Kenora Thistle Stanley Cup Champions

Small Town Spirit

February 13th, 2017

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There is just quite something unique, authentic and empowering about small town spirit. The people of Kenora will reach new heights of spirit this week, as they host #Scotiabank #HockeyDay in Canada.

Centre of Canada

Growing up in Kenora Ontario was just an awesome experience. Having the Lake of the Woods lapping up along the shore of our town, being two hours from Winnipeg, six hours from Duluth, five hours from Thunder Bay, ninety minutes from Dryden, two and a half hours from Ignace, three hours to Sioux Lookout, three hours to Red Lake, an hour and a half to Ear Falls, thirty minutes to Sioux Narrows, sixty minutes to Vermillion Bay, thirty minutes to Minaki, forty-five minutes to Falcon Lake, two hours to Fort Frances and the International border crossing to the USA at International Falls, two hours to Rainy River and the international crossing at Beaudette Minnesota and everything in between and beyond; how could you beat being in the centre of Canada experiencing the four seasons this country provides?

Lake of the Woods

Kenora sits on the northernmost channel of beautiful Lake of the Woods, at the headwaters of the Winnipeg River.Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles (110 km) long and wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles (105,000 km) of shoreline. It would amount to the longest coastline of any Canadian lake, except that the lake is not entirely within Canada. Lake of the Woods is the sixth largest freshwater lake located (at least partially) in the United States, after the five Great Lakes. Northwestern Ontario is located in the far reaches of the province of Ontario, a full two-day drive. Yes, a two-day drive – or 24 hours straight through; if you must. Whether you cross at Sarnia into Michigan State and start the US “south of Superior” route, or head north from Toronto along the top of Superior on Highway 17, or take the “truckers route” up along the longest street in the world (Yonge Street from Toronto to Rainy River,over 1,896 kilometres or 1,178 miles long); it is a great distance way from Ontario’s capital to the capital of lake life and the great outdoors – Kenora Ontario. Actually, the official slogan is “North America’s Premier Boating Destination”.Enough context, let’s get back to talking about small town spirit.

Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada

February 18th, 2017 Scotiabank brings #HockeyDay in Canada to Kenora Ontario. As all of the Canadian NHL teams face off against each other, Kenora will be a buzzing with hockey related festivities along the shoreline of the northernmost channel of Lake of the Woods. Hockey Night in Canada personalities Don Cherry and Ron MacLean will be hosting their Coaches Corner from Kenora. SportsNet will be broadcasting all day long and into the evening starting at 12 noon ET (11 am Central Time in Kenora).

All eyes of our nation, hockey fans coast to coast to coast, will turn their eyes to capture wonderful grassroots stories about Kenora and its hockey heritage. Did you know that Kenora is the smallest town to have won the Stanely Cup? They will play a re-enactment game on the lake in front of the “Thistle Pavillion” Saturday morning. More recently the Stanley Cup returned to Kenora and was proudly hoisted high by local hockey hero Mike Richards, member of two LA King Stanley Cup Champion teams. And the Kenora Thistles’ name lives on with their current AAA Midget roster. They will play Saturday afternoon.

When it comes to small town spirit, there will be nothing to compare with February 18th as Kenora’s 15,000 population welcome the eyes and hearts of the nation, and visitors to their town. Be sure to take in the winter beauty of Kenora Ontario, in celebration of our national sport and Scotiabank’s Hockey Day in Canada.

Tune in to SportsNet

Throughout the day, check it out on SportsNet . The small town spirit will shine through proudly. Happy #Scotiabank #HockeyDay Canada! We’ll be “posting” small town spirit from Kenora. @FergDevins

Thanks to Social Media Today for posting this great infographic on some compelling social media facts. Often times people question the “why” of social networking. I truly believe that this snap shot gives you some valuable insight and facts around the power of social media. These facts provide a top line illustration of some of the channels and their relevance to various audiences. Enjoy the view ! CLICK here for the Infographic.  @FergDevins

Parliament Flame by Richard McGuire

Government Relations for Small Enterprise

January 31st, 2017

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Government Relations for small enterprise can be a daunting situation. However, it need not be an impossible path to discover in your pursuit of being heard.

