Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Why the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is so important to me

You are probably getting sick and tired of seeing yet another ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video, but I am not.

I never knew what ALS was until my brother acquired the disease some 5 years ago.  ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die gradually leaving voluntary muscles paralyzed. It usually hits the hands and feet first with numbness as first signs. Eventually the person cannot walk, or move their body without aid, and gradually the person needs to be tube fed and the worst is losing the inability to talk.

When I learned my older brother Dean had ALS, I was shocked… when I sat down at the computer to do research, I then became devastated.  I cried off and on for 3 days trying to come to grips with it.   Bold words jumped out off the screen at me, “Fatal,”  “2 – 5 years to live,”  “Every day two or three Canadians die from ALS,” and “No cure” left me feeling hopeless.

How could something so awful affect my family is all I thought. A family that has been  generally very healthy and free from disease. There is no cure yet for ALS and the cause is still unknown, so I may never know the ‘why’.

My brother Dean with his only child Curt; and Dean and our family angel, Elaine.
My brother Dean with his only child Curt; and Dean and our family angel, Elaine. PHOTO AT VERY TOP is Dean with two home care workers out on a walk in his wheel chair in 2013 when he still living on his own. (Thank you Fluent Light Media)

In a world where most ‘finding  a cure’ information usually only relates to Cancer (one of the world’s most funded diseases) I was shocked, but so excited to find out about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge  started by Pete Frates.  “Finally my friends would understand what our family has been going through,” I thought.  Each and every ice bucket challenge brings great pleasure to me, and I am certain it is a voice for so many ALS sufferers and their families.  I ‘Like’ them all.

Of course with any ‘good thing’ there is always those that poo-poo ideas, in particular through social media, and the latest is the image of that little African boy who can’t believe we are dumping water when they don’t have water to drink… Okay, pleeeeeaaase!  How on earth does this relate?  And the article about how much the ALS Organization members make a year.  Now that one has me a bit stirred up, but I have to go back to the victims in the beds like my brother, the many actually suffering with the dreaded disease. I KNOW this challenge has, and is, lifting their spirits… money aside, the public awareness alone has MOVED MOUNTAINS of grief!

Finding a cure?  All the influx of millions of dollars of course holds no guarantee, and in a recent National Post article it said,  “ALS is a tough nut to crack, however: After 30 years of work, we don’t seem to be any closer to finding a cure. And there’s no particular reason to believe that we’re $100 million away from finally getting somewhere. Even if a million Americans donate $100 each to ALS, the net positive effect on the world might well be very small indeed.”

With the help of so many wonderful family friends, and an abundance of prayer, my brother Dean is a living miracle and fighting ALS.  He’s lost the use of his arms and hands, can still move his legs and feet a bit, but must use a wheelchair.  Last month his lung gave out after an infection and he had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy to survive, which means he is now tube fed.  He continues to amaze me with his courage, and strength, wit and humour.

Like any adversity, there is always a silver lining. My brother is finding his, and we are finding ours through the challenges our family faces together. Sometimes life throws you things you’d never expect, and when you first get hit with it, you feel your life is over, or you can’t go on… then you gather your strength, you regroup, hug your family, move on with your faith (prayers do help), and breath in the love that you always owned, and keep steady at the helm.

A miracle happened when someone told my sister about a relatively unheard of treatment called The Deanna Protocol, which was developed by Dr. Vincent Tedone five years ago, for his daughter Deanna Tedone-Gage who at the time was a new bride and a young attorney.  The products can be ordered online and have since helped reverse many of my brother’s symptom which we know have helped lengthen his life.  Research is now underway on The Deanna Protocol by scientists at the University of South Florida, led by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino. They are studying its effects on mice with ALS.

I encourage anyone with ALS to check out The Deanna Protocol! You have nothing to lose by trying it, and it seems to be far more affordable than much of the other treatments I’ve heard about being prescribed today.   You do not need a doctor’s permission to do so, unless you are in hospital care that is. Sound nutrition also helps. My brother is trying to get as many super foods in his body as he can, coconut oil and moringa are among those. Thankfully the hospital he is in seems to be cooperating and open to it, which we are so grateful for.

So  I hope I’ve been able to help you understand why I feel  the Ice Bucket Challenge is so important. If you need more proof, please watch this video which Upworthy deemed ‘The last Ice Bucket Challenge you need to see‘ by 26 year old photographer, Anthony Carbajal who was just diagnosed with ALS this year. Anthony’s mother has ALS, and his grandmother died of ALS.

