Monday, September 28, 2015

Canada's Moment of Triumph!

Believe I should rename this series of NHL hockey players...Hockey Month in Canada...with the documented articles about Pat Quinn, Jean Beliveau and today's of Paul Henderson.

1972: Henderson has Scored for Canada!

People took the day off work on September 28, 1972 to watch Canada play the Soviet Union. In the game's last seconds, their hero, Paul Henderson scored an epoch-making goal. But the hockey series was more than just that final game. The fast and skilled Soviets surprisingly shocked Team Canada in 8 gruelling games that changed Canadian hockey forever. It became faster and better!

It's a tie-game, 5-5 at 12:56 in the third period. With 34 seconds remaining, Canada crowds the Soviet net and Paul Henderson skates in. Foster Hewitt roars HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA!
Team Canada captures the Summit Series.
On this day, according to one fan...“God is Canadian!”

Played during the Cold War, the Series was viewed as a battle for both hockey and cultural supremacy.
Henderson scored the game-winning-goal in the 6th, 7th and 8th games ~ the last of which has become legendary in Canada...and made him a National Hero!

Henderson played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Flames...scoring 376 goals and 758 points.

Nobody Gets a Wrinkle-Free Life!

Written by Lori Ewing, from Mississauga and published in the Canadian Press,
Paul Henderson 'faces off' about his personal health.

Paul Henderson has a basement full of hockey memorabilia, but his prized possession is a framed photograph of his grandsons, Alton (age 10 at the time) and Logan was 6. The two boys are on the ice in their hockey equipment and matching blue jerseys, standing side by side with their backs to the camera. Alton is wearing No. 19. Logan, No. 72. “Alton wears 19 because that was my number...and I thought Logan would want 19 as well. But he chose 72, all on his own...1972,” Henderson said, smiling at his grandsons' cleverness. The 71-year-old cherishes the days spent with his grandchildren. For a while, it seemed there wouldn't be many more.

Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in November 2009, the Canadian hockey hero's health was in a free-fall two years ago when he entered a clinical drug trial in the U.S. He called it a 'game-changer'. “When you go into a clinical trial, you're flipping the coin: is this going to work? Or is it going to kill us?” said Henderson, himself a legendary game-changer. Henderson's came in the form of CLL, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He said 'no' to chemotherapy after his diagnosis, instead trying to battle it through diet and exercise.

I know my body. My body has never done well with drugs. The only option I had was chemotherapy, and I thought that would probably kill me anyway. And your quality of life goes, attacking everything else. So I spent all kinds of money on supplements and vitamins and doing this, doing that, working out with trainers. We were hoping to beat it from the inside out. We spent two years desperately trying to find an alternative. But it just kept going.”

By the time Henderson travelled, with fingers crossed, to Bethesda, Maryland to begin the clinical drug trial, he was in rough shape. He was down 25 pounds from the 180 he's rigorously maintained since his 20's. “And my cheeks were out to here,” he said, pulling the skin on his cheeks out wide. “I had a growth the size of grapefruit in my stomach...and 83% of my bone marrow was malignant.” Henderson is one of four Canadians in the U.S. clinical trial of Ibrutinib, approved this week for use in Canada.

Sitting in his Mississauga,Ontario home Wednesday morning, Henderson talked about what's been like a new lease on life. He has regained the weight, and during an almost-hour-long interview, helped move furniture for a photo shoot.

His wife, Eleanor, commented (about 6 months into the program), “That damn stuff you're on, there's got to be Botox in it. You look better now than you have in years.” She laughs, “I'm going on it!”

I'm an encourager; I don't say very much,”
on his hockey grandparenting style. I just say,
You go out there and you just give it your best shot every shift you're out there
and you'll feel good about yourself when the game is over.
You don't have to win every game! You've got to go, have fun
and the best way to have fun is to give it your best shot every time!”

Most mornings, Henderson, who became a Christian in 1975, wakes up 90 minutes earlier than his wife, Eleanor. He spends that time reading the Bible. He's memorized thousands of passages. Nights are spent with his wife of 52 years watching TV. “The Voice” and “Dancing With the Stars” are two of their favourites. They work out together up to 5 days a week in their basement gym. “I do a lot of stretching now. Do a lot of core work, a lot of crunching, that kind of stuff. It's good for my golf game. Always have and always will. Never been out of shape. I've never been over 185 pounds in my life. When I get to 185, I fast. My dad died very young and he didn't take care of himself ...and so my genes are not that good. Both Eleanor and I are within a couple pounds of when we married 52 years ago.
Paul Henderson ~ truly a Canadian Icon
who will always be remembered.
His team performance broke Russia's long reigning supremacy in the game of hockey!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written December 8, 2014
To comment, email to:

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Right Honourable: MICHAELLE JEAN...


Michaelle Jean is a Canadian stateswoman and former journalist who is the third and current Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie...she is the first woman to hold this position. From September 27, 2005 to October 1, 2010, Jean was Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation.