After 30 years in the corporate world, with the last half of my career in corporate affairs; I believe that I have a good handle on understanding government relations. It was close to 50% of my “accountability”, as a Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. My success was also grounded in the relationships that were built over time. Through relationships, you build an opportunity to better understand each other; your needs, your desires, the barriers and the opportunities for success.

Make it Local

The first premise for me is to make it local. Whatever your issue or opportunity beholds, you will gain the most traction if it is seen as local by your elected official. This is true for all levels of government. If you can strike an emotional local tie related to your issue or opportunity, you have a good place in the starting gate of government relations. If your issue or opportunity has little to do with the person you are reaching out to, they will have a difficult time finding time to review your matters. The fact is, all politics is local.

“Government Relations”

What I find fascinating about understanding government relations is the constant evolution of the practice. With a continued push for much-needed transparency and public accountability, the “relations” side of the game has come under pressure and increased scrutiny.

Across Canada, provincial and federal governments and their ethics commissioners challenge the established models of “pay for access and influence”. Lobbyists used to cozy up with clients at banquets, sporting events and fundraisers to enable a “meet and greet” with influencers. With new fundraising rules emerging, it now becomes more difficult to gain easy access to the ear of our elected officials.

Lobbyists and industry advocates will need to continue to build and maintain relationships with elected officials, their staff and the civil service. That is their business. Dialogue on issues is still required.

Many limitations have come into existence. There are now cooling off periods prevailing for the staff of Ministers. Watch dogs keep track of paid or volunteer work by lobbyists on campaigns. There continues to be cross party line squawking about who’s influencing whom.  Political donations (where still allowed) are scrutinized to the absolute penny. Understanding government relations has become a much more complex game.

Even some municipalities have invoked lobbying regulations and process. However, in the hierarchy of the three levels of government, municipalities continue to have the most open accessibility to elected officials. I continue to be very impressed with ward staff at the municipal level. I guess it makes sense, based on my earlier point, all politics is local.

Access

Access has become a challenge. With the explosion of social media, and so many channels flowing into an elected official’s office, it is no surprise that there need to be filters in place. Priorities need to be set. The tough part of this game is that “your priority” may not be “their priority”. Without access, you will lack influence. Even sadder is that correspondence may never even reach the eyes of your intended recipient. Given the volumes, it is likely that a staff member handles this for the member. Sad, but a practical reality, given the multitude of requests.

Breaking Through

It takes hard work and determination to break through with your message, cause, concern or business issue. It takes persistence and multiple fronts of communication to get your matter on the radar. Email, phone calls, tweets are all required. I also think that the constituency office might afford you more assured access. By taking the time to raise your issue at their home office in their constituency, you might get a better return on the time you invest. It is back to the first premise of getting local with your issue or opportunity.

The “contact information” submission tools on elected official websites provide a filter but do not appear to provide a quick response.

Where the Parties Fail

Do you receive emails from a political party or elected officials? In most instances, political parties sending out propaganda tend not even to allow the recipient to reply. Another fault of the party propaganda system. If a party is going to send information to the electorate, they might as well open up the opportunity for the electorate to respond to an email. If pushing messaging is intended to garner support. I can only imagine that a conversation and dialogue about the message will help lead to that result. One-way “non responsive messaging” fails on that front. One area of influence however is that party executives have the ear of the elected members. Sometimes this can provide you with an avenue of accessibility.

