‘Precious gifts of money from people who don’t have a lot’: African-Canadian writer raised money for MSF


“We are not a wealthy community,” says Brenda Clews of the group of Toronto poets and musicians she gathered together for the Poetry and Music Salon Fundraiser in order to raise money for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last month. “I’m very proud of everybody and all the support that this fundraiser received. All precious gifts of money from people who don’t have a lot.”

The Poetry and Music Salon Fundraiser was comprised of two parts: an online fundraiser and the event itself. Together the initiative raised more than $1,100 for MSF.

“For a bunch of poets and indie musicians, it is really phenomenal. We had six poets and six musicians. They were all super talented and marvelous. Everybody came out and gave everything. They gave their best readings. Their best performances. It was a remarkable afternoon,” Clews says.

Clews believes the challenge of the event was to find a way for people to feel the great value of their support. “I had to be really careful on wording everything. For people to feel their generosity was appreciated, because cash or money is a form of love when it goes to help,” she says.

For Clews, helping people to stay healthy is the best way to show them that the world have not forgotten them, which she wanted to support. “It’s a medical charity. It is always there to help people when there is an emergency,” she says.

Clews knows from firsthand experience what is like to live in a country where there is a lack of primary supplies and health care. Originally from Zimbabwe and raised in Zambia, in southern Africa, she came to Canada when she was 10 years old. “I’m from the developing world,” she says. “I know how hard it is. We are very fortunate here. I think you need to see some of the world to understand how much we need to share what we have.”

Touched by the experience and her community’s response, Clews hopes the Poetry and Music Salon will inspire other organizers to host a fundraiser event, at least once a year.

“I hope I set an example to get some of the others to consider doing a fundraiser. We get to feel good about ourselves, and we get to give something. It was very joyful,” Clews says.

Clews is already thinking about two more possible fundraiser events later this year. “Whatever you raise is never not enough. It’s always good. Not amount is too small, nor not amount is too large,” she says.


Article first published at Doctors Without Borders

Image: Courtesy of Brenda Clew




Bird counting day at Arboretum spots 35 species in first half hour


Migratory birds are starting to fly because of the warmer temperatures and Toronto is at the intersection of two bird flyways, a flight path for bird migration, which presents an opportunity to spend some time in nature.


“When you spend time in nature and you slow down, you observe wildlife. It’s good for people’s mental health, and it makes us better people in a lot of the aspects,” said Emily Rondel, Urban Projects Biologist at Bird Studies Canada.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health projected to have a 60 per cent increase in patients for the next two decades, to which Canadian Mental Health Association recommended spending more time outdoors.

“In Toronto, people underestimate the amount of wildlife that there is in the city. Part of the point of our partnership (with Humber Arboretum) is to show how diversity is like here,” said Rondel.

Humber Arboretum is home to roughly 100 bird species during a year period said Rondel. During the Great Backyard Bird Count that took place last Friday, 35 type of birds were seen in a lapse of 30 minutes.

The Bird Counting event combined mindfulness and nature awareness. More than 20 people were part of a previous Yoga session before going into the woods to identify different species of birds in the area.

“We’re a combination of display gardens, floral connections, ponds, bridges, beautiful land spaces and natural trails. Students can see all kinds of different habits, and they can enjoy our botanical collection from all over the world,” said Marilyn Campbell, Communication Assistant at Humber Arboretum.

“It was a fantastic event. I really enjoyed the experience of mindfulness meditation and birding which is something I haven’t done before.”  said Warren Schlote, a Guelph-Humber student.

Less green spaces and the technology era we live in are two main reasons why people should start recognizing the importance of mindfulness, explained Harold St. George, from Project Soul.

“We have so many things taking our minds apart. Mindfulness exercise helps nature to open its windows to us so that we can be fully at the moment,” said St. George, who guided the yoga session. “Coming here to connect to ourselves, it gives us more tenacity to go back to the world we live in.”

Great Backyard Counting started in 1999, and this was the first time, Humber Arboretum became part of it. The partnership between Humber College and Bird Studies Canada will bring garden work and wildlife workshops.

