Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday

To Boycott Or Not To Boycott? #FireandFury #SoCS #JusJoJan

Does boycotting a place work?

VfTciwU.jpg

No, seriously…I wanna know.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday/Just Jot It January

Tim Hortons is the place to get your coffee in Canada and I believe the US even has them, possibly along the border of our two countries. I seem to recall, when watching some US television networks through cable, that there was a commercial for the company, but its called Tim Hortons, Coffee and Bake Shop or some such thing.

So, the minimum wage hike that went into effect here at the start of 2018 has everyone in the province of Ontario talking, and now the story spreading across Canada because it isn’t only concerning Ontario, not at all.

Minimum wage, up to $14 or something, and still to rise to $15 in the future. Good for those working certain jobs, but apparently bad for those companies (Tim Hortons) who have to pay more.

The real trouble started when Tim Hortons started cutting back on other benefits their employees did have, supposedly to make up for this change.

There are two sides: the side of those supporting those workers and those workers themselves I guess and the companies and those who have always said rising minimum wage will break us as a province and as a country.

I know very little about the economy and never have. I try to read and listen to the news, but it’s hard enough keeping up with all going on in the world. I don’t have a mind for the study of our economy, (economics). I know it’s good and important knowledge to have, I know that, but I can barely figure out my own affairs, budgeting and bills and the money I’ve started to make, still so new to it all.

Trying to figure out how the province and Canada as a country runs is beyond my capabilities.

NM2Bjaw.jpg

So, though Canadians have seemed obsessed with Tim Hortons coffee for longer than I can remember, some are calling for that to change.

It’s not about a greedy corporation at all, some say, because this wage hike issue is put on each individual franchise.

I don’t run one of those either. I don’t know and hardly feel like I should speak.

I got my coffee from McDonald’s today, but that isn’t anything all that new. I simply prefer it and I don’t like being told I have to follow the crowd and be like all other Canadians who can’t go without my Tim Hortons fix.

I tend to look at the subject of corporate greed as a thing that happens. I see minimum wage as affecting real human beings, people who need understanding, but so do all humans I guess, even those who run the giant corporations and companies.

As a writer and creative, one who wouldn’t be all that good at matters of crunching numbers and running a business, I see things from the human perspective. Not to say all creative people are that way. I only know what side I end up falling on, though I try to see any issue from more than just one side whenever and wherever possible.

I don’t know if boycotting the company in question is the answer here, or ever, but that’s what Canada is talking about this week. Well, like other countries nearby, it’s that and Fire and Fury too. Rumour has it that even demand for the book is growing here in Canada. I can’t say I’ll read it, but I think the whole thing is wildly bizarre, and yet unsurprising to say the least.

Fire and fury is a good way to sum up how hyped everyone seems to be. I do feel all the greed that does exist, more than ever from those who make the most money, but I can’t claim I know what I’m talking about on what Canada’s economy has done in the past or will do in the future.

I bet the woman who runs
these prompts
likely has some thoughts on all this.

Linda is to thank for me not feeling totally lost at the start of a new year, as a writer, and she, as a fellow Canadian, might know more about Canada’s economics than I do.

Either way, I thank her for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, all the weeks of the year, and for Just Jot It January, for the first month of each brand new one.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes

“People Of Canada…” #CanadaDay #FTSF

A lot can change in a year.

Today is a celebration in my country. Today is Canada’s 149th birthday.

How perfect – this all lined up with Finish the Sentence Friday and its particular sentence for the week, which ties in with all I have been thinking about on countries, borders, and our one, global world.

Every year, on July 1st and since I started this blog, I have found it important to say something about Canada or what it’s like to be Canadian.

In 2014,

I listed ten things I loved about my country (Oh Canada).

And then, last year,

I decided to take a different approach,

Reconciling The Truth About Canada.

Last year we had another political party in charge and another politician leading Canada.

This year we have Justin Trudeau. Not all are thrilled, just like I wasn’t thrilled with the people in charge this time last July.

