Ground Zero INAC, Toronto, July 22, 2017
BY Walter Tautorat
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An Urgent Vigil for Indigenous Children & Youth Suicides has held space in front of the Indian & Northern Affairs office on St. Clair E. since July 20th.

I had the chance to visit on Saturday with Carrie Lester, Sigrid Kneve, Sue Lynn Manone and some of the other incredible people involved in this effort to pray for all the families and communities affected by recent shocking increases in youth suicides.

The statistics are staggering. The reality sinks in that these are not stories from a far away desperate corner of the planet but right here in Ontario and Canada.

The people most affected are not refugees but the people that were here before us. Truth is there are still over 100 communities in Canada without drinkable water. Another hopeful outcome of this vigil was to raise public awareness.

Some things you learn in life are very uncomfortable but as important as the joyous ones. If these numbers applied to an affluent neighborhood in Toronto I can only imagine the headlines and public outcry. Reconciliation can only truly begin with an honest understanding of our history.

It was indeed a pleasure to meet these wonderful people and share the hope that things get better. Hopefully many thousands of young people can feel some real hope and a sense of future.

 

 
FUN FAMILY DAY TRIP:
HANGING OUT AT PAMA
BY KJ MULLINS
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Some of the best family memories don't take place thousands of miles away. Day trips to local places can be the ticket that doesn't cost much but will create lasting moments for your family. For Toronto families heading over to Brampton's PAMA (Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives) can be a fun day for artful learning.

PAMA is located in a series of historical buildings for the 1800s. Excite the kids by letting them know that they are going to the Peel County Jail and Courthouse, opened in 1867. The buildings are protected by the Ontario Heritage Act. Inside they can explore how things used to be in Ontario with exhibits about life behind bars, farming and the original residents-Aboriginal people living in the Peel Region.

It's not just history that flows at PAMA, some of the most sought after art collections are exhibited. This summer PAMA is celebrating Canada 150 with curator tours, family fun days and important exhibitions on some of Canada's darkest history including Black Enslavement in Upper Canada.

On the third Saturday of every month PAMA hosts Family Fun Days with activities like yoga, story time and colouring. July's theme is Canada 150 and August will focus on home.

PAMA is open Monday - Sunday (The archives are closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday) from 10 am to 4:30 pm (open until 9 PM on Thursday and 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday)

General Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children, students and seniors. This summer admission is free!

Check out their website for more details.
 
 
A Big Birthday Bash And A Big Bath Toy, Toronto Harbour , Canada Day 2017
BY WALTER TAUTORAT
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Toronto celebrated Canada’s 150th. birthday in fine form this past weekend. Every park and every landmark drew millions out to celebrate, not to mention the thousands of backyard and deck parties.

People went to any of a few hundred places to gather, listen to music, dance eat, drink and watch enough fireworks to last for three days. One of the most interesting and certainly most controversial being the appearance of the world’s largest rubber duck in Toronto Harbour.

Designed by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman, versions of this duck have appeared around the world since 2007. This particular one was enlarged and put together by Ryan Whaley, an Ohio Public Relations specialist.

It is rumoured, but not confirmed by the artist, that the inspiration for this work comes from a 1992 incident in which a Chinese cargo ship lost some 350 containers in a storm. Some of these contained bath toys which are said to have been floating around the world for decades. The artist’s intent with this piece is to make people’s lives happier and promote unity and healing. Of all the events going on this one surely created the most discussion.

Many decried the expense of bringing this thing here. Many questioned it’s lack of Canadian content. We are, after all, more famous for beavers, moose, polar bears and large pesky geese. All of the political jockeying aside, it sure did draw a crowd! Harbourfront was packed, shoulder to shoulder, with tons of people clamouring to get a peek and more importantly, a selfie, with the big rubber duck.

I have always believed that art should create a thought, a discussion, a reason to stop for a moment, if for no other reason but to take that extra look. It was an awesome experience being out with so many Torontonians and visitors to celebrate Canada’s 150th.

Most visitors seemed to like the duck but even if you didn’t, you can always stick around for some of that smelly tofu! Thanks to the millions for a great party!
 
