Swagga’s Story

We become attached and have the ability to love all beings, whether they be human, or animal. When I moved my daughter Tohni in last year, she came with two rats. I’d forgotten that they were part of her life. I adapted quickly, and although I never got up the nerve to hold them or let them sit on my shoulders or in my pockets like my kids did, I became fond of them very easily. There’s a reason they use rats in the lab… they are smart. These cute little roomies I’d taken in were attentive and entertaining, even from their cages. They so demanded attention.

Rats have a short lifespan, and I’d taken my daughter and her rats to the vet a couple times. She then moved out, and after they left I felt an empty space in my life… I’d wake up in the morning and head to my office after breakfast, and felt that emptiness of not seeing their cage and seeing them greet me with their little noses peaking out as they’d move as close to me in their cage as they could. I’d come home and unlock the door, then the reminder that they were no longer on the other side of the door would hit me.

Vet visits are costly for rats, as they fall in the ‘exotic’ vet category, so prices are higher as you can’t just go to a regular vet. That last visit was the hardest. Swagga was dying we had to realise. My daughter had been lucky to get a much longer lifespan from Swagga as far as rat-years go but he had developed a tumour on his lower body.

On February 11th Tohni asked us to pick her up from her home across town. She’d asked a colleague to fill her shift  at work, and she came to be with family and hold Swagga as he went through his dying process.  Not easy…  A short while after she arrived  I drove her over to her sisters just blocks away. She held Swagga in a warm towel, and I got teary. I felt her pain, and I felt the pain of that little rat, as his tumour was now an open sore, and blood was dripping from it’s eyes. He smelled of death, and my bold little daughter loved him up so, and hardly let him go from her arms, despite the harsh odour.

My eldest daughter, the pet queen, had a rat  that died the year before.  Tohni had hoped that they would know what to do, as you can feel so helpless when someone is in so much suffering, animal or human.

Swagga made it through that night, and the next to our surprise.  We consulted the vet after that first overnight, and they suggested we put him down.  Driving Tohni to their office that final morning was rushed and heartbreaking. To see my daughter, so much like myself in the mother role, had me in tears.  Tohni let hers flow when we got in the car, and the photo of her holding him almost breaks my heart as I see her as the little girl, that has always wanted to save the world.

We cried at the animal hospital, and luckily the wait was not long. Tohni told me she wanted to go in with Swaggs on her own, as I sat in the waiting area.

Swagga-Sleeping

After it was done, she carried him home  quietly and when we got there she wrote this on her Facebook page,

“His body is now at peace and he will be with me for eternity. My sweet, but not always the sweetest Swagga. Was always a G, and always da boss. But he loved a good snuggle and was secretly a lil baby : )

He lived a good full life born with brother Georgie in Surrey in August 2011, adopted by me and an ex that September. They were the cutest… So much energy and balls bigger than their heads.

White rats are known to have poorer eyesight than darker coloured rats and he would sway back and forth trying to scope the scene. That was how he got his name ‘Swagga.’ The gangstaness kinda just happened, it was a suitable name.

“He loved eating and was quite a lil chubster, hiding his food all over the place so Georgie wouldn’t find it. He loved almonds. He was a great rat friend and life won’t be the same without him… Especially for Georgie who was with him since birth and I’m sure is already very worried about his whereabouts.

 

Swagga with his brother Georgie
Swagga with his brother Georgie

“He got a tumor 2 months ago and it grew rapidly… Before I knew it, it had taken over his lower body. I took him to the vet and surgery was not an option… I brought him home and did everything I could to keep him clean an happy and cozy.   Checking on him, holding him, giving him water… Thinking he would pass on his own. He didn’t… He kept holding on. This morning I took him to the vet to put him at rest. He lay in my arms and fell asleep… I kept telling him I loved him as I pet his teeny head. His little heart stopped at 9:43am February 13th 2014.

I am burying him near Coquitlam river, which will be the hardest part. I love you Swagga.”

Tohni, her sister and her sister’s fiance held a little funeral for Swagga in a beautiful spot along the river. They burned sage, dug a good hole, and played flute music as she said her goodbyes.

Swagga the rat was buried with an almond, a crystal, a yellow tulip, a branch of a fur tree in a little box lined with yellow chiffon and love.

