Equinox, new Cree teen superhero, joins DC Comics lineup – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News

An interest in Canada’s First Nations stories and a desire to share a different perspective than typically shared in general society and the media played a major part in Lemire’s vision.

The result: along with the Justice League’s Canadian relocation comes the brand-new heroine Equinox: a 16-year-old Cree teen from Moose Factory named Miiyahbin, whose power stems from the Earth and changes with the seasons.

“Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males. We need diversity and we need different personalities,” Lemire said.

Equinox, new Cree teen superhero, joins DC Comics lineup – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News.

Robbin Whachell and the History of The Bahamas Weekly

The following I wrote in 2011 for my website, TheBahamasWeekly.com, when I decided to leave The Bahamas and return to Canada. I wrote it to explain to my readers (and those in Bahamian government) why I was leaving, ,   and prove my place with the website:

Perhaps we are all naive when we move to a new country. I know I was excited! The chance for a new life, the unknown, creating a new reality in a foreign land, seems as real as our forefathers who may have discovered new shores across long stretches of water.

This was how my family felt (with our four children, 2, 4, 6, and 9 years) when we moved to Grand Bahama Island.

Raised in a large family and from a mother that was always involved in community, whether it was assisting at her church or our schools, teaching catechism, or dressing up as Santa and driving on a skidoo over snow on her own to deliver gifts to poor children, I come from a background of giving back to those in need.

I was not on the island long before I found different activities to make me feel purposeful.  I joined a small group who volunteered to give healing touch to visiting and local cancer patients, joined soccer with my daughter and began coaching at the YMCA, and also helped form the first girls’ soccer league on the island with Donnie and Mary Knowles, of which I am still involved today.

Aside from these activities I felt there was so much good happening on the island that I wanted to share anything I felt was ‘golden’ or ‘helpful’ to the community around me. I started sending out emails to friends and acquaintances in 2003. I shared events I heard about, community needs I may have overheard, etc, and offered brief commentary on thinking positive, or provided inspiring quotes. I do not remember why I began doing this. I was simply compelled … and felt of service to assist others. My email list grew like wildfire, as I guess I was filling a need, and people appreciated knowing what was going on.

Within a few months people started sending me information to share with my list. When the hurricanes of 2004 hit, it was a very useful vehicle as I was able to disseminate important information coming in from various service groups. My list grew and grew. It grew so much that one email per topic was becoming too frequent for many. This I never heard first-hand, as no one ever emailed me to say so, or did they ask to be taken off my list. I heard this via the grapevine.  I decided then to move to a ‘weekly’ announcement, so people would not be bombarded with too many emails.

This worked beautifully, and it mushroomed the growth of my email list. ‘Freeport Announcements’ came once a week filled with information on what was going on, sports scores, charity events, small business openings, leaving the island sales, and a community calendar, and more.

I must reiterate, the sole intention of my sending these emails was that I felt compelled to. While even my children were coming home and telling me that the word was, ‘their mother was strange’ for sending out these announcements, still not a single person had asked me to stop sending them. I would never open-carbon anyone. I in fact had the opposite reaction; people were requesting their friends, family, and even entire groups they belonged to, to be added to my list; and were forwarding my emails on to their contacts as well. I had people that lived in the USA, Canada or UK. They were either snow birds, or had relatives here and simply wanted to receive the information.

Bahamas life suited us. I home schooled my four children for four years, and contributed to the island’s soccer programs as a coach and player. My youngest was only 2 when we moved there, and lived in the Bahamas until 15 years of age. “I don’t know how to be a Canadian” she said before we left.

Please note that I was not sitting around all day working on what had become Grand Bahama Island’s first email newsletter, it simply unfolded each week. I was a very busy mother of four young children and led a very active life in the community. I was in the midst of homeschooling our children, something i did for four years, which was very successful. One can imagine the demand of doing four different school years at the same time, however it ended up being one of the most rewarding things we ever did as a family.

The next big challenge that presented itself during this process was that my weekly newsletters were becoming too large for email servers to receive. People then did take the time to email me and let me know that it took way too long to download my ‘weekly’ as its size had become at least 25 times the starting point.

Hard times hit next as my marriage broke up. The love I felt for this country, and with my children now so involved in their new ‘home’, I could not think of leaving. The children’s father is presently the island’s only chiropractor.   I did not want to take them away from their new life, or their father’s presence and positive influence.  We all suffered through a very difficult divorce that is still not complete, but I continued to maintain the growth of my newsletter during those years.