Persist in Social with Your Voice

There is an opportunity, in understanding government relations, to tell your story and engage through social networks. Your blog, your post in Facebook, your article in LinkedIn, your tweet; are all communication tools that may help to position your issue or cause on the radar of the elected official. The old model would have seen a stack of “clippings” from news media dropped on a communications staffer’s desk each morning. Today it is more likely to be a google alert or other social networking monitoring tools to catch the conversation in the moment. The key word most likely to get your attention is the name of that elected official in a post. Those mentions will be monitored closely in a context of issues management.

The Final Point

The final point to be made is that in understanding government relations, you must realize that getting the attention of government is a complex and multi-layered grid. If you are experiencing frustration in your efforts to break through, perhaps I can help with some counsel on getting your message heard.  Here’s to simplifying working with our governments. Have an awesome 2017.  @FergDevins

 

#BellLetsTalk

Supporting #BellLetsTalk Day

January 25th, 2017

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A shout out to Bell and their major commitment to make a difference in getting people to talk about mental health. Thank you for creating #BellLetsTalk.

January 25th

January 25th is a wonderful day to bring attention to mental health issues coast to coast to coast. Bringing situations to open conversation will start a journey of recovery and hope.

Take the Challenge

It is incumbent upon “us” to take the challenge, accept the nudge and truly undertake our own personal campaign to engage in removing the stigma attached to mental illness. By embracing the challenge, we can turn to helping those in need.

Listen

As much as there is a need to talk, there is a need to listen. Listen for those who may be dealing with a difficult situation in their lives. Listen for those who are struggling alone. Listen to those who many be signalling to you that they need help. Listen for opportunities to help a loved one. Listen for those who may be on the street, with hat in hand and in need of your support. With a small action, you might make a huge difference in their day.

All Year

Through the awareness that #BellLetsTalk brings to us all, we can embrace this day of January 25th. We can “click and drag” its impact to the other 364 days of the year. Mental health challenges are not a one day and done effort. It will take effort each day, each hour, each moment with our family and friends, colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances or strangers in need –  to truly support each other on this journey.

From I to WE

I recall a message on a bulletin board at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. It suggested that we should all consider taking the “I” out of Mental Illness and replacing it with a “WE”. Transform the challenge from Mental Illness to a context of Mental Wellness.

By thinking of how we can work through the issue, the challenge, the strife, the moment, the depression or anxiety; we may be able to move from ill to well. I am not in any way mimimizing the huge challenge faced by those dealing with mental health issues, and their care givers. Each situation is individual. Each requires its own attention. Each will differ in plan for care and recovery. Each will require a plan from ill to well.

However, if we can all be a little more sensitive to the fact that mental health challenges surround us, we can listen, we can talk and we can move forward in this journey of getting better.

#BellLetsTalk

Thanks for engaging on this day of #BellLetsTalk. Wishing you wellness, today and all year long.

Embrace Change

It is time to Embrace Change

January 10th, 2017

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How’s that status quo going out there? If there is one thing for sure in 2017, change will continue to be at the forefront. Time to embrace change.

Change is constant in a world that embraces and drives for greater efficiency. Change is constant in dealing with streams of innovation and a passion for doing things more quickly. One can decide to embrace change or take a seat on the sideline of these exciting times. I’m not suggesting that one should blindly follow along. Take a stance. Follow and lead within the change that is taking place.

Is that harsh? Perhaps so. However, I truly believe that embracing change and taking a stand for leading change will propel one’s career and guide them toward their aspirations.

Not too long ago, job and career pursuits saw young people working hard to “get in” to the blue chip firm or corporate entity. Corporations offered thousands of jobs with multi-level positions and a clearly articulated multi-runged corporate ladder to climb.

With challenging economic times and many traditional business models judged as broken, businesses have had to change to maintain their position in the market. Two hard examples of reality are Kodak and Blackberry. Another sector example might be traditional travel agency models. Passion for breakthroughs by competitors, a strong sense of consumer desire, technology, apps, online marketing and aggressive pursuits of innovation have upset what were solid traditional models.

