Showing posts with label Canada Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada Related. Show all posts

29 October 2019

Here's How Your Foreign Accent Can Unfairly Destroy Your Credibility

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It’s not what you say… it’s how you say it.
It’s not what you say… it’s how you say it. (Shutterstock)
There’s an old Punch magazine cartoon depicting a rather typical business boardroom. The group in the illustration includes one woman and several men, with the chairman saying, “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it?

The cartoon is still regularly shared on social media in the context of the debate around unconscious, or automatic, bias. This bias can happen when people unknowingly favour people who appear to be more like themselves, and discriminate against those who appear “different”. Examples include white people being more likely to find black male faces more threatening, or applicants with ethnic minority sounding names being less likely to get a job interview, even when they have the same qualifications.

Many employers now require their employees to take courses aimed at making them aware of this bias. Judging another person’s capability or credibility based on their gender, race or whether they use a wheelchair is obviously discriminatory, as such characteristics are unrelated to competence and expertise.

What accents say

But most people never stop to reflect on the degree to which accent can affect their opinion of the person speaking – particularly (but not only) if the accent gives the speaker away as someone who did not learn the language as a native speaker.

A particularly disturbing example was recently reported in the form of a judgment by Canadian judge Terry Clackson. The judgment lists in great detail a range of grammatical and phonetic “errors” committed by the Crown’s expert medical witness, Dr Bamidele Adeagbo – who is of Nigerian descent – rejecting the expert opinion delivered in his capacity as the physician who performed an autopsy that was a key element in the case.

In the present day and age, one would very much hope that stereotypes based on race, gender or sexual identity would not be seen as remotely acceptable arguments in a court ruling. So how can a supposedly imperfect command of the English language by someone who did not have the good fortune of being born and raised in what linguist David Crystal has termed an inner circle” country – such as the UK, the US or Canada – be acceptable grounds for dismissing their considerable expertise?
‘You’re not from 'round here!’ (Shutterstock)
Like the non-male, the non-white and the non-able-bodied, non-native speakers often face an uphill struggle to be heard and taken seriously. Research shows that they are seen as less intelligent and competent, are less likely to be found suitable for higher-status jobs, and are less likely to be believed when delivering trivia statements such as ants don’t sleep.

How well we speak the language therefore is a measuring stick for how competent we are at anything else. As the linguist Vivian Cook pointed out, foreign language speakers are typically evaluated not on the basis of how far they have come, what they have achieved and how much they are able to do, but by the gap that still separates them from the “ideal” native. The enumeration by Justice Clackson of the imperfections in Adeagbo’s use of English is a textbook example of such an evaluation.

Such biases are particularly common in societies where it still is considered the norm for people to grow up speaking only one language, and where foreign language learning is deemed to be a “useless” luxury – although similar biases have been shown to apply among other non-natives who presumably should share the pain.<

‘Where are you from?’

Even more disturbingly, labelling someone as “foreign”, with all the prejudices and stereotypes that this incurs, is something that literally happens within a split second. One study found that judgements on whether or not a speaker is a native can be surprisingly accurate upon hearing a speech segment that is just 30 milliseconds long.

Certainly, after a sentence or two, the listener will have made up their mind – and often will follow it up with the inevitable and ubiquitous question: “Oh, where are you from?” At that point, you know you have been labelled – and that your credibility is in tatters. What you say is now less important than how you say it.

While it is essential that these prejudices should be called out and recognised as part and parcel of unconscious bias, and that we should try to work against them, it is clear that this will have to be a marathon, not a sprint. The view that someone with a more “native” command of a language must be more knowledgeable than one who doesn’t – even if we are talking about a non-native who is considerably more expert – is deeply rooted and hard to challenge.

In an ideal world, society should treat everyone as equal, regardless of their wealth, power, status, race, gender – or accent. We do not live in such an ideal world. But there is a reason why many societies represent Lady Justice as wearing a blindfold: the judiciary must put facts and expertise in the balance and be able to abstract away from base prejudices.

Thank you for your excellent analysis, Dr Adeagbo – perhaps a native speaker would care to present it?” is simply not good enough.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Monika Schmid, Professor of Linguistics, University of Essex
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

24 October 2019

"Behind the Smile" - New Report From World Animal Protection Exposes Scale Of Suffering Behind Dolphin Tourism Experiences

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Public display facilities confining marine mammals such as dolphins, are not essential conservation or education resources. The animals suffer poor welfare as a result of their captive environment. Pictured; Dolphins posing for visitors at an entertainment park in China.
Public display facilities confining marine mammals such as dolphins, are not essential conservation or education resources. The animals suffer poor welfare as a result of their captive environment. Pictured; Dolphins posing for visitors at an entertainment park in China. Credit Line: World Animal Protection Date: 08/08/2019 (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)
A new global report from World Animal Protection shows the massive scale and profitability of the multibillion-dollar, dolphin entertainment industry which causes immense animal suffering. This is likely unknown to many Canadian tourists who visit sun destinations like Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. Some 64% of Canadians polled have gone on holiday to a destination where dolphin tourism was offered.