With the demise of my marriage and the severe financial strain I was in, it was at this time I knew that I must find work to survive.  I never received payment for anything I posted in my newsletter – I actually never even thought of it, I was simply enjoying what I felt compelled to do. No one was doing email marketing at that time… there was only one other newsletter I later found out about called B2B from Nassau, but most on Grand Bahama knew nothing about it.

With my background in film, I was hired by Paul Quigley to assist with the new Bahamas Film Studios.  I know this threw many locals off, as up until then I was seen with my kids, and in sports, and of course known for my newsletter.   My permit was approved, but within weeks I was told my application was being red flagged, and it had something to do with … (and this is only hearsay and what Quigley told me) “that I was seen to be taking Bahamian men away from their women…”!?!  Quigley was advised to let me go. Ironically another local non-Bahamian resident was hired in my place a couple months later and continued on until the demise of the studios.  I felt betrayed by Quigley for not standing up for me, but he did what he felt was right I suppose.

In 2005 I was able (and in the end ‘unlucky’) to become the only local person hired with Pirates of the Caribbean who required a work permit.  After two months of Disney’s persistence with immigration I was approved and hired.  I helped run their administration office as a production secretary along with Gail Woon – something we both worked very hard at as it was the initial setup of the over 500 person operation.  I continued my newsletter during those busy months working with Disney, which were often 16 hour days during production.  Ironically I never got my name mentioned in the credits along with those that I helped select and hire on jobs for their various departments, or persons I supervised – another immigration situation where Disney refused to pay the permit after they had internal management changes. I would think the new boss overseeing local production thought, “Why should we pay for a permit when ALL of us can come in for free? (a deal Disney made with the government) …and since I’d already helped set up all the local stuff, they could easily dump me as the production was well into running smoothly.  Such is life, and in the end I was forced to cover the immigration fees that should have been paid for me.

Paul Quigley and I remained friends over this time, and I even wrote a press release on him after his suspicious death in 2008 at the British Colonial Hilton during the court case over the Film Studios at Gold Rock Creek.

After I left Pirates of the Caribbean I went back to being a full-time mom and working the newsletter in between life. My eldest daughter was going through a drastic time after the divorce and a death of her friend. We were dealing with her drug dependency, in which she was able to tackle thank God, after many months.

It was during this time when a solution to my ever growing weekly newsletter presented itself. I had been showcasing a website called Mackey Media in the newsletter as David Mackey was audio-interviewing local prominent people on his website, and I loved the use of technology and the interviews. In my newsletter I was linking to his website so people could enjoy them also. Dave, being a web guy understood my problem.  I ran into him one day and he offered a solution, which was the revival of a website called, GBWeekly.com that he’s previously operated as a community source with photographer Tim Aylen. They were likely ahead of their time when they operated it as many did not yet have computers as a household item, and in any event Tim had moved to Nassau, so it was shelved.

Dave told me that his website could house all the information I was gathering and the ‘weekly’ could simply give summaries and links to full page articles.  Never did we discuss business or profit. We were filling a need, and I being a foreigner, never even thought of where this endeavour could go – I simply wanted to keep the initiative alive for my readers.

When Dave and I launched GBweekly.com, the only negative words we heard about what we were doing were from two people who were now also running a weekly newsletter.  Most of their references were to the affect that I was not a Bahamian.  I did not understand their point as I was simply putting information now onto a website, just as today anyone can put information on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook or any social media. I could have been blogging for all anyone cared. What I did was free for all to view. The female counterpart of our competition retorted that she would not stop until she got me “off the island”. Note that this same person used to send me information to disseminate, and one day asked me to show her how I was doing what I was doing, of which I agreed to, but she never followed up with me. Also note that if you went to GBweekly.com… it redirected to a competitor’s website. Please note that these people, who were opposed to what I was doing, were not born Bahamians themselves, but were naturalized.

Dave and I happened to meet one day with the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce president, and he expressed that he felt I was an ambassador for the country with all the good I was doing and said he would try and help me in getting a work permit. He was in the immigration consulting business. With his assistance I was successful in getting approved two years in a row and began then, and only then, making a small income from the website, which supplemented my child support payments. Over this time we quickly transitioned into TheBahamasWeekly.com feeling it beneficial for all to include the entire country.  An archipelago of islands is already segregated enough.

