Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mental Health First Aid: The New Year's Resolution That May Save a Life

CALGARY, December 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada is asking Canadians to make Mental Health First Aid part of their New Year's resolutions for 2012.

"Mental Health First Aid has the same purpose as traditional first aid - to save lives," said Sandy Allen, Program Director, Mental Health First Aid (Canada). "There are more than 47,000 Canadians to date who have taken the training and we encourage everyone who hasn't to make it their New Year's resolution."
Nearly two million Canadians have a diagnosed mental disorder and another 1.6 million have a mental disorder that is undiagnosed. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course that teaches participants how to provide initial help for someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Participants learn about specific mental health problems including signs and symptoms, risk factors, and how to assist the individual in finding professional help.

"Mental health problems are more common than most people realize, especially depression, anxiety and misuse of alcohol and other drugs," Allen said. "The stigma associated with mental health problems often hinders people from seeking help. MHFA Canada teaches people to react in a calm, confident and appropriate way to provide the best help they can."

"This course changes the way participants see people with a mental illness. After taking the Mental Health First Aid course, people have more confidence in their ability to reach out and assist someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis," said Pam Kollross, Mental Health Promoter, Alberta Health Services, who has been a MHFA Canada instructor for the past four years.

A basic training course is offered as well as a course for people who interact with youth. The cost of the two-day training course varies across the country with an average fee of $150. There are also instructor courses for qualified individuals who want to teach the course. More than 550 Canadians have been trained as MHFA instructors to date.

To find a course in your area, go to

The MHFA program was developed by Professors Anthony Jorm and Betty Kitchener from the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in 2001. MHFA (Canada) came under the leadership of the Mental Health Commission of Canada in February 2010.

For more information: Call 1-866-989-3985 or email

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a catalyst for transformative change. Our mission is to work with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems lead meaningful and productive lives. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada. For more information about the MHCC please visit

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prime opportunity to map out Canada's health-care future is now

OTTAWA, December 21, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is calling upon Canada's premiers and health ministers to define a vision for a health-care system that will meet the real needs of Canadians. With federal finance minister Jim Flaherty's announcement this week that health transfers will continue to increase at 6 per cent a year until 2016-2017, Canada's provinces and territories must now put the money to work and shape health-care reform.

"Canada's health-care system has a sound foundation, but it is clear changes within that frame are needed to improve access, efficiency and quality," said CNA president Judith Shamian. "Canada's nurses are looking to provinces and territories for leadership and a focused direction, which are needed now to transform the health-care system into one that fosters the healthiest population possible."

CNA, together with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), developed a set of principles to guide Canada's premiers and health ministers as they map out health-care system transformation. Adopting these principles will strengthen and further develop a publicly funded, not-for-profit system that is sustainable and adequately resourced, and provide universal access to quality, patient-centred care in a timely and cost-effective manner. These guiding principles should be instrumental to Canada's premiers during their Council of the Federation meeting in January 2012, and in subsequent federal and provincial/territorial collaborations.

"Canadians deserve a better return on health-care investments," said Shamian. "The premiers need to refocus their approach to health care and base it on improving health outcomes and the performance of the system. The stage is set for federal and provincial leaders to work together to determine the targets and objectives that health system funding should help us achieve."

Despite an ongoing increase in spending, Canada's health-care system is lagging. In 1982, Canada was ranked 10th among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in infant mortality rates — the overall best indicator of a society's health. By 2008, Canada slipped to 27 out of 34 OECD nations.

To build the best health-care system for Canada and stand out as one of the best globally, the principles set out by CNA and CMA recommend the government develop a pan-Canadian agreement that contains national health indicators linked to expected outcomes, realistic accountability measures for the transfer of funds, and more emphasis on primary care and chronic disease management. CNA urges the federal and provincial/territorial governments to work together, set targets and present solutions that will lead to better health for Canada's population — the true measure of accountability.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The United Church of Canada's 2011 Christmas Message

TORONTO, December 20, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The following is the 2011 Christmas message offered by The United Church of Canada's Moderator, Mardi Tindal.

When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would bear the Son of God, "For nothing will be impossible with God," Mary answered, "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

What an amazingly powerful response to God's hope for the world. With Mary's response, Christ was born and the world came to know God's love in new form.

Christmas reminds us that we are people who carry God's hope for the world. We have learned that nothing is impossible when we are ready to answer with Mary, "Here we are, servants of the Lord. Let it be with us according to your word."

In Christmas Hope and Blessings,

Mardi Tindal
The United Church of Canada

Sunday, December 11, 2011

COP17 Closes: Long Live The Process, If Not Our Climate Or Our Future

by Matthew McDermott - December 11, 2011 - Science / Climate Change

The COP17 climate talks in Durban have finally come to a close, some 36 hours later than they were scheduled to and, amazingly, making more progress than this author thought they would have. To the great tragedy of us all this progress still falls amazingly well short of what climate scientists say is needed. But at least this is officially acknowledged now.

The second paragraph of the COP17 document reads (emphasis in original):

Noting with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties' mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2°C of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,

And a few lines later launches into what to do about this: Keep negotiating towards a "protocol, legal instrument or legal outcome" with the work to be completed "as early as possible but no later than 2015" and to come into effect from 2020.

Negotiators also agreed to move forward with the Green Climate Fund, to help nations better adapt to the dangerous climate changes virtually assured by the lack of ambition shown in other parts of the negotiations. Eventually the Fund hopes to raise and distribute $100 billion per year.

Before moving on to the reaction from environmental groups, let's remember what the IEA recently said about the speed, or lack thereof, in which we are moving away from fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions they create and what that means for the climate.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said that if we don't quickly and significantly move begin moving away from fossil fuels by 2017, "the door will be closed forever" on keeping temperature rise below 4°C.

And let's remember what happens above that degree of average temperature increase (also remembering that an average of 4°C means some places, like southern Europe and North Africa will increase by 8°C): Pretty much all hell breaks loose. We can assuredly kiss coral reefs goodbye, count on crop yield decreases of up to 40% in south, southeast, and east Asia, lock in meter-plus sea level rise by the end of this century, usher in widespread civil unrest resulting from resource shortages. And that's just the start of it, and the best of it, just the top-line stats-driven part of it. For the world's extreme poor, those people in Bangladesh, in low-lying island nations, in much of Africa, it's a death sentence.

Civilization itself might not end (as has been suggested without hint of hyperbole in recent days by commenters on the COP), but it certainly will look far far different, and for the more difficult, than anyone alive today has experienced before.