The Great Backyard Bird Count had a total of 32 people attending. There were 15 different species seen and approximately 94 individual birds.

Pictures by Lucia Yglesias 
Initially published at Humber Et Cetera. 

Tunnels at Lakeshore grounds open for art tour of past


Inspired by the history of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, Ontario painters Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward recover the essence of what Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus was in the 19 centuries in a 24-piece collection, Secrets of An Ever Changing Landscape.

“We liked the fact that grounds were transformed dramatically over the past 100 years. Time and transformation are something we play with all the time, and the word ‘lunatic’ is an evolving idea,” said Ward, regarding one of her pieces called ‘Luna.’

Luna refers to how the term lunatic was derived from a belief that the moon affected a person’s mental state. But it has long been use in a derogatory sense.

Secrets of an Ever Changing Landscape was launched Feb. 25 in a pop-up art show, and for the first time, in the tunnels that run underneath the Lakeshore campus.

The collection includes pastel drawings, acrylic paintings on wood, and photographs inspired by the ex-Mimico Branch Asylum and surroundings.

“Gary and Victoria’s collection was particularly interesting for this because it was inspired so directly, not only by the changing landscape but by the structure,” said Jennifer Bazar, curator at the Lakeshore Ground Interpretive Centre. “The tunnels were a big part of it. You can see in their collection how many pieces of the tunnels are featured.”

Moved by the history and the untold stories from the previous Mimico Branch Asylum, Blundell said he felt a connection to the remnants of the tunnels built by patients and how the college structure is today.

“There were people who worked down here, but that time is gone, so the tunnels are kind of a metaphor for me on a transition of time and how things are changing. How this is not that place anymore but there are these bits of it still hanging around reminding us how this came about in the first place,” said Blundell.

The pieces were created for a Take Over Instagram Project done during September and October 2016, and they are still available as a digital exhibit in Lakeshore Grounds website.

“Connecting all those pieces together and then using this historical and inspired art project in a historic space is really powerful,” said Bazar.

Behind the Bricks: Recovering the Stories of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital explores and invites the community to help collect the history of the Hospital, and Through A Lens, Brightly is a photographic wildlife exhibition by Nancy Barrett. Both projects are currently available on the Student Welcome and Resource Centre.

Initially published at Humber Et Cetera

International students hit the slopes at Snow Valley


Approximately 200 Humber students grabbed their skis and snowboards and hit the slopes last Friday morning in a trip to Snow Valley, Barrie hosted by the college’s International Centre.

“It feels good as you learn things, how to balance, how to stop. When I fall off, this is my only problem I can’t get up,” said Cigdem Teke, an event management student, laughing. “I love it. I just tried it, but I love it. Being here is like being in heaven.”

Laurie Bradford, advisor for the International Centre, said there are 120 countries represented at Humber College and the trip helps international students adapt to Canada.

“It gives international students an opportunity to try something they haven’t tried before, challenge themselves, be in a different environment and they can make some friends as well,” said Bradford.

Humber’s group consisted of120 skiers, and 85 snowboarders, said Madeleine Teixeira supervisor at Snow Valley.

At the resort an hour north of Toronto, the hills are divided between beginners and advanced. Each hill has instructors teaching individuals how to stop, get up, turn and how to balance their weight.

“We might not have the biggest hills, but for learning it is perfect. We do have snow pants, jackets, and gloves [available] but it all depends on the person,” said Teixeira.

Despite the cold, Daniela Sierra, a Humber student who came from Honduras seven months ago, loves the snow.

“This is my second experience. The first time, I went skiing, this time I decided to snowboard and I (definitely) like snowboarding better. I don’t know why, but I feel like I have more control of it,” said Sierra.

Teachers at Snow Valley underline that participants should feel unpressured and derive the benefits of the activity.

“[Skiing] is not about doing well, it’s about having fun doing it. It’s important to keep your self calm because it is a very frightening sport as first,” explained Chris Rush, an instructor at Snow Valley resort.

“Because you don’t get too much sunlight during the winter, it does affect your mood,” said Rush. “Just being outside in the winter in Canada is really important (because) if you’re not then it does affect you.”