Jean was a refugee from Haiti ~ coming to Canada in 1968...and was raised in the town of Thetford Mines, Quebec. After receiving a number of university degrees, Jean worked as a journalist and broadcaster for Radio-Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as charity work, mostly in the field of assisting victims of domestic violence. In 2005, she was appointed governor general by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin. She was noted for her attention to the Canadian Forces, Aboriginal Canadians and the arts, especially youth involvement in them. She is also currently the Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Chancellor of the University of Ottawa.
Michaelle Jean was sworn in as a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
on September 26, 2012, giving her the accordant style of
The Right Honourable.

Early Life and Education: Jean's family hails from Haiti; she was born in Port-au-Prince, baptised at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Though her father worked as principal and teacher for an elite Protestant private school in Port-au-Prince, Jean was educated at her parents did not want her swearing allegiance to the then Haitian President, Francois Duvalier, as all Haitian schoolchildren were required to do. With her family, Jean fled Haiti to escape Duvalier's regime ~ her father left for Canada in 1967 and the following year the rest of the family.

Jean received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature from the University of Montreal...and from 1984 to 1986, taught Italian Studies there, while completing her Master of Arts degree in comparative literature. She then went on with language and literature studies at the University of Florence, the University of Perugia and the Catholic University of Milan. Besides French and English, Jean is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Haitian Creole...and can read Portuguese.

Concurrent with her studies between 1979 and 1987, Jean coordinated a study on spousal abuse and worked at a women's shelter, which paved the way for her establishment of a network of shelters for women and children across Canada. She also involved herself in organizations dedicated to assisting immigrants to Canada and at the Conseil des Communautes culturelles du Quebec where Jean began writing about the experiences of immigrant women. She married French-born Canadian filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond...and the couple adopted as their daughter, Marie-Eden, an orphaned child from Jacmel, her mother's hometown in Haiti.

Journalism, Broadcasting and Film Careers: Jean became a reporter, filmmaker and broadcaster for Radio-Canada in 1988, hosting news and affairs programs. She was the first person of Caribbean descent to be seen on French television news in Canada. She then moved in 1995 to Radio-Canada's all-news channel to anchor a number of its French programs. Four years later, she was asked by CBC's English language all-news channel, CBC Newsworld, to host The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts which both broadcast the best in Canadian and foreign documentary films. By 2004, Jean was hosting her own show...while continuing to anchor a couple French news programs. ,

Over the same period, Jean made several films with her husband, including the award-winning Haiti dans tous nos reves (“Haiti in All Our Dreams”) which she meets her uncle, the poet and essayist Rene Depestre, who fled from the Duvalier dictatorship into exile in France and wrote about his dreams for Haiti...and tells him Haiti awaits his return.

Governor General of Canada: Jean was Canada's first governor general of Caribbean origin. Jean was also the first representative of Queen Elizabeth II to have been born during the latter's reign…and her appointment saw the first child living in Rideau Hall, the official residence since Schreyer and his young family lived there in the early 1980's.

Prime Minister, Paul Martin said of Jean that, “She is a woman of talent and achievement. Her personal story is nothing short of extraordinary. And extraordinary is precisely what we seek in a governor generalship ~ who after all must represent all of Canada to all Canadians and to the rest of the world as well.”

The Glove and Mail columnist, John Ibbitson reflected the general captivation with the new governor general in the following way: Here is this beautiful young Canadian of Haitian birth, with a smile that makes you catch your breath, with a bemused older husband by her side, and a daughter who literally personifies our future...and you look at them and you think...'Yes, this is our great achievement, this is the Canada that Canada wants to be, this is the Canada that will ultimately make way for different cultural identities.'

Over the first 2 years of her mandate, Jean embarked on the traditional vice-regal tours of Canada’s provinces and territories. In British Columbia, Jean presented the Grey Cup at the 93rd Canadian Football League championship game. In Iqaluit, Nunavut she opened the Toonik Tyme Festival where she donated 80 books in Inuktitut, French and English to the Centennial Library in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. On May 4, 2006 she became the first governor general to address the Alberta Legislature. During these tours, Jean also focused strongly on the plight of female victims of violence…meeting with representatives of women’s organizations…in 2007, she participated in a historic discussion with aboriginal women chiefs and elders at Saskatchewan’s Government House.

Military Duties and Welcomes Overseas: The vice-regal family undertook their first international trip in February 2006, journeying to Italy to attend the 2006 Winter Olympics closing ceremonies, meeting the Italian President in Torino and Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Three months later, Jean attended the investiture of Rene Preval as President of Haiti (her first visit to her homeland in her capacity at the Queen’s representative)…and where she was greeted with enthusiasm in Jacmel.

At the end of the year, Jean embarked on a trip consisting of state visits to 5 African countries ~ wherein the Governor General encouraged women’s rights.