I worked for Pirates of the Caribbean II and III as production secretary for 13 months. I was the only non-Bahamian 'resident' permit granted.  Second Mate Productions kept stalling to pay for my work permit after it was approved. I would think because they got to bring nearly 500 crew in for $25 each, and they wanted 4 figures for me. When management changed, and since things were already set up and running smoothly, I got dumped because of that outstanding fee. After all the work I put in, no name in the film credits...
I worked for Pirates of the Caribbean II and III as production secretary for 13 months. I was the only non-Bahamian ‘resident’ permit granted. Second Mate Productions kept stalling to pay for my work permit after it was approved. I would think because they got to bring nearly 500 crew in for $25 each, and they wanted 4 figures for me. When management changed, and since things were already set up and running smoothly, I got dumped because of that outstanding fee. After all the work I put in, no name in the film credits…

The rest I will shorten, but in 2009 during re-application I was denied. Our consultant informed us that our competition had infiltrated immigration camp so heavily, that he could no longer assist us, and expressed we get a lawyer involved and deal directly with the head of immigration.  I was very upset, and my life in The Bahamas came crashing down. I was told that I had to pack up and leave within 30 days. I felt as if I was being treated as a criminal.   A lawyer came to my aid, that being Fred Smith.  We ended up getting my approval within a couple weeks but at a fee (payable to immigration) that was almost 3 times the original. It was quite a struggle to pay $9000 a year for our small business, but we made it work. Those were some of the toughest days of my life.

After approval Dave and I got back to work, and our website has continually grown each and every month, and every year. This year (2011) we will celebrate our 5th anniversary.

We also took some bad online commentary by another competing site from people based in Nassau. We ignored it, simply taking it as jealousy because we weren’t doing anything wrong, and kept striving to do our best to help those around us and put out the best information we could find or share, which included doing much video production with me as the on-mic commentator for streaming video productions.

Through this and our close work with the forward-thinking Ministry of Tourism on Grand Bahama, we put out a Tourism TV channel based on Grand Bahama tourism activities. This was aired via Cable Bahamas and was on the TV for 2 years thanks to a wonderful technician there. Channel 56 offered suggestions on all you could do on Grand Bahama, messages from the GB Ministry of Tourism, a ticker tape on upcoming events on the island including welcome messages to foreign groups visiting the island, etc, etc. and running an already busy website, we were only getting started with the TV channel. There was soooo much potential there. We were beginning to feature music videos of Bahamian artists, and most of the videos done by The Bahamas a Weekly or Mackey Media were featured on the TV Channel. Rave reviews were coming in based on the content, variety, and the quality. Visiting celebrities like Johnny Depp, Sir Sean Connery, Ving Rhames and others were featured along with top sporting events within The Bahamas.  To my sadness, the TV channel was taken down after a transition at Cable Bahamas without any reason offered. We tried to meet with their upper management, but emails, phone calls, etc were never returned. We were simply told they were too busy. So during a time when Grand Bahama tourism needed all the help it could get, it was removed. Cable Bahamas, a company that makes money off of use of American channels could have easily kept us going with all the new digital channels available to them, (as it cost them nothing and was 100% Bahamian content) but I guess they did not care, not even enough to simply meet with us. And the worst part is they were the ones that advised us on the thousands of dollars of equipment Mackey Media purchased to set it up and keep it running.  So much for that!

The Bahamas Weekly today has become a far cry from the little emails I was sending around Grand Bahama Island all those years ago, and our competitors have followed us every step of the way. We have definitely pioneered in this field.

We donate much of our time each year to support large events that promote the country or assist the youth and the arts – we do this for free and even travel to events to cover them, out of pocket. We want to make The Bahamas look good.

We do not have a corporate office; we are not a huge entity with phones ringing and people walking in and out. We are a sign of the times – VIRTUAL;  feeding a web entity with information by submissions or gleaned off the internet; and via intense networking by email, social media, and most importantly a constant desire to find information and put the word out about things going on around us, in the country, or around the world related to The Bahamas. We are able to do this by sitting in front of our computers or laptops (in our pajamas if we want) and are not restricted or constricted by normal ‘work hours’, traffic, etc., etc. We can travel and not miss a beat… the website keeps on moving, digesting and growing.

My decision now, to leave the Bahamas after 13 years, is also based on my role as a mother, and daughter.  Even though my competition has been relentless on trying to see me out of this country, and that constant pressure (almost 5 years) has not been easy to take, my annual battle to get ‘one more year’ of life in this country has also taken its toll. I was told again this year I would not be approved. We fought again with Fred Smith’s help, and we were again granted approval, BUT the new increased fee they’ve attached to it is almost $4000 more than a doctor, and double that of a hotel manager… it made no sense. ADD to that, I was told I could not have a work permit after December of this year – I was told not to re-apply in bold lettering.

