Google/Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, in collaboration with Waterfront Toronto, is developing a major mixed-use innovation district through a smart-city lens along the eastern waterfront/Port Lands. Considering the vast extent of this undeveloped plot of land, right in downtown Toronto, expect BIG changes on the horizon, which will affect jobs, industry, transportation, accommodation, and infrastructure on a sweeping scale. To keep up to date on news and current developments, head to Sidewalk Toronto.
I call Pa today and he joyously tells me, "It's Canadian (sic) Day!"
My father happened to be born in a country where a brutal war occurred in his most formative years, where he lost both of his parents before the age of 6, and soon after suffered extreme child labour abuses and a cruel dictatorship in his adult years. There was no question that life in Canada was paradise -- a bounty of riches that a lot of us have... only by the sheer luck of having been born here.
My father was not legal when he landed in Quebec. Yes, there are rules. There are laws that protect and make a country function, prevent chaos. I'm, by nature, a rule-follower and often a stickler for adherence to these laws. But my father? He defied them all, and I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been such a bad-ass.
For newcomers, picking up and moving to a foreign land without friends, family ties, a guaranteed job, or knowledge of the language? It's tough. Yet somehow, they cobble things together, desperately trying to make things work, just to prove they can do it. And they do. My parents were some of the hardest-working people I've ever known. They didn't have the intellectual know-how to sit in an office and have a cushy life, but Canada, at the time, opened its arms to them, folks who may not have been desirable on paper, but who, through their own grit, could make a thriving, self-sufficient life and contribute to this country in their own unique way.
There isn't a Canada Day that goes by where I'm not constantly scanning my environment, recognizing that most people in my circle are direct children of immigrants or newcomers themselves. And then I recognize, well, that's silly of me: aside from the original keepers of this land, we're all immigrants, some of us with just longer history in this country than others. Does that make someone more Canadian than me or my father? HELL NO.
So today, I'm supremely thankful to my parents and for my friends' parents and grandparents, etc., for choosing this sprawling land as their settling point. And to Canada, for letting us contribute to the different shades that make this country what it is: because that's what this is about/aboat/aboot, right?
HAPPY CANADA DAY, ALL.
(Photos: Connie Tsang for CBC Music)
Buffy Sainte-Marie, winning the Polaris Music Prize 2015.
Well overdue, but the biggest shock of her speech came when she revealed her age: 74. If I can have a quarter of that spirit when I turn 74, I'll be pretty darn satisfied with my life.
Check out CBC Music to see a full gallery of highlights from me and the CBC Music team: http://music.cbc.ca/#!/blogs/2015/9/Sights-sounds-and-highlights-from-the-2015-Polaris-Music-Prize-gala
From Waterfront Toronto:
"On May 28-29, 2015, the Dutch Consulate in Toronto and Waterfront Toronto hosted the Canadian – Netherlands Resilient Cities Summit: Planning and Design in a Changing Climate.
The Summit was a unique opportunity for Canadian and Dutch experts to discuss real issues and challenges for mitigation and adapting to a changing climate, and to work on joint solutions. Key themes of the Summit included fostering safe and clean environments, urban flood protection, the management and re-use of soil and sediment, how to achieve more community resilience, and the importance of a regional resilience strategy. Increasingly, we realize the need to find integrated solutions to complex infrastructure systems and to design for smart and resilient cities."
ASIA X CANADA - THE MOM-AND-POP FOOD STOPS (2007-ONGOING)
Chinese immigrants made their mark on Canadian food history when they were forced to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit as a way of fighting rampant discrimination and abuse from closed-minded locals. After the mining and railroad boom, these men, largely rejected from anything outside of the lower-rung domestic realm, opted for self-employment, pooling funds from their savings, and opening restaurants wherever they could: they travelled from west to east, and established Main Street diners and dives across the country, from west-coast mountain-view villas to quiet crossroads in rural Saskatchewan and blue-collar neighbourhoods in Toronto.
This group of business-operating newcomers initially arrived from southeastern China, but later came from neighbouring Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan. But no matter their background, these particular entrepreneurs all made do with what they had, moving into largely uni-cultural communities for golden opportunities, often taking over existing Canadian diners -- sometimes without any restaurant experience -- and quietly introducing gateway "ethnic" Chinese fare into their new home's largely one-dimensional palate. The food was unique enough to be daring, but plain enough to please the pickiest of eaters.
