 toys to children in Turkey.

"The Toy Movement is about so much more than making a donation. It is about giving kids all over the world the opportunity to play," said Ben Gadbois, co-founder of The Toy Movement and Spin Master Global President and COO. "This week I had the privilege of experiencing the pure joy of seeing a child open a cherished gift. It makes all the hard work we do every day worth it for these special moments in life," said Gadbois.

Alan Russell, Founder and CEO of the TECMA Group of Companies, commented, "There is no better time of year to share goodwill and give back to our community. After last year's successful partnership with Spin Master and The Toy Movement, we were even more inspired to rally the teams and spread the joy. This year, being able to deliver more than 18,000 quality toys to the children of the city of Tijuana was monumental."

Spin Master officially launched The Toy Movement in December 2014 and its past missions have delivered toys to children in Israel, Jordan and Mexico.

About The Toy Movement

The Toy Movement is a Spin Master led, global initiative to ensure that all children have the opportunity to be a child and to be inspired through play. Formed in December 2014, The Toy Movement's mission is simple: to deliver inspiration, imagination, and joy to children living in troubled parts of the world. The Toy Movement aims to show these children that they are not alone, that they are not forgotten, and that they deserve to play, learn, and grow – as all children should. Learn more at TheToyMovement.org.​
Millions of children on the move at risk as harsh winter approaches in Syria, Iraq and the surrounding region
With winter just days away, millions of children affected by the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq are facing a winter without warm clothing and heating, UNICEF warns. The UN agency for children emphasizes that many children already live on the brink, internally displaced within their own country or living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Forced to flee their homes with little or no possessions, these families are increasingly vulnerable to the freezing temperatures and storms common to the region where UNICEF is responding. 
"Not only have families seen their homes destroyed and incomes and savings wiped out from years of conflict, but now they have to worry about staying warm through snowstorms, flooding and strong winds without the shelter, clothing or heating they need to survive," said UNICEF Chief Program Officer Meg French. "Children shouldn't be cold while they sleep, nor while they go to school. If anyone knows how crucial it is to stay warm in the winter, it's Canadians."

Temperatures already cooling

Temperatures across the region are already cooling and in just days, the first wintry chills and freezing rain could be sweeping the region. UNICEF is working around the clock to purchase and deliver winter clothing and supplies to 2.5 million children both inside Syria and Iraq and those who have taken refuge in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The priority is to reach the most vulnerable children, including the youngest, poorest and those living in besieged or hard to reach areas.

"These children have already survived the worst of the worst. They've seen their families and friends killed in the fighting; they've lost their homes and their possessions," said French. "We need to make their suffering stop. We need to fulfil our duty to protect every child and help them stay warm this winter."

UNICEF will provide children with gloves, hats, shoes, socks, scarves and thermal blankets – the bare minimum needed to protect a child from the cold. This includes 740,000 thermal blankets to children in Syria, winter clothing kits for 64,000 children in Jordan, and school heating and winter uniforms for 21,300 internally displaced children in Iraq.

UNICEF will also provide families with cash assistance and vouchers to address the most urgent needs of their children and provide heaters to schools. This support is in addition to ongoing programs in health, education, water and sanitation and protection, which continue to reach millions of children inside Syria and throughout the region.

UNICEF appealing for $82.4 million

To meet these immediate winter needs of children across the six affected countries, UNICEF is appealing for $82.4 million. To date, just $10.9 million has been received.

"The Government of Canada and Canadians themselves have already shown so much generosity in response to the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the refugee crisis, but we can't stop now," said French. "Let's make sure that no child endures a winter without the protection and warmth they need to survive and thrive. I encourage Canadians in these final days before winter starts both here in Canada and in Syria, Iraq and the surrounding region, to support UNICEF's work to reach these vulnerable children and their families."

Canadians can help by purchasing UNICEF Survival Gifts in the name of a loved one this holiday season, and sending life-saving supplies like emergency blankets and vaccine pack to the children who need them the most.

About Survival Gifts
Survival Gifts are real gifts with real impact for children and families around the world. They are delivered year round to reach the most vulnerable children. When you purchase a UNICEF Survival Gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, the recipient receives a card or e-card that celebrates the good their gift is doing, while a vulnerable child or family receives the actual items. Real items come from the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark - the world's largest humanitarian warehouse. The gifts are sent to more than 140 developing countries where UNICEF is working with children, families and communities. For more information or to purchase UNICEF Survival Gifts, please visit www.survivalgifts.ca.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.​
National Catholic organizations form Catholic coalition to strengthen and foster relations with Indigenous people: 'Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle'
 Seven Canadian Catholic organizations have formed a coalition to strengthen and foster relations with Indigenous people. Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle brings together Indigenous people, Bishops, clergy, lay movements and institutes of consecrated life, engaged in renewing and fostering relationships between the Catholic Church and Indigenous people in Canada. The new initiative has a fourfold mission:
To provide a forum for its members to dialogue and encourage deeper understanding of the relationships between the Church, Indigenous people and Indigenous spirituality in Canada;

To serve as a united Catholic public voice on relations and dialogue between the Church, Indigenous people and Indigenous spirituality in Canada;

To assist Catholics in engagement with the Truth and Reconciliation process and its Calls to Action;

To carry out agreed upon initiatives and concrete actions.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle held its first official meeting at the offices of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) on 5 December 2016. Its institutional members are the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council (CCAC), CCCB, Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace / Caritas Canada (CCODP), Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Knights of Columbus, and The Catholic Women's League of Canada. Along with two CCAC representatives -- its Chair Deacon Rennie Nahanee and Vice-Chair Mr. Irving Papineau -- the Indigenous members are Mrs. Rosella Kinoshameg, the Honourable Graydon Nicholas and Sister Priscilla Solomon, C.S.J.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was proclaimed patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII in 1946. The devotion dates to 1531 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as a young Aztec woman to Juan Diego, a convert to Christianity whose Indigenous name is Cuauhtlatoatzin ("Eagle Who Speaks"). The site of the apparition was called the Hill of Tepeyac, which eventually became part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City, where today is an international Marian shrine. Some 20 million pilgrims and other visitors each year come to the shrine, which brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics from all the Americas. Authentic devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe shows how the Catholic faith finds expression in Indigenous cultures. In 2002 Juan Diego was declared a Saint by the Catholic Church.​
Statement attributable to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director, on the evacuation of children from an orphanage in East Aleppo
"This morning, all 47 children trapped in an orphanage in east Aleppo were evacuated to safety, with some in critical condition from injuries and dehydration.
  "The evacuation of these orphans, along with thousands of other children from east Aleppo in the past days is a glimmer of hope amid a grim reality for the children of Syria. Their safe departure is a testimony to the relentless efforts of humanitarians on the ground, working around the clock for children and their families.

"UNICEF and partners are assisting in reunifying recently evacuated children with their families and in providing them with urgently needed medical care and winter clothes.

"Many vulnerable children – including other orphans and children separated from their families – still remain in east Aleppo and need immediate protection. UNICEF reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect children, wherever they may be.

"The conflict in Syria is nearing its sixth year. It has uprooted millions, separated families and deprived children of the very basics for survival - and their childhood.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to strive for an immediate political solution to this war. The lives of millions more children depend on it."

UNICEF Canada issues urgent appeal for donations to Syrian crisis:

Mr. Cappelaere's statement comes as UNICEF Canada issues an urgent appeal to Canadians for donations to the Syrian crisis. The agency has more than 200 staff inside Syria responding to this crisis, along with a regional response that is reaching millions of the most vulnerable children and families in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Inside Syria, as people continue to flee the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, UNICEF is on the ground working to reach these displaced children and families with the life-saving supplies they need to survive the brutal winter. Some children have lost or become separated from their families, leaving them even more vulnerable.

UNICEF is calling on Canadians to donate at unicef.ca/Syria​
OCAP, Rally & March for Homeless Shelters 
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OCAP, Rally & March for Homeless Shelters on December 15 in Toronto

It was a cold and stormy night. I’m sure most Torontonians concerned themselves with what could be a treacherous ride home from work or shopping. Meanwhile a group of brave souls had a different idea.

They gathered en masse, weather aside, to make some noise and rally for those who sadly had to contemplate the night ahead and staying alive.

OCAP held a rally and march for homeless shelters in an effort to have the city council and mayor do the right thing. Letting people fend for themselves on this bitterly cold night surely can’t be acceptable in any form.

The current regime of austerity in council meetings surely must know that the desperation amongst the poorest in our city is growing at alarming rates. Every time one of these critical programs gets cut, that many more people will have to go without and on a night like this a warm place to sleep and a meal shouldn’t be it.

The march started at City Hall and cut through the heart of the capitalist mecca, Yonge & Dundas, to an old building at the corner of Dundas & Victoria thats sits empty. A place that could easily enough be opened and used to provide some warmth and shelter.

Every citizen of this incredible city, that drips wealth and continues to grow in all market conditions could, with the will of those in power, at least be assured of a safe and warm place to sleep. Thanks to OCAP and everyone that took the time and fought the elements. Hopefully your voices have been heard. I headed for the streetcar, numb in certain parts of my body but warmed in spirit only to remember, you don’t have to look far to see why it matters. Special thanks to the lovely volunteers for an awesome bowl of chili. 
Aleppo: How Canadians can help​
As the violence in Aleppo continues without respite, World Vision is poised outside of the city to provide emergency assistance for thousands of additional families who are attempting to escape the fighting.

"Once again, the world watches on as the children of Aleppo are subjected to senseless acts of sheer violence. Eastern Aleppo lies in almost complete ruin, yet still the atrocities continue unabated," said Conny Lenneberg, Middle East Regional Leader, World Vision adding, "Powerful world leaders, who have extinguished any hopes of fragile peace with vetoes and inaction, continue to watch on from the side lines. As the world apparently turns its back, families trapped in the city are saying goodbye to each other as they fear this is their final hour. It's now all of our responsibilities to translate outrage into action; to send a clear message to our political leaders that, at this decisive moment, history will judge us – and those with the power for change must simply step up to alter the course of this conflict and protect the children."

For anticipated new arrivals from Aleppo, World Vision is pre-positioning thousands of blankets and mattresses as well as other basic necessities.

World Vision currently supports more than one million displaced people from northern Syria by providing clean water & sanitation and supporting health services with equipment and supplies.


Donate to World Vision's RAW HOPE initiative, which supports conflict-affected families from Aleppo.  

Coptic Solidarity Strongly Condemns Brutal Bombing of St. Peter's Church in Cairo​

​Coptic Solidarity condemns in the strongest terms the brutal attack of December 11 on St. Peter and St. Paul church – adjacent to the Coptic Papal Seat of St Mark Cathedral - which resulted in the deaths of at least 25 and the injury of 65 church-goers. The attack took place during the Sunday morning mass service, and the victims are mostly women and children.

Coptic Solidarity extends our deepest condolences to the victims' loved ones and wishes a full and speedy recovery to those injured.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi condemned the "terrorist attack," and vowed to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice. He later claimed that it was a 22-year old male suicide bomber who managed to sneak into the church. Meanwhile, the government's media are quick to air lunatic theories blaming 'external powers' – especially the 'Zionist-American' – of conspiring to destabilize and partition Egypt.

Angry crowds at the scene put the blame squarely on the government's dysfunctional policies, and even shouted anti-Sisi slogans. Such reactions are far from being just spontaneous or emotionally driven.

The overwhelming majority of Copts strongly supported President Sisi and his efforts to stabilize Egypt through combatting terrorism. However, their support has worn out as they have come to realize that their dhimmi-like situation under Sisi's rule is actually no better, if not worse, than under Mubarak. Regimes come and go but it seems that persecution of Copts is a quasi-permanent ideology of the Egyptian state.

This latest attack targeting the Coptic Christian community, though particularly brutal, was neither unforeseen nor isolated. A culture of impunity of attacks on Copts stems from the complete failure of authorities to hold accountable those responsible for previous acts of violence. In many cases, authorities even deliberately obfuscated the course of justice.

President Sisi needs to break with past policies and make a decisive turn, in order to take Egypt in the right direction. The security-related aspects are certainly vital, but efforts are bound to fail unless other fundamental changes are made on three fronts:

A genuine ideological battle against Islamists must be waged. President Sisi has won praise for calling for 'reforming Islamic religious discourse.' However, apart from stubborn resistance by Al-Azhar, the call seems largely hypocritical as Mr. Sisi grants his Salafi allies open space to spread their hate speech in mosques and through the media.
The state-run public education is little more than a system to produce extremists. It needs an urgent and radical overhaul.
So far, little more than lip service is paid to Copts' citizen rights. This has to change. Egypt needs to fully embrace the modern secular system of government and eradicate the institutionalized discrimination against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity strongly believes that an Egypt that is free and just for all will overcome regressive forces, and urges Egyptian authorities and the global community to support the creation of a modern, equitable, just and prosperous Egypt.
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Human Rights Day​
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Human Rights Day:

"Today, we commemorate the 69th anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirm our commitment – as individuals and as a country – to the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide.

"While the international community has made significant progress on human rights in many areas, there is still an enormous amount of work to do to ensure that all human beings are treated equally and with respect, including women and girls, members of LGBTQ2 communities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, and refugees, among others.

"Within our own borders, there is also still a lot of work to be done. We all have a duty to confront the darkest chapters of our nation's history, from residential schools and the systematic abuse of Indigenous children, to the discrimination of LGBTQ2 Canadians. Recognizing this, the Government of Canada has taken important measures to redress past wrongs and further guarantee equality for all citizens, at home and around the world.

"Earlier this year, we fully adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one of 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We remain committed to its implementation – and the other 44 Calls to Action under federal purview – in full partnership and consultation with Indigenous Peoples. We have also launched an independent inquiry into the national horror and continuing trauma of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

"In May, we introduced a Bill to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes. We also appointed a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to work with LGBTQ2 communities and to address discrimination against them – both historical and current. We will continue to invest in programs to prevent gender-based violence, homophobia, and transphobia, and ensure all Canadians feel free and safe to be themselves.

"Sixty-nine years ago, Canadian John Humphrey helped to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the UN. The following words can be found in the first article of this document: 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' On this day, I encourage Canadians to live up to the spirit of Mr. Humphrey's efforts and ideals, and stand up for human rights wherever and whenever it is needed.

"We must always endeavour to do better, and be better, in our ceaseless pursuit of equality for all."

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship marks the one-year anniversary of an important milestone in the national project to resettle Syrian refugees​
 The Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today issued the following statement to mark the one-year anniversary of the arrival of Syrian refugees to Canada:

"One year ago today, our national project to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees reached an important milestone, as the first plane organized by the Government of Canada to carry refugees from the Middle East touched down at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

"Those of us who were at the airport that day with Prime Minister Trudeau will never forget the moving experience of welcoming Syrian newcomers with warm hearts and winter coats. Millions of Canadians were equally moved as they followed media coverage of the event, and over the past year, they have enthusiastically greeted the arrival of resettled Syrian refugees in communities from coast to coast to coast.

"Canadians from all walks of life joined in what was truly a national project to resettle Syrian refugees. Every effort, big and small, from volunteers, service providers, sponsors, corporate Canada and so many others, combined to make an enormous difference. Over the past year, more than 36,300 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada, and we continue to resettle refugees from Syria and other countries, and help them to integrate into their new homes.

"The enthusiasm, dedication, support and engagement of Canadian organizations and individuals continues to make all the difference in providing refugees with a smooth transition to life in our country. As Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I am grateful for the work of the provincial and territorial governments, all our partner organizations, and all of those in Canada who volunteer their time and talents with organizations that help to welcome and integrate newcomers.

"Resettling refugees will continue to be a proud reflection of Canada's humanitarian tradition. It demonstrates to the world that we have a shared responsibility to help those who are displaced, persecuted and most in need of protection. All Canadians should be proud of this historic effort. It is a true demonstration of who we are – a diverse, strong, compassionate and welcoming country."

Samaritan's Purse responds to urgent UN request for field hospital to help desperate Mosul residents​
Samaritan's Purse has agreed to an urgent United Nations request to deploy and staff a fully equipped emergency field hospital in northern Iraq to meet the immediate medical needs of families desperately fleeing violence and death in war-torn Mosul.

The Christian disaster relief organization is already aiding thousands of what may soon become a massive flood of people escaping from Mosul. A Samaritan's Purse mobile medical team is treating those who've been without medical care for months, and a disaster response team is distributing food—salt, cooking oil, chickpeas, rice, flour and beans—to tens of thousands of people in several evacuee camps.

Samaritan's Purse is also providing water, blankets, shelter tarps, hygiene kits, cooking kits, and shoes to displaced families in the evacuee camps, and to families returning to villages and towns around Mosul that have already been cleared of ISIS terrorists.

ISIS, in its battle to control Iraq and much of the Middle East, captured Mosul in June 2014. A coalition of Iraqi government and Kurdish forces began a military offensive on Oct. 17 to take back Iraq's second-largest city. Mosul's terrified residents are desperate to escape the fighting. Nearly 80,000 have fled so far—risking ISIS snipers or ISIS-planted booby traps.

The residents who succeed in escaping usually get out with nothing with which to care for themselves. In anticipation of the current military offensive, Samaritan's Purse positioned emergency supplies several months ago along routes out of the city that fleeing Mosul residents were likely to travel.

"The battle for Mosul is a nightmare for many innocent residents," said Fred Weiss, Samaritan's Purse Canada's executive director. "We're prepared to do all we can to help save lives. Deployment of this field hospital will provide emergency medical aid not otherwise immediately available to those fleeing Mosul."

Weiss added: "Let's keep these families in Mosul in our prayers. Canadians can also help through their donations. Together, we can provide immediate relief for people who've known nothing but fear, hunger, death, and desperation since ISIS descended on Mosul."

Samaritan's Purse has provided immediate medical aid in emergencies such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2013 Philippines typhoon. This is the second time Samaritan's Purse has deployed its emergency field hospital. The first was to Ecuador last April to treat hundreds of people injured in a massive earthquake.

The Samaritan's Purse website has more details on our relief work in the Middle East.

Donations Needed: To support Samaritan's Purse's disaster relief efforts, or to learn more, please visit SamaritansPurse.ca (click on "Donate") or call 1-800-663-6500.

In pictures: How clean water has changed the lives of families in the US and around the world
From chickens and cows to motorbikes, rubber shoes and radios, a special gallery by WaterAid reveals the items that generations of families from across the world say represent the progress made in their lives as a result of access to water and sanitation.

The international nonprofit interviewed and photographed 18 families in countries including the US, Ethiopia, Japan, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sweden and the UK. Each story highlights how families across the world share a common bond around water, despite the cultures, countries and continents between them.

The photos are released to mark the launch of WaterAid's 'Made of the same stuff' appeal, which celebrates the progress that has been made over the last 35 years in providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene to some of the world's poorest and most marginalized communities.

In a show of good news, 6.7 billion people across the world today now have access to clean water, while 2.1 billion more people have access to a decent toilet now, as compared to 1990.

In Northwest New Mexico, USA, 68-year-old Pentecostal preacher, Sister Sarah Begay has dedicated her life to championing rights to water in the Navajo Nation with the support of DIGDEEP, a global water organization that delivers services in the United States.
Sister Sarah only got access to running water and a bathroom at home in 1998. Today, her grandchildren do not know anything different, thanks to her tireless work. She says, "Before we had running water at home, life was unpleasant and unhealthy -- a heartache. When I was young, I remember melting snow and getting water from dirt ponds. We had to filter the pond water before we could use it for cooking or washing because we didn't want to drink it and get sick from all the bugs.
"My grandchildren grew up in this house with water running through their house. It was really awesome to have that kind of blessing in our home. My kids were very grateful that they were able to take showers, be clean, be healthy."

Sarah is pictured holding a plaque from the local school district recognizing her 30 years of devoted service to the community, and the progress she has made.

In Malawi, access to water led to improved health for local farmer, Rafiq Moyenda, 26, and his family. It also means Rafiq has had more time to invest in business; opening a popular barbershop and grocery store in his village, and even buying a motorbike, to help him with his business. He says, "Our way of life greatly improved. Our economic status improved as my wife would bake doughnuts which brought us more money. Our daughter, Fortune, stopped suffering from diarrhea and her school studies improved."

 

Outside of Seattle, WA, USA, Dr Oahn Truong, 49, is pictured with her husband Chung and her son, Ryan outside their home in Seabeck, WA, holding a photo of the heavily contaminated river in Vietnam where she learned to swim. She says, "We collected water from the river using a pail and rope. It was used for all of our needs including drinking and bathing. During the monsoon season, I showered by running through the streets with my friends... I was so happy to arrive in America, where I didn't have to wait in line for water. I remembered marvelling at the purity of clean water; the toilets in America are so clean and not like the outhouse we had in Vietnam or in the refugee camp."

"I escaped death and was blessed to make it safely to America. I have learned that my work as a doctor is a concrete way I can give back and improve the quality of life for others. I have seen many people die as a result of illness that could be easily prevented. My youngest sister Hang, died at 6 months due to dysentery illness. As a family doctor, I am aware that there are a myriad of illnesses that can be prevented through the access to safe water and sanitation."

WaterAid Communications Manager, Tiffany Langston, said, "This powerful collection of family portraits is a striking reminder of how much good there is in the world today; never before has so much progress been made towards making sure that everyone, everywhere has clean water and a toilet. From the US to Nepal, Sweden to Malawi, our basic need for clean water unites us all. WaterAid's 'Made of the Same Stuff' is our chance to join together in a shared vision of reaching the remaining 663 million people who still struggle to get enough clean water to drink, and the 2.3 billion people who do not have access to a toilet."

Every year, 78 million people are turning on a tap or using a pump for the first time. If just 8% more people can be reached each year then everyone, everywhere will be provided with lifesaving water facilities by 2030.

Ending the sanitation crisis is a big challenge. Every year, 69 million people are closing a toilet door behind them for the first time every year; but there's a lot more to do. It's going to take a combined global effort to reach everyone everywhere with a decent toilet, but the progress we've made on water shows it is possible. Together, we're made of the stuff that makes history.

The family portraits are part of WaterAid's 'Made of the Same Stuff' appeal, which aims to to raise $1.6 million to help improve access to clean water and sanitation in some of the world's poorest countries. Find out more at www.wateraidamerica.org/made-of.
Nearly a quarter of the world's children live in conflict or disaster-stricken countries: UNICEF​
​An estimated 535 million children -- nearly one in four -- live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, often without access to medical care, quality education, proper nutrition and protection, UNICEF said today.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly three-quarters -- 393 million -- of the global number of children living in countries affected by emergencies, followed by the Middle East and North Africa where 12 per cent of these children reside.

The new figures are released as UNICEF, on Sunday 11 December 2016, marks 70 years of relentless work in the world's toughest places to bring life-saving aid, long-term support, and hope to children whose lives and futures are threatened by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.

"UNICEF was established to bring help and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict and deprivation, and this enormous figure -- representing the individual lives of half a billion children -- is a sharp reminder that our mission is becoming more urgent every day," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

The impact of conflict, natural disasters and climate change is forcing children to flee their homes, trapping them behind conflict lines, and putting them at risk of disease, violence and exploitation.

Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted - more than half of them driven from their homes by conflicts.

As violence continues to escalate across Syria, the number of children living under siege has doubled in less than one year.

Nearly 500,000 children now live in 16 besieged areas across the country, almost completely cut off from sustained humanitarian aid and basic services.

In northeastern Nigeria, nearly 1.8 million people are displaced, almost 1 million of them are children.

In Afghanistan, nearly half of primary-aged children are out of school.

In Yemen, nearly 10 million children are affected by the conflict.

In South Sudan, 59 per cent of primary-aged children are out of school and 1 in 3 schools is closed in conflict affected areas.

More than two months after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, more than 90,000 children under five remain in need of assistance.

The emergencies faced today by the most vulnerable children threaten to undermine immense progress made in recent decades: Since 1990, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday halved and hundreds of millions of children have been lifted out of poverty. Out-of-school rates among primary-school-aged children have reduced by more than 40 per cent between 1990 and 2014.

"We are living through extraordinarily difficult times, in which more children have been uprooted from their homes than at any point since World War II," said Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, "but we cannot give up. Now, more than ever, we must choose to stand for hope. Wherever they are, whoever they are and whenever they need us, we must put children first."

Despite significant progress, too many children are being left behind because of their gender, race, religion, ethnic group or disability; because they live in poverty or in hard-to-reach communities; or simply because they are children.

"Whether children live in a country in conflict or a country in peace, their development is critical not only to their individual futures but also to the future of their societies," said Lake.

During this holiday season, stand with UNICEF to give hope to children first.

#StandForHope

How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF's work on behalf of the most vulnerable children, please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:

Website: www.unicefusa.org
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers and Koskie Minsky LLP Bring Military Sexual Discrimination Class Action​
 McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto, Ontario have commenced a class action against the Attorney General of Canada on behalf of current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence who were stationed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador between 1969 and 1993.

The claim alleges that between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian government engaged in systematic campaign to identify and purge lesbians, gay men, and those suspected of being gay from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.

As a result of their sexual orientation, lesbians, gay men, and those suspected of homosexuality were put under surveillance, investigated, interrogated, and denied security clearances. Pressure was put on these individuals to leave the Canadian military service. Gay men and lesbians in the Canadian military service were systematically harassed, intimidated and discriminated against. Ultimately the employment of thousands of lesbians, gay men, and those suspected of being gay was terminated without proper compensation or due process of law.

The claim seeks $150 million in damages for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the class members' rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.

"For too long, gay men and lesbians in the Canadian military have faced inappropriate and unlawful discrimination," says John McKiggan, co-lead counsel at McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, "and this case can start to right these wrongs of the past."

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is one of Canada's leading personal injury, medical malpractice and sexual abuse claim law firms. John McKiggan Q.C., lead counsel from McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, has a special interest in representing victims in civil claims for historical abuse compensation. McKiggan is co-lead counsel in Hayes v. City of Saint John a proposed class action filed on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by former Saint John Police officer Kenneth Estabrooks. He represented over 600 former residents of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential Schools in a claim for compensation for childhood physical, sexual and racial abuse and loss of cultural identity. He sits on the steering committee in Baxter v. Canada, a claim brought on behalf of 70,000 former aboriginal children across Canada. McKiggan is counsel in Martin v. Lahey, the first certified class action under Nova Scotia's Class Proceedings Act against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, trade union, and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area. Kirk M. Baert, lead counsel from Koskie Minsky LLP, was counsel to the survivors of former residents of Huronia Regional Centre and 14 other residential facilities for people with disabilities against the Province of Ontario, wherein the Province agreed to pay survivors over $103.6 million and to provide an apology to former residents for the harm they sustained. Mr. Baert was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada, which resulted in a $5 billion pan-Canadian settlement.
Statement by UNICEF Syria Representative, Hanaa Singer, on the deteriorating situation for children in Aleppo and across the country
​"I have just travelled back from Aleppo where the situation continues to plummet to even greater lows.

"When I was there nearly 100 mortars fell on west Aleppo in a couple of days. While at the same time, only a few hundred metres away we witnessed the unrelenting bombardment of the eastern side of the city.

"Explosions lit up the night sky and the sounds of war reverberated across the city.

"My colleagues told me that they hid in bathrooms and basements as the attacks continued. There was little sleep that night. The very same staff came to work in the morning with the same energy, as if it was just an ordinary night.

"But sometimes they never go home. A volunteer working at a UNICEF-supported child friendly space was killed yesterday in west Aleppo. He was simply walking the children to their shelter after morning activities when he was hit by a bullet. Ahmed Tawfik was 24 and a third year economics student.

"Even by Syrian standards, the recent bombardment and shelling have been the most intense in Aleppo.

"Some 31,500 people have been displaced from east Aleppo in just 10-days. According to some of the latest estimates at least 50 per cent of displaced persons seem to be children.

"I travelled to one of the shelters for displaced persons in Jibreen on the outskirts of the city. It's a large warehouse where families huddled together on mattresses on the floor. The damp and piercing cold made the conditions even tougher.

"To the soundtrack of the deafening noise of explosions and firing of heavy weapons, the children, who were attending psychosocial support activities, shared some stories. They shared stories of how they cowered for days and weeks in dark and damp basements in fear of the shelling in besieged east Aleppo. They shared their dark memories of destruction, and the smell of dead bodies under the rubble.

"They said they were happy to be outside, to enjoy the sun and feel the air. To be able to sing and to play. But they missed friends, fathers and elder brothers. They missed their schools. They missed their books, games and one girl was missing her teddy bear.

"The shelling and explosions were unrelenting and deafening. The children laughed at me every time I winced as the terrible sounds of war filled the air – not real laughter but an abnormal reaction born out of a complete loss of normalcy.

"They were also afraid. And the greatest fear for all of them was the sound of planes.

"A seven year old girl was so excited to see bread during the food distribution that she screamed out 'Look Mum, this is real bread'.

"Then I visited Hanano, a neighbourhood in east Aleppo that was retaken by government forces on 27 November. More than 6,000 people have returned.

"The destruction was massive. Unexploded ordnance scattered everywhere. Apartments were gutted, hospitals nearly destroyed and schools completely damaged except for two that could be rehabilitated.

"But surprisingly people were still going back. To try and rebuild their shattered houses and lives. For you see… people just want to go home.

"Our incredibly brave and committed 19 Syrian and international staff and tens of volunteers and hundreds of partners based in the city are risking their lives every day to support children and families in Aleppo.

"Our staff work from an office that was directly hit by a mortar, just one month ago. They risk their lives every time they leave home to come to work, or to visit a program or a shelter.

"What drives them to do this, as my colleague Esraa, a health officer said, 'To work in Aleppo is an act of love and belief'. For Aleppians are truly in love with their 'what used to be' majestic city.

"But there is no safe place left in Aleppo. Even going to school can be a matter of life or death.

"And I will be forever haunted by the images of the bodies of the two beautiful girls, Hanadi and Lamar, who left for school one morning with pink ribbons in their hair. They never made it. Shrapnel from a mortar hit them on the way and they were killed. Hanadi's hand still grasped the remains of a chocolate bar.

"This year there have been 84 attacks on schools in Syria with at least 69 children losing their lives and many others injured while being at school.

"In response to the latest displacement in Aleppo, UNICEF staff are working around the clock to make life a little more bearable for children.

"Winter clothes are being distributed, water is being trucked to shelters and areas where people are returning, like Hanano.

"We are providing fuel, repairs and maintenance of Aleppo's water network so 1.2 million people have access to safe water.

"Nearly 7,000 children and mothers have been reached with critical routine immunizations.

"Mobile health clinics have screened over 1,600 children for malnutrition and distributed nutritional supplements.

"Mine risk education and psychosocial support services are reaching some 6,000 children.

"These simple immediate interventions can save lives.

"Although the world's attention is on Aleppo, sadly the scale of suffering is widespread. East Aleppo is one of 16 besieged areas, where we estimate that nearly half a million children remain trapped amid worsening conditions.

"Besiegement has been used by all sides. Where armed forces surround an area and try to starve the other into submission, whilst restricting the movement of persons, including the sick and wounded.

"Madaya – home to 45,000 people – is another of the besieged areas.

"When I last went with our team to the town I was shocked by what I heard. People surviving on leaves and grass.

"I was taken to what was called the "health centre". It was, in fact, one room in the basement of a house. Ushered into the semi-darkness, I was met by the sight of limp bodies lying on blue blankets on the floor.

"The doctor, the only paediatrician in town, took me to the one and only bed.

"It had what appeared to be two bundles. As I looked closer in the darkness I was startled. It was actually two, skeleton like young men. They were drifting in and out of consciousness.

"Ali 16 was hovering between death and life.

"Rajia, my health colleague tried to save his life and resuscitate him. She pumped his chest shouting 123,123 …. But Ali drifted away in-front of our eyes.

"As we closed his eyes, I heard the whimpering of a cry. I then saw his family huddled in the corner. They were too weak to even mourn.

"With the health workers and volunteers present we conducted training on how to use the therapeutic food and treatments we had brought in.

