Bahamas Tourism Officials Visit Vancouver to Announce Direct Flights Via Sunwing


With my role as editor and co-founder of TheBahamasWeekly.com I was invited to a special luncheon hosted by Bahamas Ministry of Tourism who were visiting Vancouver on October 21st to officially launch a weekly flight service to Grand Bahama Island via Sunwing Vacations to start on November 1st, 2014. Not only was I excited to be able to have a direct flight to one of my favourite places and second home, but I knew most of the tourism people visiting as I’ve been working with Bahamas Tourism for approximately eight years now.

The entourage included the Hon. Minister, Obediah Wilchcombe; Director General, Joy Jiburilu; and Deputy General of Tourism, Ellison Thompson.  Representing Sunwing Travel Group was Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales.  I almost fell over when a good friend, Betty Bethel walked through the door, as I had not expected her to be there. She was surprised to see me too!

Left to right: Chris Lowe, Minister of Tourism, Bahamas, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; and Gareth Hanna. Lowe and Hanna started the Bahamians in Vancouver Facebook group page.
Left to right: Chris Lowe, Minister of Tourism, Bahamas, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; and Gareth Hanna. Lowe and Hanna started the Bahamians in Vancouver Facebook group page.

I had asked to bring a couple Bahamians who are living in Vancouver, and Gareth Hanna and Chris Lowe joined me at the cheery occasion. Hanna and Lowe started a Facebook page, “Bahamians in Vancouver” which now boasts over 50 people.  Chris said that he and Minister Wilchcombe used to be his neighbours many years ago.

Departing initially on Saturdays, the Sunwing flight becomes a direct, non-stop service departing Fridays from December 19, 2014.

. Left to right: Betty Bethel, Director, Grand Bahama Tourism Office; Robbin Whachell, Editor, TheBahamasWeekly.com; and Carmel Churchil., Director of Marketing Services, Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board.
. Left to right: Betty Bethel, Director, Grand Bahama Tourism Office; Robbin Whachell, Editor, TheBahamasWeekly.com; and Carmel Churchil., Director of Marketing Services, Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board.

Nice! Sunwing offers award-winning Champagne Service that includes a welcome glass of champagne, complimentary food and wine along with in-flight entertainment offered at no charge. All packages also include a generous 20kg free baggage allowance.

Offering remarks at the luncheon held at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel, was Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office in Toronto; Director General of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu; Betty Bethel, Director, Grand Bahama Tourism Office; Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; and Tourism Deputy Director General, Ellison Thompson.

During their very short stay in Vancouver, signage was posted up in the Burrard subway station downtown showing scenes of kayakers in the mangroves of Grand Bahama Island.

Then, Team Bahamas jetted off to do similar in Toronto!

Bahamas Tourism officials visit Vancouver, Canada to Launch Sunwing direct flights . Left to right: Graeme Franklin, Sunwing Travel Group; Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe; and Director General of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Bahamas Tourism officials visit Vancouver, Canada to Launch Sunwing direct flights . Left to right: Graeme Franklin, Sunwing Travel Group; Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe; and Director General of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Check out the promotional video by Tourism Today below:

Chum arrive on time for Coquitlam’s 2014 Salmon Come Home event

Chum salmon were swimming along Hoy Creek, likely helped by the heavy rains days prior to this year’s Salmon Come Home event hosted by the Hoy Scott Watershed Society and the City of Coquitlam on October 19, 2014. It was a welcomed relief to the organizers and a pleasant surprise for the public, as at last year’s event, the fish no-showed.

Every fall, rain or shine the Salmon Come Home event delivers an environmentally-themed free family fun day for the local community.   It allows the public  to tour the hatchery facility and learn about the activities of the volunteers of the Society.

There were all types of local exhibitors with crafts and activities; community group displays; ‘learn to fish’ information with Freshwater Fisheries Society BC; salmon presentations; tree planting; music by children’s entertainer, Chris Hamilton; a prize fishing pond by Kintec; food concession, face painting; photos with the salmon mascots; and a vibrant costume parade (kids and parents) with storyteller Angela Brown.

Children's entertainer, Chris Hamilton gets the crowd going at Salmon Come Home, an annual favourite event in Coquitlam.
Children’s entertainer, Chris Hamilton gets the crowd going at Salmon Come Home, an annual favourite event in Coquitlam. (Photo: Desmon Tansuma)
A salmon dissection demonstration at Salmon Come Home, Coquitlam   (Photo: Desmon Des)
A salmon dissection demonstration at Salmon Come Home, Coquitlam (Photo: Desmon Tansuma)
There were all types of local exhibitors with crafts and activities; community group displays, and more! (Photo: Desmon Des)
There were all types of local exhibitors with crafts and activities; community group displays, and more! (Photo: Desmon Tansuma)
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Angela Brown told stories and played dress up with her nylon circus to the delight of youngsters and parents at Salmon Come Home on October 19th. (Photo: Desmon Tansuma)

If you missed it,  prime viewing times to see the salmon are still underway as they return to the watershed from the middle of October through until early November. There are some great viewing points  in the Hoy Creek Linear park, (follow the path between 2975 & 2980 Princess Crescent) across from the City Centre Aquatic Complex which is located at the corner of Pinetree and Guildford Way, or simply Google search “Hoy Creek Hatchery” for location.  See more photos.