The International Centre hopes for another such outing before the end of the semester.

“Last year we had another one in March, but it depends on the weather, interest, and budget,” continued Bradford. “We cover part of the trip, so students don’t have to pay the whole amount.”

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Photos by Lucia Yglesias

Originally published on Humber ETC 


Child care centre sees low numbers in face of funding freeze


Child care centres are short of funding from the City of Toronto, despite high demand for child care services from the community and even college students in particular.

Since 2004, an increase of 30 per cent of college students the United States are raising children, according to a recent report from the Institute for Women´s Policy Research.

Meanwhile, Humber’s Child Development Centre is running at only 60 per cent of its capacity due to lack of funding.

Carolyn Ferns, public policy and government relations coordinator for Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, says that in the last six years, 13 colleges and universities closed their child care centres to deal with decreased budgets or remain within them.

“We are going in the wrong direction by closing centres when what we need is their extension across the province,” said Ferns.

Humber’s Child Development Centre has a capacity of 98 children, including 20 spots for infants, 30 for toddlers, and 48 for preschool kids. Monthly fees range from $1,259 for a preschooler to $1,787 for a newborn to an 18-month-baby.


Photo by Lucia Yglesias 

Jeff Feke, manager at the Humber facility said in previous years, June to September were the months when funds tended to dry up until the new school year began.

“We rely a lot on subsidies. There are no more funds left. We are lowering enrollment, which affects our bottom line moving forward. When the city cut off the funds, I can run with a maximum of 98 children, now I’m running with 64,” said Feke.

Feke recognizes that babies are always covered, but there is an ongoing struggle for funding spots for toddlers and preschoolers.

“Since September, funding still hasn’t come back. It’s almost nine months and nothing. The city said there is no more funding for this particular (need),” said Feke.

There are two ways to get into all Toronto Child Care Centres: applying directly with a self-paying method or through a subsidized spot from the City of Toronto. Currently there are 17,000 people on the list waiting for the funding to send kids to child care centres.

Jason Powell, Humber’s Dean of School of Health Sciences, said “childcare is not something to be looked at as a burden, but as something that is required. In Humber College, we value high-quality childcare, and we value having that on campus for our students and staff.”

Based on IWPR report, 26 per cent of all undergraduate students in the United States – 4.8 million students – are raising dependent children.

“I have a passion for seeing quicker application processes, quicker adjudications and more subsidized spots for our students who can’t afford to pay that amount of money,” said Powell. “We need to believe in child care centres. We need to get those children off the list.”

Although the centre is located on the Humber North campus, 90 per cent of the demand it receives comes from the community.

“I’ve never gotten to the point where I have 34 spots unfilled because the city is not helping with the funding,” said Feke.

“People from the community are people we rely on to make sure we are fully enrolled. They require help, and there are plenty of them. I receive calls daily, and I’d love to do more, (but) I can’t because there is no funding and they can’t afford the cost of the childcare.”

Featured Image courtesy by Ruth Escarlan

Originally published on Humber ETC 

New health measures aim to halt spread of Norovirus



Following confirmation by Toronto Public Health that some 200 students in the Humber College North campus residence fell ill last week due to norovirus, the school is enhancing hygiene guidelines and spreading prevention measures to diminish the contagion.

Dean of the School of Health Sciences Jason Powell recommends students take the matter seriously and be diligent.

“Hand washing several times a day and symptoms surveillance are so important.” Powell said. “It’s obvious our awareness is hiking. Everybody is being more diligent. We get less diligent when there is no outbreak (but) this should be a permanent habit.”

Humber and Toronto Public Health have been working in coordination, providing updated student contact information and providing immediate guidance on spread prevention.

In that regard, Dr. Michael Finkelstein, Associate Medical Officer of Health, advised those affected to stay home and drink a lot of liquids.

“Once certain viruses are in environments such as student residences where individuals live close together, preventing the spread of easily transmitted seasonal viruses like norovirus becomes challenging,” Dr. Finkelstein said.

“There is no reason to avoid public spaces or not have visitors,” Powell said. “But if you don’t feel well, go home, and wash your hands every time you shake somebody’s else hands and after using the bathroom.”