 
PAMA features First Nations' artist James Simon Mishibinijima for Canada 150
 (29/06/2017)
BY KJ MULLINS
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First Nations' artist James Simon Mishibinijima is a teacher, though his art and his very presence. Currently PAMA (Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives) is featuring his painting collection '7 Grandfather Teachings' as part of Peel 150: Stories of Canada.

On Thursday, June 28 Mishibinijima was at PAMA to talk about his work and perform a cleansing smudging. Mishibinijima learned how to smudge from his mother, a survivor of Canada's residential school program.

As Mishibinijima set up the herbs and dried plants he commented on the sadness he felt within the room, which at one time as a jail. He said he had felt this sadness in Germany on roads where soldiers had walked. Mishibinijima offered to let me talk in the aroma of the dried herbs before they were burnt, a scent that was healing in itself. He explained that his mother took years teaching him the ways of smudging, a little more each year until he was ready for full knowledge.

Mishibinijima discussed with those attending the ceremonial smudging about the need for cleansing. As the smoke rose stories of how his people view a person's lifeline were told, how a man lives the North, East, South and West throughout the course of his time walking on Earth and in the ending days he returns to the spirit that started his journey.The beauty of his words taught the importance of his culture and the beliefs of his people.

Mishibinijima brings the wisdom of his people to his art. In 7 Grandfather Teachings each stroke of his paintbrush tells a complex story of the horrors of the residential school story. His mother, and those who suffered along with her, came out of the schools torn between two worlds. The two headed serpents represent the evils of the church, not one single person, but the evils that those endured at the hands of those involved. From the rapes of young children to the enduring battles between living in two cultures each painting has a story that will touch viewers.

“These immutable qualities of character — courage, honesty, humility, love, truth, respect, and wisdom — act as foundational principles of integrity and sources of strength that we can turn to today to find truth and reconciliation,” says PAMA Art Gallery Curator, Tom Smart.

The exhibition will be at PAMA from June 29 until October 15. This is a collection that has to be seen, for the touching stories that they invoke by every Canadian.

PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E. in Brampton. Visit pama.peelregion.ca to learn more.
 
Toronto Pride 2017, Sunday June 25, 2017
BY WALTER TAUTORAT
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For all the political positioning and battling that took place leading up to Toronto’s annual Pride Parade the event itself gave quite a different feel.

Downtown was packed with thousands of people of all stripes in what can only be described as one of the biggest street parties in Toronto.

This years parade, led by dignitaries such as Chief Bellegarde, Prime Minister Trudeau, Premiere Wynne, our own Mayor Tory and Grand Marshal, Cree artist Kent Monkman, lived up to expectations as a unified loud voice for the freedoms and inclusions of all in our society.

A massive wave of joyous faces, pounding beats and lots of those bright colours this event is famous for.

After a couple of hours at the parade I wandered into the village to find all streets closed to cars and filled with thousands more enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

From naked revellers to the most elaborate outfits and make-up, a chance for everyone to drop their inhibitions and be whatever they want to be.

Toronto does know how to throw a party. One where everyone is invited without judgement.

Hope everyone had an awesome Pride weekend! Seems everyone I saw did!

BY WALTER TAUTORAT
Pow Wow At The Fort. Fort York, Toronto, June 24, 2017
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In celebration of Canada’s National Aboriginal Day, Na-Me-Res(Native Men’s Residence) hosted a spectacular traditional Pow Wow on Saturday at Fort York.

It was the second time I have had the pleasure of such an event but my first time to have the honour to witness a Grand Entry. It was to say the least, a moving experience. In respect to tradition, no photos taken, I could feel the respect shown for all people, living and dead, in a procession that had a very spirit moving feel.

Long gone the battles fought and lives lost, a sense of unity going forward. A sense that our very survival as a species would be far better served working together and standing side by side.

Soon after, the drumming and dancing began to take over the afternoon. The rhythms and singing of an incredible history and lore passed down through the many, many generations.

I wish I would have been taught more of this part of our history in school but luckily it is never too late to learn.