"Malnutrition rates were improving when we entered with regular aid convoys. Sadly regular access to besieged areas has become rare.

"The situation is deteriorating. Children are dying because they can't be evacuated just one hundred metres away to be treated.

"The complexities of aid in Syria brings little relief to the nearly six million children in need of humanitarian assistance in the country.

"But children do what they can to survive and live a normal childhood.

"In my daily work I have always been in awe of the extraordinary stories of children's determination and resilience.

"Like the 12,000 children who risked their lives to cross active conflict lines, to sit for their national final exams.

"They came from hard to reach areas, travelled for days, through checkpoints, under the fire - full of hope and determination for a better future.

"These courageous youngsters are the teachers, nurses, doctors, architects, builders, musicians, scientists and technicians of tomorrow that will build the future Syria.

"The children of Syria are not giving up and nor can we. UNICEF is committed to doing what we can to support them and to provide opportunities wherever we can.

"In 2016 alone, we provided 3.2 million children with text books and school supplies - rehabilitated schools and added thousands of temporary learning spaces.

"For out of school children, self-learning programs and catch up classes helped to revive their education.

"Tens of thousands of children received psychosocial support to help them cope with the horrors around them.

"Access to safe water has improved for 14 million people through disinfecting public water supplies, rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure, including 460 water wells, and through emergency water trucking.

"Routine immunization coverage has been boosted from a national average of 50% to 75%. Polio vaccinations stopped the deadly disease - with no new cases for almost three years.

"We can make a difference but it's never enough. Let's be clear, as long as the violence continues, children in Syria will suffer.

"But we are determined to do what we can to reach out to children. It's why we have more than 200 staff who risk their lives every day across the country to support Syria's children.

"We call on parties to the conflict to stop attacking civilians, to stop attacking schools and hospitals, to stop recruiting and using children in armed forces, and to stop using sieges as weapons of war.

"Syrian families, and Syrian children, have one major desire: to return to their homes, to live in peace, and contribute to the reconstruction of their beautiful country. We need to provide them with the opportunity to do just that."

Viola Desmond chosen as the Bank NOTE-able woman to be featured on new $10 bank note
​ Governor Stephen S. Poloz, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and Minister of Status of Women Patty Hajdu today announced that Viola Desmond will be featured on a new $10 bank note, expected in late 2018. This will mark the first time that a portrait of a Canadian woman will be featured on a regularly circulating Bank of Canada note.

Desmond, an icon of the human rights and freedoms movement in Canada, was selected from a short list of five iconic Canadian women by Minister Morneau, in accordance with the Bank of Canada Act. A successful Nova Scotia businesswoman, she is known for defiantly refusing to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946. She was subsequently jailed, convicted and fined. Her court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a Black woman in Canada.

"Today is about recognizing the incalculable contribution that all women have had and continue to have in shaping Canada's story. Viola Desmond's own story reminds all of us that big change can start with moments of dignity and bravery," said Minister Morneau. "She represents courage, strength and determination—qualities we should all aspire to every day."

Joining Governor Poloz and Ministers Morneau and Hajdu at the Canadian Museum of History for the announcement was one of Viola Desmond's sisters, Wanda Robson.

"It's a big day to have a woman on a bank note, but it's an especially big day to have your big sister on a bank note. Our family is extremely proud and honoured," said Robson, who was instrumental in making Desmond's story widely known.

The selection of Viola Desmond is the final step in the #bankNOTEable campaign to choose an iconic Canadian woman to appear on this new bank note. Last spring, an open call for nominations launched by the Bank yielded more than 26,300 submissions from across Canada, resulting in 461 eligible candidates. An independent Advisory Council composed of eminent Canadian academic, sport, cultural and thought leaders narrowed down the list to five candidates for consideration by the Minister of Finance.

"Canadians were extremely engaged, which made our consultation process very successful," said Governor Poloz. "Through this exciting process, with every mouse click or turn of a book's page, with every kitchen table discussion or classroom debate, Canadians learned more about the iconic women who built Canada."

Minister Hajdu said, "Many extraordinary women could have been on this next bank note, and the search and decision-making process were extremely thorough. The choice of Viola Desmond reminds us that Canada is a diverse country where everyone deserves equality and respect."

Project Life Jacket: Time to Make Refugees Human Again
​Refugees, their flight, their lives in the camps. That is all the world talks about. That they are human beings, just like you and I, is all too often forgotten. With http://www.projectlifejacket.com, over 20 European NGOs shift the focus to these human beings and depict their life stories on life jackets. Those very life jackets that have become the symbol of the unnamed refugees. The project intends to catapult the refugee crisis back on the agenda of politicians, the media and the European public.

Currently, an estimated 60 million people globally are on the move. Human beings, stigmatised by a single word: refugee. Often associated with criminal behaviour, violence and poverty, it is all too often forgotten that these people led perfectly normal lives before they had to flee. That is why the Swiss NGO "The Voice Of Thousands", supported by over 20 European NGOs, has initiated Project Lifejacket. "We visited refugees in camps in Greece and drew the life stories of nine individuals onto life jackets", says joint initiator Michael Grossenbacher. The drawings bear witness to their lives before the war, before they had to put on a life jacket and become 'refugees'.

Nine life jackets, nine life stories

Ismail Nerabani, a 36-year-old father of two was born in Aleppo and studied French literature. "We were very happy with our life; we lacked for nothing", Nerabani remembers. On projectlifejacket.com everyone can experience the life stories of Ismail and eight other people first-hand. The initiative also provides opportunities for meaningful support with direct impact: donations of money and goods and the opportunity to get personally involved.

#projectlifejacket

Assembly of First Nations Honours Gord Downie, Pays Tribute to Reconciliation Legacy
The Assembly of First Nations today honoured Canadian artist and musician Gord Downie for his work on Reconciliation by presenting him with a star blanket and acknowledgment of the naming ceremony that he recently participated in. He was presented with a specially-commissioned painting in front of the Chiefs-in-Assembly, the Prime Minister of Canada, and members of the Downie family.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and his wife Valerie wrapped Mr. Downie in a starblanket in the presence of Elders and Chiefs, Grand Chiefs, First Nations youth and other present at the AFN's Special Chiefs Assembly taking place this week in Gatineau. The star blanket is bestowed to demonstrate respect and admiration for an individual. The blanket is wrapped around the person to convey protection, warmth and to alleviate loneliness. The naming ceremony followed the bestowing of an eagle feather, another very high honour. Mr. Downie also received the name Wicapi Omani, which is Lakota for Walks with the Stars.

"Gord Downie is shining a light on the inequality experienced by indigenous peoples. Today, we lift up and honour Gord Downie, whose words and music have introduced millions of Canadians to the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who has come to represent the thousands of children subjected to the Residential Schools system, just one of the many who was taken from his family never to see them again," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Gord's devotion to sharing Chanie's story with Canadians will help to open eyes to a tragic history and light the way to a brighter and more just future for our peoples. First Nations are gathered here under the theme 'Advancing Reconciliation', and that's exactly what Gord is doing through his work."

The honouring included presentation of an Eagle feather, one of the highest honours bestowed to individuals who show great leadership, courage and commitment. AFN Regional Chief for Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Morley Googoo of the Waycobah First Nation presented a painting commissioned for Mr. Downie by Loretta Gould, a Mi'kmaq artist who envisioned Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack meeting in the work, entitled Share our Teachings. Regional Chief Googoo recently launched the Legacy Room initiative to encourage companies to designate special rooms for discussion and advancement of Reconciliation with the newly created Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund.

"Gord's main objective with the Secret Path project was to create a conversation about Reconciliation that would span generations," said Regional Chief Googoo. "I am honoured today to present him with this beautiful depiction in recognition of his lasting contribution to Reconciliation on behalf of the AFN."

Gord Downie is currently touring The Secret Path, an animated film based on Mr. Downie's poems and music and illustrations by comic artist Jeff Lemire. Proceeds from the Secret Path album and graphic novel will be donated to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. The Secret Path and Road to Reconciliation panel discussion can be watched at cbc.ca/secretpath.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Call Centre Workers Launch Campaign to Stop 'Dehumanizing' Abuse
Verbally abusive customers are a serious risk to the mental and physical health of call centre employees and it's time for employers to provide them with better protection, according to the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents approximately 10,000 call centre workers in Canada.

The USW has launched a national campaign with a website and online petition calling on employers to introduce policies to allow call centre workers to hang up on abusive callers, which many employers currently prohibit. Following reports of the verbal abuse of workers at union and non-union call centres across the country, the USW plans to survey its call centre members to establish exactly how serious the problem has become.

"I've had angry and aggressive callers make racist comments to me. There are callers who tell us to perform sexual acts on them, callers who threaten violence," says Kaoutar Belaaziz, who works in a Montreal call centre.

"We are subjected to abuse and harassment every day. You find that people realize they can treat you like this and get away with it. We need to be able to hang up on these calls," Belaaziz says.

"I had a caller ask me what colour of panties I was wearing. Another one made it clear he was performing lewd acts in a hot tub while he was talking to me," says Michelle Dey, a Vancouver call centre employee.

"It's very difficult to just move on to the next call after you've experienced that kind of abuse and harassment. It affects you for the rest of the day. It follows you home," says Dey.

"We know that abuse and harassment of call centre workers is a problem and it has to stop," says USW National Director Ken Neumann. "While we can't persuade everyone to treat call centre workers respectfully, we can persuade companies to adopt policies that empower workers to end abusive calls."

An online video supporting the campaign highlights statements of the actual verbal abuse and harassment that some call centre workers have suffered, including racial and homophobic slurs and threats of violence.

"Some of this abuse is extremely serious. It's dehumanizing and causes stress to workers long after they have finished their shifts. This can lead to problems at home and to mental and physical pain," says Lee Riggs, President of the Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944.

Riggs says harassment in the workplace is illegal and federal and provincial laws specify it is the employers' responsibility to create a safe working environment, which includes being free from verbal abuse by customers.

"While some companies say they have zero tolerance of abuse and policies in place to protect workers, we are not convinced that policies are empowering and protecting workers on the front line," says Riggs. "For example, we want all employers to allow call centre workers to hang up on abusive callers, which is currently prohibited in some workplaces."

Health and safety regulations are supposed to be a cornerstone of all workplaces across Canada and call centres should not be excluded, the USW says. The campaign is calling on employers to:


Give call centre workers the right to hang up on abusive calls.

Train managers on how to support workers who are verbally abused.

Issue a warning and flag callers who have a history of harassing workers.

Deny repeat abusers use of their service.

Establish a zero tolerance of verbal abuse policy that includes reporting all violent and/or sexual threats to the police.

Ensure no retribution against or disciplining of call centre workers who report abuse.

There are an estimated 175,000 call centre workers in Canada. Their daily duties include assisting customers with technical issues, billing, purchasing and problem solving.

For information on the campaign and to sign the petition visit www.HangUpOnAbuse.ca.
Amid skepticism on state of the world, 85 per cent of Canadians believe holiday season is about helping those in need
Eighty-five per cent of Canadians believe that the holiday season is about helping those in need. According to a new Ipsos survey, despite a profound skepticism about the current state of the world, Canadians are looking to spread the spirit of giving back this holiday season.

In a year of unprecedented humanitarian emergencies, unforeseen political events and rising inequality, only two in five Canadians are hopeful about the current state of the world. Amid this skepticism, more Canadians are seeking out ways to make their holiday giving impactful.

"As 2016 comes to a close, many of us are still trying to come to grips with everything that's happened. From the relentless conflict in Syria to the earthquake in Ecuador and so much in between, it's been a tumultuous year," says Meg French, UNICEF Canada's Chief Program Officer. "However, renowned for their generosity, Canadians are looking for ways to make a difference this holiday season and to give back to those less fortunate."

Giving back tops meaning of holidays

Eighty-one per cent of people surveyed believe that Canadians are forgetting the true meaning of the holiday season. As a result, many Canadians are looking to contribute their time, money and efforts to global issues. And, one third of Canadians say that if they could help address a global issue, it would be child poverty.

"Canadians are concerned that the true meaning of the holidays is being lost in today's world, but they're not letting that stop them," says Deana Shaw, Vice President of Direct and Integrated Marketing at UNICEF Canada. "They're creating meaning by looking for ways to give back and help children in need. We're seeing this first hand this year with an increase in donations by Canadians to our Survival Gifts program. Canadians are buying charitable gifts including bed nets to prevent malaria, Plumpy'Nut to treat child malnutrition and education supplies for children caught in conflict."

Happy holidays without the consumerism – Canadians confess to tossing out gifts

Everyone might like to receive a gift now and then, but when purchasing holiday gifts, three in four Canadians say that many of the people they buy for don't actually need anything. Moreover, 23 per cent say they usually end up throwing out some of the holidays gifts they receive every year.

"Between the desire to give back and the excess in consumerism that we see during the holidays, many Canadians are looking for ways to show their loved ones they care without being wasteful," says Shaw. "Survival Gifts are the best way to do that."

UNICEF Survival Gifts popular with Canadians

UNICEF Survival Gifts are real gifts with real impact that are sent to the most vulnerable children in 140 countries, helping them survive and thrive. They include things like vaccination packs to help protect babies against preventable diseases and thermal blankets to keep uprooted refugee children warm during the winter months.

In 2015, Canadians purchased nearly 10 million life-changing Survival Gift items to help vulnerable children. This year, one of the most popular Survival Gifts so far is the restocking of an Emergency Medical Centre. During emergencies UNICEF is among the first on the ground to help. For $50, this gift provides vital medical supplies, including vaccines and therapeutic food, to immediately help save more than 50 children's lives.

Finding joy this season

According to the Ipsos survey, when Canadians think about what brings them joy during the holiday season, the overwhelming majority say spending time with family, followed by eating holiday meals and treats. Eighty-two percent say that donating to charity to help children in need also brings them joy.

"The results of this poll reaffirmed what we already knew about Canadians – that they care about each other and the world around them," says French. "We encourage all Canadians to give the greatest gift there is this holiday season – the gift of saving a child's life with UNICEF Survival Gifts."

About Survival Gifts
Survival Gifts are real gifts with real impact for children and families around the world. They are delivered year round to reach the most vulnerable children. When you purchase a UNICEF Survival Gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, the recipient receives a card or e-card that celebrates the good their gift is doing, while a vulnerable child or family receives the actual items. Real items come from the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark - the world's largest humanitarian warehouse. The gifts are sent to more than 140 developing countries where UNICEF is working with children, families and communities. For more information or to purchase UNICEF Survival Gifts, please visit www.survivalgifts.ca.

About the Ipsos Poll

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between November 18 and November 20, 2016, on behalf of UNICEF. For this survey, a sample of 1,019 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls maybe subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

From Coast to Coast Venues Light the Night Against Violence
WHAT: YWCA Canada's Rose Campaign will Light the Night against violence to draw attention to the need for action on violence against women and girls. Light the Night commemorates December 6 as our national day of remembrance and action on violence against women and girls, and marks the murders of women at L'École Polytechnique on that day in 1989.

WHEN: All venues will be lit at sunset, local time, December 6, 2016. Check local site sponsors for additional times and local events. Some venues began their lighting on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

WHO: YWCA Canada, Member Associations and Partners, sponsored by YWCA Canada's Rose Campaign to end violence against women and girls, see below for contacts.

WHERE: Venues are listed at rosecampaign.ca/light_the_night

For a list of vigils taking place across Canada on December 6th visit: www.rememberoursisterseverywhere.com

About YWCA Canada:

YWCA Canada is the country's oldest and largest women's multi-service organization. Our 32 Member Associations across the country serve women and girls in nine provinces and two territories. YWCA Canada is the nation's single largest provider of shelter to women and children fleeing violence. For more information visit www.ywcacanada.ca, find us on Twitter @YWCA_Canada or at www.facebook.com/ywcacanada

Assembly of First Nations Statement on Standing Rock
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) issued the following statement today regarding the situation in the traditional territory of the Standing Rock Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation:

"The Assembly of First Nations and full AFN Executive, including all Regional Chiefs and the Chairs of the Elders, Women's and Youth Council, stand in solidarity with those at Standing Rock.

The AFN supports our water protectors and the work they are doing, and all those standing with them.‎

We call on the United States government to ensure peace and respect for the water protectors and supporters, and urge the Canadian government to implore the U.S. government and authorities to ensure the safety of all those standing with and supporting Standing Rock.‎"

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Steelworkers at University of Toronto Knit 132 Scarves for Visual Display Against Workplace Violence
 On Tues., Dec. 6, 132 scarves will hang from trees, benches and display boards at all three University of Toronto (U of T) campuses to recognize the importance of Bill 132. The scarf installation, called STEELwool, is a visual display against workplace violence. STEELwool is a project of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998 Human Rights Committee.

In September, Bill 132 made workplace sexual harassment a health and safety priority by adding it to the Ontario Health and Safety Act. Over the past three months, United Steelworkers Local 1998 members and volunteers have been knitting and crocheting scarves to educate members about the new policy at the University of Toronto.

The new legislation requires employers to have specific policies and programs in place that ensure workplace harassment is appropriately investigated.

Dubbed STEELwool, the project brought together veteran and novice knitters. STEELwool culminates with a one-day art installation of colourful handmade scarves – each tagged with the name of the creator – at all three campuses.

"The project theme is warming all people of any gender, race, age, sexual orientation and ability across U of T. It was developed and organized by the USW Local 1998 Human Rights Committee," said Colleen Burke, President of USW Local 1998.

Following the installation, the scarves will be donated to various charities across Toronto and the GTA.

United Steelworkers Local 1998 represents over 8,000 administrative and technical staff at the University of Toronto, University of St. Michael's College, Victoria University and University of Toronto Schools.

December 6, 2016, marks the 27th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, also known as the Montreal Massacre, where 28 people were shot and 14 women were killed. December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

www.usw1998.ca/steelwool 

Almost half of Mosul's children cut off from clean water as fighting intensifies
Almost half of all the children in Mosul and their families have reportedly been cut off from access to clean water after a major water pipeline was destroyed amid the ongoing conflict.

The break in the pipeline - one of three major water conduits serving civilians in eastern Mosul - is located in parts of the city still held by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), making it impossible to repair quickly.

"Children and their families in Mosul are facing a horrific situation. Not only are they in danger of getting killed or injured in the cross fire, now potentially more than half a million people do not have safe water to drink," said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

The Iraqi authorities are currently trucking water from some 35 kilometers away into eastern Mosul, but this supply is not enough to meet the needs of residents.

Unless running water is restored in the next days, civilians will be forced to resort to unsafe water sources, exposing children to the risk of waterborne diseases such as severe diarrhea and the threat of malnutrition. Children in affected areas are already strained from years of extremely harsh living conditions.

UNICEF is supporting the Government of Iraq to reactivate nearby boreholes and water treatment plants to rapidly provide water to the affected areas in southern Mosul and the southwestern side of the newly retaken areas until the main water line becomes accessible for repairs.

"UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to allow these critical deliveries and repairs. Civilian infrastructure must never be attacked," said Hawkins.

Speak Up for Justice -- Almas Jiwani Pins Down Critical Issues Facing Women at the 2nd International Women & Justice Summit in Istanbul, Turkey
Almas Jiwani pins down critical issues facing women at the 2nd International Women and Justice Peace Summit Jointly hosted by prominent non-governmental organization Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, the event on Nov. 25-26 has the theme "Speak Up for Justice!" coincided on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, Minister of Family & Social Policies attended the opening ceremony of the event.

The two day summit which saw its inception last year, was characterized by a series of invigorating panel sessions centering on a plethora of pertinent challenges facing women worldwide. Predominant among the themes that were discussed were the Syrian Refugee Women and their problems, women in their working life and the opportunities available to them, as well as Cultural Codes and Masculinity.

President and CEO of the Almas Jiwani Foundation (AJF), Almas Jiwani delivered a momentous speech pertaining to opportunities for women in the work place as she made a convincing case for employment being the single most important factor for a progressive society.

She maintained that various studies support the fact that gainfully employed people tend to be more economically stable and therefore, more psychologically balanced than their counterparts in a contrary situation. She noted that employment went a long way towards reducing overall aggression in society while reiterating AJF's commitment to equip women and girls with the requisite skills to that effect.

She expressed her overall optimism about the future of women in general and attributed her optimism to the object of the summit which was women and justice. She further asserted that "At long last human thought has progressed enough to consider combining these two forces (women and justice) and if this combination is allowed to flourish, only one outcome is possible - success in the realization of global peace."

"We believe that Ms. Jiwani is one of the most influential and effective advocate for the advancement of women's rights in social, economic and political spheres throughout the world. Known for a powerful, innovative vocal for the women's empowerment both in Canada and abroad, Almas Jiwani was appointed as good will Ambassador of the World NGO and over the course of her humanitarian endeavors, Almas Jiwani has been recognized with numerous accolades, national and international awards. Drawing from her professional and personal experience as a world traveler and champion of women's rights and empowerment, Almas Jiwani will be a featured speaker on the multifaceted challenges, injustices facing 'Women in their Working Life and Employment Opportunities' and will be sharing her unique perspective with regards to social justice for women and their role in bringing about world peace," said Prof. E. Sare Aydin YILMAZ, President of Women and Democracy Association, Assoc.

Tim Hortons #WarmWishes campaign surprises Canadians with more than 150 good deeds in one day
Tim Hortons released its annual #WarmWishes video, capturing the surprise and delight of more than 150 deserving Canadians from across the country. Unsuspecting Guests from six communities received kind wishes, nominated on their behalf by friends, family and neighbours during one day on November 16. Since the launch of the campaign three years ago, 2016 marks the biggest year yet for #WarmWishes, building upon last year's transformation of a restaurant in Grimsby, Ontario to a House of Warm Wishes.

Requests as small, but meaningful, as delivering hot chocolate and Timbits® for nurses, raking leaves for a neighbour and giving flowers to a partner were submitted in the Cup of Good Deeds and fulfilled by Tim Hortons staff. Additional deeds like providing food and supplies to animal shelters, donating baby formula and diapers to a pregnancy centre, and delivering books to a school library, among many others, helped communities come together.

"We know Canadians want to give back during the holiday season, but they may not always have the time or resources to do so," says Sami Siddiqui, President, Tim Hortons Canada. "We feel that's why this campaign continues to grow year after year. This is our small way of celebrating Canadians giving back and making this a season of warm wishes."

The latest #WarmWishes video, filmed simultaneously across the country in Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary and Vancouver, beautifully captures the Canadian spirit. The video showcases the generosity of Tim Hortons Guests by sharing stories and good deeds they requested for deserving individuals in their communities this holiday season. Check out the video by clicking here.

Guests still hoping to participate in this year's #WarmWishes campaign have until December 14, 2016 to submit their good deed request via social media. Using #WarmWishes and @TimHortons on Twitter or Instagram, simply describe the good deed needed for a friend or neighbour for the chance to have it granted. The deed can be up to $5,000 in value, for more entry rules and regulations please visit TimHortons.com/WarmWishes.

CEU Receives EUR440,000 Erasmus + Grant For University Preparation Program for Refugees
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY--(Marketwired - November 30, 2016) - With the assistance of a EUR440,000 Erasmus + grant, CEU will be able to upscale its weekend courses for registered refugees in Hungary and offer a full-time, non-degree university preparatory program for refugees across the European Economic Area (EEA). The programs, jointly known as OLIves (Open Learning Initiatives), now consist of the weekend program, OLIve-WP, and the full-time program, OLIve-UP. OLIves administrators will base the full-time OLIve-UP program on CEU's Roma Access Programs (RAP), an initiative in its twelfth year that prepares talented Roma students to pursue graduate-level education at universities in Europe (including CEU) and beyond. CEU experts will lead the initiative, which will be conducted with the University of Vienna (UV), the University of East London (UEL) and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR). The Erasmus + grant will allow OLIve-UP to run for two years while other fundraising efforts run simultaneously.

"We saw the need and desire for further opportunities for higher education preparation among our refugee students," said Prem Kumar Rajaram, CEU associate professor, coordinator of the Erasmus + grant and OLIve-UP co-director. "For many of our students, the option of furthering their studies in their home countries was not possible or was cut short by war and ongoing violence. The OLIve-UP program will not only aid refugee scholars in perfecting their English-language skills, but will acclimate them to the European higher education system and allow them to work with other international students and academics in their field of choice."

At CEU, OLIve-UP will be an intensive nine-month (one academic year) university preparatory program for registered refugees in the EEA. Courses will focus on academic English, advocacy skills training and university preparatory courses with the principle aim being to prepare students to be successful BA and MA students at universities throughout Europe. A dedicated administrative team will assist students throughout the program, helping them identify university programs and scholarships and assisting them with applications.

OLIves at CEU partner universities will be tailored to their strengths and areas of expertise, but will be based on the thriving models at CEU.

"The University of Vienna's aim in partnering with CEU for OLIves is to initiate meaningful contact between refugee students and Austrian students and young academics, in order to jumpstart integration into the European community," said Professor Katharine Sarikakis, chair of the Media, Governance and Industries Research Lab at the University of Vienna and coordinator of the joint OLIves project with CEU.

Based on Sarikakis's expertise and position as a prominent media and communications expert, UV's OLIves program will involve academic tutoring to prepare refugee participants to enter higher education in Austria, modeled after the University Preparation Programme for the Vienna Universities. In addition to traditional studies, participants will be involved in academic life and also take field trips to Austrian public media organizations.

Beginning in September 2017, UEL will launch their nine-month OLIve-UP program, based on their well-established, successful "Foundations" course. This course guarantees students who successfully complete the year a place in the BA/BSc degree programs in UEL's School of Social Sciences, or in any of the other six faculties within the university.

ENAR, formed in 1998, is the only pan-European anti-racist network that combines advocacy for racial equality with facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racist actors in Europe. ENAR will be responsible for leading the advocacy work central to all OLIves at partner universities at the national and EU levels. Experts at the organization will produce policy papers and work directly with OLIve and OLIve-UP students through internships and/or training sessions to transfer tools and skills for advocacy on behalf of refugee populations.
Historian and activist reveal long and forgotten history of Toronto's poor people's resistance
For almost two centuries the homeless, the unemployed, and the destitute in Canada's leading metropolitan centre have struggled to survive and secure food and shelter in good times and bad. Bryan Palmer, a historian of the working-class, and Gaétan Héroux, a poor people's activist, reveal the forgotten history of poor people's resistance in the new book Toronto's Poor: A Rebellious History (Between the Lines).

Toronto's Poor is being launched in Toronto on Thursday, December 8th, 6:30pm; St. Luke's United Church, 353 Sherbourne St. The event is free and open to the public. The space is wheelchair accessible.

Bryan Palmer said that "Toronto's Poor provides a much-needed local look at a universal aspect of the human condition, excavating a history too often forgotten, obscured, or ignored. It is about men, women, and children relegated to lives of desperation by an uncaring system, and how they have refused to be defeated."

Toronto's Poor focuses on the resistance and activism of people left behind in Toronto's downtown 'wards' and in its working-class suburbs. Against complacency and scapegoating, and in opposition to the rising unemployment and resulting want that followed in the wake of the many panics, downturns, recessions, and depressions punctuating everyday life in Toronto from the 1830s to the present, the poor mobilized.
"This is a rebellious book that links past and present in an almost two-hundred year story of struggle and resistance," said Gaétan Héroux.

Toronto's Poor is not another look at structural inequality or public policy but a study of actual poor people's movements, movements that resulted in winning better conditions for themselves. Through these struggles, Toronto's poor create the possibility of a new kind of society, one ordered not by acquisition and individual advance, but by appreciations of collective rights and responsibilities.

Since 1977 Between the Lines Books has published books that embrace critical perspectives on culture, economics, and society.

Ending Homelessness Among People with Mental Illness Using a Housing First Approach is Sustainable
 A Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) sustainability study, released today, finds that nine out of 12 programs implemented during the MHCC's ground-breaking At Home/Chez Soi Research Demonstration Project on mental health and homelessness have made the transition from research to real world. At Home/Chez Soi used a Housing First approach with participants offered immediate access to housing of their choice through rent subsidies and access to mental health services and supports, all without preconditions.

The sustainability study provides unique insight into what is needed to ensure innovative research is translated into mainstream services. This study tracks the Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver programs after the At Home/Chez Soi project ended in 2014.

"Today we celebrate what we've learned that will help address people's needs," said Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO, at the report launch in Moncton. "This sustainability study is a valuable roadmap. It tells us what is working well and flags what still needs to be done to ensure Housing First becomes a mainstream option to serve some of Canada's most vulnerable people."

At Home/Chez Soi demonstrated that Housing First works to rapidly end homelessness for people experiencing mental illness—within months instead of years—the majority staying housed with an improved quality of life and connection to their community. It also proved that this approach is a sound investment, with every $10 invested in Housing First services resulting in an average savings of $9.60 for participants with high needs and $3.42 for participants with moderate needs.

Although all programs experienced some reduction in funding during the shift from research to real world, participants continued to receive client-centred services and supports from multi-disciplinary teams. In some locations the level of support was reduced and key positions such as housing coordinators were lost.

"Housing First in Canada has shown significant uptake since the end of the At Home/Chez Soi project, but those gains will remain fragile unless we address the funding and policy issues that are barriers to adopting a Housing First approach as a mainstream solution to homelessness and mental illness," says Dr. Tim Aubrey, Co-Principal Investigator of the Moncton site and a member of the At Home/Chez Soi National Research Team.

Some policies have already been adjusted nationally, provincially and locally. In 2014, the federal government revised the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) to focus a significant portion of these funds on the development of Housing First. In Moncton, the At Home/Chez Soi experience with the service model led to an expansion of services with plans to implement mental health teams across New Brunswick, something new to the province. In Winnipeg, Housing First has been expanded across the city.

"Strong leadership and partnerships at the federal, provincial, municipal and community levels as well as across health and housing sectors have been crucial to the continuation and expansion of the Housing First programs begun under At Home/Chez Soi," said Louise Bradley. "Long-term collaboration between all these partners is essential for people to benefit."
Helping communities at risk protect themselves from hate-motivated crimes
To help reduce hate-motivated crimes in Canadian communities, Public Safety Canada will open calls for proposals for a renewed Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) on December 1st.

While the program has been in place for a number of years, improvements announced today represents a renewed commitment to make the program more responsive to the needs of communities at risk for hate-motivated crimes.

A wider range of costs will now be considered eligible, allowing communities to implement security measures both inside and outside of their facilities, and all not-for-profit organizations linked to a community at risk can apply, not just those who have been victimized. Changes ensure that funding decisions are provided to applicants within four months of the close of each call; and include a more efficient application process.

Interested organizations representing places of worship, provincially and territorially recognized schools, and community centers can apply through Public Safety Canada's Web site, to obtain the application kit and related information.

Public Safety Canada will also reach out to eligible communities to ensure those who need this support are aware of the program and its applications process.


SIP funds projects for security infrastructure enhancements to eligible not-for-profit organizations linked to a community at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime.

Program funds help cover the costs of minor security infrastructure enhancements such as lighting, fencing, cameras, and alarms systems.

Approved projects may receive up to 50% of total project costs, up to a maximum of $100,000 per project.

Proposals for the new intake process will now be accepted from December 1st to January 31st and from June 1st to July 31st of each year. This change has been implemented to help process proposals and move funds to eligible communities as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Quotes

"Over the past few weeks, Canadian communities have been exposed to hateful vandalism and mischief targeting religious institutions, here in Ottawa, and elsewhere in Canada. Together, we stand in solidarity with those affected and condemn these cowardly acts. I am pleased to say that projects funded under this program help ensure Canadians are free to practice their faith, culture and activities peacefully; and I encourage eligible organizations to submit their proposal for consideration," said The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
SIGEF 2016 by Horyou, One Step Further Towards Social Innovation with Global Impact
"Shaping Better Times to Come", the third edition of the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, called for climate friendly actions, sustainable innovation and community empowerment solutions to help shape a fairer future for Africa and the world. Organized from 9-11 November by Horyou as the leading side event of COP22 in Marrakesh, SIGEF gathered renowned speakers along with more than 50 NGOs and project holders who furthered the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting positivity, diversity and Social Good values.