Millions of animal lovers every year are tricked into thinking that dolphin shows and swim-with-dolphin experiences sold by the world's largest travel companies are humane, educational and support conservation efforts.

The report, Behind the Smile, is the most comprehensive assessment of captive dolphins to date. It reveals that globally, there are 336 dolphin entertainment venues in 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and China, which confine at least 3,000 dolphins.

Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director for World Animal Protection says, "For wide-ranging, social and intelligent animals like dolphins, a life spent in a concrete tank entertaining tourists is no life at all. Every ticket sold is an incentive for this industry to continue breeding and capturing dolphins for a lifetime of suffering."
Fortunately, governments and travel companies are starting to respond to the scientific evidence and public pressure against keeping dolphins in captivity. Last June, Canada passed legislation banning the breeding, display and trade of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) making it illegal to possess cetaceans for purposes other than research or rehabilitation.

Also in Canada, Transat and Air Canada have shown leadership on this issue. Transat has ceased commercializing all shows featuring captive marine mammals, including swimming with dolphins, with its holiday packages and flights-only sales. In so doing, the company is asserting its leadership in responsible tourism and responding to the concerns of travellers who are increasingly sensitive to the well-being of these wild animals.

"Transat supports the actions of World Animal Protection and is committed to helping its local incoming tourism partners, including its own Trafic Tours business unit, to cease commercializing such activities by finding economically viable and socially acceptable ways to replace them within two years," says Odette Trottier, Director, Communications and Corporate Affairs for Transat.
Peter Fitzpatrick, Director of Corporate Communications for Air Canada, Central Canada stated, "By the end of August 2020, Air Canada and its subsidiaries (including Air Canada Vacations) will no longer directly sell or promote packages to, or generate revenue from, attractions that involve the captivity of current or future generations of dolphins."
Other major travel brands such as Virgin Holidays, Trip Advisor and Booking.com, following guidance from World Animal Protection, have taken similar steps. They recently committed to stop selling or promoting tickets to captive dolphin venues.

However, market research shows that there is still work to do to educate and influence Canadian tourists, booking sites and travel companies. For example, 50% of Canadian tourists still consider keeping dolphins in enclosures acceptable and one-third of Canadian travellers have participated in at least one dolphin-related activity in the past three years.

"Canadian attitudes and behaviours are changing," says Matlow. "When people learn the truth about how dolphins suffer, they don't want to participate. That's why we are calling on travel companies like Expedia Group and others that are lagging behind to stop supporting activities that cause harm to animals."

The Video:


  • World Animal Protection's goal is to make this the last generation of dolphins to suffer for our entertainment.


17 October 2019

Ministry of Woke Debuts Single 'Orwellian World', Uses Hip-Hop to Tackle Military Industrial Complex, in Time for Canadian Elections [Video Included]

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'Orwellian World' by Ministry of Woke uses hip-hop to address the dangers of military industrial complex
'Orwellian World' by Ministry of Woke uses hip-hop to address the dangers of military industrial complex
Ministry of Woke, a brand-new band, based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada is debuting their single, 'Orwellian World', to tackle the issue of military industrial complex. It addresses the young generation's frustration with politicians engaging in reckless arms trade with dictatorships, particularly Saudi Arabia, but also other dictatorships such as UAE, Syria and Bahrain and authoritarian leaders of nations such as China and Russia. It draws parallels between the current Saudi-led genocide in Yemen and the Holocaust. 

  • The song, while composed in English, features a phrase each from Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi.

'Orwellian World' by Ministry of Woke

'Orwellian World' is inspired partly by George Orwell's classic novel, 1984, and draws on many concepts and ideas in the novel. It also draws on the artists' own experiences as a victim of terrorism, including terrorist events that were financed by Saudi Arabian monarchs.

Ministry of Woke's current focus is on releasing the album to coincide with the Canadian federal elections, and bringing focus to Canada's role in the genocide in Yemen. 

  • The band may re-release the same song or a similar song in the future to coincide with American 2020 elections. 
The single, 'Orwellian World' addresses the ill effects of military industrial complex from a global perspective and points out the problems associated with it, especially in relation to arms sales to dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.

End Arms Sales - Stop arming dictators!
End Arms Sales - Stop arming dictators!
With the current Canadian focus, the band's website forwards to endarmssales.com, which also belongs to the artists, to educate all Canadian voters, young and old, about the devastation Canada is engaging in by trading arms with the Saudi dictatorship. 
They are asking the question "How Are We Different From The Nations That Traded Arms With Nazi Germany?".