I love how the box she chose to bury him in matched in with the earth...
I love how the box she chose to bury him in matched the leaves on the ground…

Marilyn for me…

So I bought this book for him, two Christmases ago.  I finally decided to open it up today and take it out of that sorry, now dusty wrapping paper. This gift has been sitting on his side of the bed against the wall by the night table. Well it was ‘suppose to be ‘his side of the bed,’ but he never showed up…

Why Marilyn? Well his house in Palm Springs is in a retro 50s style. He has a huge print of Marilyn in his kitchen.  He rents his house to tourists when he’s traveling. I figured it would be a great addition to his home.

The last time I was there we went to see the newly placed statue of Marilyn in the center of town. It is fabulous, and if you travel there, you can see her standing larger than life in that famous white dress pose where her dress is flared upward.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to open this gift and throw away that wrapping and bow.  I knew he would not be coming some 3 months ago, when I made the decision to end it. Maybe I was still believing? Maybe I just like people to open the gifts I buy them. Marilyn is for me now. Telling me everything will be alright.

“Some times good things fall apart, so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

Canadian Olympic Mittens: Branding Genius

Wave those Maple Leaves Canada, and
High-Five those Wonderful Mittens

I’ve been  enjoying watching the Sochi Olympic Games, and I am so excited that Canada is doing so well. Canadian national pride runs deep at the Winter Games, as these sports are just our ‘cup of tea’, and it’s also a time to stir up the USA-Canada rivalry, and enjoy these events that we often find Canada excelling at, over the Americans who seem to get stronger and stronger at the summer Olympics and world sport in general.

One thing that’s stood out for me as a spectator is how difficult it can be to identify athletes from the different countries. Now I full appreciate some of the more colourful and whimsical outfits like those from Germany and Russia in particular.  These are bright and bold and easily identified.

In general, yes,  the athletes wear their country’s colours, but some countries wear the same colours.  And it’s often not until they are turned to the side that you can identify the athlete by an arm patch or side of the helmet emblem. Some of the countries go for overall whites with their colours as an accent only making distinguishing marks harder to identify.

What’s been wonderful about most of the Canadian athletes is that they are wearing the Hudson’s Bay Olympic mittens or gloves and when they wave, as they most often do as soon as they are done competing or on the podiums or with the press, we get to identify them as ‘Canadian’ by the wonderful maple leaf on the underside.

Every time I see this, my pride-meter goes way up!  So wave those maple leaves Canada, and high-five those wonderful mittens  and we continue to cheer on our talented athletes.

The top side of the mittens have CAN on them for Canada, and for our effort. Yes we CAN!
Yes we CAN Canada!

You can own your own pair of Olympic Mittens:

“The Hudson’s Bay Company is proud to once again support Canada’s athletes with our fourth generation Olympic Mittens,” says Alison Coville, SVP Private Brand Design and Development. “The Mittens program is a way for Canadians to extend their national pride and ignite the Olympic spirit.  Proceeds from every mitten sold goes to support our Athletes in Sochi.”

Every purchase of the new special edition Canadian Olympic Mittens, the Hudson’s Bay Company makes a financial contribution to the Canadian Olympic Foundation to help Canadian athletes reach the podium through development, coaching and equipment. The new Canadian Olympic Mittens are available at The Bay and www.thebay.com.

Breakfast with Pierre-Yves Cousteau

I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre-Yves Cousteau during his  trip to The Bahamas in 2011 to promote and educate on shark conservation. He came to Grand Bahama with a senior associate of the PEW Environment Group, and two members of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) based in Nassau. He was visiting the Bahamas to show his support for the BNT’s campaign to strengthen the protection of sharks in The Bahamas, and he gave a public talk at Trust’s Rand Nature Center on January 10th.

We met for breakfast the morning he was to head back to Paris where he lives and I had the pleasant opportunity to pick his brain.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau is the youngest son of famed oceanographer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau. I recall many memories from my childhood sitting in front of the TV watching documentaries on the underworld of the sea, all thanks to such a man as Cousteau. He certainly broadened our knowledge of the wet world below.