I am off to now create my own Ice Bucket video from a challenge that came in from my daughter Jackie.  It’s great timing as my brother Dean will be back online today, as he’s scheduled to be using the new software where he can control his computer with his eyes.  My brother lives in another province, so our internet connection has become somewhat of a lifeline for us.

Please donate or take on the challenge if your name comes up. The more we know, the more that can be done.

(I would be remiss to not mention and link to this Facebook page, Hope for Steve, as they have been huge sources of inspiration for me personally as I watch how ‘Hope’ stays by her husband Steve’s side as he battles ALS. They are a living testament to the power of love.)

Donate to ALS Canada
An Overview of ALS Canada Research Program

Help fund a NEW Documentary on ALS

Coming up at the Coquitlam Crunch

So the Coquitlam Crunch has gained much momentum since putting in the 437 stairs (295 metres / 967 feet) at the first span up The Crunch.  So much so that a new facebook page for those that love the stairs as a work-out has come about. Coquitlam Crunch Stair Crushers now has close to 150 members. I am one of its members and it took me  awhile to realize that this group does focus on the stairs  (duh Robbin). I was simple excited to find a Facebook page related to The Crunch in any event, but I was confused for a while on all the group’s focus as to how many times persons were doing ‘the stairs.’

I work from home, so when I get out to walk, hike etc, I want to see more than those stairs.  My time is also not as limited perhaps as many of the 9-5 jobbers who need to fit in a tight and concise workout, which the stairs portion does provide.

For me the entire Coquitlam Crunch is what I  love, as this way I get the intensity of the stairs, but also the beauty and endurance of the complete hike up to the top. The 2.2 km trail spans from Guildford Way, where I walk up to the Landsdowne entrance (you can park your car there at a designated lot above the lacrosse courts)and keep going crossing two more roads to the top of Westwood Plateau at Eagle Mountain. It’s a beautiful view from an elevation of 794 feet (242 m) with Mount Baker visible in the distance.

Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up.  Slight detour and no worries.  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up. Slight detour and no worries. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The City of Coquitlam continues to enhance the popular trail which is part of its 90-km trail system,  a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Almost complete now is a new short stair system in the second rise above the stairs and across the street past the beautiful gardens that one resident has placed in (over their fence) which seems to be for our enjoyment exclusively.

After my run in with a bear on another trail in Coquitlam this year, I do feel safe to walk The Crunch year-round as their seems to be enough traffic noise and people to keep it safer from the big furry four-legged ones, however some crunchers do wear the bear bells, which are smart in any event.  However one Stair Crusher reported sounds of a bear while doing an early morning hike, so do take heed.

Bears are not the only concern, as it seems many two-leggeds bring their pet four-leggeds out for exercise and leave those nice little plastic bag bundles along the path! Hello… I’d rather see flowers!  It might help if the City of Coquitlam put in a trash can at the base of the stairs section, as within the first 100 stairs the other day I passed 4 colourful doggy-doo bags on the ground. Come on people!

When I first wrote about the main stair system being put in the City had marked the stairs with number points which helped a lot of people assess their workout progress, however the rain had since worn the white marks off, and I do believe a good citizen has taken it upon them self to add some numbers back. Thank you!

See you there! I plan on volunteering.
See you there! I plan on volunteering.

Coming up this September is the return of the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge. “Alexander Bell has teamed up with the Coquitlam Foundation to create a Diversity Initiative Fund for Coquitlam. Bell’s goal is to raise $10,000 over five years so that the fund will begin to generate enough interest to start distributing annual grants within the Tri-Cities. This is the 5th year for the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge and so far $9,697.14 has been raised. The more money that is raised, the larger the yearly grant that can help support diversity initiatives in the community.

The event starts at 6:30am for the ‘Make It or Break It’ category or 10:00am for the ‘Recreational’ category Coquitlam resident and Safe Harbour Co-ordinator,  Bell, is inviting the community to join him to walk the Coquitlam Crunch to raise money for a Community Diversity fund with the Coquitlam Foundation.

Last year a third category was added called the “Anything’s Possible Trail” for people with mobility challenges. This category starts at 10:30am from the Church parking lot on David Avenue and follows a paved portion of the Crunch trail up past the dog park.

The event is said to happen rain or shine, and I am personally planning to help volunteer at the event this year to get a closer look.