The Lyrics:

"We live in a crazy Orwellian world War is peace and peace is war Politicians cryin’ out their crocodile tears Always feeding on our fears Paying fake homage to the holocaust Selling weapons at the highest cost selling genocide to dictators Yeah they are nothing but a bunch of rich traitors I see the reflection of Auschwitz in Yemeni farms and townships selling them arms to the Arabian Nazi who call the land of Hijaz Saudi! In the impoverished deserts profiting weapons and famine While shareholders are purchasing yachts Yemeni children starve getting their world torn apart our generation will be different No more military industrial complex No more war, no more ignorance No blood stained pay checks We’re millennials and generation X We’re educated, we’re the apex, we waste less We ain’t impatient, we’re just tired of waiting tired of doublethink, doublespeak and double standards, time to double down or beat it Vote with your money, vote with your vote Raise your avaaz and say “no more”! I grew up In Karachi terrorised by Taliban My school was bombed twice my uncle paid the sacrifice they blew the mosque at Friday prayer The story’s like a nightmare Terrorists give a damn about places of prayers And Don’t expect to see this on TV or CNN nightly lullabys of gun fire houses surrounded with barbed wire daily Saudi terrorism Victimized by fascism We became numb to the crimes and violence And never ending sirens I left Pakistan to start anew came to the west and I bid Pakistan adieu I am not Liberal nor Conservative nor Republican, Democrat or Alternative Jesus or Mohammed wouldn’t sell arms that cause genocide and so much harm there is no permanence with you and me Only God willing permanent peace with human beings love your neighbour as you love yourself ואהבת לרעך כמוך Ve Ahav’ta Lere akha Kamokha (Hebrew: love your neighbour As you love thyself) our generation will be different No more military industrial complex No more war, no more ignorance No blood stained pay checks We’re millennials and generation X We’re educated, we’re the apex, we waste less We ain’t impatient, we’re just tired of waiting tired of doublethink, doublespeak and double standards, time to double down or beat it Vote with your money, vote with your vote Raise your avaaz and say “no more”! گه زیادی نخور goh ziyadi nakhor (Farsi: don't eat a lot of shit) Americans suffering from fake news CNN had us long confused The Sun, The Posts, The Daily Mail We’re drinking cocktail of lies Fox the biggest fake news of all has foxed us Murdoch is leading US to its downfall, too astounding lying to us selling bloodshed Spending trillions of tax dollars on the manslaughter attacks Who’s the antagonist and the protagonist act? امر بالمعروف و نہی عن المنکر Amr bil Maaroof Wa nahi Anil Munkar (Arabic: Enjoin The good And forbid the wrong/evil) Gold around Obama, Harper and Trump collars bowed down to dictators drooling over petro dollars we will end racism, and anti-Semitism we will end Islamophobia and sexism will will end homophobia and fascism we will end all phobias and every “isms”! x2 our generation will be different No more military industrial complex No more war, no more ignorance No blood stained pay checks We’re millennials and generation X We’re educated, we’re the apex, we waste less We ain’t impatient, we’re just tired of waiting tired of doublethink, doublespeak and double standards, time to double down or beat it Vote with your money, vote with your vote Raise your avaaz and say “no more”!"

The Video:

The song is available on most major streaming platforms:

SOURCE: Ministry of Woke

20 September 2019

Canada Post Pays Tribute To The Masterful Leonard Cohen

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Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post today unveiled three stamps honouring Leonard Cohen, whose songs over a five-decade career distilled the desire and pain of romantic love and explored the darkness and light of the human experience.

The stamps were unveiled in the city of his birth, as Cohen's record label, Sony Music, announced the release of new music from Cohen and a forthcoming album release titled Thanks for the Dance.

The stamps will be available tomorrow, September 21, on what would have been Cohen's 85th birthday. The images on the stamps and the Official First Day Covers highlight three periods of this accomplished Canadian's music career:

  • his impressive debut in the 1960s, including two songs that became enduring favourites, "Suzanne" and "So Long, Marianne";
  • the resurgence of his popularity in the 1980s and the early 1990s, with his unforgettable and oft-covered "Hallelujah" (1984);
  • and his performances on an 18-month world tour he undertook in his seventies, followed by a final burst of creative genius. A month after the October 2016 release of his critically acclaimed album You Want It Darker, Cohen died at 82. He was posthumously awarded the JUNO Award for Artist of the Year in 2017, as well as Album of the Year; the title track of You Want It Darker won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Born on September 21, 1934, in Montréal, Cohen took an unlikely path into pop music. In the mid-1960s, the income from writing four books of poetry and two novels left him struggling "to pay my grocery bill," he once recalled. After returning to Canada from the Greek island where he'd lived for years, the self-taught guitarist discovered the folk music movement sweeping North America. He tried his hand at writing songs. He played some privately for singer Judy Collins, who loved them. A folk and pop star, she sang two of them on her next album, becoming one of the hundreds of artists who would record Cohen's songs during his life. He released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967.