Special guests including HRH Prince Nawaf bin Saad al Saud, Chairman of the Al-Hilal Saudi football club, Mrs. Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Congo, Dr Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar, and Yasuhiro Yamamoto, President of Eneco Holdings and Founding Sponsor of SIGEF were at the opening ceremony. "We are pleased to host such a diverse assembly who is helping advance the SDGs", stressed Yonathan Parienti, founder of Horyou.

The first day addressed the infrastructural aspects of a competitive and sustainable Africa, covering challenges such as access to health and water, agriculture and innovative private sector trends. The Minister of Urbanism of Morocco, Mr. Driss Merroun, presented his country's resolutely green economy.

On the second day, specialists, entrepreneurs and investors spoke of energy, transportation and construction for the Cities of Tomorrow. Solar Impulse designer and pilot Bertrand Piccard and Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag discussed the role of clean powered transportation in providing technology for the future. Mr. Yamamoto, from Eneco Holdings, presented ground breaking energy solutions that reduce CO2 emissions by 50%: "the concept that enriches people's everyday life, from a consumer point of view, enables for both high-tech and the environment to exist".

Artists, innovators and NGOs discussed the power of technology, gender equality and the arts for Social Good on the closing day. Bolivian actress and filmmaker Carla Ortiz made a passionate presentation of her movie "Voices of Syria" and received the Women Empowerment SIGEF Award.

SIGEF Awards

The SIGEF Awards rewarded outstanding humanitarians, as well as innovative projects presented during the 3 days of the forum. The Jury Award went to El Pozo de Vida, an organization which supports victims of human trafficking. Sustainable energy projects Pocket Rocket and Can Heat were first and second runner-ups.

SIGEF2016 is organized by Horyou as a result of the collaboration with dedicated partners such as Founding Partners Eneco Holdings and Horyou Foundation.

#RedSandProject Brings Together Toronto Influencers to Raise Awareness for Child Abuse and Sex Trafficking in Toronto​
Tomorrow, November 29th is GivingTuesday in Canada. Considered "opening day of the giving season," it is a time for people to give back to their community through fundraising, volunteering and other acts of charity. Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (Boost CYAC) has once again brought together some of Toronto's most influential people to raise awareness for child abuse and sex trafficking in our city through the #RedSandProject.

The #RedSandProject is a visual demonstration of what can happen to the most vulnerable members of our community -- our children. "Child abuse affects thousands of children in our city every year, yet so often it is not recognized or reported by those around the child," stated Boost CYAC President & CEO, Karyn Kennedy. Everybody in our community has a moral and legal responsibility to report any suspicion of child maltreatment. If an individual does not report their concern, that child has fallen through a crack.

The Chief of Police, The Honourable Peter MacKay, Bay Street executives and celebrities have participated in this year's social media campaign in support of Boost CYAC.

"When child abuse is not reported, kids fall through the cracks and we fail as a society to protect our most vulnerable members," said Peter MacKay, PC, QC, Vice Chairman of Boost CYAC. "It is everybody's responsibility to keep our children safe. They deserve no less."

Boost CYAC, Toronto's only Child & Youth Advocacy Centre responds to sexual offenses, the most severe physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and family violence when a child is the victim. In fact, more than 2200 investigations have been conducted at Boost CYAC in the last three years. We bring all professionals involved in child abuse cases under one roof, for a coordinated, interdisciplinary response to children, youth and their families. Our partners include: Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Native Child & Family Services, Jewish Family & Child, Toronto Police Service, SAFE-T Program (Radius Child & Youth Services), Child Development Institute, and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program (The Hospital for Sick Children).

ABOUT BOOST CHILD & YOUTH ADVOCACY CENTRE

For 35 years, Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (Boost CYAC) has provided services to children, youth and their families to prevent child maltreatment and intervene when abuse takes place. The centre provides a creative community response to child abuse investigations. A partnership between local and government agencies, it brings together all of the professionals involved in child abuse investigations and recovery support with the goal of providing a seamless, interdisciplinary response to children and youth when they disclose abuse and to their families. In addition to housing Toronto's only child & youth advocacy centre, Boost CYAC offers a number of direct services including: primary prevention, public education, trauma assessment and therapy, Internet child exploitation counselling/referral and court preparation for child witnesses. www.boostforkids.org

Plan International Canada celebrates Giving Tuesday with Gifts of Hope
Plan International Canada is calling on people across the country to join the Giving Tuesday movement this holiday season. Though Giving Tuesday is only in its fifth year, the day is quickly gaining momentum in Canada. According to a recent Plan International Canada survey, Canadians' awareness of Giving Tuesday has doubled since last year (2015). More Canadians have expressed the desire to give and receive gifts that are not only meaningful, but also ethical and impactful.

"We all know someone in our lives who is impossible to shop for. But, we also know that there are millions of children in the developing world who need basic essentials to live and thrive," said Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Plan International Canada. "For instance, Canadians have the power to give a new mother and her baby a healthy start, or help a girl go to school. These gifts won't end up in the trash, or be exchanged, they will have a life-long impact."

Majority believe that "It's Canadian to give back"

The survey also found that a majority of respondents (67 per cent) believe that it is "Canadian to give back to those who need it most," and a third of Canadians said they would rather have a herd of goats gifted to a family in a developing country on their behalf than receive a new computer or gym membership this year.

Gifts of Hope – real gifts that change real lives


Plan International Canada's Gifts of Hope turns holiday gift-giving into life-changing support for children and families in developing countries like El Salvador, Bangladesh, and Kenya. With 40 gifts like Buzzing Bees, Newborn Checkup and Girl Power, Canadians have the chance to give real gifts that change real lives.

To date, Canadians have reached millions with Gifts of Hope:


Brought clean water for families in 3,000 communities
Equipped 140,000+ children with school essentials
Reached 1.1M+ girls with Girl Power

Gifts of Hope Holiday Pop-up Shop

To celebrate Giving Tuesday, Plan International Canada has teamed up with its newest Celebrated Ambassador, lifestyle and décor expert Janette Ewen, to bring the impact of ethical giving to life. The Gifts of Hope Pop-up Shop is located in the Distillery District during Toronto's annual Christmas Market, and runs until Giving Tuesday on November 29.

Plan International Canada's newest ambassador:

Lifestyle and décor expert, Janette Ewen
"I couldn't be more excited to become an ambassador for Plan International Canada, especially on a day like Giving Tuesday, which really embodies the generosity and inclusive spirit of Canadians during the holidays," said Janette Ewen. "I am so grateful to play a role in designing the pop-up shop and bringing the impact of these gifts to life."

Follow the conversation
Hashtag: #GiftsofHope
Facebook: facebook.com/PlanCanada
Twitter: @PlanCanada
Instagram: PlanCanada

Statement on Hate Graffiti on Library Property from City Librarian Vickery Bowles
I was recently notified that anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on a window of one of our branches. The hate graffiti on the window was quickly removed by someone in the community before even staff could take action. Nevertheless the deed was done. Police were notified. Additional hate graffiti was found at other locations within the community.

Toronto Public Library champions values underpinning a democratic society including free, open and equitable access to a diversity of information and ideas, civic engagement, intellectual freedom and freedom of speech. However, support for free speech does not translate into tolerance for hate speech.

Public libraries have been a democratizing force in the modern world, supporting a civil society. In this 21st century world in which we live, we are seeing more and more challenges to our democratic values and principles in Canada and throughout the world. Now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to stand up to defend those values, especially when challenges come knocking at our door.

I never really thought I would have to write a statement such as this because I never really anticipated such a challenge would come to the public library in this great city.

I am standing up to say that defacing the public library with messages of hate will not be tolerated. This isn't just about the public library, this is about the community, the city and country in which we live, work and raise our families. These kinds of messages threaten everything a civil society stands for, everything the public library stands for. The public library is a welcoming, inclusive public space that supports the social justice principles of equity and inclusion. I will – indeed all of us at Toronto Public Library – will stand up against hate speech whenever it comes knocking at our door. This city, this country, our democracy, are too valuable to do otherwise.

Vickery Bowles
City LIbrarian

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:

"An estimated one in three women around the world experience violence in their lifetime. This statistic is unacceptable. It is crucial for all of us – women, men, and youth – to work together to put an end to this violence.

"Violence against women is the world's greatest and most persistent violation of human rights, leaving women and girls vulnerable and unable to fully participate in society. It damages families, communities, and countries.

"Violence against women is not a women's issue. Men must boldly work alongside women to combat this violence – and not simply because they have wives, daughters, or sisters. Women deserve the full depth of respect, safety, and dignity, regardless of their relationships with men.

"To change the prevalence of this violence, we must first challenge the attitudes and behaviours that allow this violence to exist, and that allow disrespect for and abuse of women to become commonplace. We must teach our daughters and sons the importance of gender equality and the need to treat everyone with equal respect.

"That is why the Government of Canada is investing in several programs both in Canada and around the world to help promote gender equality, support efforts to prevent gender-based violence, and stop human trafficking.

"Today and throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I encourage all Canadians not only to think about how their actions matter, but also to stand up against gender-based violence. Get started by joining the conversation online using the hashtag #ActionsMatter. Together, we can create a world that does not tolerate violence against women."

National Chief Bellegarde Presses Federal Government to Comply with Human Rights Tribunal Order: "Our Children Cannot Wait"
 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde has filed a motion with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) to once again push Canada to take action to address the Tribunal's January 2016 ruling that Canada is discriminating against First Nations children in its provision of First Nations child and family services. The motion calls for the Tribunal to issue another compliance order to the government and sets the stage for further orders and other actions should the government continue to ignore the Tribunal's ruling.

"The Trudeau Government has repeatedly said that the most important relationship for Canada to rebuild is the one with Indigenous peoples. It's time to move beyond words, end this impasse and implement the Tribunal's decision and provide fairness and justice for First Nations children," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "We will not wait idly while another generation is subjected to discriminatory funding. Our children cannot wait. We need immediate remedies and a long-term approach to ensure our children are safe and raised in healthy, caring environments."

A number of parties and intervenors in the original human rights complaint filed motions on November 22, 2016 with the Tribunal, covering all aspects of the complaint in order to get action from Canada. The parties include the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Chiefs of Ontario and Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The AFN's motion specifically focuses on the need for a process to address mid-term and long-term relief to support and reform First Nations child and family services. Other motions filed today address the need for action in other areas, including immediate relief.

The filing today comes in the wake of the unanimous passing of a motion in the House of Commons on November 1 calling for, among other things, immediate investments of $155 million in new funding. This would help to address the shortfall in federal funding for the delivery of child welfare, and implementing the full definition of Jordan's Principle, which calls for equitable access to government services available to other children in Canada.

"We recognize that it will take a lot of effort and collaboration to reform the child welfare system in Canada. We don't want to dismiss what is necessary to address medium to long term needs to protect First Nations children and to ensure the system is reflective of our goals of restoring First Nations jurisdiction and responsibility for our own children. But the resources that we are talking about are needed now in our family services agencies," added National Chief Bellegarde.

The CHRT released its original decision on January 26 of this year, finding that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision further stated that the Government of Canada has failed to fully implement Jordan's Principle,

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

2016 Report Card Provides Roadmap to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty in Canada
 Canada has a chronic child poverty problem that the federal government can solve but it must get to the roots of the issues plaguing families, says Anita Khanna, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000.  Recommendations in the national report card address housing, precarious employment, gaps in the social safety net, income inequality, and early childhood education and care.

"Children and families need bold, unrelenting and collaborative federal leadership for a comprehensive anti-poverty plan that uproots poverty. Nearly 1 in 5 children in Canada live in poverty today because their families are forced to navigate the uncertainty of precarious work, skyrocketing housing costs, and uneven and unaffordable childcare services while they try not to slip through the holes in Canada's social safety net. The Canada Child Benefit and government's commitment to reduce and monitor child poverty are important steps forward in the battle against child poverty. But, with over 1.3 million children in poverty, and Canada ranking 26/35 in UNICEF's international ranking of child inequality, Canada's work is clearly not done. As an immediate action, we urge government to index the CCB to inflation effective 2017 to help families keep up with the rising cost of living," says Khanna.

"Any time spent in poverty during childhood has immediate and long-term physical, mental and social implications. Childhood poverty not only holds children back from reaching their potential, but is a threat to public health and our country's future success. Supplementary health benefits, accessible and affordable child care, and targeted nutrition and housing programs would all help children and youth to thrive and reach their full potential," says Marie Adele Davis, Executive Director of the Canadian Paediatric Society.

The 2016 Campaign 2000 report card, "A Roadmap to Eradicate Child and Family Poverty," provides a current snapshot of the depth of Canada's chronic poverty problem, outlines how poverty stalls children's progress and potential and proposes policy solutions as a road map to guide eradication. The release of the 2016 national report card coordinates with the release of seven provincial report cards by Campaign 2000 partners in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Investments in reducing child and family poverty must be a cross-governmental priority. "In order to stop the indignity of poverty, the federal government must adopt a child and family poverty reduction lens on all spending, policy and program decisions moving forward," says Dr. Sid Frankel, Professor of Social Work at University of Manitoba. "The federal government is well positioned to examine regional variations in policies and programs, to identify those that are universally detrimental to children and promote action in the best interests of children. For example, the claw back of child support from children in lone parent families receiving social assistance denies children income support to which they are legally entitled. Further, childcare services are a patchwork across Canada, inequitably organized, unevenly distributed and underfunded everywhere across Canada.  Strong federal leadership can help level the playing field for children and families wherever they live."

"We must also focus on ending discrimination experienced by groups of children with higher poverty rates, those who rely on women's employment incomes, Indigenous children, racialized children, children affected by disability, and children who have recently immigrated," said Khanna. "Our report card provides government with the roadmap to eradicate child and family poverty in Canada. With children's lives at stake, our country's future is at stake. Government must immediately step on the gas pedal so Canada can leave child poverty behind."

Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan, cross-Canada network of 120 national, provincial and community partner organizations committed to working to end child and family poverty. For all of Campaign 2000's 2016 report cards, visit http://www.campaign2000.ca

Urban Barn special delivery to Covenant House
 As Canadian furniture, home décor and accessories retailer, Urban Barn wraps its fifth annual Blanket the Country in Warmth campaign, personal deliveries to participating shelters across the country begin this week.

Yesterday, a special delivery to Covenant House, a shelter for homeless Youth, in Toronto included a surprise visit by one of Canada's rising country singer/song writers – Madeline Merlo, recipient of the 2015 CCMA Award for Rising Star of the Year and nominee for Female Artist of the Year in 2016. She approached Urban Barn wanting to help and to be part of this campaign. Madeline performed a surprise 1-hour concert to Youth onsite at the shelter.

"Our community initiative gets stronger every year and this is extremely rewarding. Linda Letts, President, Urban Barn. "When well-known Canadians like Madeline start reaching out and wanting to get involved we know our message is getting through. Blanket the Country in Warmth continues to warm the hearts of our customers, partner shelters and our staff and I thank you all for helping us achieve our charitable goals."

Urban Barn and its customers raised $5,400 and will be donating 15,000 brand-new fleece blankets, an increase of 2,000 blankets from 2015.

To learn more about Blanket the Country in Warmth, please visit www.blanketthecountry.com.


Country star Madeline Merlo, performs at Covenant House Toronto ahead of a special delivery for Blanket the Country in Warmth on Tuesday, November 22nd (CNW Group/Urban Barn)

Plan International Canada opens Gifts of Hope holiday pop-up shop 
As the holiday season approaches, Canadians are in search of meaningful gifts that make an impact around the world. Plan International Canada's Gifts of Hope puts an end to shopping indecision by turning holiday gift-giving into life-changing support for children and families in developing countries like El Salvador, Bangladesh, and Kenya. With 40 gifts like Buzzing Bees, Newborn Checkup and Girl Power, Canadians have the chance to give real gifts that change real lives.

To celebrate Giving Tuesday, Plan International Canada has teamed up with its newest Celebrated Ambassador, lifestyle and décor expert Janette Ewen, to bring the impact of ethical giving to life. The Gifts of Hope pop-up shop runs from Friday, November 25 to Tuesday, November 29 in Toronto's Distillery District while the annual Christmas Market is in full festive swing. Media and the public are invited to visit the shop for hands-on vignettes, a virtual reality experience, and activities for kids that bring ethical giving to life.

WHAT

Gifts of Hope holiday pop-up shop designed by Janette Ewen featuring vignettes that bring ethical gifts to life. Vignettes will highlight gifts like Help refugee children, Baby chicks, Girl power and Buzzing bees.

Pop-up shop will be open daily starting Friday, November 25 to Tuesday, November 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE

12 Case Goods Lane, Distillery District, Toronto (between Trinity Street and Pure Spirits Mews, across from Dish Gallery and Studio)

Pop-up shop coinciding with the Toronto Christmas Market
Virgin Mobile Canada expands internet footprint and adds heartbeat
Today, Sir Richard Branson announced the expansion of Home Internet by Virgin Mobile into Quebec as well as a new charitable initiative, Home Internet with Heart in support of Virgin Mobile RE*Generation.

Now eligible residents in Ontario and Quebec will be able to hook up with Steve, the happy home modem – and, from now until December 31, 2016, every time someone gets Home Internet by Virgin Mobile, they will be donating $10 to Virgin Mobile RE*Generation to support youth participating in employment programs in Ontario and Quebec. These donations will help connect youth with what they need to successfully complete job skills training, land employment and change their lives for good.

"I am extremely excited about the new Home Internet service from Virgin Mobile Canada - we know Members are going to love it," said Sir Richard Branson, founder, The Virgin Group. "Even better, this fantastic new service has heart and will empower people to help youth in need."

Over 250,000 youth in Ontario and 125,000 in Quebec are actively looking for jobs.1 Without skills, experience and connections, many of these youth are at-risk of becoming homeless, if they aren't already. Virgin Mobile RE*Generation focuses on removing these barriers to employment by investing in training programs that give at-risk youth the in-demand skills and supports they need for lasting career paths in construction, culinary, farming, hospitality, IT, self-employment and other in-demand industries. Donations from Home Internet with Heart will be added to existing investments to give youth the resources and supports needed to have the best opportunity to succeed.

"The more barriers are broken down, the more youth will be able to accomplish," said Joseph Ottorino, managing director, Virgin Mobile Canada. "With job skills training, employment opportunities and resources, together we can change the lives of at-risk youth for good."

Home Internet by Virgin Mobile is powered by Steve, the happy home modem. Steve has the entire household covered with reliable Wi-Fi, super-fast upload and download speeds and amazing Wi-Fi reach reliably covering your whole household. Available through two simple plans, Steve has no installation fees, no long-term contracts and no hidden fees. By connecting with Steve, eligible residents in Ontario and Quebec will receive the same VIP treatment they've come to expect from Virgin Mobile with the added bonus of breaking down barriers. Hooking up has never felt so good.

Check out current offers and learn more about Home Internet with Heart.


Sir Richard Branson and Steve are together to announce something exciting just in time for the holidays! (CNW Group/Virgin Mobile Canada)

Muslim Millennials Breaking Barriers for Human Dignity
 IDRF is breaking down barriers on a global and local scale to ensure that all people around the world live with Dignity. On Nov 26, IDRF (the International Development and Relief Foundation) Dignity Tour lands in Calgary after launching this innovative networking series in Toronto and Vancouver on Sept 30 and Nov 4 respectively. The Tour is a series of events promoting social-awareness that aim to engage Muslim millennials & socially-conscious individuals across Canada in learning about the local and global work of IDRF, with a particular focus on emergency and disaster relief work alongside their development projects.

Each event showcases a different sector of IDRF's mandate. Emergency and Disaster Relief, with an eye to Impacts on Refugee Mental Health, will feature at the Dignity Tour in Calgary's Kahanoff Conference Centre at 6:30 p.m. on Nov 26.

A series of short talks given by local star guests like Colette DeJordy, Team Lead of the Refugee Support Team at the Kensington Commons Church and Rashmeet Dhillon, Assistant Communications Director at Outrun the Stigma. We will also hear from a Syrian Refugee Family who very graciously offered to share their experience of fleeing Syria and resettling in Canada with attendees.

Our MC is local community advocate and IDRF's Calgary Youth Chapter Secretary, Kohawar Khan, and we are delighted to announce that Pakistani-Canadian Muslim politician, MLA Anam Kazim of Calgary-Glenmore, will be in attendance. She is the second South Asian to be elected to Alberta's Legislative Assembly.

Delicious hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served while attendees are invited to network with our esteemed guests. Attendees will also be encouraged to register teams for IDRF's upcoming Dignity Walk, a sponsored charity walk to raise funds for IDRF's global programming, in May 2017. (Please see www.walkfordignity.com).
The #ISurvivedEbola Campaign Wins Two Shorty Awards for Social Good 

​The #ISurvivedEbola Campaign, produced by Vulcan Productions and PCI Media Impact, has been honored with two Shorty Awards for Social Good: Best in Business to Business, and Best Work for Developing Nations. It was also a finalist in the categories of Emergency Relief, Public Health and Integrated Campaigns. This multi-platform initiative launched during the West African Ebola crisis: a coalition of survivors used narrative media and storytelling to curb the outbreak. It has since received international recognition, with 16 awards and 4 nominations including from the Webbys, the Rockie Awards, New York Festival, and the Global Film Awards.

#ISurvivedEbola was launched in the fall of 2014 in collaboration with UNICEF. The 30 short films at the heart of this campaign document the experiences of Ebola survivors from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It also features radio dramas in 12 languages, billboards, music videos, and a strong web presence. These stories were broadcast through local, national and international channels to educate West Africans on crucial health recommendations while dispelling myths and promoting survivor reintegration.

Sean Southey ­– CEO of PCI Media Impact – accepted the awards for the survivors at the campaign's core:

"PCI Media Impact has produced social and behavioral change media for over 30 years. As the Ebola crisis spread, we realized we could use our expertise to shift the narrative around the pandemic. With support from the Paul G. Allen Foundation and Vulcan Productions, we helped survivors tell their own stories, fighting stigma while sharing life-saving information with those who needed it most. We accept these awards with gratitude and appreciation on behalf of the courageous Ebola survivors who put their communities first, sharing their stories to save the lives of others."

As a result of its integrated platform approach, #ISurvivedEbola reached more people in West Africa during this crisis than any other media campaign in history. An independent review shows that nearly 50% of the population in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea came into contact with the campaign. It found that people exposed to the campaign were more likely to engage in lifesaving behaviors and welcome survivors into their communities.

Learn more about PCI Media Impact and Vulcan Productions.  
World Vision Canada Creates Awareness and Raises Funds for 'Rise up Daughters of India' 
On November 21st, 2016, World Vision Canada and its Multicultural Council Ambassadors joined forces to host a fundraising evening to create awareness of the issues girls in India face, and to promote the campaign 'Rise Up Daughters of India'. Distinguished guests included Nav Bhatia, 'Rise up Daughters of India' Ambassador, and Cherian Thomas, National Director for World Vision India.

Nav Bhatia, 'Rise up Daughters of India' Ambassador said, "I have witnessed first-hand the bias against our daughters in India. My own daughter, Tia, was adopted from an orphanage in India. The value placed on boys versus girls in India needs to change and 'Rise Up Daughters of India' is one of the first steps towards that change. Ultimately, I hope to one day see an India where our daughters are equally valued as our sons are. There will be many challenges ahead but I am confident that alongside World Vision, we will make an impact together."

'Rise up Daughters of India' is an integrated and targeted pilot campaign that works to create awareness about gender-based discrimination among girls in India. It also raises funds towards building school washrooms for girls in Faridkot community in India.

63 million teenage girls in India have no access to washrooms. Without proper washrooms, schoolgirls in rural India are forced to 'go' outside, risking their safety, health and dignity.

Lara Dewar, Chief Marketing & Development Officer, World Vision Canada said, "I am honoured to be a part of an event like this. It's a chance for World Vision Canada to create new, and hopefully, long-lasting relationships as we continue to make life better for some of the world's most vulnerable children – including girls in India. 'Rise Up Daughters of India' is such an important campaign because girls, no matter where they live, should feel safe, dignified and empowered for the future. I hope through tonight's event, we came one step closer to making that a reality."

The Multicultural Council Ambassadors is a group of external supporters who help World Vision Canada build, establish connections and cultivate relationships with multicultural communities in Canada.

Visit www.daughtersofindia.ca to donate, share the cause with others on social media, or call 1-866-619-2227.


Rachel Schrader (World Vision Canada)

735,000 Canadian children live in unsafe housing
​​Why does housing matter? Because too many children spend their life living in unsafe, inadequate and often deplorable housing conditions. That's why National Housing Day is important – a day to bring attention to how important having access to a safe, decent and affordable place to live is, as well as how many Canadians do not have that.

Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada has helped Canadian families, including Indigenous families, gain strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable homeownership. Habitat's innovative model helps bridge the gap between social/rental housing and market housing. It frees up much needed units in social or rental housing for Canadians, as thirty-seven per cent of Habitat families that buy their own home come directly from social housing.

"Affordable homeownership – the focus of our work in Canada – has benefits that reach far beyond four walls," says Mark Rodgers, Habitat Canada's President and CEO. "Families living in Habitat homes reduce their reliance on food banks, have better educational and employment outcomes as well as improved health."

During consultations with the federal government on a National Housing Strategy, Habitat Canada made the following recommendations:

Reduce the level of core housing need for vulnerable groups through investments in Indigenous housing, homelessness, affordable rental housing and maintaining and expanding the stock of social housing.

Work with Indigenous communities to create and implement an Indigenous Housing Strategy.
Invest in Habitat's Affordable Homeownership program over the next eight years to create new affordable homes and renovate additional homes in northern communities.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity Canada's recommendations to the federal government on housing, click here.

Did you know?

The Habitat for Humanity model is based on a partnership between the family, the community, volunteers, the private sector and, at times, with modest one-time contributions from different orders of governments. In many cases, Habitat works with local skills and apprentice programs.

We build homes in different forms, ranging from single-detached to multi-unit to mixed-use. The size of our developments can exceed 60 units.

Habitat families work alongside volunteers to help build their homes and pay an affordable, no-interest mortgage geared to the family's income level.
The average Habitat home generates $175,000 of benefits to society.

Habitat's affordable home ownership program has created a social return on investment of $500 million over the last 30 years in Canada.

About Habitat for Humanity Canada

Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, nonprofit organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. We believe in bringing communities together to help families build strength, stability and self-reliance. With the help of volunteers and 56 affiliate organizations from coast to coast to coast, we partner with families and mobilize community support to build affordable housing and promote homeownership as means of eliminating barriers to better, healthier and more financially stable lives in Canada and around the world. Habitat for Humanity Canada is a member of Habitat for Humanity International, which was established in 1976 and has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. For more information, please visit www.habitat.ca.

A Canadian volunteer helping build homes during the 2016 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. (CNW Group/Habitat for Humanity Canada)
Children of Mosul share their stories in video & pictures
​Children of Mosul have begun to share their terrifying experiences during the past 2 years of conflict in their home town. At Zelican camp, 25 kilometres outside of Mosul, children who lived under ISIL control say they had years of nightmares from witnessing atrocities, according to World Vision staff.

"I was afraid because I didn't cover my hair and ISIL prevented girls from showing their heads. They were arresting us and humiliating us in front of other people. It wasn't good there," says Raqwa*, 12

We were not allowed to play - they [ISIL] didn't allow that. They were shooting the bullets and the sound of bullets scared me the 'pawh' 'pawh' 'pawh'," says Ahmed*, 8 years old

"A remote controlled plane [drone] struck my neighbour's house and it was very strong - the sound was like 'whoosh'. Five people died and the rest were hurt. I thought, 'Now it's going to hit us!' I was scared by that bad plane. We were all terrified," says Hamaad, 14

*Names have been changed to protect identities

More than 60,000 people have been displaced since the battle for Mosul began on October 17, nearly half of them are children

Up to 700,000 people could still leave the city, which has been occupied since June 2014

275+ children are registered and attending the Zelican Child Friendly Space run by World Vision

The child friendly space offers games, art and drama with trained child protection workers

World Vision supports the registration of families and provides stoves and fuel for cooking

World Vision supports more than 400,000 displaced people in Iraq

"We're appalled by the violent stories children from Mosul have been telling us. The next few weeks are crucial to help them begin the recovery process. When children are able to access informal learning centres like the Child Friendly Space, they can start to familiarise themselves with their childhood and find hope in the future again," says Khalil Sleiman, World Vision Response Manager, Northern Iraq

HOW CANADIANS CAN HELP:
Donate to World Vision's RAW HOPE initiative, which supports conflict-affected families in Mosul.

World Vision is a relief, development, and advocacy organization working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by our Christian values, World Vision is dedicated to working with the world's most vulnerable people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. Visit our News Centre at worldvision.ca

At first the children were confused when they were invited to draw and paint, says Dejin Jamil, World Vision’s Project Coordinator at the camp. “‘It wasn’t a familiar concept for them. When we gave them paper to draw, they recreated war scenes, drawing tanks and warplanes.” (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)
Steven Tyler to receive 2016 Humanitarian Award at the United Nations Ambassadors' Ball 
 The Hospitality Committee for United Nations Delegations has named Steven Tyler the recipient of its 2016 Humanitarian Award. Tyler will be honored at the Ambassadors' Ball on Dec. 3 in New York.

The honor is in recognition of the musician's philanthropic partnership with Youth Villages through Janie's Fund, created by Tyler in 2015 to give his voice to vulnerable girls who have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect and are being helped by Youth Villages.

"As a father to three daughters, a son, and, now a grandfather, it broke my heart to learn that each year in America alone 700,000 children are victims of serious abuse or neglect and 68,000 will be sexually abused," Tyler said. "All abuse is wrong -- verbal, physical, sexual, emotional. We need to have better ways as parents to help our children and support them. Way too many kids are experiencing abuse, and we want to change that. Enough is enough."

In its first year, Janie's Fund has gained 2,700 supporters from 38 countries who have contributed more than $1.9 million to help girls receive evidence-based help so that they can overcome the trauma of abuse and neglect. This year, Janie's Fund will allow Youth Villages to provide more than 18,000 days of care to girls in need, directly helping more than 300 girls.

Tyler has long had a desire to help with this issue, dating back to the 1980s when he was in a program for his own recovery. Hearing the personal accounts of women who had experienced incredibly painful and debilitating sexual abuse as children, he saw how the abuse put them on a path of suffering, post-traumatic stress and other disorders that eventually led to substance problems. It was their plight that inspired Tyler to compose the song, "Janie's Got A Gun."

"I personally know how addiction can fracture lives," Tyler said. "I don't wish that on anyone. To use my voice and the voices of many others to help these girls once again find their voice is my mission."

Tyler, the frontman of the legendary rock band Aerosmith, recently released a country album "We're All Somebody from Somewhere," which debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at the top of the iTunes country downloads. Tyler and Aerosmith have sold more than 150 million records worldwide; he has won four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and an Emmy Award. In addition to having nine number one hits, 25 gold, 18 platinum and 12 multi-platinum album certifications, Tyler, along with the rest of his band members, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has a long history in the fight to end violence against women.

"Break the silence," the secretary-general has said "When you witness violence against women and girls, do not sit back. Act! Violence against women and girls will not be eradicated until all of us—men and boys—refuse to tolerate it!"

"In choosing this year's recipient, we searched diligently to find the humanitarian whose efforts are in harmony with the Secretary General, who will be saluted at this year's Ambassadors' Ball as his decade of UN leadership ends on December 31," said Mel Gee Henderson, HCUND co-chair. "We came to realize Steven Tyler is not only a gifted composer and musician with a great big voice but a soul with an even bigger heart who sincerely wants to help those suffering from the horrific pain of abuse."

Luz MacArthur, chairman, said: "Tyler may seem an unexpected choice at first glance. But the more we learned about Janie's Fund, the more convinced we were that Tyler is the person who can genuinely affect and inspire millions to help in the fight against violence inflicted upon girls and women, not just in the U.S. but around the world."