So, back to reactions.

WWF's Samantha Smith, who heads their global and energy initiative:

Governments did just enough to keep talking, but their job is to protect their people. They failed to do that here in Durban today....It is clear today that the mandates of a few political leaders have outweighed the concerns of millions, leaving people and the natural world we depend on at risk. Catastrophe is a strong world but it is not strong enough for a future with four degrees of warming.

Friend of the Earth International chair and Right Livelihood Award winner Nnimmo Bassey:

Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions. An increase in global temperatures of 4°C, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, small island states, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.

Pablo Solón, former climate negotiator for Bolivia:

It is false to say that a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted in Durban. The actual decision has merely been postponed to the next COP, with no commitments for emission reductions from rich countries.

In other words, between now and 2020 any emission reduction commitments are whatever individual nations voluntarily commit to. And we've seen how effective those have been, considering global emissions continue to rise, largely unchecked—as UNEP has amply demonstrated in its Emissions Gap Report.

COP17 may be seen as incremental progress, and plenty of pundits and insider NGOs are spinning it that way, but I have a hard time seeing how this amount of incremental progress does anything but ensure 4°C+ of warming, and the resulting environmental and social disasters it will assuredly bring about, comes to pass.

One final point to remember: At current and projected rates of temperature rise, 4°C may be reached by 2050, and surely by 2070. The time to decisively act was years ago, and the outcome of COP17 means nations don't have to take action until years from now—by which time it will be too late. the full story at

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Longing for Leadership at COP17

TORONTO, December 9, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the United Nations climate change conference (COP17) draws to a close in Durban, South Africa, The United Church of Canada's Moderator, Mardi Tindal, writes in her daily blog that "the longing to see more leadership than politics runs deep here…"

Tindal is attending the COP17 conference as part of an international delegation of church leaders representing the World Council of Churches.

She writes,

"At a religious leaders' press conference this morning a journalist asked me about what is standing in the way of moral leadership from Canada. I said that we as Canadians must convince our minister and our other political leaders that we will follow them when they do the right things; that the political cost of giving climate change leadership is not as great as they might fear."

Tindal and fellow Canadian church leader the Rev. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, met with Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent yesterday to discuss their views on Canada's role in addressing the problem of global climate change.

She writes that there was some reassurance in yesterday's meeting. "The minister understands and accepts the science of climate change and the magnitude of the problem. He spoke of 'real urgency' and 'a disaster in the making.'"

She adds, however, that she left yesterday's meeting feeling no more assured about Canada's willingness to give leadership.

"When asked about the moral and social justice frame within which Canada's position can be understood, the minister's answers were political: 'We're proud of our resources, our regulations, and our shared prosperity.' He spoke of how Canada is 'fulfilling our obligations.' There are many who have good reason to take issue with him on this point," writes Tindal.

Tindal concludes her blog by saying that there is still reason for hope and need for prayer.

"This [South Africa] is the land of miracles where leaders have risen in the confidence that when they do the right things the people will follow. South Africa did not achieve what it has with leaders who fearfully calculated political costs. It is up to us as citizens to make it clear that we will support the moral leadership for which we long."

To read the full text of Tindal's blog, go to

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Caring and compassion are what make Guelph stand out.

Arts and Culture flow through our veins.

We believe that Guelph possess something unique, something that you can't quite feel elsewhere. And with that comes leaders. People in our community who want to make a difference, not just in our city but all across the world.

With our attempt to bring Q with Jian Ghomeshi to town for a live broadcast from The River Run Centre, Guelph has selected a local charity that was founded in Guelph in 2005. It has changed lives right across the globe. All proceeds raised (besides those raised by the CBC) will go to this local cause.

That cause is Bracelet of Hope.

To learn more about Bracelet of Hope, visit

The United Church of Canada's Moderator Mardi Tindal at the Interfaith Rally in Durban for COP17

"A big thank you to Mardi Tindal for having agreed to come to Durban as part of the World Council of Churches delegation to the United Nations conference. She is so good at explaining why churches and Christians are called to speak out and act when creation is threatened, as an expression of their commitment to life, justice and love." from the WCC - World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Climate Change Requires Global Solutions, Say Faith Leaders

TORONTO, November 22, 2011 - United Church of Canada

Later this month, Mardi Tindal, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, will join faith leaders from around the world as they gather to bear witness at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Tindal will be attending the conference as part of a World Council of Churches delegation. She and the Rev. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada , will be representing a diverse group of Canadian faith leaders from many different religious traditions and faith-based organizations. The message they will carry with them to Durban is an interfaith call of solidarity for leadership and action on climate change.

“Climate change is a planetary crisis that knows no borders,” says Tindal. “There is one human family and one Earth that is our common homeland.”

Tindal explains that the teachings of our faiths tell us that the best interests of one group or nation are served by pursuing the best interests of all. Climate change is a global crisis and requires global solutions that put the well-being of all people first—especially the most vulnerable.

“The world’s religious traditions teach us to look beyond ourselves—individually and collectively—now and for future generations, as we confront the crisis of ocean and climate change,” comments Tindal.

She says that at its root the unprecedented human contribution to climate change is symptomatic of a spiritual deficit: excessive self-interest, destructive competition, and greed have given rise to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.

She adds that the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change [PDF: 6 pp/102 KB] argues that the foundations for a sustainable economy must include the values of restraint, cooperation, and reciprocity.

“As religious leaders, we see people as more than consumers with unlimited appetites,” says Tindal. “We believe we must work together in transforming cultures of self-interest and unprecedented consumption into cultures of justice for all.”

Tindal believes the November 28–December 9, 2011, 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in South Africa has the potential to be a transition point where we, as a global community, change how we think about and act to address climate change.

“Our environment is the natural source of our wealth and the home of millions of species for which we are planetary stewards,” says Tindal. “How long can we barter this priceless inheritance for the promise of growing economic returns?”

Tindal explains that Canadian faith leaders are calling for leadership to put the long-term interest of humanity and the planet ahead of short-term economic and national concerns.

She says some countries are far more adversely affected by climate change than others as they experience major changes in weather patterns. They know the impact of rising seas and erosion of lands, leading to drought or flooding. These countries are most often among the poorest and least equipped to respond.

Tindal says it is time for all of humanity to take stock of our collective behaviour and to transform cultures of consumerism and waste into cultures of sustainability.