Jean made on March 8, 2007, her first visit to Canadian troops taking part in the Afghanistan offensive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper advised against this endeavour due to security concerns. Two attacks were made against Canadian soldiers on the same day the Governor General landed in Kabul. Jean had the arrival, timed specifically for International Women’s Day, stating, “The women of Afghanistan may face the most unbearable conditions, but they never stop fighting for survival…but I am here to tell them they are no longer alone.” She met with Afghan women, Canadian soldiers, Royal Canadian Mounted Police teams, humanitarian workers and diplomats.

A series of state visits followed in 2009 to Norway, Croatia, Greece and Mexico as well as another visit to the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. She presided over the ceremonies in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the consecration and presentation of the new Queen’s Colour to the Canadian navy; she wore at that time, the Commander-in-Chief’s naval uniform. She and Prince Charles did the same thing at the 2009 Remembrance day events in Ottawa…both at that time sporting Canadian army dress uniform. Then in June 2010, Jean conducted a fleet review in Esquimalt Harbour to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Navy.

After officially opening the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on February 12 and the Winter Paralympics a month later, the Governor General made a visit to Haiti to observe the earthquake devastation and Canadian assistance being meted out there and to meet President Preval.

End of Tenure: Jean announced to the press in 2010 that she would step out of the vice-regal role near the end of the traditional, but not official, five-year period.

On May 10, 2010, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands presented Jean with a new tulip cultivar named the Michaelle Jean tulip…with maroon petals, designed to reflect the Governor General’s personal tastes. This carried on the tradition of Dutch royals gifting tulips to Canada.

Information compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr…February 26, 2015
To comment about this exceptional woman…email to:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Labour Day...UGH

“UGH. LABOUR DAY” was my son's lament when the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) opened in mid-August in Toronto. This event yearly signified the reminder that Labour Day spelled, not only the closing day of the CNE ~ but more horribly, the fact that the first day following Labour Day was the first day of school (whether elementary or high school) him, although a good student, was tremendously foreboding. Playful summer days were gone...and summer jobs ended.

The Spectator's Steve Buist, whose views and opinions,
are both informative and interestingly humourous, I share with you.

Even the name is depressing! What kind of a holiday has a term for work built right into the title? Talk about a mixed message! Good Friday, Easter Thanksgiving, Victoria Day ~ now those sound appealing. Labour Day? Sheesh. Might as well just make it, Summer's Over, Get Back to Work Day!
We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage.
We will welcome summer's ghost,” stated Henry Rollins.

Truth be told, this is the holiday that should be called New Year's Day. Of all the seasonal transitions, Labour Day is the one holiday that seems to mark the sharpest division between the end of one thing and the start of something new. From a technical standpoint, Labour Day marks the psychological. beginning of fall for many of us. You can see it in the trees; here and there, you'll find a precocious specimen already speckled in yellows and oranges and reds. It's a bit like finding your first grey hair.
Of course, there's the occasional retailer: we're looking at you, Costco, that seems to think Labour Day also marks the beginning of the Yuletide season. Honestly, artificial Christmas trees on sale? Really?
It's the start of a new school year and the orderly routine that brings with it.

The NFL season starts in a few days, so the Bills can begin preparing for either a Super Bowl loss, or not making the playoffs at all...which seem to be the only two miserable outcomes available in Buffalo.
Hamilton's new junior hockey Bulldogs play their first-ever exhibition game Saturday night and in a couple weeks the Toronto Maple Leafs open training camp as they attempt to keep alive their streak of breaking fans' hearts for the 49th straight year.
But the new beginnings somehow seemed overshadowed by bittersweet endings.
Do we feel a sense of loss? Maybe that's too strong.
But, there is a sense that something has slipped through our fingers
when Labour Day arrives.

Summers gone, no matter what the thermometer says.
No more carnival barkers will be guessing ages at the CNE for another year.
No more sticky fingers will be licked at Burlington's Ribfest.
Soon, cottages and pools will be closed up for another year.
You can see it in the sky. Summer's pastel sunsets ~ the product of warm, humid evenings, begin to give way to angrier skies, great clumps of billowy clouds crowding together and stained charcoal and grey.
Our clothing begins to change, not only in colour, but in thickness. The occasional day offers a reminder of summer's warmth, but it's just as inevitable that in the next couple weeks, either early morning or late one night when the car heater will get turned on for the first time in months.

Economic Changes: Historically, September is the month with the poorest performance when it comes to North American stock markets. It's also the second worst month for weight gain (average 1 kilo).
Perhaps there's a 'cause and effect' relationship going on there. Hey, my stock portfolio keeps shrinking...another Snickers bar should solve that.

Weather Changes: Daylight declines at its fastest rate for the year. Each day this month, we lose nearly 3 minutes of light. On the first day of the month, sunset in Hamilton was 7:55 p.m. By September 30, sunset will take place at 7:03 p.m. Yuck!