My fees had increased over the years with immigration giving me arbitrary ‘career designations’… reclassified later as an editor (only a part of my full role with The Bahamas Weekly) which incurred hefty fee increases, I was not only pigeon-holed into a fee structure of pay-for publications (newspapers), but I was also then seen as doing more than my title, i.e. taking photos or being on camera. This year I was re-classified again to a Vice President, however we have no formal ‘company’, and along with that my fees where raised again.

I can only feel that I am not wanted in this country. It makes no matter of my intention here, that my children grew up here, or what I have done to assist others…I came… created something…contributed… and because a few can complain and lament about my existence…well, I guess the squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease!

So I am choosing to leave The Bahamas. I will still remain editor and co-founder and the money I fed into the Grand Bahama economy will now go into Canada’s economy.

I am not a quitter, but I am one that has to look at what the universe is presenting to me and make good decisions based not only on what’s best for me, but also for my children. I had to consider and add to all this, that all my children have to leave the country to attend secondary school or work. And my parents are in their sunset years and I want to spend time with them.  I can certainly give my children and Canada a few years of my time.

I helped birth The Bahamas Weekly and provide or seek out much of its content. It is not an entity that hired me, as I helped create it. I am not just its ‘editor,’ but one that has the same vested interest as a parent to a child, or an inventor to a patent; and I feel this creation flows through my veins. It has been my labour of love.

I will continue on as long as I have internet access. With things like Vonage, Skype, Facebook, Twitter I am connected to my contacts, the world, and The Bahamas.  And no one can take that away from me… I am not going anywhere, but Vancouver… and I will be RIGHT HERE online… as close as this for most of you reading this now.

Full speed ahead on the virtual highway of life!  The world is my home, and I am safe upon it.

(July 12, 2011 based off an original letter to Bahamas Immigration on May 11, 2011)

Now I live in Canada and my head is in The Bahamas for most of my day… My heart will always be in both places.


Bahamian artist to present life-like portrait to Pope Francis

The multi-talented cartoonist for a Bahamas’ leading newspaper, The Tribune, also dubbed, “The Celebrity Artist” after drawing countless high profile people from around the world will be presenting his latest masterpiece to none other than Pope Francis at Vatican City in Rome, Italy on Wednesday, March 26th.

The life-like painting by Rolle is framed in chestnut wood, and The Bahamas Weekly has been in touch with Rolle’s publicist Azaleta Ishmael-Newry who has said they arrived safely to Italy and will be sightseeing today, and are excited to be meeting with the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church.

Their trip was supported by many including internationally acclaimed musician and composer Mike Oldfield.

Rolle has been a professional artist since 2001, but said he’s been freelancing since grade school. “My first paid portrait was actually a mischievous sketch of my math teacher that I doodled in the same class,” he said. When the teacher discovered the sketch by mistake, instead of scolding him as expected, he laughed and bought it from him for $10; telling him that if this is what he wanted to do for a living he should keep it up.  Since those humble beginnings Jamaal has painted and presented to Oprah, HRH Prince Harry, the children of Michael Jackson,  and many others.

Jamaal made the trip with his publicist  Azaleta Ishmael-Newry (Canadian-Bahamian) based in Nassau, Bahamas and took this fabulous photo of the artist with the portrait to be presented.

More information on The Celebrity Artist can be found on his website, www.thecelebrityartist.com.

More to come!

(Photo of artist copyright: Azaleta Ismael-Newry)

Accompanying Jamaal Rolle is his publicist, Azaleta Ishmael-Newry who posted this image of herself in London to her social media pages en route to Rome.
Accompanying Jamaal Rolle is his publicist, Azaleta Ishmael-Newry who posted this image of herself in London to her social media pages en route to Rome.

Canada’s National Statement on Nuclear Security Summit

(Issued by Government of Canada) Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced Canadian support to initiatives that will improve international nuclear security and address the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The announcement was made on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Netherlands, from March 24 to 25, 2014.

Support through Canada’s Global Partnership Program (GPP) will facilitate projects that will enhance the physical security of nuclear facilities and radioactive sources, and combat illicit trafficking in countries in Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Select projects will be delivered in partnership with the IAEA and the Canadian nuclear industry.

Delivering on a commitment made at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Prime Minister Harper also announced the ratification of two conventions that will improve nuclear security and address the threat posed by nuclear terrorism: the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Also announced was a joint commitment by Canada and Korea on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540, which focuses on counter-proliferation efforts and enhancing the security of nuclear materials worldwide. To date, more than 30 countries have reaffirmed their shared commitment to concrete initiatives in support of the full and universal implementation of UNSCR 1540.

Finally, Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada will host an IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission by the end of 2015. IPPAS is a peer review mechanism involving expert examination of a country’s nuclear security system.