Cousteau speaks with a clear, almost full American accent, and when I questioned him on his near extinct French accent, he told me that it was due to attending an American school in France for the first part of his life. Pierre-Yves has a striking resemblance to his father, and although many believe him to be the grandson, due to his young age of 29, he is indeed the son of Jacques.

“My father was 72 years old when I was born,” he said. “My father created the Cousteau Society in 1973,” started Pierre, “to not only protect life on earth, and in the seas, but so his work would continue after his death. He nominated my mother as the president of that organization, and today my mother and I are the only two Cousteaus working in the Society. The other Cousteaus are still involved with the environment, but not directly affiliated with my father’s society.”

Aside from wanting to continue his father’s legacy, when asked what he was personally passionate about, Pierre replied, “I love the oceans, and I want children to grow up in a world where they can enjoy it as I have and do. When we live in a beautiful environment, it contributes to making and keeping a better world, and ultimately it makes for better people.”

“I am personally involved in a program called Cousteau Divers that I created about a year ago with the permission of the Cousteau Society. The program uses affiliated dive centers and ocean scientists (the divers) as observers of the ocean. So people helping out study and protect the environment on a daily basis.  Most of the people involved in this program are citizen scientists They love diving and while they are doing a sport they love they are also contributing to the betterment of the oceans.”

“I am here in The Bahamas because I was asked by the Bahamas National Trust and the PEW Environment Group to advocate for their shark protection program. When I learned about this program I was very excited. The Bahamas is a beautiful place to create a national sanctuary for sharks. I hope that the work that we’ve been doing to raise awareness to Bahamians, educating about the importance of sharks in our waters for balancing the ecosystem; and the importance of sharks for tourism, that the Bahamas will move to protect their waters for sharks. I hope that they will take this serious and therefore set the example, for the world, when it comes to making the right decision when it comes to environmental issues. It will safeguard a lot of the country’s economic assets at the same time in terms of fisheries and tourism. I hope they make this decision before it is too late.”

When asked ‘If you had the opportunity to talk to the government, or even the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, what would you say,’ Pierre-Yves replied, “I would ask the Prime Minister to move on the new legislation that is being proposed and make it happen. I know that the Bahamas National Trust is already drafting a Cabinet paper. I would ask for him to please review it with his Ministers and make it happen. There is no reason not to do this. It is a no-brainer. It’s good for tourism, it’s good for the economy, and of course for the commercial fisheries and the environment. When speaking with a fisherman, they will tell you, ‘a place without sharks, is a place without fish’. Sharks are important for a healthy environment.”

I next asked Cousteau if there was anything in The Bahamas during his stay that surprised him in regard to sharks, perhaps something he learned that he did not know before.

“Yes, I met with a young girl named Candice Woon here in Freeport and she really blew my mind in terms of sharks. She showed me her science project on sharks, and told me that she had originally been afraid of sharks, and that fear took her to research sharks and understand them better. Her fear turned into a beautiful comprehensive science project, and I learned a lot looking at her project and poster. There were some things about sharks that I did not know, and she explained them to me,” said Cousteau.

“Young Candice is a good example of the need for our youth to be educated about the environment so that future generations can enjoy sharks. I want people to be able to say, ‘Let’s go see the sharks’ and not, ‘ let’s go see a movie about sharks’,”  he said.

The conversation turned again to his father who came to The Bahamas many times. “Ever since I was born, my father would come to The Bahamas every year. He loved this country. In the late 60s or early 70s he was here shooting a film on the blue holes in Andros. After I was born, I went every year with him.”

Cousteau spoke about the importance of Bahamians supporting the Bahamas National Trust. “They are good people, well informed, and not only do they strive to keep the land and the sea areas beautiful and clean, they now have this new imitative to protect the sharks and to make The Bahamas a shark sanctuary. I ask everyone to support this campaign and visit the Trust to sign the petition. And like Candice Woon has taught us, if you are afraid of sharks, go out and learn about them.”

When asked if he personally  had the power to change anything on the planet to improve it, Cousteau said there were two things he would do: 1). stabilize the world’s population and ensure every country had its needs met to sustain itself; and 2). assist in the transition of new energies. “If we keep using up the fossil fuels we will acidify the oceans. It’s time to let science take over instead of continuing to run it by economic interest,” he said. “There is nothing we can’t do. We are a smart species.”

