Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

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Vermont events November 2008

November 28 at 2pm and 7pm North Country Ballet Ensemble will be hosting The Nutcracker at Plattsburgh State’s Hartman Theater at 101 Broad Street in Plattsburgh. Info: balletplattsburgh.com

November 15 at 6pm Aldrich Public Library is hosting their first Polenta Festival at 6 Washington St. Enjoy a fantastic Polenta dinner with your friends and top off the evening with the music of Piero Bonamico Jr. Individual seats: $30. Table of 8: $200. Reservations and info: 802-476-7550

November 16 at 2pm South Burlington Community Library will be hosting music with Gary Dulabaum at 550 Dorset. Info: 802-652-7080

November 18 – December 31 Monday – Friday 10am-5pm and Saturday 12pm-4pm Studio Place Arts is hosting their SPA members show where artists of SPA share their diverse selection of fine art and crafts in time for the holiday gift-giving season. Located at 201 N Main St., Barre. Info: 802-479-7069

November 14-15 Middlebury College presents the life and poetry of Robert Frost. Info: vermonthumanities.org

November 8 - November 16 The Shelburne museum will be hosting their hooked rug exhibit, showcasing their 2008 featured artists, Rae Harrell and Diane Kelly. Over 500 newly created works of hooked rug art will be on display. Over 18 vendors will be selling wool and rug hooking supplies. Classes available with experienced instructors. 555 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne. Info: 518-399-8975

November 6 - 16 Jeh Kulu Dance and Drum Theater Presents Vermonts 14th Annual West African Dance and Drum Festival. Featuring Kiridi “The Orphan,” a full length West African Ballet at the Memorial and Contois Auditoriums, Main Street, Burlington. Tickets available through the Flynn Box Office. Info: 802-859-1802

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The Little Prince comes to Geordie

It’s not by chance that Antoine St-Exupéry’s The Little Prince has been translated into 180 languages and sold 80 million copies worldwide.

Written in 1943 and illustrated by the author, the slim little volume is a carte-de-route along the way of life, keeping cynicism at bay and preventing the hardening of the soul. “All grownups were once children – though few of them remember it,” wrote St-Exupéry in his dedication.

From November 28 to December 7, Geordie Productions brings this timeless tale for all ages to life.

For grandchildren, an introduction to the play is well accompanied by a copy of the book as part of the treat, to make the magic of this production last a lifetime.

Info: 514-845-9810

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Nikki Yanofsky at ORT Gala

Nikki signing autographs (photo: Triviaking)

At the age of ten, when most kids are online checking out the latest teen idol, Nikki Yanofsky was discovering the magic of Ella Fitzgerald and listening to jazz classics like It Don’t Mean A Thing and A Tisket, A Tasket.

Four years later, just past her 13th birthday, the singer was in a recording studio with Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and some of L.A.’s top session musicians, brilliantly scatting her way through Lady Ella’s classic Airmail Special for Verve Records’ all-star collection We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song. Nikki more than held her own with the legendary artists on the album including Michael Buble, k.d. lang, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Etta James, Queen Latifah, Linda Ronstadt and Gladys Knight.

Nikki performed at the Montreal Jazz Fest in 2006 and 2007, selling out a four-night run at Place des Arts. After rehearsing with Nikki, jazz pianist Oliver Jones raved: “Jazz is alive and well in Canada!”

Over the past 18 months, Nikki has made numerous television and radio appearances in English and French, including documentaries on CBC and CTV. She has been the subject of countless magazine and newspaper profiles, including full page feature articles in the Globe and Mail, the Gazette, and La Presse. She has sung the national anthems at Montreal Canadiens’ hockey games and at a Lakers game at the Staples Center in L.A.

Since January 2008 Nikki has toured with Marvin Hamlisch, and the two are scheduled to take the stage in Montreal at the ORT Gala November 16.

Marvin Hamlisch’s music is notable for its versatility and substance. As a composer, Hamlisch has won virtually every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards. His groundbreaking show A Chorus Line received the Pulitzer Prize.

He is the composer of more than 40 film scores including his Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting, which won him a third Oscar. His prolific output of scores for films include original compositions and/or musical adaptations for Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, Three Men and a Baby, Save the Tiger and others.

Hamlisch was Musical Director and arranger of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour of the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two of his Emmys.

Hamlisch holds the position of Principal Pops Conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Pops Conductor for the National Symphony and San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Hamlisch is a graduate of both Juilliard and Queens College. He believes in the power of music to bring people together. “Music can make a difference. There is a global nature to music, which has the potential to bring all people together,” he says.

ORT’s 25th Anniversary Benefit Gala is at Place des Arts on Sunday, November 16. For reservations, call 514-481-2787.

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Meet a Friend November 2008

Margaret - Healthy widow, 78, available for coffee, conversation, walks, movies, and dinners.

Gloria - Caring lady, 65, likes dining out, good wine, movies, traveling. Does aerobics and walks several times weekly, seeking an affectionate, sincere, outgoing, fun-loving, educated gentleman for companionship and more, to share the good things in life with. West Island resident preferred.

To contact Margaret or Gloria at Meet a Friend, address your letter and a recent photo to Margaret @ Meet a Friend or Gloria @ Meet a Friend, c/o The Senior Times, 4077 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J8.

Would you like to Meet a Friend? Send your bio of 25–30 words and a $20 cheque to the above address or call Shannon at 514-484-5033, or email your bio to editor@theseniortimes.com and call to have us bill your credit card. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity. All contact info is kept private and all responses are forwarded from our office.


Hospital story moves reader

Dear Editor,

I was deeply moved by your article “What I learned one weekend in September” (Senior Times, Oct. 2008) about the sudden illness of your daughter Molly (as talented a travel writer as her mother) and her experience in Santa Cabrini Hospital emergency. Thank God for her quick recovery. I hope she will never get the “spasms” (or whatever it was) again and continue to produce many more travel narratives.

— Jan Weryho

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Bridging the gap

It may make for an unusual friendship, but the pairing of volunteer advocate Mark Cosentini and Barbara Richardson has been a hit.

“He’s a gem,” says Mrs. Richardson of her 28-year old advocate.

West Island Citizen Advocacy introduced them in September of 2007 and since then Cosentini has been her chauffeur, handyman and shopping companion. For the 79-year-old widow, his practical and emotional support means that she is able to maintain her independence while still living in her own home.

“He’s an expert in a lot of things, he notices if things need to get fixed around the house and will do anything that needs to get done,” she says. “I can’t think of anyone better than him.”

The match has been beneficial to both. “Some people may feel that volunteering is a chore, but I really enjoy the time I spend with her,” says Cosentini. “I think I’ve changed, I’ve become a much more patient person.”

In addition to his weekly commitment to his elderly protégé, Cosentini volunteers with CIMOI (Centre d’Intégration Multi-Services de l’Ouest de l’Île), which helps newly arrived families adjust to life in Quebec. He also helps at the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board with children who have learning difficulties. “There are so many different organizations that need people, and volunteering is a constructive way of helping people out,” he says.

Richardson realizes the difficulty of holding onto a great volunteer advocate and hopes her new found friendship will continue long into the future. “He’s a good talker and great listener, I’m going to hang onto him for dear life.”

West Island Citizen Advocacy is a community non-profit organization that matches volunteer advocates with people in the community who need practical or emotional support, whether elderly, intellectually or physically challenged, socially isolated or experiencing mental health problems. Support can include daily assurance phone calls, social visits, accompaniment to appointments, or help with grocery shopping and errands.

For more information about becoming a volunteer advocate, please call West Island Citizen Advocacy at 514-694-5850 or 514-631-9151. There is a match waiting for you.

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A long walk — and a lift — from Pogradeci to Macedonia

The Dimoska family

Our congenial host at the Parlimenti Hotel in Tirana drove us in his slightly worn Mercedes-Benz (almost everybody drives one in Albania) to a lot where mini-buses were filling up with passengers bound for Pogradeci, a resort region on the shores of Lake Orhid, a lake shared with Macedonia. We started out on a good road. Suddenly the driver made a u-turn, drove back to where we started and took a road that re-aligned my internal organs. It seemed to go on forever.

Once we were back on pavement, the drive was uneventful and hot. We followed a winding road around a mountain. For the queasy, it was harrowing. We stopped halfway (after 2 hours) at a roadside resto where the owner tried to stiff us 10 euro for two pieces of cheese, bread and a simple salad. We eventually settled on 500 lek ($6), which according to us included a hefty tip.

Once in the Pogradeci region, we almost stopped at the Lunhidas Hotel, described in the guide book we’d purchased in Tirana as a “tourist centre” with swimming pool. We noticed that here, 10 kilometers out of town, the lake looked crystal clear. But it was too far from the centre and we always stay where the action is. Our driver dropped us off at the first place on the hotel strip in town. We liked the looks of the hotel and the price, $34 Cdn for a modern room with balcony overlooking the lake. The bed however could have used fewer metal rods.

We strolled along the boardwalk and decided to rent a paddleboat ($2.50 Cdn an hour). The odor of excrement was too strong to go swimming near the shore so we paddled out toward the middle of the lake, where the water looked clearer, and Irwin jumped in. One of four sturdy soldiers-on-furlough in a neighbouring sailboat, hearing us conversing in English, begged to interrupt. The conversation continued until after two of the lads had boosted Irwin onto our boat, nearly tipping me over. Irwin’s physical condition, being what it is — chess, jazz, wine, pizza, lengthy books — made it impossible for him to do it on his own.

Strolling along the boardwalk in Pogradeci

We spent the afternoon treating the five soldiers to ice cream, beer and coffee. The English speaker, translating for his friends as he spoke, complained bitterly of Albanian corruption. His parents, farmers, had no money to send him to university so he was conscripted and hates every minute of it. He told us that rich parents pay to get their children through university.

We spent Sunday wandering along the bustling 3 kilometer boardwalk. I was saddened by the Gypsy mother with toddlers begging on the boardwalk. Making a quick detour I returned with pastries, which the kids grabbed as if they hadn’t eaten in days.

We spent the afternoon on the terrace of our hotel viewing the pier in the sunset drinking Martini and Rossi and playing chess. Monday morning, while sipping cappuccino, we asked — two women–professors from a nearby university and quizzed them about the soldier’s reports. They claimed that nobody takes seriously the universities where a diploma can be bought. We also quizzed them about how to get to Macedonia. It sounded simple: “Get a cab to the border, five kilometers away. Then get out and walk across. There will be cabs waiting on the other side to take you to Orhid, Macedonia’s lake resort.”

We got out of the cab, said goodbye to Albania, and walked 100 meters to the friendly Macedonian border police. They instructed us, in sign language, to walk ahead, either 30 or 300 meters (I’m not sure which) indicating there would be taxis.

20 minutes past the border. Where are those cabs?

We walked and walked and walked. No sidewalks. No cars. No buses. Just a two lane highway. I told Irwin I wanted to go back. “I don’t go back,” and “It’s uphill,” were his quirky replies. I was worried. We were in the middle of nowhere in the mid-day heat with our knapsacks on wheels. No food. Little water. After 30 minutes, a modern red jeep came rolling down the highway. Instinctively, we put out our thumbs.

Our savior stopped and we asked “Ohrid?” He invited us in, threw our bags in the back and started to drive — and drive and drive. He spoke no English, French, Spanish, German, or Hebrew, but we managed to convey we were Canadians. He called his wife on his cell and she told me in perfect English that he would gladly drive us to the bus station to catch a bus to Skopja, the capital. We drove through a touristy, more sophisticated version of Pogradec, called Ohrid and stopped at a large bus station, where he insisted on purchasing the tickets in Denar. We returned the amount in Euro to him later. Then he motioned for us to get back in the car. We had no idea why but by this time he felt like a long lost cousin so we climbed in knowing our bus would leave from the station in half an hour. He drove faster now, obviously heading for somewhere. After 10 minutes he stopped abruptly and turned into a house with a small porch. Mr. Dimoska was taking us home — and we would meet the bus across the road from his house on its way to Skopja.