We’ve been blessed with another hot summer, which has given us more time to use this wonderful trail, and I am hoping that an Indian Summer ensues so that we can enjoy these warm days and hikes for many days ahead before the west coast rains set in for the winter.  I do hope to maintain my visits during the rainy season, but I know it won’t be as often.

Rain or shine, see you at The Crunch!

Halfway done... non slip grating to be added with white edge markers.
Halfway done… non slip grating to be added with white edge markers. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The bear in the woods

I went out for a walk yesterday. I’ve been trying to keep up with my daily Crunch hike up a 2km walk here in Coquitlam which is building up my level of fitness as it’s directly uphill the power line cut-line of the mountain.

I was feeling pensive and as I exited the house I thought I’d change things up, reviewing in my head about 3 other alternate routes in my part of town.   In the end I just felt my way along and adjusted my route as I felt led to.

I was into a wooded area just blocks from my house, and enjoying how the sunlight dapples itself thorough the leaves. I stopped to take a photo of the trail… then kept walking, and stopped to take another photo.   As I continued along I looked up and there before me was a medium sized black bear.. walking nonchalantly towards me about 5 yards ahead.

My initial response was, wow, what a great picture! But I quickly put that foolishness aside and looked for my exit. Luckily I was behind the college and the path took left just feet from me… I moved forward than took the exit trying not to panic. As soon as I had the turn and a tree or two between the bear’s view of me, I instinctively took off like a shot in mad sprint out toward the college and out of the woods.   The words “Don’t run” were going through my mind as I ran as fast as I could.

It took me about half hour to settle my nerves, and during that time I called my daughter to get her help in calling police or alerting the news to get the word out on social media. After all it was a Sunday evening and many people were out enjoying the summer day.

I hung around the area to warn anyone who was walking near…funny there were not too many people around at all.  I decided to continue my walk around Lafarge Lake and posted the second photo I’d taken online announcing I’d just seen a bear.

I dodged the wood trail after my circle around the lake and took most of the street way home, but just near there, I decided to quell my fears by walking a short distance through the woods to my home again, just to get settled.  It was beautiful.

When I got back to my computer I pulled up the last shot I took in the woods hoping that there would be some sign of the bear, and there he was… very unnoticeable in that last shot I took. I blew up that portion of the photo and indeed I had captured him.

It’s made me realize the importance of safety this time of year, and in particular in the area of Canada that I live.  A woman passed me a week prior on another trail which was very open with high traffic. She jingled as she walked. For bears I thought… She’s smart!  I should follow suit.


(ps. This sighting was at 5pm, June 29th on the Hoy Creek Trail, Coquitlam, just inside the entrance to the woods behind David Lam Campus, Douglas College)

Parental Alert: Is your kid getting high on cough syrup?

I was going through my house in Grand Bahama when we were packing for our upcoming exodus after an  8 year life in The Bahamas,   I came across a guitar case in a place I did not expect… it was in my laundry area hanging behind clothing items. I’d forgotten I put it there.

Memories flooded back of that time.  The day my daughter came out into the main area of our home and threw the guitar case into the middle of our lives… where her pain already was showing itself, mixed in with ours…

The guitar case, partially zipped open and full, revealed a myriad of empty cough syrup bottles and empty boxes of cough syrup pills. ..she was only fifteen years old.

The contents therein did not surprise me, but the amount did! We already knew, and she had recently acknowledged her addiction; we were fighting for her life.  In that one moment she’d taken the bold and blunt step to throw her condition into our faces right after arguing with us that she did not have any such addiction. I knew there and then it was my daughter’s cry for help, and I knew that no matter what, I would not stop until we resolved the situation.

What do we think when we see a drug addict on TV or in the streets? We may assume that they are beneath us, that they have little support, little income, but most of the time these people are just like you and me.  Many are capable of leading a ‘normal’ life  just like you and I, and they usually have money, or at least have parents that do. So what is the problem? I do not know… I only know of what I experienced. That being my daughter was altered after the divorce of her parents – trying to cope with her once surreal ‘perfect life’ now gone as she knew it.  We had lost her, amongst  her own fears and sorrows which projected ‘as real’ to her.

I could tell you stories of that time that could possible startle or shock you, but the  long and short of it is that my daughter was addicted to cough syrup – yup, good old Vicks, Triaminic, Robitussin and such. Where did she get this idea?  Well she is one smart girl, which is a good thing overall.  She has always been a seeker of knowledge, and that is how she found out about it. She found information online, actually a forum (forums were big back then) and on this particular forum she had to write an essay to be accepted into it – many members were adults, even ‘doctors’ she  boasted when telling us about it later. It also didn’t help that consuming ‘purple drank‘ was being popularized by popularized by several prominent hip-hop artists.