Cousteau also spoke on the throw away / plastic generation that we’ve become and how that must be addressed and reduced.

“The Bahamas has the largest resource for shark science by its unique ecosystem and can be the example for the world if they can protect this oasis of life that they have here. I hope it will become a part of their culture to protect the environment,” said Cousteau.

 

Robbin Whachell is a writer, publicist, journalist, and the co-founder and editor of TheBahamasWeekly.com.  Robbin now lives in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada and is the mother of four children.

Canada’s first gold medal in Sochi won by Justine Dufour-Lapointe

Prime Minister Harper congratulates Justine Dufour-Lapointe on winning Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in Sochi, in the women’s freestyle skiing moguls’ event on February 8, 2014:

“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to congratulate Justine Dufour-Lapointe on winning Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in Sochi in such spectacular form in the women’s freestyle skiing moguls’ event.

“What makes this story even more remarkable is the fact that her sisters, Maxime and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe, also had stellar performances in the same event, with Chloé earning the silver medal. What a powerhouse family of skiers! These are tremendous accomplishments that have sparked a wave of pride across the entire country. We look forward to more great moments in sport from our outstanding Olympic Team.”

· Justine Dufour-Lapointe was born in Montreal, Quebec, and resides in Montreal. This is Ms. Dufour-Lapointe’s first medal in her first Olympic Games. She was the 2013 FIS World Championship bronze medalist in moguls and has previously finished second in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 FIS World Cup Moguls Standings.

· Justine Dufour-Lapointe’s two sisters Chloé and Maxime are also on Canada’s 2014 Winter Olympic Freestyle Skiing Team.

· Justine Dufour-Lapointe’s gold medal in Women’s Moguls is Canada’s second gold in the event. The first was won by Jenn Heil at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

· Canada is represented by more than 221 athletes competing in 15 winter sport disciplines.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act in Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced an historic agreement between the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to proceed with the final drafting and introduction of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act. This agreement is the result of years-long, unprecedented process of consultations and discussions.

The Government of Canada and the AFN are committed to improving K-12 education outcomes for First Nation students, and providing First Nations children on-reserve with a high quality education, just like every other Canadian. To this end, the Government of Canada also announced today that it will make a significant financial commitment of over $1.9 billion to support the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act. Funding will account for language and culture programming.

What will the bill do?

  • The legislation will ensure First Nations control of First Nations education while establishing minimum education standards, consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. For example, the legislation will require that First Nation schools teach a core curriculum that meets or exceeds provincial standards, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that First Nation schools award widely recognized diplomas or certificates. These requirements do not currently exist. This has resulted in situations where First Nations youth graduate from education institutions on-reserve but cannot demonstrate a recognizable diploma to a workplace or post-secondary institution and are therefore required to return to school.
  • The legislation will also improve transparency and promote accountability by establishing clear roles and responsibilities for First Nation education administrators, and annual reporting requirements. The bill will also allow for the establishment of First Nation Education Authorities. These Authorities will act like school boards in the provincial education system to provide the key secondary support to help ensure that First Nation schools are meeting their requirements under the Act, and are providing a quality education for First Nation students.
  • Following on our Government’s 2010 commitment, the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act will also repeal the provisions in the Indian Act related to residential schools. This measure is of great symbolic importance and aligns with the purpose of this bill; namely, to turn the page on the dark chapter of the Residential School system, and provide the framework for First Nations to develop and implement a quality education system under the control of First Nations.

What is new?

The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act will contain a number of significant changes to the October 2013 draft legislative proposal shared with all First Nations Chiefs. These include:

  • Creating a Joint Council of Education Professionals to provide advice and support to the Government of Canada and First Nations on the implementation and oversight of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.
  • Outlining our Government’s commitment to adequate stable, predictable and sustainable funding. This funding will replace the complex structures now in place with three funding streams: a statutory funding stream that will have a reasonable rate of growth; transition funding to support the new legislative framework; and funding for long-term investments in on-reserve school infrastructure.
  • Enabling First Nations to incorporate language and culture programming in the education curriculum, and providing funding for language and culture programming within the statutory funding stream.
  • Committing the Government to work in conjunction with First Nations to develop the Act’s regulations.Education Funding
     Core Funding (includes language and culture) + 4.5 per cent escalator

     

    $1.252B over three years, beginning in 2016-17 and increasing annually thereafter, per the escalator.
     Infrastructure

     

    $500M over seven years, beginning in 2015-16, when Budget 2012 investments expire.
     Implementation Fund/ Education Enhancement Fund $160M over four years, beginning in 2015-16.