The Dimoska family is in the construction business and lives in a three storey house their father built. Fiona and the children, Victoria and Michael greeted us in English. Victoria and her cousin were playing with the new kitten. We posed for pictures, and sampled Fiona’s homemade blueberry juice and Turkish coffee. Then we hugged the entire family including the grandma, all of whom had graciously welcomed us to Macedonia. We gave the kids some Canadian souvenirs, and crossed the highway to the bus stop with Fiona, who said she was sorry we were leaving so soon. But we’d had our fill of “resorts” and wanted some big city life. So on to Skopja we journeyed.

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Explosive Segal production raises the roof

Maggie (Severn Thompson) and Brick (Todd Sandomirsky) photo: Randy Cole

If you’ve seen the film version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and think you know what to expect from The Segal’s production of the same play, think again. Directed by Greg Kramer, the performance on opening night — met with a standing ovation — was a testament to the immediacy and power of live theatre.

The play’s themes of love and loss, hypocrisy and denial, impending mortality — and also truth, transcendence and hope so fragile as to hang by a thread — have been explored by Tolstoy, Chekov and Thomas Mann. It is clear why Williams is considered to be a writer of their stature. His language is musical, performed with breathtaking virtuosity by the close-knit cast. The counterpoint of relationships between the characters is flawless. The final line, echoing a phrase previously uttered by the brutal and domineering character Big Daddy — lustily played by Barry Flatman — gains strength and poignancy when spoken by his son Brick. This character’s pain, communicated by Todd Sandomirsky in every sound and movement, remains devastating and shattering — still palpable long after the last sounds of clapping die away.

The role of Brick’s love-starved wife is one of the great gifts Williams has given to women in theatre. Severn Thompson plays her with a perfect blend of vulnerability and spunk. Her brilliant smile meeting the enthusiastic audience at the end of the performance revealed how far she must have had to travel from her personal sense of self into the darkness that is Maggie.

It is a credit to Sharon Bakker’s mastery that, from the mouth of Big Mama, a now commonplace expletive still shocks.

The children, symbolizing those who unquestioningly believe what is told to them and who in their certainty may be the cruelest of all, were suitably obnoxious beyond the call of duty.

Williams had to revise the play to please earlier audiences. He believed that in time, taboos would become less ironclad and, freed from the outdated censorship code that had prevailed until 1968, the public would become more receptive to the true meaning of the work. “People today are more accustomed to scenes of sex and violence… the real theme of the play — the general mendacity of our society — is more clearly seen,” Williams, who lived until 1983, once told an interviewer.

The play is about the destructive power of lies, but also about the possibility that a lie can be transformed — willed — into truth. Wil­liams’ 1974 ending, less literal than the sanitized movie version, challenges the audience to make the leap of faith that, perhaps, is a pre-requisite to hope. The result is a deeply moving, unforgettable, poetic experience.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs until November 16 at the Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre, 5170 Côte Ste-Catherine. Tickets: 514-739-2301, 514-790-1245 or admission.com

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Protection of the elderly against exploitation

There are times when seniors are taken advantage of even by members of their own family, by friends, as well as by strangers pretending to be friends. In consequence, the law has made a special effort to protect them. Families, therefore, have a moral duty to protect their elderly members, and a legal one.

This protection is provided by legislation in the form of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which allows an elderly person who has suffered abuse or exploitation to complain to the Human Rights Commission and sue for damages.

Exploitation legally includes all kinds of abuse of an elderly person by someone who is stronger or more dominant, if this dominant person makes a profit or receives a benefit from the abuse. For example, damages have been awarded to the abused where a physician borrowed money from a 79 year old patient; where the owner of a residence for the elderly borrowed money from a 90 year old resident who had no memory and was physically and psychologically dependent; and where a salesman deliberately sold defective wheelchairs and other orthopedic aids to those considered vulnerable.

The right to protection and security provided by law to the elderly has been held to override the rights to which others may be entitled. This is what happened in the case of a couple, 87 and 95 years old, who owned a duplex, lived in one section and rented the other. They required a certain amount of care. Neither had any family in Montreal and so they had to hire and rely on outside people care for them. They wanted to house these helpers in that section of the duplex which was rented, but the tenant objected to giving up occupancy of the premises.

Under Quebec law residential property can only be repossessed by the landlord for use by the owner himself, his children, or other family members whom he supports. The court decided that the tenant's premises were needed to replace the family who, were they present, would be obliged to ensure that the couple was properly cared for. Because the premises were required for their protection and security, the provisions of the Charter superseded the provisions of the Civil Code and the request to retake possession of the premises was granted.

In yet another case, a 47-year-old waitress worked at the residence in which an 81-year-old with Alzheimer’s lived. Their relationship flourished for two-and-a half years during which they spent his monthly income. He bought her expensive jewelry and a car, signed a mortgage for a house in which he never lived, and saw his assets diminish by about $110,000.

Two of the three judges who heard the case in appeal held that the Charter protects the elderly against all forms of exploitation, physical, psychological, social and moral, regardless of whether or not the person consents to the abusive acts. They found that, during the relationship, the defendant's faculties were diminished due to Alzheimer's and ordered the waitress to pay damages in excess of $66,000.

Consequently, where there is a significant imbalance between the vulnerable person and the other person resulting in disastrous consequences to the vulnerable party and benefit to the other, damages will be awarded to the victim.

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NDG Legion metamorphosis draws on community

Dave McCrindle – First Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Kris Petersen – Danish Navy, Branch Vice-President Frank Stanway – Second Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Jim McCann – First Canadian Parachute Battalion, Branch President Stuart Vallières – RCAF Bomber Command Sixth Group 427 Squadron, Helen Miller – Widow of navy photographer Eugene Miller, and Bob Venor – First Batallion PPCLI (photo: Robert Galbraith)

NDG’s Royal Canadian Legion has felt the pinch of demographic shift and declining membership as much as any other. Now, after taking stock and revamping, it’s rebounded in the neighbourhood with a fresh facelift for the premises, more community events, and an opening up of the ranks.

“We had too few people doing too much,” says Branch President Stuart Vallieres of their efforts to cope. “In the past we’ve been seen more as a place exclusively for veterans, centered around, you know... drinking.” But that’s the old Legion. “Now it’s more of a community centre, a little more ‘dignified.’ We opened up the rules a lot. You don’t have to have any military affiliation – in the past you had to have served.”

Since a bit of outreach was in order, “we examined our options and figured our greatest asset is the building, and that if we made it more appealing that there’d be opportunities for renting it... so we put a lot of effort into improving the property. When you walk in, it doesn’t smell like a dirty ashstray anymore.”

The makeover has attracted a slew of bookings as a reception and performance venue, but the mainstay of the establishment remains the fifty-plus crowd. “For seniors it’s a wonderful place. They can come here Friday afternoons, the most popular day, and make a meal of it, and they have comfortable surroundings and activities that are senior-friendly,” he says, citing bingo, darts, and cribbage as top draws.

The higher profile is “probably one of the best things that’s happened to NDG,” according to the branch’s barkeep and Booking Officer Serge Lewenszpil. “It’s kind of giving it a resurgence. We went through a dry spell, with the policing actions all over the world... people who served in Cyprus or the Middle East,” he says, haven’t exactly swelled the membership rolls. “The guys who come back from Afghanistan are a lot like the vets from Vietnam – shell shocked, quite a few committed suicide – PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] is a big problem... a lot of them don’t realize that the Legion is the one place they can come out and relax, and I think it’s going to take another year or two before they actually find their way into the Legions. A lot of them are still in the service, so they haven’t come out yet.”

An impromptu roundtable on the Afghanistan mission finds every position on the spectrum represented.

For the dean of the group, 96-year-old Arthur Cochrane, it’s a matter of respecting alliances: “If the Americans are there we should be there. If anything ever happened to us, we would lean on them.” Compatriot Jim McCann concurs on the importance of supporting the US, “because Canada’s its number one ally.”

“It’s a UN-backed war,” says First Batallion PPCLI vet Bob Venor, referring to the Security Council resolutions that sent troops in originally. “These are fighting soldiers that are in there, well trained guys – they want to go, and they’re all volunteers.”

But such sentiments have dwindled well into minority territory with this group. “Why we’re there is a wonder to me,” says Vallieres, citing prior failures of the British and Soviets to exercise control over the area. “Why would anybody else get involved?” Having gone in “because they thought a lot of human rights were being abused,” he says, “now we’re finding out the people we’re trying to help are the very people that are keeping the war going.”

Branch VP Frank Stanway shares that disillusionment. “I don’t think they’ve figured out a way to win it. They don’t seem to have, because we’re still there after all this time... and we don’t seem to have done a great deal of good promoting our own image, with the Taliban making us out to be a bunch of bandits and murderers.”

Others were never on board in the first place. “My view hasn’t changed – I was against it then, I’m against it now,” says the West Nova Scotia Regiment’s Mickey Laughlin. “There’s no purpose for the war in Afghanistan – just following along with the Americans.”

Thin support on the home front doesn’t help recruitment either. “It’s hard to get the younger people,” Venor says of Afghanistan vets. “Sometimes they like to make a cut and forget about it, to say ‘I’m finished with it...’ When I came back I didn’t want anything to do with the Legion... but later on you realize, this is where you can find brothers in arms. The Legion might not exist in 20 years – a lot of them are closing. In the small towns it’s very active, but in the big towns there’s too much going on. A lot of us have reached a stage where we’re less mobile and less able to get here.”

Still roughly 200 strong, the NDG Legion remains active with youth outreach as well, with efforts at Canadian military heritage preservation, scholarships for students, awards for RCMP cadets, and sponsorship of a cadet squadron. Their hall is “a very good space” for public functions according to Vallieres, and available cheap at around $200 a night including bartending. Saturday, November 8 at 7 pm the branch holds its annual Remembrance Dinner Dance, and Sunday, November 9 at 2 pm a march to the cenotaph at Girouard Park will be followed by an open house. A second open house follows Tuesday, November 11 at 1 pm. Senior bingo is every Friday at 1:30 pm, and cribbage and darts are every Tuesday from 7 pm. The NDG Legion is at 5455 de Maisonneuve W.

Info: 514-489-9425

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Pistols and blue berets?

Retired general and military historian speak out

This Remembrance Day will be observed by Canadians deployed abroad in over a dozen countries – many in UN contingents that wouldn’t fill a minivan. When it comes to tackling modern conflicts like the Balkans, Somalia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan, has the political expediency of Canada’s peacekeeping image left our soldiers fighting – and losing – yesterday’s war?

“The politicians who make these decisions – who decide for instance, ‘We’re going to declare the [Afghan] war over in 2011, folks’ – do not usually get challenged with the consequences,” observes military historian Desmond Morton of McGill University. “These small [UN] operations that have two guys or a sergeant and a corporal are cheap, and they can say ‘We were involved in 93% of all UN operations.’ When they want two Canadian staff officers to go to Goma or some such place, it seems like a small commitment and a little bit of profile.”

But such peacekeeping posturing excuses neglect on the ground. “Successive governments have created this myth – of both political stripes,” maintains retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, who detailed the aftermath in his recent memoir Soldiers Made Me Look Good, “because you can slash and burn the defence budget if the country is convinced that we’re just peacekeepers and we only need pistols and blue berets. Nobody much complains... Northern Uganda, the Balkans, Somalia, Rwanda, and it just went on and on and on... the only way to save money was to cut personnel.”