Stories in the news for 2016 are more often than not horrifying to me. I listen to the epic race for the White House and the Brexit referendum. I look around me here in Canada, and I hold on tightly, but the other night I listened to a speech put on in Ottawa’s parliament, by visiting US President (for the time being) Barack Obama.

He began it with the words: “People of Canada…” and I was unprepared for all I was about to hear.

What I wish the world knew is a simple enough word: peace. They often say they know (those leading the way), that they understand, but continually prove the opposite to be true. This leaves those of us, so desperate for peace, to feel like we’re the odd ones out, like what we’re asking for is so out-of-reach impossible.

Obama started to speak and I’ve never been so speechless and yet bursting with thoughts and things to say, all at the same time. I wanted to cry, more than once, as he spoke and the crowd cheered at various statements he made.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-obama-arrives-canada-us-mexico-summit-40217479

Just days after the Brexit vote, I listened to a speech by a certain UKIP politician, to the EU. It carried a definite, a continual tone of mocking and gloating. Totally uncalled for and unnecessary, in my mind, as mature adults, or thought to be mature adults should be conducting themselves and holding themselves to a much higher standard than was evident in that room.

Then, compare that to one given by Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, where she spoke of what may end up need to be done. She struck me as a powerful female voice, in the world of politics, where so often women’s voices are mostly silent. As she finished speaking, however, sirens could be heard in the distance, coming closer and closer. This felt ominous to me in some way.

Then, this week, it was the North American Leader’s Summit. The leaders of Mexico, the United States, and Canada came together to talk a wide array of topics, from the environment to Brexit.

Of course, on Canada Day and every other, I am glad Canada is is its own, individual nation, while existing as part of the North American continent. I feel bad to admit it, that I’ve been feeling a sense of relief, that perhaps Canada’s darker period is over, while the US’s may still be ahead of them. I don’t wish civil unrest on anyone, not the least on my neighbours to the south. I don’t think the United States fully realized how good they had it with Obama. However, I don’t think isolation is the answer and we need each other, more than we’d like to admit.

To be honest, I am dying for this summer to fly by, this year in particular, because I am feeling uncomfortable while the US elections are revving up, but perhaps (if the UK is any indication) I shouldn’t be in any big rush for the summer of 2016 to come to an end. I am dreading the results this November, yet I remain skeptically optimistic, after how Canada’s elections turned out last fall.

Obama spoke in Ottawa and it was his last visit to Canada as President. He was the first US president to come here since Clinton, twenty years ago. Particularly, Trudeau and Obama have been developing a friendly relationship, which is for the good of us all, but this pleasant environment could be short lived.

Obama spoke about refugees and immigrants. He didn’t speak about building walls and closing ranks against the rest of the world. He addressed the dangers of the “us against them” mentality, which I’d like to tell the rest of the world, can’t possibly work.

Obama spoke of the US/Canada history. War of 1812, (some bad memories there).

🙂

Then there came the Underground Railroad. While things for minorities were never great here or there, there was a reason why we were the north that slaves of the time were willing to die to get to. We could be a refuge for so many then.

We could be, we can set an example once more. I want to think Canada can set that example, as politics in the US is soon to change, Obama’s time nearly up, but that Trudeau has only just begun his time in office. Some say he has been bad for Canada, and if they are talking budgets and economy, I am the last to say I know a lot about those things and how it will all turn out, but Justin Trudeau has made strides on many things humanitarian. I want Canada to show the world that opening up our hearts and home to people fleeing war will make the world a better place, but Obama spoke about doing all we can do to ensure a more peaceful planet earth, so wars and unrest can’t uproot so many from there homes in the first place.

I want to make all my bursting thoughts come out in a coherent statement for how I feel. I don’t go by the situation with currency or by the stock market. I go by my heart. What doesn’t feel true and compassionate to me, I know isn’t possibly to benefit the world. So much fear and shameful reaction to fear. I want my country to lead the way in doing better.