“Our everyday choices about food, transportation, clothing, and entertainment are all practical expressions of what we value,” says Tindal.
At the same time, disconnections between our professed beliefs and our daily actions indicate our need for personal and collective awareness and transformation.

Tindal explains we need to seek coherence between our beliefs and our actions, so that our lives and consumption habits reflect our relationship with the rest of humanity and Earth itself.

“Humanity’s relationship with the environment has become distorted by actions that compromise the welfare of future generations of life,” she says. “We have a moral imperative to act.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Former United Church Moderator Bill Phipps Fasts for Courage at Climate Change Conference

CALGARY, November 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - On Sunday, November 27, 2011, former United Church Moderator, the Very Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps, will begin a 10-day fast in support of the political, religious, and civil society leaders who will be gathering in Durban, South Africa, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17).

"My fast is a prayer of hope, encouragement, and solidarity for the leaders who gather there," explains Phipps. "Giving up food is my offering, an embodiment of the struggle to save our fragile world."

Phipps conducted a similar fast in 2009 when the UN climate change talks were held in Copenhagen. He says he believes that bold decisions at COP17 are even more urgently needed than they were two years ago.

"Since the meetings in Copenhagen, climate change has accelerated. I feel that humanity's future is in grave peril," says Phipps. "For the healthy future of our earthly home, I believe the Durban meetings are a critical moment in human history."

Phipps, an outspoken activist, says his fast is a form of prayer, not a protest. He explains that fasting is part of many ancient spiritual and religious traditions. It is used by people who want to clear the mind and body and focus on Spirit.

"I believe that a sustainable tomorrow is a spiritual question," he says. "Each and all of us bear responsibility for the ecological legacy we leave for future generations."

Throughout his fast, Phipps will be inviting members of churches, other faiths, and the general public to offer their own prayers for the planet during the meetings in Durban, November 28-December 9, 2011.

In particular, Phipps says he will be holding The United Church of Canada's current Moderator, Mardi Tindal, in his prayers. Tindal will be attending COP17 as part of a World Council of Churches delegation.

During his fast, Phipps also plans to visit the constituency offices of various political leaders, including those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The schedule of those visits can be found at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Heart of Christmas (Official Music Video) - Matthew West

Last Christmas, Matthew West released a touching video, One Last Christmas inspired by the true story of the Locke Family and their quest to make one final Christmas wish for their son come true.

This year, Matthew delivers yet again another heart-warming and beautiful song, The Heart of Christmas as the title song from the GMC movie The Heart of Christmas based on this incredible story of the Locke family and the community that gave this little boy one last Christmas.

This is truly a Christmas must-see!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Canadians Give a Darn by Giving A Day

TORONTO, November 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - In support of The Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International, Give a Day celebrates its 8th year. A simple yet powerful way to make a real difference in the struggle against AIDS in Africa, the Give a Day initiative encourages Canadians to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic by giving one day's pay on World AIDS Day, December 1, to either The Stephen Lewis Foundation or Dignitas International or both. To date, Canadians have raised over $3,000,000 through Give a Day.

"The AIDS pandemic will be halted when we assert that the current situation is intolerable and the solutions are within our grasp. Be part of the answer. Please, give a day." - Dr. Jane Philpott, Founder of Give A Day

2011 Give a Day Campaign

The 2011 campaign is well underway. This year, ten law firms, hundreds of articling students, healthcare professionals from more than twelve hospitals, and several communities are running Give a Day events.

How it Works

Give a Day recommends participants donate to two excellent recipient organizations: the Stephen Lewis Foundation ( which provides funding to grassroots organizations that are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and/or Dignitas International (, a medical humanitarian organization working to increase access to life-saving treatment and prevention.

The money raised helps keep children in school where both nutrition and education are provided; helps provide community support for those attempting to deal with the tremendous losses they've suffered; and provides treatment, care and support to children and adults who are dealing with HIV/AIDS in Africa on a daily basis.

What You Can Do

Host a Give a Day Harambee: "a party with a purpose" to raise funds and awareness about HIV/AIDS. Make it a fun theme party or just because!

Join the challenge and donate a day's pay !

New Documentary Chronicles the Nativity Story through the Eyes of Five Canadians

Must See TV Series of the Christmas Season

TORONTO, November 16, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - What happens when the paths of five strangers intersect in the Middle East on a search for the truth about Christmas?

Tricord Media, Crossroads Television System (CTS), Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN) and Windborne Productions are proud to present Journey to Christmas; a 21st Century meets the 1st Century television experience.

The four part documentary series follows the epic voyage five diverse Canadians take to Israel and Palestine and their examination of the hype and history surrounding the virgin birth of Christ.

Renowned scholar and television commentator Nazir Shaheen guides an unusual cast of characters, which includes an agnostic, an artist, a skeptical radio talk-show host, a native youth worker, and a singer-songwriter on their nativity quest. Highlighted by breathtaking high definition cinematography, Shaheen takes this group of modern day 'wisemen' to fascinating historical and archeological sites.

Journey to Christmas also includes appearances by Canadian astrophysicist Hugh Ross who examines the science behind the star of Bethlehem, and Paul Maier, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Western Michigan.

Journey to Christmas premieres December 3rd and 4th on CTS and repeats December 19th on APTN.

A pre-screening of Journey to Christmas will take place November 22nd at 3:00pm at the National Film Board of Canada Mediatheque studios in Toronto.

JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS has an interactive website The website features extra scenes from the production, blogs from the participants, expanded commentary on aspects of the story from the experts, location information and insights from the makers of the documentary.


Tricord Media is an international distributor of faith and family values entertainment content, based in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada. It is a non-profit corporation that supports content that has a positive moral message, to inspire people to transform lives and communities. Tricord Media strives to bring spiritually uplifting and wholesome programs for all family members to enjoy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Controversy over that Viral 'Murmuration' Video

© Screenshot of 'Murmuration' on Vimeo

by Jeff Kart - Science / Natural Sciences

Here's a new word for some of us: Murmuration. See the video for a view. It's a sight to behold. A river of nature. A flock of starlings flying together above the water in Ireland.

What does the term mean? Murmuration is a collective noun for starlings. Like a murder of crows, just less well known.

The Vimeo video, posted by Sophie Windsor Clive, is two minutes long, with some still shots mixed in. It has close to 600 comments so far, most of them a variation on "Wow!"

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Just like the birds, this video has taken flight on the Internet. MSNBC notes that Liberty Smith also was part of the experience, and that the film, taken on Ireland's Shannon River, was submitted to a World Wildlife Fund competition.