“Today the infantry is 2000 smaller than the Toronto Police,” he laments. “As far as the army itself goes, it really has to be rebuilt – it needs at least five years. I say it’s broken because it’s turned itself inside out. The army commanders have a horrendous challenge these days. There’s very high attrition. A lot of soldiers are on their fourth tour, and when they come home they’re only with their families for two weeks. You do that for five or six years, and your spouse looks at you and says, ‘You’d better make up your mind.’”

The theory that a peacekeeping nation does more with less takes its toll on fighting cohesion too, according to MacKenzie: “It used to be that soldiers slept, trained, and fought together for three years. Now we have units we patch together from all over the country – a lot of them are reservists. The troops call it ‘plug and play.’ And then when we bring them back they disperse.”

At the same time, much of the Forces’ infrastructure is getting outsourced. “A general told me recently he was working on his business plan,” says Morton, recounting cost-cutting efforts that required trainees to return to the mess hall mid-day rather than cook in the field. “That’s what I mean about privatization,” he says. “Generals who have to think about nickels. The military have lost all their battles in Ottawa since the early nineties.”

The Pearsonian myth has done worse than send peacekeeping-equipped soldiers to do counterinsurgency work, insists MacKenzie – it’s politicized the treatment of war dead as well. “In the Balkans when we had 27 killed and over 100 seriously injured, nobody but nobody except for the families in Canada knew about it. In fact bodies were brought back in the hours of darkness as a matter of policy, and sent to the home towns where they were buried with proper dignity and military funerals. But it sure as hell wasn’t a media event, because it was deemed – erroneously, what we were doing – as peacekeeping. But it wasn’t – it was two factions fighting each other. That was not deemed to be in Canada’s image, so there was a blackout as far as media reporting, that went on for about two years.”

Warring factions with no clear lines of authority are the players in many modern conflicts, notes MacKenzie, not warring states capable of brokering a truce. “Factions don’t have a flag in front of the UN, they don’t have a delegation, and if you broker a deal with them, there’s a very good chance that you’re not even going to be able to find them... Because they’re factions. And as a result – I know people are critical of me for saying it – but when we go into missions like this now, we have to be strong enough to say to the factions: ‘Keep the peace or we’ll kill you.’ That’s the only way to control these bullies and drunks and war criminals. You can’t go in and negotiate, like you used to be able to do with countries when they went to war. Not many countries are going to war these days­.”

A case in point being Kosovo, where both experts agree Canada failed to act in its own interest. Says MacKenzie: “We got sucked into protecting a state run by a terrorist organization... Now it’s sort of a mini-state with, unfortunately, prostitution and the slave trade and drugs and foreign troops as their source of income.” Says Morton: “CNN wanted war – it wanted people to go to Kosovo for various news-type reasons, and it presented Kosovo as a shocking case of Serbian genocide on humble, beautiful and lovable Albanians. The media went along with it.”

Where opinions diverge is on the lessons to be applied to the situation in Darfur – MacKenzie favours another NATO intervention, where Morton sees more of the same, merely “a crude Sudanese attempt to put down a separatist insurrection” with bad actors on all sides.

MacKenzie believes it’s possible and necessary to secure the refugee camps. “We’re not going to put [soldiers] into Sudan and fight the Sudanese army and occupy Khartoum,” he says. “The UN decided to augment the African Union force that’s there, and that’s where General Dallaire and I have a lot of significant debate, because before he became a senator he was very much on the side of NATO forces assisting [in Darfur] but then the Liberal Party changed its mind, and decided that they’d only send some armored vehicles and a few staff officers, and it was declared that that was enough. And I still very much disagree with that.”

“The area’s so large and the force is so small, they’re spread so thin that they’re vulnerable – a number of AU troops were ambushed and killed just over a month ago. Aside from the country and the challenge, it just can’t be handled by the AU troops because they just don’t have the transportation or the communication or the means to do detailed patrolling. So we’re supporting a UN resolution and a UN mandate, but it’s frustrating in the extreme because it’s not effective.”

Both veterans still see value in Canada’s wafer-thin UN deployments. “It’s tokenism, but they’re valuable assets on the ground,” MacKenzie asserts.

Morton agrees. “They do useful work. They speak English or French – useful languages in much of Africa and elsewhere – and Canadians have a good reputation for taking these jobs seriously, and doing them pretty well. I encounter people even here at McGill who’ve met Canadians in Africa and come to Canada because of it.” And past glories continue to pay diplomatic dividends, with Canadians still counted on to get the ball rolling: “There’s a feeling that if Canada’s involved, we’ll involve others, we’ll pull the rest of the lot in.”

But foreign policy under Stephen Harper could change all that. “I don’t think he cares very much about Canada’s profile among the right-thinking people of the world, to put it mildly.”

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Editorial: Don’t allow our infrastructure to deteriorate

The worldwide stock market implosion and the start of a recession in North America present a particular challenge to our governments.

With his increased standing in the Commons, Stephen Harper will be tempted to pursue his belief in trickle- down economic policies. We think otherwise. The decreased value of the Canadian dollar, linked to the stun­ning, though cyclical drop in oil and natural gas prices, can only help our challenged manufacturing sector.

But it won’t be enough. Now is the time to revert to much-maligned Keynesian solutions – yes, deficits are bad, but massive unemployment and swollen welfare rolls are worse. We urge the Harper government to massively invest in infrastructure, especially health care and mass transit. When prices in fossil fuels return to where they should be, given limited supply and exponentially increasing demand, government revenues they supply can be used to pay down this spending.

Canadians can be thankful that our more closely regulated (and more monopolistic) banking system is not facing the same problems as those in the U.S. One estimate expects an additional 5 million Americans to join the 47 million already without health care in 2006 according to the U.S. Census Bureau – 15.8% of the popu­lation, a rate that has increased for six consecutive years. A recent survey of 4500 U.S. hospitals, reported in the New York Times, found that more than half were technically insolvent or at risk of insolvency. The evi­dence is there for all to see: We must not allow our medicare system to deteriorate in a similar fashion just because a right-wing government believes the marketplace solves everything. It doesn’t.

The Harper government must strengthen our health care system at a time when the seniors and soon-to-be seniors who paid those heavy taxes, compared to the U.S., will be needing greater care. If the ripple effect of the world economic crisis curtails demand for our products and creates more unemployment, we expect our governments to see this as an opportunity to rebuild crumbling urban infrastructure and extend mass transit, to make us less dependent on fossil fuels when prices start to rebound, as they will. Then will come the time for deficit fighting, not now.

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Erratum - Shuffleboard Curling champs

Our apologies to the subject of October’s headline “Current champions keep title in shuffleboard curling match” for the omission of their team photo. Team Manoir Westmount were indeed captured celebrating their victory: Leisure Supervisor Simona Buth, Thelma McNicoll, Mary Sancton, Joyce Steinman, John Byers, Stanley Frost, and (seated) Paul O'Neill, Ron Jamieson, Eva Mikelson, Judy Karafky, Paul Hinphy, and Anita Wood.


Docs talk memory loss, holiday kidproofing

McGill University Health Centre presents a model Patient Room of the Future and public health lectures at Westmount Square in November.

Monday, November 10 at 2 pm Dr Gary Inglis, MUHC Geriatric Medicine Site Director, presents Where did I put my keys?

Taking a look at memory loss and cognitive disorders, Dr Inglis reviews warning signs, prevention and treatment. “What is the evidence out there that helps us prevent memory loss?” he asks. “We know that stroke and Alzheimer's share risk factors: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and sedentary lifestyle,” each soaring in our aging population. “There’s a lot of research out there for treatment,” and his ongoing work in clinical trials for new therapies to prevent amyloid deposition, though “still experimental,” will be up for discussion.

Thursday, November 13 at 2 pm Dr Carlo Galli, MUHC Pediatric Trauma Program Coordinator, speaks on How to keep kids safe when the temperature drops.

“We’ll explain a bit about pediatric trauma and treating and preventing injuries in kids, basing it more on winter activities coming up,” says Galli. “When grandkids are coming, it’s important to child-proof the home,” with medication, electrical sockets, candles, and tree decorations meriting special attention, he notes. Toy buying guidelines, proper car seat setup, and winter playground precautions will be reviewed, and more tips on holiday safety will be available to take home.

Location: 1 Westmount Square, Mezzanine level (metro Atwater).

Info: 514-934-1934 x 71552

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Art powers child development, says researcher Wright

“When you’re young, you discover what you’re good at,” says Robin Wright, Professor of Social Work at University of Windsor. “I was great with kids.”

Canada’s top researcher in the impact of arts participation on youth development, Wright determined effective ways to recruit and engage youth in community-based arts programs. As co-investigator of the National Arts and Youth Demonstration Program (NAYDP) with her husband, Dr. Lindsay John, she concluded kids participating in structured arts activities gain increased confidence, improved interpersonal and conflict resolution skills, improved problem solving skills, and skills in arts activities.

Graduating from Toronto’s Humber Community College with a Child and Youth Worker Diploma, she capitalized on what she learned as a playground supervisor in Hamilton’s poorer neighbourhoods and in Toronto’s housing projects. Her focus was “disturbed children” – a term used in the 1960s to describe children with acute emotional and behavioural problems. She’d been working for 15 years in treatment centres in Toronto and Hamilton, as well as in schools with teachers as a team leader, before she pursued a university degree in social work at McMaster University.

“We know so much more now than before,” she says. “Then, no one was talking about abuse, sexual violence, or domestic violence. It got on the table when Trudeau brought in the divorce laws, which made it easier for women not to be chattel. Recognizing women’s rights made getting a divorce easier. There were strong social policies to support women and children, better than what had previously been in place.”

For her degree Wright researched “the kinds of programs to build and have in place in the school system as interventions to prevent students dropping out of school, antisocial behaviour, and violence, and to increase academic achievement.” Her doctoral study subsequently showed slight behavioural improvements with interventions like classroom management, cooperative learning, peer tutoring and mentoring.

When she was hired at McGill, she aimed at longer term prevention programs that could provide models for positive youth development. With support from the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation and public funding, she gathered a research team to conduct the National Arts and Youth Demonstration Program to gauge how effective arts programs are in enhancing the life chances of children and youth in lower-income communities. The three-year study in five Canadian sites showed that community-based organizations could successfully recruit, engage and sustain the participation of children and youth in structured arts programs, and that the children involved in displayed greater pro-social behaviours and self-awareness. It also showed positive impact on school performance and on the children’s families and communities.

Her current work is in assessing the impact of the arts experience on children who participated in the NAYDP in 2001. If they’ve retained positive outcomes, Wright hopes the results will help futher promote and expand community-based arts intervention for children everywhere.

Info: mcgill.ca/naydp

Gisele Rucker is the Director of the Academy at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts.

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Snowbird foliage?

Canadians who winter in the South are needed to participate in an upcoming exhibition at The Canadian Centre for Architecture. While these Snowbirds are away, the Wayward Plant Registry will take in their houseplants and care for them until their return. The plants will be part of a Snowbird Garden that can be enjoyed by those who must stay in the cold! If you are a Canadian Snowbird or know one interested in participating, contact heatherring@gmail.com.

Info: waywardplants.org or cca.qc.ca

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Fading from blue to black

As the weather changes and there is more darkness than light to our days, it’s not unusual to feel somewhat grumpier or a little discouraged. Most of us carry on and get through it as best as we can. But when sadness, exhaustion and hopelessness refuse to lift, interfering with daily activities, they may signal an underlying depression.

Here is how Jason Finucan, 33, describes his bout with this illness: “For me, depression descended suddenly, like a plexiglass prison from which I could see and be seen in a world I could no longer touch, smell or feel.” This dark mood could last for months, then lift suddenly, he says. “When depressed, all of my basic physical, emotional and cognitive abilities were severely muted so that everyday life ranged from difficult to impossible.” Finucan, who had experienced heart surgery, says the complete loss of joy he had felt made his operation seem like “a trip to the dentist” in comparison. “I have never experienced anything more painful or daunting or terrifying, before or since.”