The 2016 HCUND Ambassadors' Ball is sponsored by Cambria, an American-made quartz countertop manufacturer. "As a friend and strong supporter of Steven Tyler and Janie's Fund, Cambria is proud to sponsor the event," said Summer Kath, senior vice president of business development. "We value strong relationships with partners and communities and continues to serve through a multitude of philanthropic initiatives locally and abroad. We hope you'll join us in supporting Janie's Fund."

The Hospitality Committee for United Nations Delegations is the only nonprofit volunteer organization located within the United Nations Headquarters. HCUND promotes and strengthens understanding between all levels of the United Nations diplomatic community, and broadens their appreciation of American culture and customs while serving and residing in New York City.

Youth Villages is a private nonprofit organization that helps more than 22,000 of America's most vulnerable children and families each year in 12 states and Washington, D.C. Youth Villages has been recognized by Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report, and was identified by The White House as one of the nation's most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. For more information about Youth Villages, visit youthvillages.org. For more information on Janie's Fund go to janiesfund.org.
Legendary rocker honored for Janie's Fund - his work with Youth Villages
A cooperative and innovative hackathon event to address homelessness issues in Ottawa

 

​ The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, joined developers, designers, communications specialists, subject matter experts, and general enthusiasts, today to launch the first Government of Canada hackathon to reduce homelessness. The event, "Partnering to Hack Homelessness (P2H²)", organized by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), in partnership with DataFest Ottawa and the Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) Lab, aims to bring together key partners to develop innovative solutions to help vulnerable populations who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

Duclos said,"Our government is committed to pioneering dynamic new approaches that will enable communities across Canada to work more effectively towards combatting homelessness. Who better to have onboard for this project than the local experts working together to develop innovative solutions to local problems. I commend the participants for dedicating their time and knowledge to the cause of homelessness."

The causes and consequences of homelessness are complex. The Government of Canada is committed to demonstrating leadership in finding innovative approaches to address social issues such as homelessness. This homelessness hackathon is a great example of what can be accomplished by working together and to build on our diversity and expertise to create innovative ideas to help prevent and reduce homelessness.

The event is taking place over the weekend of November 18-20, 2016, at the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Lab, located in downtown Ottawa (235 Queen Street). On Friday evening, participants will be presented with problem statements from community organizations; teams will be formed and will get ready to work on solving issues over the weekend. On Sunday, the last day of the hackathon, teams will present their concept or prototype solution to a panel of experts. Ideas presented could lead to the development of a wide range of solutions from applicable technologies to conceptual designs.

Canadians can follow the activities of the Partnering to Hack Homelessness (P2H²) event in Ottawa by following ESDC (@SocDevSoc) on Twitter. You can also participate in the online conversation by using the hashtags #Homelessness #Hackathon and #MakeADifference. 

Declaration of the Aboriginal Women of Val-d'Or

 

It is with bitter disappointment and deep concern that we learned that the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions of Quebec (DCPP) will lay no criminal charges against the six police officers of Val-d'Or implicated by our denunciations last year.

Eighteen months ago, at the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre, we had decided, after careful consideration, to forget about fear, break the silence and finally speak out with an open heart by publicly denouncing to reporter Josée Dupuis of Radio Canada's Enquête program how we had been, for many years, victims of intimidation, abuse of power, and sexual and physical abuse by SQ officers in Val-d'Or. We made these denunciations for our friend Sindy and the Ruperthouse family with the hope that she would be found, but also to put an end to police violence against Aboriginal women.

Beyond all what this decision has cost us and the extent to which it disrupted our personal lives, we will continue to pay the price in the future; beyond the many difficulties that we have met since then, we had the hope that justice would be made, and that the cause of Val-d'Or's Aboriginal women and of all Aboriginal women across Canada, could be from now on heard and considered by all with greater respect.

Today, we must admit that this is not the case. And this raises deep and conflicting feelings in us: rage, discouragement, fear of being judged and treated as liars. We feel betrayed, humiliated and our heart is broken in pieces. It is as if in this country's justice system, we were not important, we were left behind and we have not been heard. And above all, that fear will continue to haunt us: fear of the return of the suspended police officers, fear of reprisals, fear for our own security.

Imagine: we stand together and we are afraid. So what will it be when we are left alone? And all these women who have suffered abuse and have not denounced it yet, aren't they at risk of giving up and say that "it's useless, they don't listen to us, we can no longer trust the justice and policing system"?

Even though the message conveyed by the DCPP decision may lead people to believe that we are the ones who lost, we draw on our deepest resources to revive the determination to continue despite it all… We do not believe that we did that in vain. Although we now wish to take the time to heal our wounds, to go through this deep disappointment in privacy, to keep away from the media, we won't give up. We want to continue to speak out so that truth is officially known and recognised. We want a public and independent inquiry commission to be established by the Quebec Government to conduct a full investigation on this case.

What we ask for is true justice: justice for ourselves, justice for our daughters, justice for our grand-daughters...

What comforts us is that we know we are not alone. And today, we solemnly call upon all the Quebec people, Aboriginal and non Aboriginal, to extend a helping hand to Indigenous women so that we may create the strongest support and solidarity network ever.

This is also what gives us hope, a new hope.



Angela King
Priscillia Papatie
June Fair
Mani Decoursy
Joséphine Papatie
Bernadette Ogushing
Cherilyn Papatie
Nadia Papatie
Elysia Ottereyes Robert
Bianka Moushoom
Kathey Lacroix   
Missing Nimâmâ, a Reflection on Missing Indigenous Women, Receives the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

 

 TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children's Book Centre awarded Toronto-based author Melanie Florence and Quebec-based illustrator François Thisdale the 12th annual TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for their book, Missing Nimâmâ. Florence and Thisdale will take home the $30,000 top prize – one of the largest of its kind in Canadian children's literature. Author Kenneth Oppel also received the TD Fan Choice Award as voted on by young readers from September 19 to October 30, 2016. As part of the award, Oppel received a $5,000 prize for his book, The Nest.

"Instilling a joy of reading in children promotes imagination, creativity, and strong literacy skills. These books about friendship, courage and compassion help a young generation of readers learn about the world through new and diverse perspectives," says Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group. "We're thrilled to recognize these authors and illustrators through the 2016 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Melanie and François deliver a compelling story and TD is privileged to honour their work."

A powerful and emotional story, Missing Nimâmâ follows an orphaned indigenous child as she experiences important milestones in life after her mother's disappearance. From her first day of school to her first date and her wedding to first child, the spirit of her mother watches over her. Told in alternating voices of a mother and her child, the book is a free-verse story of love, loss and acceptance.

"The finalists have published a collection of timeless stories young readers will enjoy for years to come," says Charlotte Teeple, Executive Director, Canadian Children's Book Centre. "Beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written, we are extremely pleased to support these talented authors and illustrators."

In recognition of their exceptional contribution to Canadian children's literature, TD also awarded $10,000 to be shared among the four remaining finalists:

That Squeak
Written by Carolyn Beck
Illustrated by François Thisdale

A Year of Borrowed Men
Written by Michelle Barker
Illustrated by Renné Benoit


The Wolf-Birds
Written and illustrated by Willow Dawson

The Nest
Written by Kenneth Oppel


Five outstanding French-language books were also celebrated at a gala in Montreal on November 1, 2016. The award for the most distinguished French-language book of the year was presented to author Jacques Goldstyn for his book L'Arbragan.

About the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards
Now in its 12th year, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards celebrates excellence in children's literature by rewarding the best literary work by Canadian authors. Sponsored by TD, and administered by the Canadian Children's Book Centre in association with the CBC, it is one of the largest prizes in children's book awards. All books, in any genre, written and illustrated by Canadians and published in Canada for children are eligible. Each book is judged on the quality of the text and illustrations, in addition to its overall contribution to Canadian children's literature. Since the program started in 2004, 120 books have been honoured through the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in both official languages. Visit tdreads.com for more information.

About The Canadian Children's Book Centre
The Canadian Children's Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers. The Canadian Children's Book Centre reaches well over half a million people each year, and we're still growing; for more information, please visit www.bookcentre.ca.
AFNQL Supports the First Nation Women Who Dared to Break the Silence and Report Abuse by Police Officers

 

​Regardless of the conclusions of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions of Quebec following the SPVM investigation, in connection with First Nations women's denouncements in the Val-d'Or area, the AFNQL will continue to accompany the efforts of our First Nations women who dared to denounce the situation of intolerable abuse by police officers.

"It is crucial to conduct police investigations when facts dictate, but it is essential and urgent to recognize the signs and respond to discriminatory behavioral patterns and downright racist, in which our populations are too often the victims", stated Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL
in support of Chief Adrienne Anichinapéo of Kitcisakik, Chief Adrienne Jérôme of Lac Simon and Chief David Kistabish of Abitibiwinni First Nations.

Our communities need the necessary resources to provide services to our women who are victims of violence and to encourage them to break the silence and to support them in their healing process. Our current resources, in this regard, are largely inadequate. We are urging that an emergency budget be provided for front-line services and a safety net for our women and their families be immediately made available to First Nations communities.

Without being able to dispute the investigative work performed by the SPVM or that of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions in the specific case of the denunciations in Val-d'Or, the AFNQL states that the problem that gave rise to the situations reported is much broader and cannot be addressed solely through the support of law enforcement investigations.

For over a year now, the AFNQL has been calling for the Couillard Government, and without any conclusive outcome, to have the courage to set up an independent commission of inquiry on all the aspects of relations between police services and First Nations.

"The Couillard Government refuses to face its responsibilities, the majority of police services are under his authority, and instead chose to hide behind the police investigation conducted by the SPVM. In another context, they preferred to wait, for the results of the investigation launched by the federal government on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in two to three years from now! These are very convenient delays for the Couillard Government, but not for our First Nations women", said Ghislain Picard.

"Should the AFNQL launch its own inquiry? Every day, and for many years, our women have been enduring situations and in which they dared to denounce. The AFNQL, the Quebec Native Women, our local and regional First Nations governments support our women, whom in the past, have been left to fend for themselves. Our women should not be silenced, intimidated or discouraged by the results to date of the actions which they were brave enough to take on. It is the beginning, and not the end, of a march for justice, and we will prevail on that journey", concluded Ghislain Picard.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
The MATCH Fund is coining November 16 "Not International Women's Day" to reignite the conversation about women's rights

 

The MATCH International Women's Fund is coining today "Not International Women's Day" to encourage discussion about women's issues all-year-round. Each year, on March 8, Canadians come together to recognize International Women's Day. But once the day passes, so does the conversation. To mark this day, The MATCH Fund has developed the #LotteryofLife quiz based on the concept that where you're born can determine the possibility of your future successes. Lack of access to education, the pay gap, and acts of violence are issues faced by women globally every single day – not only one day a year.

The MATCH Fund is encouraging Canadians to take the #LotteryofLife quiz to see what life could potentially look like if they were born in another country or under a different set of circumstances. Results will show real-life scenarios and facts about women in the global South. Outcomes range from stories about grandmas fighting genital mutilation to those about girls who died at age 11 from cholera. Other scenarios include a midwife in rural Africa who provides trauma counselling to new mothers whose babies are the result of rape.

"The reality is that the country in which we're born can determine the possibility for a healthy, safe and prosperous life. For women, this can come down to determining whether or not they're even born," says Jess Tomlin, Executive Director, The MATCH Fund. "The #LotteryofLife quiz aims to educate Canadians on what's at stake for women around the world. As Canadian women, many of us have already won the #LotteryofLife. We want Canadians to be proud of that and to be part of a movement that raises awareness for women who haven't been so lucky."

The #LotteryofLife quiz asks participants to answer demographic questions as well as questions about participants' interests. It will take these responses and provide participants with a life story that could have been theirs, had they been born elsewhere. The quiz addresses the shocking truths about the lives of women in the global South by highlighting their everyday challenges and realities that other women and girls don't even have to think about.

Jennifer Botterill, Olympic gold medalist and hockey player has partnered with The MATCH Fund to spread awareness. "These are very real issues women face every day, but they often only get the spotlight once a year. Unfortunately, once a year just isn't enough. Every day, women are fighting against violence, the freedom to marry when and whom they want, for access to clean water, and more."

To spark conversation on International Women's Day 2016, The MATCH Fund created a quiz that brings awareness to injustices women face across the global South. The "How Many Laws Did You Break Today" quiz garnered nearly half a million respondents from 100 countries.

The #LotteryofLife quiz was developed and designed by Blueband Digital, Toronto's premier app development company that provides mobility expertise for iPhone, iPad, Android, web and graphic design services.

About The MATCH International Women's Fund
The MATCH International Women's Fund is the only international women's fund in Canada. It works at the intersection of women's rights and innovation, supporting homegrown solutions led by women, girls, and trans people at the grassroots level.
SYRIA FOOD PRODUCTION AT ALL-TIME LOW

 

ROME – Food production in Syria has hit a record low as widespread insecurity and unfavourable weather conditions in parts of the country continued to hamper access to land, farming supplies and markets, making it ever more difficult for farmers to maintain their livelihoods and feed the war-torn country.

The latest Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) shows that after five years of conflict many farmers have lost the ability to cope. Rising prices and scarcity of essential inputs such as fertilizers and seeds mean they will have no other option than to abandon food production if they do not receive immediate support. This will likely have grave consequences not only for the food security of farming households but also on food availability in the country, and may ultimately lead to further displacements.

Cereals at an all-time low
The area planted to cereals in the 2015-16 cropping season is the smallest ever, according to the report, based on field visits and surveys across the country.
   
Farmers planted an estimated 900,000 hectares of wheat in the last year, compared to 1.5 million hectares planted before the crisis. Production, meanwhile, shows an even more drastic decline, from an average 3.4 million metric tons of wheat harvested before the war to 1.5 million metric tons this year – a decrease of 55 percent. 

Because the ongoing crisis and associated sanctions have disrupted trade and markets, access to quality seeds, fertilizers, machinery and fuel needed to operate pumps and tractors is limited. Those inputs that are available on local markets are frequently overpriced and of dubious quality.

Poor rainfall and the destruction of valuable irrigation infrastructure has made matters worse for growers trying to continue to produce food under adverse circumstances. In some instances, this has led farmers to switch from cultivating valuable and nutritious crops to hardier but less nutritious ones such as barley.

At the same time, the assessment showed vast differences among the governorates in terms of access to land and agricultural inputs – a sign of possible opportunities to intensify support to producers in areas that are relatively accessible.

“Today, we see almost 80 percent of households across Syria struggling with a lack of food or money to buy food – and the situation is only going to become worse if we fail to support farmers so they can maintain their lands and livelihoods,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa. “Agriculture was the main source of livelihood for rural households before the crisis and it is still producing to a certain extent, but it is stretched to the maximum and farmers have largely exhausted their capacity to cope,” he added.

“The food security situation of millions of people inside Syria continues to deteriorate with more than seven million people classified as food insecure across the country having exhausted their life savings and no longer able to put food on the table for their families,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe. “WFP and FAO are working together to invest in more livelihood projects in agriculture as the most effective way to address food insecurity in the long term.”

Effects on livestock
Livestock producers are equally feeling the effects of the crisis. With the upkeep of their animals becoming ever more difficult and costly, many herding families have been forced to sell or slaughter their sheep, goats and poultry.

Ongoing fighting and widespread insecurity continues to limit access to grazing land and water sources, while animal feed has become unaffordable for many pastoralists. This is particularly true in areas with large numbers of internally displaced people who brought their livestock with them when fleeing their homes. The country’s veterinary service, meanwhile, is rapidly running out of animal vaccines and routine drugs, making it harder for herders to keep their animals healthy and productive.

As a result, Syria – once an exporter in livestock – has seen its herds and flock shrink significantly since the beginning of the crisis. Today, there are 30 percent fewer cattle, 40 percent fewer sheep and goats, and a staggering 60 percent less poultry – traditionally the most affordable source of animal protein in the country.

Price hikes and disrupted trade
General shortages and cuts in fuel and some food subsidies have added to rising inflation and depreciation of the Syrian pound -- from 395 to 530 per USD – further limiting Syrians’ ability to afford essential imports.

Over the last 12 months, prices of agricultural and livestock products increased. Due to economic sanctions, market disruptions and the declining value of the Syrian pound, prices of farming inputs have risen sharper than final products. As a result, farmers are incurring heavy losses.

Transportation bottlenecks and fragmented markets prevail, as producers, transporters and traders are facing extremely high costs and security risks. This has resulted in surplus supply in the northeast while the west largely relies on imports. Urgent support is therefore also needed to connect in-need communities with surpluses in other parts of the country, including by purchasing local stocks for food assistance deliveries. 

Increased supply, thanks to newly harvested crops and airdrops of food assistance into the besieged city of Deir Ezzor, brought down the price of wheat flour by 12 to 15 percent in several key markets in June 2016.  But wheat prices were nevertheless between 40 and 50 percent higher in June when compared to the same period last year.

Critical response
Because the conflict has greatly reduced the government’s capacity to procure and distribute high-quality seeds at subsidized prices, many farmers are being forced to deplete their seed stocks, borrow from relatives and neighbours, or purchase expensive seed from the market.

To help families continue to grow food and raise livestock, FAO in 2016 has so far supported over 500,000 people with distributions of cereal and vegetable seeds, live poultry for backyard farming, animal feed and vaccination campaigns.

Since 2011, the conflict has displaced close to 11 million people, with 4.8 million fleeing to neighbouring countries. Many of those internally displaced within Syria have been displaced multiple times.

WFP provides food assistance to more than 4 million vulnerable Syrians every month inside Syria. About 30 percent is delivered to besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria through cross-border and cross-line deliveries.

A large share of Syria’s livestock farmers are among those who moved to safer areas, bringing their livestock with them. For crop farmers across Syria, however, few options remain but to try to continue working their fields or alternatively abandon their only source of income for an uncertain future among the millions seeking safety in increasingly overburdened host communities elsewhere.

According to the latest household surveys, some 9.4 million people across Syria are in need of assistance – some 716,000 more than in September 2015. The governorates with the biggest increase of people in need are Quneitra, Dara’a, Damascus, Idleb, and Aleppo.
Imprisoned but not silenced
Each year, on November 15, PEN International, PEN Centres and PEN members from around the world commemorate the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to highlight and campaign on behalf of writers who face unjust imprisonment, attacks, harassment and violence simply for expressing themselves.

Started in 1981 by PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee, the day is marked by celebrating the freedom to write, and by taking action to call for justice and freedom for imprisoned and murdered colleagues. Since November 15, 2015 at least 35 writers have been killed worldwide as a result of their work.

Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee said: "Writers should be writing when they want to write. They should not be in prison. And yet, around the world, hundreds of writers are in jail today, and many more face intimidation and persecution because what they express upsets the authorities, offends the powerful, and unnerves governments. Writers are the conscience-keepers of society; they must remain free - their place is not in prison, but with pen and paper, with typewriters, with their keyboards. And on this day, every year, the entire PEN community says in one voice that we will continue to fight for freedom for any writer, anywhere in the world, who is prevented from doing his or her work."

Each year, PEN International focuses its campaigning on five cases that are emblematic of the kinds of challenges and dangers writers face simply in the course of carrying out their free expression work. This year PEN is campaigning on behalf of:

Ahmed Naji (Egypt) - Novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for "violating public modesty" in relation to the publication of excerpts from his 2014 novel Istikhdam al-Hayat (The Use of Life) in Akhbar al-Adab magazine, also in 2014. Naji has now served almost eight months of his sentence.

Aslı Erdoğan (Turkey) - Renowned novelist and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan was arrested at her home in Istanbul on August 17, 2016. She was sent to a prison in Istanbul on preliminary charges of "membership of a terrorist organisation" and "undermining national unity." She has been in pre-trial detention since her arrest, and as of November 15, no date has been set for her trial.

Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa (Honduras) - Journalism graduate, student leader, and board member and founding member of PEN Honduras, Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa has faced prosecution, threats and harassment for his part in on-going student protests at the state National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa since 2014.

Dareen Tatour (Israel) – A poet and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Dareen Tatour is currently standing trial on charges of "support for a terrorist organisation" and several counts of incitement to violence in connection with her poetry and social media activity. Tatour was detained over a year ago and is currently under house arrest.

Gui Minhai (China) - In October 2015, publisher Gui Minhai disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand. Three months later he appeared in a televised "confession" on state-controlled TV claiming that he had voluntarily surrendered himself to the Chinese authorities over his supposed involvement in a fatal hit-and-run incident in December 2003. Since then, his whereabouts have been unknown; he has reportedly not had access to legal counsel and has been allowed no contact with his daughter who lives in the UK.

As part of PEN's campaign this year, renowned writers Hanan Al-Shaykh, Margaret Atwood, Gioconda Belli, Jennifer Clement and Salil Tripathi have sent messages of solidarity to these five writers.

In her letter, Margaret Atwood writes to imprisoned Turkish writer and fellow PEN Membr Aslı Erdogan: "Like you, I and many, many other writers believe that literature can inspire the longing for justice, can generate tolerance, and can expand human sympathy and understanding. Although you are in prison, you are not alone: you have the entire PEN community of writers from around the world fighting for your freedom."

Prime Minister announces Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. Trudeau said, "We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. But the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work still needs to be done. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it."

Mr. Boissonnault's principal role will be to advise the Prime Minister on the development and co-ordination of the Government of Canada's LGBTQ2 agenda. This will include working with LGBTQ2 organizations from across the country to promote equality for the LGBTQ2 community, protect the rights of its members, and address discrimination against them – both historical and current. In addition to being the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, Mr. Boissonnault retains his current duties as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

This kind of discrimination was documented in a report recently released by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) on June 10, 2016, entitled "The Just Society Report". The Government of Canada welcomed this report, supports the values, principles, and objectives it espouses, and will work with Egale and other partners to take action against the discrimination the report describes.

The actions being announced today are part of the Government of Canada's overall efforts to ensure that all Canadian citizens are treated equally and with respect. Another important measure it took in May 2016 was tabling historic legislation (Bill C-16) to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society. The Government also intends to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code. If Bill C-16 (An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code) is passed, gender identity and gender expression will become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code will be expanded to protect identifiable groups who are targeted for their gender identity or expression. The Criminal Code will be amended to clarify that where there is evidence that someone committed a crime motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or gender expression, a judge must consider that as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.

Canada is also actively promoting LGBTQ2 rights on the international stage. It is funding and implementing LGBTQ2-related projects abroad supporting violence-prevention programs, awareness-raising campaigns and advocacy efforts, including initiatives aimed to combat homophobia and transphobia in education systems.

New study confirms Toronto as Child Poverty Capital of Canada
On the eve of potential cuts to city programs and services, a new report has found that Toronto has the highest percentage of children living in low-income families of any large urban area in Canada.

The report also reveals huge disparities in family access to housing, food, transit, childcare and recreation.

"Despite Toronto's booming housing market and significant wealth, more than one in four children is living in poverty," said report co-author Michael Polanyi of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto. "Now is definitely not the time to reduce city spending on critical services and programs."

Toronto City Council is considering cutting up to $600 million in spending on City-funded programs and services such as community housing, transit, libraries and student nutrition, continuing a trend of service cuts over the past six years.

"We hope the report will put the 133,000 Toronto children living in poverty front-of-mind for Mayor Tory and Council as they debate the City budget," said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. "All children deserve a fair start in life, not just those whose parents happen to have high incomes."

Based on newly-released taxfiler data, the report found that 27% of Toronto children were living in low-income families in 2014, topping the list above Montreal (25%), Winnipeg (24%) and all other urban areas with over 500,000 residents.

The report found huge neighbourhood disparities in child poverty levels, which reflect other inequities. For example, racialized families, new immigrant families, lone parent families and families with disabilities are up to three times more at risk of living in poverty.

"When you cross Laird Avenue to go from Leaside to Thorncliffe, the rate of child poverty rate increases from 4% to 52%," said Jessica Mustachi of Family Services Toronto. "This divide shows how we can and must do more to provide quality services to support low-income residents."

The report also found that low-income children are struggling to succeed: children in schools in low-income neighbourhoods are less likely to be meeting provincial standards in Grade 3 math, reading and writing than children in higher-income schools.

The report was co-released by Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Family Services Toronto (Ontario Campaign 2000), Social Planning Toronto, and Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change.

Report available on November 14 at www.socialplanningtoronto.org

Universal Children's Day: Two hundred world-renowned writers come together for children's rights
More than 200 prominent writers including novelists, playwrights and poets, have joined a global literary campaign this week, penning 'tiny stories' of around seven lines each to highlight Universal Children's Day and the injustice so many of the world's poorest and most disadvantaged children still face. The short story series kicks off UNICEF's commemoration of its 70th year working to bring life-saving support and hope to every child.

The short stories will be shared by some of the world's most celebrated writers with their own social media audiences. The First Lady of Finland, Jenni Haukio, introduced the concept, which gained global momentum with writers joining from Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

"As writers we are able to advocate through the simplicity of storytelling. With this worthy and necessary campaign, we advocate for the protection of the rights of precious children all over the world," said celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie.

One of world's youngest published authors takes part

The group of writers, whose genres range from fairy tales to fiction, include one the world's youngest published authors, seven-year-old South African, Michelle Nkamankeng. Written in more than 10 languages and varying in style, all stories illustrate that the rights of many children are still neglected.

"From Syria to Chad to right here in Canada, many children around the world continue to face immense hardship and undue suffering," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "Writers can not only lend their voices to the voiceless, but they can use words to touch hearts in ways that politicians and other leaders often cannot. I'm pleased to be able to share my 'tiny story' with the world in the hopes that our tiny actions can combine to create big change."

Increasing threats to child rights

The campaign comes at a time when there are increasing threats to child rights. More than 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes due to conflict, poverty and climate change and millions more are facing unspeakable violence in their communities. Around 263 million children are out of school and last year nearly six million children under five died from mostly preventable diseases.

"It is shocking to see that the lives of many children are still so heavily impacted by the horror of conflict, inequality, poverty and discrimination. I hope these Tiny Stories can remind the world that we must sustain our commitment to all of these children whose lives and futures are at stake," said Paloma Escudero, UNICEF Spokesperson.

Chimamanda Adichie used her 'Tiny Story' to launch the series today, which will run until November 20 - the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Save the Children Prepared to Respond to Children's Needs In New Zealand Earthquake
Aid workers from Save the Children will mobilize staff to meet the needs of children and their families affected by last night's earthquake in New Zealand if there is a need for a humanitarian response. The powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck approximately 30 miles north-east of Christchurch and was felt across the country. A tsunami warning is in place and residents in low-lying areas have been urged to evacuate.

"The full extent of the earthquake damage is still emerging, but we know from previous experience in earthquakes how badly children can be affected from natural disasters like this," said Heather Hayden, Save the Children's CEO in New Zealand. "It will be important for parents and caregivers to allow children to express their feelings about the earthquake they lived through."

"As we have done in other disasters we may look at establishing what's known as child friendly spaces. Child friendly spaces can improve children's psychosocial wellbeing by helping to re-establish routine, provide support and a sense of stability, as well as an opportunity to play. The spaces also provide respite for families under stress, so parents can focus on re-establishing their livelihoods knowing their children are in safe hands.

"We strive to support children in disasters like earthquakes. We did it following the last Christchurch earthquake and we will do it again if there is a need to now," added Hayden.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Canada urged to take leading role on climate change and poverty reduction
A coalition representing more than 45 NGOs and academics in Ottawa this week is urging the Government of Canada to put small-scale women farmers at the centre of its strategies to promote economic development, gender equality and action on climate change around the world.

"Agricultural development is at least twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth from other sectors," said Ruth Munyao, Canadian Baptist Ministries' Food Security Coordinator. "Furthermore, climate resilient agriculture helps farmers adapt today while reducing emissions for tomorrow."

The Aid for Agriculture coalition is calling on the Government to commit a signature investment of $2.5 billion over five years to stimulate clean and inclusive economic growth, kick-start action on climate change and uphold its obligations under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, Canada can also take a leading role globally in supporting women food producers, while ensuring their economic and social inclusion. Evidence shows that eliminating gender discrimination would reduce the number of food insecure people in the world by 100-150 million.

"This is an opportunity for Canada to make smart investments that help women and small scale farmers. Agricultural development can help build a more inclusive world—the kind of world where we work together to end hunger and poverty everywhere," said Aid4Ag spokesperson Paul Hagerman, Director of Policy at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Disaster preparedness is another key component to better and more effective aid. Smallholder farmers and herders face the brunt of losses due to climate-related disasters. By taking early action and preparing vulnerable communities, not only are the terrible effects of disasters reduced, communities recover more quickly and it is significantly cheaper than post-disaster response.

"Investing wisely in preparedness saves more lives and requires less aid dollars," said Judy Kimaru, World Animal Protection's Disaster Operations Manager for Africa. "We must reduce long-term dependence on humanitarian aid and help keep families and their means of support intact - whether that is livestock, crops or small scale economies at the village level."

Canada can support women as change-makers who transform their communities and countries. We can take the lead on helping address food security in a more uncertain climate. More inclusive aid policies can help build a more peaceful, prosperous and secure world that will reduce long-term reliance on humanitarian aid. Canada can support these goals through a signature investment in sustainable agriculture.

"We Remember" initiative raises $44,800 to support military service members, veterans & families
Anaconda Mining Inc. is pleased to announce the completion and success of the "We Remember" initiative, launched in May 2016, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 2016.

Anaconda and The Golden Tulip partnered with the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (CFNL) to create commemorative forget-me-not pins to honour the sacrifices of past generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Proceeds raised through the sale of the pins will support the current generation of men and women who have made the same commitment to serve our country.

Anaconda President & CEO Dustin Angelo, along with Julie & Terry George of the Golden Tulip recently presented a cheque for $44,800 to Paul McDonald, Chair of CFNL's Board of Directors, to support the Maple Leaf Fund, which provides emergency funding to military service members, veterans, and their families in Newfoundland and Labrador through Military Family Resource Centres in St. John's, Gander, and Goose Bay.

Dustin Angelo, President & CEO stated, "Responsibility to community is one of our core values at Anaconda. It was an honour to donate our Newfoundland gold to be used in these very special pins and help raise funds that will support the important services of Military Family Resource Centres in Newfoundland & Labrador. This has also been a meaningful experience for our employees, many of whom have family who have served or are currently serving in the military."

The custom-designed, sterling silver pin, created by The Golden Tulip, featured three forget-me-not blossoms with an inset of certified Anaconda Newfoundland gold to represent the past, present and future of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. It can be worn as a lapel pin or jewelry item in recognition and remembrance of Newfoundland and Labrador's military service members past and present.

Moores Clothing For Men Celebrates Remembrance Day, Donates Over $155,000
Moores Clothing for Men and Kenneth Cole Productions launched the "AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole" collection in November 2015 with the mission to create tailored clothing so the modern man can "look good, for good." This Remembrance Day, Moores and Kenneth Cole Productions are proud to announce that the "AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole" collection generated over $155,000 in donations over a 12 month period to support True Patriot Love Foundation and their mission to assist Canadian military Veterans. "Our efforts to build a product line synonymous with a charitable give back have been successful. We see this initiative as part of our continued company-wide goal of giving back to the communities in which we serve," says Richard Bull, Vice President of Merchandising at Moores.

Since the launch of the collection, a one percent contribution from all gross sales of "AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole" products sold exclusively at Moores have been allocated towards this charity. "This collection was created to continue our ongoing initiative to raise social awareness around the Canadian Military Veteran population and their transition into the civilian workforce," said Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Kenneth Cole Productions. "We look forward to the continued success of the AWEARNESS Kenneth Cole line and to continue to support our charitable partner."

The benefitting charity partnering in this mission has a strong history supporting Veterans. True Patriot Love Foundation is a national charity that honours the sacrifices of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans and their families in both times of peace and conflict. Among many other programs, True Patriot Love Foundation pairs injured soldiers with Canadian business leaders on ambitious expeditions to profile our soldiers' perseverance and continued commitment to service, as well as the transferability of their military skills to a civilian career. On November 10, Moores Clothing for Men was proud to present Bronwen Evans, CEO of True Patriot Love Foundation with their donation check at an intimate ceremony hosted at the Moores flagship store in downtown Toronto.

