Archive for September, 2008

Ben Viccari’s Canscene — Canada’s multicultural scene.

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Vol. 8, No.9

September 2008

Amazing Quilt of Belonging visited CNE

Monday, September 1st, 2008


Photo of the Quilt of belonging at the Inaugural exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Photographer: Nick Wolochatiuk.

Friend Bill Andersen and his wife took in the Canadian National Exhibtion with  visitng brother and famly. Bill told me of his amazement at the splendor of this tribute to Canadians.

The Quilt of Belonging project was begun in the fall of 1998 by artist Esther Bryan. In 1995 she had gone on a life-changing journey to Slovakia with her parents to find the family and home her father had left behind 43 years earlier. The dream of making this artwork was born from Esther’s experiences as she recognized that everyone has a story to tell and that the experiences and values of our past inform who we are today. Each culture has a unique beauty that enhances our national identity. Each person can experience a sense of belonging and find an equal place in a global family.

The massive quilt  is a 120 foot long by 10.5 foot high (36 metres by 3.5 metres) tapestry. The rich, cultural legacies portrayed in the 263 blocks include all the First Peoples in Canada and every nation of the world.

Alas, the CNE  (August 15 to September 1) visit was the one location planned for Toronto.
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A short history of Canadian citizenship

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Prepared by Gabe De Roche for the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and reprinted courtesy ICC.


Citizenship has a long and varied history in Canada. Long because the sense of being “Canadian” goes back to the earliest European settlers in the wilderness of Quebec; and varied because as often as Canada has been welcoming and diverse, it has also been closed and exclusionary.

Legally, it was not until 1947 that Canadians could truly call themselves Canadian. More »

Anguishing over Angus

Monday, September 1st, 2008

(Canscene)– Like “organic” foods, the alleged omnipresence of Angus beef puzzles me.

I always understood that  Aberdeen Angus meat was derived from a breed of black or red cattle with a low set body, producing well-marbled meat and bred for this purpose rather than as dairy cattle.

Today one encounters the use of the word Angus at meat sections of supermarkets, in independent butchers,  in steakhouse menus and even in fast food joints. Even in the knowledge that Angus cattle have been bred and butchered in Canada for years, one wonders at the now widespread claims being made.

There’s a Canadian Angus Association to whose public relations officer I wrote some weeks ago, asking how claims were certified.  I received no reply.

In one supermarket chain self -standing displays claiming the virtues of Angus beef merely indicate that it’s top quality beef without any mention of breeding or provenance.

It would be interesting to see an independent report on how widely standards set by associations such as the CAA are observed.
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PM’s authoritarian stance challenged

Monday, September 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — According to a recent Canadian Press dispatch, Peter Russell, political scientist and professor emeritus of the University of Toronto, Prime Minister Harper’s lawsuit against the Liberal Party of Canada is “characteristic of authoritarian governments.”

The Liberals have filed an affidavit of defence against the $3.5 million suite Harper launched last year claiming that the Liberals had accused Harper of attempted bribery of former Tory MP the late Chuck Cadman. The Liberals  claim the lawsuit is unconstitutiomal.

The first hearing of the case begins September 22 in Ottawa.
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New doc features Canadian photographer’s aid to Peruvians

Monday, September 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — Some months ago, I published a letter from friend and collegue Lalita Krishna,  award winning documentarian. It was written from Peru where she was filming Shift Focus a documentary which aired in Spanish on OMNI 1 last August 9 and is set for English-language screening some time this fall.

Shift Focus is the story of Chilean-born Torontonian Rodrigo Moreno who is first seen making a living as a wedding photographer. Rodrigo answers an inner call to help city kids at risk by involving them in a photography project that leaves them with the urge to face a more creative future with their proud new possessions — the cameras Rodrigo has given them to keep. More »

Book review

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Lord Beaverbrook
by David Richards Adams
Penguin, 176 pages,   $20.00

One of the first three releases in the Extraordinay Canadians series, Lord Beaverbrook portrays a man who drew equal amounts of praise and vilification  from his contemporaries. Credited with saving Britain from the Nazis during World War II and at the same time denigrated for his anti-establishment attitude and the content of his newspapers, Max Aitken was a tough little imp whose impact on British and Canadian society  is today largely forgotten.

Written by fellow New Brunswicker David Adams Richards, one senses the  novelist’s touch in the narrative, for while chronicling the frequently picaresque activities of Aitken, Richards  never clings to the moral high ground.  It ‘s as though  the biographer is looking with satisfaction at a character he has created, part scallywag, part hero. More »

Subject of world famous poster lives in Canada

Monday, September 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — Some years ago, my brother John, visiting us here, noticed two nearby art stores selling posters. He claimed he’d tried all over England to find An American Girl in Italy and I suggested he try here.  He got lucky and within days, was carrying his trophy back to England.

I was reminded of this by  Paul French’s article in Partners, the bi-monthly magazine of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Toronto. He recounts how in 1953,  Ninalee Allen , a 23-year-old art student in Florence and her friend photogapher Ruyh Orkin took advantage of an improvisational situation on a Florentine Street. The spotaneity of the moment was preserved by Ruth asking Ninalee to make the walk into history only one more time.

As a poster, it became, according to French, the second most famous in the world. (One presumes the first is the flag raising at Iwo Jima).

Back in New York, Ninalee was surprised to find herself the subject of a Kodak poster, a fact that haunted her first marriage  a few years later to a Venetian nobleman whose suffocatingly proper family drew her into a sequestered life.

Her second  and happier marriage, to Hamilton business man Robert Craig, brought Ninalee to Canada’s  steel city.  After Craig’s  death, she moved to Toronto, where at the age of 80, she resides today.
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PNAC down the drain

Monday, September 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — “This account has been suspended.  Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.”  So reads the response to the URL for Project for the New American Century, the notorious think tank founded in 1997 by such deeply entrenched Republicans as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Paul Wolfowitz and L. Lewis Libby.

Earlier this year, PNAC was reported as having but one office employee remaining obviously due to so many of its leading supporters having met with disgrace or demotion. However, in its time PNAC’s capacity for doing mischief was considerable.

Some journalists have even suggested that PNAC hatched the 9/11 strike, a highly improbable theory but all the same linked in spirit to what must have been joy to the hawks ready to launch an ill-considered venture into Afghanistan and an illegal war on Iraq.

The resulting shambles is evidence of a think tank that seems to have been peopled by throwbacks to frontier days.

No sane person should regret this tanking of a sleazy gang of plotters.
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Gujarati Canadians call for balance

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The following is drawn from information supplied by Canadians who hail from India’s State of Gujarat.


(Canscene) — Asserting that recent terrorist blasts were the handiwork of those who don’t like India’s progress and seek to derail its booming economy, Gujaratis settled in Canada say everyone in Gujarat should come together, irrespective of their religious or political affiliation, to fight to defeat such people. More »

The last laugh(s)

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Next month with our two nations in the throes of intense electioneering  t‘will be time for serious consideration of issues.

Meanwhile, have a laugh or two on me! Friend, mentor and innovative genius Bill Andersen thought he’d “simpsonize” me with the following results.

And not only has Republican contender John McCain negated his attempt to create a more liberal image of himself, he’s blotted his copybook by appointing prolifer, intelligent design advocate Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Whats more, she’s an ardent supporter of the National Rifle Association. There are several photos extant showing the proposed VP posing with firearms. Can it be long before someone dubs her “Pistol Packin’ Momma.?”

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