The grounds were full of art, crafts and some incredible food but mostly with the smiling faces of many incredible people sharing much love and joy.

Thanks to all the dancers for giving my lens such beautiful tapestries and colours to remember and hopefully I get the chance to share such an event again soon!
BY KJ Mullins
Fallen Firefighter's Memorial took place Sunday
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7 years the names of fallen firefighters have been remembered during the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial, held this year on Jne 25. The ceremony took place at Toronto Fire Station 334. The ceremony remembers the brave 272 firefighters that have died in the line of duty protecting the city.

Since 1848 firefighters have been saving lives in Toronto. The first to die was was William Thornton, on Friday, November 24th, 1848. Thornton was crushed to death while battling a fire at Webb's Shoe Shop on King Street when the stone facade fell. Not even his helmet could protect him when the heavy structure came down.

Toronto firefighters battle blazes that threaten the lives of residents every day. They rush in when everyone else runs away in order to protect and serve.

Today with advanced technology the flames are less deadly to firefighters, but what lurks unseen is a killer. Firefighters are at an incredibly high risk of cancers that kill, years after the blaze that put them in danger have been put out.

This year 18 names have been added to the final roll call:

• Captain William Terrell, died Oct. 9, 1991
• Captain Walter Churchmack, died March 17, 2001
• Firefighter James Cox, died Nov. 9, 2011
• District Chief William Fredrick Smith, died Nov. 26, 2014
• Captain Charles "Bud" Exton, died Jan. 10, 2015
• Captain Richard Barker, died Oct. 29, 2015
• Firefighter William Parker, died Dec. 2, 2015
• Captain George Powell, died Jan. 15, 2016
• Captain Rickie Dale, died March 13, 2016
• Firefighter John Dowdell, died March 16, 2016
• Firefighter Michael Kane, died March 21, 2016
• Captain Charles Mearns, died May 21, 2016
• Captain Dennis Moore, died Aug. 9, 2016
• Acting Captain Gino De Amicis, died Aug. 11, 2016
• Firefighter Steven Crites, died Aug. 18, 2016
• Captain William Davies, died Dec. 28, 2016
• Captain Stephen Forsey, died Feb. 25, 2017
• Captain Thomas Ford, died Mar. 7, 2017

Firefighter's Prayer
When I am called to duty God,
Wherever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child,
Before it is too late,
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert,
To hear the weakest shout,
Then quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling Lord,
To give the best in me;
Halting all the fear and pain;
Protecting Life and property.

And when that moment comes, dear Lord,
When end of life draws near,
I trust to your eternal love
All those whom I hold dear.
BY KJ Mullins
Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Celebrates 25 Years
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  Twenty-five years ago a dream begin at the foot of Bathurst; a community hub that would serve a small neighbourhood in the largest city of Toronto. Founded by a small group of neighbours the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (formerly the Harbourfront Community Centre) was 3 portable buildings on a vacant lot. A lot has changed, but the vision remains the same.

It's Home

The building of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre houses 3 schools, a thriving community centre and a lot of hopes and dreams. Many of the residents of this growing community have been going to the centre from the beginning of their lives, others nearing the end of their lives depend on the social and informational classes for their daily existence.

One of the founders, Marilyn Roy, credits the centre with giving a deep meaning to her life. At the celebration for 25 years on Saturday June 24 Roy took in the vibrancy of community taking place within the walls. She remembered how in the beginning their was on a dream and 3 small portables merging the community together. In those days neighbourhood children didn't even have a school close by. There were few shops or other services in the early community.

Back in the beginning there were very few condos along the waterfront, four new Co-Op Housing buildings and two City of Toronto housing complexes. Residents of the area needed a place that they could gather together and bound. Roy was one of those who worked tirelessly to create this special second home where everyone was welcome.

"Leona (Leona Rodall, Executive Director) and the staff really helped me and the others find our place," Roy said as she sat in the atrium of the centre. Roy is known as the Empress of the Waterfront for all of her hard work and dedication. She no longer lives in the neighbourhood, residing near her daughter in Trenton but the community centre will always be her home.