And so, as many celebrated their very first Canada Day in this country this year, I hope they feel welcomed, even if this place is still a strange one to them. As I hope for all this, I think always on the first Canada Day my grandparents spent, all those years ago. They left Europe after that continent had been nearly destroyed, devastated by war, and we can’t let that continue to happen. Surely, the world must realize this. Or am I just talking to myself here, banging my own head up against a brick wall? Am I simply too naive for my own good, when it comes down to what humans are capable of?

FTSF is thanks to Kristi from:

Finding Ninee

And I wish nothing but peace on this Canada Day, 4th of July, or whatever else may mark any other country’s place in the world.

To end with – my thoughts are with Turkey, after the latest run-in with the opposite of peace. Their country deserves the same level of support, just like Belgium, France, the US or anywhere else, as fellow human beings, living together and sharing this planet of ours, we need each other. We cannot fight hate with even more hate. Peace, going forward, always. Please. Don’t make me beg!

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, RIP, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

My Free Five

It’s been a while, two weeks in fact, since my last post for

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

As a refresher, my previous post for the challenge, on Memoir Monday two weeks back:

Indefinable, Undefinable? Definitely

This week I am given free rein to speak on whatever just so happens to be on my mind.

🙂

***

#1 Emily’s Oz

On Facebook I came across a post about a commercial that would be aired during the Academy Awards. I watched the Canadian broadcast and saw no sign of what they were talking about all evening, but that is where the internet is so wonderful.

🙂

I am including both commercials: with descriptive and without,

(Emily’s Oz, without descriptive).

I recommend watching both short commercials, paying attention to compare the difference between what it’s like to watch, with and without the descriptive track.

It reminds me of those commercials: one has a woman arriving home with a bag of groceries and being frightened by something and the other is a woman panting and yelling and being told to push.

These are to advertise the need for descriptive services for television and films.

In the former, is she being frightened by a mouse or by a child?

In the latter, is she helping to move furniture or is she having a baby?

🙂

Just this weekend I tried to watch an important documentary on a brutal attack on a woman in India. I found I was unable to watch for a lot of the hour because there were only subtitles, which caused me to miss out on more than half of what was being said.

Of course, the example I give here is much more lighthearted, but I just wish something like descriptive for watching any programming wasn’t still so hard to come by.

Anyway, I thought that Emily was pretty cute and figured today was a good time to share her and the project built around her.

For a behind the scenes for the making of…check out:

The Making of Emily’s Oz

#2 TED Talk On Why Disability Does Not Equal Inspiration

I immediately heard the term this Australian comedian used, “Disability Porn” and I was drawn in, but not for what it might seem like.

🙂

All icky jokes aside, she makes some excellent points in her talk, of which I highly recommend.

Disability Porn – Definition: The objectification of one group of people (living with a disability) for the benefit of another group of people

She believes that having a disability does not make someone exceptional, but questioning what we’ve been taught to believe about disability does.

I couldn’t agree with this more.

I have grown very uncomfortable of late with the idea of being seen as overly inspiring by others.

I know. I know. This probably makes me come off as a bit self deprecating and the rest. I don’t mean to seem like I am being bashful or unwilling to accept praise when given it. I have been called inspirational before.

I just wish, sometimes, it was not all because people are so amazed I can function at any sustainable level. Yes, I can brush my own teeth, hair, dress myself, and cook a meal. Shock of shocks.

Just because someone can’t themselves imagine how they would do these things if they could not see, does not mean I should be praised for something I am saying I have no problem doing. If I say it I mean it.

Stella says in her talk that someone wanted to present her with an achievement award as a teenager, but her parents turned it down because, in their eyes, their daughter hadn’t done all that much to deserve special attention and praise.

This could be seen as mean-spirited or unfair, but I “admire” her parents for taking a stand, when they showed others that they didn’t really think of their daughter having done anything all that spectacular.

Others might not have taken such a stance, but I applaud them for not singling her out. We hear the word inspiring and that automatically must be a positive thing, right?

I may be called ungrateful or a jerk for seeming to push away a well-meaning compliment, but just think about what Stella and myself are proposing.