But ... there's a question as to its chances of winning.

The WWF competition is called "Life. Nature. You. Make the Connection." The contest is now closed, but entries can be found on WWF's Vimeo site.

A discussion on the Vimeo site revolves around the possibility that the murmuration video was edited to meet a 2-minute time limit for the contest. A longer version of a video, also by Clive and Smith, and also called "Murmuration," was submitted to other contests, which appears to break the WWF contest rules requiring original content.

So it's being speculated that the magical starlings won't win the prize (at least in this case). An 8-minute "Murmuration" video by Clive and Smith was part of the London Short Film Festival in 2010, among other contests.

read more story at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel • End-of-Life Decision Making

OTTAWA, November 9, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - End-of-Life Decision Making constitutes one the most serious social and ethical issues facing all developed countries.

On October 27, 2009, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) announced the commissioning of an Expert Panel, consisting of eminent scholars and chaired by Prof. Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, Queen's University. The Panel was given a mandate to consider the large body of medical science evidence that, if summarized for the public, would be helpful to their consideration of the issue. The panel was also requested to review the evidence and experience from the various jurisdictions that permit physician-assisted death.

While the RSC itself does not have an opinion on these matters, the panel was struck as a service to Canadians, who would benefit greatly from having a careful, balanced review of various pros and cons of the decriminalization of physician-assisted death from well-reasoned ethical and legal standpoints.

On November 15, 2011, the Expert Panel will release its report at a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario. Also on November 15, the report will become publicly and freely available for download on the website of the Royal Society of Canada at:

The main messages that are elaborated upon in the report include:

...What are the principal challenges facing Canadians with respect to End-of-Life Decision Making?

...How does Canada perform in terms of ensuring access to high quality palliative care?

...What are some of the primary legal questions that would benefit from clarification?

...Does the evidence support claims that decriminalization of assisted dying will result in vulnerable persons being subject to abuse, or to a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia?

...Should assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Canadian interfaith leaders call for climate change action

from Embassy Magazine
By Fred Hiltz
Published Oct 31, 2011

As governments throughout the world prepare for the next global climate change summit, COP 17, later this month, Canadian faith leaders urge them to take collective action by signing and implementing a binding international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol that commits nations to slash carbon emissions.

The following is an excerpt of an open letter from 26 Canadian leaders of faith community and faith-based organizations, released earlier this week.

Signatories include representatives of the: Anglican Church of Canada (Most Rev. Fred Hiltz), Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada, Canadian Council of Imams, Quakers, Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada, Mennonite Church Canada, Bahá'ís, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Citizens for Public Justice, Faith and the Common Good, and KAIROS.

We, representatives of Canadian faith communities, are united in our conviction that the growing crisis of climate change needs to be met by solutions that draw upon the moral and spiritual resources of the world’s religious traditions.

We recognize that at its root the unprecedented human contribution to climate change is symptomatic of a spiritual deficit: excessive self-interest, destructive competition, and greed have given rise to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. Humanity’s relationship with the environment has become distorted by actions that compromise the welfare of future generations of life.

Our faith traditions and sacred texts call upon us all—individuals, civil society, businesses, industry, and governments—to consider the spiritual dimensions of the crisis of ocean and climate change; to take stock of our collective behaviour; to transform cultures of consumerism and waste into cultures of sustainability; and to respect the balance between economic activity and environmental stewardship.

The Nov. 29-Dec. 9 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) conference in South Africa has the potential to be a transition point—where we, as a global community, change how we think and act.

The challenge of climate justice

Climate change is a planetary crisis that knows no borders. Some countries are far more adversely affected by climate change than others. They are experiencing major changes in weather patterns. They know the impact of rising seas and erosion of lands, leading to drought or flooding. These countries are most often among the poorest and least equipped to respond.

Many countries are suffering from the long-term consequences of unrestrained carbon emissions that damage the atmosphere. We believe all nations need to adopt energy policies that result in actual emission reductions to a fair and safe global level. Organizations, businesses, and individuals have similar duties to reduce their emissions.

For high-income nations such as Canada, justice demands that our governments shoulder a greater share of the economic burden of adaptation and mitigation—first and foremost, because of access to greater means, but also because of an historic role in contributing to its causes. We have a moral imperative to act.

A call for leadership and action

We call for leadership to put the long-term interest of humanity and the planet ahead of short-term economic and national concerns.

The teachings of our faiths tell us that the best interests of one group or nation are served by pursuing the best interests of all people. There is one human family and one Earth that is our common homeland. Climate change is a global crisis and requires global solutions that put the well-being of all people first—especially the most vulnerable.

Furthermore, our environment is the natural source of our wealth and the home of millions of species for which we are planetary stewards. How long can we barter this priceless inheritance for the promise of growing economic returns?

In our neighbourhoods and communities, and in businesses and organizations, we need to change wasteful patterns of production and consumption. This calls for a cultural transformation that brings the values of sustainability to the forefront of public consciousness—and into more responsible practices. We cannot wait for others to act but instead must lead by example.

Religious organizations, public institutions and businesses all have important roles to play in promoting ethical consumption and more sustainable lifestyles and practices in their everyday operations.

We speak respectfully to our political leaders, who have been entrusted with authority by Canadians. We ask that you act with due regard for the values of both religion and science, looking objectively on the problems confronting our planet. Climate science points to a future of greater instability and unpredictability, problems that can be addressed by action today. We stand ready to work alongside you to promote a future of security, prosperity, and justice—for humankind, and the whole of creation.

As you carry out your responsibilities at COP 17, we urge you to honour the values we have described and adopt the following policy goals:

- in the spirit of global solidarity, take collective action by signing and implementing a binding international agreement replacing the Kyoto Protocol that commits nations to reduce carbon emissions and set fair and clear targets that ensure global average temperatures stay below a 2 C increase from pre-industrial levels;

- demonstrate national responsibility by committing to national carbon emission targets and a national renewable energy policy designed to achieve sustainability;

- implement climate justice, by playing a constructive role in the design of the Green Climate Fund under United Nations governance, and by contributing public funds to assist the poorest and most affected countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

We believe these to be practical and critical measures necessary to secure the well-being of the planet for future generations of life.

read more story at Embassy Magazine

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

World Vision response to Minister Oda's global food security commitment to the UN World Food Programme

TORONTO, October 26, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - World Vision's food security policy adviser Sheri Arnott said:

"World Vision is encouraged by Canada's commitment to the World Food Programme and this announcement of funding for food security. As WFP's largest NGO partner, we work side-by-side in communities and see the great work they do on the frontlines with children and families who don't have enough to eat."

