SMJ magazine Winter 2018 issue #20

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Exclusives #METOO Close to Home

Black Panther:



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Celine Dion at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas 2



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Table of



7. From The Desk of Shelley Shelley Jarrett 16. The Multi-Faceted Ryan Singh …by Shelley Jarrett 34. Congress of Black Women Gala: A Tribute to Kay Livingstone ... by Andrew Terry Pasieka

12. SMJ BEAUTY CLOSET 8. Smart Choice gets a New Elegance Barbara Onwumere 10. Havana, Cuba and Michelle Aristocrat’s Camera …by Claris Minas Manglicmot 12. Canadian Icon in Vegas: Celine Dion…by Jennica B 15. One Man’s Journey with Mrs. Jones…by Andrew Terry Pasieka 29. Your Health Is Your Wealth Dr. Lisa Ramsackal 32. Affairs Of The Heart: Is Seasonal Dating a Trend? Akua Hinds


BUSINESS 30. The Body Holiday: The Definition of a Wellness Resort…by Jennica B. 31. Hurricane Relief (Lux & Leisure)…by Jennica B.

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exclusive 24. #METOO Close to Home .... by Nakeisha Geddes 28. Black Panther: A Marvel of Excellence Kareem Gordon

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TORONTO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL 18. Fabienne Colas: Building a Brand at TBFF…by Andrew Terry Pasieka 20. Barron Becomes Barrow: Adrian Holmes on a Different Kind of Biopic from Andrew Terry Pasieka 22. The Rape of Recy Taylor .... by Andrew Terry Pasieka Autumn 2014 Issue No.6

Image. Lifestyle. Business


Life After Hazel:

Mississauga Selects a New Mayor and Searches for a New Identity




Glenerin Inn & Spa: A Destination of the Heart

BUSINESS Women & Entrepreneurship: How are we doing in 2014? FALL 2014

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The Jean Augustine Centre For Young Womens Empowerment


Founder & Publisher Shelley Jarrett Editor-in-Chief Andrew Terry Pasieka Creative Director & Graphic Layout Sheri L. Lake Chief Photographer Lubin Tasevski Fashion/Design Editor Claris Minas Manglicmot Contributors Shelley Jarrett, Andrew Terry Pasieka, Claris Minas Manglicmot Barbara Onwumere, Dr. Lisa Ramsackal, Akua Hinds, Kareem Gordon, Nakeisha Geddes Jennica B.

Publicity LIM Media Group Inc. Website

Celebrating February and Black Women in Canada

Contact SMJ Magazine is a division of Seventh House Publishing Arts. Winter 2018 Issue No. 20

DISCLAIMER: We reserve the right to edit all content for space and clarity. All submissions when edited become the property of Seventh House Publishing Arts. No part of this magazine may be produced in any form without the expressed written consent of the publisher. We make a conscious effort to ensure complete accuracy of all content; however we accept no liability for any inaccurate information. SMJ Magazine is published with limited print editions four (4) times a year. To advertise in our publication, be featured or for more information, please contact us at or visit For editorials contact


Sheri L. Lake (647) 272-3624


416-839-2792 w SUMMER 2017


In the almost five years since we launched SMJ Magazine, this current issue has been the hardest one for me to complete. In the midst of assembling the content for this edition of the regular issue and publishing a special edition on a Congress of Black Women Gala just two weeks earlier, I lost my mother. We are still in mourning of her passing. I know without a shadow of a doubt that she is looking down on me and wants me to be successful in my journey and whatever I put my hands to. This Winter 2018 edition really underlines why recognizing our diversity is crucial to understanding us. We are pleased to bring back Fabienne Colas, founder of The Toronto Black Film Festival, as our front cover Feature. This is the 6th year of the Festival. We review two of the films, both of them timely, with one exploring the headline-grabbing #MeToo movement from a historical context. Nakeisha Geddes takes up the subject further in our Exclusive with five women from the GTA who have had first-hand experience. We report on the Congress of Black Women Gala which spawned the aforementioned special edition, and the

warrior/queen legacy and Canada Post honor of founder Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone, then we explore the explosive futuristic rendering of warriors, queens and kings in the film Black Panther. We introduce new writer Jennica B. and share her amazing stories of Celine Dion and her recently revamped Las Vegas show at Caesar’s Palace, a unique wellness resort on the island of St. Lucia, and what you the reader can do to support the repair of St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma. With the publication of Issue No. 20, we at SMJ Magazine reaffirm that knowledge is power and it is the key to succeeding in life. Truth can be very liberating when people are allowed to tell their stories. We look forward to your continued support, whether it is by advertising with us, telling others about our magazine, or partnering or collaborating with us. We send much love and blessings your way.

w WINTER 2018





New Elegance By Barbara Onwumere

Barbers work hard long hours to make you look good. Professional barbers personalize a haircut that is unique to you. It takes a tremendous amount of skill, passion, talent, and dedication to produce the haircuts and designs you see today. There is a demand for new barbers, but due to the lack of barber training facilities, well trained barbers are on the decline. To preserve the skills and talent, Elegance Barber and Salon in collaboration with Smart Choice Hair Center has developed a comprehensive modular training program to assist in the formal training both at the beginner and advanced level. The core elements of the program involve foundations in barbering, tools, and implementation of men’s haircut along with sanitation and infection control and more. Training is provided in a barbershop setting and students receive hands-on training in basic theory and look. Upon successful completion of the program, certification will be awarded. Elegance’s trainers are passionate professionals who have dedicated their lives to the industry. They have partnered with SCHC to share the knowledge and skills they have acquired over the years. Elegance found out about SCHC’s accredited training program through a mutual friend of the organization who made them aware of the proven track record of SCHC as a reputable organization. From my standpoint, SCHC has always wanted to venture into collaboration or partnership for a barber training program but never had a serious offer from anyone. Elegance Barber and Salon came at



pivoting point and their business plan and model is positioned for success. Upon visiting Elegance we identified that their standards are aligned with similar principles as SCHC and that competence in barbering skills were top-notch and literally a cut above the rest in Toronto. I knew this would lead to a lasting effect of producing highly skilled and professional barbers in Toronto. Negotiations are ongoing as this is being written; however, the initial stage was spread over a 3 month period, with several meetings to ensure that the programs and training facility were in accordance with the Ontario skill sets.


I will be heading up the program from my exam preparation centre located 2428 Islington Ave # 217. I am a certified and licensed hairstylist, also an Instructor with over 20 years’ experience. My ‘Elegance’ partner is Francky Archange, a barber and salon owner with over 17 years’ experience, and is located north-west of downtown Toronto at 1850 Eglington Ave W. Our mission and aim is to prepare future barbers with the right attitude and tools to become successful in the industry. The beauty industry is looking forward to the induction of future barbers to learn the evolving trends of barbering. Registration has commenced for programs during spring 2018. Visit us at our separate locations, or call us at 1-877-489-1455 (Elegance) or 416-788-0823 (SCHC) for further details.