This chronic condition ranges from mild to severe, touching approximately 1 in 10 Canadians within their lifetime. In 2007, over 27 million prescriptions for antidepressants were filled across the country. According to the World Health Organization, depression will become the second leading cause of disability worldwide by 2020.

The problem with depression is that it may worsen if it is ignored – which is a pity, since there are many forms of help available in the community if one is informed.

To raise awareness, the CSSS Cavendish is organizing a free “Singing the Blues” concert on Wednesday, November 26. Award-winning singer and songwriter Rob Lutes will be on hand to lift spirits with his soulful, bluesy ballads.

Before the concert, community organizations will display information on the services they offer for those living with mental illness and to their families. Psychiatrist Floriana Ianni will speak on how to distinguish a passing phase of “the blues” from clinical depression and Jason Finucan will share his insights in navigating this sometimes crippling disease.

The event begins at 6 pm at River’s Edge Community Church, 5567 Cote-St-Antoine.

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Advocating for tenants’ rights

Elizabeth France, Ali Khan, Ben Finkelstein (photo: Scott Philip)

Project Genesis is an anti-poverty group that helps on an individual level to improve people’s financial situation. Volunteers are an active part of the organization.

Project Genesis provides is looking for volunteers and provides all of the training. The commitment is four hours a week, and they could be involved in the storefront or outreach programs. At the storefront, volunteers meet with clients and provide infor­mation on welfare, pensions, shelter allowance, family allowances, and advocate for decent housing conditions. Community orga­nizing volunteers could be involved in door-to-door outreach or have a kiosk in a metro station to tell people about Genesis services and campaigns.

Info: 514-738-2036

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Running their own lives

St. Patrick’s Square tea party (photo: Georgia Remond)

On a Sunday afternoon in October, residents of St. Patrick’s Square enjoyed an autumn tea organized by the St. Patrick’s Square Seniors Recreation Association. The next afternoon a group of knitters at Place Kensington finished blankets, scarves, and mittens they will present to Father Emmett Johns of Dans la Rue on November 12.

At Manoir Westmount, resident volunteers are organizing a bazaar that annually supports 10 local charities.

Outside volunteers are crucial at residences like St. Margaret and Father Dowd. But at independent residences it’s tenants who plan social events and fundraisers.

Residents at St. Patrick’s Square prepare their own meals in their apartments. While the administration organizes programs including speakers and events, the tenants have created a recreation association that organizes social activities and other inside events.

The association coordinates mixed pool tournaments, dinner dances, line dancing, and religious services, based on suggestions from tenants, and informs them through a monthly calendar.

The committee meets monthly assess, but to consider suggestions – and complaints – from the residents. “We consider each idea,” said Rita Halliday, secretary of the committee. “And then we look at its feasibility. An overnight trip was not very practical for us, but a Chinese food takeout dinner was.”

A Christmas dinner with two sittings, a New Year’s Eve party and a Christmas Fair are all in the works.

At Place Kensington retired social workers Miriam Berger and Elinor Cohen realized the residents were not socializing outside of planned events by the program department. And they realized many of them were knitting alone in their apartments. So they invited the women to meet one afternoon a week to knit together over a cup of tea. Today the women enjoy fellowship that has extended to knitting with the McGill Knitters and students from Westmount Park Elementary School. Residents on the assisted living floors are able to participate as well by helping wind balls of wool.

Other activities at Place Kensington include a Saturday international movie afternoon, a welcoming committee and a talent show.

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Dewey the cat loved books and book lovers

Vicki Myron and Dewey

Last week I wandered into Studio City’s Bookstar bookstore in Los Angeles, California, where I reside and was directly drawn to a picture of a beautiful bright orange cat looking straight back at me on the cover of a book called Dewey.

I have many wonderful books on the shelves at home waiting in line to be read, but there was something about the way this cat was looking at me that told me I had to learn of his story.

This is the true story of a library cat in the small town of Spencer, Iowa. One bitterly cold January morning in 1988, Vicki Myron, director of the Spencer Public Library, found a near frozen kitten shaking uncontrollably in the book return box. His frostbitten paws didn’t stop him from hobbling over to each member of the library staff to show them his gratitude for saving his life. They named the kitten Dewey, after Melville Dewey.

This is the story of Vicky Myron, a single mother who survived an alcoholic husband and numerous medical hurdles including breast cancer. This is the story of a woman who persevered through the toughest of times. This is the story of The Spencer Public Library, and the humble town of Spencer, in farm country Iowa that had suffered a major economic downturn during the farm crisis of the 1980’s.

Did you know that it is a common practice for libraries and used bookstores to adopt homeless cats? Dewey was adopted by the town of Spencer and called the library his home for over 19 years. He won the hearts of the staff and the patrons not just with his good looks, but also with his ability to know who needed him most. He soon became the most famous resident of Spencer. As word spread of this lovable library cat in the local newspapers and radio so did his fame to the nearby towns, then states, then all over the country and the world.

Why would people travel all the way from Japan to meet a cat? How can a friendly feline touch the lives of countless people around the world? You’ll just have to read this New York Times bestseller to find out! I am the self-proclaimed slowest reader in the world. I polished off this book in just a couple of nights. I even tried to slow down my reading, to stretch out and enjoy every Dewey moment. I read while sipping my hot chocolate at Starbucks, laughing out loud and then choking back my tears. Myron writes the story of Dewey with heart, humor, and sincerity. This book is for anyone who has been blessed with the love of an animal, and for everyone else who has yet to know this love.

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Universal Access benefits everyone

Gina Lacasse with colleague Leslie Bagg

Gina Lacasse feels like a very lucky person. She has a family, a job she loves at the NDG Community Council, and a solid network of friends and colleagues. The fact that she’s confined to a wheelchair for most of her day is rarely on her mind, except when something, like a dysfunctional elevator, compels her to ask for assistance. “I only feel disabled when I feel my physical limitations,” Lacasse says.

She credits her foster mom, Aline Lacasse, for recognizing her potential and her “drive beyond belief” to be autonomous. “She never asked what I couldn’t do, but pushed me as far as I could go.”

Her home on Benny Farm, adapted to her needs, brings a great measure of independence to her life. It features hallways that are wide enough to navigate in a wheelchair without scratching the walls. There are no stairs. Removable cupboards allow her to use the sink. Most important, the apartment is designed to be easily modifiable if necessary, should counters and light switches need to be moved.

Though Lacasse is happy at home, she is frustrated by not being able to help her increasingly frail mother as much as she would like. Since her mom’s residence is not adapted, it would take a group of people to lift the wheelchair and help Lacasse negotiate the entrance.

As our society ages, Lacasse believes that what used to be seen as accommodations for people with disabilities is now of necessity to older people. She says her dream is that all public and private spaces will eventually become barrier-free. “Seniors can benefit from adapting their home because their quality of life will improve. There will be less displacement; if you need a wheelchair, you won’t have to move. Physical limitation is everybody’s primary fear. I think it doesn’t have to be.”

The concept of accessibility is still a work in progress that may take three main forms: Adaptation means adding specialized equipment in certain parts of the home. Older buildings can be transformed, sometimes at great expense, to accommodate special needs. This is done on a case-by-case basis in already existing environments.

Since 2000, section 3.8 in the Quebec Building Code stipulates that new buildings must be accessible. Written with wheelchair users in mind, the needs of people with visual, auditory or cognitive impairment may not necessarily be met all the time. As well, the accommodations may be separate from what the majority of people will use, implying an unintended and subtle form of exclusion.

Universal access, or universal design, tries to meet the widest variety of needs, allowing all people to use the facilities in the same way. For example, rather than have a ramp for a few and stairs for most, a slight incline would allow everyone to enter and exit the same way. This benefits mothers pushing strollers or elderly people who use walkers as well.

It’s not easy finding an adapted home, especially an affordable one. According to Josiane Lamothe of the Société d’habitation du Québec, of the 16,074 social housing units that have been created since 2003, only 6% are adapted. At Chez Soi on Benny Farm, all 91 subsidized rental units for seniors are occupied, with 50 names on the waiting list.

Lacasse sees adapted housing as the solution that would keep an increasingly greater number of people out of institutions and also as a way to create a more inclusive society. “My struggle is personal but I’m doing it publicly for seniors and special-needs children.”

“Your first experience of yourself is in your home. If you’re severely disabled, your limitation will be directly proportional to the degree that your home is adapted to your needs.”

The SHQ’s Programme d’adaptation de domicile (PAD) can help subsidize necessary adaptations to your home. If you rent, the landlord must apply.

For low-income seniors over 65, the Logements adaptes pour aines autonomes (LAAA) may be helpful. If you rent, the landlord must consent to the work in writing.

Info: 800-463-4315

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It’s music to their ears

Tott Moens at the piano

Pianist performers Mark Pinkus and Tott Moens are two entertainers transporting their audiences back in time.

Tott Moens is my mother. I grew up listening and dancing to her music when she played for my sister and me or led singalongs at her parties. Now an octogenarian, she fell into her third or fourth career after a friend of mine asked me six years ago to find someone to tickle the ivories for his aunt’s 90th birth­day party at Place Kensington.

In spite of protests – she hadn’t played in over 10 years – she played a repertoire that ran from the Gay Nineties through the Roaring Twenties into Tin Pan Alley and the Big Bands and even the Beatles. A new career was born.

Knowing the music her generation loves to hear and sing along to, she tailors her setlist for each group and event. “I know my audience doesn’t want to just sing along to My Darling Clementine. They want to reminisce with music they were courted to and socialized with at parties and dances. It brings back feel-good memories.”

Mark Pinkus (photo: CECHEL)

I met Mark Pinkus when he was launching his fifth album of original piano compositions. Part of the independent artists’ scene in Montreal, Pinkus went full time with his music after a 12 year career as a preschool teacher. Pinkus delights his audiences at senior residences, including a regular program with Jewish Elder Care.

“The music I play brings my audiences back in time and hopefully gives them new delightful moments of life.”

Pinkus’ performances are spontaneous and he often adds theatre and comedy as the mood allows. “The most important thing for me is to put a spark in their eyes and a great smile on their faces.”

Reach Tott at tott@vintagemusicbytott.com or Mark at pianoforte@look.ca.

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Del Friscos an assuredly class act

DDO’s Del Friscos brings a chic urban feel to Italian American dining on the West Island.

On setting foot inside, refined surroundings inspire immediate confidence in the experience to come, in a sleek and airy space featuring high ceilings that let in an exceptional amount of daylight at lunchtime, bouncing off brilliant white linens gracing every table like fresh unblemished snow.

Fresh-baked round crusty buns come with a little show beforehand, olive oil and balsamic vinegar artfully dispensed on the plate and then jiggled up in the air so vigorously it’s hard not to brace oneself for a spattering. But as with everything in the establishment, it’s relaxed and self-assured. The service bears special mention as not merely unobtrusive, but professional and sophisticated.

Easily overlooked, the house salad is clearly designed to raise expectations, not as a typical afterthought – nary a trace of iceberg lettuce, cabbage, or carrot, but a tour de force of fancy greens, translucently sliced radishes, julienne cucumbers and tomatillos competing for attention. Not many salads in life stick out in your memory but this one will.

The rack of lamb, falling off the bone in a meaty teepee with a memorable side of asparagus and yellow peppers, is a recommended pick, and the exemplary wine selection ensures something to please the palate of every guest. For outings that have to go just right, it’s an unbeatable choice for putting your mind at ease.

Del Friscos is at 3237 des Sources.

Info: 514-683-4444 or delfriscos.ca

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Veggie takeout never the same twice

You may have passed Santé-Vous Bien walking through Monkland Village and never noticed it, but it’s a location worth checking out. This mother-daughter establishment, run by Gigi Cohen and her daughter Jessy, serves great vegetarian and vegan food that will satisfy those familiar with the cuisine, and surprise those still skeptical of its capability to be made delicious.

