Fundraising for Bladder Cancer BeCause...

...in early 2014 I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. I am very fortunate that I caught it very early. Two tumours were removed in March, classified as "non invasive" yet "high grade cancer". 6 "BCG" treatments completed in the spring, maintenance treatments to follow in August and hopefully i've got this thing in check and ready to beat cancer...like so many others have. But the wake up call has certainly prompted me to think about causes. BeCause of this personal situation that I'm facing I can pour my energy and efforts into helping to make a difference in raising awareness about Bladder Cancer, so that others might benefit from early detection or from science that can help fight this disease.

I'm also choosing to be open about my journey. I respect that many may wish to keep silent, keep it personal, not share. My purpose is to be open, share and be on a journey of raising awareness to help others who may be facing a similar challenge, and to lead fund raising and research to help battle this particular cancer.

With love and support from family and friends, and a world class team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences in Toronto I feel confident looking forward on this new "path", but I want to also help to make a difference for others who face similar battles, or for those who are still not even aware of this cancer. I must say that I was not aware of Bladder Cancer and how rampant it is, until it become a personal battle for me.

To help this cause I have started a Bladder Cancer Awareness Walk in Kenora to coincide with the National Bladder Cancer Awareness walk weekend in Canada. I have been overwhelmed by the generous support of so many thus far. I had set an initial target of $5000. Overnight we landed more than $8000 in pledges. Thus...I have continued to "raise the bar" on the target goal for my fundraising and for the event.

Bladder Cancer is the fifth most prevalent cancer in Canada, but funding is not at par. We need to continue to raise awareness to get the research and remedies to fight this cancer. I am hoping that in reading this post you might also join us by participating in supporting me or others in the Kenora community on our walk on September 21st, or check out the national site and see where you might be able to walk or donate closer to your own community.

Or...perhaps this post is simply stimulus for you to think of where you might take the challenge to help make a difference in your community, for a cause that is near and dear to your heart, or loved one or friend...just BeCause.  Thanks and Cheers !  @FergDevins


Happy Canada Day

The three words say it all. It is a day for Canadians to stand tall and be proud of our heritage and our country, it is Canada Day. It is also a day when many "new Canadians" officially become citizens of the country and no doubt it is a day of joy for them and their families. Without a doubt, one of the most spectacular places to be on July 01 for Canada Day is Ottawa, the nation's capital. Although I won't be there this year. Friends will be celebrating #CanadasGame Hockey in Canada with the #CenturyTour Caravan and I know that they will be in awe of the celebrations.

Canada Day is a day for family, friends, neighbours and visitors to celebrate all that is Canada. This vast country from coast to coast to coast offers so much diversity. The vastness and magnificence of our land is reflected in the cultural diversity of our people and the geographic diversity of the country. From the rockies, to the prairies, the far north and its people and tranquility, the wonderful forests rivers and lakes of Northwestern Ontario, the hussle and bussle of southern Ontario, attractions large and small that stretch across the country, the lakes and rivers and parklands in rural and urban settings, truly historic cityscapes of Montreal and Quebec City, the hospitality of the Maritime provinces or the warmth and happiness that permeates from Newfoundland and Labrador - Canada has it all. Along the longest non defended border the rivers and lakes flow north and south across this great land.

On this Canada Day we can celebrate all that is Canada. Give thanks for those who have built this country. Canada Day is a day that we can celebrate our rights and freedoms and those who have fought to help us maintain those rights and freedoms.

Canada Day is also a day to be active. It's a day to enjoy this great land, outdoors or indoors - whatever one's pleasure may be.

As I write this quick blog this morning I look out at my flag pole to a blustery morning on Lake of the Woods, drizzle flying by in a northwest wind and lake that seems to have finally started to drop after some of the highest water levels in more than eight decades. But, I look out and see such beauty in the shore line knowing that today's celebration with family and friends will be a great day to remember - because regardless of the weather we will celebrate Canada Day with family and friends and give thanks for all that we have in this great land and its people.