My daughter gained acceptance to ‘the forum’ and behind her closed bedroom door she began experimenting with cough syrup, which contains a derivative of speed. Not only that, but she also read and learned about the natural drug, nutmeg.  Yes, nutmeg! Apparently if you grind nutmeg and ingest it, you will get high.  All this she began photo documenting as part of her membership on this forum.  At one time, a member even died, and it was being discussed in our household and on the forum.

I go into drug stores and see the liquid (slang name, Purple Drank or Sizzurp) at waist height… so accessible to to fast hands even if someone doesn’t have the money to purchase it. Parents and store owners everywhere need to know about this drug which has gained popularity, because anyone can go purchase it, and hence why it’s called a ‘legal drug’.  Anything containing codeine should be by prescription.

My daughter, who gave me the okay to write this, made it through that time, and she’s now a vibrant young adult and university graduate working hard at her future. Her teeth are extremely weak today and I think it’s due to the cough syrup.  She lost almost 2 years of her life due to this toxic mix.  She has little memory of the things that took place then, which may be a good thing.  During that time she lost weight,  slept for hours and hours after being up on a high for often 2 full days…

She slept in the day, and was awake most of the nights. During the worst she said such things I had no idea where she could have the knowledge or verbiage to say, and I am not talking about swearwords either.  There were many episodes that turned our family life into living nightmares.  She was hypersensitive  and flew off the handle easily, at times becoming violent.  She had no appetite and complained of stomach pains.

Unfortunately in The Bahamas there was little support on Grand Bahama Island for drug addiction at that time. My friend in Nassau took her in for a couple weeks so she could see well-known psychologist Dr. David Allen. He reported that she was very smart  and had nothing wrong her with her other than her like for experimentation. He said she was actually extremely bright and talented – this I already knew!

I am glad to have my daughter back. When she was gone, she was gone. Her eyes and spirit were empty when she was high on cough syrup. It was like losing a child. We were lucky to win the battle and I urge all parents to be wary of this. Talk to store owners who carry these items openly on the aisles, and store owners please be wary of young people buying cough medicines in your establishment.

I am a lucky parent. My daughter survived, but I read countless stories online where many parents lost their children as they went on to harder street drugs, and they could no longer allow their child’s abusive behaviour in their homes, so they subsequently lost them altogether.

BE AWARE! Here is some information:

Cough Preparations
Many cough preparations, especially cough suppressants, contain codeine or DXM (Dextromethorphan). Codeine and other opiates are very effective cough suppressants, but they are addictive. DXM, a powerful psychoactive drug, is particularly addictive. Cough syrup abusers can obtain the drug from their doctors by complaining about coughs and other cold symptoms. Ingredients in many cough preparations are considered to be dangerous in combination with other drugs, particularly antidepressants (including SSRI medications and MAO Inhibitors), antihistamine allergy medications, and Yohimbe.

Addicts commonly point to three reasons for using cough syrup:

It’s legal (and therefore more acceptable)
It’s low-cost or free
It’s seen as being safer than other drugs of abuse.

Methods of Use
Some addicts drink cough syrup undiluted or mixed with sodas. Others soak marijuana joints with the syrup. In some cities, an underground black market has developed for selling syrup. DXM can also be extracted from cough preparations and taken orally, injected, and occasionally freebased.

Examples of cough preparations include Drixoral Cough Liquid Caps, Robitussin AC, Dectuss, Phenergan with Codeine, Phensedyl, and Pherazine with Codeine.

Effects on the Central Nervous System
DXM exhibits cough-suppressant functions by activating specific opioid receptors (sigma opioid receptors) in the central nervous system. In this sense, DXM functions like Ketamine or PCP. The sigma opioid receptor has been implicated in many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. DXM also affects receptors in the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which plays a role in coordinating movement. The involvement of cerebellum receptors may account for reports of peculiar reactions to movement among persons abusing cough syrup.