On a crisp autumn afternoon my companion and I took advantage of these last beautiful days to sit at one of the patio tables and sample two dishes: quinoa with sun-dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, and tofu with noodles and marinated vegetables in a tangy peanut butter and ginger sauce. Quinoa and other grains often get a bad rap for being boring and bland, as does tofu, but these were filled with many flavour surprises.

Cooking is Gigi’s creative outlet, and her passion. “There are no set recipes, and no dish is ever exactly the same,” she animatedly explained to us. “I used to paint when I was a little girl – I loved expressing myself creatively. Now the kitchen is my canvas.” She and Jessy offer an ever-changing variety of vegan and vegetarian meals, including pastas, soups, salads, quiches, tofu, vegetable patties, muffins, cakes, cookies and energy balls.

Everything comes in 3 container sizes for takeout, and is made daily from scratch. A specially-marked shelf offers a variety of half-price day-old dishes. Our sampling proved they are still fresh and delicious.

In addition to cooking these delights, Gigi and Jessy offer a catering service and prepare made-to-order food for specific needs, such as nutritional juices for people on a temporary liquid diet, or dishes adapted to those with diabetes or food sensitivities or post-surgical dietary restrictions.

Santé-Vous Bien is the only establishment of its kind in the area. It’s primarily takeout but there’s seating inside if you can’t help yourself and have to eat on the spot.

Santé-Vous Bien opens 10-7 weekdays and 10-6 on weekends at 5568 Monkland, between Second Cup and Ben & Jerry’s.

Info: 514-487-7575

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Before you sign on the dotted line

The decision to move into a residence, either for you or a loved one, is emotionally exhausting. There is relief after your choice has been made, but still more remains to be done – the signing of the lease.

Leases vary from residence to residence. Many will use standard leases with added or separate clauses regarding care, while others will have a customized contract. Generally, a personal care home (or foster home as some choose to call it) is all inclusive without any added costs, other than medication and personal items. There are no extra charges for showers, laundry, food, assistance with dressing, and inhouse entertainment. This should be specified in writing when signing an agreement.

I have clients who encountered difficulty with lease signing since the monthly cost varies according to care level. Should care needs increase, the monthly cost increases. Most large residences do their own evaluation to decide on the hours of care.

This is all fine but timing can be an issue. A family I worked with chose a high-end care facility for their parents. They were obliged to give their landlord 3 months notice in preparation for this move. Since the new residence was not prepared to evaluate their parents 3 months before the move, an exact monthly fee could not be determined.

While the residence felt that the estimate of care was accurate, there were no guarantees. The residence would not sign a lease until after the couple had moved in and an inhouse evaluation of care was done. If the assessment concluded that more care was needed than the original plan, the monthly costs would increase. An added half hour of care a day is approximately $400 a month. The family felt insecure without a signed lease and a definite price, but in the end they were able to sign for the original price, much to their relief.

A more worrisome example is a family who gave the required 3 month notice to cancel their old lease and planned for the move based on an estimate quoted by the residence. When the individual was evaluated just prior to the move, the care level had changed and the monthly cost increased by over a thousand dollars a month.

Many larger residences offer a la carte services. Pay attention to the prices. Although services may not be needed at move-in, they may be needed further down the road. You don't want to have to move a second time because of rising costs. Nursing facilities or special care floors are often all inclusive.

Address the difficult questions. Should more care be needed than the residence is able to provide, find out how much notice is required for a move to another facility (if it's a move to a government nursing home it's one month). What are the monetary obligations in the event of death?

I fail to comprehend why residences continue to charge the full amount when an individual is hospitalized for a long period of time. No services are being provided, no meals are taken, and yet no reduction is given. Shouldn't the person just be charged for the rental of the apartment? Shouldn't this also apply when notice is given and the person is no longer living there? Shouldn't this be the case in the event of death?

When it's time to renew your lease you may be asked for an increase. Check if the increase is just on the rental portion of the apartment and governed by the rental board. Ask all your questions before signing on the dotted line. Have agreements put in writing and don't just rely on a handshake. Residences are bought and sold and personnel often change. Be aware and be prepared, and take someone with you who can help with the negotiation and review the lease for you.

Questions or comments are welcome at bonnie@servingmontrealseniors.com and may be used in future articles

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Deli chronicler speaks

Sunday, November 16, Montreal-based documentary filmmaker Garry Beitel will speak at Shaare Zedek Men’s Club, 5205 Rosedale. Beitel’s recent film Chez Schwartz is the story of Montreal’s legendary deli. He is now making a documentary about Josh Dolgin aka Socalled, who fuses hiphop, funk, and klezmer. Info: 514-484-1122

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Housebound seniors can stay active

Icy roads make walking treacherous for seniors during the winter months. Many of you find yourselves housebound and lacking the outdoor activity you get easily in better weather. But staying in shape at home is possible by doing a few targeted exercises. Pump up your health with a little determination and a small investment in time and equipment.

Strength, stamina, balance and flexibility are the cornerstones of any health program. As you age you may lose strength, balance and some flexibility in the extremities and joints. You may find yourself easily winded because you don’t get enough cardio training.

Strength exercises usually consist of resistance training using weights, floor exercises and swimming or water aerobics. Basic leg lifts using leg weights (which can be purchased at Canadian Tire) are good training for the quadriceps. Dumbbells can also be used to strengthen your arms (biceps). Exercise elastics (used in Pilates) are useful for resistance training.

To improve stamina a treadmill excellent choice, however a more economical alternative is to purchase a rebounder which is a small trampoline. According to NASA rebounding is 68% more efficient than jogging. There are many benefits to bouncing up and down which include: fighting fatigue, relieving neck, back and head pain, improving blood circulation and oxygen flow and promoting weight loss.

To work on improving your balance try the following exercise.

Stand perpendicular to a kitchen chair with its back facing you. Hold on to the back of the chair with your right hand for support.

Make sure your feet are side by side and a shoulder-width distance apart. Advance your left foot ahead by two feet.

Transfer your weight by pushing your right heel down into the floor and shifting your weight over to your left leg (make sure you bend your left knee). Do not lift your right heel during the transfer.

Push down on your big left toe back through your left heel and transfer the weight back to your right foot. Repeat this weight transfer movement a number of times.

Repeat weight shifting on the other leg.

To boost upper body flexibility, try this exercise. Start with your feet together. Interlace your fingers together and stretch upward by pushing your palms up to the ceiling. Do this for 3 times and then relax.

Always warm up before you start an activity and if you feel pain or you are out of breath, take a rest. Don’t over do it and don’t forget to cool down after you exercise.

If you are experiencing any health problems such as: arthritis, heart or circulatory disease, kidney disease, lung disease or osteoporosis, or have not exercised in over a year, consult your physician before starting an exercise program. Once you have been cleared for exercise keep in mind some basics: drink a lot of water, wear comfortable clothes and proper footwear.

A few good exercises are all you need to stay in shape. Look into making them part of your daily routine.

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Is your apartment too cold?

Many people think that a landlord is only required to heat an apartment during a certain time of year. This is not true! If the lease provides that the landlord is responsible for heating, the temperature must be maintained at 21 degrees Celsius all year round.

For those who believe that their apartment is too cold, there are many steps that can be taken. The first is to measure and record the actual temperature of the apartment. The Rental Board recommends that a person check the temperature in his/her apartment by placing the thermometer in the centre of a room, 1 metre above the floor (for example, by placing the thermometer on a chair). It is also recommended that the temperature be measured indoors and outdoors so that the two can be compared.

After finding out how cold the apartment is, the next step would be to advise the landlord. Sending a letter by registered mail (and keeping a copy) can help a tenant prove to the Rental Board and to the City Inspectors that the landlord was informed of the problem, in case this later becomes necessary. If the problem continues, a tenant should call in the City Inspectors, file an application with the Rental Board, or both.

To file a complaint with the City Inspectors, the tenant should make another copy of the letter and mail or fax it to the borough Division des permis et inspections, with a cover letter stating that the apartment is still cold despite the fact the landlord was notified. The inspectors will then contact the landlord and ask him or her to take care of the problem. Next, the City will mail the tenant a form letter to find out if the problem is fixed. The tenant must complete the form letter and return it to the City Inspectors. The inspectors will then schedule an inspection of the building.

To find out how to contact your local City Inspectors office, call the 311 Montreal information line.

At the same time, it is also possible to file an application with the Rental Board. To start a case, the tenant can make another copy of the same letter and take it to the Rental Board office with a copy of the proof of registered mailing. The clerk helps applicants complete the paperwork at the Rental Board. On the application, the tenant can ask the Rental Board to order the landlord to provide sufficient heat, to order a rent reduction, ot to force the landlord to pay for space heaters to heat the apartment until the problem is fixed, etc.

The Rental Board is at Olympic Village, Wing D, 5199 Sherbrooke East, Unit 2095.

Because the Rental Board can take a very long time to schedule hearings for these kinds of cases, if the situation is urgent, other actions may need to be taken in the meantime. If the apartment is freezing cold with no heat at all, a tenant can try to go to the police as well as to the City Inspectors, who may contact the landlord personally about the problem. In addition, a tenant in this situation who files an application with the Rental Board should state that the situation is very urgent, and ask that the case be expedited. If, in an extreme case, it becomes necessary to abandon an apartment, it is important to first have the City Inspectors visit the premises and witness the problem. This will help in case the landlord later tries to hold the tenant responsible for the rest of the lease.

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A mango, a cup of coffee, and a carrot

Adam Leith Gollner wants to make the case for mangoes. Gollner is the author of The Fruit Hunters, a wonderfully bizarre voyage through the realms of those obsessed with fruit. The book is a great read – how many of us will travel to the Seychelles in search of the Lady Fruit? Gollner takes us there and a dozen other places we’re unlikely to visit, all in search of a nice piece of fruit!

Gollner, a Montrealer, was back in town recently, speaking at a public meeting sponsored by the Quebec Writers’ Federation. I was the moderator and one person asked about the current movement toward eating local food. Some have described this as the 100-mile diet, but it’s not that trendy. 50 years ago most food came from local farmers. No one had much of a choice.

Now we have options. If I buy cheese from the Charlevoix, it means that my money stays here rather than going to Provence. Ditto for Quebec versus New Zealand lamb, and fruit harvested from Chateauguay Valley orchards instead of hauled in from Florida.

The Flavourguy is willing to pay a little more for food that’s local and likely fresher and tastier. Quebec garlic has a sharp sweet zest. Chinese garlic reminds me of last night’s bad breath.

But then along comes Gollner. He agrees that buying locally has its benefits but argues that it poses problems. As an example, he offers mangoes.

If I’m shopping for dessert, I’ll probably skip the mangoes and spend my grocery money on something local like Quebec apples, now available year round. But Gollner asks us to think about the political ramifications of only buying locally. He reminds us that Haiti, which is a banker’s note away from bankruptcy, has only one decent export crop left – mangoes, which he says are delicious.

And this makes me reconsider how I shop. No matter how much I buy locally, I am not going to stop having my morning tea or coffee. It will be a long time before global warming means that I can buy these from a Quebec producer. So, already I’m willing to compromise. Actually Haiti does have one other major food export. It’s coffee. So, as I seek out Haitian food products, I’m helping to hold a fractured nation together.

Gollner brings common sense to the 100-mile diet. He’s urging us not to go overboard. Other countries depend upon us too. The 100-mile diet is great at motivating us to support local food producers but, as with everything, sensibility and moderation are equally important as we push our carts through the supermarket. Buy locally when it makes sense but think globally and look for food that tastes great, wherever it’s from.