Happy Canada Day !  @FergDevins

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#CenturyTour #TournéeduCentenaire Hockey Canada

At 11am this morning, at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence Hockey Canada's 100th birthday celebrations were announced with the launch of the #CenturyTour Caravan. The caravan is a spectacular tribute to 100 years of Hockey Canada and the heritage of the game in this country coast to coast to coast. It is full of interactive fun for the whole family. The Devins Network Team is proud to be supporting the tour by providing support in the areas of government relations outreach, community engagement, public relations and social media. With the tour management team from InMarket and the Team and Hockey Canada, we look forward to working with communities and festivals across Canada to raise awareness of #CanadasGame as the #CenturyTour trecks across this great land. We look forward to engaging with those who have plenty of stories and experience with the game, as well as reaching out and bringing newcomers to Hockey Canada to take in #CanadasGame during the #CenturyTour. You can follow all of the action via @HockeyCanada and @DevinsNetwork will be connecting with communities as the tour gets rolling. What's your hockey story ? Who might you introduce to #CanadasGame ? See you on the road #Canada !  A big shout out to our National Sponsors of the #CenturyTour - CANADA and Canadian Heritage, Canadian Tire, Respect Group, Samsung and TELUS. We will look forward to connecting with you coast to coast to coast @FergDevins @CharCoulson and @JPRochette @DevinsNetwork.

À 11:00 ce matin au Centre pour l’Excellence au Hockey Mastercard, les célébrations du 100e anniversaire de Hockey Canada ont été annoncées avec le lancement de la caravane du #TourDuCentenaire.  Cette caravane est une façon spectaculaire d’honorer les 100 ans de Hockey Canada ainsi que l’héritage de ce sport sur notre pays d’un océan à l’autre. L’équipe de Devins Network est fière de s’associer à cette tournée en offrant son expertise au niveau des relations gouvernementales et communautaires, en plus de s'impliquer au niveau des relations publiques et des médias sociaux. Avec l’équipe de tournée InMarket ainsi que celle de Hockey Canada, nous avons très hâte de travailler avec les communautés et les festivals partout au pays pour célébrer #LeSportduCanada alors que le de la #TournéeDuCentenaire parcourra ce beau grand pays. C’est avec plaisir que nous communiquerons avec ceux et celles qui auront de nombreuses histoires à raconter au sujet de notre sport national, en plus d'initier de nouvelles recrues et de leur faire découvrir #LeSportduCanada grâce au #Tour du Centenaire.  Suivez toute l’action via @HockeyCanada_fr et @DevinsNetwork puisqu’ils seront en contact avec les diverses communautés durant la tournée. Quelle est votre histoire de hockey? #LeSportduCanada pourrait-t-il être introduit à quelqu’un que vous connaissez? À bientôt #Canada, on se voit sur la route! Nous en profitons pour remercier nos commanditaires pour la #tourneeducentenaire: Canada et Héritage Canada, Canadian Tire, Respect Group, Samsung et TELUS. Nous avons hâte de discuter avec vous d’un océan à l’autre! @FergDevins, @CharCoulson et  @jPRochette  @DevinsNetwork

 

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Opening the Cottage - Camp - Cabin It's June 01

Ah June 01 ! In Canada this marks a ritualistic date in the calendar (in my mind). For the past couple of decades it has meant that it is time to think of opening the cottage. I must pause here to articulate that after living in Toronto for 30 years, I have adopted "cottage" as the general description of the place where folks enjoy recreational time with family and friends in the summer. Naturally anyone between Sault St Marie and Winnipeg would refer to it as "camp". I'm not sure if it is in Saskatchewan or Alberta where the western monicker shifts to "cabin". Nonetheless, you will all appreciate that special place that you and family and friends have come to know as your "summer place".

It is a time for renewal, to kick off a new summer season. The water system that should just "turn on" with the expected challenges of a foot valve that has cracked in the ice over winter, or a plastic hose that miraculously has obtained a pin head leak above ground, or a copper elbow that had water resting in it near a faucet that wasn't left open, or the pump that seems to take forever to "prime". All of this in the good fun and part of the ritual of opening "camp" in preparation for a long summer of fun.