Trium Group is committed to underprivileged children for "Operations Sous Zero": A gift that will warm the hearts of many
 Trium Group Inc supports the initiative "Operations Sous Zero" by organizing a considerable donation for children in need. With the recent announcements of a harsh winter, the company has decided to move quickly and offer coats that will warm the hearts of children.

After more than 10 years, "Operations Sous Zero" has managed to gather many private and business donors and can now count on Trium Group's support.

Today, Trium Group is a major player in the uniform industry and is devoted to support this noble and worthy cause by donating no less than 850 winter jackets representing several tens of thousands of dollars.

We are extremely happy to provide these winter jackets to such a great organisation says Alec Veilleux business partner at Trium Group.
"Being myself a father of 3 children, I just had to find a way to support Operations Sous Zero. I understand far too well that buying winter clothing is sometimes financially difficult for some and that's why our company is committed to be part of these special donors working for an equally exceptional cause. "

Deadline to provide gift-filled shoeboxes to struggling children only 10 days away
The deadline for Canadians to pack and drop off gift-filled Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is only 10 days away. Sunday, Nov. 20 is the final day that shoebox Collection Centers throughout the country will still be open.

That still leaves time for Canadians to express their support and love for struggling children in the developing world. Begin by visiting SamaritansPurse.ca/occ, click on the Collection Center locator map, and enter a postal code to find your nearest drop-off point. You can also call 1-800-303-1269 for similar information.

Tens of thousands of Canadians are already packing boxes. They begin by choosing whether to help to a boy or a girl, then decide on one of the three age ranges (2-4, 5-9, or 10-14). The ideal box contains a combination of school supplies, hygiene items, and toys, plus a $7 suggested donation for shipping and other project costs. Many donors also include a personal note to the child, and a photo of their family that the child will treasure.

This year's shoebox campaign began on Oct. 11 and has seen volunteers and supporters all across Canada hosting and attending shoebox-packing parties, parades, fundraisers, school-, church-, and club-led initiatives, and even Operation Christmas Child-themed birthday parties.

"When Canadians pack Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for struggling children, they send a profound and important message – that Canadians care about these children, and that God loves them and hasn't forgotten about them," said Fred Weiss, Samaritan's Purse Canada's Executive Director.

Pack shoeboxes online now, and also after drop-off deadline: Canadians can pack shoeboxes online, and add personal notes and photos, at PackABox.ca at any time of year from the convenience of their own homes.

Last year, Canadians filled more than 730,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes with gifts destined for children in the developing world. Globally, thanks to generous donors in Canada and other sending countries, Samaritan's Purse has given shoeboxes to more than 135 million children in over 130 countries since 1993.

The shoebox is just the beginning: Operation Christmas Child creates opportunities for Samaritan's Purse to provide other help to children, their families, and their communities through clean drinking water, literacy and job skills initiatives, feeding programs, medical care, and more.

About Samaritan's Purse Canada

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief and development organization that takes its name from Jesus Christ's biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Like that Good Samaritan, who found a beaten man and helped restore him, we aid victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution. Besides Operation Christmas Child, our initiatives include providing safe water, vocational skills, and agricultural supplies and training to families in the developing world. Learn more at SamaritansPurse.ca.

Standing With Standing Rock, Toronto, November 05 2016

photo essay by Walter Tautorat
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On Saturday November 5th Torontonians gathered by the thousands to stand in solidarity and support of those brave people in North Dakota.

The gathering started at Queen’s Park and was ushered in with many prayers, much sage and sweetgrass. Instead of the customary big stage the speakers addressed the large crowd at eye level. The speakers included Grandmothers, Mothers and daughters and rather than rage or anger, shared with us the respect and love for the water and it’s life-giving force and the utmost importance of looking after it, not only for ourselves, but also the generations to come.

Surely oil can’t be worth enough to commit the violence currently happening to unarmed, brave protectors that have taken a stand. The march headed south filling up University Ave.

As we got to the block that houses the US Consulate police tried to veer the march east to the northbound lanes when this wonderful young lady, named Cedar Smoke, slipped through and drew the entire group behind her.

The police quickly created a fence barricade in front of the Consulate but fortunately cooler heads did prevail.

I must say that the Toronto Police Services and Paramedics showed incredible respect and were shown the same.

The crowd continued east on Queen to City Hall and unfolded into this incredible sea of humans with a common cause.

Giant rings of people eventually folding into one huge swirling ribbon of solidarity. As the drums played and as the dancing and singing began I took these last few shots, put my camera away, found a place to sit and took in what was truly one of those events that can change a life.

There is always a very real and palpable spine-tingling buzz one can feel when this many humans share a common goal. Hopefully the people in North Dakota will see and know that on November 5th, 2016 Toronto did indeed stand and march with Standing Rock. Thanks for standing up, we send our love and prayers.

Jackson Browne And Bonnie Raitt Announce Benefit Concert At Standing Rock To Stand In Solidarity With Standing Rock
 Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Joel Rafael, and Bad Dog will perform a benefit concert on Sunday, November 27 for the Water Protectors on the front line and the Standing Rock community. The concert will be held at Prairie Knights Pavilion in Fort Yates, ND. Turtle Island Storyteller and founder of the Standing Rock Sioux Camp at Sacred Stone Ladonna Brave Bull Allard, and others to be announced, will speak at the concert. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday at 10 AM Central Time.

All gross proceeds from the concert will benefit the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of Native nations, friends and allies, from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"Just as we give thanks for our good fortune and the bounty of our lives as Americans, let us thank the Native people who are gathered here at Standing Rock to protect the natural world and defend our place in it," said Jackson Browne.

"I'm proud to be standing in support of the courageous and dedicated Water Protectors at Standing Rock. This movement is growing by the day with solidarity actions happening around the country, yet the media isn't covering it nearly enough. Our hope is that this concert will help bring more awareness and media attention to the issues being raised at Standing Rock, and to put pressure on The Obama Administration to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline until protection of sacred sites is ensured," said Bonnie Raitt.

"We are honored to have these great artists stand with us!" says Ladonna.

Those who can travel to North Dakota are invited to Stand in Solidarity with Standing Rock on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at Prairie Knights Pavilion at 6:30 PM.

For more information, and to contribute, please visit www.standingrock.org

Glenfiddich® Surpasses $500,000 in Funds Donated to Wounded Warriors Canada Since 2013
​Today marks the first day of the 2016 Veterans' Week ceremonies in Canada, and in honour of those who have served, and those who have supported them throughout their journey, Glenfiddich® Single Malt Scotch Whisky presented Wounded Warriors Canada, with their fourth annual donation totalling $128,424 in support of the Can Praxis Equine Therapy Program. This year's donation marks a milestone for this partnership as they celebrate not only four years of support for Canadian veterans, but also that Canadians have helped raise over $500,000 CDN from the sale of Glenfiddich® 15-Year-Old Solera Vat.

The Can Praxis Equine Therapy program is a three-day retreat that was designed to use horses to help service men and women living with operational stress injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The funds raised from the sale of Glenfiddich® 15-Year-Old Solera Vat in Canada, will allow Wounded Warriors to continue to provide life-changing services that aid in the healing of Canada's Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families.

"Glenfiddich® is a pioneering brand that has played an important role in both our growth and ability to evolve the Can Praxis program," says Scot Maxwell, Executive Director, Wounded Warriors Canada. "It is the support of our longstanding partners and through generous donations like these, that we are able to provide continued support and relief for Canada's service men and women."

For more than 10 years, Wounded Warriors Canada has provided hope and dignity to nearly 1500 Canadian veterans and their families through the generosity of their partners, Canadian donors and volunteers. Over the past four years, Glenfiddich® has donated $2.00 from the sale of each bottle of Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old to Wounded Warriors Canada.

"We are proud to support Wounded Warriors Canada and the ground breaking commitment they demonstrate to Canada's military, veterans, first responders and their families," Said Nicole Oliva, National Brand Manager for Glenfiddich Canada. "This is a significant donation milestone that we have achieved as partners. Glenfiddich remains committed to supporting Canada's heroes and their families, from our family."

To mark the announcement a press conference was held in the Charles-Lynch Conference Room at the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery on Parliament Hill in Ottawa followed by a formal reception for local veterans, military, and government officials. For more about this unique partnership visit www.glenfiddich.com.

11,800 Canadian Flags to Remember Our Fallen Heroes
11,843 Canadian flags have been planted on the front lawn of Manulife's global headquarters at 200 Bloor St. E and will remain on display until November 11, 2016. The flags have been planted to honour more than 118,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have fallen in service to Canada from the days of the South African War to the Afghanistan mission, as well as peacekeeping missions.

Who Knew Building Affordable Housing Could Be So Sweet? Habitat GTA Launches Annual Gingerbread Build Campaign
Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is pleased to announce the launch of its 14th annual holiday Gingerbread Build campaign to raise funds for families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing this holiday season.

Habitat for Humanity GTA is now taking pre-orders for its popular gourmet gingerbread house kits. Each delicious kit contains an assembled or unassembled gingerbread house, cookies, and a toolbox full of candy. Kits are $50 each and all proceeds from the sale of the kits go to support home building at Habitat for Humanity GTA.

"Building a gingerbread house has become a holiday tradition for thousands of families in the GTA," said Ene Underwood, CEO Habitat for Humanity GTA. "The Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Build is a fun and heart-warming way for families, friends or colleagues to celebrate the holidays together while knowing that they're also helping working, low-income families in the GTA to realize their dream of an affordable 'Habitat sweet home'."

There are many ways to participate. Pre-order and purchase a gourmet gingerbread house kit ($50 ea.) from Habitat GTA (at: www.gingerbreadbuild.com) to make with family and friends at home, at the office with colleagues or donate it as a gift for a family living in one of the many homeless shelters in the GTA to bring them a little holiday cheer this season.

Families can also kick off the holiday season by signing up for a build shift at a Gingerbread Build event that Habitat for Humanity GTA is hosting on December 3 and 4, 2016 in the Rotunda at Toronto City Hall. Gingerbread Build event participants must pre-order and purchase their gourmet gingerbread kit(s) and book a build shift in advance of the event online at: http://www.gingerbreadbuild.com. Pre-order a kit between now and November 11, 2016 and receive an early bird discount of 10%.

Baking and caking enthusiasts can also participate in a special How To Cake It Gingerbread Build event on November 26, 2016 at the YouTube Toronto Space at 230 Richmond Street East (at George Brown College). Hosted by master cake artist and YouTube sensation Yolanda Gampp of How to Cake It, participants and their families will be able to transform their Habitat GTA gingerbread build kit into the gingerbread house of their dreams while meeting Yolanda live. Space is limited; for more information about this event, visit: www.howtocakeit.com

"We're delighted to be the presenting sponsor of this event," said Sherry MacDonald, president and CEO of Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation. "This initiative helps make families' dreams of better opportunities for their children come true. This is aligned with our own mission of helping families make post-secondary education possible by helping them take advantage of programs like the Canada Learning Bond."

Habitat for Humanity GTA is grateful for the generous support of the following Gingerbread Build campaign sponsors: Canadian Sponsorship Trust Foundation (Presenting Sponsor) and DoorDash (Delivery Sponsor), who will deliver purchased gingerbread houses to your door. Please check the website for delivery zones.
Baby Point Gates Business Improvement Area to host their 5th Annual Baby it's Cold Outside Holiday Open House and Charity Soup Festival in Support of the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund
 The Baby Point Gates BIA invites everyone to get into the holiday spirit at their 5th Annual Baby it's Cold Outside Holiday Open House and Charity Soup Festival set for Saturday, November 19, 2016, during retail shopping hours.

The Baby Point Gates' merchants delight in decorating their stores for the holiday season and offering special sales. Families are sure to enjoy the entertainment lined up for the day, which includes a small animal petting zoo, string quartet, carolers singing traditional holiday songs, as well as Scrooge and Santa Claus strolling throughout the shopping district ready to visit with all!

The Charity Soup Festival is a new addition to the traditional Baby it's Cold Outside Holiday Open House festivities. For a suggested $2.00 donation, visitors can sample a delicious cup of soup from the many participating restaurants and merchants in the Baby Point Gates culinary corridor, centered at the corner of Jane St and Annette St, just a 5 minute walk north of Bloor St West in Toronto's west end.

All donations raised from the charity soup festival go to support the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund which distributes gifts during the holiday season, to families with limited means.

There will be a terrific assortment of yummy, homemade soups including a Smoked Pork Minestrone provided by Campo Restaurant, and a silky Butternut Squash Soup served by Queen Margherita Pizza, to name a few.

"We live and work in a wonderful neighborhood so the Charity Soup Festival is a terrific way to give back to the community and support those in need", states Lena Burek, Baby Point Gates Marketing Volunteer. "Our winter festival is always a lot of fun for the whole family, and with the added flavours of soup it should have something for everyone!"

About Baby Point Gates BIA: Active since 2010, the Baby Point Gates BIA is one of Toronto's newest Business Improvement Areas. Representing more than 80 specialty shops, restaurants and businesses in the historic Baby Point neighbourhood, the BIA embraces the vibrancy of its local merchants.
85 First Nations and Tribes Condemn Enbridge's Role in the Violations at Standing Rock and Call on Trudeau to Speak Out
 An International Treaty Alliance of 85 First Nations and Tribes is calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make a statement condemning the role that Canadian company Enbridge Inc. (headquartered in Calgary, Alberta) has played in the severe violations of the rights of the Indigenous People and their allies at Standing Rock. The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sand Expansion, which prohibits the passage of proposed Tar Sands pipelines, trains and tankers, was formally launched on September 22, 2016 with the majority of signatories located in Canada, and including U.S. Tribes such as the Standing Rock Sioux.

Enbridge announced on August 2, 2016 that one of its units, Enbridge Energy Partners L.P., would be investing $1.5 billion in exchange for a 27.6 percent share of the Dakota Access pipeline project, which seeks to transport dirty fracked oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to Illinois and would pass under the Missouri River, the source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions more people.

"It is time for the Prime Minister, who has stated that no relationship is more important to him than the one with Indigenous Peoples, to take a stand in support of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allied Nations as they resist the Dakota Access pipeline," said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "This historic moment at Standing Rock is a Canadian issue that you must publicly address Mr. Prime Minister: we are talking about a Canadian company committing severe human rights violations and some of its victims are brave water protectors and land defenders from First Nations up North."

The Treaty Alliance is growing and will be announcing more signatures at an upcoming event in Ottawa (Algonquin territory) on November 15, 2016. We will also be announcing the groups that will be signing the Solidarity Accord in support of the Treaty Alliance. You can find a copy of the Solidarity Accord and all of the information on the Treaty at www.treatyalliance.org
Toronto's Out of the Cold program set to open its doors for another winter season
​ Starting tonight, 16 faith-based organizations will open their doors and offer emergency shelter, safe refuge and hospitality to some of the most vulnerable men and women in our city.

Out of the Cold, a volunteer-run initiative offering a warm bed and a hot meal to those in need during the winter months, was originally intended as a temporary measure in response to a desperate need to help some of the city's poorest. Today, it is approaching its 30th season; and with more than 12,000 bed-nights provided each year, the program is now a long-standing response system that has been incorporated into Toronto's Emergency Cold Weather Alert System (ECWA).

Out of the Cold sites offer a warm, safe place for people to spend the night, a nutritious evening meal, and a range of other support services such as clothing, legal clinics, laundry facilities, medical and foot care. The program is made possible with the support of more than 3,000 volunteers.

Last winter, Out of the Cold sites served 27,940 meals to individuals in Toronto struggling with food insecurity. This represents an increase of about 20% from the year before.

The 2016/17 OOTC season will see an increased focus on providing additional supports to the homeless men and women who come to the OOTC sites, with a goal of moving people away from precarious, temporary housing situations, and closer to long-term solutions through coordinated access to housing, health, education and food.

"As we approach our 15th season with our Out of the Cold partners, Dixon Hall is encouraged by, and appreciative of, the new support systems provided by city funders and Toronto's faith-based organizations," said David Reycraft, Director of Housing Services at Dixon Hall. "We are acutely aware of the value of these community supports, yet conscious that this is not a long-term solution to homelessness. When the season ends, the people who access Out of the Cold sites will return to living on the streets – we need to address, and work to mitigate the profound challenges of homelessness through the creation of sustainable and deeply affordable housing options."

Dixon Hall provides professional services at 14 OOTC sites, including housing supports, referrals, safety, security, and most importantly, consistency and reassurance to the homeless men and women who access the OOTC program.

About Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

Dixon Hall is a multi-service agency located in the heart of east downtown Toronto. www.dixonhall.org

For more than 85 years, Dixon Hall has offered a wide variety of supportive programs and services to a diverse range of community members living in Regent Park, Moss Park, Cabbagetown, St. James Town and surrounding neighbourhoods. Dixon Hall works with seniors, children and youth, homeless men and women, people searching for employment, and other community members in need of support.

Dixon Hall's Housing Services department has been providing shelter services for the homeless and vulnerably housed in the city of Toronto for more than two decades. We respond to the immediate housing needs of those who require our services and we work with individuals to assist them in improving their overall quality of life.

Legion Announces National Silver Cross Mother for 2016-17
​David Flannigan, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion, announced Mrs. Colleen Fitzpatrick as the National Silver Cross Mother for 2016-2017 earlier today here at Dominion Command.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick lost her middle son, Corporal Darren Fitzpatrick, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in the Zahari district, near Kandahar City on March 6th, 2010.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick was born in New Westminster, BC and raised in Vanderhoof, BC. She now lives in Prince George, BC with her sons, grandchildren and her husband Jim of 32 years.

As the National Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Fitzpatrick will place a wreath at the National War Memorial on 11 November 2016 on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or a daughter in the military either in action or in the course of his/her normal duty. Throughout the year, she will also be called upon to perform other duties honouring the Fallen from all conflicts.

The Silver Cross was instituted on December 1, 1919 and was issued as a memento of personal loss and sacrifices on behalf of all widows and mothers who lost a child while on active duty in the service of their nation or whose death was consequently attributed to such duty.

Every year, Legion provincial commands and individuals forward nominations for the selection of a National Silver Cross Mother. These nominations are reviewed by a selection committee at Dominion Command and one mother is chosen for the year which begins on 01 November until October 31st of the following year.

Colleen and Jim raised three sons Michael, Darren and Sean respectively. Colleen has worked in Human Resources for the past 15 years and is currently the Director of Human Resources for AiMHi – Association for Community Living, an organization that provides advocacy, support and services to people who have special needs.

Colleen's son Darren received significant blood transfusions upon arrival at Kandahar hospital. The incredible medical attention and blood donations received allowed him two additional weeks with his family before his passing. Since this time Colleen has become an advocate for blood donation working closely with Canadian Blood Services to develop a promotional video and blood donation campaign called "Remember the Power of Giving" for which she received a national award.

Colleen is also committed to her community and has volunteered in several capacities including Director on not-for-profit Boards and her professional provincial HR Association.

Colleen enjoys spending time at their summer cottage with her family, three young grandchildren and close friends.

Corporal Fitzpatrick was a member of the 3rd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). Born in June 1988, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2006. During his tour to Afghanistan he was advance promoted to Corporal, working with the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team.

Corporal Fitzpatrick was mortally wounded after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in the Zahari District, near Kandahar City, Afghanistan on March 6, 2010.

Darren was a kind hearted passionate individual with a desire to help others. He was extremely close to his two brothers and was a most loyal friend. He enjoyed the comradery of the military and developed strong bonds with his PPCLI family.

The family has established memorial bursaries in their son's name awarded annually to students seeking careers with the Canadian Armed Forces.

The City of Prince George has dedicated a city park as a memorial and one of only two bravery parks in Canada titled the "Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick Bravery Park".

He was 21 years old and the 141st fallen soldier from Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

"Fitzy" as he was known by friends and family is remembered as a loving son, brother, loyal friend and a model soldier. He was an avid snow boarder, loved playing football but most of all enjoyed spending time with family and cousins at the summer cabin. 

Muslim Millennials Breaking Barriers for Human Dignity

​On Nov 4, 2016 the IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation) Dignity Tour lands in Vancouver after launching in Toronto on Sept 30. The Tour is a series of Mixers that aim to engage Muslim millennials & social democrats across Canada to learn about the work of IDRF both their Emergency and Disaster Relief work as well as their Development projects around the world with a particular focus on how they are breaking barriers to ensure that all people live with Dignity.

Each event highlights a different sector of IDRFs work. Now heading to Vancouver, this event will highlight the work of IDRF and the supports they provide to women and girls and their empowerment so that they too can live a life with dignity.

In recent days many schools have been shut down in East Africa due to a drought that has led to the closure of a number of girls' schools simply because the need for harvesting water is greater for the family to survive. IDRF is committed to raising funds to support the "Girls of East Africa" through a new campaign that they will be launching in early November. This is one example of how IDRF is committed to supporting both women and girls, as well as their families, so that they can survive and thrive without sacrificing their future development.

A series of short talks will be given by some of Vancouver's female leaders including Niki Sharma, Lawyer, Contributor to Huffington Post and member of the Womens' Advisory Committee for the City of Vancouver. Also in attendance will be Yasmine Youssef, House Operator for Nisaa Homes (The only Muslim Womens' Shelter in Vancouver).

The emcee will be Farheen Khan, Director, Fund Development & External Affairs of IDRF. Farheen is an author, activist and a former Federal MP Candidate.

Encouraged to network, attendees will enjoy finger foods and mocktails & live music as they network with likeminded individuals and a lineup of esteemed guests.

Towards the end of the evening, attendees will be invited to participate and register teams for the upcoming IDRF Dignity Walk in May 2017 (www.walkfordignity.com).

 Pollution: 300 million children breathing toxic air - UNICEF report
 Almost one in seven of the world's children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – six or more times higher than international guidelines – reveals a new UNICEF report.

Clear the Air for Children uses satellite imagery to show for the first time how many children are exposed to outdoor pollution that exceeds global guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO), and where they live across the globe.

"We welcome the Government of Canada's recent ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement demonstrating that tackling climate change remains a priority. We also commend them for their commitment of $2.65 billion to address climate change in developing countries. Once again, Canada is demonstrating international leadership," said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. "The Government of Canada must now keep up this leadership during the COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, next week, where UNICEF is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries. This would benefit the most vulnerable children who breathe polluted air and are at higher risk of potentially severe health problems, such as pneumonia."

"Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "Pollutants don't only harm children's developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution."

Children in low-income, rural areas disproportionately affected

The satellite imagery confirms that around two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution, caused by factors such as vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste, exceeds minimum air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization. South Asia has the largest number of children living in these areas, at 620 million, with Africa following at 520 million children. Air pollution levels tend to be lower in North America and Canada since it has improved slightly over the past decade with new environmental regulations and progress in technology. However, studies show that more socially disadvantaged communities tend to experience highest levels of traffic-related air pollution.

The study also examines the heavy toll of indoor pollution, commonly caused by use of fuels like coal and wood for cooking and heating, which mostly affects children in low-income, rural areas.

Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution are directly linked to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that account for almost one in 10 under-five deaths, making air pollution one of the leading dangers to children's health.

World leaders must take action before it's too late

Children are more susceptible than adults to both indoor and outdoor air pollution as their lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing and their respiratory tracks are more permeable. Young children also breathe faster than adults, and take in more air relative to their body weight. The most disadvantaged, who already tend to have poorer health and inadequate access to health services, are the most vulnerable to the illnesses caused by polluted air.

UNICEF is asking world leaders attending COP 22 to take four urgent steps in their countries to protect children from air pollution.

Reduce pollution: All countries should work to meet WHO global air quality guidelines to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children. To achieve this, governments should adopt such measures as cutting back on fossil fuel combustion and investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Increase children's access to healthcare: Investing in children's overall healthcare – including immunisation campaigns and improving knowledge, community management and numbers seeking care for pneumonia (a leading killer of children under five) - will improve their resilience to air pollution and their ability to recover from diseases and conditions linked to it.
Minimize children's exposure: Sources of pollution such as factories should not be located within the vicinity of schools and playgrounds. Better waste management can reduce the amount of waste that is burned within communities. Cleaner cookstoves can help improve air quality within homes. Reducing air pollution overall can help lower children's exposure.
Monitor air pollution: Better monitoring has been proven to help children, youth, families and communities to reduce their exposure to air pollution, become more informed about its causes, and advocate for changes that make the air safer to breathe.
"We protect our children when we protect the quality of our air. Both are central to our future," Lake said.

UNICEF is advocating for lower levels of air pollution, while also working on the ground to protect children from its effects. For example, the children's organization backs the development, distribution and use of cleaner cookstoves in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and other countries, and works through some of its country programs to reduce the impact of outdoor air pollution on children's health. It also supports programs to increase children's access to quality healthcare and to vaccinate them against conditions like pneumonia.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.

Holocaust Education Week Explores: The Future of Memory

Thousands of people across the Greater Toronto Area will participate in diverse educational, cultural and community programs during the 36th annual Holocaust Education Week (HEW) taking place from November 2-9.

This week of programming launches on Wednesday, November 2, with Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Professor of history at Fairfield University in Connecticut. Following the talk, Professor Ron Levi, HEW 2016 Scholar-in-Residence will moderate a compelling and timely discussion about the inflated place of Hitler, Nazism and fascism in present-day western political discourse. (Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, 100 Elder Street at 7:30 PM)

Through the theme of the Future of Memory, HEW 2016 explores how future generations will perpetuate and innovate in the field of Holocaust education and remembrance. The programs explore how memory of the Holocaust will continue to adapt to a changing technological landscape, global context, and the impact of losing personal survivor accounts.

HEW 2016 offers over 100 programs including survivor talks at libraries and schools across the GTA, and an impressive range of exhibits, panel discussions, cultural performances, musical programs, lectures, film screenings and survivor testimonies. The 2016 program guide can be downloaded here. Additional information can be found online at www.holocaustcentre.com

Other HEW Highlights

Legacy Symposium for Young Professionals: The seventh annual symposium features engaging workshops that invite participants in their 20s and 30s to explore the future of Holocaust memory from different perspectives. Sessions will address this theme through survivor engagement, interactive technologies, and thought-provoking discussions. Sold Out
Sunday, 6 November | 11:00 am | Ryerson University | Oakham House| 55 Gold street

The Power of Memoir and Storytelling: How do we Teach Others about the Pain of the Past?
Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger joins former chief of the Sagkeeng Ojibway First Nation and Residential School survivor Theodore Fontaine to talk about how they came to write and publish their memoirs. Explore two distinct narratives that examine loss, trauma and the use of memoir in the journey toward healing.
Thursday, 3 November | 7pm | University of Toronto, New College, William Doo Auditorium | 45 Willcocks Street

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past
At age 38, Jennifer Teege picked up a book at a library in Hamburg, Germany and discovered that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp. In her book, Teege explores the revelatory journey of discovering her grandfather's crimes, seeking greater understanding of her biological family and searching for a sense of closure for the victims.
Saturday, 5 November | 8pm | Kehillat Shaarei Torah | 2640 Bayview Avenue

Music of Another World: Szymon Laks, 1901–1983 The ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory) will present a concert with a focus on Laks' delightful music and feature a pre-concert talk about the life and music of this gifted composer from HEW 2016 Artist-in-Residence Simon Wynberg, ARC Ensemble Artistic Director.
Sunday, 6 November | 7:30 PM Beit Rayim Synagogue and School at The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts 10268 Yonge Street | Richmond Hill | 905–771–5526

HEW Closing Night: Bringing the Rimonim Home: A Personal Restitution Journey.
Austrian National Fund director Hannah Lessing shares the compelling account of an unexpected and personal act of restitution. More than 75 years after Kristallnacht, Lessing discovered that a pair of silver Torah finials (rimonim) originally owned by her family and looted by the Nazis were included in an Israeli auction house catalogue.
Wednesday, 9 November | 8pm | Temple Sinai | 210 Wilson Avenue

Government of Canada Focused on Making a Difference for First Nations Children and Families
​The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, along with the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, issued the following statement today:

"Our priority continues to be first and foremost the wellbeing of children. Our government welcomes, accepts and is complying with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings and orders regarding Child and Family Services on reserve and Jordan's Principle.

Our government is committed to nothing less than a systemic overhaul of child and family services from coast to coast to coast. This is why today, we announced the appointment of Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux as the Minister's Special Representative (MSR) responsible for leading a national engagement process and providing advice on the reform of the on-reserve First Nations Child and Family Services program. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux's work will reflect renewed Nation-to-Nation relationships with First Nations communities, through engagement with a number of key partners, including First Nations youth and leadership, national and regional organizations, services providers and the provinces and Yukon Territory. This is a concrete step in our commitment to engage with partners to develop options for full-scale reform.

For Jordan's Principle, we have introduced a new approach, integrated with provinces and territories, with an expanded scope to make sure no child falls through the cracks, and have provided an additional $382 million over three years in new funding. As a result of this new approach, we have confirmed coverage for almost 900 First Nations children to receive services and supports through Canada's expanded definition of Jordan's Principle. A great proportion of these children are receiving support for respite care, and funding has also been provided for supports such as specialized medical equipment and supplies; medical transportation; specialized day programs; and addiction treatment programs. Our government has also committed to enhancing service coordination and to working with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that First Nations children have access to the same publicly funded health and social services available to other children where they live.

Budget 2016 also made historic investments in First Nations child welfare, with nearly $635 million over five years in new funding. This includes $71 million this year for immediate relief for additional prevention services to address the most pressing concerns.

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners wrote the Calls to Action they wisely began with child welfare. In the same manner, our government is committed to reforming child and family services and ensuring we are putting the needs of Indigenous children first. Through working in genuine partnership we will truly be able to change the status quo."

This statement is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca and www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

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“Just in Time” for Haitian Relief: Canadian Company Launches New Food Aid Technology
​Regina, Saskatchewan – Time is always the enemy for relief efforts in disaster zones like hurricane-ravaged Haiti. Mera Food Group, a Western Canadian food technology company, has pioneered a new method to help relief agencies deliver emergency food aid faster.

Max Antoine II, Executive Secretary of the Border, Port au Prince, Haiti said, “A few short days after the hurricane we facilitated Mera’s border crossing with more than four tonnes of food, before many international aid agencies had arrived. I personally traveled to the affected areas to participate in Mera's delivery of this much-needed aid.”

Relief agencies have long relied on corn-soy blend (CSB) products to respond to disaster or famine situations. This product typically comes in sacks of flour-like powder that be easily mixed with local water sources to create a porridge that is high in protein, fibre and calories.

“CSB is a wonderful product but it has its weaknesses. There can be delays in transportation, it can suffer significant spoilage losses and it can become unhealthy if mixed with contaminated local water supplies,” said Wayne Goranson, president and CEO of Mera Food Group.

Mera has developed ‘just in time’ technology involving mobile facilities that can produce and cook CSB from scratch on site as needed and pre-mix it using purified water. The technique was developed in the company’s labs in Regina, Saskatchewan and implemented in the Dominican Republic where Mera has an existing soy milk plant.

“I was here when the hurricane hit and my staff and I got involved immediately by driving over truckloads of soy milk. All in all, we donated over 100,000 servings of soy milk but I could see that there was a continuing need for more and better food aid,” Goranson said.

“I want to congratulate our technical team on their speed and innovation in developing this product that will save many lives and make a huge difference here in Haiti and many other places around the world.”

Mera’s just-in-time pre-mixed CSB product has been welcomed by numerous government and non-governmental agencies, including the Canadian Red Cross, the World Food Program and MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.)

“Mera is an amazing company with heart and compassion! Their team is superb. It takes perseverance to work in Haiti",” said Canadian ambassador to Haiti Paula Caldwell St-Onge.



Mera is complementing its milk production by starting production of the pre-mixed CSB this week. Goranson estimates that the facility can produce 3,000 servings an hour at peak capacity.

