Tag Archives: Robbin Whachell

My brother knows me, and I like it

A collage I put together for a presentation I was giving on my life’s transitions.

My birthday has come and gone this year, but I just came across this post on Facebook that my little brother (I have three older brothers – all just as amazing) posted as a tribute to me on my 54th in March.

I want to cherish this writing, so have chosen to publish it here. It’s not everyday we can hear a loved ones speak about you. Often that is reserved for our funeral.  I particularly like to do similar on family birthdays, to let people know how we feel about them, and to let them know that we are aware and understand the strides they are making or are attempting to make in life.

Nollind wrote, “My sister Robbin Whachell turns 54 today. While conventional minds might say she is entering the latter part of an already full life (and maybe needs to slow down a bit), it’s evident to me that she is just getting started with a whole new life in a whole new world unfolding before her.

In a simple word, Robbin is a pioneer, just like her parents before her. Perhaps unbeknownst to many, she has been peripherally settling and cultivating a new home in the wilds of a new world for many years, while sustaining herself and her family at the same time within the conventional old world. As such, she is a living bridge between what has been and what will be, giving others a wonderful glimpse at the future emerging in our present today.

Seeking more personal meaning beyond the limited identity and confines of the traditional work world, Robbin branched out within her social life, enabling her to spread her wings and achieve a heightened vision to help the communities that she cared about the most. While some might say this was time wasted due to a lack of monetary compensation, she saw and felt something greater within it, something priceless that stretched far beyond economic value to a deeper, social value.

While I’m sure Robbin herself still feels like she has many miles to go on her transformational journey, it is without a doubt that each day her purpose is becoming stronger with clarity. Yes, the wilds of this new world are a chaotic, confusing, and uncertain place but each day her purpose, as her internal compass, helps her slowly map this new world and her new identity, giving them both a deeper sense of meaning and empowerment to her life.

In closing, I just want to refer to a couple of quotes by Marina Gorbis from her book The Nature of the Future. These quotes epitomize what Robbin is becoming and already is. She is a pioneer, a leader, living and leading by example. She is an advocate of a better world by building and living a better world out of her own life. She is a teacher, showing others the time and patience required to weave a better, integrated life whose social fabric can contain the complexities and uncertainties of the future to come.

Happy Birthday Robbin!

“In the past we’ve been advised to leave the personal and social at the door when we go to work. But the new work is all about the social and personal. It draws on the power of personal connections and the diversity of personal tastes, talents, and quirks.”

“What the pioneers of socialstructing are doing looks less like management and more like community organizing. Yes, good old-fashioned community organizing, but with a new set of tools and motivations. And their efforts are more akin to social movements than to managed organizations. Much of the motivation for building and contributing to socialstructs comes from a sense of urgency and greater purpose. This drive has often grown out of a particular vulnerability or personal experience of founders, making them into powerful advocates for their causes.”

— Marina Gorbis, The Nature of the Future

A collage I put together for a presentation I was giving on my life’s transitions.

Green Embassy of Australia highlights B.C. First Nation’s plight with Kinder Morgan

Australian designer Kuvan- Mills with the great-grandchildren of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BC, Canada. (Photo left by Arun Nevader / photo right by Dustin Photography)

Vancouver, B.C. — World Water Week has just concluded and although many events took place around the world close to rivers, oceans and streams, the fashion runway may be one of the last places on people’s minds when it comes to water and conservation.  Enter Zuhal Kuvan-Mills from Australia and her Green Embassy ‘ Empty Oceans’ collection…

Environmental activist, fashion designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. Currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia) she said she was compelled to return to west-coast Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters.  This is the Perth designer’s fourth time down the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week, and her Empty Ocean’s collection is in perfect sync with water conservation, and she wanted to share that with the Vancouver audience.