Havana, Cuba and Michelle Aristocrat’s Camera By Claris Minas Manglicmot

In every fashion show, the audiences savor the finish products. What most people do not realize are the incredibly long hours of planning. In the same way, beautiful editorial photo essays in fashion magazine pages are a labor of love which gives no indication of the intensity of preparation by the team involved. Let me give you an idea of behindthe-scenes at the latest production of Couture Culture and Arts (CCA) in Havana, Cuba last February 1 to 11. 2018. Late last year, the CCA team had a series of meetings and planned this pilot International Travel Editorial Project. We unanimously picked the rich artistic ruins and pristine beaches of Havana, Cuba as our very first international location. The story of our one week shoot in Havana begins with the magical lens of our Creative Photographer, Miss Michelle Aristocrat. This is not the first time I have worked with Michelle. She was one of the main supports in CCA’s Canada 150 runway show presentation featuring Amato Couture last October 2017. She helped by doing on-the-spot editorial shoot during fitting day, documenting the story on the runway, and in a myriad of other ways. I have seen Michelle shoot in a studio and on location and she works efficiently in both settings, quickly and stress free. The shoot runs so smoothly that before I know it the shoot is already done and it’s pack up time. In our first shoot I was a little




concerned about the lighting, but when I saw the result I was amazed. I indicated at the bottom of this article some of her 80 plus past works. Our major sponsor for the shoot was His and Her Modeling Management, Inc., who featured an over 40 years old doctor whose passion is modeling. The way Michelle ran the shoot was so professional that if I did not know the inside story, I wouldn’t be able to tell that the woman in front of the camera is a doctor in her 40s. Her poses were striking under Michelle’s directions and her every move was precise as the camera clicked. The Havana, Cuba photo editorial is just the beginning. We are looking at going to South America, Europe and Asia in future. As a year-end special, we are thinking of Turkey as our destination, to apply our previous shoots as a fusion of Asian, European, Mediterranean and Middle eastern cultures! We are calling on designers, models, and fashionistas to make inquiries to be part of this trip. Contact: Couture Culture and Arts (CCA) Claris Minas Manglicmot, Founder and Creative Director Instagram: @cca_canada Facebook: @coutureculturearts ==================== Team Credits: INTERNATIONAL EDITORIAL PHOTOSHOOT : Havana, Cuba: February 1 to 11, 2018 Photographer/Creative Director and Artist: Michelle Aristocrat Model/ Sponsor: His and Her Model Management Inc Designer: Tristan Licud of TFL Couture Stylist: Claris Minas Manglicmot Jewelry: Jewels Box Bowties: Poculum and John Ablaza Artisan Shoes: Risque Designs




Canadian Icon in Vegas:

Celine Dion By Jennica B.

If you are looking to improve your mood, especially during the winter months where Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome (SADS) can set in, you should consider taking in some excellent music, for its mood boosting effects. Beautiful songs with brilliant melodies can contribute to a feeling of calm and comfort, reducing negative moods, promoting a spiritual awakening, like a really good therapy session. And if you can afford the time and money to do it in Las Vegas, there is a Canadian treasure that can do it with panache! Celine Dion has set up residency along the Strip and she has fans who have attended repeat performances in the thirties! (I met one super fan who has seen her 37 times!) Concert goers will come away from this show with some wonderful memories. The music in this show is enriching through the marvellous multi-octane range of the Quebec native. The long-running stage show at Caesar’s Palace showcases her long list of mega hits; sophisticated, soaring ballads. Ballads were first composed in medieval 12



times. These songs are musical stories, and with the Celine touch, are emotion filled, and often move audiences to tears. Celine was manged by her lifelong love, Rene Angelil, until his passing about a year ago. Celine shares her appreciation of music with every audience, and it’s a reflection of the everlasting love between these two committed individuals and the career that they built together. There is an angelic quality in her voice, and we saw all of these components coming together, in a bold, visually artistic way, when she sang “A New Day.” The new show feels like an intimate gathering, although the venue holds 4,300 people. You still get an up close and personal feel, from Celine’s engaging personality, as if you were in a lounge style setting. There are no mesmerizing stage effects in this show, like in other Vegas shows, and no background dancers. Instead, it’s a pure and simple interaction between herself, her audience, and a few, select musicians on stage. If you want to be entertained by a voice you may only hear once in your lifetime, this is the show you should see.




Extra special finishing touches include her beautiful, iridescent, gowns that are interchanged on stage (e.g. Ellie Saab), and tributes to timeless artists, like Elvis and Prince. We love the way she keeps recreating shows, to bring audiences something new every time. It’s the reason why she has such a loyal following of devoted fans. It’s like her hit “The Power of Love;” very real, very Celine. The show at Caesar’s Palace has dates posted all the way through June, 2018. Tickets range in price from $55 - $250. /1 888-740-8560

Jennica B., based out of Vancouver, has been a creative writing enthusiast since childhood, with related experience in dramatic arts. She writes professionally for a variety of businesses within the hospitality and high-end product industries, and her work is published in a variety of places online and in print. Jennica enjoys seeking out innovative, artistic and inspiring life experiences and ideas. She can be reached at





By Andrew Terry Pasieka

Orji Obiorah is a Nigerian filmmaker living in the unlikeliest of all places; Calgary, Alberta. He has written, directed, produced, and stars in Mrs. Jones, which he calls his “psychological art film,” and which took him seven years to make, from concept to final edit. He was in the GTA at the end of November last year to premiere his film in Ontario. We wondered if the inter-racial liaisons and the illicit undertones of cheating that he included in the script somehow was his subconscious channeling of the 1970s R & B hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which essentially covered the same ground. Orji knew of the song and saw the connections but said it never came up in the process. “If there is any link with the song it is that the movie expresses my philosophy, which was doing something weird and showing the fifty shades of grey side of me!” The message of the film is an interpretation of things that are black in our lives, which first appear during childhood, and then re-occur with more sinister meaning when we are adults. The film starts with a long opening scene that Orji says symbolizes a microcosm of society that happens behind closed doors. It could be viewed as a painting; the mystery of images which were conjured up come back in other forms according to one French theorist; and life is a series of light and dark according to another from Italy. Being a former art student himself, Orji was able to merge visual arts with performing arts. The scene, which sets up the entire movie, could follow this analogy: the people are the paints; the soundtrack is the brush that drives (paints) the scene; and the rooms of the house where the scene takes place are the canvass for the painting. Cynthia Stone, who stars as the namesake, remarked when she first got the script: “Wow! What an intriguing concept!! I wanted to get into Orji’s mind and see where he was coming from. I didn’t have an idea of who Mrs. Jones was in the beginning. I stayed open and allowed the character to develop and evolve, while putting my own lens on it from my own experiences.” If the ‘art’ depicted in the film was forthright, the project was nevertheless not without its challenges. There were a series of changes to the script which not only added extra

time to the process, but also added to Orji’s frustration. There was also a problem with release forms which had not been properly completed ahead of time. However, the most serious challenge had to do with money. Even though the budget was met and all parties taken care of, the publicity and distribution phase was, in Orji’s words, “sabotaged,” both at the Canadian premiere in Calgary and at the aforementioned GTA follow up. Without a doubt Orji says he has learned some valuable lessons from Mrs. Jones, ones he said he will not repeat with his second film. It will be more of a documentary, and will take him to Zimbabwe and South Africa. “This will be more of the kind of film I want to do to establish my career.”