It used to be you could “get in” at the bottom level and if you worked hard you would progress up and through an organisation. One of the challenges to that model is that organisations are challenged more today than ever before. They can’t take the time to nurture, build, train and grow with their people. The market is just too competitive. They need the best and they need the best now. They need to hire the experts to deliver the results now, in real time.

Some would say that millennials are less loyal than previous generations. Are they less loyal? Perhaps they are more willing and able to accept change. Let’s face it, moving from one job to the next is not the easiest task to undertake. In making a move from one place to another there are new people, new responsibilities, different corporate cultures, new office politics. Every time one changes job, the individual is met with new challenges. Perhaps the millennials are the best example of embracing change. They adapt, accept, move…

The other reality check is that progressive companies and their leadership will continue to drive a change and innovation agenda. If you don’t want to be part of the solution in delivering the change, you’re probably not long for that company.

I am not suggesting for a moment that one should blindly accept change. IF you can accept the change and believe in the intent – why not jump on board and enrol yourself in the opportunity?  Clinging on to the past, the good old days, the way things were, is not truly embracing change and what the future beholds.

If you embrace change, you are more likely to become a thought leader with an ability to own and promote that change. If you can’t enrol in the change – get out.

What is the change that you are resisting today in your life, work or play?  How could you embrace the change and be happier in your pursuit? Or, how might you discover that the change underway is not the path you are choosing. Seeking an alternate change agenda is in your hands. What stance can you take to help lead the change?

Celebrate the past for what it was. Revel in the memories, the collegiality, the good times, the storytelling. With that as your foundation, you can embrace what the future might be and the path of change that will lead you to discovery.

Cheers to change ! Embrace it.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Swimability Ottawa a great cause

Support a Cause this New Year

January 2nd, 2017

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Day Two 2017 – Support a Cause

The dawn of a new year. We give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. There is a multitude of opportunity to support causes in our society. On this second day of the new year, we are stepping up to support a cause in our nation’s capital. There is no shortage of cause, charity or not for profit to choose from in Canada. In fact, there are over 170,000 charities and not for profit organizations in this country. This suggests that every Canadian could likely find “a cause” that aligns with their values or interests.

I have had the honour and pleasure of being engaged with many different causes over the years. In my role at Molson Coors, I had chaired the Molson Coors Donations Fund. I was exposed to tens of thousands of charities that had benefited from over two centuries of giving, led by the oldest brewer in the Americas.

My interests have taken me to involvement with Variety Village, Raising the Roof, several Food Banks, Queen’s University, Coney Island Music Festival, United Way, Bladder Cancer Canada and Swimability (formerly Making Waves). I have also had the honour and pleasure of serving on several not for profit boards. It is of great satisfaction for me to see the difference that we can make in our community. That difference comes from our decision to take action as individuals. We can truly make a difference, by choosing to support a cause.

This Year’s Cause

This year, the Devins Network will continue to call upon members of our greater community to get involved and support a cause. Through your actions, we can truly make a difference for those in need. Whether through financial support, or volunteerism, we can make a meaningful impact.

I am delighted to announce that the Devins Network is renewing our support of Swimability Ottawa . The team of student volunteers truly make a difference in the lives of ability challenged youth in Ottawa. My daughter Helena was personally involved as an instructor, while she was attending the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College. Given that Helena is no longer a student, her duties as an active volunteer have come to an end. The Devins Network is proud to continue our association and support of Swimability Ottawa. We are proud of the difference that they make in the lives of youth and their families in Ottawa. Keep up the great work!

The Mission of Swimability is clear

SwimAbility Ottawa is a not-for-profit student initiative founded as a registered chapter of SwimAbility Canada in 2009. Our mission is to provide affordable and accessible one-on-one swimming instruction to children with disabilities. For more information about our parent organization, as well as about the history of the SwimAbility movement, please visit www.SwimAbility.org.