Zuhal Kuvan-Mills wears a Sea Shepherd Australia t-shirt with her models at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 26, 2017 (Photo: Dustin Photography)

“Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water,”  said Kuvan-Mills who connected with Charlene Aleck of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation during her stay.  Aleck’s daughter Ocean and granddaughter Maya, ad her niece Jasmine were asked to walk the runway.  The three, are the great (and great-great) grandchildren of a the late native leader, Chief Dan George.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Green Embassy runway show opened with a poignant video by Conservation International which reminded us of the beauty of the ocean, and why we need her. As the video closed,  the First Nation youth walked together down the runway in their traditional regalia covered by one large fishing net.

Maya, Ocean, and Jasmine of Tsleil-Waututh Nation on the runway for Green Embassy’s “Empty Oceans” collection at Vancouver Fashion Week (Photo: Arun Nevader)

“I am grateful to the work of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills,” said Charlee Aleck, who is an elected Councillor for her nation after the runway show, “‘Empty Oceans’ brings awareness to how we are treating/polluting our oceans, and the state of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She shares our concern and the imminent threats to our salmon bearing rivers and Salish Sea from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. ‘What will we leave our children?’ Empty nets?” continued Aleck. “I feel truly blessed to have met this beautiful soul, the passion Zuhal has put into this very important message – water is life!”

“I aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world,” says Zuhal. “The children under the fishing net represents the future of the First Nations, they are being destroyed by all types of abuse and destruction to oceans,” said Kuvan-Mills. “Black coloured fish net was selected to represent death and destruction to the natural environment (coastal waters) for First Nations. It was also over the children like a black cloud as now they are under great danger of losing their coastal waters to pollution with yet another Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

(Photos: Dustin Photography)

It is her hope to create a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Models graced the runway to a mix of sounds of First Nation drumbeats and Aboriginal didgeridoo. Fabrics were soft and flowing like water, in blues and ocean colours, or light and creamy like the sand and sea. Bow-ties, bows, sashes or sleeves were made from re-purposed fishing net remnants. Some dresses were made of recycled polyester sourced from trash, plastic bottles, ad drift / ghost fishing nets. There was the lightest of silk pieces that whispered down the runway, while the woven items were strong and edgy like the ocean’s coral and shells, or soft and warm like the sun’s reflection on the shoreline.

The fabric of many of the coats, jackets, hats and vests were collected, hand spun, processed and dyed by Kuvan-Mills herself on her farm in Perth where she raises alpacas, a domesticated species of South American camelid, similar to the llama. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables, finding inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues.

In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she explained her methods at Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald, and met with many designers, to inspire them to turn toward ‘slow fashion’ and join her for the event.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Real people – non models wear Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photos by Arun Nevader)

Kuvan-Mills’ commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love.

I am so very proud to be connected to this show and that my daughters were able to walk for this amazing designer who has so much heart, passion and vision… I look forward to visiting her  in Australia.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Listen to a short clip of the designer talking about her dying process at a Vancouver media event.

Watch video of part of the finale walk on the runway at VFW.

Me wearing Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. The show was on my birthday on March 26! In the photo taken by Victoria Clements I am holding a Harl Taylor BAG made from natural fibres from The Bahamas. The photo on right is the same vest for a photo I included in my article “Am I Anti-Pipeline” written on my blog about my thoughts around pipelines. It was taken on Burrard Inlet where I dragon boat and where the Kinder Morgan station is.

Read  Am I Anti-Pipeline?

Connect with Green Embassy:




Merry Christmas from Robbin and Co.

The tree is decorated, the cookies are made, the gifts are wrapped; now all that’s left is to wish you a Merry Christmas!

I took this photo above in our front room on one of our rare snowy and chilly nights just days ago.  It looks like Christmas perfection, and luckily my head elf / youngest daughter got us moving towards Christmas this year by picking out the perfect tree, decorating, and even doing a lot of the shopping and wrapping for us!