Multi-Faceted Ryan Singh By Shelley Jarrett

Our journeys with SMJ Magazine have crossed paths with innumerable artists over the years. One is someone we met for the first time several years ago at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival and whom we saw again last September at the Toronto International Film Festival, performing artist extraordinaire Ryan Singh. We agreed it was time to tell his story in SMJ. At TIFF we saw a great documentary on the life of Sammy Davis Jr. called I Gotta Be Me, and found out that Sammy started performing when he was only 4 years old. In doing the background research on Ryan, we discovered that he first entered the “entertainment” spotlight in his homeland of Guyana, South America at 6 years of age. He performed poetry in what was to be one of many future national performing competitions. Our first question queried him about that early experience, and if it affected his childhood in a positive or negative way. “I was not a child performer like Sammy. My first experience was with my dad; he was performing, and I went up on stage with him. At the time I was learning poetry, so I was asked to recite some.” Ryan immigrated to Canada in 1993 at age 16, and already knew what he wanted to do. He focused on realizing his dream of becoming an actor. Recognizing early on that opportunities in Canada were limited for diverse performers, he began developing his own projects. His 16


father formed two companies; Roots International Arts Theatre, and Uprising International. “After arriving in Canada, I finished high school and then graduated university, majoring in the arts. However, I was getting frustrated trying to get into theatre. I did a play together with my father in 2001, and that was the beginning of my success here in Canada. I formed Ryan Singh Enterprises in 2001, a for-profit production company, producing stage plays, short films, commercials, corporate videos, documentaries, music videos and feature films, as well as collaborating with my father. To make ends meet I got a job with the government and non-profit organizations, primarily to pay off school loans etc., I worked during the day and still continued to do theatre at nights. I was running myself ragged and suffered a mental breakdown. At the time I felt it was because I wasn’t pursuing my passion.” By 2005 Ryan was back on track. He got completely immersed in acting, and started to embrace his producer, director, and editor side. He also took on the stage name Nigel Ryan.


“When I started out again, I began to learn about the film business here in Canada, and got an agent. I was being called by a lot of South Asian producers to audition, and was questioned about my last name. There were suggestions that it might be a hindrance. So that’s when I decided to make my middle name my first name, my first name my last name, and came up with Nigel Ryan.”

He also addressed his heritage in April 2013 when he produced a 9-minute documentary entitled MOM, which addressed the subject of absentee fathers. It is the story about a man who wants to break that chain as he prepares to be a father. MOM featured his real-life mother and wife, and captured attention at its ReelWorld Film Festival premiere screening. This 9 minute short received accolades as it explored betrayal, heartbreak, and undying love.

He remains Ryan Singh the Director, Producer, and Editor. He has not forgotten his heritage, as six productions have been produced in Canada and Guyana. He has sponsored several workshops over the years including the notable Tom Todoroff Workshop, and Talent Unleashed. He sees himself as Ryan Singh the nationalist contributing to the arts scene and creating an understanding of 21st century society in Guyana through film.

“Growing up I was always surrounded by many women. I have admired the power of women. I have been entrapped by the ideology of Caribbean black men. I was a married man in 2012 with my wife pregnant with twins. We had been previously pregnant in 2009 but we lost that baby. By 2012, I wanted to be a serious father, a strong husband to my wife. I did not see that in my immediate family background. My father had about 6-7 baby mothers with about 12 children among them. My grandfather had many children but was never married. I did not want to repeat that cycle. I initially told the story MOM from my grandmother’s perspective, yet after all that my grandmother did not make it into the cut. However, my mom and my wife were prominent in the documentary.” Asked if this made the MOM project very personal, Ryan answers, “Absolutely!” “It took a toll on my entire family, and opened a Pandora box that I may not want to get into again. The film starts out with my wife, who was 9 months pregnant at the time, saying ‘I never wanted to marry you,’ and my mom saying ‘I have always had great relationships with men.’ Growing up my mom was a single mother with many relationships. I had to separate myself from my family while directing and film them as distinct viewpoints. I was very happy with the outcome. Every time I feel down I watch the film.” How does Ryan Singh the multifaceted artist think he has benefitted from wearing so many hats in film and stage performances over the years? “I have learned how to tell stories. Whether I am acting, directing, or producing, I try as a storyteller to find that raw unedited version of the truth. I find a lot of times actors put up masks and give you what is a simple version of truth. But the truth is dirty and it’s embarrassing and it’s all the things we hide. I go through the story to specifically find and pull out real truth and tell it.” For bookings contact: 416-275-8993 or WINTER 2018



Fabienne Colas: SMJ MAGAZINE




By Andrew Terry Pasieka

A number of wellknown faces from the movie industry made appearances at the

6th Annual Toronto Black Film Festival, which was held from February 14th to 19th. As president and founder Fabienne Colas pointed out, having celebrities attend her festivals are a must as she continues to build her brand.