A propos local food, I was given a foot-long, two-inch-thick carrot by a farmer at the Jean Talon Market the other day. “Cook it in the oven,” he said. I set the oven to 350°F, brushed the carrot lightly with olive oil and loosely folded it in foil. I then did the same thing with a dozen small onions. After 45 minutes, they were sublime. I’m going to be doing a lot of vegetables this way from now on: broccoli, cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes. It’s easier and tastier than boiling or steaming and needs much less oil or butter than sautéing or stir frying. Best of all, if I forget them for bit, they may get a little softer but the flavour will still be intense.

You can reach Barry Lazar at

flavourguy@theseniortimes.com.

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Gay seniors historically marginalized and isolated

Aging can be hard enough without being childless, estranged from family and marginalized by society.

“Until 1973, homosexuality was on the list of mental illnesses,”says Karen Taylor, Director of Advocacy and Training for SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment). “If we look at the timeline of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual) senior, a 70-year-old person would have been brought up to believe that homosexuals are sick, mentally ill, and could be institutionalized.

Taylor explained that SAGE is very important because we [as a society] pay very little attention to older people, especially minorities and the challenges they face.

“SAGE is the largest organization in the United States serving LGBT seniors,” says Taylor. “Our mission is to provide greater quality of life to the aging LGBT community and to promote positive images of LGBT life in later years.”

This past October SAGE hosted their fourth annual conference for gay seniors in NYC. The keynote address was delivered by the AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen, who discussed the spirit of inclusion. There were 75 workshops and presentations aimed at encouraging cooperation with conventional senior organizations to deal with LGBT issues.

By 2030 the number of gay seniors in the U.S. is expected to grow to an estimated 4.7 million, according to the SAGE website.Taylor emphasizes that gay boomers’ needs can only be expected to increase as their as their numbers surpass previous generations and are more accepting of their sexuality.

“LGBT seniors have different life experiences and challenges,” she says. “They are twice as likely to live alone and four times less likely to have children. Between those two things, elders are treated differently. Healthcare services assume that there is at least one person at home.” This assumption hinders the ability of gay seniors to recover after a hospital stay.

“There is a longstanding history of isolation for LGBT seniors,” Taylor notes. The attitudes with which they were raised often make it tough for them to be honest about their sexuality. This becomes a significant problem when being placed in residences where most of the residents are heterosexuals. “Their heterosexual counterparts were brought up the same way, so it’s challenging for LGBT seniors to go to regular community centers and residences without feeling ostracized.”

Montreal is home to one of very few retirement homes for gay men. Urban Home Papineau (urban-home.ca) is an autonomous and semi-autonomous residence featuring secure access, a concierge, an infirmary, and a full-service dining room. Montreal also has an English-speaking phone counseling service, Gayline, which offers support from trained volunteers about sexual orientation issues. They can be reached from 7 pm to 11 pm daily at 514-866-5090.

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A tale of two campaigns

This is being written a few days before the American election. Which gives me the perfect chance to go out on a limb. So here goes.

I assume that when you read these lines, the United States will have a new president and his name will be Barack Obama. Why did Obama win and why did John McCain lose?

The answer, in its simplest terms, is that the senator from Illinois had a plan and stuck to it. The senator from Arizona had no plan except to throw spaghetti at the ceiling to see what would stick. Not much did.

Senator McCain began by saying he would be taking the high road. He would eschew personal attacks. He would engage his opponent by arguing the substance of the issues.

The high road didn’t last long for McCain. When his campaign began to slip and slide during the summer and could get neither traction nor focus, a cry went out for help. And help came with a plane full of leftovers from the Karl Rove school of political operatives.

These are the guys and girls who specialize in the politics of personal destruction. Forget grappling with Obama on the issues. Instead, dig into Obama’s past to see what dirt comes to the surface. McCain, to his credit, refused to go after Obama about his relationship with his former minister Jeremiah Wright. But that left in play other blemishes on Obama’s record, particularly his association with a domestic terrorist named Bill Ayers.

Never mind that this was pretty far-fetched. This domestic terrorist had tossed some bombs when – get this – Obama was eight years old. Many years later Obama sat on a board with Ayers at a state university. Unfortunately for the Rovians who had taken over McCain’s campaign, polling showed that these personal attacks on Obama didn’t cut much ice with American voters.

Even on issues of substance, like taxation, McCain refused to engage his opponent. Obama cited chapter and verse to demonstrate that his tax cut would benefit 95% of the middle class. Instead of arguing the merits, McCain said his opponent was a liar, a tired old Republican refrain for any “tax and spend” Democrat.

It’s also ironic to note that McCain’s biggest splash during his campaign (the choice of the manifestly unqualified Sarah Palin) turned out to be in the end one of his biggest mistakes. By election day, some on the Palin staff were knocking others on John McCain’s staff and rumours circulated that Palin would run for the Republican nomination in 2012. A cynical choice had already become an albatross.

Against these fits and starts, with a different McCain theme almost every day, Obama’s campaign emerged from the beginning “steady as she goes.”

Obama and his staff had one paramount objective. They were determined to tie McCain as tightly to Bush as two peas in a pod.

And they succeeded mainly because they stuck to this theme day after day. Eventually the ordinary voter gave up trying to distinguish between the Republican President and the Republican senator. The sins of the one were visited on the other.

The steadiness in his campaign was mirrored in the way Obama dealt with unexpected events like the financial crisis. McCain ran around in circles – suspending his campaign, rushing to Washington, failing to get his colleagues on board – while Obama coolly waited for the facts before making a pronouncement on the crisis.

This is what eventually got through to the electorate. From the primaries through the campaign and the debates, Obama emerged as a thoughtful, eloquent, steady hand. These qualities were illustrated again in Obama’s choice of Joe Biden for VP. Biden was not a headline-grabbing choice (as Hillary would have been). Instead Biden was another steady hand, complementing and completing Obama’s own strengths.

So by the end of the campaign, the 47-year-old Obama seemed steadier, more presidential and more thoughtful than his somewhat irascible and impetuous 72-year-old opponent, and a majority of voters agreed with former Secretary of State Colin Powell that Barack Obama would make “an exceptional president.”

In conclusion I should say that if this analysis turns out to be wrong, at least I’ll have my very own “Dewey Defeats Truman” style souvenir.

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Some surprising house origins

In this Housing edition of The Senior Times we reveal the original meanings of your place of abode.

House and home are among the oldest words in the English language, both being in use before the year 1000. Similar words can also be found in virtually all other Germanic-based languages such as the Dutch huus, German haus and Swedish hus. Etymologically (if not in reality!) a husband is bonded with a house, as originally it meant “master of the household” and not “male spouse.” The word home comes from the Old English hām that referred to a place where one lives and the “ham” spelling lives on in place names such as Birmingham and Durham.

We also see longevity and Germanic origins in the basic ingredients of a house: room, wall, floor, door, and roof. Not quite as ancient in English is the word window that arrived in our language in the 13th century, replacing the Old English eyethurl that meant “eye-hole.” But isn’t window a far more poetic word, literally meaning the “eye of the wind?”

The word for the prettiest of homes, cottage, is first recorded in the 13th century and derives from the Old English word cote that referred to a humble dwelling. This spelling has survived the ages in the word dovecote. Until the 18th century the word cottage was restricted to the homes of the poor, and the OED states that it was only in the 19th century that “the name is divested of all associations with poverty.” Methinks this was a ploy foisted on us by Victorian realtors to increase the market value of hovels.

Likewise, mansion and manor had humble beginnings and etymologically both refer to a place one stays or dwells, deriving from the Latin manere, “remain or stay.” By the late 14th century, however, the word’s meaning ameliorated and its prime sense came to refer to the chief residence of a lord.

At the other end of the real estate scale, the key to understanding the etymology of apartment is in isolating “part,” as the word was first used in the 17th century to refer to the part of a house or building consisting of a suite or set of rooms, allotted to the use of a particular person or group. Only in 18th century North America did it acquire its present meaning of a single unit within a multi-unit residential building that is leased by an individual who occupies the space.

However, if you are male and pride yourself on your suave bachelor apartment, you might not want to relay to your urbane dates that the word bachelor derives from the Latin baccalaria and is related to the Latin word for cow, bacca. Also, a baccalarius referred to a person employed on a grazing farm, though it is unlikely that any academic degree was conferred as a result of a passing mark in sheep grazing.

A bungalow is of more recent and exotic vintage. In Hindustani, bangla means belonging to Bengal, and in the 17th century a bungalow referred to a lightly built house, usually with a thatched roof. Over time, the term became generalized for any single-storey house.

Bringing us up-to-date, the sense of condominium as an owned apartment unit only goes back to 1962, but the word’s first usage can be traced back to 1714, when the Danes believed that the Duke of Holstein’s construction of new forts “was contrary to the condominium, which that king and the duke have in that duchy” i.e. joint rule or sovereignty.

Many a contemporary feuding condo or townhouse owner will identify with this snippet of Danish/German real estate history.

Howard Richler's latest book is Can I Have a Word With You? He can be reached at howard@theseniortimes.com.

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Taking stock and reevaluating

Canadians have much to be thankful for as we watch the unwinding of the global economy. Although we’re not immune, our banking system was recently ranked as the best in the world. It’s safe to say we can expect some difficult times ahead in many sectors of our economy, and one of the sectors already showing signs of a slowdown is housing.

Depending on your region, housing prices will be affected differently. Some owners will see more significant reductions in market value. For most Canadians the purchase of a house is the single largest investment they’ll make, and the single largest asset they’ll own.

The last few years have seen emerging trends that have a particular impact on seniors. Firstly, there are many seniors with paid-off mortgages who are house rich but cash poor. Municipal governments have raised property tax evaluations significantly. Also, a large majority of Montreal’s housing stock is old, requiring major renovations. As a result, many seniors on fixed incomes can no longer afford to live comfortably in their own homes, or are forced to take home equity lines of credit to do so.

The second trend is that because of low interest rates, many seniors are opting to buy condos instead of renting, thus taking on mortgages that may never be paid off in their lifetime. Once these individuals hit retirement, they may have trouble maintaining their mortgage payments and taxes.

Worse, with the severe decline in the equity markets worldwide, many seniors are now faced with substantially reduced investment portfolios, and many who are retired or approaching retirement may no longer are able to live in the way which they had planned.

There are options available and they all centre on taking stock and reevaluating your complete financial portfolio and living expenses. For those strapped for cash, solutions like reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit may be suitable in some instances. It is important to consult with an independent financial advisor to evaluate your needs.

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Price of politics pales beside price of freedom

No part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections.
– Winston Churchill

I have been glued to my TV set for weeks. First there were the Olympics, which I enjoyed except for that story of the little girl with the crooked teeth and the lovely voice who wasn’t allowed to sing because she wasn’t attractive enough! Then coverage turned mostly to the drawn-out and nasty US election campaign. Ours seemed almost benign in comparison, but certainly less time-consuming – each candidate promising a cleaner, safer and more peaceful world!

By now someone will have been elected to occupy that chair in the Oval Office – with his own dream realized, but the great American Dream put on the back burner. There is a mess to be cleaned up first. Those who have lost their jobs and savings and can’t afford to retire, or lost their houses, or lost members of their families to the killing fields, have had a shocking awakening.

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go into politics these days. Who wants to be made mincemeat of in public, have skeletons dug out of the closet, be mindful of every word and move, and always worry about the next morning’s headlines? Politicians lose all privacy and they – and their families – need to develop the skin of a rhinoceros. Instant news didn’t exist years ago, and history was “cleaned up” by whoever authored it. Now, events captured by accidental onlookers with digital cameras blur the line between reporting and surveillance.