I’ve been reexamining Christmas and what it means to me, in particular as our world changes so rapidly around us. Although I was raised Catholic, on the surface Christmas appears to be a day we work towards, to come together and share gifts we’ve purchased or made, and eat, drink and be merry. The time together is the real gift however, and it’s should be done more often. I am grateful that Christmas gets us all together, but I am becoming more of the mindset to just leave all the present shopping for birthdays!

Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni's house... (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)
Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni’s house… (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)

My children are all young adults now, and it’s been a long time since I’ve written a Christmas Letter.  This year marks over 5 years that I have been back in Canada after life in The Bahamas, and no regrets. I love being home and I love my country.

My mother Corae has been living with us since September 2015 and all is going well. She turns 83 on December 23rd. For those that do not use Facebook, mom’s become quite the star as I share stories about her under the hashtag #ParentingOurParents.  They are tiny little excerpts of my life as I grapple with trying to be a good daughter, while what seems to be, ‘parenting’ my aging parent.

This year The Bahamas took the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, and I took my ex husband Brian into my home! For those not aware, Brian has Parkinsons, and his health spiraled downhill rather rapidly this summer. He’s been back in Canada since October and although glad to be home, and with family, he has a long road ahead. I’ve been helping him transition back to the real world as he awaits his new healthcare assessments. He’s improved a lot just by being here.

My eldest Loryn (26 years) is now a married working woman, and is speeding through life not only on the snowboarding slopes, but she’s progressing very quickly in her career as a banker. Go see her at HSBC if you are looking to invest.  She and Lorraine (a nurse) have purchased their first home, as well as their first car. The girls live conveniently just down the road from us.

Tohni (now 24 yrs) has been enjoying life in the fast lane and lives in East Vancouver. She’s in a great relationship with Patrick and has been co-managing a fun restaurant called The General Public on Main Street in Vancouver. Do stop in to see her, she’ll give you a super discount. This year Tohni worked her butt off so she could take in as many music festivals as she could over the summer, and traveled a couple times to the USA.

Nathen (22-yrs-old) is studying now at Simon Fraser University and is working at Vision Electronics. Go see him, he’ll also give you a good deal!  While taking on a full course load, he managed to move out last month, so his life is full of responsibility.  He lives just up the hill from us. His present goal is to become a chiropractor like his father, but he said he’ll see how things progress.

Jackie (20-yrs) is the last egg in the nest and has been a huge support around the house with helping take care of her grandmother and father. She’s been working at Dynamite women’s clothing at Coquitlam Centre and is still keeping up as the voice of the ‘community calendar’ on 98.7 FM. She can be heard every hour, on the hour at ckpmfm.com.

As for me, life is full on! I’m still working TheBahamasWeekly.com and this year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I had hoped to get back for a celebration but the hurricane took care of that.  I’ve taken on several other clients that I do writing or social media work for.

Some 2016 highlights
Some 2016 highlights

This  year I was elected president of the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society which manages a salmon enhancement program in the woods near my house. I love my volunteer work there, and have been furthering the HSWS public relations by building and managing a new website, Youtube and social media accounts. Check us out at hoyscottcreeks.org.

I’ve just completed my first year of dragon boating with the 50+ Nothin’ Dragon Masters, and loved every minute of it.  I raced with the team in 4 or 5 festivals this year, which was very exciting. Our oldest teammate is 80. I’ve also been playing soccer with my daughter Loryn on a Div. 3 team once a week, and it’s special time with her and my favourite game. I took my love for the Coquitlam Crunch, a hiking mountain in our city, to new heights by co-chairing the annual event, the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge, and was featured in the city’s promo video. In fall of this year I joined Ultra Throw, a brand new local club of 20+ athletes training and competing in javelin, shot put, discus, hammer, and weight throwing. In 2017 I will start competing. I am excited (and scared) of this, as competing in sport ‘solo’ is brand new to me.