For example, at TBFF, the Canadian premiere of the film Service to Man, a true story of two students who attended the all-black Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, had a talk back after the screening. Co-stars Lamman Rucker, who has appeared in several Tyler Perry movies and currently co-stars in the TV drama series Greenleaf alongside Oprah Winfrey, and Morgan Auld, who has worked with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman, were present to provide insights on the film and answer questions. Emmy award-winning casting director Robi Reed headed a special casting workshop during the Festival. She has landed major roles for Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Queen Latifah among others, and has over 70 films and TV shows to her credit. She is currently VP of Talent & Casting for Original Programming at BET (Black Entertainment Television). At the 2016 Festival, SMJ Magazine interviewed 19-2 Canadian television star Adrian Holmes. Two years later, the 2017 Canadian Screen Award winner of Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Nick Barron will be here to show his latest project, a biopic entitled Barrow Freedom Fighter. He plays the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, reformer, national hero, and Father of Independence of Barbados. Ms. Colas is ecstatic with the timeliness of her opening film. The Rape of Recy Taylor is a searing docu-drama about the beginning of black resistance in the face of brutal white supremacy in the Jim Crow South. Oprah Winfrey, in her now famous Golden Globes speech this past January, noted Ms. Taylor and rape investigator Rosa Parks as incredibly brave pioneers and possibly even forerunners of both the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The 60 films in the TBFF lineup this year marks the most she has ever had, and the 20 representative countries include firsts like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Another TBFF first is the Kids’ Film Festival, which takes up the final day, Family Day February 19th. Asked why she started it in Toronto rather than in Montreal, which is now 14 years old, she replied that “Toronto was more than a hunch. We have been noticing the attendance in previous years, and the Toronto festival attracts the most families.” In the two years since SMJ last covered TBFF, Ms. Colas successfully launched the Halifax Black Film Festival in 2017. Fabienne now has five festivals in Canada; three of them film, plus one in New York and one in her homeland of Haiti. Looking back over those 14 years since she began, Ms. Colas says the term ‘diversity’ was not trending back then, there was no such thing as #OscarsSoWhite, and there was not any significant recognition of diverse talent at award shows. This is related to her final crucial point about brand recognition. “I was asked when I started why I was calling my film festival Black; now it is the most necessary part of my brand.” For more information, go to:




BARRON BECOMES BARROW: ADRIAN HOLMES ON A DIFFERENT By Andrew Terry Pasieka Two years ago SMJ Magazine interviewed Adrian Holmes at the press conference of the 4th annual Toronto Black Film Festival. He had just received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for his standout performance as Nick Barron in the English Language version of 19-2 on Bravo. Now, fresh off winning the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series in 2017 for that role, the Wrexham, North Wales native and British Columbia resident since age five brings his feature film Barrow Freedom Fighter to this year’s festival. However, even though the film appears in Festival program under the heading ‘Narrative Feature Films,’ it really is a docudrama with a difference. Holmes is most proud and honored to have helped produce along side Step by Step Productions Director Marci Weekes and Co-Producer Dave Weekes. Marci read the book in 2013, obtained the rights and historical footage about the life and times of Errol Barrow, the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and did the interviews in the fall of 2015. About the same time she was talking with Adrian Holmes’ uncle, who mentioned Adrian and his starring role, in 19-2 as ‘Nick Barron,’ and saying that Adrian was his nephew. Soon after that, Adrian got a phone call and an offer to play the lead role of Errol Barrow in his parents’ homeland of Barbados. The film was shot over two weeks in February 2016. The editing had to be finished by the end of the summer in order for it to be released in November, culminating the year-long celebration of Barbados’ 50th Independence on November 30th, 2016 after more than 300 years as a British colony. What made this a docudrama with a difference is that Barrow Freedom Fighter intersperses factual commentaries and interviews plus historical footage with reenactments of some of the major moments in Barrow’s personal and professional




KIND OF BIOPIC FROM BARBADOS life. And that is where Adrian came in, playing the lead role. In preparing for the part, Adrian said that learning about Barrow was also a learning exercise for himself and his Bajan heritage. He did admit that having never lived in Barbados; he had to employ “a very strict dialect coach.” Narrated by former United States Attorney General Eric Holder whose father was from Barbados, the film tells the story of The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow who successfully led Barbados to independence. Barrow Freedom Fighter is the first film to feature the life story of a prominent Caribbean politician/statesman, and includes interviews with Barbadian historians, politicians, icons like cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers and of course family members. All portray him as a very down to earth man who while conflicted at times was much loved by his people and very much committed to Barbados and Caribbean sovereignty. The road to independence itself took most of one year, with the Barbados Parliament voting 14-8 in favor of sovereignty in January 1966, and with the feisty and fiery Barrow seemingly causing some delays with his remarks in subsequent negotiations. For a relatively young man, Adrian Holmes has had a relatively long career. He is best known for his television work. Leading the cast as ‘Nick Barron,’ 19-2 has been hailed by the press including the New York Times which stated, “ The series is in the tradition of shows like The Wire, portraying law enforcement less flashily and less noisily than others, and thus more accurately.” Other wellknown parts include ‘Basqat’ on Smallville, ‘Marcus Mitchell’ on True Justice and ‘Frank Pike’ on Arrow. His film work includes Red Riding Hood, Elysium, and The Cabin in the Woods. Adrian now splits his time, residing between Vancouver and Los Angeles.




THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR By Andrew Terry Pasieka

Oprah Winfrey, in her now famous 2018 Golden Globes speech, referenced the story of Recy Taylor in a phrase that was repeated over and over in the days and weeks afterward. Recy was “a woman you should know.� Going to see The Rape of Recy Taylor, a timely and auspicious opening film for the 6th annual Toronto Black Film Festival, there was an anticipation of seeing something eye-opening and riveting, because of the hype leading up to it. After all, Recy Taylor was the flashpoint, discriminated against for her race and her gender, a woman who with the help of NAACP Rape Investigator Rosa Parks was the first black woman to point fingers at her perpetrators, name names, and demand justice. Instead we saw a primarily factual and subtlety narrative documentary whose strength lay in the story, and not the scenes. If few people knew who Recy Taylor was, probably fewer knew the 24 year-old woman was a wife and mother on the night of the rape. Even fewer knew that the some of the six white boys who raped her were under-age. Their names may or may have not registered with the opening night audience, but their ages screamed out from the screen: 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14!! Set against this was one of the most poignant parts of the film: a recurring silent narrative scene of a young black woman portraying Recy, in a white gingham gown, the bottom portion of the gown rose by a hand as she ran through the countryside, looking back at unseen pursuers. I imagine every black woman in that audience had a shiver at some point watching that repeating scene. Apart from the interviews with family and friends, most importantly her younger brother and sister, the film lays out the story in stark reality. This incident on a hot summer night in 1944 happened just outside Abbeville, Alabama. Recy was the strongest Christian in her family. She went to a Sunday evening service, and the church was a 2 mile walk from the black shanty town. In between was dark countryside, which was where the rape occurred. None of the six boys were actually arrested in the sense of being detained, and the subsequent trial, which eventually moved to Montgomery, Alabama, resulted in the acquittal of all who were charged. This universal and human story was told by a white director, Nancy Buirski. She had first met Recy in 2010 or 2011 while she was involved in the Mildred and Richard Loving story. The Lovings were the first inter-racial couple who challenged the legal system, and got the Supreme Court to overturn laws in 21 states which made inter-




instinctively knew not to re-create the rape, as “…it would be presumptuous, and frankly, a little tacky…” Instead she captured the emotion that Recy would have felt, playing that night over and over in her mind, like a nightmare. And finally, we end where we started. What was it like having someone like Oprah Winfrey mention your film? Nancy replied, “It first of all shows when your film is about a real person how important it is to have the name of the person in the title of the film!” Apparently people were googling ‘Recy Taylor’ as Oprah spoke, and the film came up immediately as it was opening in New York two weeks later. Since then, CNN and Nightline interviews quickly followed, and…300 requests for screenings!!! At last, at last, Recy Taylor is getting some justice!