Wishing you well in 2017

We thank the many student volunteers that help to make Swimability a success in the Ottawa community. We are proud to support their efforts in 2017. We are hopeful that you will join us and support a cause this new year in your community.

Have a great 2017. Working together to support a cause, we can make it even better.

FERG DEVINS @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 23rd, 2016

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

The country was a buzz from St. John’s to Grouse
The stockings were hung by the chimneys with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there

Each province was covered with a blanket of snow
And ploughs ready with salt in their yards row on row
RIDE checks were in place for the high season drive

Telling folks to be safe being sure to arrive alive

When out on the lawns there arose such a clatter
The US election had caused quite a chatter
The New Year should bring more political debate
Hoping free trade continues, because it has been great

The moon on the crest of the new-fallen snow
Families gathering together by travelling to and fro
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, pulled by Canadian reindeer

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
The goodwill he could bring was like a magical trick
He was dressed all in red like the flag of our nation

His whistle stops lined up including Union Station

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
In the west, through Ontario, across Quebec and Atlantic

His journey would begin and it would be quite frantic

From the east coast to west and then through the north

A big country to cover as he went to set forth
Near rivers and lakes over tree tops and valleys
Close to ten million square miles, with no dilly dallies

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
He’d made it to our place so soon on this night
He slid down the chimney with ease not too tight

He was dressed all in fur, red and white to the top
Said the snow on the prairies should yield a good crop
He was a weary old traveler with joy from inside
Said the country was glowing on his celestial ride

His eyes how they twinkled, his cheeks full of frost
Across provinces and territories his path quite criss crossed
He spoke of goodwill and joy across our great land
Encouraging young and old to just lend a hand

He toasted our country with so many people
And our cultural mosaic including mosques and church steeples
He said we are peace keepers with intent that is great
Bringing the world closer together is really at stake

He smiled ear to ear for Canada’s 150
Citing many celebrations and no doubt they’ll be nifty
From Cities to Towns whether urban or rural
Canada’s birthday celebrations will be sure to unfurl

He googled his route and loaded up his apps
With his mobile device positioned solidly on his lap
He was ready to tweet from his red glow in the sky
Pleasing those on the ground with a twinkle their eye

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim, as he flew east to west

Merry Christmas to Canada you’re truly the best


Love My Blog

Tips for the New Blogger

December 18th, 2016

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A Blog ?

The Holidays offer a time to relax, consider new pursuits, adjust your plan for the new year or perhaps just try something you’ve never thought of attempting before. In that regard one might consider writing a blog.

Blog Support

Sarah Smith had reached out to me about this great article and infographic that she has produced for the “new blogger”. I thought that is was certainly a great infographic capturing terrific tips for the blogger just starting out in the wonderful world of the blogosphere. Thanks to Sarah. I hope that bloggers find it useful. Cheers to the season.

Do you want to become a blogger? You might think that blogging is easy, just like what other people may have told you.  You just have to go to the Internet the entire day and write about ideas that you have in your mind. Well, the truth is, starting a blog is not as simple as it seems.

When you start writing your first blog, you will certainly realize that it is harder than what you thought it would be. You will encounter different issues that you must learn to overcome. Even the ones who have been blogging for a long time also experience some challenges or difficulties along their way.

Do not feel bad if you make some mistakes. Mistakes will not end your world. It is fine as long as you take them as a chance to learn and step up. You can also learn from other bloggers’ mistakes in the past to avoid committing such similar mistakes.

Blogging is fun and convenient for some people, so we want to help you make it a bit easier to start with. We have prepared this amazing infographic that contains a list of generally known mistakes a beginner blogger usually makes.

See the image below and gain information from the list. You can also follow the team on Twitter at Start Blog.