    Major milestones:

    • December 2010 – The Government of Canada and the AFN announce the creation of the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education.
    • June 2011 – The Government of Canada, together with the AFN, officially launch an engagement process.
    • February 2012 – The National Panel releases the Final Report.
    • December 2012 – The Government of Canada launches consultations for development of a First Nations Education Act and releases a Discussion Guide.
    • July 2013 – The Government of Canada releases the Blueprint for Discussion with all Chiefs; a document outlining what the Government heard during the consultative process.
    • October 2013 – The Government of Canada releases a draft legislative proposal.
    • November 2013 – The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations sends an Open Letter to the Government of Canada.
    • December 2013 – The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development sends an Open Letter to the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

    For a more detailed chronology of activities to date please visit: Chronology of First Nations Education at http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1358799301258/1358799341720.

    The Path Forward:

    The Government of Canada and First Nations agree to work together on the passage of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act and on the joint development of necessary regulations to follow. The partnership does not end with the introduction of a bill. The overriding goal of the legislation is better outcomes for First Nation students. First Nations and the Government of Canada agree that this is best achieved through First Nations control over First Nations education.

    The Prime Minister’s Office – Communications
    February 7, 2014
    Standoff, AB

 

‘Take Back Your Power’ Wins Transformational Film of the Year Award

SEATTLE, Washington  — The hard-hitting documentary ‘Take Back Your Power’ has been named winner of the AwareGuide Transformational Film of the Year.  The crowd-funded film exposes in-home surveillance issues, customer billing corruption, potential health risks and other problems associated with utilities’ plans for upgrading to a centralized “smart” energy grid.  It finished atop the list of 33 worldwide finalists along with ‘The Ghosts In Our Machine’, co-winner of the award.

“This is a victory for a growing majority who want to restore sanity to the roles played by technology and government,” said Josh del Sol, producer and director of Take Back Your Power.  “The issues unveiled in our film leave viewers rocked and inspired to see solutions.  Winning this award means people are ready for a positive transformation. ”

“A Transformational film,” according to AwareGuide founder and CEO Gary Tomchuk, “seeks to inspire the movement of society towards ideals, values and practices that create a better world for everyone. They focus on solutions for subjects such as consciousness, environment, health, and social issues.”

Take Back Your Power features interview footage from whistleblower Edward Snowden, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former British Columbia premier Bill Vander Zalm, public health investigator Blake Levitt, rights advocate lawyer James Turner, and other experts, doctors and environmentalists.

“The NSA spying progams are half of the story – we’re exposing the other half, and what we can do about it,” stated del Sol.  “We have an amazing community of grassroots support worldwide, and have held more than 90 community screenings.  Our aim is to work with grassroots campaigners in every city, and to have every public official see Take Back Your Power.”

‘Take Back Your Power’ is available to stream online and on DVD at www.takebackyourpower.net, where viewers can also request a community screening.

Trailer: Take Back Your Power

 

Some things you might not know about me…

Do we really know people? I mean really? I’ve dated men that I thought I knew.  I’ve had family tell me about things they’d done that amazed me.  There is so much behind every person – a life of experiences.

On the other hand, what do people really know about me? We become what we put out there, or what we wear, what we say, or what we do, when in actuality there is so much more.  Who ever knew?