As for my love life, when a girlfriend from the Bahamas asked if I was dating, I said, “I’m open to it, but any group I join, or people I meet, the guys are either gay, already in relationship or married.” Another girlfriend suggested I join the dating group, “Events and Adventures,” to which I chuckled and replied, “My life is already an event and adventure! I don’t need to pay for it, and I don’t have the time in my schedule.”  Another girlfriend suggested I try online dating. I tried that once – went on one date, and although it was fine (meah), I’ve resolved to waiting to see what life doles out. So yes, I am happy and single.

In 2017 I look forward to keeping my life afloat, and also have some long-range writing goals I hope to get started on if I can find the time!

Below is my interview with Tri-Cities Community TV featured on Shaw TV where I talked about #ParentingOurParents, my salmon work, The Bahamas Weekly, and dragon boating. Click the image to view or HERE.

My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV
My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV

Whether I’ve seen you this year, or not; whether we only communicate now and again, or via social media; thank you for being in my life.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

Parenting Our Parents

I moved back to Canada from the Bahamas in late summer 2011; and before winter 2012, I moved my mother in with me.  She was not thrilled about living in the Vancouver area because she doesn’t like the damp climate.

“I’ve raised seven children; been butchered up by the doctors after being in the hospital sixteen times,” she likes to remind us, even though seven of those times were to deliver babies. “Vancouver weather just makes my bones ache.”

But  mom agreed to move in with me anyway, and we were living in a high rise on the 33rd floor.   “The bird cage,” she quickly dubbed it.  She loved the views, the sunrises, but hated everything else about it.  All that said, mom’s health improved week by week, likely due to the regular and varied meals we made, and the love received by her grandchildren.  She didn’t like going out much, and I’m no sure if it was the high rise life that was foreign to her, but the woman I knew as my mother always had a gypsy adventurous spirit and it killed me to see her be so idle while I worked on the computer during the day.

That Christmas she went to ‘visit’ her sister in Edmonton for two weeks and flew the coop by refusing to return.  I can’t say I was surprised.

On a warm May day in 2015 walking through Hoy Trail in Coquitlam. I took mom on a walk through the woods and she said, "This spot is so beautiful you should take a picture."
On a warm May day in 2015 walking through Hoy Trail in Coquitlam. I took mom on a walk through the woods and she said, “This spot is so beautiful you should take a picture.”

Mom only lasted two weeks with her big sister and then moved in with a girlfriend.  She stayed there in Edmonton, ended up in the interior of BC for a bit with another girlfriend, and went back to Edmonton until 2015. In 2014 she put herself into the hospital at one point, and the doctors found nothing wrong with her. It was hard to deal with as we wanted her in BC, but she refused to come, and refused to live with her friend again.  The doctors suggested they find senior housing for her. The wait was a few months, and I know it was hard on her.

Finally a place came up in downtown Edmonton, and my sister and I went out to set mom up in her new home. We went out and shopped and got it all ready for her, even buying her new clothes. The seniors facility had all the amenities and no cooking was allowed in her room. Thank goodness as she had been starting to leave pots on stoves, etc.

It wasn’t long before mom said she didn’t like their food, and didn’t’ seem to engage in any of the social activities they had on every day. I could tell when I called she was depressed.  All of her children, live in BC except my brother who lives in Edmonton, but has ALS and lives in long-term care.  If anything urgent were to happen with mom’s health, we’d have to fly in. I continued to express my concern about this with her.   Finally mom agreed to move to B.C. but wanted to live in Abbotsford instead of Vancouver, as she assumed it gets less rain.

Made with love! Every morning I put out breakfast for mom. Home made steel cut oats with raisins and flax; some kefir; coconut milk, stewed prunes; and her vitamins. She's only on one medication for her high blood pressure. Mom is always served first at any of our meals.
Made with love! Every morning I put out breakfast for mom. Home made steel cut oats with raisins and flax; some kefir; coconut milk, stewed prunes; and her vitamins. She’s only on one medication for her high blood pressure. Mom is always served first at any of our meals.