Anyone who has ever experienced a malignant dictatorship knows how politics can change one’s life and how vital it is to be informed and vote for the right individual. I lived in Berlin during the Hitler years and know what I am talking about. It has affected my entire life and that feeling of insecurity has not left me. It is incom­prehensible that such government sponsored crimes were at all possible, let alone watched and ignored. To be indifferent invites disaster. We are very fortunate to live in a democracy where governments can change without a drop of blood being spilled, and where freedom of speech and the obligation to count every vote are respected.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month this year, as candles are lit and bare-headed solemn-looking politicians lay wreaths at monuments, I’ll be reflecting on what we’ve made of the freedom for which our soldiers sacrificed everything.

Then I’ll shut off the TV, have a cup of tea and go for a walk – I’ll need some fresh air!

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Local folk will love these vocals

The summer festival season may be long gone, but there’s no reason to hibernate just yet, since there is lots of good music to be heard around town both familiar and exotic.

In the first week of November, the Festival du Monde Arabe happens at three main venues: Place des Arts, Sala Rossa and Kola Note. Over 20 shows present the richness and variety of music with roots in North African and the Middle East, from Iranian music steeped in ancient Sufism to bluesy Gnawan music to more modern fusions. This is music that knows no borders of religion or nationality. A delight for the ears.

Also in the first week (November 4), the three-decades-old Willelm Breuker Kollectief swings by for a visit at Sala Rossa. This unusual Dutch free-jazz-meets-cabaret big band is entertaining and virtuosic, featuring skilled instrumentalists with a strong dose of humour.

Fans of vocal music are blessed this month with a wide palette of choices. Jazz singer Ranee Lee takes up the mic for some mainstream jazz balladeering the weekend of November 7-8 at Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill on MacKay Street. Lee’s voice is unique: unlike so many Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald imitators, she has her own sound. The less original but nonetheless pleasant Susie Arioli and her band appear at the Theatre Outremont November 27 as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s off-season programming.

Classical vocal music is also plentiful, with, among many others, the Opera de Montreal’s presentation at Place des Arts of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, which contains many well-loved arias (November 1-13). International and local artists take the stage at the intimate Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur at 100 Sherbrooke E to present Czech and Slovakian lyrical gems November 13. Featured artists are baritones Adam Plachetka, Mikulas Scneifer and Pavol Kuban.

Three concerts of note at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall are those of jazz trumpeter and music professor Charles Ellison, which takes place November 13 at 8pm ($5 seniors), the Klezmatics November 29 at 8:30pm with proceeds from the show going to support the KlezKanada Youth Scholarship Fund, and finally, on November 23 at 8pm you can help support the I Medici Di McGill Orchestra by attending their 20th anniversary concert.

This group is made up in part of members of the faculty of medicine at McGill. They will be joined by guest piano soloist Seth Durst from New York City to perform works mostly by Mozart.

Admission by donation is $10.

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The November theatre scene

The usual post-Fringe paucity of English theatre lasted until mid-October, when the falling leaves heralded November with a bang. Two dynamite shows recently wrapped up at the Centaur – Scorched and Life is a Dream – and at least a dozen promising plays are on tap this month.

A production not to be missed is Dulcinea Langfelder’s dance-drama Dulcinea’s Lament at the D.B. Clarke November 12 to 19.

The amazing Ms. L, last seen at the Centaur in Clinging For Dear Life, where she whirled around stage in a wheelchair, here reverts to foot and horse in an impressionistic version of her namesake, the barmaid from Don Quixote and Man of La Mancha.

Our very own off-Broadway temple, the Main Line, hosts Against Blue. The script, about an ex-con and a beautiful woman (please somebody, write about an average looking heroine!) in trouble with a web of mind games is enhanced by director Carolyn Fe’s original song of the same title and sung by her. Multitalented Patrick Goddard, manager of the venue, is also among the cast.

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What's Happening November 2008

ART

Saturday, November 15 at 7pm & 9pm, Studio 303 presents Vernissage-danse #141: Generations, a collaboration of artists working on the question of age, body memory, and historical revivals at 372 St Catherine W, #303. $12/$10 students. Info: 514-393-3771

Thursday, November 20 – Sunday, November 30 Mile-End Gallery holds their annual exhibition and sale at 5345 Park Avenue. Vernissage Thursday, November 20 6pm – 8:30pm. Info: 514-271-3383

Until Friday, December 12 Concordia Faculty of Fine Arts presents Stinger Editions, prints by award-winning non-print artists in collaboration with master printers and until Friday, November 28, Concordia students and alumni exhibit Inner Space/Outer Place. 1515 St Catherine W, Room EV 1-715. Info: 514-848-2424 x 7962

November 27 to December 15 the Women’s Art Studio of Montreal will be presenting their coffee and chocolate paintings at 5673 Sherbrooke W (corner Harvard). Free admission. Come have a coffee and admire their work. Info: 514-803-5627

BAZAARS

Friday November 7 from 2pm – 8:30pm and Saturday November 8 from 10am – 2pm, St. Paul’s Anglican Church hosts their annual bazaar at 379, 44th Avenue, Lachine. Info: 514-634-1965

Friday, November 7 6pm – 8:30pm and Saturday, November 9 10am – 2pm St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church holds their Christmas Bazaar at 496 Birch, St. Lambert. Info: 450-671-1862

Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9 10am – 5pm Baie D’Urfé Potters Guild holds their annual fall sale and exhibition at the Whiteside Taylor center, 20551 Lakeshore, Baie D’Urfé. Vernisage Friday, November 7 from 7 – 9 pm. Info: 514-485-7674

Saturday, November 8 10am – 2pm, St. Philip’s Church hosts a Christmas Bazaar at 7505 Sherbrooke W. Info: 514-481-4871

Saturday, November 8 10am – 3pm, Good Shepherd Community Centre hosts their annual bazaar at 850 Dominion, corner St. Antoine. Info: 514-933-7351

Thursday, November 13 3:30 – 8:30pm, Westmount High School hosts a book fair at 4350 St-Catherine W. Drop off used book donations Friday, November 7 and Wednesday, November 12 5:30-8pm. Info: 514-483-3600

Saturday, November 15 10am – 3pm St. Mary’s Parish holds a Christmas Fair at 735 Miller, Greenfield Park. Info: 450-671-0416

Saturday, November 15 9am – 3pm, St. Thomas More hosts a bazaar at 978 Moffat. corner Bannantyne. Info: 514-768-4741

Saturday, November 15 10am – 4pm, Hungarian United Church hosts a Christmas sale and food fair at Jean Talon and l’Acadie. Info: 514-483-6916

Friday, November 21, 5pm – 8pm, and Saturday, November 22, 9:30am –2:30pm Trinity Memorial Anglican Church Hall holds a bazaar at 2146 Marlowe. Info: 514-484-3102

Friday, November 21 7pm – 9pm and Saturday, November 22 10am – 3pm, Anglican Church of the Resurrection hosts a Christmas Bazaar at 99 Mount Pleasant, Pointe-Claire. Info: 514-697-1910

Saturday, November 22 10am – 2pm, Centre Greene holds a holiday craft sale and bazaar at 1090 Greene. Info: 514-931-6202

Saturday, November 29 All Saints Anglican Church holds a Christmas Bazaar at 7325 Ouimet, Verdun. Info: 514-368-4043

CLUBS

Thursdays at 2pm, Centre Greene holds ballroom dance classes for those with Parkinson’s at 1090 Greene, Westmount. Bring an able-bodied partner. Info and registration: 514-484-2016

Saturday, November 15 and Saturday, November 29 at 8pm the Single Person’s Association hosts a dance at the St. Catherine Laboure Church, 448 Trudeau, Lasalle. $12. Info: 514-366-8600

Sunday, November 16 at 1pm the NDG Canine Club meets in Old Montreal at de la Commune and St-Paul W. Bring your 4-legged friends and a picnic basket! Info: 514-594-4114

Tuesday, November 18 at 2:30pm the St. James Literary Society presents a coffee tasting event at Picasso Restaurant (reception hall) at 6810 St. Jacques W. $10. Info: 514-484-0146

Thursday, November 20 Helvetia Seniors Club invites Swiss seniors and their partners to hear Peter Kobel speak on The Importance of Proper Estate Planning, followed by lunch at Monkland Grill, 6151 Monkland. Info: 514-481-2928

Saturday, November 29 at 9:30am Montreal Urban Hikers Club meet at Place-Des-Arts eastern ticket booth for a guided walk through the underground city. Info: 514-366-9108

REMEMBRANCE EVENTS

Sunday, November 9 at 2pm Lachine Royal Canadian Legion holds a Remembrance Day Parade at 3015 Henri Dunant, Lachine. Info: 514-637-8002

Sunday, November 9 at 2pm the Verdun Legion Remembrance Day Parade & Memorial service places wreaths at the Verdun Cenotaph facing city Hall. Branch opens at 12pm and formation at 1:45pm. Music and refreshments following the ceremonies. Info: 514-769-2489

Tuesday, November 11 at 2:30pm the Verdun Legion holds a Remembrance Day parade and show at 4538 Verdun (facing metro). Info: 514-769-2489

Tuesday, November 11 at 12:30pm, Atwater Library hosts a presentation about Montreal surgeon Dr. Francis Scrimger, awarded the Victoria Cross for his work in World War I. Info: 514-935-7344

Friday, November 28 at 6pm Lachine Royal Canadian Legion hosts a catered turkey dinner at 3015 Henri Dunant, Lachine. $25. Reserve tickets by November 14. Info: 514-637-8002

LECTURES

Thursday, November 13 at 8:30pm, Dr. Nessa Cronin from the National University of Ireland presents An Irish Poetics of Place? Poetry, Topography and the Irish Literary Tradition at the Hall Building room H-1220 at 1455 Maisonneuve W. Info: 514-848-8711

Sunday, November 16 from 12:30 – 4:30pm, Tai Chi Center presents Ano-Hou (answer to a prayer) Life Enhancement, an alternative skills and tools gathering, at 19 Centre Commercial, Roxboro. $5 donation. Info and registration: 450-764-1066

November 17 & 21 and December 1 & 8 at 7:30pm Legacy for Learning Series presents Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza at the Shaare Zion Congregation, 5575 Cote St. Luc Road. $54 /$36 JPL & Shaare Zion members and students. Info: 514-481-7727 x 226

Tuesday, November 25 at 7:30pm the St. James Literary Society presents John Steffler, who will speak about his work and role as Canada’s Poet Laureate, at the McGill Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish. $10/students $3. Info: 514-484-0146

Wednesday, November 26 at 7pm Dr Joe Schwarcz presents An Apple a Day, a studied portrait of food fears and trends. Council room, City Hall. Info: 514-630-1218 x 1632

MUSIC

Saturday, November 9 at 3:30pm Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey and pianist Alexander Melnikov play Barber, Chopin, Martinu and Rachmaninoff at Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $35 /$15 students. Info: 514-932-6796

November 14 at 7:30pm, The Lakeshore music society presents Trio Fibonacci at Union Church, 24 Maple. $12/$6 seniors and students. Tickets: 514-457-5756

November 19 – 20 and 26 – 28 at 8pm Concordia students play at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at 7141 Sherbrooke W. Tickets at door. $5. Info: 514-848-4848

Tuesday, November 18 at 12:30 pm, Le Groupe MusiArt, the choir of MUHC Department of Psychiatry, performs choral music at Atwater Library. Info: 514-935-7344

Sunday, November 23 at 2pm Reiner Trio plays Vaughan Williams and Jean Coulthard at Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $15. Tickets: 514-398-4547

Friday November 28 and Saturday, November 29 at 7pm, McGill Symphony Orchestra plays Messiaen and Rachmaninoff at Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $12. Tickets: 514-398-4547

Saturday, November 29 at 7:30pm, Zerf Productions presents Ko-Koo, classical, gospel and modern music at St. Ansgar's Lutheran Church, 4020 Grand. Admission: goodwill offering for South African mothers and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Info: 514-486-5404