 Be aware of these common mistakes in blogging so you can avoid them when you start to create your own blog. Our website http://www.startbloggingonline.com can provide you with more helpful and simple blogging tips that you can also share with your friends.

beginning blogger mistakes to avoid

 

Goodness and Joy

Spreading Goodness and Joy this December

December 4th, 2016

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The month of December and the final month of 2016. It makes me think of how powerful this month would be, if we all could think of how we could bring some goodness and joy into action; each day coast to coast to coast.

Canadians have such a worldly reputation as “caring people”. We are seen as philanthropists, those who help, ready to give, peace keepers. When traveling, people know that Canadians bring light hearted fun and joy to the conversation. We light up the room. We have the humor and disposition to bring out the best in people. Does that resonate with you ?

Here at home, we have our own issues. What a wonderful month, in the spirit of Christmas , to step up and out with a little more goodness and joy for those who are in a time of need.

With that in mind, I did a quick search on some of the agencies and outlets that are found across our great land; with some goodness and joy in mind. I realize that there are many more examples that could be added to this list. Please feel free to add your favourite charity or not for profit to this list as well. Let’s spread the word about goodness and joy in our community.

This December, lets help spread some goodness and joy to help those who are in need. For many of us, this is a season of happiness with family and friends. However, for many, it is one of the toughest times of the year; as they face personal issues and challenges in making ends meet. When others are celebrating “good times”, I can only think that it must be very lonely and dark for those who are less fortunate.

Let us join together this December in helping Canadians bring some goodness and joy to our communities. Whether it is some pocket change to a person on the street with hat in hand, a donation to a charity, a box of food to the food bank, a Christmas tree bought via the boy scouts, a five dollar bill in response to the ringing bell of the Salvation Army, or a bag of “old clothes” from the closet – there are so many ways that we can help make a difference this December for an individual or an organization in their time of need.

Some Highlights of Goodness and Joy

Victoria – British Columbia

Starting on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, I can’t think of a better place than to consider challenges for the homeless. Given the climate, it is a natural place for people to seek the street, away from the harsher weather realities of other parts of Canada. However, the street is not a  place that any Canadian should find themselves. Hats off to the Greater Victoria Coalition to end homelessness. It is but one example of services that are spread across Canada in support of those who are faced to meet the challenge of life on the street.

Lethbridge – Alberta

Ever thought of missing a meal? Many people struggle with making ends meet, but the challenge of being able to feed their loved ones remains a fundamental challenge for some families. Food banks continue to be challenged on their supply, with the explosion of those in need. In Lethbridge Alberta, I point to the Lethbridge Food Bank Society as a great example of making a difference in generating food for those in need. Food banks abound in all communities, most fire stations accept donations, if you see that as an action in your day today. Here is a link to food banks across Canada.  You will find one close to you.

Regina – Saskatchewan

Ability is often something that able-bodied persons take for granted. However, those who have lesser ability are truly challenged with access to public buildings, events or just entering or exiting a restaurant or store. Thanks to the fine work of the Saskatchewan Voice for People with Disabilities Inc., those who have challenges with ability have an advocate in their corner to support them. We can all rise to the challenge of considering all persons in an inclusive context. What action might you take to ensure that physically challenged individuals can enjoy what you anjoy without any barriers for them to confront? How can we make it easier for access to our communities?

Southwest Manitoba

Westman Dreams for Kids is a wonderful organization in support of answering the dreams of kids in Southwestern Manitoba. It is a wonderful example of people coming together to make a difference for youth who face difficult challenges and situations in their lives. A little joy can go a long way in bringing comfort to kids with their own health challenges. Hats off to the Children’s Dream organizations across Canada.

Toronto – Ontario

There are now a multitude of support networks and charitable organizations to support families and loved ones who face challenges with their own ability. Over the years Variety Village, the childrens’ charity, has continued to perpetuate its wonderful facilities and programming for youth and adults in need. Variety Village remains a pillar of support for individuals with physical and mental challenges, and their caregivers and support network. With facilities spreading over 160,000 square feet, an indoor pool, track and common space, Variety Village continues to be a wonderful community institution, serving the Greater Toronto area.

