The Ethiopian-Canadian diaspora in Toronto, through a made in Toronto initiative, People To People Canada, is slowly but surely making an impact on the ground in helping change that reality. The organization, founded in 1999, has become a passionate advocate for Ethiopia's vulnerable HIV/AIDS orphan children.
For instance, in one of the most memorable scenes of the documentary, its director Nate Araya interviews a number of locals in a taxi minivan. In all of the segments, there were no Bono, Bill Gates nor Bob Geldof explaining what is working in Ethiopia but local citizens giving us a glimpse of their practical work on the ground as they help change the reality of the country.
As Toronto becomes increasingly known for the misadventures of its naughty crack smoking mayor, there are many individuals that are a positive force for our city. They may not be household names quite yet, but their impact is far-reaching. They are providing examples of a great citizenry with quiet, eloquent grace.
WestJet is by all accounts a wonderful airline, run in a light and care-free manner by like-minded employees. And the "Christmas Miracle" viral smash hit is just that. Imploring us to watch a marketing video so that a needy family can fly somewhere is great marketing but is it any kind of building block for a great society?
Mandela acknowledged Canada played a more positive role than most other western countries in helping the African National Congress to topple the apartheid state. Prairie firebrand John Diefenbaker persuaded the Commonwealth to take a stand against apartheid. And all prime ministers after Dief rallied to Mandela's standard.
Nicaragua is a land of extremes: a deeply scarred paradise with placid lakes and active volcanoes; warm, welcoming people, divided by class and polarized by politics. Yet, in this divisive environment, Canadian-assisted co-ops are a unifying force, bringing people together to work for the common good.
This really is a special time in my life and my career. While after seven weeks I haven't made many friends here, found anywhere to go dancing or taken any solo adventures outside the capital city of Lilongwe, I'm enjoying Malawian culture. If you'd like to pretend you're living here as a CCA volunteer, try this routine:
As Saudi Arabia curbs its vital but "illegal" migrant population violently this week to appease high unemployment, I cannot help but reflect on my moment with such destitute citizens a few years ago. Like almost all migrant workers everywhere including in North America, these people perform jobs that their own citizens would not dare touch.
Mbugua Mwangi was a University of Ottawa graduate from Kenya. Two weeks removed from what would have been their wedding day, he and his fiancee became victims of the Westgate mall terrorist attack and lost their lives while shopping for a wedding ring. He decided to shield her with his own body and took a total of eight bullets and they both died instantly.
Earlier this week -- a list of recommendations on how to improve the Ontario Police Complaints system was released in downtown Toronto. The initiative was made possible after University of Waterloo's Professor, Jennifer Schulenberg, received a Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The professor reflects with me on some of the recommendations.