And it is fun, preparing the dock with bumpers that are in need of "air", after a long winter's storage in the shed. The corners and windows in need of dusting and removal of cob webs - how is it that ants and flying skeetos find life after the depth of winter !? The BBQ hooked up again with a fresh tank of propane. Running the boats and topping up with fresh petrol. Launching the boats after a long winter's sleep. Checking the kayaks for spiders before a quick paddle in the bay. Removing the tarps on the screened in porch. Lighting that first indoor fire to take the chill off. Preparing the wood BBQ with a fresh set of twigs. Acquiring the fire burning permit to burn off the brush that was felled in winter. Raising the flag pole with Canadian flag up the mast. Moving the "buoys" back in place to mark the rocks entering the bay. Monitoring the loons for nests. Monitoring the Eagle who is monitoring the loon for its nest. Listening to a late night symphony of sound in the wetland.

It is so amazing to see the new growth of grass, the hope of a perennial returning and the need to plant "marigolds" to ensure that the deer won't eat the gardens. Trust me, I've tried them all...marigolds are a pretty sure bet - unless of course you have mink or otters, which seem to like to pull them up in search of grubs.

Each spring, one keeps one's fingers crossed regarding what ice damage may appear from the ice freeze up and breakup. Fortunately enough for us, the great master carpenter Bill Holm created a system that allows our floater to move in and out with the ice on a steel "sleeve" with large springs to return it "to position" in the spring. It's as easy as popping the pins back in. Nice design Bill !

This year in particular for me was a totally new experience. Being "semi retired", I had the opportunity to travel to the lake in early May. In fact, on the Friday night that we arrived, we were unable to access our dock from the main bay due to persistent ice remaining in our bay. After a night's sleep and return we were amazed and relieved to dodge small ice flows on the way to the island to be surprised that the south wind had blown the remaining ice across to the other shore.  With snow still on the shore across our bay it was an amazing experience to behold. Naturally it was capped off by a polar bear dip by my daughter.

At the end of a day full or "opening chores" there is nothing quite as satisfying as a nice cold Molson Canadian and BBQ delight.

So what's your "favourite" opening the cottage chore or ritual ? And no, that does not include "someone else does it for me"...smiles. @FergDevins

 

 


Reflection on Community...It's up to "us"

 

It was Mother's Day Sunday, Knox United Church in Kenora Ontario.

Knox United Church Kenora, is a place where I spent a significant amount of time in my youth. Sundays at Church and Sunday school were just matter of fact growing up. We had a terrific youth group under the direction and support of the late Harold Boyd. I still have visions of our 24 hours "rockathon"...on my ! And, to this day, I have many life long friends that were part of those Sunday school gatherings each and every week.

Growing up in a small town (or any community for that matter), the congregation becomes a place of security, confidence, learning, experience and study. It is one of those touch points where people gather, share, converse, get together.

"Church" in recent years has been more of a special occasion outing for me. At Christmas we will often attend, or some of the family will attend...all depending where we are on Christmas Eve and what everyone has going on.

What struck me about "Church" in Kenora on Mother's Day this year was not so much about "church" as a pysical place or place of worship. It truly made me reflect upon church as a place of community.

I saw parents of some of my friends who are now quite aged (ha...and they no doubt think the same of me) but they still had that common thread of inquisitiveness, community, of growing together through good times and bad. There were former school teachers of mine, junior, middle school and high school. Gosh, my grade three teacher, who still tells stories of a life long friend of mine and our mischievous ways. Former associates from various campaigns over the years. Neighbours, who I'd not seen in many years. Friends who were also in the congregation carrying the torch of another generation. Choir members who are still bringing the wonderful sound of the hymn book on Sunday morning. The pianist/organist, who was one of my grade seven teachers and an accomplished local talent. And inspiring for certain was a whole new group of young parents and their children, participating fully in what is Sunday's ongoing ritual for these young families...a new generation of "community builders" for sure !