Cough syrup abusers use the drug to obtain a marijuana-like high with occasional auditory hallucinations and pleasurable reactions to movement. Other less desirable effects depend on the dose taken:

Dilated pupils
High blood pressure
Hot and cold flashes
Impaired judgment
Memory disturbances
Nausea and other gastric disturbances
Panic attacks
Psychotic episodes
Sexual dysfunction
Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

Life Risks
Aside from the risk of addiction, cough syrup use is associated with increased fatigue, poor coordination, constipation, urinary retention, and other problems. Overdose deaths have been reported. As mentioned above, DXM may be particularly dangerous in combination with other medications or substances, including:

  • “Non-drowsy” antihistamines (allergy medications) such as  Claritin, Seldane, or Hismina
  • MAO inhibitors (a certain class of anti-depressant)
  • SSRI antidepressants, such as Desyrel or Serzone
  • The herb Yohimbe / yohimbine

Any of these substances in the system at the same time as DXM can be fatal!

Withdrawal from cough syrups can cause a range of unpleasant and dangerous symptoms, depending on the content dosage of the preparation. DXM withdrawal is characterized by depression and difficulties with thinking and memory.

Warning Signs
A person who is addicted to cough preparations may:

– Frequently purchase over-the-counter cough preparations
–  Buy cough preparations at different stores


(Photo credit for bottles on ground: Sumit Molhotra)

Canada to host Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit

Image from Melinda Gates facebook page, "Every year, more than one million newborns die on their first day of life. The good news is these newborn lives can be saved with simple and relatively inexpensive interventions."
Image from Melinda Gates facebook page, “Every year, more than one million newborns die on their first day of life. The good news is these newborn lives can be saved with simple and relatively inexpensive interventions.”

According to the Lancet study each year 2.9 million newborn babies die around the world, while another 2.6 million are stillborn.

Noted philanthropist Melinda Gates issued an international call for more funding May 20th as she helped launch new research in the medical journal The Lancet on the plight of new mothers, babies and young children in developing countries.

This report puts  pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he hosts a major international meeting next week on his signature aid initiative — maternal, newborn and child health.

Harper committed $2.8 billion to the cause during 2010’s G8 summit and will be chairing the three-day event in Toronto.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today further program elements for the upcoming Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit, which is taking place from May 28 to 30, 2014, in Toronto, Ontario. Prime Minister Harper will be speaking at plenary sessions and moderating a panel discussion. He will also be participating in a roundtable with Canadian MNCH partners.

The Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit will provide Canadian experts and global leaders with an opportunity to build consensus on the focus of future international efforts in maternal, newborn and child health. More specifically, Summit participants will work together on three key objectives: delivering results for mothers and children, doing more together globally, and undertaking real action for women’s and children’s health.

On Wednesday, May 28 – the opening day of the Summit – a discussion among panelists will focus on how the global MNCH agenda is delivering measurable results for women and children. Additional sessions will focus on increasing global attention to nutrition and saving lives of children through immunization.

On the second day of the Summit, a key session entitled “Doing More Together Globally” will explore those elements of the global partnership on MNCH that have been key to success: political leadership, financing commitments, focus on high-impact, cost-effective interventions and accountability. Concurrent sessions will also take place on: innovative financing and new partners; civil registration and vital statistics to promote accountability in MNCH; newborn health: further reducing child mortality rates; and the need to accelerate progress on maternal health.

On the third and final day of the Summit, participants will gather for a plenary session entitled “MNCH at the heart of post-2015.” This panel discussion will focus on the concrete steps needed to ensure real global results on maternal, newborn and child health to 2015 and beyond.

Additional details on the Summit itinerary can be found at: Further information will be added as it becomes available.

Quick Facts

  • The Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit will bring together Canadian stakeholders and experts, as well as global leaders from developed and developing countries, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and foundations to take stock of the progress made to date and discuss the way forward.
  • Key international participants will include:
    • Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of Tanzania;
    • Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan;
    • His Highness the Aga Khan;
    • Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
    • Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group;
    • Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
    • Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization; and,
    • Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF.
  • The Summit will contain high-level keynote speeches and a mix of plenary and thematic sessions. They will focus on reducing newborn mortality; improving accountability through strengthened civil registration and vital statistics systems; saving lives through immunization; scaling up nutrition as a foundation for healthy lives; and building new partnerships with the private sector to leverage innovation and financing.
  • There is solid international progress being made to address maternal, newborn and child health, but more needs to be done.
  • The number of women who die each year during pregnancy or childbirth has dropped substantially – from 523,000 deaths in 1990 to 289,000 in 2013.
  • The global number of deaths of children under the age of five has dropped significantly as well, from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012.