For further information please call 604-927-3583 or visit the Hoy / Scott Creek Watershed Society Facebook page.  Stay tuned for the  Hoy Scott Watershed Society’s “Salmon Leave Home” event which happens in spring!

Below is a great underwater peek of chum at Hoy Creek taken October 18th, 2014 by Desmon Tansuma.

Hope for Dalit Women Dinner Returns to Vancouver Lower Mainland

I had never heard of the Dalits until a couple years ago when my sister invited me to attend a charity dinner here in Canada in aid of the Dalit Freedom Network.  The network’s website states, “The Dalit people, also known as ‘Untouchables’,  have been the most oppressed caste for over 3,000 years, living at the bottom of India’s rigid social order. ” The word “Dalit” means, “broken, ground-down, downtrodden, or oppressed.” Dalits comprise of about a quarter of the population of India, that’s seven times the entire population of Canada!

“In India, the mere touch of a Dalit is considered ‘polluting’ to a caste member. Due to their low social status, Dalits often have no choice but to perform occupations that are considered ‘polluting,’ such as handling bodies in preparation for cremation, leather work, street sweeping, or removing human waste and dead animals. ” – DalitFreedom.net

This particular dinner I attended was to fund-raise toward building a school through the Dalit Freedom Network,  a global organization that provides as much relief as they can to the Dalit children, in particular females, who are at the very bottom of the barrel as they are deemed a lower class then males.

“These women are living under a form of apartheid: discrimination and social exclusion is a major factor, denying access ”to common property resources like land, water and livelihood sources, [causing] exclusion from schools, places of worship, common dining, inter-caste marriages.” – Apartheid in New India

In Indian Hindu religion, caste is determined by birth and remains fixed for life. All social interaction is dictated by caste, and norms are strictly enforced by humiliation, violence, and poverty. Dalits are born below the lowest caste, and are denied access to public spaces such as schools, clinics, and temples.

In Canada, the Dalit Freedom Network holds events to raise awareness and raise funds to build schools in India so Dalit children can be educated. They also build tailor training centers filled with equipment, sewing machines, materials and staff needed to put Dalit women through 6 months of training so they can have a trade .

“Our Good Shepherd Tailoring Training Centers provide Dalit women hope, dignity and a way to escape the extreme discrimination and exploitation. Unskilled unemployment is extremely common across India, particularly among the Dalit women. These women, because of poverty and family pressures, have never had the opportunity to pursue an education nor a vocation. Through our training they will have the opportunity to gain vocational skills and economic independence.”

So what can we do? Support as best we can. First of all, you can join me in attending the 5th annual Hope for Dalit Women Dinner on October 20th at the Bombay Banquet Hall – 7475 135 Street, Surrey (behind Costco). The evening will include an Indian meal, henna, and craft items made by Dalit women. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the struggles faced by Dalit women and how you can be part of changing their lives and bringing hope for the families.

Dr. Beryl D’Souza is the guest speaker, and she is the Director for Dalit Freedom Network’s Healthcare Initiative. She will be sharing about the realities that Dalit women and girls experience in rural India and how the healthcare and education programs are transforming lives.

Tickets are only $25. You can register HERE.  If you cannot attend, but wish to help out, there are many ways to do so, simply go to their website: DalitFreedom.net

 

Salmon Come Home event at Hoy Creek Hatchery, October 19th in Coquitlam

(Hoy Creek Hatchery manager, Rodney Lee seen in front of the rearing pond which has the capacity to raise up to 12,000 fish. The public can tour the full facility at the Salmon Come Home event on Sunday, October 19th. Photo: Robbin Whachell )

The Hoy Scott Watershed Society and the City of Coquitlam will host the annual Salmon Come Home family event at the Hoy Creek Hatchery site this Sunday, October 19, 2014 from 11am to 3pm (rain or shine).

Salmon Come Home is environmentally-themed and designed to promote public awareness about conservation and spawning salmon that migrate back to Coquitlam.  The prime viewing times for the salmon returning to the watershed are from the middle of October through until early November.