After several albums, Cohen's place in the pantheon of the world's great songwriters was secure, and he was inducted into several music halls of fame. He earned a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

A warm, spiritual and intellectual man, Cohen also had a self-deprecating sense of humour. When he died, countless singers, musicians and others publicly mourned his passing, expressing their respect for his work and their deep affection for him. Leading papers around the world published obituaries, reflecting his global stature.
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
"Leonard was always deeply appreciative of his Canadian heritage, and would have been moved by this honour from Canada Post," says Robert Kory, Cohen's manager, estate trustee and friend.
"Canada Post is proud to pay tribute to this memorably gifted man whose words and music have touched Canadians and people around the world," says Jessica McDonald, Chair of the Board of Directors, Canada Post.

  • The stamps were unveiled in the Glass Court at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, overlooking the Leonard Cohen mural that rises 21 storeys above Crescent Street.
  • The Permanent domestic-rate stamps, designed by Paprika of Montréal, with photographs by Jack Robinson, Claude Gassian and Platon, and printed by Lowe Martin, are available in a book of nine, with three of each design. Other collectibles, including a four-pack of Official First Day Covers, a collectible pane and a folded uncut press sheet packaged in a simulated album cover and liner, are available at selected post offices or at canadapost.ca/shop.
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen

SOURCE: Canada Post

Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Related Stories:


Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen
Canada Post Pays Tribute To Leonard Cohen

30 August 2019

Be Alert And Be Responsible, Back-To-School Safety Starts With You

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As the school year starts, there is new troubling research from CAA that shows an increase in parents reporting dangerous driving behaviours in school zones.
As the school year starts, there is new troubling research from CAA that shows an increase in parents reporting dangerous driving behaviours in school zones. (CNW Group/CAA South Central Ontario)
As students get back into the swing of a hectic school routine, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is reminding everyone travelling through school zones to slow down and put safety first.

According to a new CAA study, 9 out of 10 parents said they have seen one or more bad driving behaviours in a school zone. 

The top five behaviours include:

  • Speeding
  • Illegal parking or stopping
  • Distracted driving or texting and driving
  • Not stopping at a marked crosswalk
  • Not stopping for a school bus
"Everyone plays a role around safety in school zones. It is important for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to have patience to ensure everyone's safety. As we embark on a new school year, it is a timely reminder for everyone give yourself ample time to get through school zones, follow posted speed limits, and focus on safe driving habits," says Elliott Silverstein, manager of government relations for CAA SCO.
School zones become high traffic areas in the morning and afternoon. CAA SCO urges pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to be fully aware of their surroundings by putting away any distractions such as electronic devices.
Silverstein adds that there is no excuse for distracted driving and unsafe behaviours behind the wheel. "Nearly 6 in 10 parents say they have seen an increase in unsafe driving practices in school zones in the last two years. Parents and guardians can do their part by slowing down in school zones, avoid driving distracted, and remembering to be considerate to others on the road."
For motorists, it is essential to take extra care around school buses. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus with its arm extended and red lights flashing face a fine of up to $2,000 and receive six demerit points for a first offence.

Tips for pedestrians:

  • Stop before stepping onto the road
  • Look in all directions before crossing the street
  • Listen for traffic
  • Walk, don't run, across the road

Tips for drivers:

  • Check for children on sidewalks, driveways and behind your vehicle before backing up
  • Remember to slow down in school zones
  • Be ready to stop at all times as children may dart out between parked cars
  • Try to make eye contact with children waiting to cross the street
  • Come to a complete stop for school buses when red lights are flashing

How to share the road with school buses:

  • Drivers in all directions must stop when they see red lights flashing on a school bus. The only exception is roads separated with a median
  • Drivers must stop at least 20 metres behind the bus

If you see a driver who doesn't stop for a school bus, safely pull over and record:

  • Location (street or intersection), date and time
  • The description of the vehicle including make, model, colour and license plate
  • Status of the bus (moving or stopped, were lights flashing, children boarding or not)
  • A record or photograph of the scene
  • Contact the police with as much information as you can
CAA supports safety in school zones through the CAA School Safety Patrol program. This year the program is celebrating its 90th anniversary. The program was developed to protect, educate and empower elementary school children on safe road-crossing practices. 

