Canada Travel

If I could tell you

This beautiful little film made by Aram Atkinson manages to capture Canada – in about 90 seconds.

advertising Canada Charity

Sick Isn’t Weak

Ok, so this new ad for SickKids is full on. But it’s also a nice break of convention. Heart-breaking stories, photos of people suffering, stats about all the injustices in this world – whilst are very important to share – end up getting lost in a sea of other really great, worthy causes because people are fatigued by the same types of stories.

community Projects I like

Crowdfunding Atheletes


I do love a good crowdfunding platform, and Pursuit is my most recent find. It’s a site that allows amateur athletes in Canada the chance to gain support to achieve their athletic goals.

Athletes can create a profile, share their ambitions and experience and then offer something, called a ‘Give back’ for their supporters on a sliding scale. This could be anything from a signed poster to a personal training session with them.

For athletes trying to go pro that may not have the financial stability to quit working, or the backing of large commercial sponsors, Pursuit offers them a chance. And I think it’s ace.


Jack Layton, you were a good man.

Today was a sad day. Jack Layton, New Democratic Party leader of Canada passed away. He will be sorely missed.

Regardless of political affiliation, you have to admire Jack for his optimism and genuine desire to make Canada, and the world a better place. Even in death his work and vision will live on and continually inspire people.

The very first time I voted, once I turned 18, I voted NDP and it was because of Jack. He made me believe in change and in the good in people. I was fortunate to meet him a few times while I was in university and he was sincere, encouraging and listened intently.

Below is a copy of his last letter, as published in the Globe and Mail.


August 20, 2011 Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.
I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party:

We’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus:

I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers:

On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians:

All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians:

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton



Ten cents a tree

It was both the best and worst job of my life. Treeplanting. 3 month stints in the bush in northern Ontario and British Columbia for two summers.

I can’t wait to see the full version of this documentary. Treeplanting is one of Canada’s youths favourite past time. Almost like a rite of passage. Why? I’m not sure. Everyone will give you a different reason. Some like the money. In fact, most like the money. Others like the experience. Regardless of motivation, every person that tree plants comes out of the bush a different person than when they went in.

Everyone that I planted with has the same grin on their face when they’re in a toilet and the dispenser says Kimberly Clark, the company we planted for. I planted hundreds of thousands of tree that will one day end up as toilet roll.

Inspiration Projects I like

We are the lucky ones

Recently I came across the most heartbreaking and moving blog post I’ve ever seen. A man called Derek Miller, wrote and published his last blog post, ever.

I suppose one should expect more online legacies and tributes in the increasingly connected digital space but this was the first post-mordem post I’ve ever come across.

Derek was suffering from prostate cancer for a few years now. I’d never come across his blog before he died, despite him being from Vancouver, where I used to live. When I read his last post I was moved beyond words. In addition to sending wishes of love and hope to his family, friends and supporters, he shared this truth:

I’ve also been lucky. I’ve never had to wonder where my next meal will come from. I’ve never feared that a foreign army will come in the night with machetes or machine guns to kill or injure my family. I’ve never had to run for my life (something I could never do now anyway). Sadly, these are things some people have to do every day right now.

And he couldn’t be more right.

After thinking about all of the places I’ve lived and where I call home (Canada) I started looking online to see if there was a way for me to qualify or quantity the quality of life I’ve experienced living in Canada and the UK.

Low and behold, I found an excellent website: If It Were My Home. IIWMH is a comparison tool between countries based on an index of various factors. So I can find out things like if Colombia were my home instead of Canada, I’d die 6.8 years sooner. Or if I lived in Haiti instead of the UK, the chances of me having HIV/AIDS is 90.91%.

The service can also tell you the impact that disasters have on areas such as the BP oil spill and the damage experienced by populations in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

Many of us are so lucky to have the lives, freedom, mobility and education that we have. Yet every day we get so stressed about pretty unimportant stuff in the grand scheme of things.

Derek Miller will have many legacies, least not, being the stranger who reminded me of just how lucky I am compared to most people in this world.