racial marriage illegal, including their home state of Virginia. She then read Rec’s story, and felt it should be told as a human being, a woman, and a white person who would be complicit if she didn’t. Recy’s two younger siblings gave great interviews, in particular her brother, who made it his life’s mission to talk about Recy and her injustice. Nancy shot the eerie silent narrative scene of the woman running through the woods, because she






TO HOME By Nakeisha Geddes

Abuse towards black women was prevalent during the era of slavery. During this time black women were stripped, beaten, raped as well as forced to breed so that they could have children to keep the slave chain going. Black women weren’t even viewed as equal partners to their male counterparts. When slavery was abolished, black men still held power over black women, which they perceived gave them permission to take advantage of women. One could argue that all women were left unprotected by the law and custom which culminated into them taking a silent position in order to fit into society. Even though we have come a long way, overcoming lots of obstacles, the fight for woman’s total independence still continues. The #MeToo movement was born because of courageous women who began speaking out in droves against the preferential and predatory behavior of men in almost every working profession and every working environment. At the 2018 Golden Globes Awards, Oprah Winfrey spoke eloquently on the subject, and coining the new phrase #TimesUp. Women are now coming out and speaking boldly against abuse and their abusers. These movements have caused a shift in a world formerly controlled by men. This shift has caused men to view women differently. We are at a time where social media can be a very incriminating, powerful tool for the victim. People formerly in traditional societal positions of power don’t have that luxury anymore.



“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton) SMJ Magazine approached five women who have been victims in the GTA region for an opportunity to speak their truth and stand up and say, #METOO. Laura Avolese is a successful realtor, mother, and motivational speaker, but her success did not come easily. From a young age, Laura shouldered heavy burdens, and although she stumbled at times, suceeded through faith and forgiveness to overcome. Lee-Ann Thompson is a Professional Faith Based Counsellor who left her high profile Cryptographic Information Security position to follow her passion for helping others. After two car accidents she became a Certified PraiseMoves® Instructor and is finishing up her health coach certification. Palmonia Gordon’s story can be summarized by determination, persistence, hard work, resourcefulness and positivity. As a young child, Palmonia was stolen from her mom and suffered abuse at the hands of family members. Despite having endured so much pain, Palmonia now has a family of her own with a husband and five children. Karen L. Brookes immigrated to Montreal from Jamaica, July 25 1981, leaving her mother and five brothers and two half- sisters from her father behind. Karen moved to Toronto from Montreal in April 1990, met her husband Clyde at a church in June 1990, and was married in December 1992. They still reside in the GTA with their three children. With her husband’s encouragement, Karen returned to school, obtaining her high school diploma and then her Personal Support Worker Diploma. Melissa Helen Kimberely Hood survived 31 years of mental, physical, emotional and verbal abuse. Despite so many tentative narratives to destroy her since she was born, she overcame every obstacle by the grace of God. She is a Human Rights Education Activist, an author, a paralegal, and a mother of 3 beautiful and talented young boys.

They answered five questions for us.


SMJ: In 100 words or less explain the nature of your abuse: Laura: Between the ages of 6-8 I lived in Sicily. An old man would rub my breasts and put his tongue in my mouth. Another man much younger would put a chair in a closet and he would bounce me up and down. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized he was getting an erection. At 14 my uncle would touch me inappropriately and write me love letters. At 16-17 I had a boyfriend that would hit me. From 18 to 28 I was extremely mentally and emotionally abused by my husband. Lee-Ann: Working a predominantly male dominated field has always been a fight to prove my abilities, and skills. My abuse was one of the most underhanded types of abuse because it was words twisted in a manner to question my abilities, my knowledge. Words like, don’t you worry about it we can have the male intern do this better or you aren’t capable of this work (which was the direct job description and responsibilities). Palmonia: I was sexually abused by family members (numerous times, by different individuals) who were much older than me. It was never brought to my dad’s attention or was the abuser confronted. Living with extended families can sometimes create the ‘perfect’ atmosphere to foster abuse because you might believe they are family and are looking out for you and your family. Karen: I was 16 years old, when I was sexually abused by my father. My father had applied for me to come to live with him and my stepmother in Montreal; I was living in Jamaica with my mother at the time. Because I looked very much like my mother, whom he always loved, my father attached that kind of love to me. I didn’t understood what was happening because I was a virgin and never had a boyfriend. My father told me that I was safe with him, and it was okay for him to touch me. With no other family member around, it was very scary. I can remember going on the phone and trying to tell my mother that I wanted to come back home. Her words to me were, “if you come back home, I will kill you, I don’t want you back in Jamaica.” I never told her what was going on; I didn’t think she would have believed me. I stayed up with my father for another three years and took the abuse and became pregnant three times. My grades in school dropped and one of my teachers noticed the change in my behavior and helped get me out. My father found out where I was staying and persuaded me to come back. The abuse continued. I eventually ran away but he found me and beat me so bad that my head was bleeding.

Finally in 1989, I found a babysitting job, taking care of two little girls before and after school. Their mother was a nurse, who came from Germanic descent. I shared with her what was happening to me and how I needed a place to stay until I could get my own place. She opened up her apartment and I stayed with her, saving my money until I was able to afford my own apartment. Melissa: As a 7th generational Canadian Black Native Woman and having my ancestral rights ripped from my grandmother I too have suffered for 31 years of my life with mental, emotional, physical and verbal abuse. As a child being raised by a white family I actually looked up to white people to help save me because it was instilled at a very young age only the “WHITE MAN” can help you in the time of need, a black man cannot uplift you as they are looked down upon like dirt. When I became a woman and entered into relationships, I found that a black man or a white man can do and say what they please because AS A WOMAN you must consider them to be GOD and worship the ground they walk or else you would be ridiculed as a woman, a mother, a friend, a sister, an aunt and or a lover. SMJ: As someone who has been a victim, how do you believe a safe place can be created for victims to take a stand and speak up? Laura: I think that people should start to come together. Create a space where people can talk about it and be encouraged to speak out loud. Lee-Ann: I feel that there should be advocates available so that victims would be able to express their views in a non-threatening environment: perhaps no more than three contacts who would be discreet, listen without judgement to hear and investigate the claims to provide support for the victim and help move toward a resolution for to all parties involved. Palmonia: It is NEVER too early to start. It is necessary to learn and UNDERSTAND at an early age, what healthy boundaries are and who should be allowed in that space. Also, never be afraid to ASK specific questions. One of the predator’s disguises is to pretend play and when that play has cross the line, the child may not be able to identify. It is important to remind us and society that anyone who gets away with it, have been empowered to attack someone else and often more viciously.