Today the program is delivered across Ontario in partnership with over 55 police services. It is available in over 800 schools, reaching approximately 20,000 elementary school students.

Related Videos:



24 July 2019

Beer, Food... Sex Ed?

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Reuben's staff celebrate a winning game at SERVE 2018
Reuben's staff celebrate a winning game at SERVE 2018 (CNW Group/Head and Hands)
Head & Hands' Sense Project has been supplementing Quebec's insufficient sex education program since 2005. Despite the government's 2017 decision to bring sex education back into the curriculum, it has stagnated in the pilot phase for more than two years. 
The Sense Project employs an approach that are trans- and queer-positive, casual, and non-judgmental. Delivered by a team of trained peer facilitators 18-25, the unique combination creates an environment of relatability where teens ask what they want, and get the answers they deserve.
In the last year, the Sense Project made a shift to working more with the Francophone school system, with a 253% increase in the number of safer sex workshops offered in French. 

  • The Sense Project also debuted two new workshop series for teens surrounding different sexualities and trans experiences.
Every year, the annual SERVE Beach Volleyball Tournament brings together staff from bars and restaurants from around Montreal raise money for the Sense Project, supporting another year of intervention-based sex education. Every year, the bars raise upwards of $15,000 during a fun-filled day of beer, balls, barbeque, and sex ed facts.

Those who aren't playing beach volleyball are welcome to bask in the sun at Jeanne Mance Park too! You don't have to raise money to contribute: all you have to do is buy a hot dog and you'll be contributing to your community. 


  • Kids are welcome too - facepainting and childcare are available!
"Youth already have a lot of knowledge. They just need to validate that knowledge, and build on it in an environment that feels safe". - Charlie Morin, Sense Project Coordinator

Who: The staff of 11 Montreal bars and restaurants and community members who want to support sex education for youth

Why: 
To support sex education for Montreal youth through a fun day of beach volleyball, games, face painting, and more!

When: Sunday, July 28th, 2019: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Where: Association Montreal Beach - Griffintown, on the canal


Related Video:



8 July 2019

Barbie Reached New Heights With Launch To Space [Video Included]

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A Barbie Astronaut Doll reached new heights as she was launched to space on Friday, July 5, 2019 in London, Ontario. The launch was held in partnership with STEM Camp and was designed to inspire a new generation of girls, who will pursue STEM careers, to reach their limitless potential. #YouCanBeAnything
A Barbie Astronaut Doll reached new heights as she was launched to space on Friday, July 5, 2019 in London, Ontario. The launch was held in partnership with STEM Camp and was designed to inspire a new generation of girls, who will pursue STEM careers, to reach their limitless potential. #YouCanBeAnything (CNW Group/Mattel Canada, Inc.)
This year marks Barbie's 60th anniversary, and with over 200 careers and counting, there isn't a plastic ceiling she hasn't broken. On Friday, July 5, in London, Ontario, a Barbie Astronaut Doll surpassed those ceilings to reach new heights.

Held in partnership with Canadian not-for-profit STEM Camp, campers experienced space-related programming and counted down Barbie's launch to space on a high-altitude weather balloon. Her three-hour journey to space and back was captured on live action camera.

"STEM is all about science, exploration and discovery. We were so excited to send Barbie to space, so kids could learn the science and technology behind making this magic happen," explained Lisa Perry, Barbie Brand Manager at Mattel Canada. "For the first time, Barbie went to space and we hope this inspires a new generation of girls who will pursue STEM careers."
In addition, young girls were given the opportunity to hear directly from a successful female role model, Aerospace Engineer, Natalie Panek, who offered her insight into a career in aerospace engineering and how she continues to pursue her dream of exploring space. Natalie is a rocket scientist, explorer and champion for women in STEM. Natalie's dreams began at a young age with Barbie by her side to spark her imagination.

The Video






13 June 2019

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society Partners with The Anthropocene Project on Canada-Wide Education Program Detailing the Extent of Human Impact on the Planet

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Exploring the lifecycle of plastics by Edward Burtynsky on location at a Toronto transfer station shooting for The Anthropocene Education Program
Exploring the lifecycle of plastics by Edward Burtynsky on location at a Toronto transfer station shooting for The Anthropocene Education Program, May 2019 (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Geographical Society)
This fall, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) will bring a unique bilingual education program to teachers across Canada in partnership with The Anthropocene Project from award-winning artists Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal. 

  • The education program, to be released in conjunction with Geography Awareness Week in November 2019, will be focused on exploring the extent of human dependency on plastics within Canada.
The Anthropocene Project was met with great success with the launch of two complementary museum exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and a full-length documentary film in September 2018. 