  • I was born in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada, Catherine Rosanne Wachell
  • I am the 5th child of 7
  • I lived in a train caboose one summer while my parents sold our construction business
  • I was the mistress of ceremony and vice president of my high school graduation
  • I am Solutrean Metis Canadian with Cree, Sioux, Stoney, Anishinabek lineage; and I am French and German
  • I am half Czechoslovakian, that makes me a canceled checque 😛
  • I chose my own first name in Grade 4. It was legally changed
  • My first job was a hair wash girl at a salon, then I was a road construction flag girl – great money, long hours, super tan
  • I’ve worked for the government of Alberta (a Canadian province), Price Waterhouse, and the Bahamas Film Studios, as well as on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean II and III
  • I am the editor and cofounder of TheBahamasWeekly.com
  • I have four amazing children: 3 girls, 1 boy
  • I birthed three of my babies into water after a caesarian section with my first baby
  • My water birth /birth experiences were published in two magazines
  • My fourth birth was filmed and is used for birth conferences and education on a DVD called “Birth” by Gloria Lemay
  • I have an innie, not an outie, yes even after 4 pregnancies
  • I had straight hair pre-babies, it turned wavy during pregnancy, and has remained wavy post-pregnancy
  • I am a trained FIFA soccer coach – yes, I can play too!
  • I perform Blessingway ceremonies for expectant mothers and I’ve performed a marriage renewal
  • I helped form the Girls’ Grand Bahama Soccer Development League
  • I love The Bahamas as much as I love Canada – they got lucky 🙂
  • I am a self taught writer, journalist, publicist, and editor
  • I’ve tandem skydived
  • I am trained in cranial sacral therapy, and I am a Reiki master
  • I’ve studied acting and film-making
  • I was in the final scene – first season, finale show (close up shot on my face) of The Outer Limits holding my infant son, yet I still have not seen it!
  • When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in the mid-90s, I read about the atrocities against the Afghan women in Reader’s Digest and ripped out the article, copied it and snail mailed it to everyone I knew
  • I’ve traveled to over 22 countries so far
  • I am a dragon boat paddler
  • I do volunteer work related to salmon sustainability
  • I follow no religion, simply “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and principles of Native American teachings, as well as the teachings of A Course in Miracles.
  • I can do the hokey pokey 🙂 I took ballet and tap as a child
  • I have prophetic dreams
  • I believe that anything is possible
  • I believe in helping people
  • I believe in a better world
  • I believe in me!

 

 

Robbin Whachell is a writer, publicist, journalist, and the co-founder and editor of TheBahamasWeekly.com.  Robbin lives in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada and is the mother of four children. 

Pedro Mejias makes the cover of Fashion Avenue News

Pedro Mejias of Nassau, Bahamas is a featured model in the Ray Vincente F/W 2014 Collection now seen on the cover and within the pages of Fashion Avenue News. Pedro was photographed last December by RayVin Photography in preparation for the launch of Ray Vincente 2014, a new collection featuring one-of-a-kind hi-fashion separates through the creative use of silhouette, fabrics, prints, and designs. The collection is exciting, stylish, and versatile and makes Ray Vincente accessible to all men!

Model Pedro Mejias began modeling in 2012 and is a model and actor. He has appeared in cinema and ads in the Bahamas and competed in the Mister International modeling competition in Thailand after coming first runner up in the Manhunt Bahamas competition. He has also appeared as a feature model during the NY Black Business Expo and NetRunway.com presentations in North America.

“Pedro embodies the energy, style, and masculine sexuality that are all inherent in the Ray Vincente line,” said Ray Brown of Ray Vincente Collection.

“Pedro has achieved what so many models are still waiting to achieve; he has been featured on the cover of an international fashion magazine inclusive of a photo spread.”

When the inaugural Manhunt Bahamas competition was first introduced,  Oswald Ellis, Star Model Management stated that “the competition is designed to provide a foot in the door for the Bahamian young man wishing to pursue a career in the fashion industry” and to date just that is happening for Nassau model Pedro Mejias. Entering the competition relatively new to the runway, Pedro emerged first runner up and was ultimately named Mister Bahamas International. With that title he had the opportunity to travel to exotic locations to compete for the international title.

During the 2013 Manhunt Bahamas Competition, international U.S. based fashion designer, Ray Vincente was invited to participate in the show as the featured fashion designer giving the contestants the chance to model in real runway fashions during a competition. Both outgoing title holders,  Drew Palacious (Manhunt Bahamas) and Pedro Mejias (Mister Bahamas) have enjoyed a variety of work in modeling, with their lives being altered through the competition recognition.

