It’s more than Scarberia

Aileen Hill, one of 150 Scarborough Neighbours honoured.

I wouldn’t have known that she was my neighbour. But it turns out that in more ways than one, she and I have been connected. First, we have both supported the arts and those who create them. Next, we are both the children of immigrants. But for me the surprising aspect of our neighbour connection is that Aileen Hill and I both have Scarborough roots.

“I was born here,” she told me, “then, moved with my family to the Caribbean, but have now come back to Scarborough.”

Want to get things done?

Beginning my recent presentation in Burlington. Photo – Jeannie Woodcroft.

I paced slowly and quietly across the back of the ballroom, last Monday morning. Keeping to myself, I was reviewing a few thoughts about the presentation I was about to deliver as part of the keynote to a local business club in Burlington, Ontario. Then, I tuned in to what the person at the lectern at the front of the ballroom was saying about the agenda that the meeting had to go through before the keynote speaker (that would be me) was introduced.

“We’ve got committee reports and the financial statement to table and accept,” the chair indicated, “and, of course, we have to introduce the incoming executive.”

My head suddenly snapped to attention, as I focused on what the chair was saying. I realized the business part of the meeting that preceded me had a lot of content. “This is going to be a long wait,” I said to myself.

Workplace and symbol

It was about 1 p.m. One of the clerks outside the chamber went over the rules I was to keep in mind when I went inside: Enter quietly. No briefcases or parcels. No applauding or talking out loud. Rise to your feet when the Speaker enters, when you’re introduced and when you leave. It made me think I was entering the Vatican.

But it was actually the Speaker’s Gallery at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton last Thursday afternoon. Eventually, the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for Sherwood Park, just outside Edmonton, rose to address the government and opposition members present.

“Speaker, I rise to introduce distinguished visitors,” MLA Annie McKitrick said.

When flood waters recede

A Bow River bridge nearly submerged during the June 2013 flood in Calgary (National Post photo).

On the third floor of a building in the southwestern quadrant of this major city on the Prairies, sits a non-discript office. Nothing special about its look or identification. Just another downtown Calgary workplace. However, inside resides one of the most precious resources, the city discovered last summer, that helped thousands of its citizens weather perhaps the city’s least predicted natural disaster – the 2013 flood of the Bow River.

“[As many as] 2,159 free counselling sessions were delivered,” the Distress Centre in that Calgary office reported. “Online crisis chats increased 739 per cent,” during the flood.

Fewer epics, please

Christine Sinclair of the Canadian women’s soccer team. Courtesy The Record, U.K.

The Olympics have dominated much of our attention the past week. And as I suggested in my column last week, nobody deserves the attention or the applause more than these dedicated young athletes. However, there is one side effect to watching, listening to and reading about the Games I find bothersome. And it came up the other night just before the women’s soccer semi-final match between Team Canada and Team U.S.A. Somebody asked an analyst how important the game was for the Canadian women.

“Hugely,” she said. “It’s the most important game ever.”

Between the eyes question

Toronto Police march in tribute to officer killed in the line of duty in 2011. Photo courtesy Octavian Lacatusu.

Everybody’s been talking about it this week. Most people have an opinion. Some blame gangs. Others point their fingers at government. A few say the courts are too lenient. But just about everybody has something to say about guns and gun crime. It came up at the milk store the other day. One man looked at it this way.

“Hey, it could be a lot worse,” he said. “Look at Detroit.”