Dandora landfill#3 plastics recycling, Nairobi Kenya 2016.
Dandora landfill#3 plastics recycling, Nairobi Kenya 2016. Photo by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Geographical Society)
The new Anthropocene Education Program (AEP) will include incredible 360 VR films; educational short films by Baichwal and de Pencier depicting large scale anthropogenic activity; online, interactive gigapixel photographs; a brand new AR experience; and a large-scale high-resolution Giant Floor Mural depicting one of Burtynsky's photographs with related film extensions (part of a travelling school kit), all of which will augment specific teacher guides and lesson plans. All educational materials part of the AEP will be written by qualified Canadian Geographic Education (Can Geo Education) teachers and linked to the Canadian National Learning Framework for K-12 Geography.

Exploring the lifecycle of plastics by NIcholas de Pencier on location at a Toronto transfer station shooting for The Anthropocene Education Program
Exploring the lifecycle of plastics by NIcholas de Pencier on location at a Toronto transfer station shooting for The Anthropocene Education Program, May 2019 (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Geographical Society)
Additionally, the AEP will consist of travelling educational kits that will be made available free-of-charge to Canadian schools for a three week loan period. For schools without immediate access to these kits across the country, online resources will be available for free, accessible through download and streaming from the Can Geo Education and The Anthropocene Project websites.

The program will leverage these stunning audiovisual resources, and the proven expertise and distribution networks of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society to expand The Anthropocene Project's reach. In turn, this will create a powerful and change-provoking experiential understanding of human impact on the planet for students in classrooms from coast to coast, in grades 4 to 12 (ages 9 to 18). The project will reach more than 22,000 classroom teachers from across the country through the RCGS's educational arm, Can Geo Education.
"The Anthropocene Project is an exciting opportunity for the Society to collaborate with some of Canada's leading artists to influence how the next generation of Canadians thinks about their relationship with the environment, especially when it comes to an understanding of human impact on the planet," says John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. "Stunning AV resources along with immersive learning tools will help students deepen their understanding of how today's lifestyle of convenience may be having an irreparable impact on our planet."
"After witnessing the strong engagement by students with the documentary film and the museum exhibitions, we are very excited that the five years of research and production that formed The Anthropocene Project will now be available to students and teachers alike as part of school curricula. We are honoured to extend the collaboration that started with the scientists of the Anthropocene Working Group to the incredible educational experts at the RCGS and to educators across the country," Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal.
Beyond the subject of plastics, the AEP will also look to expand the teacher discussion guides to other key tenets of the Anthropocene investigation (deforestation, anthroturbation, extinction, etc), and will include a national school contest that challenges students to creatively interpret the themes of the Anthropocene in their own communities.
"Last month, the UN released a report that showed nearly a million species are at risk of extinction due to human impact on the planet. Over the last three and a half years, Canada has taken action to double the amount of our protected nature, beat plastic pollution, and fight climate change. I'm so glad that this project is educating and engaging more young people in such an important conversation that Canada is having right now. It's young peoples' future that is at stake—we must all recognize that we don't pass the earth on to the next generation when we're done with it, instead we are borrowing it from them." Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The AEP will offer a window into the scale of human impact as it explores plastic proliferation around the world, with an aim to provide students with an experiential science-based education about the cycles of extraction, consumption and waste that humans participate in.

  • The Anthropocene Education Program was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change and RBC Foundation and produced with the participation of TELUS Fund.


12 June 2019

Leonard Cohen Lights Up Montreal's Nights

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Tower of Songs, the mural commemorating Montreal icon Leonard Cohen
Tower of Songs, the mural commemorating Montreal icon Leonard Cohen (image via MU)
The mural paying homage to Montreal icon Leonard Cohen will now cast its benevolent gaze over the city at night. In response to public demand to have the monumental artwork lit up, the charitable organization MU has secured permanent lighting for the mural with support from the Ville-Marie borough and Tourisme Montréal. 

Project partners and collaborators were gathered this evening at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in presence of Montreal Mayor, Valérie Plante; President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal, Mr. Yves Lalumière; and representatives of the Cohen family to celebrate this defining moment for Montreal.