"The nutrition and health needs of women and children are a critical part of emergency food response, and by making this connection, Canada is on track to save lives and improve the health of children who are living in poverty."

"Funding for humanitarian food response is often short term and unpredictable, but this five-year strategic partnership between CIDA and WFP breaks this trend. With predictable funding for programs like school feeding and support for local small-holder farmers, children will be healthier and stay in school and families will have better economic opportunities and greater food security."

"Next week at the G-20, Canada must continue to champion food security initiatives that prioritize the nutritional needs of women and children. This includes putting nutrition at the centre of G-20 plans for emergency food reserves so the most vulnerable people have the nutritious food they need quickly."

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

United Church Moderator Comments on the Occupy Movement

TORONTO, October 26, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - In a recent blog entry entitled "Occupy Hope," the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, Mardi Tindal, said that she sees the Occupy movement as an expression of hope similar to that being offered by faith communities that are working toward the promise of abundant life for all.

"Inequality challenges the faith we profess as followers of Jesus,"
wrote Tindal as she offered her impressions of the Occupy movement.

"Much has been made of the fact that the Occupy movement, which describes itself as 'a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders, and political persuasions,' appears to have no coherent goals. What is it resisting? Where does it want to go? For my part, I see the movement as both a search for hope and a statement of hope, made by people who have come to believe that something is deeply wrong in the staggering inequality of our current society. I don't think it is required of anyone to provide a complete, documented solution before they're allowed to express concern. To the contrary, recognizing that 'something is not right' is the essential first step toward defining change."

To read more visit:

Friday, October 21, 2011

With diminishing supplies of firewood in many impoverished nations, how can rural people cook food for their families?

In 1987, 17 solar cooking Californians started Solar Cookers International (SCI), and produced manuals on how to produce and use a simple solar box cooker. Since then, 30,000 families in eastern and southern Africa have learned to use solar cooking with the assistance of SCI.

Visitors should definitely check out the ten-minute video below that explains the spread of the use of the solar cooker in Africa, which began in refugee camps where food had to be cooked for tens of thousands of people. Eventually, its use spread to rural villages, but the video explains it has been a slow process.

Visitors interested in the Solar Review Cooker e-newsletter that is published thrice-yearly can sign up to receive it free, under the "Newsletter" tab. It is also available in dozens of languages, including French, Arabic, and Chinese. [KMG]

Visit Solar Cookers International

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2011.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Students Help Raise $22,000 by Playing Hopscotch

GUELPH, Ontario October 18, 2011 - University of Guelph Campus Bulletin

Hopscotch may be for children, but there is nothing juvenile about the amount of money University of Guelph students helped raise recently by getting 850 people to play the game.

Hopscotch 4 Hope, an event organized by two U of G student clubs and three area youngsters, brought in more than $22,000. The event was held Oct. 1 in Eden Mills, Ont., and the final tally was released this week.

The money will go to Free the Children and Right to Play, international initiatives that help children in developing countries. Both organizations have U of G chapters.

U of G’s chapter of Free the Children will use proceeds to help provide water and electricity to a girls’ school in Kisaruni, Kenya.

“I was overjoyed when I heard that $11,000 was going to Free the Children,” said club co-president Natalie Binette. “Having seen the Kisaruni All Girls’ High School in Kenya where this money will be going, I know how much of a positive impact this money will have. It brings a smile to my face to imagine all of the girls who will benefit from this donation, as they strive to gain a good education in order to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.”

Binette added that she felt “privileged” to be part of the event and was inspired by the volunteers.

The U of G students were enlisted by Kory Melnick and Kamari Brown Gain, both Grade 8 students at Rockwood Centennial School, and Grade 6 student Robin Melnick. The trio has formed a charity called Step Up for Change and will spend this year helping disadvantaged children around the world.

All three girls have U of G ties. Linda Melnick, mom of Kory and Robin, is manager of business and client services for the Department of Athletics. Kamari is the daughter of Laura Brown, a special graduate clinical faculty member in the clinical psychology program.

U of G students, along with the girls and dozens of their friends, spent two days in Eden Mills laying out the hopscotch course. At 5.5 kilometres, the course likely set a world record. Individuals sponsored hopscotch squares and boards, and participants received pledges to complete the course.

“It was a great event with children supporting children,” said Robin Melnick, age 11. “All the awareness and money we have raised is incredible.”

Kamari Brown Gain, age 13, added:
“The day was fantastic. I can’t believe how many people came out to support us.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Powerful, new campaign sheds light on the reality of child abuse in Canada

photo credit: "Powerful, new campaign sheds light on the reality of child abuse in Canada (CNW Group/Boost for Kids Foundation)"

TORONTO, October 17, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - In conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month, Boost for Kids Foundation is launching a cutting-edge television and online campaign in an effort to raise awareness about the prevalence of child abuse in Canada. Entitled "Make the Call Now", the campaign depicts a chilling reality and encourages Canadians to be more vocal against signs of abuse.

Created by Marshall Fenn Communications, the television and online videos paint a powerful picture stating that one in every three children fall victim to some form of abuse. The online campaign is the first of its kind and takes the commercial one step further, providing the viewers with a leading, interactive role. Viewers are encouraged to call a 1-800 number. When dialled, the phone in the video rings, the call is answered by the abuser, and a dialogue is initiated that leads to the intervention and prevention of child abuse.

"The goal of this campaign is to leave viewers feeling uncomfortable, just as they would feel if they witnessed the abuse first-hand," explains Karyn Kennedy, Executive Director, Boost for Kids Foundation. "This campaign should make Canadians feel as if they are standing between the child and the abuser and are the only means of stopping the violence. We want Canadians to take this personally. This is what motivates people to get up, make that call and stand in the way of continued abuse."

Child abuse includes child neglect as well as psychological, physical and sexual abuse. The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies reports that a significant barrier to protecting children is the large number of individuals (54%) who would not report a suspicion of abuse.

"Many Canadians don't realize abuse manifests itself in many forms and it's not always discernible through cuts and bruises," explains Kennedy. "We need to educate people on the signs of abuse and encourage people to pick up the phone and make the welfare of children a top priority."