Last Monday’s confirmation by the city that norovirus was involved helped settle a mystery that sent over 40 students to hospital in an incident that was initially suspected by some to be food poisoning.

Powell explained the symptoms of a regular flu are almost the same as norovirus, except for very bad abdominal cramping, violent diarrhea and vomiting.

“If you have an exam and you wake up with symptoms, I know there is pressure, but not coming is the right thing to do. We will help you. They (students) won’t be punished (academically),” said Powell.

There are no official reports on symptoms appearing outside North campus. However, Jia Xla, a Humber Hospitality and Tourism management student, says some students at Lakeshore campus are fearing for their safety as well.

“School is a public space and a lot of students from North come here,” Xla said. “I’m an International student and It’s hard for me if I miss classes. I try to avoid the school’s food and rather prepare something at home.”

“First, I thought it was okay and no big deal but when the number of students sick started rising, I became more cautious,” said Hashem Shafi, Humber paralegal student. “I only have one class a week so I’m hoping I can make it in and out of there without getting sick.”

Norovirus is short lived, and affected students who experience 48 hours symptom-free are welcome to return to class.

Photo by Lucia Yglesias

Originally published on Humber ETC 

Cancer association asks Humber to bar smoking on campus


Lately concluded National Non-Smoking Week included a call to Canadian colleges to consider implementing a complete smoking ban in campus.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said a 100 per cent smoke-free policy will make smoking less convenient and reduce costs.

“Smoke-free places are a great motivator to quit smoking. Smoke-free places are a fundamental health issue,” Cunningham said. “Cigarette butts are an important source of waste whereby colleges have to pay for the cost of cleanup.”

Before 2015, there were 15 colleges and universities across Canada with a smoking ban and more than a thousand in the U.S.

Humber dean of the School of Health Sciences Dr. Jason Powell considers the policy a good, but long-term decision.

“There is a lot less cigarettes right now than in the ‘80s. It’s not socially acceptable any more to smoke,” said Powell.

Eighteen per cent of Canadian smokers are 20 to 24 years old. Humber’s smoking policy has been effective since 2009 and identifies smoking and no-smoking areas.

Powell also recognized post-secondary institutions are inherently stressful places.

“We have available resources for students who are dealing with pressures over their capacity. Those departments are always packed with students,” Powell said.

IGNITE North campus Vice President of Student Life Ammar Abdul-Raheem believes barring smoking from campus will create a big discussion.

“There are students who are strong in their beliefs and they have the right to study in a healthy environment. But at the same time, there are students who need to smoke for mental health issues, or just to cope with all the stress and to clear off their minds,” Abdul-Raheem said.

A first-year Humber Civil Engineering student who asked not to be identified believes the policy will force him to quit or at least to smoke less.

“I’m not proud of my habit. I’m always looking for an excuse to quit. That seems like the perfect time”

“Tobacco represents an unparalleled health epidemic. Tobacco causes cancer, heart attacks, emphysema and death.  Second-hand smoke is harmful to non-smokers,” said Cunningham.

By 2018, hospital grounds in Ontario will need to be 100 per cent smoke-free. Ontario has made outdoor patios, children’s playgrounds and sports and high school fields/grounds a complete smoke-free environment.

Meanwhile, a Canadian Cancer Society spokesperson noted that water-pipes (hookahs) are a growing concern.

“They are used mostly in a social setting and among young group ages. It might not seem harmful. It might have a nice taste and aroma, but it contains the same cancer-causing substances as cigarettes,” he said.

In 2014, the Canadian Community Health Survey showed that tobacco kills 37,000 Canadians every year, with 30 per cent reported as cancer deaths.

“Anybody who is using nicotine, e-cigarettes, vaporizers, they should take that really seriously. No matter how many they have in a week or day, zero should be the number,” Powell said.

Image by Pixabay

Originally published on Humber ETC 


In the shoes of a TTC Driver


Are we really progressing? 

The vision of Toronto Transit Commission is to be a transit system that makes Toronto proud, but does it?