“Our only limitation is local transportation. As soon as we can get our product trucked out, we can have nutritious food delivered to those who need it almost immediately,” Goranson said.
The HBC Foundation Launches 12th Annual Heritage Charity Bear in Honour of Dr. John Rae
​The Hudson's Bay Company Foundation is proud to introduce the 12th Annual Heritage Charity Bear, John Rae. Since 2005, the HBC Foundation has introduced a bear each year that honours an adventurer who was influential in shaping the history of HBC and Canada. John Rae is $21.99 and 100% of net proceeds from the sale of each Heritage Charity Bear support the HBC Foundation's Strength in Stripes program, helping Canadians achieve, thrive and win.

John Rae is outfitted in Hudson's Bay's recognizable stripes, representing HBC's rich heritage in Canada. Dr. John Rae joined the Company in 1833, serving as the medical officer at Moose Factor. Very early on, he began establishing relationships with indigenous peoples and learning techniques essential for survival in the North. These survival techniques proved instrumental - John Rae traveled to the arctic in search of the Northwest Passage and discovered the missing link to the long fabled trade route, which led to his learning the fate of the doomed Franklin Expedition.

"The annual HBC Foundation Heritage Charity Bear program not only supports many important causes, it also embodies our company's rich history", says Liz Rodbell, President, Hudson's Bay. "The proceeds from this program provide a vital funding for the HBC Foundation to support charitable programs across Canada and we're proud to continue this tradition of giving back through this wonderful initiative."

John Rae is a true collector's item as there are only 10,500 bears in production this year. To date, the Heritage Charity Bear collection has raised more than $1.6 million to help improve the lives of Canadians. John Rae is available for purchase at Hudson's Bay, Home Outfitters, and at thebay.com.
The Government of Canada Introduces a Bill to Eliminate known Sex-Based Inequities in the Indian Act
 Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced the introduction of a bill in the Senate intended to eliminate known sex-based inequities in the registration provisions of the Indian Act.

Bennett stated, "The elimination of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act has long been fought for by many courageous Indigenous women. Our government is committed to honouring their work by introducing legislation in partnership with First Nations. This is just the first step in our government's approach to eliminate known sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. However, our shared goal is to work together to move beyond the Indian Act, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership."

Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), is in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in the case of Descheneaux et al., v. Canada. The Bill proposes legislative amendments to the Indian registration provisions of the Indian Act to address historic inequities in how men and women acquire and transmit Indian status.

The Government of Canada recognizes that there are a number of issues relating to registration and Band membership under the Indian Act. This is why in summer 2016, the Government has launched a two-staged approach in response to the Descheneaux decision and to address the concerns of First Nations and other Indigenous groups. This Bill represents only Stage I of this approach.

As part of Stage I, engagement sessions were held with First Nations and other Indigenous groups over the summer to discuss the proposed legislative approach on the amendments to the registration provisions of the Indian Act. Engagement sessions on the proposed legislation are ongoing. During Stage II, to begin in February 2017, a collaborative process with First Nations and other Indigenous groups will be launched to examine the broader issues relating to Indian registration, Band membership and citizenship.
Statement from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
 The Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today issued the following statement:

"The Government of Canada is pleased that all parties are cooperating to help the vulnerable Yazidi population that has suffered so much.

"Canada has a long and proud tradition of providing protection to those who need it the most. The unanimous support for this cause in the House of Commons demonstrates that this principle is embraced by all Canadians.

"The Government of Canada is committed to offering protection to the Yazidi population at risk. We support the terms of the motion to bring Yazidis to Canada within 120 days.

"We recognize that operating in the region is complex and could pose risks. It is imperative that we consider the next steps very carefully.

"Officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are meeting with key partners to gather as much information as possible on the significant challenges and the steps forward."
WFP ALARMED AT GROWING RATES OF HUNGER
AND MALNUTRITION IN WAR-TORN YEMEN
SANA’A – The World Food Programme (WFP) is increasingly concerned about deteriorating food security and growing rates of child malnutrition in Yemen, particularly in hard-to-reach areas

A senior WFP team recently visited impoverished neighbourhoods and spoke to families and local authorities in Hajjah governorate in northeast Yemen and the Red Sea governorate of Hodeidah. They described a very dramatic situation as people struggle daily to secure their food needs.

The team visited hospitals, nutrition and health centres and saw many cases of malnourished children arriving from remote areas.

"I borrowed money from my neighbours and family to be able to bring my son from Tuhayta district to the hospital here in Hodeidah to get treatment for malnutrition,” said Ihsan, a 26-year-old mother. “I am breastfeeding him but he is slipping away from us and losing more weight every day. I hardly have food to feed my children, let alone to eat well."

Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe, said the conflict in Yemen was taking a devastating toll, particularly on the most vulnerable, especially women and children. “Hunger is increasing every day and people have exhausted all their survival strategies. Millions of people cannot survive without external assistance,” he said.

Even before the latest conflict, Yemen had one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. In some areas like Hodeidah governorate, Global Acute Malnutrition rates among children under five as high as 31 percent have been recorded– more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent. Almost half of the children countrywide are irreversibly stunted.

The economic impact of the conflict is a catastrophe for Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. Millions of public sector employees no longer receive their salaries and struggle to make ends meet. Even before the conflict escalated and imports declined dramatically, Yemen imported some 90 percent of its food needs.

"We are only surviving on bread as I have nothing else to feed my children and we are lucky if we have enough bread for everyone,” said Fatema, a 45-year-old woman living on the outskirts of Sana’a. “Food prices have gone up and my husband is no longer receiving his salary.”

Insecurity makes access to some of Yemen’s malnutrition hotspots a challenge. During the 72-hour humanitarian pause last week, WFP reached three districts in Taiz governorate, providing food assistance to 155,000 people.

Food distribution in some of areas is ongoing and WFP will also cover another 189,000 people in three other locations that were hard to reach in the last few weeks. WFP needs sustained access to the most impoverished governorates, particularly Ma’rib, Al-Jawf and Taiz.

WFP has provided food for more than three million people every month since February 2016. However, in recent months, WFP split rations to reach six million people every month with a smaller quantity of food, as needs are increasing and resources are diminishing. With this assistance, WFP has helped stabilize the situation but needs are outpacing available resources, so food insecurity levels are still high.

WFP aims to treat and help prevent malnutrition among some 700,000 children under five, pregnant women and nursing mothers. This includes nutritional treatment for children under five and preventative interventions for children under two. This work to counter Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), also known as wasting, is done through local partners in 2,200 health centre in 14 governorates across Yemen.

“An entire generation could be crippled by hunger,” said WFP Country Director in Yemen Torben Due. “We need to scale up our life-saving assistance to reach more people with timely food assistance and preventive treatment. We appeal to the international community to support the people of Yemen,” he said. “We need to provide a full ration to every family in need, but sadly we have had to reduce the size of the food basket and split assistance between impoverished families to meet growing needs,” he added.

WFP requires over US$257 million to provide vital food assistance until March 2017. It takes four months from the time WFP receives funds until food can be shipped to the country and is in the hands of the families who need it.

WFP is grateful to key donors that have contributed or pledged support to the people of Yemen– including the United States, Germany, Japan and the European Union.

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification findings from June 2016 show that 14.1 million people in Yemen are food insecure, including 7 million who are severely food insecure. In some governorates, 70 percent of the population struggle to feed themselves.
National survey reveals the Canadian public opinion about immigration has remained stable or grown more positive over the past year
A new national survey conducted earlier this month shows that public attitudes about immigration have held steady or have grown noticeably more positive over the past 15 months. Most Canadians continue to believe that immigration is good for the economy, and there is growing confidence in the country's ability to manage refugees and potential criminal elements.

The survey, released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, shows that:

Eight in ten (80%) Canadians believe that immigration has a positive impact on the economy, and a majority (58%) disagree that immigration levels are too high; in both cases opinions have held steady over the past several years.

The public expresses increasing confidence that the government is doing a good job keeping criminals out of the country (65%, up 6 percentage points from 2015), and that fewer now believe that most people claiming to be refugees are not legitimate (39%, down 8 points).

A declining majority of Canadians believe that too many immigrants are not adopting Canadian values (54%, down 11 points from 2015, and now at the lowest level recorded since 1993).

A near majority (48%) believe the 31,000 plus Syrian refugees being accepted into Canada this year is about the right number. One-third (36%) say this number is too high, primarily because of concerns about the country's capacity to support them or because it is diverting resources from other priorities (relatively few say it is because refugees will not fit well into Canadian society or pose a security threat).

Nine in ten (91%) Canadians continue to express the opinion that someone born outside the country is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born in Canada.

"These results demonstrate that the growing anti-immigrant sentiment evident in the USA and many European countries has not taken hold in Canada", comments Environics Institute Executive Director Keith Neuman. "Considering the survey results as a whole, one would have to conclude that Canadian public opinion about immigration is the most positive it has been in the past several decades."

"CRRF is very pleased that Canadians in general expressed much more positive attitudes towards immigrants and refugees than in the past," said Rubin Friedman, Official Spokesperson of the Foundation. "We will continue to monitor this progress as it is also essential to address the perspectives of those who still have concerns on the issue."

The survey examined public opinion on immigration and citizenship as part of the Environics Institute's ongoing Focus Canada public opinion research program, which began in the 1970s. The previous Focus Canada survey on immigration was conducted in June 2015 (see report here). The current survey was conducted in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

This survey is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,000 Canadians between October 3 and 16, 2016. One-third (35%) of the interviews were conducted via respondent's cell phone. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.

Cambium Networks And Disaster Tech Lab Bolster Wireless Broadband Networks At Refugee Camps In Lesvos, Greece
Cambium Networks™, a leading global provider of wireless networking solutions, today announced a significant expansion to its work with the non-profit Disaster Tech Lab (DTL) in connecting 18 refugee camps across Greece. Cambium Networks and DTL are providing the necessary network equipment and training to the camps, enabling communications and access to information and services. The two organizations are providing an invaluable lifeline to people in need who are looking to connect with family members and loved ones. According to a study by the United Nations, many refugees consider Internet connectivity as essential to their livelihood as food, water, and shelter.

Cambium has worked very closely with DTL to construct and provide wireless networks and resources to people who have been torn from their homes by disasters and tragedies all over the world. The networks also provide connectivity for aid organizations and local government agencies to provide a safe environment.

In addition to the network equipment, engineers from Cambium Networks and DTL are providing information communications and technologies (ICT) training to refugees with previous communications experience. This unique program includes education and hands-on training on the configuration and maintenance of WiFi and wireless backhaul networks. Once trained, these participants become key members of DTL's on-site volunteer team, supporting the network infrastructure of their camps and providing a much-needed service to their fellow counterparts in the camps spread throughout Lesvos.

"Disaster Tech Lab has been helping people in Greece since this crisis started almost a year ago," said Evert Bopp, Founder of Disaster Tech Lab. "The wireless communications from Cambium Networks enabled DTL to rapidly build a high-speed network that has been performing perfectly. With the cnMaestro™ network management system, we are able to monitor the network performance from our offices anywhere – including from Ireland and Canada. People in our volunteer team on Lesvos are quickly able to understand the network design, installation, and operation. An additional advantage of choosing to deploy equipment from Cambium is that their team worked very closely with us and responded quickly to our questions and requirements."

"Through this program, residents of the refugee camps are empowered to build the broadband connectivity that they need," said Atul Bhatnagar, President and CEO at Cambium Networks. "They can extend coverage and use data, voice, and streaming video capability to stay in touch with family and get medical support."

In addition to providing training and equipment for previous network deployments, Cambium Networks has now helped extend the wireless network tenfold with cnPilot™ E500 outdoor and cnPilot E400 indoor enterprise WiFi solutions; and completed a high-speed link between Lesvos and the University of the Aegean using the long-range PTP 650 to further extend and enable the network.

Evert Bopp, Founder of Disaster Tech Lab, and Scott Imhoff, Vice President of Product Management at Cambium Networks, will discuss the deployment in a live webinar on Thursday, October 27, 2016, at 9am CT. Register here.

About Disaster Tech Lab:

Disaster Tech Labs deploys WiFi to reconnect disconnected communities in disaster zones across the globe. DTL also supports other NGO's and disaster response agencies by providing IP-based communication services. Disaster Tech Labs has a pool of skilled and experienced volunteers, which can be deployed in response to disasters across the globe. Disaster Tech Labs is a non-profit organization and depends on volunteers and donors to carry out its work.

UNICEF and H&M launch an interactive digital brain development tool for young children
​A digital tool that interactively shows how games and play stimulate brain development during early childhood launches today. The interactive UNI_FORM 'jacket' was created by the H&M Foundation and UNICEF as part of a new UNI_FORM campaign to help promote early childhood development.

The UNI_FORM tool, which aims to visually translate neuroscience for parents and caregivers across the world, displays how young brains develop at yearly stages up to the age of five, and provides families with innovative age-appropriate play ideas that can help optimize brain development.

The jacket reveals different cognitive games that feed the brain as it evolves with the child´s age. The games are tailored for each age based on UNICEF's research on Early Childhood Development.

"Early childhood presents a window of opportunity that define a child's future. By using UNI_FORM as a symbol, we want to raise awareness around the fact that children who are stimulated in their early years learn more effectively at school, and as adults they can have a higher earning power and be of better health than children that don't have these early opportunities," said Diana Amini, Global Manager at H&M Foundation.

"Children who experience love, proper nutrition and protection in a stimulating environment during early childhood become resilient, learn effectively and are able to help build strong, safe communities and economies when they reach adulthood," said Pia Britto UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development. "We are proud to launch this interactive tool to help give children the enrichment they need in these critical early moments of life."

An estimate 249 million children under five in low- and middle-income countries are at an increased risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting.

On www.theuniform.org, adults and children can interact with the UNI_FORM and at the same time support the right for every child to get the best start in life. During the earliest moments of life, children's experiences have the power to shape the development of their brains as much as their DNA as neural connections take place at a once-in-a lifetime speed of up to 1,000 per second, forming their cognitive, social and emotional development.

Urban Barn Launches 5th Annual Blanket the Country in Warmth Campaign
​Canadian furniture, home décor and accessories retailer, Urban Barn, invites customers to help give warmth to those in need with its 'Blanket the Country in Warmth' campaign, now in its fifth consecutive year. Beginning today, with every $5.00 in-store or online donation, a brand-new fleece blanket will be donated to a local shelter. New this year, customers will be encouraged to share emotional warmth by sending a personal message through BlanketTheCountry.com. These messages will be published in booklets and delivered to shelters with fleece blankets in time for the holiday season. In addition, Urban Barn has expanded the program to include shelters in Quebec, a reflection of their commitment to each community they serve. Blanket the Country in Warmth will run through Sunday, November 20, 2016. This season, Urban Barn hopes to donate 15,000 blankets with the support of its customers.

"Expanding the program to include personalized messages was important to us as 'Blanket the Country in Warmth' kicks off its fifth year," shares Linda Letts, President, Urban Barn. "We've been extremely grateful for the tremendous support from our local communities, surpassing our goal of 13,000 blankets last year, and wanted to continue to challenge ourselves to have meaningful impact. We wanted to create a direct connection between those donating blankets and those receiving them. That's where the idea for Warmer Wishes came from. We look forward to making an even bigger difference in the lives of Canadians this year, and thank our amazing customers who continue to support 'Blanket the Country in Warmth.'"

In 2013, The Homelessness Partnering Secretariat (HPS) estimated that between 150,000 and 300,000 individuals experience homelessness in Canada in a given year. One may fall into impoverished circumstances for a number of reasons. Local shelters across the country continue to receive those in need each winter and throughout the year. It is through a network of committed staff and caring community partners coast-to-coast, these individuals can start down the path of recovery, with an overarching goal of warmth and belonging.

To learn more about 'Blanket the Country in Warmth' and to make a donation, please visit www.blanketthecountry.com.

To locate an Urban Barn store, please visit www.urbanbarn.com.

State of Homelessness in Canada report: Additional $1 a week per Canadian could end homelessness
Homelessness in Canada remains at crisis levels, but for the first time in more than 25 years, there is hope, according to the State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 released today in Ottawa by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

The report presents recommendations to the Government of Canada for the upcoming National Housing Strategy and shows not only how homelessness could be eliminated, but that ending homelessness is achievable and affordable.

"It's great to know that Canada is coming back to a National Housing Strategy," said Stephen Gaetz, Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. "This is an opportunity to correct more than 25 years of inadequate investment, which has led to our current affordable housing crisis. It is also an opportunity to end homelessness in Canada once and for all."

"We agree with the government's National Housing Strategy objective to ensure all Canadians have safe, decent and affordable housing," says Tim Richter, President of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. "But we must act most urgently for those for whom a lack of housing can be a matter of life and death – people experiencing or at risk of homelessness."

The report recommends an investment of $4.474 billion in 2017-2018 or $43.788 billion over a 10-year period, representing an annual increase of $1.818 billion more than the federal government is projected to spend on affordable housing in 2017-2018. That is only an additional $50 per Canadian annually or less than a $1 per week to prevent and end homelessness in Canada. It's worth noting that homelessness currently costs the Canadian economy over $7 billion per year.

"The good news is we know what to do to solve homelessness: targeted affordable housing investment, community systems planning, Housing First, prevention and federal leadership will get us there," said Gaetz. "And importantly, we also know solving homelessness will be far cheaper than ignoring it."

Modern mass homeless in Canada is primarily the result of shrinking federal investment in housing beginning in the 1980s. As homelessness in Canada has grown, the face of homelessness has changed. What began as a phenomenon primarily impacting older single men now includes women (27 per cent of the homeless population), seniors (24.4% of shelter users), and youth (18 per cent of the homeless population). Indigenous Peoples are 27 to 33 per cent of shelter users and are 10 times more likely to use homeless emergency shelters, yet only represent only 4.3 percent of the Canadian population.

State of Homelessness in Canada: 2016 key recommendations:

Adopt a national goal of ending homelessness with clear and measurable outcomes, milestones and criteria

Renew and expand Homelessness Partnering Strategy focusing on Housing First, prevention and building coordinated homelessness systems

A new federal/provincial/territorial framework agreement that defines local leadership on homelessness and housing investment

Targeted strategies to address the needs of priority sub-populations including youth, veterans and Indigenous peoples

Retain and expand existing affordable housing stock

Implement a National Housing Benefit

Affordable housing tax credit

Review and expand investment in affordable housing for Indigenous peoples

Homelessness by the numbers:

35,000 Canadians are homeless on a given night. 235,000 Canadians are homeless at some point every year.

In the last 20 years Canada's population has grown more than 30% but federal funding for affordable housing has dropped more than 46 per cent. This has meant at least 100,000 units of affordable housing were not built.

Today over 1.5 million Canadian households live in core housing need, with over half of those households living in extreme core housing need (living in poverty and spending over 50 per cent of their income on housing).

There has been a steady decline in the number of Canadians using shelters in the last 10 years. In fact, in 2014 there were almost 20,000 fewer people using emergency shelters than in 2005
While there are fewer people using shelters, but those that are using them are staying longer.

The national occupancy rate – how full shelters are – increased by more than 10% between 2005-2014

Most shelter stays are brief with youth and adults staying on average 10 days. But for seniors (50+) and families, the average length of stay is twice as long

The complete State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 report is available here: http://www.homelesshub.ca/SOHC2016

Black youth speak out on their experiences with province's care systems
More than 120 Black youth who receive services from the child welfare, youth criminal justice, special needs, mental health and Provincial and Demonstration schools systems will mobilize to speak out on the issue of over-representation and other systemic barriers they face to government, child welfare providers, educators and various other service providers.

Youth delegates between the ages of 13 and 25 from across the province's care systems are attending the "HairStory: Black Youth Unite for A Right to Speak" youth forum in Toronto from October 20-24, 2016.

"For many years, Black youth in Ontario's systems of care have spoken about their belief that systemic racism exists, and that there is a lack of culturally-anchored services," said Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "The evidence of that systemic racism is embodied in the overrepresentation of Black children and families connected to the child welfare and youth justice systems. It is time to listen to what young people have to say about their realities across the province's care systems, and hear their ideas for change."

The HairStory project was initiated by the Advocate's Office to elevate the voices of Black youth from across the province's care systems, and provide a safe platform for them to speak about their experiences.

During the forum, delegates will share their lived experiences and address the systemic barriers they face in Ontario's various care systems through facilitated group discussions and works of art (e.g. photography, music, visual arts, creative writing) that express their solutions for change, which will later be captured in a report. On the final day of the forum, young people will speak to a group of decision-makers at a "listening table" attended by government officials and representatives from child welfare service providers, youth justice, education, special needs, mental health care systems and community organizations.

"Black youth are not asking for 'special treatment,'" said Richard Marcano, a Youth Amplifier with the HairStory initiative. "They simply want the same opportunities and services afforded to other segments of the population so they are treated respectfully and fairly, feel connected to their culture and community, and contribute positively to society."

"HairStory provides an important, safe platform where black youth can express their experiences and make recommendations – holding those who have our lives in their hands accountable for change," said Shantel Hyndman, another Youth Amplifier.

About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools).

For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

"Black youth in Toronto possess tremendous skills, gifts, beauty and creativity. However, these assets are often buried under a system and structure that is very oppressive for many of these youth: racism in areas like education, policing and child welfare – as well as the constant oppressive and negative experiences they face in our society – create a lot of distress, trauma and even mental illness with many young people." – Nene Kwasi Kafele, Chair of Tabono Institute and a youth mental health advocate 
TVO Documentary Asks How You Would Prepare For Prison
TVO presents the world broadcast premiere of How To Prepare For Prison on November 16 at 9 pm, available across Canada the following day on tvo.org. Commissioned by TVO and directed by Matt Gallagher (Grinders, The Rise & Fall of the Grumpy Burger), the feature documentary explores fundamental questions about the criminal justice system by following the story of three people facing prison for the first time. TVO's 360 degree view of Canada's criminal justice and corrections systems also includes debate and analysis on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and related articles and video at tvo.org/prisonprep. Along with engaged discussion on TVO's social media channels, this rich content is part of TVO's digital public space focused on Ontario-perspective, in-depth current affairs.

"Much of what we know about prison, crime and criminals comes from fictionalized accounts of prison, reality TV or the evening news," says Matt Gallagher. "At best it's mostly cursory information, at worst it's sensationalized. The people I have interviewed for How To Prepare for Prison want you to know that there is so much more to their story than the crime."

Shot over three years, How To Prepare For Prison goes behind the scenes into the offices of lawyers and judges, into the courtrooms, and into the homes of people who are not career criminals or individuals "known to police," but have somehow found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Joe Zambito from Windsor, Ontario is a 45-year-old father of three arrested when police found an illegal crop of marijuana in a warehouse he rents, but which he claims belongs to two others he sub-leased the space to. In Calgary Alberta, 29-year-old Courtney Hills has pled guilty to fraud and faces a potential multi-year sentence. She has hired Lee Chapelle, an ex-convict now working as a prison consultant who walks Courtney through what will likely happen over the next few months as she awaits her sentencing hearing. And in Detroit, Michigan college student DeMario McMurray faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted for assault after an altercation in his dorm room. He's terror-stricken about what will happen to him behind bars. The burden carried by Joe, Courtney and DeMario is shared by their families who try to be supportive but are terrified of what will happen to their loved ones.

"TVO commissions compelling social issue and current affairs documentaries that focus on contemporary social, political and cultural issues," says John Ferri, TVO Vice President, Current Affairs and Documentaries. "How To Prepare For Prison offers a compelling and rarely seen perspective of the criminal justice system that we hope will spark discussion and debate about an issue that is often presented in concrete, right or wrong terms."

Setting the table for the broadcast of How To Prepare For Prison, at 8 pm on November 16 The Agenda with Steve Paikin examines the state of our criminal justice system and unpacks some of the most pressing challenges facing our jails and prison convicts. At tvo.org/prisonprep visitors will find law-and-order themed episodes from The Agenda, and more groundbreaking documentaries such David and Me, and Out of Mind, Out of Sight with points of view that widen your perspective about justice and incarceration. The site will also include articles offering further perspectives on Canada's criminal justice system, published in the days leading up to the premiere of How To Prepare For Prison.

How To Prepare For Prison will also air on TVO on Saturday, November 19 at 9 pm and 1:30 am, and Sunday November 20 at 11 pm.

Keep up with the latest on TVO documentaries on Twitter and Facebook. And follow The Agenda on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

About TVO
As the technological extension of Ontario's public education system, TVO's vision is to create a better world through the power of learning. TVO provides learning opportunities for Ontarians through innovative educational products, in-depth current affairs, groundbreaking documentaries, and award-winning TVOKids resources both inside and outside the classroom. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.
"Joe Zambito from Windsor, Ontario awaits verdict in TVO documentary "How To Prepare For Prison." (CNW Group/TVO)".  
Samaritan's Purse aiding Mosul residents as they flee battle to defeat ISIS terrorists
Samaritan's Purse is helping people fleeing for their lives as Kurdish and Iraqi forces continue to fight ISIS terrorists in and around the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul.

The Christian international relief and development organization is distributing bottled water, blankets, hygiene kits, and cooking kits as the city's residents desperately try to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between the liberation forces and ISIS.

Samaritan's Purse is also working with the United Nations' World Food Program to distribute food rations to as many as 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). These IDPs are in camps constructed east of Mosul, a city of more than one million people that was known as Ninevah in the Bible's Old Testament.

"The people of Mosul have gone from living under the terrifying rule of ISIS to fleeing from their homes as the battle to liberate their city comes right into their own neighborhoods," said Fred Weiss, Executive Director of Samaritan's Purse Canada. "They desperately need the help of all Canadians."

Samaritan's Purse has worked in Iraq since 2007 and is continuing to provide physical and spiritual aid for thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and others who escaped ISIS brutality in 2014 and 2015. The aid has included water, sanitation and hygiene training, counseling for sexual and physical violence victims, vocational training, operating a community center, and creating safe spaces for children.

"There has been so much violence and grief and trauma in this region," said Weiss. "We're doing everything possible to ensure Iraqis know that God – and Canadians – care deeply for them."

Donations Needed: Canadians can donate to Samaritan's Purse disaster relief work in the Middle East and around the world by calling 1-800-663-6500 or visiting SamaritansPurse.ca
Joint Statement from the Minister of Health & the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Regarding Suicides in Saskatchewan
OTTAWA, Oct. 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Like all Canadians, we have been heartbroken to learn about the recent suicides in First Nation communities in Saskatchewan. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and communities who have been affected.

No community should ever be faced with circumstances that lead to their young people losing hope. We are determined to work with First Nation youth and leaders, as well as the Government of Saskatchewan, on both the immediate response to this crisis and long-term community-driven solutions.

Health Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada are working closely with Lac La Ronge and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation on the way forward. Together, we are establishing stronger relationships with both the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and the community of Deschambault Lake to ensure we are listening to their needs and working with their strengths as they lead the response to the crisis in their communities.

Health Canada has ensured the mental health workers and other health care professionals requested by the communities are available. In Stanley Mission, Health Canada is providing supports to partner organizations to allow seven mental health therapists to provide counselling to at-risk youth seven days a week. This is over and above the $34 million that is being provided to partners this year in Saskatchewan for mental health programs.

Sadly, Saskatchewan is not alone in facing these crises. This is why in June we announced $69 million in funding to implement crisis response teams and increase the number of mental wellness teams available to First Nations and Inuit communities. We have also put into place a national, toll-free 24/7 culturally appropriate crisis intervention line. Counselling is available in English and French and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktut. If you are in distress and need help, the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line is available at 1-855-242-3310.

To truly improve the health and wellbeing of and foster hope in Indigenous communities, we must work in genuine partnership with Indigenous communities. Most importantly, we need to listen to the voices of our young people and to support their ideas on promoting a secure personal and cultural identity. We are committed to supporting language and cultural programmes and traditional healing and will ensure that the health care provided is culturally safe.

We know communities need more than short-term fixes, which is why our Government is focused on supporting long-term investments. To advance the vital work of reconciliation, Budget 2016 provides historic investments to education, child welfare, housing and infrastructure, including cultural and recreation infrastructure, based on community solutions. From coast to coast to coast, this new funding will support the construction, service or renovation of 2,700 housing units, as well as 195 water projects — including 26 that address long-term drinking water advisories — 118 schools and 126 other new infrastructure projects this fiscal year alone.

Our children are our future and we cannot afford to lose a single one to despair. We are committed to working together with Indigenous youth, leaders and communities to promote healing and to help our youth find hope so that we can end the tragedy of suicide.
Futures Without Violence and the Department of Justice Launch Public Awareness Campaign on Children’s Exposure to Violence
Today, Futures Without Violence, in partnership with the Department of Justice, announced the launch of the first national campaign that will raise awareness, teach skills, and inspire public action to address children’s exposure to violence and childhood trauma. The multi-year “Changing Minds” campaign will motivate teachers, coaches, counselors, health professionals, law enforcement officers, and others who regularly interact with children to take meaningful action in supporting children who may be affected.

“Violence is far too prominent in our children’s lives, but it does not have to define their futures,” said former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. “We can curb the effects of trauma and restore our young people to wholeness and health, giving them the chance they all deserve to pursue their dreams.”

The U.S. Department of Justice, Futures Without Violence, and the Ad Council have released the national education campaign, created pro bono by the advertising agency Wunderman, that features two original videos exploring the personal stories of adults who were exposed as children to violence in their homes and neighborhoods. They have also produced an informational video that explores the impact of violence on the brain development of children.

“The Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence called for a national campaign to alert the public about the extent of the problem and its adverse impact on children,” said Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. “Changing Minds will open the door to fundamental changes in this country regarding children’s exposure to violence and trauma and what caring adults can do to help children overcome their trauma and heal.” 

   “With the tragic violence that has taken place this year in communities nationwide, children today can be exposed to violence throughout their daily lives,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We’re proud to continue our long-term partnerships with the Department of Justice and Futures Without Violence for this critical effort that will benefit children throughout the country, and we’re thankful to Wunderman for donating their talent to develop the poignant creative.”

Trevor Sloan, Vice President and Creative Director at Wunderman DC, noted that “‘Changing Minds’ is unique in that the campaign focuses on not just the physical effects that witnessing violence has on children’s brains but also on the small gestures we can make to help them heal. We jumped at the opportunity to help educate and inspire adults around this cause and, ultimately, give these kids a better chance at healing so they can look forward to happier lives.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and Futures Without Violence, a national health and social justice nonprofit organization working to end violence against women and children, have been partners ever since the Department released the compelling findings of the first National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence in 2009. In 2010, the Department launched the national Defending Childhood initiative, created to prevent children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses, mitigate its impact, and develop knowledge about and increase awareness of this issue.

Exposure to violence during childhood is significantly correlated with adverse health, educational, and social outcomes later in life such as mental illness, poverty, and involvement in the justice system. New and evolving brain science reveals that a child’s positive and negative experiences can literally shape, and reshape, the brain: therefore one of the most significant predictors of a child’s resiliency in the face of trauma is consistent interaction with a caring and supportive adult.

“The Changing Minds campaign has an empowering message,” said Esta Soler, Founder and President of Futures Without Violence. “We want to reach millions of caring adults with the good news that fostering stable, supportive relationships can help children who have been exposed to violence and trauma.”

The Changing Minds campaign has produced a toolkit with video, digital and print content intended to reach adults who interact with children K-12, including teachers, coaches, health professionals, law enforcement officers, social workers and guidance counselors. A new campaign website, ChangingMindsNOW.org, will provide resources and tips on how to support children who have been affected by violence.  
Witnessing violence can change a kid’s mind, but your everyday gestures can help them heal. 
Historica Canada releases new Heritage Minute on Kenojuak Ashevak
The life of Kenojuak Ashevak, a pioneer of modern Inuit art, is now a Heritage Minute, the 85th in the collection. Shot on location in the artist's home community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, this Minute is the first to be produced and released in three separate languages: English, French, and Inuktitut.

A founding member of Cape Dorset's famed Kinngait Studios (West Baffin Eskimo Co-op), Ashevak's work gained almost immediate attention when her first print, "Rabbit Eating Seaweed" (1958), was featured in the Cape Dorset Print Collection and Catalogue. It was the beginning of a decades-long career that saw her travel as far as Europe and Japan promoting Inuit art. A companion of the Order of Canada, Kenojuak Ashevak remained one of the world's most prominent Inuit artists until her death on January 8, 2013 at the age of 85.