The Public Service Announcement campaign appears in two different media types - television and online - and will run through to the end of November 2011. To view the campaign, go to

"Canadians aren't naive to the fact that child abuse happens, but the statistics show that they aren't taking the steps to stop it," explains James Dunlop, Creative Director at Marshall Fenn Communications. "Our goal was to develop a bold, hard-hitting campaign that amplifies the situation and provides viewers no other options but to make that call."

Boost for Kids Foundation

Boost for Kids Foundation is a registered charity that is committed to eliminating abuse and violence in the lives of children, youth, and their families. Established in 2009, Boost for Kids Foundation works to generate sustainable funding for the programs and services offered by Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention across Canada. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors with the mandate to raise funds that will allow Boost to respond effectively to the needs of children and youth who have experienced abuse. The organization believes that all children and youth have a right to grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment free of child abuse.

Team of Agencies

The Boost for Kids campaign was conceived by Marshall Fenn Communications, the Canadian communications agency behind award-winning brand and advertising campaigns for companies such as Casino Rama.

Marshall Fenn worked collaboratively with Circle Productions (commercial production and editing), Silent Joe (music/sound production and editing), and COLR (visual effects and colour). All agencies generously donated their services to ensure this campaign delivered the powerful, commanding messages intended.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

World Food Day: Engage At Home and Around the World to Support Those Who are Hungry

Food Banks Canada asking Canadians to take action on October 16 in support of
World Food Day

TORONTO, October 12, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - On World Food Day, October 16, 2011, Food Banks Canada is asking Canadians to take action in support of people in need. All Canadians can make an impact by donating or participating in an activity that helps them acknowledge the continuing global struggle against hunger.

World Food Day occurs annually on October 16 to mark the date of the founding of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals are marking World Food Day across the globe. The goal of the day is to strengthen awareness around the issue of food security and the struggle against hunger and poverty globally.

Hunger is an unacceptable problem in Canada. Food Banks Canada's HungerCount 2010 reports that close to 900,000 individuals turn to food banks for assistance each month - half of assisted households are families with children and 17% of households that turn to food banks for help each month are living on income from current or recent employment. This is an increase of 9.2%, compared to March 2009, 28% higher than in 2008, and is the highest level of food bank use on record since 1997.

"We know that hunger is a global challenge and we recognize the work of the FAO in their efforts to address this issue", says Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "Sadly, in Canada, close to 900,000 individuals turn to food banks each month for assistance and close to 2 million Canadians worry about how they will get their next meal*. I hope all Canadians will take action on October 16th to help their neighbours".

Food banks in communities across Canada are at the frontlines of addressing short-term hunger relief. However, government action is required to address the underlying root causes of hunger in order to develop a long-term solution to the problem.

Ways you can make a difference leading up to and on October 16th:

Stay Informed:

...Visit,, to stay informed about the issue of hunger in Canada and for a global perspective go to


...Text HUNGER to 30333 to make a $5 donation to Food Banks Canada via any mobile device.


...Donate your status to Food Banks Canada with the messaging, "I'm donating my status to @FoodBanksCanada for World Food Day. Join me and do the same".


...Find out what others are saying around World Food Day and join the conversation to learn more @foodbankscanada

It takes all Canadians to make a difference. Please act today.

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. Our Members, Affiliate Member food banks, and their respective agencies serve approximately 85% of people accessing emergency food programs nationwide. Our mission is to meet the short-term need for food and find long-term solutions to reduce hunger. Please visit for more information.

*Health Canada (2011). Household food insecurity in Canada in 2007-2008: Key statistics and graphics. Ottawa: Health Canada.

Women Living Courage - A KAIROS Tour

TORONTO, October 12, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (KAIROS) launches a tour of women human rights defenders to raise awareness about the impact of armed conflict on the lives and rights of women and girls and to make visible the violence faced by women in migrant and Indigenous communities in Canada. The tour highlights the essential role women play as peace builders.

The tour underscores Canada's responsibility to promote the application of United Nations resolutions on women, peace and security (such as UNSCR 1325) and to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of peace-building. KAIROS calls on Canada as a donor country to increase political and financial support to women's organizations working in conflict zones as an effective strategy to help resolve conflict and build lasting peace.


Featuring KAIROS global partners:

...Chantal Bilulu is Program Coordinator for Women and Children and advisor to the legal clinic combating gender-based violence of Héritiers de la Justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

...Rebecca Nyagai Kafi, representative of the Sudan Council of Churches, ordained Deaconess of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church chair of its General Women's Group Office.

...Vernie Yocogan-Diano, a human rights and community activist from the Cordillera region of the Philippines and an Indigenous woman (Kankanaey-Bontoc).


Public forums with women leaders from the DRC, Sudan and the Philippines who live in conflict zones, in dialogue with Indigenous and migrant women in Canada


Kitchener - Wednesday, October 26, 6:00 to 8:00 PM, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 54 Queen St North

Further information on the tour, local contacts and details of local sponsors for the forums are available on the KAIROS website at


...In the Democratic Republic of Congo, women's daily challenges of poverty and hunger are multiplied by an epidemic of rape - a common weapon in the ongoing resource war.

...The Republic of South Sudan is the world's newest country. And yet, for all of the optimism created by its founding, it is also a country where 90 percent of women can neither read nor write and where women die in childbirth in shocking numbers.

...In the Philippines many face the daily challenges of poverty and hunger. Those who confront the powers that impose this economic hardship also face pervasive violence.

...In Canada Indigenous women and girls are five times more likely to face violence and disappearance than are non-Indigenous women. Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to violence in the workplace.

...Women are disproportionately affected by violence and militarism. Still, they bring unique perspectives and strategies to help communities and nations put an end to violence. This role is rarely recognized and women are largely absent from official peace initiatives and negotiations.

...By sharing their courageous stories, the women participating in the Living Courage Tour will inspire concerned Canadians and call for action from the Canadian government. KAIROS is a church-based social justice organization focusing on human rights and sustainability.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Childhood Summer

Sara Groves - Childhood Summer - Music Video

Official music video for Childhood Summer by Sara Groves. From the exclusive bonus edition of the new album Invisible Empires - Available until October 18th ONLY at

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Virtual" World Food Party Feeds Hungry Children

TORONTO, October 4, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canadian Feed The Children (CFTC) has launched its first annual World Food Party to raise awareness of and funds for the alleviation of world hunger. Individuals, groups and organizations across Canada are hosting food-related events in recognition of UN World Food Day (October 16th, 2011) and donating the funds raised to CFTC's nutrition, health and food security programs in Canada and around the world.