We found the best seniors home in our budget and were able to get her in when we wanted.  My brother drove out to get her things and put her on the plane.  This was the spring of 2015.  Within only weeks at her new place in Abbotsford, mom was complaining about the food, and the staff. She was mostly upset that the units had only walk-in showers and no bathtubs. She’s been a bathtub girl her entire life.   Again, I could hear the depression setting in, although I was driving out to visit her one day a week, bringing her home on a weekend overnights, as was my brother who lives in Abbotsford.

Then our roommate moved out of our home, and  in my heart of hearts I knew my mother should be with me.  I talked to my siblings about it first.  We all agreed she had to stick out 3 months at the seniors home first, so she would understand her actions better and have time to assimilate the transition into my home .

When I asked her if she’d move in with me again, she burst into tears. “I thought you’d never ask me again, after living with you the last time,” she said.   She stuck out the 3 months and moved in with me last year in September.

This Friday mom turns 83 and she’s finally calling our place ‘home.’ She stopped answering the phone saying, “Robbin’s place” and now just says, “Good afternoon.”

Mom’s been institutionalized, and expected meals to be on time, at certain times, even though I told her she’s living with family now and we are all busy.  Things will not always be on time, and she’ll have to learn to go with our flow. We still have to remind her of this.

Out for a walk in February 2015. After winter she was not wanting to walk much, so I had to get out with her to get her back in the swing of daily walks.
Out for a walk in February 2015. After winter she was not wanting to walk much, so I had to get out with her to get her back in the swing of daily walks.

She’s eased up a lot, and her health is getting better and better, although her short term memory has not improved much.  She’s begun sharing her stories (over and over as she forgets), and has also begun going through some of her things like photographs, and has starting giving them as gifts.  I truly believe that if we care for and live with (or near) our parents, this is how our family stories get passed from generation to generation.

I started writing about mom under the hashtag #parentingourparents on Facebook, and since we baby boomers are all taking care of, or assisting our parents in their final years, my writing seems to  strike a chord with those either dealing with similar, or those who appreciate the insight of what to expect.  Some of my writing is touched with sadness, but much of it  is laced with irony, laughter, and a lot of love.

Taking care of my mother is the least I can do. I am lucky she is still in great health and has her mobility.  It is now her time to rest, reflect, share her stories and enjoy life, the way she wants to.   I often want for her to enjoy life the way I think would be best for her … and she quickly lets it be known if those ideas are going to work for her, or not.

She’s one stubborn woman, but then so am I…

Mom woke up very late yesterday... and seemed to be in a zombie state. I had breakfast laid out and she told me she was going for a walk. "Before breakfast?" I asked. She went on her way, and I thought she must be mad at me for something...? She came back in and said, "Oh a bear got into the garbage cans last night. I hardly slept." I guess she didn't want to wake me up. I went out and sure enough our bins were knocked over. They are right outside her bedroom window. At least she wasn't mad at me :P Later I took her for a walk by Lafarge Lake and we only got as far as the first park bench and she said she had to stop because she was so tired. I hold mom's hand these days, as it gives her that extra security when we walk. "If you don't slow down, you'll have to carry me," she says every time. I left her watching the ducks and did a fast walk on my own. She slept like a log last night :) #parentingourparents #bearscare
Mom sitting in the park at Town Centre, Coquitlam overlooking LaFarge Lake. She was tired because a bear got into our garbage the night before. I did the lake loop on my own.

Here’s one of my favourite #ParentingOurParents pieces from 2015:

Tucking in my 82 year old mother the other night after putting in her eye drops from her cataract removal, I gave her a little squeeze, and she said, “Oh my that feels good. I don’t get many hugs these day.”
Then she said, “Thanks for taking such good care of me.” I turned out her light and held back some tears on the way to my bedroom. #ParentingourParents

[To find more of my #parentingourparents entries, go to your search bar at the top of Facebook and put that hashtag in and hit ‘Return’ – please note that there are others using this hashtag also.]