So what of this reflection ? I think it is simply to express how thankful I am for what I know the town of Kenora and its community taught me for life.  A sense of community. A sense of giving. A sense of faith. A sense of support and a place to turn in a time or times of need.

I don't belittle larger cities or larger centres, I just know that I got that from my upbringing. I' hopeful that my children will also feel a similar expression when they look back at their development in their community in Toronto in similar but different inspiring and grounding ways. There may not have been the same degree of "church" but we have certainly been active in our community.

We are  all individuals in many different communities and it is but our duty to keep those communities vibrant, strong and everlasting It's up to "us".  Cheers to community. @FergDevins

 


Ontario Election Called...step up and get involved

With the election in Ontario called, it is fascinating to see how conversations now shift to who we want to lead this province into the future. At coffee shops, bar tables, cocktail lounges, athletic clubs, buses, subways, urban or rural trails, on the waterways or a walk in your community - you will no doubt start to muse with family, friends and acquaintances about the unfolding campaign.

Many will choose to comment, remark and complain about the past and the present and stop there. The opportunity, truly, is for people to pick up the phone, or check out a campaign social network and call step up to get involved. Each and every party (links here) whether Progressive Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Green will gladly welcome a new volunteer to their campaign. OR, perhaps you would like to work for Elections Ontario in a roll during the election. They have a site as well.

So this mini "post" is really just to provide you with a quick link to those party web sites so that you might think about how you can engage in this June 12 election. I guarantee you will learn much and more importantly, you will have had an active impact on the decision to elect the next provincial government to lead our province forward.  Cheers @FergDevins


A shout for service well deserved...U-HAUL

OK, if you are the on line "monitor" for posts about U-Haul, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because this post is going to be nothing but kudos, cheers, a toast and a big hooray for your team !

What is service? To me, it is as simple as a promise or contract that is made between the service provider and the customer. That promise or contract would assume that at a very high level everything should go according to each others' "plan" or "assumptions".

Moving my daughter in Ottawa last weekend, I had the need to lease a U-Haul van for transportation. I booked on line, which was an easy peasy experience (still don't know why they don't require a deposit but not fussed). I booked on line, had it confirmed for downtown Ottawa, and then a few days before heading down, it showed as confirmed for Richmond Ontario. (30 minute drive from downtown).  I called the original location, pulled up the rez number and they passed me on to the dispatch, located in Montreal. The agent on line in Montreal advised that I wanted it for "two days" and that the only two day avail was Richmond. I exclaimed that this was crazy and that I would look at alternate times to make my vehicle pick up and drop off closer to downtown.

When we arrived in Ottawa Friday, I called dispatch again to be advised that they had left me a message on my voice mail (which being a social networker I hardly check, shame on me). However, the agent had worked to resolve my situation and find me something closer to downtown. We seemed to locate something downtown, as long as I didn't have to tie it up for two days. That was easy, four to six hours would fit the need. We locked in for the rental, thanks all around and we continued to do chores. THEN, I got an email notification Saturday morning that my vehicle was ready for pick up. Whoops ! I forgot to re-adjust the rez date and time to Sunday morning. Back to dispatch, and they were just outstanding in working with me. The original location was not going to be open Sunday, so I had to book with an agent in Gatineau. Bit of a long cab ride, but I needed the van.

Cab ride out, cab ride back but I had a great van. The agent in Gatineau was there at 8am sharp. I got into Ottawa, did the moves and got the van back to Gatineau on time. I'd asked the agent if he'd like a coffee. He said no thanks doesn't drink coffee after noon, just Diet Coke. You can imagine I landed him a Diet Coke !

So...I was likely a nightmare as a "client" but U-Haul was simply masterful in managing my foul ups and landing me what I needed to get the job done. Needless to say, I was happy to tweet my satisfaction and fill in the follow up survey. That was the other impressive follow up that I noted in their software, booking, confirmation, follow up, survey receipts etc. To cap it all off, and one thing that I'm a huge believer in, U-Haul has terrific "listening" on Twitter. They are quick to respond and direct in their follow up.  Just a truly smooth top rate customer experience. Thanks U-Haul !  @FergDevins


Purpose in Elected Office

With the tragic passing of Hon. Jim Flaherty last week, it caused me to reflect upon what I have seen over the years in the "purpose" of why people run for public office.