The Canadian Electrical Industry has been on board the World Food Party bus since 2008. The industry's charitable initiative, Hungry for Change, has raised close to $900,000 through events and donations generated by participating companies in the industry.

This year, Electro-Federation Canada has named Canadian Feed The Children its charity of choice. Hungry for Change Committee Chair, Wayne Donaldson, says "as an industry that is all about providing Canadians with electricity to make their homes and lives brighter, warmer and safer, we are well aware how very fortunate we are. Not everyone in the world has the same level of access to these life-sustaining necessities. Especially this year, as the famine in the Horn of Africa reminds us, there are millions of people at risk and experiencing hunger - most of them children. This is our industry's way to give back, make a difference and have some fun in the process."

Hunger is the world's number one health risk - above malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined. Last year alone, 925 million people experienced chronic hunger. And of the one in seven people who go to bed hungry each night, most are children and vulnerable women (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2010).

"CFTC's World Food Party is a way to rally Canadians to make a meaningful change in the lives of children. We're aiming to have 10,000 Canadians participate - in big or little ways. Even a simple individual act like brown-bagging your lunch and donating what you would have spent dining out for a week can make a huge difference in the life of a vulnerable child," said Debra Kerby, Executive Director of Canadian Feed The Children.

For information on CFTC's World Food Party and to check out some ideas for getting involved, visit To learn more about the programs CFTC funds in Haiti, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Bolivia and Canada, please visit

Founded in Canada in 1986, Canadian Feed The Children is an independent, registered Canadian charity that works with local partners in Canada and around the world to reduce the impact of poverty on children and enhance the well-being of children and the self-sufficiency of their families and communities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Battle Over Tornado-Ravaged Goderich, Ontario, Formerly "Canada's Prettiest Town" (Slideshow & Video)

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

Goderich, Ontario was billed as "Canada's Prettiest Town" and it truly was. It had one of the country's most beautiful town squares, (actually, a town octagon) filled with trees, and surrounded by a great collection of Victorian commercial buildings. The entire area was designated as historically significant under the Heritage Act.

On August 21, a force 3 tornado ripped through the town, and in twelve seconds almost destroyed it. Now, the debate is on: speedy construction or careful planning?

On Saturday I joined heritage professionals and activists from all over Ontario at a council meeting of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario in Goderich, organized to gather support and help, be it fundraising, professional services, ideas, competitions, whatever.

I thought it might be like a heritage version of Greensburg, where people from all over America have helped rebuild a better, greener town.

While there was a lot of damage from the tornado itself, there are some questions about how the authorities responded to the damage.

Certainly heritage was not the first thing on their minds; health and safety people kept everyone away until they checked for dead and injured, (miraculously, only one person was killed), then for health and safety reasons like asbestos, (one person of authority had heard there was asbestos in the bricks and mortar and kept heritage architects out unless they were fitted for respirators; however, there is no asbestos in Ontario bricks.)

Building owners were not allowed in to tarp their buildings and the subsequent rain did as much damage as the tornado.

But in other cases, it is still not certain what is going to happen.

The store owners and businesses want to get back in business as soon as possible, and nobody is much interested in standing around doing visioning studies and careful historic reconstructions, they have to put food on the table. The Deputy Mayor told us that he wants the town rebuilt within two years.

The business of Goderich was heritage. One might try and point out that the reason people came there was because it was so pretty, and that it won't be quite the same thing if they put up a lot of crap in a hurry.

This video was taken the day after the tornado. Almost every tree is gone, as are most of the roofs and quite a few buildings.
Image Credit: Anews London

...see slideshow and read more story at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bishops to invite thousands of GTA commuters 'Back to Church'

TORONTO, September 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - On the morning of Thursday, September 22nd, Bishops from the Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Churches, dressed in their ecclesiastical vestments and mitres, will reach out to thousands of commuters across the greater Toronto area to invite them 'Back to Church'.

The outreach is part of an international Christian initiative, which has designated Sunday, September 25th as 'Back to Church' Sunday. On that day, thousands of Anglicans, Evangelical Lutherans and other Christians throughout the world will be accompanying their friends and relatives back to church.

"The Church is an integral part of society, woven into its history and fabric," says Bishop Philip Poole of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. "Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran bishops look forward to meeting and chatting with commuters even for a few moments to invite people to return to church or to try us out for the first time. You'll be most welcomed at church or your place of worship this or any weekend."

The Bishops will be handing out a simple invitation to all who will accept one. They will be visiting GO stations in Ajax, Brampton, Agincourt and Barrie.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wanted: An Affordable Home

photo credit: fadedgenes via Flickr

More progress needed to help households in housing need

TORONTO, September 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Authors of a newly released report on housing issues are calling on provincial candidates to focus on creating affordable homes for more than 152,000 households on community housing wait lists across Ontario.

The 2011 edition of Where's Home?, authored by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada Ontario Region (CHF Canada Ontario Region), analyzes 22 separate housing markets and highlights the need for more affordable rental housing across the Province.

This year's report shows that it is increasingly difficult for low and modest income people in Ontario to find safe, affordable rental housing options that are appropriate for their families. This daily reality is highlighted by data that indicates overall vacancy rates across the province continue to tighten - dropping to 2.9% between 2009 and 2010.

"Vacancy rates are tightening up and rental demand is expanding," says Sharad Kerur, ONPHA's Executive Director. "An aging population, increased levels of immigration and future economic conditions will all play a role in determining rental housing needs in the years ahead - and it will be up to local communities and senior governments to help meet those needs."

"This year's findings clearly demonstrate that the gap between homeowners and tenants' incomes is growing ever wider and many Ontarians of low and modest means are struggling to find a home that they can afford," said Harvey Cooper, Manager of Government Relations at CHF Canada Ontario Region. "I worry about families being forced to choose between paying for the necessities of life, putting food on the table and paying the rent."

In addition to inadequate supply, high energy costs are compounding affordability problems for low and moderate income renter households - making it even harder for them to make ends meet.

While this year's report brings attention to a number of troubling trends, there are bright spots that show progress can be made if communities have access to innovative ideas, government support, and sufficient levels of funding.

"While the number of new rental units being produced is not nearly enough to meet the growing demand, recent initiatives - particularly the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program (AHP) - have helped create more affordable and supportive housing for those in need," said Kerur. "Since 2005, over 8,500 of these units were created by non-profit and, to a lesser extent, co-operative housing organizations - showing that with government funding and support, communities can create more affordable homes."