Monday, December 1 at 8pm the Cappela Antica, McGill Consort Of Viols and the McGill Recorder Consort play a Christmas Rennaissance at Redpath Hall, McGill, McTavish Gate. $10. Tickets: 514-398-4547

Monday, December 1 at 8pm McGill Wind Symphony plays the work of Charles-Simon Catel, Ka Nin Chan, Walter Hartley and Jonathan Dagenais at the Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $10. Tickets: 514-398-4547

Tuesday, December 2 at 8pm McGill Vocal Group perform Luna Pearl Woolf, Trevor Weston, Julian Wachner and Brian Tate at Pollack Hall, 555 Sherbrooke W. $10. Tickets: 514-398-4547

THEATRE

Wednesday, November 12 – Wednesday, November 19 at 8pm, and Sunday, November 16 at 3pm the D.B. Clarke Theatre presents Dulcinea’s Lament, 1455 Maisonneuve W. $28/$24 seniors. Tickets: 514-848-2424 x 4742

Until Friday, November 16 Altera Vitae Productions presents Almost Blue by Keith Reddin at Mainline Theatre, 3997 St-Laurent. $18. Tickets: 514-849-3378

Until Saturday, November 15 Talisman Theatre presents Down Dangerous Passes Road by Michel Marc Bouchard at La Chapelle, 3700 St-Dominique. $20. Info: 514-843-7738

Wednesday, November 12 to Saturday, November 16 Intentional Dreams Productions presents I Ought To Be In Pictures by Neil Simon at La Risée, 1258 Bélanger. $18 advance, $20 at door. Tickets: 514-272-9430

November 12 to November 16 Gleams Theatre presents The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco at Geordie Space, 4001 Berri #103. $25. Tickets: 514-934-0535

November 13 to November 29 at 8pm Persephone Productions presents Othello, directed by Gabrielle Soskin, at McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke W. $26/$18 seniors. Tickets: 514-398-7100 x 234

Friday, November 28 to Sunday, December 7 Geordie Productions presents The Little Prince at D.B. Clarke Theatre, 1455 Maisonneuve W. $15 seniors/$13.50 children. Tickets: 514-845-9810

November 28 to November 30 Aytahn Ross Circus Montreal presents Circo D’Hiverno, a fusion of circus, comedy and theatre, at Theatre St Catherine, 264 St Catherine E. $15 advance, $20 at the door. Tickets: 514-524-1554


Jeunesses Musicales concerts ideal for young and young-at-heart

(photo: Jeunesses Musicales du Canada)

Jeunesses Musicales Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young musicians and reaching young audiences, is offering two series of concerts that are affordable and timed perfectly for seniors and youngsters: not too late at night, and not long enough to tax grandchildren’s attention spans.

The Concerts for the General Public take place early Wednesday evenings. An aperitif, included in the price, is offered prior to the concert at 5pm. The music begins an hour later. The next performance on November 12 will feature the young award-winning violinist Jinjoo Choo, in a spectacularly beautiful program including the music of Bach, Vaughan-Williams and the deeply moving yet mysterious Prokoviev Sonata No 2 in D.

There are short (35 minute) and long (55 minute) versions of Concerts for Families, both taking place on Sundays. December 21, a most unusual combination of trombone, banjo and souzaphone will be showcased, representing three penguins as they compose a song. There will be spoken text in French, though the music and movement are universal.

To subscribe or receive information on upcoming concerts, call JMC at 514-845-4108 x 221.

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Paul Newman’s legacy lives on

On September 26, 2008, actor Paul Newman died after a long battle with lung cancer. Sun Youth’s Sid Stevens thought highly of Newman, not only because of his very successful movie career but mainly because of his community involvement, here and all over the world.

In 1982, Paul Newman founded Newman’s Own, a company that produces a line of all-natural food products. Since its foundation, Newman’s Own has given away more than $250 million to charities around the world.

In 1986, Sun Youth’s Executive VP received a surprise visit from two gentlemen who said they were representing a well-known American actor. They told him that Sun Youth was being considered for a grant.

Nine months passed and Sid Stevens almost forgot about it until he received a phone call from Newman’s Own informing him that Sun Youth had been selected as the sole recipient of the profits in Quebec from their line of foods.

For seven consecutive years, Sun Youth received the support of the Newman’s Own Foundation to assist people in need. Between 1987 and 1995 Sun Youth was granted $150,000 and the equivalent of $100,000 in food products to be included in the baskets distributed through the organization’s senior monthly food supplement program.

Sid Stevens never had the chance to meet the screen legend to thank him for his generosity but he did receive a personal note from him: “A lot of people have ideas but never do anything about it. Other people have dreams but never do anything about it. Other people have ideas and dreams and do something about it. Your organization is doing something and is committed to it.”

“He was very impressed with Sun Youth’s various programs, from our emergency food bank to our summer camp in l’Annonciation,” Sid recalls fondly.

Paul Newman co-founded the Newman’s Own organization with the following mandate in mind: “The more profits we generate, the higher will be the amount given to charitable organizations.” Sun Youth was fortunate enough to receive donations from Newman’s Own until 1995, when their products stopped being distributed in Quebec. From all of us at Sun Youth, farewell Mr. Newman. You will be missed.

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Visiting the Canadian War Museum

(photos: Robert Galbraith)

There is an old adage that says, “Those who do not learn from the past will be forced to relive it.” It is for this reason that institutions like the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa exist, and must continue to exist.

The museum neither glorifies nor endorses war – it’s a time capsule exhibiting the memoirs and artifacts of our warring past, and to a lesser degree, the present.

Anyone who visits its labyrinth of exhibits is left to contemplate the sacrifices of life and limb that have allowed us the life of freedom and choice that most take for granted. This is the message the museum leaves visitors to ponder.

“We are focused on Canadian history, and the preservation of material of what has come before,” says James Whitham, the acting manager of collections for the museum. “This is the overall reason why any museum collects.” But the institution serves other purposes just as important, he notes. “A great part of the museum’s agenda includes education and research.”

Whitham says that many of the artifacts and documents now housed in the museum were donated by Canadian war veterans and their families. “We have received everything you can possibly imagine, including Victoria Crosses, artwork, and even vehicles, including a tank. We even received bombs that were converted into flower planters.”

Anyone who possesses any artifact, relic, or document of war history is encouraged to call the museum if they are interested in donating or inquiring about it. Whitham recommends writing the museum describing the object and its background, or visiting the museum website. A visit is highly recommended for those who wish to know the price our soldiers paid for the Canada we know today.

The Canadian War Museum is at 1 Vimy Place in Ottawa, five minutes west of Parliament Hill. $10 adults 18+, $8 seniors 65+ and students. Free admission to Canadian veterans and up to 3 accompanying family members.

Info: 800-555-5621 or warmuseum.ca

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Hvar and islets attract the rich and naked

I took an overnight ferry from Rijeka, at the northernmost point of the Adriatic Sea, down the Croatian coast to Hvar Island. The cold autumn weather in the north just wasn’t cutting it for me.

Croatia’s southern islands are the country’s crown jewels. I had heard from a fellow traveler that Hvar Island was the piece de resistance, the most luxurious vacation spot for the fashionable wealthy Europeans. This was the island with Venetian architecture and lavender-covered picturesque mountain terrain, not to mention an average of 2715 hours of sunshine a year. Clearly, this was where I belonged.

Hvar Island is a long thin Island off the southern Croatian coast that stretches 88km east to west with a population of 11,000. Along with a dozen or so tra­velers, I was deposited at 8am at a dock on the northwest side of the Island near a town called Stari Grad. The other travelers were all picked up by family or friends. I was left alone and was starting to worry. There were no people, cars or boats in the vicinity, the ferry had sailed away and I was stranded on this sunny island that my father referred to in an email as “in the middle of nowhere.” I was starting to wonder if this whole “island excursion” was a good idea.

Across from the dock was a small run-down restaurant with a ticket booth. Where was the Venetian architecture? The luxury yachts? Where was the castle at the top of the hill mentioned in my guidebook? Did I get off on the wrong island?

A view of Hvar town from the taxi-boat

I walked toward the ticket book and noticed a woman at the counter. She didn’t speak English but she managed to direct me to the bus stop next to the port. I waited at the empty bus stop with no posted schedule for about ten minutes. It felt like eternity. A mini bus miraculously approached. I told the driver I wanted to go to Hvar Town. He said in perfect English “Yes, I know, 10 Kuna please.” ($2) He took my bag and loaded it in the back as I hopped into the bus already loaded with eight tourists.

The bus ride was a 20-minute breathtaking drive through the lavender-covered mountains to the southwest side of the island. We were dropped off in the center of Hvar Town (pop. 4000), next to the open-air market and a cathedral in the main square. I meandered through the old white-stone covered square past the multi-million dollar luxury yachts lined up, each more extravagant than the next, and then up the hill through the narrow stoned pathways to the Green Lizard Hostel, full of hung-over British and Irish backpackers recovering from the club hopping of the night before.

The hostel manager gave me a quick rundown of the main tourist attractions – museums, nightclubs, and the nearby islets. She circled a few, mentioning that those were the ones I might enjoy. “What about the others?” I asked. “They are all nice,” she explained, “but I suggest these.”

I spent the day walking along the port, imagining myself lounging on the deck of one of those fancy yachts as a handsome pool boy dressed in a white uniform serves me pink lemonade. I walked around town, past a few overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops, and a string of jewelry booths selling hand made earrings, bracelets and necklaces to eager buyers such as Canadian girls looking for treasures.

I walked along the seaside promenade and the rocky shores westwards past the luxury hotels and found a nice rock to lounge on and read for the rest of the day. Exhausted, I went to sleep early.

Hvar’s main attraction, for me, isn’t the xvith century fortress at the top of the hill or the xviith century oldest municipal theatre in Europe or the many museums full of culture and history. It is the sun-drenched beaches on the mainland and on the Pakleni Islands – a group of about 20 islets just opposite Hvar Town. Several little taxi boats wait to take the tourists to the islets.

Hvar Town port

I got an early start the next morning to explore the Pakleni Islands. I got in the taxi-boat with a few tourists at 10 am and we set sail. I didn’t look at the map the hostel manager had given me, circling the islands I should visit. Instead, I decided to do my own thing. The first islet we docked at was Jerolim. It looked lovely, small with large rocks to bask on and enjoy the pleasant seas. Perfect, I thought. I paid the taxi driver, hopped off, found the perfect rock with the most perfect view, laid down on my towel and proceeded to immerse myself in my book. This was my serene moment. I would spend my day reading, meditating, and reflecting on my journey and the journeys to come.

Five minutes into my book I realized others had discovered my rocky shore and planted themselves on the rocks. I almost had a heart attack when I realized they were all naked! I had stumbled upon the “nudists” islet. Not that there is anything wrong with hanging on the beach in your birthday suit, but this certainly was not for me. I quickly gathered up my belongings and headed straight back to the dock to catch the next taxi-boat. Why didn’t the taxi-boat driver say anything as I left the boat? They just let me wander onto the naked island! I waited three hours for the next boat without lifting my eyes.

As luck would have it, the next islet was also full of naturalists. Call me a prude but I couldn’t handle it. Once again I waited on the dock and took the next taxi-boat back to the mainland.

So much for my day of serenity and reflection. I headed back to the Green Lizard and shared a bottle of wine with Irish backpackers who made fun of me for stumbling onto the “sexy sexy islands.”

I did not visit the fortress, the theatre, or the museums in Hvar. Although they are probably very nice, they are not why most people come to Hvar. They come to tour the swanky hotels, restaurants and bars, canoodle in their yachts and, so I learned, tan on the Pakleni Islands au naturel. Though I am not yet one of the jet-setting rich and famous cultural elite, I got to spend two days pretending I was.

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