Sherbrooke – Quebec

La Grande Table is a terrific resource in Sherbrooke supporting families in need. They are a resource to ensure that families are fed, but extend to broader support and services for those families with little income or find themselves in an occasional precarious situation. They offer services that demonstrate open listening and then personal recommendations for support. A wonderful community asset. Merci pour votre effortes La Grande Table.

Moncton – New Brunswick

Volunteering is such a wonderful opportunity to give back. Often times people may feel that they cannot give financially, or through gifts in kind. One of the greatest and most impactful ways that an individual can give is to give of their time. Through volunteerism, you can truly make a difference in supporting a cause and the work that they undertake in their community. The Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick, based in Moncton is an example of one of these resources. They welcome individuals who have a desire to lend some time to making a difference in their community. Young, old, able, physically challenged – we can all participate in volunteerism and help to make a difference in our community.

Charlottetown – Prince Edward Island

An example in Charlottetown of the critical care provided by hospices across Canada is Hospice PEI – “A Community of Care”. Sad as it may be, when someone is faced with dying; they and their families need extra support. Hospice PEI is committed to easing the pain and assisting with comfort for those involved in dealing with matters at the end of life. It is but one example of the tremendous care and support that is provided by hospices, their staff and volunteers across Canada. Thanks to all who work to bring comfort at this fragile final stage of one’s life.

Halifax – Nova Scotia

You might find somewhat of a reoccurring theme related to homelessness across our land.  Adsum House in Halifax offers a range of services and support to women, families, youth and trans persons during periods of homelessness. Adsum operates four Halifax locations: an emergency shelter, second-stage housing and two apartments complexes where housing is supportive and affordable. Adsum also has three condos that are rented, as permanent supported housing, to women-led families. They shelter or house up to 80 people each day and more than 400 persons in a year. They provide services and support to more than 1,000 people each year. A treasured resource to help meet the challenges of individuals and families in a time of need. Thanks to those who support and work in thousands of shelters across Canada.

St. John’s – Newfoundland and Labrador

As we jump from the Maritimes to the far eastern province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador the theme of water safety strikes me as so appropriate for this Atlantic Canada province. What greater need than the assurance that youth know how to swim and how to be safe near our coastal waters. This is obviously true for any community in Canada, however particularly relevant and strong this close to and surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. The Lifesaving Society does wonderful working in educating the public about basic life-saving skills. If you don’t find the resources on their site, they have plenty of affiliates to whom they will re-direct your inquiry.

Nunavut

Circling back up northward and west toward Nunavut I turn to the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association. It is so important that culture, arts and crafts continue to flourish in all communities. In Nunavut the association is all about promoting the art and artists of Nunavut. What a wonderful organization supporting the creativity of artists in this fascinating part of our great country. It is but one example of how people in our communities across Canada can help to promote the arts and encourage our youth to be actively engaged in the arts.

Northwest Territories

The Aboriginal Sports Circle in Northwest Territories is focused on engaging all aboriginal people in NWT to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in sport and recreational activities at a level of involvement that they find meaningful and valuable. They foster community involvement in sport and recreation encouraging involvement from initiation to high performance. They work to integrate Aboriginal culture and traditional values in sport and recreation activities. We can all embrace our First Nations people coast to coast to coast.