With their Canadian-born offspring holding no interest in taking over the family business, and with the advent of large-scale Chinese buffets and more adventurous tastes/new cuisines entering the foodie fray, these small, family-run restaurants no longer have the monopoly pull on the novel dining experience they once had. These mom-and-pop restaurants now face a choice: they can either make subtle changes to adapt to a perpetually shifting dining culture or slowly disappear from the Canadian landscape altogether, leaving an essential part of Chinese and Asian-Canadian history to disappear as well.
ASIA X CANADA - THE MOM-AND-POP FOOD STOPS is my mission to document these mom-and-pop food stops across Canada, as they currently exist, for an ongoing photo project, with a particular interest in those found in small-town Canada. If you know of anyone who fits the bill, no matter what province or territory, please get in touch: email@example.com.
Stanley Park takes up 1,000 acres of downtown land in Vancouver. Winnipeg boasts the Assiniboine and its famed Park Zoo. Toronto -- the winding trails of its massive High Park. And though these singular Canadian icons each contain a buffet of activities, it's the underrated, overarching network of accessible public spaces beyond them that is key to their wellbeing and community livelihoods.
At this year's Park Summit, guests presented their large- and small-scale initiatives to improve the quality of Canadian park life -- among them, the Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors who spoke of fishing in the city, the Friends of McCormick Park and their shipping container cafe, and Vancouver's GM of Parks and Recreation, Malcolm Bromley, who discussed the west coast gem's signature park system. Capped off with a reception and tour of Regent Park, the annual event connects the public, policymakers, and community leaders with an aim to instil active involvement in one of the few places we are all free to enjoy in the city, no matter what our social or economic backgrounds.
The event is presented annually by Park People, the Toronto Alliance for Better Parks, and -- just like the open spaces they fiercely promote -- is free for the public. Yes!
National day of action against Bill C-51, the proposed anti-terrorism act. A large group gathered in front of City Hall to protest the government's potential ease of gathering and keeping personal information; of targeting aboriginals, environmental activists, Canadians Muslims, and immigrants in general; and the increased power of CSIS to police and arrest based on government speculation.
Long story short: Daniel Lanois is incredible.
I met Audrey here in Peggys Cove. When she turned 16, she bought an accordion with $50 of her own money and has been in love with the instrument "and the sparkly buttons" ever since -- a good 50 years now. Early in the conversation, I mentioned my dad wanted me to play the instrument, too, and as I parted, her last comment was, "You should really think about picking up the accordion. It'd be really nice." And then she continued playing.
Also: I still have a hard time writing "Peggys Cove" without an apostrophe.
Despite front-line healthcare being so critical, it seems we go on with our daily lives until we're the ones in need of it. And that's when we complain. Hard. In these tech-savvy days, why is it so hard to find an appropriate doctor or support system? Why such long wait times? And what's with all this paperwork, anyway?
Luckily, before my heart descended into the hopeless health care canyon, my faith was bolstered by this weekend's instalment of Hacking Health, an annual gathering that brings these issues to the forefront. Here, teams of energized health experts, developers, and designers pitch ideas inspired by technology, aiming to jolt the industry and instil hope for more efficient, tailored health care. Ideas this year included a system to speed up wait times in clinics, sharable data applications for personal health and fitness profiles, and a wristband to monitor cigarette drags for wannabe quitters.
If you have an idea that will shake up the system and need help on how to bring your vision to fruition, contact the supportive folks at Hacking Health for some guidance. Perhaps we'll be seeing your face up on that stage next year, too?
The day after the Polaris Music Prize Gala. Got a little sleep-in (yeah!) and thanks to skipping out on the Drake Hotel after-party, I was able to get home and finish my photo edits at a reasonable time. (Photos follow below, but you can find all my coverage here!)
The big story was, of course, the announcement, but Monday night's winners, the absent Godspeed You! Black Emperor, nabbed the big cheque, causing perhaps a different level of attention than the award has garnered in years past. If declining their Gala RSVP wasn't statement enough, their win and response to the win has spoken a value worth more than the $30,000 in prize money (which they plan on using to support music education in Quebec prisons). Wild.
Godspeed's response to the Prize:
“A FEW WORDS REGARDING THIS POLARIS PRIZE THING
hello kanadian music-writers.
thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.
and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard f*#%ing gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?
so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really f*&@ing needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS F*@$ING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.
these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.
give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.
us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…
amen and amen.
apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is f*@&ed
godspeed you! black emperor”