PM HARPER’S STATEMENT: The Hague, Netherlands – The thought that nuclear materials might fall into the hands of terrorists is an enormous concern. While the risk of such an event may appear small, the consequences of an act of nuclear or radiological terrorism would be catastrophic, with possible global consequences.

It is the responsibility of the world’s leaders to take all necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen. There is power in prevention and that is why we are congregated here in The Hague.

Canada strongly supports the Nuclear Security Summit process as a means of enhancing international efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. To that end, I am pleased to confirm that Canada is honouring all the commitments made at the two previous Nuclear Security Summits. We have also taken further steps, both at the domestic and international levels, that demonstrate our ongoing leadership and commitment to global efforts to advance nuclear security and combat nuclear terrorism.

I am pleased to announce that in 2013 Canada ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The entry into force and full and universal implementation of these instruments is essential to strengthening the global nuclear security architecture.

In addition, Canada has issued an invitation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for an International Physical Protection Advisory Service mission, which we expect to host later this year, or in 2015. The mission will demonstrate the high level of physical protection of Canadian nuclear materials, as well as serving our commitment to transparency on these important issues.

As announced in Washington in 2010 and Seoul in 2012, Canada remains strongly committed to the minimization of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). In this regard, Canada is committed to eliminating the use of HEU in the production of medical isotopes and intends to do so by 2016. Canada continues the process of repatriation of its U.S.-origin HEU fuel by 2018. In addition to fuel already returned to the U.S., further shipments are planned for 2014-2015 and beyond. Canadaalso continues to support international efforts to minimize HEU byproviding technicalsupport fora reactor conversion and cleanout project in Jamaica.

Nuclear terrorism is a global threat, which is why Canada cooperates with partners worldwide to secure nuclear materials. At the Seoul Summit in 2012, I announced a five-year renewal of Canada’s Global Partnership Program, our contribution to the now 28-member Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The Program undertakes concrete programming that supports the objectives of the Nuclear Security Summit process.

Going forward, Canada will undertake further nuclear and radiological security programming initiatives through our Global Partnership Program to:

  • enhance the physical security of nuclear and radiological materials in Southeast Asia;
  • prevent the loss, theft, and malicious use of radioactive sources, particularly those of Canadian-origin, in countries Gand regions with identified needs; and,
  • combat illicit trafficking by enhancing detection capabilities in the Americas.

In partnership with the World Institute for Nuclear Security and Canadian industry, Canada has supported capacity-building related to security of radioactive sources used in medical applications. Canada is also partnering with nuclear power plant operator Bruce Power and the World Institute for Nuclear Security to develop senior-level training courses and instruction methodologies relating to nuclear security.

Canada remains a committed partner in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), including by leading the development of products associated with nuclear forensics. In May 2012, Canada hosted Toronto RADEX, a tabletop exercise on response, mitigation and investigative capabilities. Canada will also undertake, under the umbrella of the GICNT, a nuclear forensics initiative in partnership with Israel that will benefit a number of states.

In addition to these contributions, Canada is co-leading with the Republic of Korea a joint commitment on Promoting Full and Universal Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, a key component in countering nuclear proliferation to non-state actors.

Nuclear security will remain a top priority for Canada. We call on all states, whether they are part of the Nuclear Security Summit process or not, to continue their efforts in enhancing global nuclear security.

Hair Story: Loryn Drops Her Dreads

I have very unique and wonderful children. I’ve always encouraged them to express themselves, question authority, and be of service to others.

My eldest daughter has always had a strong sense of identity. When she was around 6 years old, she ‘became a detective’… Yes, in her mind she was a detective, and she set up a table, with her sign at the top of our hill in North Vancouver, where the neighbors drove by. She was devastated that no one came to her with ‘detective work’.

Later when we moved to The Bahamas, being the eldest  of my four children she likely noticed the cultural differences the most out of all my children due to her age, but she adapted quickly. Fulfilling a dream I had we homeschooled for 4 years, but in our 3rd year she decided she wanted to experience high school. There she experienced a lot of racism.

Our marriage broke up and I don’t believe that that had any direct effect on my daughter’s desire to grow dreadlocks, as it was also a time of exploration into things most teenagers get into, like drugs, and alcohol. She was also rapping, and free-styling discovering her artistic side.  She came up with “Ayfere” as her expressive  name.

Her first set of dreadlocks, where quite horrendous in my eyes as she let them come in naturally, which meant to do little but let your hair get matted up, and rub away at sections to bind them together.   I remember dropping her off at school with her siblings and she’d go strutting in confidently with her matted hair and her clean uniform.  Her school was extremely supportive during this time, as they knew we were a family going through divorce, and the teachers and head master also knew how incredibly bright she is.