Tower of Songs, MU's 100th mural, was completed by artists El Mac and Gene Pendon in 2017. It was unveiled during the week of events commemorating the legendary artist's death and is part of the cultural legacies left by Montreal's 375th anniversary.
"Our administration is pleased to contribute to illuminating this mural commemorating the great Montréal poet whose work has brightened millions of lives all over the world. From now on, the memory of Leonard Cohen will shine in the heart of downtown Montréal in both the literal and figurative sense" said Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal.
The 21-storey portrait of Leonard Cohen is Montreal's largest mural and has become a signature landmark in the city. It has contributed to Montreal's international renown and has affirmed the city's standing in the urban art scene. Tourisme Montréal acknowledged the artwork's major impact by awarding MU the Innovation Award, for companies with less than 50 employees, during the Distinction Awards ceremony held last March.
"Leonard Cohen is a Montréal legend. The Tower of Songs mural was created in honour of his legacy and quickly became a key feature in our urban landscape. This year, as Tourisme Montréal celebrates its 100th anniversary, we are offering permanent lighting for the mural as a gift to Montrealers and tourists alike," said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. "Founded in 1919, our organization is the rallying force behind the city's tourism ecosystem and plays a key role in defining tomorrow's tourism trends by supporting innovative initiatives that help Montréal shine on the world stage. We're confident that the new lighting will make our city brighter than ever."
The Tower of Songs mural is part of MU's "Montreal's Great Artists" collection, which pays tribute to the creative minds and forces who have made outstanding contributions to Montreal's cultural scene. It includes murals of Alanis Obomsawin, Michel Tremblay, Alys Robi, Janine Sutto, Oscar Peterson, Émile Nelligan, Dany Laferrière and Oliver Jones, among others. Beyond celebrating Montreal's cultural ambassadors, both past and present, the collection also contributes to the city's cultural legacy, providing Montrealers with opportunities to discover and connect with the history of their city and its neighbourhoods.

Earlier in 2019, MU won the 34th Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal, an important recognition within the city's cultural community. The award recognizes the expertise which the organisation has developed over the last 12 years, as well as its social inclusion work and its positive impact on the city's urban landscape.

About MU:

MU's is a charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to beautify the city of Montreal by creating murals that are anchored in communities. At the heart of its approach is the desire to see and experience art on a daily basis, to trigger a social transformation and to turn Montreal into an open-air MUseum. In 12 years, MU has produced more than 120 large-scale murals in 17 neighbourhoods of the city and over 300 community-youth murals. In 2019, the organization was awarded the 34th Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal in recognition of its social inclusion work and its murals, which have become true Montreal landmarks.

SOURCE: Ville de Montréal - Arrondissement de Ville-Marie

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7 June 2019

World Oceans Day is a Reason to Celebrate and Reflect

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Ghost gear is killing our marine life and contributing greatly to the ocean's plastic problem, with more than 70% of microplastics by weight being fishing related. Pictured: a sea lion tangled in a gill net off the coast of California.
Ghost gear is killing our marine life and contributing greatly to the ocean's plastic problem, with more than 70% of microplastics by weight being fishing related. Pictured: a sea lion tangled in a gill net off the coast of California. (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)
The oceans. They link us together, provide most of the oxygen that we breathe and regulate our climate. They are also home to many marine animals like seals, whales, turtles and fish. But their home and survival are increasingly under assault from ocean acidification, over-fishing and marine debris.

It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum. Consumer and single-use plastics are often identified as the culprit but lost and abandoned fishing gear ('ghost gear') is also a major contributor to the plastic pollution engulfing our oceans. Like consumer plastic waste, ghost gear can also degrade into microplastics that end up being consumed by fish and other marine life, making its way into the food chain and onto our plate.

In fact, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), estimates that 640,000 tons of ghost gear ends up in our oceans each year. Marine animals can suffer a slow and painful death when caught in lines and nets, sometimes drowning, other times succumbing to painful injuries.

This is why World Oceans Day, acknowledged every year on June 8th, is so important. It's an opportunity to remind people about the critical role of our oceans and encourage everyone worldwide to take action to protect them.
And there is hope. In 2014, World Animal Protection founded the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), an international platform to address the causes of ghost gear and develop solutions. To date, the GGGI has over 100 participants including NGOs, private sector and governments. Last fall, Canada became a signatory to the GGGI, committing to the GGGI's aims of protecting marine animals from harm and safeguarding human health and livelihoods. Canada is acting on its promise.
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) continues to show leadership in managing lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing gear. We are expanding mandatory reporting requirements for lost gear to additional commercial fisheries and added a new requirement to report any found gear that was previously reported lost. Compiling and mapping this information will allow for targeted efforts to retrieve gear and more robust analysis of ghost gear in Canada," says Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
Lynn Kavanagh, Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, says, "World Oceans Day is a time to acknowledge how vital our oceans are to our survival and the life of countless animals. We can all play our part in protecting this essential lifeforce, whether it's curbing our own personal plastic consumption, or the fishing industry adopting best practices for fishing gear management."

  • World Oceans Day was first proposed by the Canadian government in 1992 and has since been proclaimed by the United Nations.

SOURCE: World Animal Protection

1 March 2019

UNICEF: 'Alarming Global Surge Of Measles Cases A Growing Threat To Children '

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On 9 February 2019 in Yemen, children vaccinated in Aden during a mobile Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign
On 9 February 2019 in Yemen, children vaccinated in Aden during a mobile Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign. © UNICEF/UN0284426/Fadhel (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)
UNICEF warned today that global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels, led by ten countries accounting for more than 74 per cent of the total increase, and several others that had previously been declared measles free.