“Canada continues to be a leader in pressing for global action on maternal, newborn and child health issues. I look forward to welcoming key international partners to the Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto next week so that together we can keep these critical issues at the forefront of the global agenda and put an end to the tragedy of women and children dying needlessly, from causes we know how to prevent.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Short Agenda: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit

1 in 4 Canadians have tried to help a friend leave an abusive partner

Image: Christopher Gilbert
Image: Christopher Gilbert

Canadians would first look to a friend for help, although many would attempt to resolve abuse on their own

(Written by Canadian Women’s Foundation) Toronto, ON – A new study from the Canadian Women’s Foundation reveals that 1 in 4 Canadians have tried to help a friend leave an abusive partner. Violence against women is prevalent in Canadian society, with women at higher risk of violent victimization by someone they know, like an intimate partner.

According to the survey, Canadians are most likely to turn to a friend first to report situations of verbal abuse (20 per cent) and emotional abuse (22 per cent). However, a relatively equal amount of respondents expect to resolve verbal and emotional abuse without outside help (28 per cent vs. 21 per cent, respectively), and a full 10 per cent would expect to resolve physical or sexual abuse on their own.

“The fact that a quarter of Canadians have tried to help a friend leave an abusive partner underscores the prevalence of violence in this country,” says Anuradha Dugal, Director of Violence Prevention, Canadian Women’s Foundation. “Abusive situations can foster feelings of self-doubt, self-blame and humiliation, but attempting to resolve it alone can pose a great threat to the safety and well-being of the victim.”

Although Canadians are likely to report abuse to their friends, 13 per cent of respondents do not have confidence that their friends would believe them. Canadians also worry that their family (16 per cent), doctors (15 per cent) and police or other authorities (28 per cent) would not take their reports seriously.

“It’s alarming that so many Canadians are worried that their friends/family, doctors and even the police, would not believe them if they disclosed abuse. Living in a culture where speaking out about abuse is still taboo and where many blame the victim leads to many women believing that the abuse is their fault. Women are therefore less likely to come forward to report the assault or to seek assistance to escape the abuse,” explains Ms. Dugal.

Other findings in the study revealed:

  • The majority of Canadians would first report physical abuse (55 per cent) and sexual abuse (56 per cent) to the police or other authorities
  • Close to half (43 per cent) of respondents are not confident that their HR department at work would believe them if they reported abuse
  • Almost one-third (31 per cent) of Canadians say that the financial toll that the legal process would take on their friends and family would be likely to prevent them reporting an abusive situation
  • A further third (31 per cent) of Canadians say having their story exposed to the public, friends and family members would likely prevent them from reporting abuse

The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s 10th Annual Campaign to End Violence against Women, ending May 11, raises awareness and funds for women who have experienced abuse. The funds raised help more than 445 shelters for abused women and their children and community violence prevention programs across Canada that break the cycle of violence.

If you know a woman in an abusive situation, the Canadian Women’s Foundation offers the following ways that you can help:

1. Be supportive
The most important thing you can do is listen and offer your nonjudgmental support. Tell them the violence is not their fault, and that they deserve to be treated with respect, no matter what. Let them know you do not blame them. If they decide to stay, do not judge them. The most valuable things you can offer a woman who is being abused are respect, taking her seriously and linking her to where she can get help.

2. Learn more about relationship violence
Recognize the warning signs of abuse and understand why many don’t press charges against their abusers.

3. Be aware of the risks
Be careful about how you communicate with the victim, since many abusers closely monitor their victims (where they go, who they see, phone calls, email, Facebook etc.)

4. Ensure your own safety
Never confront an abuser or do anything that puts you in danger or feels unsafe. Take care of yourself by talking through your feelings about the issue with a supportive, knowledgeable friend or professional.

5. Find resources
Before speaking to a victim, get the phone number of your local shelter, crisis line, YWCA, or agency offering specialized services for victims of abuse. This way you can provide specific information, if and when they are ready.

6. Choose the right time and place
Be thoughtful about where and when to discuss your concerns. Choose a place where you will not be overheard or interrupted, and where they will have privacy. Don’t choose a time when you feel unprepared, or when they seem distracted or are in a hurry.

7. Voice your concerns
Be sensitive. Don’t give details about what you have witnessed, as she may feel the need to give excuses or deny what happened. Explain why you want to support her and tell her you’re ready to listen whenever she is.