Medical Changes: Dr. Janis Anderson is a psychology professor at Harvard Medical School and an expert in the study of seasonal affective disorders. She's well aware of the impact that 'diminishing light' can have on a person's well-being. By this time of the year, she's already seeing patients in her clinic who are showing signs of anxiety. “It's not that they have symptoms of depression, but it's imaging forward to the winter. They're already starting to freak out. For some people, it becomes harder to get up in the morning at the same time they were getting up easily in the summer.”

There is one thing about Labour Day that does not get old,
and that's watching the Argos skulk back down the QEW
with their tails between their legs after another loss to the Ticats.
Oskee wee wee”!

Did You Know?

Hamilton can take some credit for the creation of Labour Day. Workers in the city were at the forefront of the 'Nine-Hour Movement'...a drive to get 12-hour work days shortened to 9. The movement spread to Toronto and led to annual parades during the 1870's and 80's. In 1882, an American labour leader watched one of the labour festivals in Toronto and organized a Labour Day in New York for Sept. 5.

The steady reduction in daylight is the most important trigger for the changing colours of leaves, not the temperature. As the tree scavenges nutrients by breaking down the chlorophyll pigments in leaves that make them appear green, enzymes in the leaves then feed on sugars that have built up over the summer to create new pigments of different colours. Carotene is the pigment that produces an orange colour, and browny-orange can come from a compound called quercetin.

Golf balls don't travel as far as the temperature decreases. The transfer of energy between the club and the ball isn't as efficient and colder air is more dense, which causes more drag on the ball. For every drop of 10 C, you can expect to loose about four to five yards of carry.

The Weather Network is forecasting above-average temperatures for southern Ontario throughout the month of September. Indian Summer approaches and Daylight Saving Time ends October 31st.

Indian Observation
When told the reason for daylight saving time, the Old Indian said,
Only the Government would believe
that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket
and sew it to the bottom...and then have a longer blanket.”

Merle Baird-Kerr...written September 11, 2015
Your views I to:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

War Survivor

Can a Photo Change the World?
This was the caption of a recent poignant photo published in The Hamilton Spectator (and in media around the world) ~ a heart-breaking image of a police officer carrying the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy who was washed ashore on a Turkish beach after the dinghy carrying several refugees capsized in rough waters...all perished. Paul Berton, editor of the foregoing newspaper, was severely criticized for allowing this colour photograph to be publicly posted. I strongly support his decision to do so. This photo by Associated Press 'Speaks Volumes' about the atrocities of wars!

Strongly, I related to another 'child photo' of a South Vietnamese girl, who with other children and soldiers were escaping from bombs that exploded upon their home-village on June 8, 1972. It is her story, I share with you today.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime.
It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim ~
letting go of the pain and transferring oneself from 'victim to survivor'.
(C.R. Strahan)

It is important for people to know, that no matter what lies in their past,
they can overcome the dark side...and press on to the brighter world.
(Dave Pelzer)

Phan Thi Kim Phuc
In this Vietnamese name, the family name is 'Phan'.
According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to
by the given name...'Kim Phuc'.
Kim is best known as the child depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972. The iconic photo taken in Trang Bang by Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut, shows her at nine years of age running naked on a road after being severely burned on her back by a South Vietnamese attack. Kim Phuc joined a group children, civilians and South Vietnam soldiers who were fleeing from the Cao Dai Temple to the safety of South Vietnamese-held positions. The bombing killed two of her brothers and villagers. Kim Phuc was badly burned and tore off her clothes as she yelled Nong qua, nong qua...(too hot, too hot) in the picture.
New York Times editors were at first hesitant to consider the photo
for publication because of the nudity, but eventually approved it.
Featured on the front page of the New York Times next day,
it earned a Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the
World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.

A less publicized film shot by British television cameraman, Alan Downes for the British ITN news service and his Vietnamese counterpart Le Phuc Dinh was working for the American station, NBC, showed the events before and after the photograph was taken by Nick Ut. One photo is of him taking photographs as a passing airplane drops bombs. A group of children, Kim Phuc among them, run away in fear. After a few seconds, she encounters the reporters dressed in military fatigues, including Christopher Wain, who gave her water and poured some over her burns. As she turns sideways, the severity of her burns on her arm and back can be seen. A crying woman runs in the opposite direction holding her badly burned child.

It was June 8, 1972, when Phuc heard the soldiers scream,
We have to run out of this place! They will bomb here and we will be dead!”
Seconds later, she saw the tails of yellow and purple smoke bombs curling around the Cao Dai temple where her family had sheltered for three days, as north and south Vietnamese forces fought for control of their village. The ground rocked; then the heat of a hundred furnaces exploded as orange flames spit in all directions. Fire danced up Phuc's left arm. The threads of her cotton clothes evaporated on contact. Trees became angry torches. Searing pain bit through skin and muscle. “I will be ugly, and I'm not be normal anymore,” she thought, as her right hand brushed furiously across her blistering arm. In shock, she sprinted down Highway 1 behind her older brother. She didn't see the foreign journalists gathered as she ran toward them, screaming. Then, she lost consciousness.

