As mayor, I am often asked what the key ingredients are that make Markham one of the most vibrant and successful municipalities in Canada. The answer is simple. Diversity is Markham's strength. Professionals, business executives, retail operators and skilled trades persons come to our city from all over the world.
I could see my four-year-old son playing on the slide, but my two-year-old son was out of sight -- not unusual as we had a very large, gated yard. I didn't even have time to cover myself before a woman came around the corner, a look of fury on her face and my two-year-old on her hip. "DO YOU KNOW WHERE I JUST FOUND YOUR CHILD?" she screeched.
Over the past few years, the terms 'organic' and 'sustainable' have become buzzwords for health. But these words go beyond a person's health. Supporting local organic food and farming can help revitalize the economy. Community-based agriculture has the potential to create jobs and develop small businesses. Encouraging locals to stay healthy is the side job.
Canada's largest city has a world-class problem with poverty, and yet we hope that maybe, just maybe, it will go away. Rest assured it's not. Far from an old-school approach to budgeting, we need leadership and new approaches to revenue generation unless we want to be paying for the growing costs of poverty for years to come.
If you've purchased any local Ontario food before, it probably came from this region you've likely never heard of. In fact, it is the number one producer of tomatoes, carrots, seed corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, sugar beets and brussels sprouts in all of Canada. However, none of it is being consumed by its community members.
While the leaders of the world meet in Paris and craft sweeping policy that affects the entire planet, let's remember that the most important changes usually happen close to home. I've seen the positive things solar and energy efficiency can do for communities. So when we started a big infrastructure refurbishment project at Evansdale Community League, I knew exactly what to push for.
To everyone around me, it looked like our family had it all. The truth was that I lived in a house that was filthy and piled high with debris and animal waste. I was 11years old when my father began to sexually abuse me. I had become accustomed to keeping so many secrets by then that I just added this one to the list. I hoped the abuse would stop. I was terrified and lonely. I am living proof that it takes a community to lift a person up. The day I left my abusive family home was the day I stepped into uncertainty and poverty.
As my professional life blossomed so did the work expectations and long hours that I needed to put into my demanding career. It was an inverse relationship in the making: the more I worked, the less time I had for personal things in my life like athletics, friends and relationships. Something had to give. And sadly it was volunteering.
Canadian food should be fair and available to everyone, whether they can afford it or not -- served in accessible places without consideration of economic background, gender, immigration status, or age. The chefs who are at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what Canadian food is need to get out of the kitchen and use their skills to build a movement around good food for all.
What does it mean to be an Arab living in the West? Can I be part of two worlds and to what extent? Going through an identity crisis, results into an ongoing questioning. It is the process of reflecting on the shattered pieces of memory, an abandoned language and understanding of one's ancestors and history.
With an energetic and vibrant atmosphere it's no surprise that Victoria, B.C. is one of the world's favourite destinations. As I was soon to learn, that energy is here in the technology business, too. It has been hidden away a little, obscured by its modesty, and I do actually think that there is something really special worth shouting about over here.
Salaries are getting lower; people are malcontent with three weeks of vacation and mediocre benefits; and there is a rise in people earning, saving, jumping off, freelancing, downsizing and living the life they want. The #dreamjob doesn't exist. On the other hand, the happily balanced life can, but only if we give it a chance and start to operate differently.
With each startup event that happens throughout the year, we are standing a little taller as a community, being a little more innovative and getting back to the business of hard work. That's the defining factor: When things don't come easy, we work harder. For me, that's the startup culture in Vancouver.
I know many of you are as appalled as I am about the news stories highlighting negligent home daycares. It is common that in Canada the reaction is to crack down on that which is deemed "uncontrolled" and to pass legislation which will hopefully protect our young. That said, I believe it is time to fill your news feeds with another perspective: that of a responsible caregiver.