"Kenojuak Ashevak is renowned worldwide for her works of art, and for her role in bringing Inuit art to the forefront," said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada. "We're delighted to now bring Canadians the personal story of an artist of such achievement."

The "Kenojuak Ashevak" Heritage Minute is embargoed until October 20, 6 a.m. EST. At that time it can be shared and embedded through this link. Stills from the Minute can be downloaded here.

This Heritage Minute was produced by Historica Canada and Fifth Town Films, and utilizes animation by e.d. Films to bring Ashevak's most famous prints to life. It was written and directed by filmmaking duo Tess Girard and Ryan J. Noth, and stars Miali Buscemi (The Embargo Project, Ce qu'il faut pour vivre).

The Heritage Minutes are made possible through funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. Historica Canada thanks Canadian North airline for its generous donation of travel vouchers for this project.

Historica Canada is the country's largest organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of Canadian history and citizenship.
Supply of children's five-in-one vaccine secured at lowest-ever price
Breakthrough prices have been achieved with six vaccine suppliers who offered to price pentavalent vaccine at an 84 cents a dose average – half the price that the UN children's agency currently pays.

In the next three years, UNICEF will buy 450 million doses to send to 80 countries. Four hundred million doses will be allocated to Gavi-supported and transitioning countries. The vaccine will protect tens of millions of children from potentially deadly infections caused by diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Since 2001, strong collaboration on market shaping across Gavi Alliance partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO and UNICEF, has achieved an affordable and sustainable pentavalent vaccine supply for children in the world's poorest countries.

The new pricing can also be accessed by governments who self-finance procurement of this cost-effective vaccine. It will generate over $366 million in savings for donors and for governments.

"Ninety per cent of the world's children under five who die from vaccine-preventable diseases live in countries whose vaccine supply is no longer fully funded by donors," said Shanelle Hall, Director of UNICEF's supply and procurement headquarters. "For the most vulnerable children in the world, pricing can make a difference between life and death," Hall added.

​Dr. Berkley said "The market for five-in-one vaccines is now a lot healthier than it was just a few years ago thanks to our collective efforts to grow a base of vaccine suppliers. We remain committed to making vaccine markets work better for the world's poorest countries to ensure immunization investments and efforts are sustainable for all."

Achieving milestones in making vaccines more affordable illustrates how collaborative engagement, including with vaccine suppliers, can result in vaccine markets that put children's health first. Careful monitoring of supply and demand in vaccine markets and consultations with vaccine manufacturers have helped determine the most effective actions to secure sufficient production levels and efficiencies of scale. Between 2001 and 2015, UNICEF's pentavalent vaccine procurement jumped from 14.5 million to more than 235 million doses, mainly driven by the increase in demand in countries supported by Gavi.

  Broadening the supplier base reduces the risk of supply shortages and other serious market constraints that could negatively impact children. Collaboration between Gavi, the Gates Foundation and UNICEF leveraged the significant donor funding and through multi-year supplier contracts, improved demand forecasts and special contracting terms, helped grow the pentavalent vaccine supplier base from one in 2001 to six by 2016, and reduce prices.

As additional manufacturers become interested in supplying vaccines to UNICEF, competition between them intensifies. Since 2011, UNICEF publishes the prices of all vaccines it procures, giving manufacturers the advantage of seeing what their competitors charge – and this had led to better offers. By 2016, the price for donor-funded and government self-funded pentavalent vaccines was an average of $1.65 a dose.

In 2016, a competitive pentavalent vaccine market and excess supply capacity represented ideal conditions to launch a new phased approach to tendering.

In the first phase, UNICEF invited interested suppliers to submit a proposed price. After making awards to the most competitive bids, UNICEF published prices and launched a second request for proposals, which gave time for suppliers to sharpen their initial offers. The final awards achieved lowest ever pricing while sustaining a healthy supply market for the longer-term.

"Today's announcement demonstrates that partnerships can bring affordability and price sustainability to the table in supplier discussions, and this is transforming health outcomes for children," said Hall.
"Gavi estimates that 5.7 million deaths will be averted thanks to pentavalent vaccination in Gavi-supported countries between 2011 and 2020," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
OTTAWA, Oct. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations' (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to the nomination of Justice Malcolm Rowe to the Supreme Court of Canada. National Chief Bellegarde has renewed the AFN's ongoing call for the appointment of an Indigenous person to Canada's top court.

"I congratulate Justice Rowe on his nomination and wish him well in this new role," said National Chief Bellegarde. "The Supreme Court can play an important role in advancing justice for Indigenous peoples. We urge all justices to familiarize themselves with Indigenous peoples and Indigenous law. The AFN will continue to advocate for more Indigenous people to be appointed at all decision making tables including the Supreme Court. More diversity of opinion leads to better decisions. First Nations belong at the table."

Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the nomination of Justice Malcolm Rowe to the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Rowe was first appointed as a trial judge in 1999 and has served on the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2001.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Responds to Nomination of Justice Malcolm Rowe to Supreme Court of Canada
 

 TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, I had the opportunity to meet again with representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council and the provincial and territorial governments. ‎Their presentations were a powerful reminder of how serious Indigenous health needs are and the collaboration that will be required to improve Indigenous health outcomes.

At our last meeting in January, we began an ongoing dialogue to determine how we can work together to improve Indigenous health and create a system that is more responsive to the needs of Indigenous peoples and the different realities they face.

Since then, our Government has made significant concrete investments in the areas of mental health, improving access to health care for First Nations children, nutrition and other social determinants of health. Our Indigenous partners have also made substantial progress in identifying priority health areas for action.

Today's meeting allowed us to continue our discussions on Indigenous health priorities. First Nations, Inuit and Métis representatives shared what their communities and leaders feel are their most pressing health needs and priority areas for action. In turn, with our provincial and territorial colleagues, we discussed how we can improve the coordination and adaptation of services so that Indigenous peoples can have access to an integrated and culturally safe health system – no matter where they live in Canada.

While a great deal of work has been done, we know much remains to be done. We need to do more to improve relationships and collaboration among federal, provincial, territorial governments, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to address shared priorities. What we heard at today's meeting will help guide future collaboration on both the Health Accord and future federal investments in Indigenous health.

Over time, I believe we can transform our approach and address gaps in Indigenous health outcomes in a proactive, effective and collaborative way. I am confident that by working together we can make meaningful progress to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous individuals, families and communities.   

Statement from the Minister of Health following the meeting with representatives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis national organizations
 

On Oct. 18 in Ottawa the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women, announced the six outstanding Canadian women who are receiving the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case for 2016.

Hajdu said, "The women we honour today with the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case are strong leaders and inspiring role models. As professionals, volunteers, and advocates, they have demonstrated how people with passion and commitment can change the lives of women and girls for the better. I congratulate each 2016 award recipient for embodying the determined spirit of the Famous Five and helping to advance equality in our country."

Saskatchewan and Alberta followed Manitoba granting women the right to vote in 1916. Ontario extended voting rights to women in 1917. By 1918, federal legislation was passed granting all women 21 years of age and over the right to vote in general elections. The first federal election in which women voted under the universal franchise was in 1921. This year's recipients are being announced during Women's History Month, a time each year when Canadians celebrate women's contributions to our country. This year's theme "Because of Her" reminds us of the extraordinary women who have blazed trails throughout Canada's history.

Cecilia Benoit (Victoria, BC) - Academic, mentor, advocate

Anna-Louise Crago (Toronto, ON) - Academic, women's rights advocate

Lucia Lorenzi (youth recipient) (Port Coquitlam, BC) - Activist, volunteer, educator and advocate

Pascale Navarro (Montréal, QC) – Journalist and author

Norma Jean Profitt (Yarmouth, NS) – Academic, community leader, international activist

Diane Redsky (Winnipeg, MB) – Community leader, advocate for Indigenous women's rights

Persons Day occurs each year on October 18th. This annual celebration marks the pivotal moment in 1929 when five Canadian women – Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie McClung – won the right for women to be legally recognized as 'persons' in Canada. The Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case were created in 1979 to mark the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Persons Case.

This year's Persons Case Awards will take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on November 15, 2016, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of women first achieving the right to vote in Manitoba in 1916.

Canadians recognized by Governor General for advancing gender equality
 

World Renowned Architect and Anishinaabe Elder Takes Action Against Racist Cleveland Team Name and Logo​
 

World-renowned Canadian Architect and activist for Indigenous Peoples Douglas Cardinal formally demanded, today, that Major League Baseball's Cleveland Team be barred from using the team name and the team's racist "Chief Wahoo" logo in Ontario.

In an application before the Ontario Superior Court and complaints filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Mr. Cardinal cites the racist and discriminatory nature of the logo and name. He is demanding that the team, Major League Baseball, and Rogers Communications, which owns Toronto's Rogers Center and broadcasts Blue Jays baseball, be immediately enjoined from using both in Ontario.

"Mr. Cardinal, who has long fought for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, has simply had enough," said lawyer Michael Swinwood. "Canadian law clearly prohibits discrimination of this nature."

"Use of the team name and the 'Chief Wahoo' logo clearly constitutes discrimination contrary to section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code and section 5 of the Canadian Human Rights Act," said Swinwood. "It also violates my client's right to equal treatment and the rights of Indigenous Peoples across Canada and everywhere else the name and logo are used."

Douglas Cardinal is a globally prominent First Nations Canadian architect and Officer of the Order of Canada, one of Canada's highest honors. His architectural work and his work as a vocal activist for Indigenous Peoples has led to countless additional honors and awards in Canada and around the world.

"Douglas Cardinal is also a baseball fan and he and people like him should not be subject to racial discrimination in the provision of a service, which is what is occurring in this case. Major league Baseball is a unique product but that does not give baseball teams license for such wanton discrimination," said Swinwood.

This issue has already generated significant social media activity at #NotYourMascot. A hearing will be held on the application before the Superior Court of Justice this coming Monday at 10:00 a.m.
O.C.A.P. Mass Delegation To City Hall For HSF Justice. October 12,2016

by Walter Tautorat
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The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty(OCAP) gathered yesterday in a mass delegation for justice against the Housing Stabilization Fund(HSF).

The HSF was introduced in January of 2013 and is meant to help those on social assistance in the most dire of circumstances. In a lot of cases the people affected are the people in need of the most basic of things.It is meant to get and keep people off the streets, help them move, help pay for hydro, furniture, guide dogs etc..

Since 2013 the fund has been administered by the City of Toronto and has been shrouded in a veil of secrecy. Once an applicant has been turned down there is no appeal. When OCAP was here last on June 13 2016. Laurie Bardeau and her family were fighting for replacement of her furniture, which she was told to throw out because of bed bugs.

With OCAP’s help she won her case and has since become a rallying point for all those others still in need. Once inside the delegation was met by a couple of junior staffers and given the usual “we are going to have more consultations” run around.

Sadly the people in the most need don’t have the luxury of that kind of time. Winter is fast approaching and one can only hope in a city as wonderful and prosperous as Toronto is, the very least our city government can do is help protect those in the most vulnerable of positions. Thanks to OCAP , the Bardeau family and all those who showed up for once again stepping up.

To the mayor John Tory and all the councillors involved,…..do the right thing!! Let’s make sure Toronto leads the way in social justice and not just sweep it under the”budgetary rug”.
Girls spend 160 million more hours than boys doing household chores everyday - UNICEF
NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - Girls between five and 14 years old spend 40 per cent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age, according to a report released by UNICEF ahead of International Day of the Girl on 11 October.

Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030 includes the first global estimates on the time girls spend doing household chores such as cooking, cleaning, caring for family members and collecting water and firewood.

The data show that the disproportionate burden of domestic work begins early, with girls between five and nine years old spending 30 per cent more time, or 40 million more hours a day, on household chores than boys their age. The numbers rise as girls get older, with 10 to 14 year olds spending 50 per cent more time, or 120 million more hours each day.

"The overburden of unpaid household work begins in early childhood and intensifies as girls reach adolescence," said UNICEF's Principal Gender Advisor Anju Malhotra. "As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood. This unequal distribution of labour among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations."

The report notes that girls' work is less visible and often undervalued. Too often adult responsibilities such as caring for family members, including other children, are imposed on girls. Time spent on chores limits a girl's time to play, socialize with friends, study and be a child. In some countries, collecting firewood and water puts girls at risk of sexual violence.

The report also found that:

Girls between 10 and 14 years old in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa spend nearly double the amount of time on household chores compared to boys.
The countries where girls between 10 and 14 years old bear the most disproportionate burden of household chores compared to boys are; Burkina Faso, Yemen and Somalia.
10 to 14 year-old girls in Somalia spend the most amount of time on household chores in total: 26 hours every week.


"Quantifying the challenges girls face is the first critical step towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality and breaking-down barriers that confront the world's 1.1 billion girls," said UNICEF Chief of Data and Analytics Attila Hancioglu.

Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030 notes that data for two thirds of the 44 girl-related indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the global roadmap to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all – are either limited or poor. In addition to household chores, the report presents data on girl-related issues addressed by the SDGs including violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and education. Achieving the SDGs that address these issues and empowering girls with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to reach their full potential, is not only good for girls, but can drive economic growth, promote peace and reduce poverty
It's time for girls to be seen and heard, says Plan International Canada on International Day of the Girl
 On the 5th annual International Day of the Girl, Plan International Canada is urging Canadians to stand up for gender equality and declare that #GirlsBelongHere. To mark this day, Plan is fueling a groundswell of girls who have told the world that they belong in political, economic and business leadership positions. A diverse group of remarkable girls issued a challenge to Canadian decision-makers: 'let us take the lead for a day'.

The challenge was enthusiastically accepted by leaders across the country, with 12 inspiring girls filling high-profile seats where they are traditionally not seen or heard. Last week on Parliament Hill and at the United Nations, girls joined prominent Canadian politicians on the job as they dashed from meetings to Question Period to evening speaking engagements. Watch this video for behind-the-scenes action from The Hill.

In Toronto, girls and their allies are invited to celebrate International Day of the Girl at the Toronto Eaton Centre, where they can take a picture of themselves in a symbolic leadership seat to illustrate every girl's right to equal opportunities. Canadians can join the conversation by sharing their photos and support on social media using #GirlsBelongHere. For every social engagement using #GirlsBelongHere, Sears Canada will donate $1 to Plan International Canada's Because I am a Girl movement.
  "Girls' voices should be heard in Canada and around the world. They should contribute to the meaningful decisions that affect everyone," said Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO, Plan International Canada. "Too many are still being forced into marriage and motherhood in their early teens, are not allowed to go to school, and live in fear of violence, simply because they are girls. Until that changes, we will relentlessly mark International Day of the Girl by shining a spotlight on the inequalities faced by girls, and the work being done to empower and rally behind them."

The Canadian #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of a global mass movement with over 160 leadership roles being filled by girls in over 50 countries – many of which are captured on this interactive social map.

In Canada, there are more ways to be part of the momentum on International Day of the Girl:

Share a message of support using customizable signs at plancanada.ca/GirlsBelongHere. Tell the world that girls belong in leadership roles and anywhere else they choose.

Visit monuments across the country that have been lit up in pink to celebrate International Day of the Girl. These include: Northwest Territories – Legislative Building; British Columbia – Canada Place, BC Place, Science World, Fitzsimmons Bridge and Vancouver Convention Centre (Olympic Cauldron and the District Marker); Alberta – Calgary Tower; Saskatchewan – RCMP Heritage Centre; Ontario - City Hall Towers, Toronto sign; Newfoundland and Labrador – Cabot Tower and Signal Hill; New Brunswick – Fredericton City Hall; Nova Scotia – Halifax City Hall.

Sponsor a girl or donate at becauseiamagirl.ca.

Urge political and economic leaders to do everything in their power to make gender equality a reality.

Plan International Canada would like to thank everyone who accepted the challenge, demonstrating every girl's right to equal opportunities. Leaders from coast to coast participated and raised awareness for gender equality, some of whom included the following:

Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Plan International Canada
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
The Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism (Waterloo)
Michael Grant, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations in NYC
Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, NDP Whip
Rachael Harder, Conservative MP for Lethbridge and Critic for Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Pino Buffone, Superintendent of Instruction, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Dr. Jennifer Adams, Director of Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Robert Witchel, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation
Milestone event marking Women's right to vote opens at the Canadian Museum of History
MONTREAL, Oct. 7, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Dignitaries and government gathered at the Canadian Museum of History located in Hull, Quebec last Wednesday to witness firsthand the unveiling of an important milestone in Canadian women's history called "We're clicking! Let's Explore 100 Years of Women's Voting with Germaine," an important project created by L' Association de la presse francophone (APF), with its partners, the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA) and the Canadian Museum of History.

"The project "We're clicking!" is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of women's suffrage and women's struggle for a society more egalitarian," said APF President Francis Sonier. "It is a great honour for the APF to present such a project and to commemorate our exceptional women."

The project launch also coincided with a launch of an exhibition at the Museum of Manitoba "Nice women do not want to vote." Manitoba women became the first in Canada to win both the right to vote and to hold provincial office.

Despite another commitment, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau conveyed a message to the guests. "We have made significant progress over the years but our work is far from over. It is incumbent upon all of us to reduce stigma and advance the rights of women and girls. As Canadians, we simply must do more to build a more equal world."

Also attending the launch was Mark O'Neill, chairman and CEO, Canadian Museum of History; Randy Boissonnault, the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage; Anju Dhillon, Member of Parliament for Dorval-Lachine-Lasalle and Parliamentary Secretary for the Status of Women; and Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History, the Manitoba Museum. Germaine herself showed up.

"To launch a project like this and to be a part of its development is an honour for all our members and for all Canadians," said Richard Tardif, QCNA's Executive Director. The project, funded mostly by the Department of Canadian Heritage, moves to the next phase engaging Canada's elementary and secondary schools though a competition.

To learn more about "We're clicking! "Visit the website www.clique-clicking.ca.

L'Association de la presse francophone est reconnue comme la voix officielle de la presse écrite et électronique franco-canadienne. Progressiste et incontournable, son influence, son leadership et ses services à l'avant-garde de l'industrie contribuent significativement à l'essor de ses publications membres.

The Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA) is dedicated to the professional and economic development of English community newspapers and their enterprises serving minority communities in Quebec. The federal and provincial governments recognize the QCNA as the official representative of Quebec's official language community. The association's English and bilingual publications distribute weekly, biweekly, monthly and daily to some 770,000 readers across the province.


Ugandan and Jamaican Activists Speak Out On LGBTI Rights
 

October 6, 2016 — Out of 78 countries with anti-gay laws, Uganda and Jamaica are two of the most dangerous in the world places for LGBTI people. Against this backdrop, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network will host a an empowering conversation with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, author of the new book In Defense of All God’s Children and who appeared in the film God Loves Uganda in Toronto on October 12. Joining the Bishop is Dane Lewis, the executive director of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) to recount the successful Pride celebrations in Kingston and Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who is currently challenging Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law before the courts. This conversation will be moderated by veteran CBC Radio host Marcia Young.

At 83 years old, Bishop Senyonjo has risked his life for justice and the inclusion of LGBTI people in Uganda. His memoir tells the story of how he has stood up and spoken out on behalf of those who can’t in his own country, at the risk of his ability to lead congregations in worship. In August 2016, Uganda’s Pride celebrations were abruptly halted by police, who stormed the event and were violent with community participants, arresting, beating and torturing them. In Jamaica, where the law currently criminalizes sex between men, Pride festivities in Kingston and Montego Bay have been held over the past year and continue. Mr. Tomlinson was outed in the Jamaican media and he is currently challenging Jamaica in court on its anti-buggery laws. The Bishop, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Tomlinson will share their challenges and successes on how LGBTI rights have progressed in their communities, albeit hostile governments and climates.

Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Location: Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street

Schedule: 
5:30pm-6:45pm Reception (light refreshments and cash bar) 
7:00pm-8:30pm Conversation

Panelists: 
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, Author, In Defense of All God’s Children
Dane Lewis, Executive Director, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG)
Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Marcia Young, Host, CBC Radio’s World Report (Moderator)


First replacement home delivered
 

ACHESON, AB, Oct. 6, 2016 /CNW/ - Jandel Homes is pleased to announce that their first replacement home has arrived onsite in the Beacon Hill subdivision this week. The RTM (ready to move) house is 2,280 square feet and is affixed to a piling foundation.

"What some people don't know is that by using state of the art technology and production efficiencies, factory built homes offer dramatically reduced construction time over traditional building onsite, which in turn means you can take possession of your new home in as little as two to four months", says Rolf Williamson, Operations Manager with Jandel Homes. "For this particular family, we were further able to speed up construction timelines because they selected a piling foundation, rather than a basement, which literally saved weeks of time on the rebuild."

Jandel Homes offers home models that are fully self-contained, which means that most of their modular and RTM homes can be easily affixed to either a traditional basement foundation, pilings or a crawlspace.

"We had families from Fort McMurray coming into our Sales Centre while much of the City was still evacuating. Their resiliency during such a traumatic life experience has been truly inspiring. Going through this journey with these families has been humbling", says Dan Hill, Director of Sales with Jandel Homes. "These families have chosen to trust us with their rebuilds and we're pleased to be such an integral part of them moving forward".

Once a house makes the journey from the manufacturing facility to the home site, it gets placed onto its foundation and then the onsite work commences. Contractors will spend a few weeks connecting the services and doing a few touch ups. Jandel Homes is expecting that the homeowners will be taking possession in early November.


And the JHR Lifetime Achievement Award in Human Rights Reporting goes to…
 

TORONTO, Oct. 7 2016 /CNW/ - Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is delighted to announce that Paul Barnsley, of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), is the winner of the annual JHR Lifetime Achievement Human Rights Reporting Award.

Barnsley has had a long career covering human rights issues in Indigenous communities. He began his career working at the Tekawennake, a weekly community newspaper, and from 1997 to 2007 worked as a correspondent for Windspeaker. In 2007 he joined APTN, and over the years has made a huge impact on the network. Today he leads APTN's Investigative team. APTN Investigates is the first Indigenous investigative news program in Canada. The show offers viewers hard-hitting investigative reports and stories that change lives.

Barnsley is also known for directing the team that broke the Bruce Carson story - a government-connected scandal that was picked up by every major news outlet in the country.

"Journalists for Human Rights is delighted to honour Paul Barnsley's critically important body of work with the Second Annual Lifetime Achievement Award for Human Rights Reporting. Barnsley's work has laid the foundation for so much powerful reporting on Indigenous issues. He has been consistently first, and consistently the most dogged, in his coverage of this critically important aspect of life in Canada -- opening up vital public conversations on everything from the Bruce Carson case to the residential school survivors' court settlement. Hence the jury's decision", said Rachel Pulfer, JHR Executive Director.

"Paul's thorough, ethical and unbiased coverage has gained the trust of Indigenous people and leaders across the country. During his career he has consistently covered hundreds of human rights stories," said Karyn Pugliese Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at APTN. "He has also influenced and mentored a number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal journalists, influencing and helping to modernize the field of Aboriginal journalism, by insisting on context, detailed investigative work and balance."


"I am so proud of Paul to have achieved this recognition, and to have brought Aboriginal issues to the forefront of national news. He continues to play a significant role on reporting our Peoples stories and APTN is honoured to have him on our team," said Jean La Rose, APTN Chief Executive Officer.

Barnsley received the Human Rights Reporting Award at JHRs annual Night for Rights Gala on Thursday October 6th, 2016.

Night for Rights is JHR's flagship fundraising event, and an opportunity to bring together Canada's leading media organizations in celebration of JHRs work around the world. Since 2002 JHR has worked in 25 countries and trained over 14,500 journalists, whose stories are ensuring human rights remain in the headlines.
Study: Democrats 40 Percent More Likely Than Republicans to Work in Education; Republicans 24 Percent More Likely Than Democrats to Own a Business
OMAHA, NE--(Marketwired - October 06, 2016) - New insights from big data, marketing services and analytics provider Infogroup reveals Democrats are 40 percent more likely than Republicans to work in the education field and Republicans are 24 percent more likely to own a business than Democrats.

In "What Does Today's Voter Look Like?", Infogroup merged voter registration data from critical swing states with its own unique business, consumer and ExecuReach data to determine where Republicans and Democrats work and what job titles they hold. The analysis included battleground states for this year's election, such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio. Additionally, the report profiles the typical Republican or Democrat household, factoring in both single-adult and multiple-adult homes.

When it comes to work life, Republicans and Democrats are split across industries. According to the report, Democrats are 70 percent more likely than Republicans to work in social services and 28 percent more likely to work in legal services. Republicans, on the other hand, are 39 percent more likely to work in wholesale trade.

The report also found that different parties boast different job titles. While Democrats are more likely to be legal counsels or directors, Republicans are more likely to be finance executives or business owners.

"The 2016 presidential election has been unlike any other in recent history, making it more challenging than ever to profile today's voter," said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup. "That being said, we've utilized our premier business and consumer data to more accurately profile the Republican and Democratic parties both at work and at home. Our hope is that businesses can reference this data to more effectively reach and engage with their target markets."

The report also revealed key differences between Republican and Democratic households. In general, Republicans tend to have stronger financial indicators than Democrats, such as higher household income, home value, net worth and likelihood to invest. Across parties, the report also found that multiple-adult households tend to be more financially secure and more likely to be college graduates than single-adult households.

Other findings include:

Multiple-adult Democrat households have a median income of $67K, and multiple-adult Republican households have a median income of $90K.

Single-adult Republican households are 68 percent more likely than single-adult Democrat households to be religious donors.

Multiple-adult Democrat households are 28 percent more likely than multiple-adult Republican households to have an education loan.

"While certain industries aren't exclusive to Republicans or Democrats and not all households fit the same mold, these findings give marketers a better sense of who exactly they are trying to reach," said Gretchen Littlefield, president, Infogroup Media Solutions. "Today's marketer isn't targeting a 'Republican' or a 'Democrat' -- they're targeting a single-household Republican with a home office and a revolving line of credit. With this more complete view of a voter in mind, both B2C and B2B marketers can provide more relevant messaging across the platforms that matter most."

To download the full data report with all of the findings, please visit www.infogroup.com/todays-voter-profile.

Univision and Fusion Collaborate With Sprint to Host 'Rise Up AS ONE' Concert From U.S.-Mexico Border, Celebrating Music, Diversity & Unity on October 15
SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 6, 2016) - Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, and the Fusion Media Group (FMG), a division of UCI serving the rising American mainstream, announced today that its October 15 'RiseUp AS ONE' concert -- a celebration of music, diversity and unity -- will be staged along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California and feature a talented lineup of artists, musicians and performers. Sprint will serve as the presenting sponsor.

This unparalleled, bi-lingual live-music event will take place at the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) in San Diego with artists who represent the best of our diverse and inclusive society, including Miguel Bosé, Luis Coronel, Andra Day, Lila Downs, Jorge Drexler, Fonseca, Jesse & Joy, Juanes, Natalia Lafourcade, Los Tigres del Norte, Lupillo Rivera, Residente, Alejandro Sanz, Julieta Venegas and Carlos Vives.
The event will be hosted by La Banda's Alejandra Espinoza and award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos along with FUSION's Nando Vila and Natasha del Toro. They will be joined by special guests including Gael García Bernal and Jonás Cuarón of "Desierto," Mía Maestro, Wilmer Valderrama, and more.

The concert will be broadcast live coast-to-coast in Spanish on Univision Network and English on FUSION from 7:00-10:00pm, ET (4:00-7:00pm, PT). UCI will cover and promote the concert across its suite of platforms including its 17 broadcast, cable and digital networks and partnership, 126 local television and radio stations and an array of digital brands. For those who wish to attend this free concert, RiseUpAsOne.com will have more information about tickets in the coming days.

"The U.S.-Mexico border provides the perfect stage for this amazing event and is a way to highlight diversity and inclusion, despite borders," said Camila Jimenez Villa, Co-President and Chief Content Officer, Fusion Media Group. "This location and our incredible lineup of award-winning artists will celebrate, through the power of music, the connectedness of our world and the positivity that occurs when we show empathy, respect and openness to one another."

"Sprint is proud to collaborate with Univision and Fusion to bring the RiseUp AS ONE event to life, celebrating our collective community," said Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint. "We are in the business of helping people connect to what matters most to them. This event showcases the very spirit of our mission to keep moving forward without borders or barriers and rising together as ONE voice / Una Voz."

Supporting partners include The California Endowment's #SchoolsNotPrisons and #Health4All campaigns, Cross Border Xpress (CBX), City of San Diego, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of Imperial Beach, HBO, Revolve Impact, Dots, Variety, Square, PVBLIC, UNICEF and BET.

Watch the recently released RiseUp AS ONE launch film narrated by award-winning composer, lyricist, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda here.

Univision and Fusion Media Group recently announced the event's co-chairs, who come from diverse backgrounds and communities. The list of co-chairs include: José Andrés, Nicolas Berggruen, T Bone Burnett, Ximena Caminos, Kenneth Cole, Jason Collins, Junot Díaz, Ava DuVernay, Emilio & Gloria Estefan, America Ferrera, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr, Don Graham, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Dr. Henry Jenkins, Quincy Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mía Maestro, Jonathan Olinger, Eduardo Padrón, Shonda Rhimes, Robert Rodriguez, Dr. Robert K. Ross, Sree Sreenivasan, Forest Whitaker, and Ethan Zuckerman.

For more information about the event and to sign up for event updates, please visit RiseUpAsOne.com (#RiseUpAsOne).
Funding from the Government of Canada boosts War Child Canada's efforts to empower women and girls in Afghanistan
TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - War Child Canada is pleased to announce that it is to receive $14.5M from the Government of Canada for the enhancement of women and girls' rights and the protection of children in Afghanistan. The funding forms part of a $40M investment in the country announced today.

Afghanistan has been blighted by war and poverty for decades and women and children have borne the brunt of the suffering. Eighty-two percent of women and girls experience at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence and more than 60% experience several. Additionally, women's role in decision making is regularly limited to household matters, and their economic opportunities have traditionally been limited.

War Child has been working in Afghanistan for over a decade to address these injustices and change ingrained attitudes towards women and children. The two grants from the Government of Canada will greatly contribute to that.

PROGRAM ONE: War Child will seek to promote the empowerment of Afghan women and increase the capacity of local organizations to protect the rights of women and children through a number of initiatives, including offering training and grants to implement local protection projects and working with relevant ministries to increase awareness of women's rights. The program will also help to provide critical counselling and legal services to survivors of violence, as well as vocational training for women to facilitate their entry into the workforce.

PROGRAM TWO: The Government of Canada will fund a program targeting over 30,000 children. War Child will work with Afghan government officials and civil society to improve the systems in place to protect children in Afghanistan. This will include developing, and then establishing, a community-based child-protection model in more than 95 child-friendly community centres; and providing training for education stakeholders on child-friendly learning techniques, child rights and child-protection strategies to promote safe learning environments.

"Today's announcement by the Government of Canada of a $40M investment in Afghanistan – including a significant contribution to War Child Canada - is very welcome news for the women and children of that country", said Ricard Corbridge, War Child Canada's Director of International Programs. "Hopefully it will serve as an encouragement for others in the International Community to follow Canada's lead."

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, commented "Empowering women and girls is essential for Afghanistan's development. While significant progress has been achieved, Afghan women and girls continue to face widespread discrimination, human rights abuses and major barriers to participating in the economy. By working with our partners, we can help eliminate some of these barriers to ensure a better future for women and girls in Afghanistan."


Assembly of First Nations Stands with Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at 10th Annual Sisters in Spirit Vigils
 

OTTAWA, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Representatives from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) will take part in the 10th annual Sisters in Spirit vigils being held in various locations across the country today to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and their families.

"All governments and police forces can take action now to improve the wellbeing and safety of women and girls while the national inquiry is underway," said AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde. "We can ensure our people living on and off-reserve have access to housing and emergency shelters, childcare services, transportation and health and wellness services. Building healthier, safer communities free of violence against women means ensuring these resources are readily available. I stand with the families of our stolen sisters today, and every day."