Yukon

Teegatha’Oh Zheh is dedicated to promoting community inclusion by providing meaningful support services, and advocacy for individuals who have a developmental disability. Their vision statement captures the essence of their work in the Yukon. Teegatha’Oh Zheh envisions a fully inclusive community in which all individuals have dignity, rights and respect and are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Your Month of Goodness and Joy

These are but a small list of organizations across our great land that are making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Feel free to add your comments and favourite outlets that demonstrate acts of goodness and joy in our community. Here’s wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season, and I hope that you will extend a helping hand to someone in need this December, and every month that follows. Be well, stay warm. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Always a story

November 26th, 2016

One Response

OK, I know that our Thanksgiving (Canada) weekend was many weeks ago. But, with so many American friends and such close neighbours, and Black Friday spill…I felt that a Thanksgiving post was in order. As you sit with family and friends this weekend in the comfort of your homes, I hope that we can all be thankful for our good health and harmony in our lives. And when we have challenges, we are thankful for a supportive network of family and friends. Let’s remember and give thanks for our blessings and remember those who have suffered or are suffering in this world today. Let’s also remember that we never know “the story” that might stand behind those around us. This is but one example I just felt I had to share.

Always A Story

My daughter and I were traveling across northern Ontario the past few days and stopped in a great little restaurant  for dinner one night. The meal was outstanding and the service magnificent.
In fact, we had large portions and requested “to go” containers.
When the woman serving us returned with the styrofoam containers, she pulled out a pen and placed a “happy face” on the top. What a wonderful little gesture and farewell to traveling guests. It appeared to be somewhat of a unique design and I asked her if she was an artist.
She exclaimed “no” and then asked if we would indulge in her story. Obviously, there was something to my question of her artistry. We were also intrigued to hear a story on our journey and asked her to please go ahead. She said the last time something like that was said was when a woman customer told her, “if that’s a happy face, it is a good thing that you are a server and not an artist”. As humorous as that might be on the surface, our server says it really struck a chord with her.
In fact, she exclaimed to the woman; my four-year-old son used to make those happy faces. The woman being waited on then said “well yes it looks like something an adolescent would do”. The server then told her the sad story. He used to say that happy faces were made with numbers. He’d draw a large zero to start, add in 6’s for the eyes, zero’s for the pupils of the eyes, a 7 for the nose, a nine for the mouth and 11’s or two one’s on each side for the eye lashes. The server explained that she always likes to use this happy face to remember her four year old, because unfortunately he drowned when he was 12 years old. Apparently the woman then curtly, asked for her bill and left.
Did you have the kleenex handy?  The woman (server) went on to tell us more about this heart wrenching story. She said that her son loved to fish. He had wanted a new fishing rod prior to the day he drowned. When shopping for the fishing rod he asked his mother if he could find a book on “angels” because he had dreamed about angels the night before.
When she was leaving her son to stay a few more days, at her son’s request with grandma; the boy rang back out to the car hugged and kissed mom and said; “I just want you to know that I will always love you”. She said, “I know, see you Saturday” and he said “good-bye”. Tingle down the spine starts now…
She then went on to tell another story about the funeral. At the funeral, a woman kept waiting around until the end. At the end of the exhaustive funeral service this stranger approached “Mom” to tell her a story about her son – the day before drowning. In fact, her son had saved their daughter from drowning when their young daughter had ventured into the water to catch a toy that had blown into the water. The young boy had pulled the girl from the water and she was revived and was saved thanks to the heroic efforts of the 12 year old boy.
The next day the young boy, at age 12, was lost by drowing in the waters while fishing.
So. It is often said, to “judge not”. There is certainly almost always more to a story on the other side. Each person has something that they are dealing with that certainly strangers don’t know, and sometimes those even close to them do not even realize what might be on their mind.
Next time someone does a little act of kindness or a gesture, like a “happy face”, just receive it for what it is and be thankful. This world would be such a better place if we just all gave a little more kindness and goodness to each other each day. I’m sure glad I asked about whether the woman was an artist. Her story certainly left us with much to be thankful for in our lives, and deep sympathy for the family, loved ones and friends of that young boy so many years ago.
Thanks to this wonderful woman for her story. Again, we express deepest sympathies to her family and friends for their loss and thanks for the memory of her son, and his courageous act of saving a youngster from drowning, the day before he drowned himself. No doubt he is now with the angels he dreamed about.
May we all give and express our Thanks at this time of year.