“This is one of many opportunities presented to past and future Manhunt Bahamas contestants and title holders, and we hope that as we enter into the recruitment phase for Manhunt Bahamas 2014, we will discover more Pedro’s amongst the participants,” said Ellis.

To enter the 2014 Manhunt Bahamas competition send us an email at starmodelmanagement.info@gmail.com or visit our facebook page and leave  a message.

https://www.facebook.com/manhuntinternationalbah

Writing Reference Letters

I’m beginning to love writing reference letters, as they’ve allowed me to recollect my connections

I’ve been asked to write reference letters over the years, and when I received my first request I was taken aback, shocked that someone would ask me. Over the years I’ve become accustomed and accepting to these requests, and because of them, I feel confident asking for referrals in return.

In most cases I’ve implemented ‘the procedure.’  You see, I’ve had other people of whom I’ve requested a reference from, ask ‘me to draft it’ for them.  It’s really a perfect way, in particular if you do not know the person that well, to get the letter you want.  It allows the person needing the reference to ensure the qualities they are hoping to be mentioned, indeed are included, and helps the writer get the letter done, in particular if they are busy people, or not that good at writing.

My latest reference letter request was from one of my best friends. Susan and I have run the gamut of life’s experiences together.  I’ve always looked up to her, as a woman with so much talent.  Her request (as any) come in during my super busy schedule, and so I asked how soon she needed it done.  As I do with most of my writing, I either ‘force and trust’, or ‘let go and trust,’ dependent on whether there are time constraints.  In this case with Susan’s reference, it was a trip down memory lane, and  a review of our collected experiences together. It flowed quite magically, even with her “I  need it asap request.”

Later that day, I came up with the following letter which has made me realize what a joy this process has become for me.  I was able to review the richness of our relationship and recollect what this person offered not only me, but the community we were both a part of.

Here it is:

To Whom it May Concern,

I’ve known Susan Moir Mackay for approximately 15 years. I met Susan when we were both living in The Bahamas. We met during a personal development workshop, when we were paired to do several in-depth and personal exercises that weekend. We quickly became friends.

While I home schooled my four children, Susan led art classes for them in our home (or out in nature), which I can only say were healing and supportive, as it was during the time of my marriage breakup, and these art classes provided a huge source of comfort, and an outlet to the myriad of emotions my children were dealing with. I’ve saved some of their pieces and they have helped, even now that they are grown, to understand what they were feeling back then.

I’ve known Susan to be very involved in her community, as an active volunteer in the school, or the local community centers. She’s led classes for underprivileged Bahamian children, who otherwise might not have had such exposure to her level of knowledge in art. She’s exhibited in many galleries, shows, and more than several times, had her work exhibited in the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, where she also engaged in public art talks.

I’ve observed Susan affect and influence, not only the art scene of the Island of Grand Bahama, but also the art scene of that country (Bahamas) as a whole, with her own unique style and belief in art. I watched as many artists began changing their ideas and expressions of art, after Susan boldly went were very few, if any, went before. She did this by exposing conceptual art to the island of Grand Bahama; a place where art was most often only seen as pretty pictures of flowers, people or landscapes.  I was witness to her exhibition, just months after her unexpected marriage break, where she bravely exposed her still raw and innermost feelings, and pain through her art collection titled, “Into the Crimson Room“.

Susan and I also were founding members of a Grand Bahama writers’ circle, a group which met weekly to write and share; a sacred place where much healing took place through our expression and companionship. Susan was also involved, side-by-side with the founder Barbara Chester and Judy Hopen from Labyrinth Enterprises, in the design and creation of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth.

With Susan’s love of art, natural gift of writing, and her unique way of expression, it was easy for me to ask her to become a columnist for our website, TheBahamasWeekly.com, where she still writes today in her column, “Art Life.”

As a human, Susan is the epitome of compassion, whether it be for a neighbor, friend, loved one, child, or animal. She takes time for anyone who reaches out to her, and is always sensitive to the needs of others. Sweet and gentle, yet open and always honest, Susan is the ‘real deal’, and has always been loved and admired by those whose lives she has touched.

It is my pleasure to offer this reference for Susan to attend your program, as I know she is extremely qualified through her art education, community service, and character.