I know a lot of the parents were actually frightened of my daughter during those years. She was wild, tall and confident, but not the usual ‘look’ of a young intelligent woman going into the IB program at her school with her crazy dreads.  Little kids would run up to her and interact with her, not seeing what their parents did. The school was kindergarten to IB 13, so it was a wonderful family environment.

Loryn's first round with dreadlocks, in Grand Bahama Island as a teenager
Loryn’s first round with dreadlocks, in Grand Bahama Island as a teenager

I never once made demands for her to cut her dreads. I know that if you push your kids, they will push against you harder. After all, it was only hair, and when she was ready she made her own decision to cut them off.  I of course was relieved.

Fast-forward 10 years and life back in Canada instead of Grand Bahama Island.   My daughter, now in university,  shows up one day with dreadlocks again. Her long luscious thick straight locks gone.  That girl has the most amazing head of hair when it’s natural and long. I again bit my tongue, and was at least pleased that her fiance  had helped put them in this time, doing their best to get the right technique.

Just weeks ago she announced to me that she was going to cut her dreadlocks to be job-market ready, as she graduates in June.  She said she didn’t want any stereotypes placed upon her in the work market.  I was relieved to hear this, and excited for her.

The day arrived and we treated it like a special occasion (it was), as whenever one makes a radical change in  life, it should be marked and celebrated.  I walked down to meet them at Remix Hair Studio in Coquitlam, and documented the whole ordeal, which was great fun.

My daughter was so ready for the ‘lightness’ and ‘freedom’ of this particular ‘letting go’, and the funny bit is that she told me that she’d wanted a pixy cut over 2 years ago, but was too chicken, so she did the dreads to come all the way to that day she chopped them off… a long ride, but that’s my girl!

(To see the entire Hair Story photo album on Facebook, Click HERE)

A before and after shot.  Beautiful and spirited either way. After all, it's only hair!
A before and after shot. Beautiful and spirited either way. After all, it’s only hair!

Vancouver Fashion Week Has Grown!

Vancouver Fashion Week opened its Fall/Winter edition with an opening gala last night at the Chinese Cultural Center and runs with nightly shows until March 24th. The center was filled to capacity with patrons said to be waiting to get in right up until the last set of heels left the runway during the designer sneak peek segment.

The event was official opened by a Vancouver City representative who read a proclamation,  and a rep from the Prime Minister’s office of Canada also spoke, stating that “Vancouver Fashion Week is now the largest fashion week in Canada (yes even bigger than Toronto) and it is the second largest in North America”.  I am still verifying these statistics but with over 60 designers this year, and to see last night’s crowd, it may very well be true.  Now in its 13th year, they have certainly progressed with such sponsors as Pantene, Covergirl and Olay coming on board this year, along with the returning Niche Magazine.

The gala event included performances by Les Noces Gitanes who put on a rousing Latin musical performance culminating with their flamenco-style dancer coming off the stage to perform down the runway. Selections from the grand piano were performed by Clare Young & Scott Meek, and Alina Kozlovskaja.

Tonight’s designers are Susana Bettencourt, Nina Tan, Alano Edzerza, Green Embassy, Jin and Jacqueline, Pitour, Shelley Klassen, and Gabriel Lage.

The bi-annual event is attended by over 20,000 guests, and has designers invited from more than 30 countries around the world. Vancouver Fashion Week partners with the Make A Wish Foundation and last evening one lucky young recipient was strutting her stuff in a new gown while sitting front row. VFW also supports the growth and development of LaSalle College, Vancouver’s fashion school.

The full fashion lineup for VFW Fall/Winter 2014 Collections include: Pierre Renaux (Paris), Gabriel Lage (Argentina), Green Embassy (Australia), Pitour (Austria), Susana Bettencourt (Portugal), Yuhsi Takahashi (Japan), mayamay (Slovakia), Martins Paulo (Brazil), Takaokami (Denmark), Evan Clayton (Vancouver), Nina Tan (Vancouver), Noe Bernacelli (Peru), Hong Kiyoung (Korea), Firan & Rose (UK), Ophelia Song (China), Birgit Badke (Kelowna), Lisa Loveday (Thunder Bay), Erikó (Colombia), Fever (UK), Angel Eye (UK), Soojin Lee (Korea), Sonya Jang (Ottawa), Jesper Annerstedt (Sweden), Rachel Liu (China), Yicheng Chen (China), Sophie Karen (USA), Shravan Kumar (India), Evolét (Peru), JFG Designs (Vancouver), Jin and Jacqueline (Vancouver), Shelley Klassen for Blushing Boutique (Vancouver), Ipek Tohumcu (Turkey), Kym Couture Kollection (USA), José Zafra (Peru), Nadia + Zehra (UK), Gardé del Avante (Toronto), Grandi’s Atelier (Vancouver), Calotype (USA), Wellgroomed Designs Inc. (Canada), Mario Young (UK), Connally McDougall (Victoria), NotEqual (Brazil), Papillon (Vancouver) and Make-up is supplied by COVERGIRL, Pantene and Olay.