8. Put them in charge
Don’t expect to know all the answers. Explore options with them. Don’t try to take over or tell them what to do. Tell them: “I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.” Ask direct, simple questions such as: “Do you want me to help you find someone to talk to?” or “Do you want to go somewhere safe?” If they aren’t sure what to do, simply encourage them to talk, and listen without judgment.

To learn more about violence against women, read the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s fact sheet.

*Methodology: From March 21st to March 22nd 2014 an online survey was conducted among 1,009 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Take Back Your Power Wins Indie Fest Annual Humanitarian Award


LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA – Josh del Sol and his documentary, Take Back Your Power, have been named this year’s winner of the Indie Fest Annual Humanitarian Award.

Take Back Your Power follows filmmaker del Sol as he investigates the use of so-named “smart” meter technology, being deployed by utilities and governments to harvest data from within private homes and introduce new pricing schemes.  With compelling insight from whistleblowers, government agents, lawyers, environmentalists and doctors, the documentary “exposes corporate corruption and the erosion of human rights in the name of ‘going green’.”

The Indie Fest is a top-tier international awards competition designed to recognize independent creators of fresh, standout films, television programs, compelling documentaries and new media.  One film is selected each year for the Humanitarian Award based on its dedication to social justice, humanitarian causes, or environmental issues.

Director and producer del Sol spoke of the award helping to expand the reach of the controversial issue. “The subject matter affects everyone, and the conversation deserves to be squarely in the mainstream,” said del Sol. “Should individual rights take a back seat to the collective?  Should energy be an unaffordable privilege, instead of a basic affordable right?  And how can corrupt corporatized government systems be held accountable? These are some of the most profound questions of our time.”

About this year’s winner, Indie Fest Coordinator Thomas Baker, PhD stated, “Take Back Your Power takes on the daunting yet important task of educating people worldwide about the surveillance, hacking, health, home safety, and consumer cost concerns linked to so-called ‘smart’ utility meters.  It was selected out of hundreds of films for our Annual Humanitarian award because it delves into the heart of what is possibly the main problem in our world today: corporations taking over without conscience, and causing extreme levels of harm in the process.”

This is the second major independent award for the boat-rocking film, which was named AwareGuide Transformational Film of the Year in February.  The updated 2nd edition of Take Back Your Power will premiere at the Berkeshire International Film Festival, May 31-June 1 (

Take Back Your Power was released online on September 5, 2013.  Theatrical and community screenings are available at, where the documentary can also be streamed and is available on DVD.


Conquering The Crunch

I live in the beautiful city of Coquitlam, and we are surrounded by hills,  mountains and nature.  My latest fitness challenge is to master The Coquitlam Crunch which is a fairly steep ascension up a trail on the cut-line, or under the power lines which serve the area.

Although I do not think that walking under that much energy is good for you, I am excited to live close enough to take part in this fitness challenge, and on a daily basis if I want. The walk to get to the base is about 15 minutes and uphill, then it gets intense once you are on The Crunch.

The City of Coquitlam just put in new staircases (437 steps) in areas that are the steepest. We do have an extremely wet climate, and young and old use the trails, so better safe than sorry I am guessing.  The great thing is you can still use the gravel portion to one side if you prefer the natural climb or descent.

I first came upon the improvement walking down The Crunch and all that shiny new metal starts to wear at your brain after awhile. You have to take it slow as every so many stairs their is a landing stair, or stair with a difference size, so you can’t just barrel down in a solid rhythm as you have to be checking your footing as the stairs change in length. I really hope the City can put a stripping or put paint at the edge of each stair, as then you could speedup your descent being more sure of your footing.

As for going up, I like both the gravel and the stairs and have found intermingling them gives me an interesting work out. I am only getting started and I do need my momentary break along the way to calm my wildly beating heart, but I hope to be able to first walk up the entire way from “Lower Lansdowne to David” without stopping within the next two weeks.  Once I’ve mastered that, I will go higher up the trail. The walk back to my home from the top can be 30 minutes or half that if I jog downhill.

Once I have conquered The Crunch, then I hope to take in the Grouse Grind which is famous in Vancouver for a killer and picturesque workout.  Add to that all the great places one can hike in the area or the Vancouver area, there is so much to explore, all the while getting in a great workout.

(Photos: Looking down The Crunch and looking up The Crunch  Photos: Robbin Whachell)



Horsetail: A Medicinal ‘Weed’

Spring Horsetail (also called Shavegrass) growing in abundance along a forest line in B.C., Canada.