Karen: I believe all victims need to have a voice. It doesn’t matter how small it is, we have to learn to never say, I quit.

the shame. This centre will be a place that has programs to restructure, rebuild and recreate the generational cycle that most women had to endure for decades.

Melissa: Society needs to create a shift and pave the way for women to feel safe to come forward with their allegation without being looked down upon. Women who are also mothers stay quiet because they are afraid that their children will be taken away. We need to reprogram society in a way to help support women without judgment and provide proper training to get them back on track. Neighbours also need to start being more proactive and stop turning a blind eye to abuse.

SMJ: What advice would you give to today’s women who are currently experiencing or have experienced abuse?

SMJ: How can we educate our society to take abuse seriously without casting blame? Laura: This has become huge it’s almost 1 of 3 women I speak to have had some form of abuse. I think we should all start to speak about our abusers and call out their names. I bet if women started publicizing their abuse and their abusers it will start to decrease. Lee-Ann: Education is the perfect word to use in this situation. As I shared initially abuse comes in many forms; it is not just physical. The more women who come forward with their truth the more light is shed on the abuse that has been swept under the carpet for so long. Keeping the lines of communication open, clear, honest, and unjudged is the best way to bring out the once hidden secrets and sufferings. Palmonia: Society must be willing to look at us and be educated. The word “educate” is derived from the Latin word “educo,” meaning to educe, to bring out, to draw out, and to develop from within. So basically we develop from within individual family units and as a community and then as a community, a society, and a country. The problem with our society is that we have accepted too many things as ‘a part of our culture’ without ever looking or investigating. Many abusers themselves may have been victims and as a result, believe that they are supposed to pay it forward, what was done to them. Karen: We need to encourage others to tell about their experiences, that way it is documented. Melissa: Our society requires more ‘safe haven’ centres, where women and children will be secure and not feel 26


Laura: Women who are currently experiencing any abuse need to get out ASAP. Seek a shelter. Ask a family or friend if you can stay with them until you get on your feet. I’m also all about forgiveness. We must all forgive the abuser as hard as it is. It heals us and brings a feeling of tremendous relief. Lee-Ann: Know yourself, trust your heart. You know when someone is undermining you. It’s one thing to give advice or a suggestion that may be harsh, but it is definitely another to consistently be picked at and torn down. Do not let the abuse continue to where it affects your spirit and causes you to question your own abilities and strengths. Speak to someone you trust as a sounding board and who will not condemn you for sharing. Stand strong. Believe in yourself. Palmonia: Know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and You will NEVER BE ALONE! It is important to find at least one person to trust, who can be there to encourage you and pull you through. One person who will know you enough, that sometimes without you saying something, they’ll know something is wrong. Karen: I have said it, time and time again, “It’s not my fault”. At time it plays on your mind, what did I do to cause this? What could I have done differently? Speak even when it does not make sense; someone will always listen. There is a way out. Melissa: As women we need to come together and speak up now, not tomorrow, or a week or a month from now or after years has passed. If we sit in silence we are just the walking dead. It’s time to wake up and take control of yourself and realize you are not alone. Together if we stand as one we can change this horrific cycle of abuse. I am partnering with various agencies to help spread the awareness. Women need to stop judging each other and be our sister’s keeper. SMJ: Do you believe women’s position has shifted in the world today from the marches just one year ago last March?


Laura: I believe so. I think many of us have had enough and we are ready to speak our truth. Lee-Ann: I do believe women’s positions have shifted in the world today from one year ago. It is promising but not enough to make a noticeable difference. It’s important we continue to press forward. I believe we will see great advances coming shortly in recognizing the gaps that have allowed the abuse and victimization to occur. I am an advocate of every baby step meaning something positive, so then onward we go. Encourage and support one another to stand strong, you are indeed blessed to be a blessing. Palmonia: NO! I do not believe our position has shifted. I believe we have begun to awaken, aware of what is happening and we are more willing to be accountable and speak to each other. We need to take the next step and stand together with each other and say...#MeToo! What I love about the awakening is that many women are refusing to stay ‘tied down’ where they have been placed and a now willing to step outside the box. Karen: Yes, looking at women from all over North America; the marches have just begun! Melissa: No! Women from some cultural backgrounds will still feel afraid to seek help due to the stigma and shame that society from their particular part of the world still places on women.




BLACK PANTHER: A Marvel of Excellence By Kareem Gordon

Welcome to Wakanda, the magical paradise that is a ‘marvel’ beyond all that experience. In Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, 31 year old director Ryan Coogler takes the audience on a mystical journey to an alternate world where an isolationist African nation boasts some of the greatest technological advances known to man. Wakanda’s key to success lies in its ability to stay removed from the problems of the outside world. Wakanda masquerades as an impoverished nation in the heart of Africa. Its motto is protection and preservation of self, first and foremost. The film takes an uncommon approach to the traditional superhero story. Black Panther, also known as King T ’Challa played by Chadwick Boseman, and Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan serve as two varying protagonists in this film. King T ’Challa is the calm and reserved leader whose main goal is to uphold the traditions of Wakanda and comes off as a good man trying to do right by his father’s legacy. Killmonger, who could mistakenly be first viewed an antagonist, is a vindictive spirit hell-bent on gaining vengeance for the years of racial oppression he witnessed in his years growing up in Oakland, California. Unlike King T ’Challa, Killmonger has seen firsthand the injustices and oppression against his race and believes that Wakanda, with its vast resources and technology, should liberate black people across the world and conquer those that have conquered them. This is best exemplified in the scene where he addresses the royal council and proclaims “ The sun shall never set on the Wakandan Empire”. This line is a play on the unrealistic boast of a 19th century British Empire devoted to global conquest through colonization. Complete with an almost entire black cast, Black Panther is truly a celebration and display of all things African while rewriting the standard superhero rulebook. Though Wakanda is a fictional place, Coogler depicts many African cultural traditions, and provides the viewer with real world connections that make Wakanda a believable Afrocentric utopia; whether it is the zulu headdress worn by Angela Bassett’s character, Queen Ramonda, Zimbabwean neck rings worn by Danai Gurira or the tribal bumpy 28


scars on Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. Coogler, who has also directed award winning films Fruitvale Station and Creed (both starring Michael B .Jordan), illustrates the immense possibilities of a thriving, isolated African nation when left to its own devices. However, whether intentional or not, Black Panther seems to downplay the plight of African Americans. From the beginning scenes in Oakland it is apparent that Wakanda considers itself far removed and not connected to African Americans. This separation dissolves by the end of the film thanks to the Killmonger’s influence on King T ’Challa. The King realizes that a good leader does what is right even when it is difficult. King T ’Challa addresses The UN, where he delivers a speech calling for world unity instead of division, and cooperation instead of conquest. By all measures this movie is definitely a stand out amongst Marvels previous works. It is the first of its kind and breaks down multiple barriers while delivering an inspiring product. Ryan Coogler’s insertion of applicable experiences that movie-goers could relate to in the real world is solid and thought provoking. The movie was bolstered by strong performances from the lead characters, especially, that of Michael B. Jordan, who absolutely stole the show with his portrayal of Erik Killmonger. Black Panther deserves a solid 9 out of 10 rating and is a recommended must-see for not only Marvel enthusiasts but all movie goers alike. Fantasyland? Yes, but you still wish Wakanda could live forever.