It isn’t our job as people, who just so happen to be living lives others can hardly fathom, to be here solely to inspire.

I myself have been guilty of it: of saying I must be grateful when looking at someone who has it worse off than me because it could always be worse.

How do you or I think that makes that other person feel to hear that? Oh, so they think we’re inspirational or they are just glad they aren’t us.

This speaker, unfortunately, has passed away now, but this awesome and cut-to-thecore TED talk made me think and it was just the sort of radical idea I guess I had been looking for myself, although I just couldn’t vocalize it in the way she did.

RIP Stella

#3
DRUMSTICK FOR A BLIND MAN, PLEASE!!!

One thing I like least is hypocrisy, but I am as guilty as the next person of exhibiting it.

As I grow older, I suppose, I become more and more uncomfortable with things like my number three today.

I even recently answered a question for this very challenge about the

Blind Bonus

sometimes given to myself and others.

When I was sixteen I got a trip to California from an organization who awards wishes and dream trips to young people with disabilities. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything now, but as I look back I feel a strange discomfort.

A blind man holds up a sign, like they would have done hundreds of years ago, as beggars on a street corner. This feels wrong to me.

Don’t get me wrong…Dave Grohl was a stand-up dude for fulfilling the guy’s request, my own blind brother received a pair of drumsticks from R.E.M. once, but I just wish we didn’t have to use such a thing to get attention and gifts.

I make jokes and I share this story because it really was a nice thing to do and supposedly the Foo Fighter’s front man is known for granting such favours; there’s nothing wrong with giving a dying cancer patient something they greatly long for. I don’t mean to take it all so seriously.

Take what we can get, is the “blind bonus” motto, but I honestly don’t think, as an adult, I would want to hold up any sign.

#4 Would You Rather?

I recently came across a Facebook status on an author’s page. The game of “Would You Rather?” is played often on such FB pages.

This time the question was:

Would you rather…be unable to speak or be unable to see?

I generally do not like these kinds of questions. I have often thought would I rather be blind or deaf…and I guess that’s a question for another day’s post.

😉

I wasn’t so bothered by the question, in this case however, as I was to read the responses and to see that nine out of ten people said they would rather be unable to speak than see.

It just sort of shocked and saddened me to realize how much fear there is out there about losing one’s sight. I thought, to be unable to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs through words might be more of a concern to those answering.

A common response I saw was: “I could still write down what I wanted to say. At least if I couldn’t speak I could still read. I need to be able to read books.”

Coming from those on an author’s FB page I wasn’t so surprised to hear that, but I did reply with the solution that I assumed might be more well-known. There is always the technology to read without sight. Audio books are becoming more and more common. These things don’t immediately occur to most people and I get that.

I just know that people take for granted being able to relay to someone else what they want. I know of people who can not do this and I have seen how hard that is, for everyone involved.

The fear of blindness is just so common and I am left feeling like the monster everyone is afraid of. I realize it is the blindness not the person they are referring to, but here I share my biggest fears with disability. That is what this challenge is all about.

I will tackle the question of how I feel about my own blindness and whether I would choose to see if I could, in a few weeks time here.

#5 Disability Confident: Rethinking Disabilities

“Would you like to have higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, greater innovation, and profitability? It’s possible…if you change your thinking.”

Who wouldn’t want this, right?

🙂

This was the pitch by the Ontario Disability Employment Network to attract businesses to attend their one-day conference on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

At the start of February I was watching a program on my local television channel here in Ontario:

TVO.org – Creating a Barrier Free Ontario – On The Agenda with Steve Paikin

On their nightly program they focused on a conference being held the day after my birthday, at a hotel in Toronto, and I immediately perked up. It definitely sounded like something I would like to attend.

Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) – Rethinking Disabilities Conference, Toronto

It goes on to say the benefits already found are that companies who hire those with disabilities are found to:

**revolutionize their workforces and delivering bottom line results.

And at the conference attendees would be:

**Learning how to leverage the latest in progressive employment practices to put your organization at the forefront of a new movement.