Roy is not the only one who views the centre as home. Throughout the night that sentiment was expressed repeatedly by members young and old.

Today the centre still serves the neighbourhood, one that has become one of the downtown cores largest with an influx of condo dwellings in the last decade. Over 200,000 people visit the centre every year to take part in classes, sports and social events. The seniors' programs allow for elderly residents to stay connected to their home, the children and youth programs give kids a place to feel safe and the family programs and services allow for a stronger community.

The dedicated staff feel like family to the residents who live in the neighbourhood. Everyone knows who Leona, Kelly (McClure), Karen (Warner), Gaby (Motta), Liz (Oliveira),Natasha (Francis) and Israel (Slater) are. They are part of the heartbeat of the Waterfront.

Here's to another 25 years!
BY WALTER TAUTORAT
Taste Of Toronto, Garrison Commons, June 17. 2017
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The Taste Of Toronto Festival took over the Garrison Commons grounds at Fort York on the weekend.

This incredible food event meant to tempt, tease and offer a taste of some of the finer foods that make up the Toronto dining scene.

From venison and wild boar, to chocolate covered bacon, to all manner of rubs and sauces, no flavour profile left untouched.

Libations from some people that take mixology serious to a nice cold beer from the back of a beer truck there is something here for all tastes.

Many fine dining establishments represented as well, offering samples and meals to fill the belly and make one smile.

It is always a pleasure to watch someone like chef Grant van Gameren of Bar Isabel, Bar Raval and a growing list of Toronto hot spots. plying his skills in the most basic of ways. There is a wonderful synergy between burning charcoal, fresh meat and those wonderful secret spice rubs. And the things this man can do with an octopus!

All of that combined with another beautiful sunny Saturday made the entire experience a pleasurable one.

Time to head home for a nap! Thanks to all, look forward to next year~
BY GLENDA FORDHAM
HANGING PAINTINGS WITH JOHNY DELUNA
25+ large paintings were hung at the Art Square Gallery this month – Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is getting ready for his Thursday (June 8, 6-9pm) opening reception of his solo show “Spontaneous Levitation” so I spent some time with him as he measured and moved, then measured again all his spectacular works.

I snapped a few pics of close-up details from several of his paintings which illustrate the textural quality of his work with raised dots of paint with multiple colours – very hard to achieve and extremely time-consuming.

And I love some of the mythical creatures and people who dance across the canvases….

And who doesn’t love galloping giraffes in a windswept land and seascape?

As Johny was busy up the ladder, a young man came in obviously intrigued with what was going on…he was soon chatting with Johny about the paintings and the stories behind each one.

Hopefully you are also intrigued and will join Johny at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) this Thursday Jun.8th 6-9pm. Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so if you can’t make it this week, you have another week to catch these wild and provocative paintings.    
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BY WALTER TAUTORAT
Rally For Our Day In Court, University Ave. Toronto June 12 2017
Monday June 12, 2017 the battle begins. In courtroom 804 at 393 University Ave. CUPE’S lawsuit against Kathleen Wynne and her government’s selling off of Hydro One shares had it’s first day in court.

Outside the court house a group of supporters gathered to give voice to the ever growing worry and fear that privatizing yet another public asset can’t be good.

The gathering included people from several communities on Ontario that are seeing their electrical services being sold out to the highest bidder.

In this province we already pay the highest charges in the country and as we were reminded by John Clarke, of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, an increasing number of people already have to make the decision to keep their electricity on or buy food. These utilities belong to all of us. Created and built up by generations of Ontarians for all Ontarians.

2018 will be an election year and if the Premiere really thinks that selling off these public utilities is such a great idea, how about running a platform on that in the next provincial election and see how that goes. Not a huge crowd but a boisterous one. It has just begun, the battle is young and there will be much more to come. The more people speak up, the more likely they might actually be heard. My favourite line of the day, “Power To The People!” and please, at a reasonable rate.
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Toronto Police Hold Pride Reception Tuesday Evening
BY KJ Mullins
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Toronto Police Hold Pride Reception Tuesday Evening


Toronto Police held their annual Pride Reception Tuesday evening at police headquarters. This year's event took place after a troubling year. During the 2016 Pride Parade members of Black Lives Matter halted the procession with a list of demands that included in effect, kicking uniformed police officers from taking part in the 2017 parade.