B.C. brides-to-be encouraged to enter Bahamas 16 Weddings contest


With The Bahamas laying off the east coast of the United States, it’s often not the destination of choice for Canadians living in the western provinces of Canada.

But, The Bahamas has come out with a contest that I am hoping will excite and chance all that.   This November, sixteen (16) Canadian couples will say ‘I Do’ in paradise, as The Bahamas is giving away 16 wedding packages valued at $12,000 (Cdn) each!

I want as many people out west to know about this contest so that  we can have at least one winner from this region.

All you have to do is enter at Bahamas16Weddings.com

and you could get married on one of the following Bahamian islands:  Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, New Providence, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma, Long Island, San Salvador, Paradise Island, Crooked Island, and Inagua.

As editor of thebahamasweekly.com, I’ve been witness to this exciting promotion as it ran first with winners from the UK, and then a second promotion in the United States.  Now it’s Canada’s turn!

But hurry! you only have until May 16th to get your entry in. Enter today!

From left to right: Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications, Bahamas Tourism for Canada; Robbin Whachell, Editor/Cofounder TheBahamasWeekly.com; and Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales, Western Canada, Sunwing Vacations (Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com)
From left to right: Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications, Bahamas Tourism for Canada; Robbin Whachell, Editor/Cofounder TheBahamasWeekly.com; and Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales, Western Canada, Sunwing Vacations (Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com)

No purchase required. Contest begins January 8, 2016 at 12:00:01 a.m. EST and ends June 10, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. Entry deadline: May 16, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. Voting deadline: June 10, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. There are a total of 16 prizes available to be won, each consisting of a round trip for two to The Bahamas, 6 days/5 nights accommodation and includes a wedding package provided by the Sponsor. Open to legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, who are age of majority in the province or territory of residence at time of entry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received before entry deadline, entrants’ creativity and popularity of finalists’ entries. Limit one entry per couple. Limit of one vote per person/Facebook account. Entrant information may be used for promotional purposes. Not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook. For rules and entry details click here

My mother and I at BridalSwap.com (Photo: Cliff Ma Photography)

Bahamian delegates visited with CKPM FM radio in the Tri-Cities to help launch the contest.  Listen here:

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Returns!

I am excited to hear about this anniversary event for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

My brother has had ALS for over 6 years, and last year’s viral campaign made a huge difference to the lives of those suffering with ALS, bringing much awareness about what these individuals and their families are dealing with.

While I was devastated when I heard my brother was diagnosed, his progress over the years has strengthened my spirit, taught me to never give up ,  to value each day, and cherish our loved ones while they are alive.

The 2015 Academy-Award winning movie, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Stephen Hawking, was another great moment last year, as the film breaks a  lot of the stigma and boundaries imposed on persons with ALS. This film brought me even more hope for my brother.  It’s a new day for ALS, and a cure is achievable. If Hawking can still be living in his 70s after being diagnosed in his 20s,  then my brother has an excellent chance to also lead a long and productive life!

Here’s the press release from the ALS Society of BC:

While generous Canadians cooled themselves with buckets of ice and issued challenges to others, the lives of people living with ALS were dramatically changed unprecedented investments into ALS research and practical patient care.

It has been a year since the inception of the immensely popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The popularity of the viral campaign has brought the fight for a cure to the forefront of news and social media platforms across the globe.

As the largest media campaign in history, according to Facebook, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge resulted in over 17 million videos, generating more than 10 billion views. The money raised from last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is increasing the speed at which drugs are going to clinical trial and improving quality of life for those living with ALS.

Even with the tremendous success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS is still not a treatable disease, yet. Every August Until A Cure.

Beginning August 6th of this year, the ALS Society of BC, in partnership with ALS Societies across Canada, will mark the anniversary of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Reporting back to the donors and participants of the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on how the funds have been invested in Canada, as well as the need for additional support in finding a cure for ALS.

This year’s event will start yet another wave of support and awareness for this debilitating disease.