One might surmise that, publicly, politics has become a sad state of affairs; amidst some of the "stories" that have evolved in political circles over the past few years. Some would likely suggest that the sad state of politics has been around "forever".

What I am pointing out as purpose, specifically, is that the purpose is to serve the greater community. The purpose is to make a difference for fellow citizens. The purpose is to serve the public. The purpose is to take on the passion to make our world a better place, by being elected to office and holding a role in government where an individual can make a contribution to society.

Does it sound naive ? Does it sound too righteous ? Does it sound impossible ?

I have conversed with many people over the years who have considered running for office. They ask me about the world of politics and elected office. My first question back to them is solely "why...would you want to run for office". To me, with those whom I have spoken to, there is a common thread in "service" to their community. Or perhaps it is to truly make a "difference". Some speak about a compelling need to "give back".

I think that the portrait of community service that Jim Flaherty painted is an example of the real purpose. He served his community. Not everyone would have agreed with this party stance or position on every policy. But, I am hard pressed to find anyone that would dispute that Jim Flaherty served his community with purpose. The tributes over the past couple of weeks ring loudly and so clearly of Jim's passion for making a difference and his commitment to his community.

As I have criss crossed this country in my government affairs work, I have been inspired by many others who have indeed put their name on the ballot with this purpose. They genuinely want to make a difference in their community and for their fellow citizens.

In the memory of Jim I toast those who continue to carry this torch of making a difference, and thank them for their time, effort and sacrifice. We count on that purposeful commitment to community by our elected officials. Service to our community is truly a noble cause, one deserving respect and appreciation. All of the petty politics and nastiness aside, our elected officials are there with a purpose to make a better community for all. Enjoy the long weekend with family and friends in your community. Cheers.

@Ferg Devins


Celebrating Volunteerism in Canada

This week is National Volunteer Week in Canada and we can be darned proud of the efforts that people make in communities from coast to coast to coast.

A large shout out to the National Volunteer organization and to folks at  Investors Group who are stepping up once again to celebrate Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers.  2014 marks the 11th consecutive year that Investors group has led the campaign.

Volunteers are the thread that weaves across our nation in communities large and small across a wide and varied set of causes and interests. They impact our communities in so many ways , to ensure that those in need and causes requiring support have the people power required to make them a success. Whether it is about health, the arts, environment, abilities and disabilities or just about bringing like minded people together in conversations about our community - volunteers are the foundational bedrock in making a difference. We are fortunate in Canada to have the kind of participation in volunteerism that we experience.

Throughout the year the good folks at volunteer.ca help to provide support and awareness for how people can get involved in volunteer efforts. They are a good place to take a peek if you are interested in playing your part.

I hope you will join with me in a toast to our volunteers...coast to coast to coast during this week of recognition. If you've got someone that you would like to recognize in your community, be sure to check out the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards. Nominations are open !

Cheers to those who continue to make a difference in our Canadian communities. @FergDevins

 


Let's Start Shouting out for PANAM 2015

If you are like me, after witnessing and living the Olympic and Paralympic fever over the past month, I am pumped for our athletes and inspired for what PanAmTO2015 can be for our city and the greater Toronto region and Golden Horseshoe. It's time to start shouting out for PanAm2015.

It's time to get beyond the "politics" of the games and leave that to the politicians and their banter. WE as a community and as communities can now embrace the games for what they will be for our youth and for our greater community for years to come. There will be more than 10,000 athletes and supporting team members descend on the Golden Horseshoe in the summer of 2015. That is pretty exciting, to say the least. It is to me, what about you ?

I sat back and thought about what bodies, channels and voices could start to amp up the shout for PanAmTO2015. My list is only a short list. I am sure that upon reading this others will have many more ideas for how we can bring the voice of the games to life with strong emotion and pride for what we will see in this - the largest sporting event ever to be hosted on Canadian soil. Let's join together and start creating the positive voice and legacy that these games will represent.