For the full schedule of the fashion week, visit their website.

All runway shows will be livestreamed so watch if you are unable to attend.

Opening Gala 4 copy
Part of the amazing team that run Vancouver Fashion Week. Actress and model Theres Amee hosts the runway shows, and Tito Chapman heads business development (Photo: Garry Kettleson)
A few pieces from opening night. Designer Jose Zafra from Peru; black and white suit by Eriko by David Alfonso of Colombia; and Sirette from the U.K. (Photos: Garry Kettleson)


Designers showcase sneak peek at the opening gala of Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photo: Ed Ng)


Songs of Lineage

My youngest Jackie sang tonight at her high school talent show. She’d been rehearsing with her friend Juan, who accompanied her on guitar for some weeks now.  It’s been quite awhile since I’ve heard her sing publicly, the last was in Grand Bahama at the Labyrinth.  She was affectionately introduced tonight at her school here in Canada as “Bahama Mama” as she grew up in The Bahamas.

There’s something about listening to your child sing. It’s like ointment on a wound. T o see your child perform on stage is a whole other experience. For me, I felt like I was right there with her… one with her.  I could feel every change in the music, and feel the emotion. The song they chose to cover was not an easy one.  “Run” by Daughter is a haunting song with lilts and lifts.  A touch of Sarah McLaughlin and Joan Baez.

I snapped away on the camera as I was memorized with my daughter and I became teary. I could hear nothing but her.  Then, I heard more than just her… I heard my youngest sister singing through her, then my oldest sister, and then my mother was singing through her.  She was a chord of song running through my lineage.

It may sound dramatic, but it was really quite simple.  Simple and beautiful…

Listen to her song HERE


(Photos seen here were taken by me. Her friend Amal, top left, suggested the song and was the shows MC; and Juan played beautifully on guitar; and her other friend Sara seen coming through the curtains was the shows other MC)
(Photos seen here were taken by me. Her friend Amal, top left, suggested the song and was the shows MC; and Juan played beautifully on guitar; and her other friend Sara seen coming through the curtains was the shows other MC)


Labo Ethnik 2014 call for models and fashion designers

PARIS, France – Now in its eighth season, one of the biggest international fashion trade shows, Labo Ethnik Fashion and Lifestyle will take place from May 22nd – 26th at Cite de la Mode in Paris.  The trade show is open to all professional confirmed designers, but the event will also host an emerging talent contest which is open to talented hopeful from around the globe.  The emerging designer showcase will take place on May 24th and is under the artistic direction of Vincent McDoom, who will also be casting the models.

An ex-assistant to designer Marc Jacobs from his days at Louis Vuitton, McDoom is the pioneer behind St. Lucia’s HotCouture event held last year and is a permanent judge on Russia’s Next Top Model. He’s also been involved in France’s and Poland’s Next Top Model, and appeared as a guest judge on Germany’s Next Top Model.

With a passion for highlighting Caribbean talent, McDoom said, “This is a huge opportunity for Caribbean models and designers alike to network and be seen.”  McDoom has also confirmed three models from his homeland, St. Lucia; the first time St. Lucia will be represented at the show. Designer from St. Lucia, Lyn Bristol will also be attending.   Trinidad, Guyana, Martinique, Gaudaloupe, Barbados, Jamaica, China, Japan, Africa, Europe, and the USA will also be represented. McDoom has plans for a fashion event for the Caribbean after he wraps his 3rd movie later this year.

The call is open but Don’t miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime to show your work to international fashion professional and to network for your creative brands. You will be expected to be in Paris by the 18 of May with your collections professionally finished and ready to exhibit to the press and buyers.

Professionals include specialized fashion press/media with fashion editors TV presenters, newspaper reporters, international fashion bloggers, radio hosts, seasoned fashion designers, international fashion buyers, and fashion’s well known celebrities in music, cinema, sports, television.