While the average of verbal or physical abuse against transit customers was  15 per cent lower this past September than it was for the same month last year, incidents of abuse against TTC employees are 70 per cent higher than for the same period in 2015.

The numbers shown in the November’s Chief Executive Officer’s Report represent the daily journey of a TTC driver.

“One time a high school boy pointed a gun at me. All his friends surrounded me. I was terrified,” said Tammy, a TTC driver who had a hard time to identify even this as her worst experience.

Like most TTC workers, Tammy requested anonymity.

A driver whom we will call Dennis has been working for the TTC for 13 years.

“I always tried to be friendly. If they (customers) are doing something wrong, I tell them in a kind manner so that they won’t feel threatened,” the driver says.

At that moment in the exchange, somebody gets on the bus and throws into the fare box a bunch of change, but in a quick look, Dennis counts only two dollars.

“The fare is $3.25, buddy” says Dennis, as the customer starts looking into his wallet and struggling to find the rest. With an open palm and some quarters on it, he explains that is all he has.

“That’s fine,” the driver says, nodding. –“You know for next time.”

The man smiles at him, thanks him and sits. The bus keeps moving. No one got mad. There were no fights.

“One time I asked a lady to show me her transfer, and she called me racist,” says Dennis, shrugging his shoulders. “Sometimes I just let things go. My job is to take them from one point to the other, but it is also to check they are giving the proper fare and that is what they don’t understand, sometimes.”

According to the November report, because the TTC has seen an increase in numbers of assaults to 120 per cent higher than last year, “lost-time injury rate” is 74 per cent up as well.

September 2016 had an average rate of 4.77 injuries per every 100 employees, while 2015 registered only 2.74 in the same period.

Stuart Green, TTC Senior Communications Specialist, explains they encourage their drivers to not get involve into fare disputes.

“Drivers are trained to know how to respond. They are not trained to do fare enforcement. For that, we have a Fare Enforcement Unit and fare inspectors,” Green said.

The average of incidents reported is two to three offenses daily that can go from verbal abuse to punches on the face or coffee tossed – like one that happened in July this year.

As high as the numbers are, Green says a number of incidents probably don’t get reported.

“For example, if somebody walks by the driver and swears at them, (they may not report it) but it is important to us to know all those incidents,” Green explains.

Between 2003 and 2007, the TTC documented 1,886 assaults against their staff with more being under-reported.

In an official statement from Andy Byford, CEO at the TTC, he expresses his concern about these “unacceptable” incidents.

“Offenses against staff spiked and continued a worrying trend for 2016,” Byford wrote. “The number and nature of assaults are completely unacceptable, and this is a high priority for executive action, along with taking further action to highlight and tackle incidents of sexual assault and harassment of customers.”

To prevent more incidents, the TTC installed video cameras, an emergency alarm system, plastic shields around the driver’s seat, and also implemented the Transit Enforcement Unit which now counts 40 officers patrolling the system and protecting not only operators but riders when needed.

“We were able to more successfully apprehend whoever is misbehaving,” said Green. “They (offenders) know they are on camera, so they are less likely to commit an assault because there are more chances to get caught.”

With a budget of $5.2 million, plastic shields give drivers the ability to see what is coming and prevent any offense coming from behind.

“At first the shield bothered me because it reflects the lights, especially at night. It is hard to see, but you get used to it,” said Dennis. “Now it bothers me when I don’t have it.”

Richard has more than 16 years as a driver with the TTC and feels the organization increasingly recognizes the tension between passengers and drivers.

“It is human nature to see and criticize all bad things, but when something good happens or when they have a nice driver they don’t talk about it. It almost feels that they hate us because we make good money…”

Green highlights the responsibility drivers carry on their shoulders on a daily basis.

“Drivers have a difficult job to do. They are responsible for a vehicle full of people. They are responsible for the safety of people on the road. It is a very important task and very serious one. It is a fair salary,” said Green.

“Most people understand that is a tough job. If somebody doesn’t, then, it is really unfortunate,” he continued.

Despite bad experiences, Tammy enjoys being out there while driving. She doesn’t like the idea of working in an office.