Countries with ten highest increases in cases between 2017 & 2018

  1. Ukraine: 30,338
  2. Philippines: 13,192
  3. Brazil: 10,262
  4. Yemen: 6,641
  5. Venezuela: 4,916
  6. Serbia: 4,355
  7. Madagascar: 4,307
  8. Sudan: 3,496
  9. Thailand: 2,758
  10. France: 2,269  
Globally, 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease.
"Vaccines work. They save millions of lives a year and are an important reason why more children today survive," said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada.
Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil saw the largest increases in measles cases from 2017 to 2018. In Ukraine alone, there were 35,120 cases of measles in 2018. According to the government, another 24,042 people were infected just in the first two months of 2019. In the Philippines so far this year, there have been 12,736 measles cases and 203 deaths, compared to 15,599 cases in the whole of 2018.
"This is a wake-up call. We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades," said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's Executive Director. "These cases haven't happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow."
Measles is highly contagious, more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or influenza. The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room. It spreads through air and infects the respiratory tract, potentially killing malnourished children or babies too young to be vaccinated. Once infected, there is no specific treatment for measles, so vaccination is a life-saving tool for children.
In response to a recent outbreak of measles in British Columbia, Morley added: "Canada must invest in comprehensive monitoring and reporting to close the data gap in vaccination rates and identify populations at risk during outbreaks. We applaud the commitment in mid-February by Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, to tackle misinformation around vaccinations."

UNICEFs global response

In response to these outbreaks, UNICEF and its partners are supporting governments to urgently reach millions of children in countries around the globe. For example:
  • In Ukraine, UNICEF has provided ongoing support to accelerate routine immunization across the country and address vaccine hesitancy, including additional efforts to stop the most recent outbreak that has claimed 30 lives since 2017. In February, the Ministry of Health, with UNICEF's support, launched an immunization drive at schools and clinics in the worst-hit Lviv region in western Ukraine, where negative attitudes toward immunization, and previous shortages in vaccine supply, have resulted in low vaccination rates.
  • In the Philippines, the government, with support from UNICEF and partners, will conduct a campaign to vaccinate 9 million children against measles across 17 regions. Using social media, campaigners plan to encourage apprehensive parents, and health workers.
  • In Brazil, from August to September 2018, the government carried out a campaign against polio and measles, targeting more than 11 million children under five. UNICEF encouraged people to get vaccinated, and trained health monitors working in migrant shelters for Venezuelans. UNICEF has included the measles vaccine as part of the Municipal Seal programme that covers 1,924 municipalities.
  • In Yemen, where years of conflict led to an outbreak, local authorities with support from UNICEF, WHO and GAVI vaccinated more than 11.5 million children in February.
  • In Madagascar, from 3 September to 21 February, 76,871 people were infected by measles and 928 died, a majority of which were children. In January, the government, with support of partners including UNICEF, launched an immunization campaign to target all 114 districts. Over 2 million children were immunized in 25 districts. In February, 1.4 million children were vaccinated, with another 3.9 million more to follow in March.
"As one of the largest donors of vaccines in the world, Canada has long shown its leadership for immunizing children, which plays a key role in preventing life-threatening illnesses such as polio, pneumonia, tetanus and diarrheal disease," added Morley.

Notable reported measles cases in 2018 in countries with no reported cases in 2017

  • Brazil: 10,262
  • Moldova: 312
  • Montenegro: 203
  • Colombia: 188
  • Timor-Leste: 59
  • Peru: 38
  • Chile: 23
  • Uzbekistan: 17
Poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness, complacency and vaccine hesitancy in some cases have led to these outbreaks in both developed and developing countries. For example, in the United States, the number of measles cases increased six-fold between 2017 and 2018, reaching 791 cases. More recently, the U.S. has seen outbreaks in New York and Washington state.
"Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse," said Fore. "Measles may be the disease, but, all too often, the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency. We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child."

To fight measles, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, and parents to do more to contain the disease by:

  • Understanding that vaccines are safe and effective and can save a child's life
  • Vaccinating all children between the ages of six months to five years during outbreaks
  • Training and equipping health workers so they can provide quality services
  • Strengthening immunization programmes to deliver all life-saving vaccines

About the Measles and Rubella Initiative:

UNICEF is part of the Measles and Rubella Initiative, a private-public partnership of five global partners including WHO, CDC, United Nations Foundation and American Red Cross that has been spearheading a global push towards measles and rubella elimination.

SOURCE: UNICEF Canada

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