Known for its abundant source of silica, and its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, astringent and diuretic properties.

“Equisetum arvense, the field horsetail or common horsetail, is a herbaceous perennial plant, native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.” – Wikipedia (more info:

A Clean Little Story!

Home cleaning has changed over the years, with the coming of the more natural home products that are non-toxic or non-caustic.  Our home is our haven and we try and spend the good majority of our time there, and in fact we do by the mere fact we sleep at night.

Some 10 years ago, when I was living in The Bahamas, a friend told me about her vacuum, and even let me borrow it one day when mine had died.  It was a system that required no bags and all the dirt you sucked up was pushed through water, so when you were done, all you had to do was empty the dirty water out. No dust, no hot smell, none of that.  I was so impressed, I swore that one day I’d own one too.

Fast forward ten years, and I do now own something even better! I’ve purchased a Pro Aqua, and I’ve never been happier.  Not only is it a kick-butt  vacuum, but I can get the dust mites out of my bed, and clean stuffed animals, cushions, clothes that  need dusting, all with this amazing device.

It’s also a wet-vac, and it saved our wood floors when we moved into our new place. Our washing machine had flooded over and the water went across the tile and onto the wood flooring. Within minutes we had it all sucked up.

The greatest thing about the Pro Aqua is that it cleans the air in your home.  An interesting statistic is that “studies of human exposure to air pollutants by EPA indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoor pollutant levels.

Let’s face it our home is a contained (often closed) vessel for the most part.  Outside air may seem fresh, but when we open our windows the outside allergens, and pollutants also come inside. Add to that dust, cooking molecules, candle chemicals, etc, and our home can be a toxic place.

I run my Pro Aqua ever day for about a half hour and it sucks in the air, and pushes out clean air. It comes with natural fragrances (oils) that you can drop into the water, so when you are either vacuuming, or ‘cleaning the air’, your home smells wonderful.  It runs cool and the motor is very powerful, manufactured in Germany by leading manufacturers.

Who hasn’t burned toast, or food while cooking, and sometimes we wish our home would not smell like the food we just cooked.  Pro Aqua helps there too. I just put it on low in the kitchen while I am cooking, or after we’ve enjoyed dinner and my home is fresh smelling again in minutes.

Valued for its diversity; the Pro-Aqua is a multi-talented power house! It can hold up to the toughest applications either commercial or residential.
My R2D2! lol… Valued for its diversity; the Pro-Aqua is a multi-talented power house! It can hold up to the toughest applications either commercial or residential.

With Pro Aqua there is no more dusty, germ laden vacuum bags to deal with, which get heated and fluff  allergens and bacteria back into the air like with regular vacuum systems.  My Pro Aqua blows cool clean air, and after I am done,  I just empty the water basin which has collected all the dirt.  Although I do have to come face to face with dust particles, hair, and dirt I just cleaned up, at least it’s not in my home, and I can throw it down the toilet or dispose of it into my garden.  It may not seem pleasant, but we separate our trash (food waste) for recycling, and this is no different.

Once a month I clean my mattress with the Pro Aqua. You’d be amazed how fast dust mites multiply and how many live in our pillows and beds! No one is exempt no matter how clean you think you are.  If you suffer from dust allergies you may likely have an allergy to the dust mite’s feces (excrement). I would highly recommend  a Pro Aqua for persons suffering with allergies.

The Pro Aqua does all the following for me: Wet vacuuming; Dry vacuuming; Air purifying (removal of allergens);  Room scenting; Bed and mattress cleaning; Carpet cleaning; Upholstery cleaning; Stain removal; Drain unclogging; Intlation/deflation (balls, air mattresses, bags of clothes for traveling etc); Vacuum-sealing; Humidification. It comes with all the great little attachments and nozzles and the hose never tangles.

We are in a new age of cleaning.  I remember the sci fi movie “Gattaca” with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.  There is a scene where Ethan finishes his morning routine in his bathroom, and he hits a switch upon leaving the room and there’s a flash and all the room is sanitized completely, even his skin cells he’s shed off, hair, etc, is gone.  We are not quite there yet, but Pro Aqua has us pretty close!

Interested in learning more? Pro Aqua is not sold in stores, but is sold in 50 countries and is new to Canada and distributed through  We liked ours so much, my son Nathen Blower joined their company!  Check out the  Pro-Aqua Room Cleaning System on Facebook.  Tell ’em Robbin sent ya!