Join the ALS Society of BC, along with dignitaries and special guests, on Thursday, August 6th, at Garry Point Park, 12011 Seventh Avenue, in Richmond at 11:00AM as we celebrate and begin the second wave of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Pat Quinn will be there, as will ALS researchers and the ALS Society of BC.

Due to drought conditions in British Columbia, and to conserve water, we encourage everyone to recycle their 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos by sending them to info@alsbc.ca. The ALS Society of BC will compile all videos to air at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge celebration held at Garry Point Park on August 6th at 11:00AM.

To activate the second wave, we encourage everyone to come up with an innovative idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, minus the water. Don’t forget to bring your bucket, filled with ideas, on August 6th! Need some suggestions, people have already generated amazing ideas, including flower peddles, empty bucket, ice cream, and cold hard cash!

Visit our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge website for more information about the event and how you can help support people affected by ALS: www.alsicebucketchallenge.ca/british-columbia

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:

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

Meet the Faces of Labo Ethnik 2014

(Written by Robbin Whachell / Translated by Christian Tran-Van-Nhô)

Meet the 2014 Faces of Labo Ethnik Fashion Trade Show! 16 year old Brittany Noon, a Saint Lucian model and 22 year old Ajayi Ballentine Clarke, a Bahamian model have both been selected as this year’s signature faces by casting and creative director, Vincent McDoom, a St Lucian / Parisian fashion celebrity. It will be both models first international appearance on the runway and  they will take part in the opening night show and walk for designer,  Lynn Bristol.

Labo Ethnik will take place from May 22nd to 25th at Les Docks, Cite de la Mode in Paris and will feature designs from Africa, Israel, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and the USA. Expect daily fashion shows with an emerging designers showcase on May 24th and exhibitor sales. The event attracts news and fashion media, fashion editors, international fashion bloggers, international fashion buyers, and celebrities from music, cinema, sports, and television.

Brittany Noon was selected after a mutual friend showed McDoom a photo of her, and McDoom’s assistant helped in the selection of Ajayi Ballentine Clarke after seeing a photo of him online. “I’d been looking for the ‘masculine face’ to accompany Brittany for both this show and my upcoming show in the Caribbean,” said McDoom.

“I know Brittany and Ajayi will look great together on the runway and on our poster. They really are the DNA of what I think newness represents in modeling,” said McDoom.

Brittany started modeling at age 14 and is born to a Saint Lucian father, Dominic Noon and French mother, Carole Noon the Noons have been living in Antigua for the past 12 years where both parents work. Brittany’s father grew up with Vincent McDoom in St Lucia. “We’ve known each other for years, but our professions took us both in different directions and we have not seen each other in 25 years since I left the Caribbean to further myself in the fashion industry here in Paris,” said McDoom who is is a permanent judge on Russia’s Next Top Model and has been involved with Germany, France and Poland’s Next Top Model shows.

In 2011, Ajayi, ‘AJ’ who hails from Nassau, Bahamas won a “Walk Off’ modeling competition, and since that time the exotic, chiseled featured model who has a body to match, has been busy developing his career while attending college and working at the world famous Atlantis resort. Ajayi enjoys drawing, playing the piano, free-styling (rapping), dancing and meeting new people.

Both AJ and Brittany will most certainly be meeting many new people in 2014!

For more information on Labo Ethnik visit the website: laboethnik.com, or on Facebook: facebook.com/labo.ethnik

(Photo of Ajayi by Roderick Wells)

Rencontrez les « Faces » du Labo Ethnik 2014

Découvrez les « new faces » 2014 du Labo Ethnik Fashion & Lifestyle!  Brittany Noon, 16 ans, modèle de Sainte-Lucie et Ajayi Ballentine Clarke, 22 ans, modèle des Bahamas, ont tous deux été sélectionnés comme la signature de cette année  par le Directeur artistique et de casting, Vincent McDoom, un ste-lucien /parisien, célébrité de la Mode. Pour ces deux modèles, ce sera leur première apparition sur la scène internationale, puisqu’ils défileront lors la soirée d’inauguration du Labo Ethnik le 22 mai 2014 à Paris et également pour le défilé de la créatrice Linn Bristol.