In order to meet increasing rental housing demand, over 10,000 new rental units would need to be built each and every year for the next ten years. While the need is big, so is the commitment of the organizations that make up the membership of ONPHA and CHF Canada Ontario Region.

"We know that housing is a fundamental building block of people's lives," says Cooper. "Our members want to see senior governments take a balanced approach to the creation of more affordable housing for people across the income spectrum. By combining permanently affordable co-op and non-profit housing, private sector rental, renovation programs for existing housing stock and financial tools like rent supplements to fill vacant units, we can move people off housing waiting lists and into affordable homes."

"Where's Home?" can be found at or

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lack of affordable housing and efficient transit barriers to success of immigrants and the economy

OTTAWA, September 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The lack of affordable housing and access to efficient public transit and community services are significant barriers to the success of new immigrants and the Canadian economy, says the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in a report on Canada's immigration system.

"To keep its economy strong, Canada needs an immigration strategy that meets growing on-the-ground challenges and gives cities and communities a seat at the table," said FCM president Berry Vrbanovic. ''Without a decent place to live, an affordable and reliable way to get to and from work, and access to front-line community services immigrants will continue to fall behind and Canada will not meet its economic and social objectives."

According to FCM's report, new immigrants are falling behind other Canadians in their income and job opportunities. Overcrowded road and public transit systems are crumbling and a growing shortage of affordable housing threatens to price more immigrants out of the regional labour markets where they are needed most. Ottawa's language and job-training programs are falling behind changing settlement patterns, leaving communities big and small without the resources to meet changing local needs.

"Municipalities are the front-line, first-responders for many immigrants' needs, yet we collect just eight cents of every tax-dollar paid in Canada and have been given no formal role in developing federal immigration policies and programs," said FCM vice-president Claude Dauphin. "The federal government must recognize municipalities as key partners in immigrant settlement and work with us to tailor solutions to local needs."

FCM called on the federal government to protect long-term investments in communities, including more than $500 million in annual housing investments scheduled to expire during the next decade; protect and build on recent investments in Canada's infrastructure and public transit; work with municipalities, provinces and territories to design longer-term settlement programs that respond better to changing local needs; and collect data on immigrants' needs and report back to Canadians on the results.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. FCM represents with close to 90 per cent of the Canadian population - close to 2000 municipal governments across the country.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spirit, Science, Art, Reverence Combined Will Build a Better Green Movement

photo: James Jordan/CC BY-ND

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY

After reviewing the major religions of the world's stances on the environment, it seems pretty clear to me that there are more commonalities than differences. In the realm of metaphysics there are genuine and significant splits between Dharmic faiths ( Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) and the Abrahamic faiths ( Judaism, Christianity, Islam), but in the realm of practical action to protect our shared environment, there is a great common ground.

No Religious Path Advocates Environmental Destruction

In other words, while there are differences in motivation for environmental protection between a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jew, and a Christian--the first two generally seeing humanity as a integral part of nature, the latter two likely seeing the man's relationship to the natural world through the eyes of a caretaker--none of that matters when it comes to the need to preserve our water, our air, our land in an unpolluted state, in growing healthy food in a way that doesn't harm the land, et cetera.

Even more bluntly, there is not a religious path that says environmental destruction is a good thing, that pollution is a good thing, that dirty water are good. Such a belief system doesn't exist--unless you count some of the musings of industrialists looking at billowing smokestacks in the 19th century as a belief system. Maybe it is.

As I've said throughout this series, brief as each exploration is, environmental protection is an intrinsic theme in every world faith--even if there has always been vary degrees of appreciation and application of those beliefs. Which is also true of every non-theistic belief system, it should be said.

Why Are Greens Afraid To Talk About Spirituality?

If there is such a large common ground in support of environmental protection amongst the world's religions, why does it often seem then that religion and spiritual beliefs get sidelined in public discussion of going green?

Why is the ethical, the moral, the spiritual component of our efforts to tread more lightly on the planet not discussed more?

After all, the polluting class, who stubbornly refuse to bend from business-as-usual methods of production and attitudes towards environmental protection, regularly invoke beliefs in the superiority of the unfettered free market, when they are asked to not make such a mess of the world.

So why do environmentalists all too often shy away from talking about the deeper aspects of their beliefs? Why do we favor talking about rational self-interest when discussing more wind power, or clean air, or green jobs? Why not instead talk about enthusiastic love of life, compassion for all beings, the sacred imperative to live in balance, in an ecological sustainable way?

I've gone into this more recently, talking about the need to cultivate love of life, love of nature, and how this will bring about the external aspects of living a green life in a green society - so need to rehash that any more than I have.

Cultivate Holism to Develop A New Paradigm

I will say though that without holistically incorporating, and publicly talking about, a spiritual element to the modern environmental movement I am convinced we will fail to bring about the change we seek, at least in any sort of lasting way.

In the editor's message in the newest issue of Resurgence, Satish Kumar makes the case more eloquently than I, so I'll just quote part of it (apologies to Kumar for grabbing a great deal of his wonderful words here):

If the green movement wishes to be radical and effective and wants to embrace a new paradigm of the future, then our work has to based in harmony and wholeness incorporating spiritual wellbeing, artistic imagination, social cohesion and reverence for the whole of life.

Through the observation and analysis, experiment and evidence, reason and logic of our great scientists, we know the truth of harmony and the laws of Nature such as gravity, Gaia, relativity and evolution.

Through words, colors or images, music, movement, poetry and stories we communicate and express our experience of the universal harmony. And through reverence and restraint, through simplicity and frugality, reflection and meditation, synthesis and spirituality, dialogue and philosophy we learn to live in harmony with the universe and with ourselves.

But much of the environmental movement is missing out on this holistic approach.

Limiting itself to working within the partial parameters of secular rationalism, facts, figures and pragmatic arguments, the green movement has failed to make an impact on changing the direction of politics, business, academia and media. The culture of consumerism and materialism continues to intensify and there is little prospect of real change if we confine ourselves to green growth, renewable energy and very few other areas of policy.

We need to develop a bigger vision and to present a bigger picture to the world.


So what I charge you all with is going deeper within both yourself and your tradition. There's no need to change your path if that path is working for you; I hope this series has shown that. Go deeper to develop that holism, that bridging of spirit, science, and society. Develop your wonder and willpower, your conscience, compassion and consciousness. Develop a greener spirit, if you will.

More on Religion & The Environment

All of Existence Should Be Revered: Hinduism & The Environment

A Responsibility To Defend A Fragile & Glorious World: Judaism & The Environment

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