**You’ll hear from business leaders from across North America who have embraced this new approach to hiring and are now disability confident.

**Build your knowledge and learn about a whole new way to create an inclusive workplace and gain a strong competitive advantage through improved culture, loyalty and employee innovation.

Disability confident…hmmm.

I was intrigued to listen to the program and maybe even attend the conference. I knew it was for employers more than myself, and was happy to hear about the fact that these conferences were happening, but maybe if I were there I could represent more of those who are in need of the chances to prove our skills and worth.

I didn’t want to look at it like that.

I guess though everyone must prove their worth and skill to an employer and I have always wanted equal treatment and consideration.

The term “disability confident” was an interesting one to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.

I looked into the specifics of attending and emailed someone in charge. I received a reply very quickly, which was most appreciated.

It looked like they were happy to have me there, if I were willing to pay the price of admission.

I suppose businesses are able to afford hundreds of dollars for a one-day conference which might help them achieve everything I listed above, but I certainly could not afford it. I was not one of the people on Steve Paikin’s program: a lawyer or a politician. I was on fixed government income and assistance and one of those hoping to get off those one day.

This is not to complain because they gave me a discount, but unfortunately it was still more than I could spend, even on a worthy cause.

It was too last minute and they informed me:

Hi Kerry,

So sorry I didn’t respond to your email sooner. I was out of town at the end of the week and it slipped by me while I was trying to catch up.

Unfortunately there’s not much else I can do this time. Typically we try to keep 2 or 3 complementary passes for situations like this but we are running very close to the wire and may even lose money on this particular event. As a not-for-profit without any financial resources, we just can’t afford to do that. Our food costs for the day are running almost $200 alone, plus there’s all the other expenses.

I hope you understand our situation and perhaps we can accommodate you at a future event.

Thanks,

Joe

—–Original Message—–
From: Kerry Kijewski [mailto:kkherheadache@gmail.com]
Sent: February-05-15 9:35 AM
To: Joe Dale
Subject: Re: Inquiry

Hello Again,

Thank you again for looking into this for me and for offering me the discount.

Unfortunately I am unable to come, due to the cost.

This is really a shame because I saw the program on TV the other night and I am very passionate on the subject of it and this conference.

It’s unfortunate, again, because I am not one of the lucky and hardworking few, like on that program the other night, with a well paying career. I am one of the majority of people with disabilities who hasn’t had so much luck finding jobs and thus I am on government assistance and am unable to afford this conference.

I just figured that it might be a positive thing for me to be there, as I am one of those for whom the speakers are going to be speaking about.. I am not happy with the current situation and would love to see improvements on employment opportunities for myself and others with visual impairments.

I am saying this just to explain why I seemed so interested in attending your conference and why I now have to decline.

Is there any other conferences or public forums you could recommend that I could afford, that are about these issues?

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Kerry Kijewski

I included the above email exchange to show that I did my best to inquire and explain my situation and they seemed to do their best to accommodate, however it was not enough and did not work out in the end.

“Join the movement that is changing the face of Canadian businesses and building a powerful new economy.”

http://www.crwdp.ca/en/rdc

I hope to find a conference of some kind, relating to these issues most important to me, sometime in the future. I would like to get involved somehow and am passionate on these issues and thought this would be a good topic to end with for this week’s free posting.

***

Hope you enjoyed my Free Five today. I borrowed the framework and idea from something new I am trying and of which I started a few weeks back, with the following:

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

I hope to continue, on Wednesdays mostly, but have already veered from the plan I had for it when I posted it.

🙂

I don’t know what the future of Redefining Disability is, as these things rarely go as planned when the bloggers who come up with them start out. Like #1000Speak, this one took off and Rose of

http://rosebfischer.com

had no clue anyone would even want to take part in the beginning.

I will go on because I like devoting my Memoir Monday to this topic and because Rose came up with a set of questions such as this one:

What would you tell someone who has recently been diagnosed with your disabilities or disabilities that you are familiar with?

I will answer that one in one week’s time.

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