Le Labo Ethnik se tiendra du 22 au 25 mai aux Docks – Cité de la Mode à Paris et mettra en vedette des designers d’Afrique (Mickael Kra, Laurence Airline, Taïbo Bacar…), Israël (Fakhriya Khalafova), d’Europe (Franck Sorbier, Jeremy Bueno…), des Caraïbes (Heather Jones…), du Canada et des États-Unis. Attendez-vous à voir des défilés chaque jour, des expositions-ventes, ainsi qu’un concours de jeunes créateurs le 24 mai. L’événement attire la presse mode, des rédactrices de mode, des blogueuses internationales de mode, des acheteurs internationaux de mode et également des célébrités du monde musical, du cinéma, du sport et de la télévision.

Brittany Noon  a été sélectionnée après qu’un ami  a montré à Vincent  McDoom une photo d’elle ; quant à Ajayi Ballentine Clarke, c’est l’assistant de Vincent qui l’a aidé dans sa sélection après avoir vu une photo de lui en ligne. « Je cherchais le « visage masculin » qui accompagnerait Brittany à la fois pour ce défilé et mon prochain événement Mode dans les Caraïbes », a déclaré McDoom.

« Je sais que Brittany et Ajayi iront très bien ensemble sur le podium et sur notre affiche. Ils sont vraiment l’ADN de ce que je pense qu’est la nouveauté dans le mannequinat », dit McDoom.

Brittany a commencé le mannequinat à 14 ans et est née d’un père sainte-lucien, Dominic Noon et d’une mère française, Carole Noon. Ces 12 dernières années, les Noon ont vécu à Antigua. Le père de Britanny a grandi avec Vincent à Ste-Lucie. « Nous nous connaissons depuis des années mais nos métiers nous ont fait prendre des directions différentes et nous ne nous sommes pas vus depuis 25 ans, lorsque j’ai quitté les Caraïbes pour évoluer dans l’industrie de la Mode, ici à Paris », dit McDoom qui est membre permanent du jury de Next Top Model Russie, et qui s’est également impliqué dans les défilés de Next Top Model Allemagne, France et Pologne.

En 2011, Ajayi, (A.J) qui est originaire de Nassau, Bahamas a remporté le concours de mannequin « Walk Off », et depuis, l’exotique vedette au corps sculpté de façon très harmonieuse, s’est attaché à développer sa carrière tout en allant au collège et en travaillant au mondialement célèbre Atlantis resort. Ajayi aime le dessin, jouer du piano, le free-styling (rap), la danse et rencontrer de nouvelles personnes.

Brittany et A.J, vont tous deux, très certainement, rencontrer beaucoup de nouvelles personnes en 2014 !

Pour plus d’informations sur le Labo Ethnik, visitez le site Internet: laboethnik.com ; ou la page Facebook : facebook.com/labo.ethnik

NOTE : pour obtenir une interview avec l’un ou l’autre des modèles, merci de prendre contact avec Christian : christian.assistant.vmcd@gmail.com / 0631007910


Battle Scars

I walk through life.. no, sometimes I run, scratch, crawl, cycle, kick and scream through life.. and along the way, I get these scars… my battle scars of life.

I also can breath, sleep, sing, dance, glide and make my walk look effortless.

I still get those battle scars…

They make me real, remind me I am real, human, woman, mother, doer, activist, keeper of the fire.

Scars tell us stories.. I have many.

Are scars unsightly, like stains? or are they reminders that we are alive, real and living….?

What is amazing, is the body’s ability to heal, the skin anyhow.. and often the scar gently remains.. deep inside the tissue… it is the unseen that is often ignored…

“Issues in the tissues” they say… the skin can heal, but so much more lies within…often unhealed and hidden.

What is perfect? …who is perfect?


Not me…