Despite the controvesity of offical Pride Toronto events Toronto Police Headquarters was in a party mood Tuesday night with Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle hosting.

Saunders said that the one message he would like to get out is, "The relationship between Toronto Police and LGBTQ is strong and our role is to make it even stronger and better than it has been ever."

For Constable Danielle Bottineau, LGBTQ Liaison Officer, the evening's event is an important one. Her one message for this year's Pride is "to be kind to each other and let's all come to the table and talk to move forward."

Headquarters was packed and rocking with a party atmosphere with many notable supporters including Rev. Brent Hawkins and activist Susan Gapka.

On Thursday last week Chief Saunders made history with the first Pride Flag rising at Toronto Police Headquarters.

“This is a historic day in our Service’s history,” said Superintendent Barb McLean, who sits on the LBGTQ Community Consultative Committee. “I have been to many Pride flag raisings, at City Hall for example, but to see the Pride flag here at police headquarters with my friends and my colleagues is incredibly special. When I joined the Service 28 years ago, I could not have imagined this day. Today is no small feat when you consider that the 1980s saw police officers and gay rights activists on opposite sides of the barricades."

In February Police Chief Mark Saunders announced that the Toronto Police Service would not be participating in this year's event. Police will provide security but will not have a float or their usual booth along Church Street. 
Muhtadi International Drumming Festival, Woodbine Park June 03 2017
BY WALTER TAUTORAT
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The 18th annual Muhtadi International Drumming Festival took place last weekend in Woodbine Park ,Toronto.

The festival was launched in 2000 by Trinidadian drummer Muhtadi as a way to unite Toronto’s many cultures in an expression of percussive unity.

The history of drumming is almost as old as the history of mankind on earth. A skin or membrane stretched over a cylinder or shell and struck with a hand or stick.

Every culture has a steep history of drums and this festival showcases the love and joy that we all share for rhythm and percussive expression.

From workshops to a stage of truly talented international artists to sitting under a tree banging a bongo this event sure to inspire the rhythm in all of us.

This year’s theme , “Our home on native land”, a tribute to the strong and vibrant history of drums in aboriginal history and lore.

During my visit I had the pleasure to hear rhythms from China, Korea, Ghana, Burkina Faso , Japan, the Canadian All-Stars steel band,which will be representing Canada in an upcoming competition in Australia and the wonderfully decked out Michel Bruyere who has been the touring drummer for Buffy Ste. Marie for the past 8 years.

The park was full of awesome sounds and a few dragons. A truly beautiful day for some truly inspiring and beautiful beats and even a drum made from a real canoe.

Looking forward to next year's event. Hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy it, the rhythms will stay with you long after you leave.

As always enjoy Toronto and just for fun, bang a drum.
Flashmob, Yonge-Dundas May 31 2017
BY WALTER TAUTORAT
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Early in May a person I met at a rally had informed me about this flashmob that was going to take place on the 31st at Yonge & Dundas.

A joint effort between the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape and an incredible group of young women called Grrrrl Justice. A way to mark the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month with an exclamation point.

I waited patiently not knowing exactly where or how this would begin. My first clue was that bright pink hair followed by many women with signs, It had begun. This intersection is crazy busy, especially at the end of a work day. It was incredible to see so many people stop, listen and more importantly ask.

The event had been in planning since late March and couldn’t have been done any better. The drums and chanting were loud and yes for a moment in many peoples lives, the rat race stopped and the voices of the victims and survivors were heard and reminded us all of the reality of gender-based violence that sadly is still very prevalent in society.

Thanks to all those wonderful people that put this together and thanks for letting me share it. The march back to Ryerson was invigorating and I truly hope these kinds of empowering events continue and make a difference.

In this capitalist mecca of million dollar billboards and bright lights it was nice to see some real stars and some real signs that actually mean something.

Please keep up the good work! It is important!