"As the newly-elected Chair of the AFN Women's Council, I am honoured to stand with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls today," said Denise Stonefish, who will be marking the day from Ontario. "Racial and sexual discrimination have no place in First Nations communities – whether we choose to live in rural or urban centers. We all must play a part in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls and bringing about justice for our stolen sisters."
The AFN's executive portfolio holder for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, will be attending a vigil in Vancouver, BC today. "It is a unique privilege for me to be able to work with our women – the sacred water carriers and life givers. Women are the heartbeat of our communities," he said. "Working towards the safety and security of our women and girls is of paramount importance, and enough is enough as now is the time to end violence against our women and girls. Today, I am honoured to stand with my sisters here in British Columbia, and across Turtle Island, as we condemn violence against women in all its forms."

Sisters in Spirit vigils, hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women's Association of Canada, take place across the country and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to facilitate healing for families. In 2006 there were 11 vigils; in 2014 there were 216.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates. 
Nearly 385 million children living in extreme poverty, says joint World Bank Group - UNICEF study
NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, according to a new analysis from the World Bank Group and UNICEF. Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children finds that in 2013 19.5 per cent of children in developing countries were living in households that survived on an average of US$1.90 a day or less per person, compared to just 9.2 per cent of adults. Globally, almost 385 million children were living in extreme poverty.

Children are disproportionately affected, as they make up around a third of the population studied, but half of the extreme poor. The youngest children are the most at risk – with more than one-fifth of children under the age of five in the developing world living in extremely poor households.

"Children are not only more likely to be living in extreme poverty; the effects of poverty are most damaging to children. They are the worst off of the worst off – and the youngest children are the worst off of all, because the deprivations they suffer affect the development of their bodies and their minds," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "It is shocking that half of all children in sub-Saharan Africa and one in five children in developing countries are growing up in extreme poverty. This not only limits their futures, it drags down their societies."

The global estimate of extreme child poverty is based on data from 89 countries, representing 83 per cent of the developing world's population.

Sub-Saharan Africa has both the highest rates of children living in extreme poverty at just under 50 per cent, and the largest share of the world's extremely poor children, at just over 50 per cent. South Asia has the second highest share at nearly 36 per cent—with over 30 per cent of extremely poor children living in India alone. More than four out of five children in extreme poverty live in rural areas.

In addition, the report reveals that even at higher thresholds, poverty also affects children disproportionately. About 45 per cent of children are living in households subsisting on less than $3.10 a day per person, compared with nearly 27 per cent of adults.

The new analysis comes on the heels of the release of the World Bank Group's new flagship study, Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality, which found that some 767 million people globally were living on less than $1.90 per day in 2013, half of them under the age of 18.

"The sheer number of children in extreme poverty points to a real need to invest specifically in the early years—in services such as pre-natal care for pregnant mothers, early childhood development programs, quality schooling, clean water, good sanitation, and universal health care," said Ana Revenga, Senior Director, Poverty and Equity at the World Bank Group. "Improving these services, and ensuring that today's children can access quality job opportunities when the time comes, is the only way to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty that is so widespread today."

UNICEF and the World Bank Group are calling on governments to:


Routinely measure child poverty at the national and subnational level and focus on children in national poverty reduction plans as part of efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Strengthen child-sensitive social protection systems, including cash transfer programs that directly help poor families to pay for food, health care, education and other services that protect children from the impact of poverty and improve their chances of breaking the cycle in their own lives.

Prioritize investments in education, health, clean water, sanitation and infrastructure that benefit the poorest children, as well as those that help prevent people from falling back into poverty after setbacks like droughts, disease or economic instability.

Shape policy decisions so that economic growth benefits the poorest children.

UNICEF and the World Bank Group are working with partners to interrupt cycles of poverty and to promote early childhood development - with programs ranging from cash transfers, to nutrition, healthcare and education.

Labour Rally, Queen’s Park October 1 2016
Walter Tautorat: On Saturday 5,000 workers and their families gathered at Queen’s Park for the rally for decent work.

A rally to kick off The Week For Decent Work which is held Oct. 1 -7. People came from over 45 communities all in a united voice for some very basic rights and the hope to create an Ontario that is based on fair and safe jobs for everyone.

Everything from a $15 min. wage to paid sick days for part-time workers to the very fact that true equality still doesn’t exist between male and female workers.

In the words of OFL President Chris Buckley, “We’re here because we believe that it is possible to create an economy built on decent jobs,We know we can do better – we can build the Ontario we want.” The fact that someone can work a 40 hour week and not be able to afford to live in Toronto is an uncomfortable reality. An increasing number of people have to piece together a life that does put them in a precarious and depending on the work, very dangerous situation.

Also mentioned, the fact that most post secondary graduates start their professional lives saddled with a large amount of debt. The OFL represents 54 unions and 1 million workers here in Ontario. There is strength in numbers and hopefully the message will get through to those running this province that the struggle out here is very real. For more info please visit, www.MakeItFair.ca.

Wet chilly weather aside it was an enjoyable gathering, from the music to the face painting for the kids, it is always nice to gather with this many people hoping and rallying for a common good!
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Habitat for Humanity Canada to undertake biggest build project ever
Habitat's 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build 150 homes over 6 days in 2017
TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Habitat for Humanity Canada is marking today – World Habitat Day – by announcing that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will be in Canada for Habitat for Humanity's 34th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in July, 2017 to help build 150 homes for Canada's 150th anniversary.

This will be Habitat Canada's biggest build project ever and will take place in every province and territory across the country with President and Mrs. Carter focusing their efforts in Edmonton, Alberta, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

"It is an honour to host President and Mrs. Carter. We are grateful for their support and the many volunteers whose commitment to Habitat's mission has helped us empower communities through affordable home ownership," said Mark Rodgers, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "These are homes that provide families with the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life."

Habitat Canada has a long history of creating affordable housing opportunities. One in seven households, including 735,000 children, do not have a decent and affordable place to call home in Canada. Every day thousands of families are forced to decide between paying rent or putting food on the table. Habitat's model of affordable home ownership helps to change that.

People living in Habitat homes not only help to build their own houses, they also pay affordable mortgages. Habitat for Humanity's innovative approach helps working families on a new path to better, affordable living conditions that lead to improved health and stronger childhood development. Access to affordable home ownership can help decrease a family's reliance on food banks and allow them to move out of social housing which frees up space for those on waiting lists.

Everyone in Canada has the right to a safe, affordable and decent place to live in and yet so many families do not have that. By supporting the Carter Work Project, Canadians can help build a more caring nation through volunteering – where neighbours help neighbours build homes that provide a safe and affordable foundation for a better life.

Since 1984, President and Mrs. Carter have traveled around the world with Habitat, to build and improve homes. Their time and effort helps to raise awareness of the critical need for affordable home ownership around the world. Inspiring millions over the last three decades, President and Mrs. Carter have worked alongside nearly 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,000 homes.

Participating affiliates are now working on identifying and procuring build sites as part of the Carter Work Project. To learn how you can become a part of the 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, visit habitat.ca/cwp. Information on future build sites will be updated as it becomes available in 2017.

Habitat for Humanity Canada would like to thank the early supporters of the 34th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project! There are still many exciting sponsorship opportunities available. To find out about how your company or organization can be involved, please go to www.habitat.ca/cwp.

City of Edmonton
City of Fort Saskatchewan
Province of Alberta
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries
Floform Countertops
Wall Grain
Kristie Charitable Foundation
Nissan Canada Foundation
Qualico
Stantec
Beaver Plastics
Cossette
PCL
Pollard Bank Note
Tachane Foundation

About Habitat for Humanity Canada
In Canada, Habitat for Humanity has been working since 1985 toward a world where everyone has a decent and safe place to live. With the help of over 70,000 volunteers every year and 56 local organizations from coast to coast to coast, we believe in bringing communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. Worldwide, more than 6.8 million people have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. For more information, visit habitat.ca.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in nearly 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.


Every $1 invested in Habitat for Humanity yields about $4 in societal benefits, including improved employment and education opportunities and a decreased burden on social programming. For more information on how Habitat for Humanity's business model helps low income Canadians through affordable home ownership, please click here to download the Boston Consulting Group's 2015 report: Transforming Lives: The Social Return on Habitat's Work in Canada.


Dying for a Temporary Job
 

Documentary looks at the dangers of Temporary and Precarious Work

OTTAWA, Oct 3, 2016 /CNW/ - A Day's Work, an award-winning documentary focused on a temp agency worker killed 20 minutes into his agency-assigned job, is being screened at the University of Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. The film will be followed by a discussion with the executive producer, David Desario, a former temporary worker.

The film looks at the explosion of the temp agency industry, with 50,000 such companies in the U.S., more than 12 times the number of Wal-Mart stores nationwide. No longer a clearing house for clerical work, temp agencies supply more workers to industrial sites than to any other sector.

In Ontario since 2000, temporary and precarious work has grown more than twice as fast as permanent full-time work. In a 2015 Ontario Ministry of Labour proactive inspection blitz, 75 per cent of the inspected temp agencies were found to be in violation of labour laws.


The Ontario government is currently reviewing the province's labour laws, and labour and community advocates are calling for sweeping reforms that will better protect workers in precarious and low-wage work and regulate temp agencies to ensure workers' rights are protected.

Discussion in French and English after the screening will compare the situation in Canada with that in the U.S., in terms of the changing nature of work, as well as the differences in health and safety law and who is responsible for keeping workers safe.

This will include a review of the United Steelworkers' campaign to enforce the 2003 changes to the Criminal Code, which are intended to hold corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for workplace death and injury. Across Canada, about 1,000 workers are killed annually at work.

Admission is free at the Alumni Auditorium, University of Ottawa (Jock Turcot University Centre, 85 University Private).

Organized by the United Steelworkers, University of Ottawa Department of Criminology and the campaign Fight for $15 and Fairness. Sponsored by Unifor Local 2025, Public Service Alliance of Canada National Capital Region and Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4600.

A Day' Work trailer: www.tempfilm.com
Challenge Accepted! Canadian leaders to give up their seats to acknowledge that 'Girls Belong Here' on International Day of the Girl
TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2016 /CNW/ - Canadian leaders have accepted the challenge to give up their seats to girls for a day to mark the 5th International Day of the Girl. Leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11th, across the country, a diverse group of remarkable Canadian girls will fill these high profile decision-making seats to illustrate every girl's right to equal opportunities – seats such as those of the Honourable Ministers Marie-Claude Bibeau, Patricia Hajdu, Carolyn Bennett, Catherine McKenna and Bill Morneau; NDP Whip, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet; Conservative MP for Lethbridge, Rachael Harder; Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, Michael Grant; Director of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Dr. Jennifer Adams and many other distinguished Canadian leaders.

Plan International Canada, the team behind the groundbreaking Because I am a Girl movement, is supporting this groundswell of girls who are declaring that #GirlsBelongHere in the seats of political, economic and business leaders in Canada and globally.

"We can realize the world that we dream of – but only when half of the population is no longer left behind. We keep telling girls that they're capable of anything, so let's truly give them the opportunity to be seen and heard," said Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO, Plan International Canada, who is one of those giving up her seat for the day. "We are impressed that so many Canadian leaders believe in these girls and have stepped up to provide these powerful opportunities for International Day of the Girl."

Globally, millions of girls still bear the brunt of poverty, are denied an education, forced into marriage and face violence because they are young and female. The majority of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty are girls and women. More than 62 million girls around the world remain not in school. Each year, 15 million girls under 18 will be married and 16 million girls ages 15-19 will give birth. Worldwide, the proportion of women in parliament is only 22 per cent. Girls know that these barriers that prevent them from realizing their inherent potential to lead need to be torn down.

Marie Claude Bibeau, Canada's Minister of International Development and La Francophonie said: "The International Day of the Girl marks a unique opportunity for young women leaders of tomorrow to add their voice and play an important role in our collective efforts, as a government, to achieve gender equality. I look forward to listening, debating and exchanging on some of the most pressing challenges faced by women and girls. At home and abroad, Canada is committed to the empowerment of women and girls and to supporting their full participation, leadership and decision-making in all aspects of society."

The Canadian #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of a global movement, with over 120 leadership roles being filled by girls in over 50 countries; including positions such as the President of Nepal and the Mayor of Paris. The girls who are involved are making their voices heard and while in their seat will contribute to meaningful decisions that affect everyone.

"I believe wholeheartedly that girls and women should have the tools to be the best versions of themselves. My passion for gender equality started when I was young, seeing and learning about the power imbalance between men and women," said Jathusha, 17, a girl who will be working with The Honourable Patricia Hajdu's role as Minister of Status of Women Canada for International Day of the Girl. "When I volunteered abroad, I saw the struggle of young girls due to female genital mutilation, health accessibility issues, poverty and lack of empowerment and it has pushed me to look at gender issues through a global lens. I am proud to be here today, making my voice heard."

Girls and women belong in the seats of classrooms, boardrooms, senates, courtrooms, press rooms and corner offices. They belong on the playing field, in the film director's chair and in laboratories. #GirlsBelongHere and everywhere else where decisions are made.

Here is the full list of Canadian leaders who are giving up their seats for International Day of the Girl:

Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
The Honourable Minister Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism (Waterloo)
Michael Grant, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations in NYC
Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, NDP Whip
Rachael Harder, Conservative MP for Lethbridge and Critic for Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Pino Buffone, Superintendent of Instruction, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Dr. Jennifer Adams, Director of Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Robert Witchel, Executive Director of Jays Care Foundation
Canadians can follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GirlsBelongHere. Read more about the girl ambassadors here.

About International Day of the Girl

In 2009, Plan International Canada led an extensive two-year campaign that engaged thousands of Canadians in a call for an International Day of the Girl as part of the Because I am a Girl, a global initiative to end gender inequality and recognize girls' rights as human rights. In December 2011, following unanimous all-party support of the Canadian Parliament and support from the United Nations, October 11 was officially declared the International Day of the Girl.

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children's rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International's global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.


PEN Canada deplores the killing of Nahed Hattar
 

TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2016 /CNW/ - PEN Canada deplores the killing of writer Nahed Hattar, who was gunned down outside a courtroom in Amman, Jordan on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Mr. Hattar, a Jordanian Christian and secularist, faced trial on criminal charges of "insulting Islam" and "provoking sectarian strife" because of a cartoon he posted on his Facebook page.

"Violence in the name of a religious creed does a gross disservice to that very creed, undermines both religious freedom and freedom of expression, and, as in the present case, leads to the taking of a human life," said Randy Boyagoda, president of PEN Canada.

PEN International has long objected to the use of religious defamation laws to suppress freedom of expression. In a 2006 statement on the publication of cartoons offensive to Muslims, Jiří Gruša, former president of PEN International, noted that "The right to question all beliefs is a cherished tradition that requires mutual respect." He added that "Satire can often be provocative and the defence of the right to such freedom of expression does not imply any sympathy with the views held by the authors."


In 2010, a PEN International panel urged the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva not to support legal restrictions on expression that is considered offensive or defamatory to religions. PEN argued that such measures do little to foster mutual understanding and respect and are often used to stifle creative freedom and suppress minority views. Former PEN International President John Ralston Saul stated: "The most violent attacks on organized religions do not come from religious individuals or even atheist individuals, but from other organized religions or sects and from their religious leaders." Saul added: "The problems of religious denigration are not legal. They are political and cultural problems that can only be resolved through strengthening respect among nations and a shared understanding of our common humanity."

Since the 2015 killing of writers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and widespread subsequent violence against writers, bloggers and cartoonists accused of religious insults, PEN has repeatedly called for the repeal of laws that restrict the right to legitimate freedom of expression. Especially troubling are vague and overbroad national security acts, and sedition, obscenity, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws that are used to harass and silence critical voices, including on social media and online.
Annual Winter Clothing Drive Powered by Cooper begins
TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2016 /CNW/ - Cooper Equipment Rentals Limited ("Cooper") of Toronto is excited to announce that the annual Winter Clothing Drive powered by Cooper will be taking place this year from September 26 to November 18.

Every year Cooper Equipment Rentals looks for ways to give back to its communities in a meaningful way. In the past, Cooper employees participated in activities such as community tree planting, delivering meals to those in need and volunteering their time at non-profit organizations.

"Supporting local communities is a core mandate of Cooper. Every year, we look to our employees to provide suggestions on how we can help our communities to stay safe and prosperous. The Winter Clothing Drive is an initiative which all of our employees rally behind, and we are proud to support this great cause." says Cooper CEO, Darryl Cooper.

Last year, Cooper employees donated approximately 1,000 jackets, 200 snow pants and 150 winter accessories such as toques, scarves and mittens to children and families in need. This year Cooper hopes to collect more than 2,000 winter clothing items for children and families in need.

Participants interested in donating gently used winter clothing can do so by bringing them to any Cooper Equipment Rentals branch.

For more information about the winter clothing drive or to find your nearest Cooper Equipment Rental, please call 1-800-315-COOP.
WFP REACHES FOUR BESIEGED SYRIAN TOWNS
FOR FIRST TIME SINCE APRIL
DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday delivered life-saving food assistance to besieged families in the Four Towns of Madaya and Zabadani in Rural Damascus and Foaa and Kefraya in Rural Idlib as part of a joint interagency convoy with UN agencies and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

This is the first time that food and humanitarian supplies have reached these areas since April.

“This convoy has brought extraordinary relief for 60,000 people who are in dire need of food and medical supplies, and have been cut off from humanitarian access for five months,” said WFP Syria Country Director Jakob Kern.

WFP sent 45 trucks carrying food rations and wheat flour to the four towns as part of a joint UN-SARC convoy. The food rations contain rice, lentils, bulgur wheat, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, beans and chick peas, and are sufficient for 60,000 people for one month. WFP also delivered to Madaya and Zabadani a three-month supply of specialized nutritious products for the prevention of malnutrition for 250 children.

“Elsewhere in Syria, we are extremely concerned about the more than 250,000 people trapped in eastern Aleppo city who are cut off from food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies,” added Kern. “We call on all parties to this terrible conflict to immediately open transport routes that allow unconditional, unimpeded, sustained and safe humanitarian access to those in eastern Aleppo and every family across Syria that needs our support.”

Last week, a convoy reached the besieged area of Moadamiyet al Sham in Rural Damascus for the first time since July, delivering WFP food for 35,000 people for one month, in addition to other humanitarian assistance. An additional interagency convoy went to Al Wa’er in Homs, providing WFP food for 37,000 people and wheat flour for 70,000 people for one month.  A third convoy to Talbiseh in Rural Homs brought enough wheat flour from WFP for 84,000 people for one month, in addition to other food supplies.

Across Syria, WFP provides food assistance to more than 4 million people every month. Thirty per cent of this food is delivered through cross-border, cross-line and air operations to areas that are not reachable through regular road deliveries.
WFP sent 45 trucks carrying food rations and wheat flour to the four towns as part of a joint UN-SARC convoy. Photo: © WFP/Hussam Alsaleh


The Push for Change Campaign Arrives in Ontario
 

HAWKESBURY, ON, Sept. 22, 2016 /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) welcomed Joe Roberts – a former street youth who is now a celebrated entrepreneur – as he arrived in Ontario today, pushing his shopping cart to spread awareness about homeless youth.

Community members and partners, students and special guest Walter Gretzky joined Joe and OPP Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes as they walked from Confederation Park to the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury, sharing their message to make positive change for youth. The event continues into the evening with a silent auction and entertainment.

"As The Push for Change comes to Ontario, we take this opportunity to recognize their work in raising awareness and helping to end youth homelessness. Addressing the risk factors that lead to poverty and youth homelessness is a key focus of the government's Strategy for a Safer Ontario – a collaborative and integrated approach to community safety and well-being that brings various sectors together to determine solutions to our shared challenges," David Orazietti, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services said.

Joe, the Executive Director of The Push for Change, began his 9,000 km trek across Canada on May 1, 2016. For the next seven months, he will be walking and travelling across Ontario, stopping in communities along the way to speak about the issues at the root of youth homelessness.
Roberts said, "Having the OPP as a community safety partner helps both our organizations engage Ontario communities with a shared message on what we need to do to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness."

As part of a community safety partnership with The Push for Change, the OPP is mobilizing and engaging with youth and various stakeholders in more than 50 community-based events, such as sleep out challenges, hockey games and community meals. These events, beginning with the one today in Hawkesbury, will raise awareness about the risk factors and vulnerabilities affecting homeless youth, while fostering positive connections between the OPP, youth, families, stakeholders and communities.

The Push for Change encourages everyone to work together, one community at a time, to make sustainable change for Canadian youth. The OPP's partnership with the campaign helps create positive momentum and multiply efforts to educate people about, and eliminate youth homelessness.

Further information about The Push for Change campaign is available at www.thepushforchange.com.
 Protest at Turkish Consulate in Toronto against crackdown on free expression
TORONTO, Sept. 22, 2016 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey are leading a coalition of free expression and civil society groups to protest outside the Turkish consulate in Toronto on September 23, 2016, at 12:30 pm in support of free expression in Turkey. This protest coincides with the first hearing in the case against Ayşe Çelik, a Turkish teacher prosecuted for criticizing Turkish military action against civilians in the southeastern region. 31 individuals who co-signed her statement are also being tried in Turkish courts.

Event Details: Stand With Ayse and Free Expression in Turkey

Location: Turkish Consulate General, 10 Lower Spadina, Toronto, ON

When: 23 September 2016, 12:30-13:00
Çelik was charged after calling in to popular television program The Beyaz Show and making an impassioned plea for the media to cover killings and other abuses against civilians. Human Rights Watch has called for independent investigations into alleged mass abuses against civilians across southeast Turkey.

Her comments led to a harsh backlash on social media by pro-government individuals and media outlets. An investigation was opened against her on the charges of "promoting terrorist organization propaganda."

In response to the criminalization of Çelik's speech, 31 people signed on to her statement, many of whom lived in or had recently travelled to Diyarbakir, the region identified in her televised appeal. The case was subsequently expanded to include all signatories. If convicted, they each face up to 7.5 years in prison.

CJFE and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey are coordinating a series of parallel protests outside Turkish diplomatic missions in cities around the world to coincide with the hearing of her case. Organizations joining the protest at the Turkish consulate in Toronto include Amnesty International Canada, IFEX, the Toronto Kurdish Community & Information Centre, and PEN Canada. CJFE has also requested a meeting with consular officials but have, to date, received no reply.

"Democracy in Turkey is rapidly failing." says Tom Henheffer, Executive Director of CJFE. "Nowhere is this more evident than in the Turkish government's jailing of journalists, free expression defenders and citizens that it deems political enemies.To show it has any semblance of respect for free expression, Turkey must immediately release and drop the charges against Çelik and all other prisoners of conscience it is persecuting."

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, CJFE promotes a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. 
Lowe's Donates $1 Million To The Smithsonian's National Museum Of African American History And Culture 
MOORESVILLE, N.C., Sept. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Lowe's Companies, Inc. today announced a $1 million donation to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The gift will support the museum's future and help bring thought-provoking exhibitions, artifacts, and education and public programs on the African American experience and its impact on the nation and the world to visitors. The museum will be dedicated Sept. 24, 2016, by President Barack Obama.

The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum, which sits on a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument, will be a place where Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience. Since its start in 2003, the museum has built a collection of nearly 30,000 objects covering major periods of African American history, beginning with the origins in Africa and continuing through slavery, the civil rights era, the Harlem Renaissance, the great migrations north and west and into the 21st century.
"Lowe's is proud to support the National Museum of African American History and Culture in honoring the rich experience and contributions of the African American community, and how it has shaped our national identity," said Robert Niblock, Lowe's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our support connects to a broader commitment to be even more thoughtful and intentional about embracing diversity as part of our everyday business."

Lowe's continues to expand its diversity and inclusion outreach by engaging in hundreds of related events and initiatives annually. With focused efforts on increasing diverse talent, supporting diverse suppliers and empowering diverse students, Lowe's partners with organizations including, the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), National Association of Black Accountants (NABA),Women of Color STEM, National Minority Supplier Development Council, Urban League and UNCF (United Negro College Fund), to empower the African American community.

For more information about Lowe's commitment to diversity and philanthropy, visit Lowes.com/SocialResponsibility. 
Peace Day Challenge Engages Millions to Reduce Violence
In Afghanistan, Herat University is holding a peace rally just weeks after the deadly attack on the American University in Kabul killed 14 students and faculty. In Chicago, a moment of silence and a peace flag procession will cap three weeks of events calling for an end to violence in a city rocked by more than 500 homicides this year. In Washington D.C., youth leaders from Nigeria, Morocco and Uganda will share their personal stories that led them to create organizations dedicated to preventing and reducing violence, in a discussion with students from Roosevelt High School.

These actions and more in at least 36 states, in war zones and in other countries worldwide are part of a U.S. Institute of Peace initiative to elevate the International Day of Peace with concrete action. The #PeaceDayChallenge, now in its second year, urges everyone to take steps that affirm peace as a real alternative to the violence chronicled every day in the news.

Established by the United Nations in 1981, the International Day of Peace is observed each year on September 21. This year marks the 35th anniversary.

"Peace is possible, but it doesn't manifest of its own accord," said USIP President Nancy Lindborg. "It requires hard work by people in their own communities and across their nations." 
Last year, the #PeaceDayChallenge reached 23 million people on social media, engaging communities, organizations and students of all ages, as well as leaders from U.S. Members of Congress to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In a June event this year at USIP, the Dalai Lama urged tangible work to advance peace, saying "the real effect comes through … serious action."

USIP will kick off its Peace Day activities at its Washington D.C. headquarters at 10:00 a.m., with the exchange between Roosevelt High School students and the young civic leaders from the three African countries who are part of the institute's Generation Change Fellows Program. The fellows will lead workshops that emphasize the power of sharing stories to form human connections and build community in areas affected by conflict.

No matter where action is taking place under the banner of the Peace Day Challenge, learning and further activities will continue with the help of guides such as USIP's Peacebuilding Toolkit for Educators.


The Government of Canada lays the foundations of a more inclusive Canada and world at the United Nations
 

OTTAWA, Sept. 20, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, was invited by France to give a speech at an International Leading Group on Social and Solidarity Economy meeting which took place in parallel with the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Chaired by François Hollande, President of the French Republic, the event's theme was "Social and Solidarity Economy: Key Sector for a Sustainable Urban Development."

Canada is currently finishing its preparations to participate in the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III. Discussions will take place at Habitat III on subjects like poverty, climate change, public safety, infrastructure, housing, health and quality of life, and will touch on the social, economic and creative advantages that cities offer. The Leading Group meeting was an opportunity for Minister Duclos, head of Canada's delegation to Habitat III, to announce the foundations of Canada's contribution to the New Urban Agenda. This agenda is a declaration that aims to renew global political commitment to sustainable development for the next 20 years. Innovative solutions will be developed and launched in partnership with all levels of government, community and urban partners and the private and public sectors.

In his speech, Minister Duclos reiterated Canada's commitment to the UN and to the guiding principles of the Habitat III Summit. These principles echo the Government of Canada's objectives outlined in Budget 2016: stimulating the economy and strengthening the middle class.

"We still face deeply entrenched social challenges that no single government can solve on their own. This is why collaboration and innovation are key to Canada's vision for the implementation of a New Urban Agenda. I am happy to work with our Canadian partners, and also to learn about the ways that other countries tackle these same challenges."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

The Minister also highlighted Canada's efforts to act as a leader in innovation and collaboration to promote the inclusion of all people, particularly those who are underrepresented, such as youth, women, children, immigrants, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and members of the LGBTQ2 community.

The United Nations' Habitat III Summit will take place from October 17 to 20 in Quito, Ecuador, and will bring together representatives from countries all across the world to discuss important questions in sustainable urban development.
Ode to Lesvos: The Inspirational Story of the Islanders on the Front Lines of the Refugee Crisis

"Can you really ignore what's in front of your eyes? Because tomorrow it could be me. I could be on a boat with my family and I would like to be helped," says fisherman Stratis Valamios in Ode to Lesvos, a new documentary film from Johnnie Walker Storyline.

This time 12 months ago, Stratis' life changed beyond recognition as he spent months on end rescuing men, women and children from the waters around his home. His village, with a population of just 150, became the front line of the refugee crisis as hundreds of thousands of people came ashore, fleeing war and seeking a better future.

The positive response of the people of Lesvos who, last year alone, helped almost half a million refugees making the dangerous voyage across the Aegean Sea, has been documented in Ode to Lesvos. The film was created by Scotch whisky maker Johnnie Walker as part of its Storyline initiative, which gives a voice to real life stories from around the world.
Ode to Lesvos is a documentary short that tells the stories of the islanders whose uncompromising compassion has earned some of them, including Stratis, fellow fisherman Thanassis Marmarinos and 85-year-old Aimilia Kamvisi a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Throughout the past year, headlines from the region have naturally focused on the tragic aspects of the unfolding human drama in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Ode to Lesvos shines a light on a lesser told story - the inspiring response of islanders who opened their hearts to the refugees and whose positivity drove them to rescue people from the sea, give shelter, and provide food and water.

As part of the launch of Ode to Lesvos, Johnnie Walker is supporting Mercy Corps, a leading global organisation that helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster. Since the Syrian war began, Mercy Corps has helped more than 7.7million people affected by the crisis and expanded its programming to Greece and The Balkans in response to the migration crisis.

Simon O'Connell, Executive Director, Mercy Corps Europe, said: "The migration crisis continues to have a huge impact on the world in which we live. It is vitally important that we are able to tell these kinds of stories and raise awareness of the issues faced by those who are forcibly displaced and the communities who receive them.

"It is our hope that by working with Johnnie Walker to share the remarkable story of how the islanders of Lesvos responded to the plight of refugees last summer, we will inspire others to positive actions. There is a thread of humanity that links each and every one of us and when someone needs help, we must be present."

Speaking about Ode to Lesvos Guy Escolme, Global Brand Director at Johnnie Walker, said: "The film represents one chapter in the evolving, larger story of the refugee crisis but it is one that highlights how acts of kindness and positivity made a difference to the lives of those who made a dangerous journey in search of a better future. We hope people will be inspired by Ode to Lesvos and one way they can respond is by supporting the efforts of Mercy Corps, a leading global organisation whose work through this crisis and many others around the world has brought the promise of hope and possibility to hundreds of thousands of displaced people."

In addition to encouraging people to donate to the work of Mercy Corps, Johnnie Walker is also continuing to work with the local community featured in the Ode to Lesvos to identify a number of local projects that will make a positive impact as they look to life beyond the crisis.

Ode to Lesvos has been directed by Sundance Film Festival-winning director Talal Derki. "This was a deeply personal project, influenced by my life experience of the Syrian and Greek cultures" said Derki, himself a Syrian exile who was honoured at Sundance for his documentary on the war in his homeland - Return to Homs.

He continued: "Following the events of last summer and knowing first-hand the despair migrants face as they seek refuge and a better future for their families, I felt compelled to tell the inspiring story of the response of the community of Lesvos. Their enduring positivity, readiness to help, and, above all, humanity remind the world that it is possible to make tomorrow better than today."

Ode to Lesvos is being released in time for International Peace Day (September 21) and can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/INkT00ewy48?list=PLxitlhQXKCQyzUWycTBoQ_7zvuYr22lj-

People can donate to the work of Mercy Corps by visiting: http://www.mercycorps.org/johnniewalker


Canadian Commitments at Refugees Summit
 

  At the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to increase humanitarian assistance for 2016-2017 by at least 10% over the 2015-2016 total of $684 million. This increased support for education initiatives and humanitarian assistance for children in crisis is a signal of Canadian leadership according to World Vision, Canada's largest international humanitarian assistance and development organization.

At the Summit, Global leaders re-affirmed their support for existing frameworks to support child protection and their rights to education and psychosocial support, as well as improving access for refugee families to labour markets. However, despite increased political and financial commitments such as what we saw by the Government of Canada, the UN Summit proved to be a lost opportunity to do more than the status quo to help millions of children in need, according to World Vision.

"We had high hopes for children, but today displaced and imprisoned children are left with a business-as-usual approach that offers little hope. There are two glaring problems with what has happened. First, the New York Declaration effectively allows for the imprisonment of children see