The 21-year-old photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture, drove Phuc to a small hospital. There, he was told the child was too far gone to help. But he flashed his American press badge, demanded that doctors treat the girl and left, assured that she would not be forgotten. “I cried, when I saw her running,” said Ut, whose older brother was killed on assignment with the AP in the southern Mekong Delta. “If I don't help her ~ if something happened and she died I think I'd kill myself after that.”

Back at the office in what was then U.S.-backed Saigon, he developed his film. When he saw the image of the naked little girl emerged, everyone feared it would be rejected because of the news agency's strict policy against nudity. But veteran Vietnam photo editor, Horst Fass took one look and knew it was a shot to 'break the rules'...arguing the photo's news value far outweighed other concerns.

A couple of days after the image shocked the world, another journalist found out the little girl had somehow survived the attack. Christopher Wain, a correspondent for the British Independent Television Network who gave Phuc water from his canteen and drizzled it down her burning back, fought to have her transferred to the American run Barsky unit which was the only facility in Saigon equipped to deal with her severe injuries “I had no idea where I was or what happened to me,” she said. “I woke up and I was in the hospital with so much pain, and then the nurses were around me...waking up with a terrible fear.” Thirty percent of Phuc's tiny body was scorched by third-degree burns, though her face somehow remained untouched. Over time, her melted flesh began to heal.
Every morning at 8 o'clock, the nurses put me in a burn bath to cut off all my dead skin. I just cried and cried and when I could not stand it any longer...I passed out”. After multiple skin grafts and surgeries, Phuc was finally allowed to leave, 13 months after the bombing. She had seen Ut's photo, which by then had won the Pulitzer Prize, but she was still unaware of its reach and power. She just wanted to go home and be a child again.

For a while, life did go somewhat back to normal. The photo was famous, but Phuc largely remained unknown except to those living in her tiny village near the Cambodian border. Ut and a few other journalists visited her, but that stopped after the northern communist forces seized control of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, ending the war.

Life under the new regime became tough. Medical treatment and painkillers were expensive and hard to find for the teenager, who still suffered extreme headaches and pain. She worked hard and was accepted into medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But all that ended once the new communist leaders realized the propaganda value of the 'napalm-burned girl' in the photo. She was forced to quit college and return to her home province, where she was trotted out to meet foreign journalists. The visits were monitored and controlled, her words scripted. She smiled and played her 'role' as dictated, but the rage inside began to build and consume her.

I wanted to escape that picture,” she said. “ I got burned by napalm, and became a victim of war...but growing up then, I became another kind of victim.” She turned to Cao Dai, her Vietnamese religion for answers, but they didn't come. “My heart was exactly like a black coffee...I wished I died in that attack so I wouldn't suffer like that anymore. It was hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and with that bitterness.” One day while visiting a library, Phuc found a Bible. For the first time, she started believing her life had a plan. Believing this, she turned to Christianity.

Then suddenly, once again, the photo that had given her unwanted fame brought opportunity. She travelled to West Germany in 1982 for medical care with the help of a foreign journalist. Later, Vietnam's prime minister, also touched by her story, made arrangements for her to study in Cuba. She was finally free from the minders and reporters hounding her at home, but her life was far from normal.

Nick Ut, working at the AP in Los Angeles, travelled to meet her in 1989, but they never had a moment
alone. There was no way for him to know she desperately wanted his help again. “I knew in my dream that one day 'Uncle Ut' could help me to have freedom,” said Phuc, referring to him by an affectionate Vietnamese term. “But I was in Cuba. I was really disappointed because I could not contact him.”

While at school, Phuc met a young Vietnamese man. She had never believed anyone would ever want her because of the ugly patchwork of scars that banded across her back and pitted her arm. But, Bui Huy Toan seemed to love her more because of them. The two decided to marry in 1992 and honeymooned in Moscow. On the flight back to Cuba, the newlyweds defected during a refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland...they left the plane and asked for 'political asylum' in Canada, which was granted. The couple now lives in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto and have two children. The following year, she passed the Canadian Citizenship Test with a perfect score and became a Canadian citizen!

Phuc contacted Ut so share the news and he encouraged her to tell her story to the world. But she was done giving interviews and posing for photos, wanting to “live a normal life like everyone else here,” she said. Her biography...The Girl in the Picture...written bu Denise Chong was published in 1999 and a documentary came last the way she wanted it told. She was asked to become a United Nations' Ambassador to help victims of war. She and Ut have since reunited many times to tell their story, even travelling to London to meet Queen Elizabeth.

Kim Phuc Foundation: IN 1997 she established the first 'Kim Phuc Foundation in the US with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims. Later, other foundations were set up, with the same name, under an umbrella organization...'Kim Phuc Foundation International'.