This free community event provides the opportunity to learn about the local environment while participating in various salmon and nature oriented activities. The public will be able to view the returning Chum salmon, and tour the hatchery facility. There will also be related crafts and activities; community group displays; ‘learn to fish’ information with Freshwater Fisheries Society BC; salmon presentations; tree planting; music by Chris Hamilton; a prize fishing pond by Kintec; food concession, face painting; meet the salmon mascots; and costume parade and storytelling with Angela Brown.

Free parking is available at Coquitlam City Hall, located at the corner of Guildford and Pinetree Way, which is a short walk to the event site. Follow the signs to the hatchery which is located in the Hoy Creek Linear park, (follow the path between 2975 & 2980 Princess Crescent) across from the City Centre Aquatic Complex which is located at the corner of Pinetree and Guildford Way, or Google search “Hoy Creek Hatchery” for location.

For further information please call 604-927-3583 or visit the Hoy / Scott Creek Watershed Society Facebook page.

Salmon-Come-home-Official

Malala becomes youngest Peace Prize recipient a day before International Day of the Girl Child

In 2012 the U.N.declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world.  More than anything this day  promotes girls’ human rights, and highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys. It also addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world.

“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” – United Nations Resolution 66/170

As a mother of three beautiful intelligent daughters, I value this day even more.  When I look around at the world and all the struggles that women still face, it appears we are going backward, not forward.  Statistics are staggering …14 million girls become child brides every year. 140 million girls a year are affected by sexual violence .

Living in such a free nation as Canada, I feel blessed that my daughters have amazing opportunities here as long as they care to apply themselves.

“Our Government is committed to giving girls a strong foundation to succeed in life by promoting equality, education and good health in a safe, secure environment,” said Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper today in a press statement.

“In too many places around the globe, girls are still denied access to quality education, nutrition and health services, and are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence. Many are forced into marriage at a young age, and face disturbing restrictions on their rights and freedoms – all because they are girls,” Harper added.

I couldn’t agree more! However things in Canada are not always rosy, and I know my girls have had their challenges, whether in the work arena, school, or within the basic parameters of society.  We’ve had some close calls in our family, and have heard of sexual abuse, exploitation, and violence incidents that are all too close to home.  Harper went on to outline what Canada is doing towards these causes.

“In Canada, we are promoting the rights of girls in a number of ways, including initiatives that deter violence, sexual exploitation and cyber-crimes such as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (Bill C-13), the modernization of Canada’s Criminal Code, our Stop Hating Online campaign, the RCMP Centre for Youth Crime Prevention, and our support for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca websites.”

Yesterday, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to two people, one of whom is a 17 year old girl, the youngest ever… Yes, a GIRL!  Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani child education activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban put aside the word / notion ‘victim’ and went on do great things.  She is considered the most famous teenager in the world and I feel could be the poster girl for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.

Harper said, “Yesterday, I was very pleased to congratulate Malala Yousafzai who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on children’s rights. Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the Peace Prize, and I look forward to her visit later this month.” Yousafzai will be made an Honourary Canadian Citizen in Ottawa on October 22nd, 2014 being the 6th person only to carry this honour.  She joins the ranks of  Raoul Wallenberg, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Aga Khan.

I am extremely pleased with this decision, and what a beacon of light she is not only to Canadian and Pakistani girls, but the entire planet!

The second Peace Prize winner yesterday was Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, and another person helping with the plight of girls.

This year’s International Day of the Girl Child’s theme is: “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.”  Adolescents is the key time when girls are most abused. “Every ten minutes an adolescent dies in the world due to violence,” said UNICEF.

I know for myself  (and I can likely speak for my daughters), adolescence was the most challenging time, as we struggle to mature and find acceptance within ourselves and our peers.  My youngest child just turned eighteen and she has graduated high school. That’s a huge relief, but it shouldn’t feel that way.

I look to a future where my granddaughters do not have to go through the atrocities that  girls and women before them had to. Awareness is key. Speaking out is critical.

“On this International Day of the Girl Child, let us remember one fundamental tenet: Girls and women, everywhere, deserve equal opportunities to succeed and thrive,”  said Harper.  This is our fundamental right!

I believe in a better world…

UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign
(Photo by Oli Scarffoli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

Connected: CBC Vancouver tour, a peek inside the Newsroom

CBC-Newsroom-Tour

With my fascination and love for news, I toured the CBC Vancouver newsroom the other day. I took along my youngest daughter who is a high school graduate and has been interning as an ‘editor’s assistant’ with me on TheBahamasWeekly.com.  We shared the tour with what seemed to be students of journalism or broadcasting.

It was a fascinating 2 hours, and all that I would expect from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Radio). We were greeted by tour guide Shawn, who was informative, friendly and humourous.