Dennis’ secret is to greet everybody and ask how the day is going.

“You know… I want to go back to my family every night after work. I like my job. There are good and bad drivers just like good and bad customers,” Richard says, smiling while he is getting ready to start a new trip right after he finishes the last one.


Picture provided by TTC. 

Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty Link


Same story, different targets.

While Kim Gentle was leaving the house in the morning, her partner of 3 months asked: “Do you mind if I take your dog for a walk? It’s the last time I will get to see her.” She accepted. The night before she had kicked him out. The night before she had realized the lovely man she fell in love with was gone.

Hours later, a phone call made everything worse. “You loved her more than you loved me,” he said. He threw her dog off a cliff and into the ocean.

There are many reasons why women don’t leave an abusive home. They stay because of fear. Because of low self-esteem. Because of their children. Because of economic dependency. Because of family pressure. Because of embarrassment.

They also stay for their pets.

There is an astonishing bond between domestic violence and animal cruelty. These are two forms of violence strongly related that should be dealt with side by side.

A remarkable 40 per cent of Canadian women do not leave an abusive domestic partner because they are under the threat that their family pet will be hurt or killed, according to Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies..

“Perpetrators of domestic violence use the pet to keep their victim on hold. Victims know what will happen to their animals if they leave, so they don’t,” said Cartwright.

In a domestic violence situation, the abusive partner looks to exercise control over a vulnerable victim by using emotional, physical, and psychological torture. Seventy-five per cent of Canadian homes have a dog or a cat, and almost 50 per cent of the population considers its pets a member of the family.

The National Link Coalition which studies the relationship between animal abuse and human violence defines animal maltreatment as “the tip of the iceberg” and a warning sign of violence inside a home.

Domestic violence and animal cruelty are entwined issues.

The Humane Society of the United States says that 71 per cent of domestic abuse cases involve targeting pets and 88 per cent of families under investigation for child abuse had physical mistreatment of animals in their files.

The problem comes when a woman with a pet is running away from home and looking for a shelter.

According to Cartwright, it is usually housing policy at shelters to not accept pets. Thus, the creation of co-location centres for domestic abuse victims and their pets should be a priority, but a considerable budget would be necessary.

“Threatening to hurt the pet is an intimidation tactic they (abusers) use to keep the woman from leaving,” said Mary Zilney, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. “It is important to conduct an investigation and encourage social workers to consider not only humans in the family, but also the pets, when it comes to dealing with domestic violence.”

Seventy per cent of victims who arrive at shelters report that their pets were hurt already; women facing domestic violence tend to stay in an abusive relationship two years longer if they have pets, according to Zilney.

With almost 40 years of supporting women and children to move beyond violence, the Waterloo charity made the decision to not include pets because financially, it would be “unrealistic”.

“We are not fully funded by the government,” said Zilney. “Our agency needs to fundraise over $500,000 per year just to cover annual operating cost. We decided to go for a partnership instead.”

Zilney’s agency works in partnership with the Humane Society by providing foster homes for pets until the woman is ready to start again and move somewhere safe.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, every six days, a woman is killed by her intimate partner and more than 3,000 women are sleeping in shelters every night.

Even in instances where a haven will accept a pet, they “only take your animal for a couple of weeks and a domestic violence recovery situation needs at least six months. This is how weak and antiquated the system we have right now is,” said Cartwright, noting her Federation will host a conference in November 2017 at which the issue will be discussed.

But the initiative of a pet-friendly shelter goes beyond desire. It faces considerable added costs and new challenges with other clients.

“You need to find the capital money to build a kennel, then you have to ensure to have the staff to take care of the animals. If you have three dogs at the same time, you need concrete rules to avoid fights. Besides, not all women like animals and that might defer them to come if they know we have pets,” explains Zilney.

According to the National Link Coalition, hurting an animal exerts dominance over the woman, and is a way to show what could happen if the woman disobeys.

For children, being a witness to animal cruelty in some cases might not only work as an early stage of disorder, but could desensitize them to other forms of violence.


The powerful bond shared by humans and pets doesn’t apply only to families. There is an even stronger connection with homeless people because pets are their only companions.