See the programme of activities HERE

“We are proud to offer this opportunity to budding designer talents. It’s your moment to shine!”said McDoom.  “A major thank you to Mrs Yvette Tai for her vision to help the young creative talents advance in this very competitive business.”

Find more information at http://laboethnik.com/en/ or email info@laboethnik.com

My Thoughts on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is upon us once again, and it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the importance of the female component on this planet. It’s interesting to note that there is no International Men’s Day and I would have to think, that’s because perhaps one is not necessary (?).  There is a great need for an International Women’s Day to express all that is required to change, when it comes to the treatment of women throughout our world.

Having three daughters, makes this all the more meaningful for me. I want for them a world that treats women respectfully no matter their colour, creed or gender.

As a planet, we have still such a long way to go. In some regions I feel  we’ve actually gone in reverse, as to what were once more liberated nations, sadly they have reverted back to archaic mindsets – some it seems, as far back as to the cave man days when it comes to the oppression of women.

I find no-sense in those that treat women poorly, in particular those who are the sons, husbands, and family of that woman.  The woman is the  keeper of the fire (home), and the carrier of our offspring. Where do minds snap to think it’s okay to deprive or abuse those who love them so dearly?  A woman raises you to be a good person to fit into your society. She’s a person who loves you no matter what kind of mistakes you make along the way, and she’s one who cares for you no matter what.

“We show our value by how we treat our women, girls, mothers, sisters,” said Desmond Tutu in the UN’s “He For She” campaign, which was unveiled on March 7th.

“Violence against women and girls is a global problem. It harms women, families communities, and societies,” said Ban Ki-moon United Nation’s Secretary General. He also appealed to men and boys of the world: join us, “Where men and women have equal rights, societies prosper.”

The U.N. says, “Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.” Learn more about domestic violence (Intimate partner and sexual violence against women) here.

I am encouraged by the transparency that is bringing light to the atrocities around the world via the aid of the internet and social media. May it continue. The internet is also a place to promote equality, share ideas and spark progressive change.

Now a celebrity! Malala Yousafzai took to the stage to make an exciting announcement on March 7th, 2014 at We Day UK. (Photo: WeDay.org)
Malala Yousafzai took to the stage to make an exciting announcement on March 7th, 2014 at We Day UK. (Photo: WeDay.org)

It was not long ago that Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head while boarding her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat, and today she’s “the most famous teenager in the world,” according to Deustche Welle. At 17 she has her own foundation, and this week partnered with We Day.  She is one of the lucky few who have been supported thanks to the world hearing her story.

UN Women have released a powerful and creative ad series (seen above) by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, which “uses genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches dated 9 March, 2013 the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping as well as outright denial of women’s rights.”

“When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices.

“The ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. They are a wake up call, and we hope that the message will travel far,” adds Kareem Shuhaibar, copy writer.

For UN Women, the searches confirm the urgent need to continue making the case for women’s rights, empowerment and equality, a cause the organization is pursuing around the world. UN Women is heartened by the initial strong reaction to the ads and hopes they will spark constructive dialogue globally.

But meanwhile back in Canada where I live,  we’ve become a melting pot of nations, and although no country is exempt, I pray that through our police protection and our human rights laws, women from other countries where their rights are not protected can seek shelter here among us.

“Violence aimed at women and girls—including sexual violence, sexual harassment, and domestic violence—continues to affect one third of all women” says Amnesty International. ” Gender-based discrimination, coupled with poverty, lead to high rates of maternal death in developing countries. Women often do not have access to sexual health education, healthcare, and the freedom to make choices about sex and pregnancy.”

Going backwards... Unlike today, where women have to be accompanied by a male and covered from head to toe in a berka under Taliban rule, this was Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1970s...
Going backwards… Unlike today, where women have to be accompanied by a male and covered from head to toe in a berka under Taliban rule, this was Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1970s…

Where did we go wrong? It’s no longer a problem where we can simply say, “Oh that’s their/our culture or religion. That’s how they/we do things over there/here.”  There are too many female (and male) children and women being abused. We must hear their cries, if their own nation will not. It’s a global problem, and we need global solutions.

The International Criminal Court (and thank goodness we have one!) says, “International Women’s Day provides a moment to celebrate recent successes in strengthening and promoting women’s rights, as well as reflection on the work that remains to be done,” and the ICC Rome Statute is the first international treaty to identify crimes against women such as rape and sexual slavery as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and in some instances, genocide. The Statute also features special provisions to protect witnesses and victims of sexual and gender-based crimes.”

Going forward, I look forward to the day when we will not need an International Women’s Day to remind us of what we still need to do, but rather on to solely celebrate  from where we have come.

I believe in a better world…