The Vancouver component of CBC started in 1936 and today their broadcast centre  and plaza is a state-of-the-art and world class facility, situated in the downtown core at 700 Hamilton Street (on Georgia).

Aside from the busy news center we viewed the TV and radio studios and the director and producers room, which was abuzz with activity. It was cool to stand among studio spaces I’ve seen on TV.  Host/ reporter Ian Hanomansing was hard at work amidst a busy environment with loads of reporters, and we saw meteorologist Joanna Wagstaffe busy in her cubicle.

The most fascinating part of the tour for me was when Sean reviewed the mandate of the CBC, and I feel that is what makes this entity truly Canadian and a part of our culture. Although it’s not written exactly within this mandate I found online, Shawn said one of the mandates was to ‘create connections’.  I recall when I was a little girl, living in the north of Manitoba, radio was indeed a vital part of our life. I was there when the first TV came into our area also.   Radio and TV were indeed our life-line to the outside world, and what helped us to learn about other Canadians, and therefore instilled in my my sense of what being Canadian meant.

The 1991 Broadcasting Act states that…

“…the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains;

…the programming provided by the Corporation should:

– be predominantly and distinctively Canadian, reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,
– actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,
– be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities,
– strive to be of equivalent quality in English and French,
– contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,
– be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose, and
– reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.”

I realise now that I love news because it connects us, whether within our own city, province, country or the world.  Radio, then TV, and now the world-wide web has further increased our connectedness.

Full Broadcasting Policy for Canada

If you are visiting Vancouver and wish to take the tour they run from Tuesday through Fridays. Check it HERE.

VIFF Announces Canadian Award Winners

2 Wins! "Violent" wins Best Canadian Film Award and Best BC Film Award - A young woman, and her last memories of the five people who loved her most, recalled while experiencing a catastrophic event.
2 Wins! “Violent” wins Best Canadian Film Award and Best BC Film Award – A young woman, and her last memories of the five people who loved her most, recalled while experiencing a catastrophic event.

Vancouver, BC, Canada – VIFF has released their Canadian Award Winners:

Winners of the 2014 VIFF Canadian Images Awards, BC Spotlight Awards, and VIFF Impact Award were announced at the BC Spotlight Awards Gala this evening on Saturday October 4, 2014 at The Playhouse Theatre in Vancouver, BC.

This year’s BC Spotlight Gala film and winner of the Audience Must See Award (#mustseeBC) was Grant Baldwin’s Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story.  Attempting to live waste-free, filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer subsist on discarded food for six months.

The BC Spotlight Awards jury commented, “Canadians should be very proud, this year’s line-up of BC filmmakers was outstanding. From docs and narratives to emerging and established filmmakers, BC is a hot bed of talent in the Canadian film industry.”

BC Spotlight jurors included Joel Bakan (Co-creator, The Corporation), Cathy Chilco (Producer/Director, Sesame Street), and Bruce Sweeney (Director, Live Bait and The Dick Knost Show).

Both the awards for Best BC Film and Best Canadian Film went to Andrew Huculiak’s Violent. The Canadian Images Awards jury had this to say about the film: “Marked by strong performances, this ground-breaking and emotionally mature film has audacious ambitions and more than delivers. The story inhabits a very unusual space for contemporary cinema. A film about loneliness in an ordinary life, it had the jury rapt for the duration as its profound storytelling resonated throughout the film and long after.”

The Canadian Images jurors included John Cassini (Co-Artistic Director, Railtown Actors Studio), Peter Machen (Manager, Dublin International Film Festival, Film Columnist, Sunday Tribune), and Gaylene Preston (Director, Hope and Wire).

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story wins VIFF Impact Award
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story wins VIFF Impact Award

The VIFF Impact Award also went to Grant Baldwin for Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Jurors for the award included David Rummel (Assistant Professor, UBC Graduate School of Journalism), Lynne Fernie (Senior Canadian Images Programmer, Hot Docs), and Julia Ivanova (Director, Family Portrait in Black and White).

Here are the awards that were presented this evening:

VIFF Impact Award went to Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (Grant Baldwin)
$5,000 cash sponsored by Agentic Digital Media + $5,000 in marketing and strategic in-kind services provided by Agentic and Story Money

Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film was The Cut (Geneviève Dulude-Decelles)
$2,000 cash

Best Canadian Film Award went to Violent (Andrew Huculiak)
$8,000 cash prize sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada

BC Emerging Filmmaker Award went to Ana Valine ( Sitting on the Edge of Marlene)
$7,500 cash + $10,000 credit for production equipment from William F White

Best BC Film Award went to Violent (Andrew Huculiak)
$10,000 development bursary + $15,000 credit towards post production with Encore Vancouver