The reality is that Toronto does not have many pet-friendly shelter options. The following are some of them:

Fred Victor’s Caledonia shelter; Sistering’s 24-Hour Women’s Drop-In (962 Bloor Street West); and Fred Victor’s 24-Hour Women’s Drop-In (67 Adelaide Street East).

Sonia Zyvatkauskas, of Toronto’s Support Housing Administration, states that there are two cold weather drop-ins for people with pets to be accommodated overnight.  From December 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017, and during any Extreme Cold Weather Alerts, Margaret’s Toronto East Drop-In at 323 Dundas Street East and St. Felix Centre at 25 Augusta Avenue will be available.

“All new shelters will be required to be pet-friendly. Shelter Support and Housing Administration also hosted an information session on pets with service providers in October with representatives from Toronto Animal Services and Toronto Public Health” said Zyvatkauskas.

She also clarifies that Violence Against Women shelters are a provincial responsibility.

“At the cold weather drop-ins, there were an average of 2.65 pets each night over the 2015-2016 winter season, with a maximum of nine on a single night,” states Zyvatkauskas.

Zilney explains that there are options available to support woman and pet welfare, but it is an “individual choice” if they decide to leave.

“When women come here, many of them have limited resources. With our partnership, the Humane Society pays for the food and the vaccinations for the pet.”

Recognizing the link will help to address measures, Zilney believes, and it will provide tools to prevent violence in other forms.

“We have therapy dogs. We know that touching a pet helps calm people down and allow opportunities to talk about issues they feel uncomfortable at the beginning,” explains Zilney.

Cartwright, whose Ottawa-based advocacy organization represents about half the humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals in Canada, also encourages the community to be aware of this violence link.

“We can save children by saving women and save women by saving animals,” expresses Cartwright.  

Kim Gentle suffered for over six months during her abusive relationship. She was forced by her partner to quit her job, which was her passion. She was barred from talking to friends and family. She was obliged to walk behind him and look down. She was suffocated on her 31st birthday.

Gentle escaped, and her partner was put in jail for the physical abuse of three women. She found comfort and healing in horse therapy. Now, 14 years later, Gentle leads a horse workshop and works with Indigenous children in Port Hedland. She moved on.

rtner was put in jail for the physical abuse of three women. She found comfort and healing in horse therapy. Now, 14 years later, Gentle leads a horse workshop and works with Indigenous children in Port Hedland. She moved on.


Women’s Crisis Services responds to aired makeup tutorial on camouflaging bruises.


After a TV show in Morocco aired a makeup tutorial to teach women’s victims of domestic violence how to hide marks of beating, Mary Zilney,  CEO at Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region says the video is a clear example of a lack of progression.

“How does covering bruises help an abused woman get on with her life? Inside this woman is falling apart.  Does the host think this was the first time she experienced violence?  She has no idea of how complex the issues are,” said Mary Zilney.

During the show on November 23, the makeup artist and host Lilia Mouline said she hopes women will use those “beauty tips” to “carry on” with their lives.

“The victim is living her life walking on eggshells, trying to “avoid” the next beating and deems herself responsible for triggering him (abuser),” said the CEO.

The Moroccan state television Channel 2M has apologized for the “error in judgment”, and it removed the clip from its website.

According to National Coalition against Domestic Violence, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S., while according to Canadian’s Women Foundation, a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six days.

While November is the Domestic Violence Awareness Month, for Mary Zilney it is vital to break the intergenerational cycle of abuse.

“It’s critical to include that children be taught to respect one another in their school’s curricula. Besides, domestic violence is still not an issue that people are comfortable talking about because they don’t want to be associated with abuse”, explained Zilney.

With almost 40 years of empowering and supporting women and children to move beyond violence, Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region had an increase of 7% of women seeking help in their agency compared to the fiscal year prior.

“It is a community responsibility. Just like drinking and driving, we need to speak up and say, ‘We are not going to tolerate this any longer because no one deserves to be a victim of abuse.’ We need to blend together to the break the cycle,” Mary Zilney concluded.

Photo: screenshot