YOUR By Dr. Lisa Ramsackal

Now that the holidays have come and gone, the season may not have its glamorous winter wonderland-like appeal it had a few months ago. Remember when you looked forward to waking up to a fresh thick layer of snow so you could take the family out for tobogganing, skiing, building forts or making snow angels? By the end of February though, Mother Nature has more than delivered. Not much time for play with all the shoveling to be done! With snow storms alternating with thaws, it usually becomes a season of sprains, strains and slip and fall injuries. Common complaints coming into my office are from patients suffering injuries from snow removal such as back pain, neck or shoulder pain from improper lifting or a fall on a slippery side walk or driveway. No matter how big or small the snowfall, measures should always be taken to prevent injuries. There is no way to predict how and when an injury may happen even with the smallest of snowfalls. So when it comes to snow removal think about your health and safety first and foremost. Here are a few health and safety tips I share with my patients. • Prepare for your task with a warm up. Snow removal is a physical activity just like any other type of exercise we do. For some, it may even be more strenuous then what they are accustomed doing. This over exertion can put your body and heart at risk of injury and without warning. Take 5-10 minutes before you start shoveling to allow your muscles to warm up with improved blood circulation and to get your joints moving. A warm up can be as simple as walk around the block. • Wear proper footwear appropriate for weather conditions. Warm boots with good grip on the soles will help to minimize the risk of slips and falls. A fresh and heavy snow fall is an environment that can easily have you twisting your ankle or straining your joints trying to maneuver through the snow. With the fluctuations in temperature hidden ice that sets in after a rainfall is a recipe for disaster. Falling on ice can have even bigger consequences such as broken bones or a concussion sustained from hitting your head.


is your

• Salt or sand slippery surfaces to avoid slip and fall. It seems like a no brainer but sometimes time constraints can have you rushing out the door one minute and flat on your face the next. A simple solution is to regularly salt your driveway and walkway as you would clear it, to avoid you or others having slips and falls. • When it comes to tools, not all shovels are created equal. It is best to use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel. Spraying a metal shovel with Teflon will minimize snow from sticking to it. • Practice proper lifting and bending techniques. Avoid bending over and throwing a snow filled shovel. Instead, bend at the knees and use the muscles in your leg and arms to push while keeping your back straight. An ergonomically correct curved handle will help to decrease strain to the lower back. • Take breaks as needed. Sometimes the best way to tackle a large task is to break it up into smaller sections or sessions and take time in between to rest. Repetitive injuries, sprains and strains arise from increased and/or continuous demands without adequate rest to allow your body to recover. If you do experience pain that persists or gets worse after activities, it is important to seek professional care as soon as possible. Pain is a symptom telling you that there is something that needs attention, so don’t delay.



The Body Holiday: The Definition of a Wellness Resort By Jennica B.

If you’re like most people, you resolved to eat healthier, work out and pay closer attention to your body this year. Look around and you will notice packed gyms in January, with people aiming to do better. Welcome to the winter months, where fitness commitment is hard, especially when all you feel like doing is hibernating, wearing bulky sweaters, wrapped up in warm blankets, and sharing goodies, like hot chocolate and toast. Hopefully that’s not what happened to your resolution. Upgrade your fitness goals 2018 to first class - you might consider taking a Body Holiday. It’s on St. Lucia.

You’ll never be bored while visiting St. Lucia. There are wellness programs, designed to keep you looking and feeling your best. Be good to yourself, and your body will thank you. A list of the programs includes Restorative Beauty, Mindfullness, Ayurvedic Temple, the Wellness Centre, and Better Ageing. In contrast to the usual, all-inclusive resorts (i.e. beaching, eating, sleeping, drinking and repeating) The Body Holiday keeps you looking and feeling your best, and promoting over all well-being. You don’t have to decide to eat healthy on vacation, and then throw in the towel because you can’t resist! Nutritious means delicious too. Guests can request specialized diets. However, if you can, we suggest fully investing in the healthy environment that awaits your arrival and stay (i.e., low carb, low fat, low sugar and gluten-free food).

St. Lucia is the mountainous island in the Caribbean known for its warm, tropical climate, built upon a rainforest, complete with a drive through a volcano. It’s a beautiful place to visit, within a gorgeous, naturalistic setting. Adventurers get treated to a world of activity here, and it’s a great place to explore, with hours of unintentional exercise while advancing your health and wellbeing for 2018. Holidays like this are the “new thing”. The Body Holiday is not a vacation for your body; it’s a transformative experience that will take you to the next level. This resort is aimed at those who want to reward themselves with the next phase of their plan, and take the gym on vacation! With a host of activities like yoga, sailing, scuba diving, windsurfing, general fitness and sports, including beach volleyball, tennis, cycling, archery, kayaking and water skiing, there is never a dull moment, and the resort caters to clientele from all walks of life.



The resident nutritionist will plan your meals just for you, and they will tailor your meal plan to suit your needs (e.g. reducing body fat, building lean muscle mass, detoxification, etc.). The Body Holiday is located in St. Lucia and total body transformations go for around $800 per night, with beautiful, ocean front views, and life changing experiences included. It’s a total ‘body’ trip. “Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you your mind.” 1 800-544-2883



On September 13, 2017, Hurricane Irma swept through the beautiful Caribbean Islands, affecting everything in its path. Irma was a category 5 Hurricane. We haven’t seen one this strong since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Vancouver Lux & Leisure is a resource for finding hotspots. In 2018, we hope to encourage people to visit the Caribbean Islands and give back. Funds put back into the Islands will assist with damages and repairs. The Islands in the Caribbean that were affected the most by the Hurricane are very small. For example, Anguilla is a small Island, with a population of only approximately 15,000, which means that even a small contribution will make a huge difference. As tourism is the main source of support for this region, they are hosting a campaign rewarding participants with incredible luxury gifts (e.g. dinner and drinks - $50 value to a weeklong stay in beautiful destinations like The Maldives - $2000 value). A portion of the proceeds will be used to benefit affected Islands in the Caribbean, like St. Lucia. It is estimated that it will take one to two years to restore the Islands to their original state. They call this: “Paradise on hold.” For every $10 donated, you will receive one entry into the giveaways, and be eligible to win any prize. Everyone who donates is entered into the draws for wonderful Lux & Leisure Gifts! What’s even better is that you are guaranteed free perks just for giving!