Recognition: In 1996 Phuc gave a speech at the United States Vietnam Memorial on Veterans' Day. She stated that 'one cannot change the past, but everyone can work together for a peaceful future'.
In 2004 Kim Phuc was awarded an honourary Doctorate of Law from York University in Toronto, Ontario. She was awarded the 'Order of Ontario' . In 2005 and 2011 she was awarded other honourary degrees from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Today, I'm so happy I helped Kim,” said Nick Ut, who still works for AP
and recently returned to Tran Bang Village. “I call her my daughter.”

After four decades, Kim Phuc, can finally look at a picture of herself,
 running naked and understand why it remains so powerful.
 It had saved her, tested her and freed her.

Forgiveness made me free from hatred.
I still have many scars on my body, severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war if everyone could learn to live with true love, hope and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself, Can You?` (by Kim Phuc)
Lest We Forget!

True Life Story Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 6. 2015
Comments are appreciated: email to:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Grandparents! Who and What Are They?

The Best Dads get promoted to Grandads”

Being a grandparent means that you'll finally have someone
who will listen to your boring stories.” (Unknown author)

(Taken from papers written by a class of 8-year olds)
Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own...they like other people's.
A Grandfather is a man and a grandmother is a lady!
Grandparents don't do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
They show us and talk to us about the colours of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks'.
They don't say, “Hurry up'.
Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes.
They wear glasses and funny underwear.
They can take their teeth and gums out.
Grandparents don't have to be smart.
They have to answer questions like, “Why isn't God married? And how come dogs chase cats?”
When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.
They know we should have a snack time before bedtime; they say prayers with us and kiss us even if we have acted badly.
It's funny when they bend over; you hear gas leaks...and they blame the dog.
Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television in your room.

Grandparents' Answering Machine

Good present we are not home; but, please leave your message after the beep.
If you are one of our children, press 1 and then select the option from 1 to 5.
If you need us to stay with the children, press 2
If you want to borrow the car, press 3.
If you want to wash your clothes, press 4.
If you want the grandchildren to sleep here tonight, press 5.
If you want us to pick up the kids at school, press 6.
If you want us to prepare a meal for Sunday or to have it delivered to your home, press 7.
If you need money, press 9.
If you are going to invite us to dinner, or taking us to the theatre, start talking. We are listening!!!
(Thanks to Dilu...courtesy of the foregoing)

For Better of For Worse” Cartoon
When the parents are away for a few days, Grandma and Grandpa looked after the children. When they returned home to their family, Mom says to Elizabeth, “I want you in bed by 8:00 pm.” With a scowl on her face, she replies, “Grandma said I could stay up until 8:30 pm.” Dad speaks to their son who is playing with his toys at bedtime, “Michael, Put away those toys!” To which, Michael snarls, “Grandpa said I could do it tomorrow!” The younger girl, to delay bedtime, is enjoying a bowl of sugary cereal. Mom asks, “You're having cereal? But, it's bedtime!” Child replies, “Grandma said it was OK.”
After the children are in bed, Mom and Dad are exhausted ~
and sitting on the sofa, state, “There are too many parents in this house!”

Retarded Grandparents
(Written by a third grader, on what his grandparents do)

After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils
how they spent their holiday away from school.
One child wrote the following:

We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in a tin box that has wheels, but it is strapped to the ground. They ride around on their three-wheeled tricycles and wear name tags, because they don't know who they are any more. They go to a building called a wreck center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now. They play games and do exercises there, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but they all just jump up and down in it with hats on. I guess they don't know how to swim.

As you go to the gate at their park, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. When they can sneak out, they go to the beach and pick up shells that they think are dollars. Sometimes, when they can sneak out, they go cruising in their golf carts.

My grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she's forgotten how. Some people are so retarded, they don't know how to cook at all. So now, nobody there cooks...they just eat out. And they eat the same thing every night...'early birds'. Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center and they call it 'potted luck'.

My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too. When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people they can visit their grandchildren.

(With thanks to Jeanne for this child's concept of his grandparents)

Needing 'legal representation' a child in overalls sits in the 'time-out' corner...
his basket of stuffed animals beside him, and says, “I'm gonna appeal this case
all the way to Grandma! (from a cartoon)

The only thing better than having you for parents,
is my children having you for Grandparents!”

Merle Baird-Kerr...scripted August 7, 2015
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What Do You Do...?