My list...feel free to add to this...and let's engage with our communities to lend a voice to the games. Together we can start shouting out.

COUNTRIES - there will be 41 countries participating in the games. With Toronto and the region being such a cultural mosaic, one has to believe that each of those countries is represented in Canada by an association, community organization or social club.

SPORTS - there will be 49 different sports taking place at venues across the region. These sports all have organizing bodies, sponsors, supporters and aspiring youth and retired alumni. Let's start talking up these games.

COMMUNITIES - The venues are spread across so many different geographic regions of the GTA. Let's bring this proud moment to life through our community of venues.

EMPLOYEES - All of those who are working for PanAm2015 (300 ?) have a special voice to bring to the games because you are living it day in day out. Bring your experience to life, talk to us about the joy, spread the news about the games and all that it will be

MUNICIPALITIES - Many cities, towns and burbs will be benefitting from various elements of the games whether a venue, athletes, training or random associations. Municipalities and your elected officials and staff...come to the party and speak out.

SUPPLIERS - Although the interest might be "commercial", suppliers to the games are also benefitting and have good reason to thank the games and shout out the benefits that these games are bringing to the region in economic activity leading up to, during and post the big event.

SPONSORS - Every brand, business or individual that has chosen to be a sponsor or partner of the games has a chance to build their brand association and bring voice to the games. With the opportunity to link your brand to the games you have an opportunity to support the passion of the games through your social and traditional media channels. It will be great to see you stepping up and out with your support.

TOURISM BODIES - 10,000 plus participants and how many spectators and visitors will be landing in our region?  Tourism bodies in the Golden Horseshoe have the power to build the experience of the region based on the excellence that these games will portray

PROVINCIAL MINISTRIES - How many provincial ministries are linked to the games in some obvious or behind the scenes role. You too can bring voice and promotion to the games in a powerful way through your social and traditional communications channels.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - The Federal government has made a significant investmen in the games for PanAm2015. Let's move past the politics of the games and focus on the promotion of this once in a life time event. Let's bring the power and energy of our federal government to light it up in all your social and traditional channels.

ATHLETES - Oh my goodness...the heart of the games, our athletes. YOU are the bright light of these games, the participating athletes who can bring your voice to lighting up the social channels and seeding your stories with the press. Let's get those ambassadors actively engaged in telling their heart tugging stories.

GYM TEACHERS - What can be more exciting that to be a gym or physical education teacher having the opportunity to shine a light on these games for aspiring athletes in our school system whether, public, secondary or post secondary. If you embrace these games, they will be a legacy for our youth in creating passion for participation, motion and active lifestyles.

THE PRESS - Ok...I get that there is a great banter of politics related to the games. BUT, the games are on, the athletes will be arriving, the venues will be built, the village will be full...it's time to look at the games and the sport legacy that can be achieved. Where are those voices that respect that this is a competition at a level that drives futures for summer athletes in the Americas, including our Canadian athletes. When the press come on side we can start to build tremendous voice for these games.

ATTRACTIONS - Visitors mean traffic, traffic means chatter, chatter means great brand building. Attractions across the region can lend a voice in building momentum and interest for visiting delegation and spectators.

VOLUNTEERS - Although the recruitment of volunteers is still to come, let's hear from those that want to get involved, engaged and live the moment of these games. These games will truly be a wonderful experience for anyone that gets involved and our volunteers will help to be ambassadors for the region, our province and our country. Lend your voice...it is an important one.

LABOURERS - Across the region labourers, tradespeople and businesses are benefitting from the games. What a great opportunity to lend your voice on how this is impacting you and your life through the construction and building of the games.

OK...I know I've only covered a few avenues of what I feel are potential "voices for PanAm2015". Perhaps you have more to add. Or just take a few seconds to tweet or post this on Facebook or in Google+ or in your social network and enrol family, friends, neighbours colleagues and your community in what will be a wonderful legacy for our region - PanAm2015.

Cheers to the games...bring your voice to the games today...time to start shouting out! @FergDevins