Further information can be found at the following link: You can visit Vancouver Lux & Leisure on Twitter @VanLuxLeisure For Toronto , visit @TorLuxLeisure Guaranteed Free Perks: -Heart-shaped bottle stopper -Bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon -Personalized Clothing Gift from Babies in Styleland -Specialized LED Key Chain




Is Seasonal Dating a Trend? Seasonal dating is when a person uses the changing seasons to direct the course of their romantic lives. Some people leap from one relationship to the next one because they want new people in their lives when the seasons change and they don’t want to be alone. Once the winter is over, it is time to welcome spring. For some singles, welcoming spring means finding a new boyfriend or girlfriend to enjoy the new season with. And for other people, a new season is a time to ditch their partners whom they find are boring or incompatible for someone new. There is certainly nothing wrong with using a new season to motivate you to make positive changes in your life, but you should be careful not to use changing seasons as an excuse to be fickle about your dating choices. Here are some tips to help you recognize whether or not you are a seasonal dater:




1. You set a goal to find a new partner before the next holiday. You feel that there is nothing worse than being alone during Valentine’s Day or any of the other holidays. If that is you, you might be a seasonal dater. The goal should be to be with the RIGHT person on holidays, not just with ANY person. Leave the holidays out of your dating decisions. Focus on creating a list of what qualities your ideal partner would have, and strive to find someone who is your ideal match. I promise you that when you meet the right person, you won’t care what time of the year it is; you will simply be too focused on learning and growing together to care about a goal of finding the right person in time for the next celebratory occasion. 2. You have a hard time finding a reason to commit to anyone. When the seasons change, do you use that as an excuse to cast off your current relationship? People who are seasonal daters get impatient; they don’t want to keep looking at the same face day after day. Seasonal daters tend to have commitment issues and they don’t want to feel bored in their relationships. Seasonal daters prepare themselves to be on the “hunt” for a new mate. 3. You deliberately cause problems in your current partnership so that you can be free and single again. Seasonal daters thrive on the excitement of the new possibilities that can happen when the seasons change. Because of this, they find ways to free themselves from their perceived boundaries of conventional unions, and they start the dating process all over again to search for someone who they feel is fresh and exciting. The problem with regularly causing drama in order to break up is that seasonal daters could be letting go of a potentially good relationship without giving it the chance to bloom into a loving and healthy partnership. Just like the Expose song “Seasons Change,” some people’s attitudes change throughout the seasons. Seasonal dating does seem to be a trend right now, especially when there are fickle dating apps that encourage singles to focus on choosing a dating partner based on that person’s appearance first before finding out if they share values and goals in common. Focus on weathering the storms with one person at a time before deciding to abandon your relationship too soon.

Akua Hinds, journalist, actress, music performer & instructor, founder & marketing owner of dating sites,, independent business owner at & please visit





A TRIBUTE TO KAY LIVINGSTONE By Andrew Terry Pasieka “In the beginning was Kay Livingstone.” A bold statement bordering on boastful, spoken by former National Vice-President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada Ettie Rutherford at the Gala honoring the CBWC founder and her recognition by Canada Post in a stamp. Then she said it a second time. Rene Livingstone, one of Kay Livingstone’s daughters, gave reason for the boast in summing up the incredible legacy her mother left. She was the founding President of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (the forerunner of the CBWC), Chair of International Affairs (YWCA), member of the Advertising Women’s Club, provincial regional consultant, Appeal Board Legal Aid, Moderator of Heritage Ontario, actress, poet, and radio host. She coined the phrase ‘visible minority,’ and helped to launch Calypso Carnival, the forerunner of Caribana. Rene said her mother was a visionary and pioneer, pushing boundaries. Whitby MP and former Parliamentary Secretary to PM Justin Trudeau, the Hon. Celina Caesar-Chavannes said Kay Livingstone inspired black pride. Former MP and Parliamentary Secretary to PM Jean Chretien and national President of the CBWC during the 1980s, the Hon. Jean Augustine, called her a trail blazer, who represented Canada in Mexico City to set up the Status of Women through the United Nations. Senator and Dr. Wanda Thomas-Bernard, no less, said Kay Livingstone was her mentor. Above all that, Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone was a wife and mother of five! To get a grasp on how she mobilized black women from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, one only has to hear Ettie Rutherford’s story. She said she thought she’d “died and gone to heaven” when she saw 200 black women in one room at the first national Congress conference. At that time, she could sometimes go a whole month in her then home of Calgary and not see another black woman! Staying in the historical vein, the Hon. Jean Augustine remarked that ‘social’ black history in Toronto could



be summed up in two hotels: the Holiday Inn on Chestnut Street, and the Westbury Hotel, now the Courtyard Marriott and the venue for this Gala. She then relayed a humorous story of being a volunteer at the first National Congress meeting, of meeting buses from Montreal with some of the passengers not having pre-booked a room at the Westbury, some just getting on the bus ‘for the ride,’ and some aghast that a registration would be charged to get into a room for a black women’s’ event!!! But in the end, there was “great dialogue, and an agreement that a permanent framework right across Canada had to be built.” Rene Livingstone relayed the story of helping her mother prepare a huge mound of Christmas cards each year by licking the stamps and putting them on the envelopes. “I could never have dreamed that this Christmas I will be licking a stamp with a picture of my mother on it.” The family pride extends to their father George, who was a successful real estate developer, architect, and philanthropic and was a great support. Rene pointed out that much of her mother’s career was encouraged by her father during a period when a wife and mother’s place was in the home. At one point in her speech, Dr. Thomas-Bernard said the journey of the black woman has been, like the motto of the CBWC, ‘upward and onward…’ She tempered this slightly by saying, “We are not where we used to be, but we are not where we need to be yet.” The Hon. CaesarChavannes, who presented certificates from herself and the Prime Minister to the CBWC and later received the Kay Livingstone Award for 2018, brought that future into focus. She had just seen the blockbuster opening of the movie Black Panther, and saw black women as warriors and queens. The sisters who laid the groundwork for where the CBWC is today, including this event, were led by Kay Livingstone. They were no less than warriors and queens, Canada’s black royalty! (Go to





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