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now ~ and make a brand new end.
(Author Unknown)

What do you Do with 3,300 Tons of Sand?
Paola Loriggio of The Canadian Press writes:

Cleaning up after the Pan American Games means dismantling bleachers, tearing down stages ~ and finding a new home for about 3,000 metric tons of sand. When the Games organizers built 5 beach volleyball courts in a downtown Toronto parking lot, they brought in about 80 truckloads of sand from Muskoka, especially configured for the sport, their supplier said. Now that the Games are over, that sand has been carted more than 350 kilometres to a new volleyball training facility in North Bay, said Todd Knapton of Hutcheson Sand and Mixes. It took 3 consecutive nights to haul the sand out of Exhibition Place (renamed Pan Am Park during the Games) and ship it to its destination. The work was done overnight to avoid disrupting traffic.
The granite-based sand is washed and sized to meet the standards established
by the sport's governing body...The International Volleyball Federation,
which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Tending to stay loose,
it won't compact and drains at a specified rate when hit by rain.
The colour for TV... it doesn't have a glare to it...and is safe for the athletes.

The Huntsville-based company has supplied sand for the 1999 Pan Am Games as well as Olympic Games in Sydney, Athens, Bejing and London. Though it's possible to ship sand overseas ~ they've sent some to Dubai in the past ~ sometimes the company just refurbishes a beach for competition or partners with a local business to make sand on site. Making sand involves screening it to take out oversize grains and stones...then washing it down to different graduations.

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time;
what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.
(Sydney Harris)

What Do You Do When Confronted by Coyotes in Your Community?
Keep your distance and the animal will most likely avoid you.
Coyotes are native to North America and can be found living in urban and rural areas. Coyotes, although they are very wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible, coyote sightings in Burlington are common. Burlington's green spaces and forested areas provide an excellent habitat for them. They can travel great distances along ravines, hydro corridors and highways. Food sources, like mice and rats and garbage are readily available in urban areas, attracting coyotes to residential areas.

Co-existing with Coyotes: As much as possible, the City of Burlington's approach to coyotes in the community is to leave them alone! They naturally fear humans and should remain wild animals. Coyotes play an important role in balancing the ecosystem in Southern Ontario, helping to control the population of rabbits, rats and mice. As citizens, remove coyote attractants such as food.

If you Encounter an Aggressive Coyote:
Stop! Pick up small children and pets and shout GO AWAY...and wave your arms high in the air.
Use hazing techniques, such as popping open an umbrella, throwing an object near the coyote or shaking your keys.
Back away slowly while remaining calm. Never run or turn your back on a coyote.
If you see an aggressive, sick or injured coyote, call 905-335-3030; for other sightings, report online.
If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911 and alert Halton Region Police. (Your feedback helps us to monitor the location of the coyotes in the community.) If you see a coyote...or observe a potential problem relating to garbage or someone intentionally, or accidentally, feeding a coyote, you can assist the city by submitting an online report.

The dilemma for society is how to preserve personal and family values
in a nation of diverse tastes. (Tipper Gore)

Plutarch counter-states with,
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality!”

What Do You Do When Your Refrigerator Starts Making Noises?
(Paul Benedetti, living in Hamilton, and a teacher of journalism
at Western University, describes his dilemma:
(excerpts from his Hamilton Spectator article)

Recently, the appliances in our house turned against me. The fridge was starting to know the kind...sort of a low-level threatening hum, like the sound your wife makes when you've been lounging on the couch too long. Next, water started leaking out of the bottom. Naturally, as 'man of the house' I promptly ignored this. Then one morning, my wife opened the fridge and said, “Things in here are not particularly cold. I think the fridge is dead.” To her I replied, “Nonsense! We'll just adjust this dial to colder and said to her, “That fridge has had it! Let's give it a day' (using the theory that if I just ignored it, it might start up again.) Well, I hope it's not the compressor. Once the helium is gone, it's all over.”

My son, despite having headphones on and generally ignoring everything around him, said, “I think you mean 'Freon', Dad. Helium goes in balloons and makes your voice sound funny.” To him, I smartly replied,”Well, they used to use helium until the Hindenburg Disaster!” Then, walked away.

The next day, I found myself in front of a long line of refrigerators at a giant appliance store. I read the price tags on the floor models and then, after a little lay-down on the floor and a glass of water thrown in my face, I was again able to speak. Twenty minutes and about $2,000 later, we were the happy owners of a new shiny, stainless steel fridge.

A couple days later, two young guys hauled the fridge in and set it up. Let it stand for four hours before you plug it in.” I responded, “To let the Freon settle.” He said, “That's right. You an engineer?”
I dabble,” I said.

Difficulties are opportunities to better things.
They are stepping stones to greater experience.”
(Brian Adams)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 29, 2015
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Challenges With Passion

Understand that it is OK to be scared and uncertain;
right beyond those barriers, ultimately lies your dreams.
(Josh Hinds)

Challenges are an opportunity to test you to rise to the next level.
(Angelica Montrose)

Moon Marvel: On July 20, 1969, 3 men with deep passion for space exploration, 'laid their lives on the line' ~ Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon's lunar surface. Neil Armstrong is the most famous, only because he climbed down the ladder first. Buzz Aldrin is lesser known, only because he climbed down the ladder second, even though Neil took a picture of him descending the ladder. Michael Collins is least known because he remained in lunar orbit. Neil Armstrong's profound words will always be inscribed in space history:
That's one small step for (a) man ~ one giant step for mankind.
On July 24, 1969, they crashed safely in Pacific Ocean waters.

Everest Exuberance! Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, on May 29, 1953, became the first people to stand atop the world's highest mountain, Everest at 29,035 feet above sea level.
Of Interest: Realizing they were alone on the summit...and it was Norgay's home country, they made a secret pact that neither would ever tell which one actually stood on Mount Everest's summit first!

A life filled with vicissitudes, uncertainty and hard lessons...
provides with skills to better approach new challenges that come along.
(Veronica Smith)

Dance Discovery: A Story of Passion and Resilience
Bringing history and creativity to the Pan America Games, renowned Six Nations Dancer, Santee Smith, brought her talent as an artist with her company Kaha:wi Dance Theatre to the Games. Smith's works interprets the story and history of her culture.
(written by Janie Ginsberg ~ published in Hamilton Spectator)

When Santee Smith first wanted to try out for Canada's National Ballet School, her parents said, 'No.'
Growing up on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, they didn't want to let their only child go.
'She kept bugging us and I think it took a whole year before we said OK,' said her mother, Leigh Smith. 'We thought...what are the chances? It's all across Canada, and if we don't let her try, she's going to bring it up to us her whole entire life.' Santee was 11 when she was accepted.
From starting to dance at the age of being commissioned to perform
and choreograph for various cultural events at the 2015 Pan and Pan Am Games,
Santee's story is one of great passion and resilience.

'When we turned music on, she sort of went into this dancing trance and moved to the music,' Leigh said, recalling a record player given Santee by her grandmother as a young child. She is now 44 and a proud mother of a 16-year-old, but her road to a professional dance career started with tragedy. (Before the age of 5, she broke both her legs by being run over by a car and the other from a bicycle accident. She also broke her collarbone from rolling out of bed)...all incidents that led Santee to start dance as a form of therapy. 'The teacher saw she had talent and spent a lot of time with her,' said her father, Steve. 'She tried everything else to strengthen her body after injuries...from figure skating to gymnastics...but ballet just stuck.

'After moving off the reserve and into residence at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Santee had a hard time adjusting. She decided to stick it out, but after dedicating 6 years to ballet and training 6 days a week, she eventually decided it wasn't the career path she wanted.'

Santee returned home to the reserve and completed two degrees: kinesiology and psychology at McMaster University. While studying, she stopped dancing completely. Santee says of herself, 'I just stepped away from dance, thinking I wasn't ever going to be a professional dance artist...and there was nothing really that filled the void of that.'
The lack of creative outlet triggered her return to Toronto ~ and to dance!
'Since about 1996 I've been moving forward creating my own work as an independent artist.'

In 2004, she premiered Kaha:wi, her first full-scale production and by 2005, she became a full-time artist and choreographer. With the help of founding board members, she established Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT), the same year, a non-profit art organization with locations in Six Nations and Toronto.

Through KDT she was commissioned by PANAMANIA, Pan Am's art and cultural festival, to create a dance work that celebrates five sports. The performance, Tkaronto Bounce took place at the Pan Am Park in Nathan Phillips Square...featuring kayaking, taewondo, volleyball, lacrosse and athletics.

Her group also performed at the Markham Pan Am centre for Global Fest, before switching gears to children's dance theatre and putting on 3 shows at the Aboriginal Pavilion at Fort York.
Aside from cultural events, Sandy is also a creative advisor
for the Pan Am closing ceremonies and both ceremonies
for the Para Pan Am Games where her input on traditional dance
and feedback about culturally sensitive topics are crucial.
Santee states, 'Acknowledging the land is really important , this place we all live on, and some of us have been living on it for thousands of years prior to it being Canada. In my work, I choose to be inspired by a lot of stories that come from my culture...and I like to give voice and expression to that.'

Robin's 55-km Swim will Benefit the Birds
Hamilton tri-athlete Robin Lajoie, 60, a musician, is set to swim around Pelee Island to help raise money for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. The fundraiser is a collaboration between two beer companies and Margaret Atwood (an advisor to PIBO board) monitor bird migration in an effort to understand the changing population in migratory birds. The swim of 55 kilometres around Pelee Island in Lake Erie, August 5, Robin says the swim could take anywhere from 25 to 28 hours.

The island, which is only accessible by water or air, is home to more than 275 species of birds. “I just want to be part of something good, that makes a difference,” Lajoie says. He believes his talent for swimming (beginning at age 40) is God-given...when swimming for hours at a time, these are his thoughts. There will be 8 people staffing a boat for the duration of his swim.
(Unfortunately, due to waves and rough waters, Robin was unable to complete his swim ~ although well into his swim distance.)

Be thankful for each new challenge: it will give you strength and character.
(Author unknown)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 26, 2015
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