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Women of the week: Kathy Cheng

Do you “buy local”? With the ever-increasing globalization of the market and the growing awareness of the unstable working conditions of overseas factories, the buy local movement is gaining a strong presence in the marketplace.

Kathy Cheng, president of WS & Co., strongly believes in supporting this movement.

“Each time a Canadian buys something that is Made in Canada, they are supporting not only their local economy, but also contributing to the continuation of a skilled workforce – that’s located on our very own soil rather than across the Atlantic.”

One of Canada’s leading apparel manufacturers, WS & Co. maintain a factory here in the Toronto area. As “crusaders for Canadian garment manufacturing,” the company has rejected the potential of increased profit through outsourcing, choosing instead to ensure that their employees are working in an environment protected by the rules and regulations of the Canadian government.

Started by Kathy’s father, Chak Wai Cheng, in 1988, WS & Co was originally a much smaller operation, employing only five seamstresses. Business improved and the company expanded; at its peak, it employed 500 people.

Growing up, Kathy spent a great deal of time in the factory, learning about the various steps of the production process. Then, in 2000, Kathy officially joined the team. It was a change from her previous role in financial consulting, but she feels it was the right thing to do.

“The factory and those who make it successful have allowed me to experience many privileges over the course of my life. So when my dad asked me to join in the family business, I believed this was my opportunity to give back,” she says.

In 2009, after surviving two recessions, the company went through a re-structuring process. Debra Tse and Gary Cheng, Kathy’s aunt and uncle and co-founders of the company, retired and Kathy became her father’s new business partner.

Her role was “to put a North American spin on a traditionally Chinese company and explore a new revenue stream for the factory.” It was at this point that Redwood Classics Apparel, WS & Co.’s in-stock apparel line, was created. The website for this division has proven to be very successful, increasing its search engine presence by 650% since its launch in 2009.

But Kathy’s pride and joy is a new division of Redwoods Classics, the Heritage Collection.

“Featuring a limited-edition lineup of classic fits, vintage colours and retro styles for men and women, the collection is proudly designed and manufactured in Canada with principles rooted in quality and integrity. The line is really a tribute to the preservation of our country’ craftsmen.”

The collection is being launched at an apt time. Given recent world events in the manufacturing industry and the increasing awareness of consumers as to where their products come from, WS & Co. is in the position to “expand and thrive” with their socially-conscious collection.

But expansion is about more than just the product, and Kathy is quick to point this out.  Redwood Classics chose to partner with the Pay It Forward movement, giving a white bracelet to those who purchase a PIF x RW Kangaroo Hoody.

“[It] is a physical reminder to do good. It’s that simple: give someone the bracelet and ask them to pay it forward,” she explains.

As the market changes in the coming years, Kathy and WS & Co. will adapt and thrive, thanks to her clear understanding of the new world order.

“Business is no longer just about the bottom line. It’s about people first, the planet second and profit third. For a positive and fruitful business environment, all three of these components must be present.”

LISTEN: We love the new Carly Rae Jepsen — and so do you!

In case we haven’t made it clear with some of our previous stories, we adore Carly Rae Jepsen. Canada’s girl next door has managed to captivate us once again with her amazing new tune “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” that is meant for blasting at top volume on a beautiful spring day like this.

Give it a try and try and say that you aren’t downloading it to play on repeat right away.

Oh, and there’s a remix featuring Nicki Minaj on the way. Summer anthem? Here’s hoping.

Win a Tilley Weekender bag

Women’s Post is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a Tilley Weekender Bag. Stylish and functional, this bag features leather handles, a detachable leather shoulder strap and zippered interior pockets. Enter today for your chance to win.

 

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Wednesday, May 22nd, at 4 p.m.

CONTEST CLOSED

Farewell to Winnipeg’s Sweetheart

Deanna Durbin, Canada’s own Shirley Temple, died yesterday at the age of 91.

A top child actress during the Depression, Durbin played the part of the perfect child, fixing the problems of the adults around her with charm and grace.

She hit Hollywood royalty with her first movie 1936’s Three Smart Girls, a musical comedy co-starring Nan Grey and Barbara Read. A box-office smash, it saved the faltering Universal Studios and turned her into one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses.

Then, in 1938, she was given a special Academy Award for her “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth.”

Like many child actresses, problems arose when she started to move onto more adult roles. Her public wanted her to retain her youth and innocence, and reacted negatively to any attempts of Durbin’s to expand her range.

First married at 19, Durbin was told that she was not allowed to divorce because it would “ruin the image.” A second marriage would also end in divorce. Finally, at age 28, Durbin met director Charles David and married for the last time.

At this point, after starring in 21 feature films, Durbin retired.

She will be remembered by many as what she was officially dubbed: “Winnipeg’s Sweetheart.”

 

Women of the Week: Erin Deviney

Many people can cite exact moments in their lives that caused them to reevaluate their lives. When she was 20, Erin Deviney went on an Outward Bound Trip to Central America. According to her, it “profoundly changed how I see the world.”

“It opened my eyes to the difficult realities faced daily by so many people across the globe. Ultimately, I learned that poverty is such a complex issue and it is not about a single thing. It is about the environment, about education, about governance, about health and so many other factors.”

Initially, after graduating from Queen’s University in 2001 with a degree in Economics, Erin found work as a global market researcher, helping companies discover the best way to access potential customers.

“I found it fascinating to understand what drives people to make the decisions they do,” she says. “But ultimately, I struggled because while I was intellectually satisfied, I was emotionally empty. I wanted to use my skills to benefit people not companies.”

A decision to move to Australia in 2008 would prove to be the turning point in her career. “I saw this as an opportunity to make the shift to the not for profit sector that I had always dreamed of doing.”

After working overseas in Cambodia and Grenada—“Being given the privilege to work in other cultures, particularly one where language is a barrier is truly a remarkable experience,” she says—Erin retuned to Canada.

Now, back home, her primary focus is serving as campaign manager for the Canadian branch of the global movement Live Below The Line.

“Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way Canadians think about extreme poverty. We are challenging Canadians to step outside their comfort zones by living on just $1.75 a day for all of their food and drink for five days. Why $1.75? There are 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty who have less than $1.75 a day to spend to all of their needs in life from health, to transit, to food. “

The project, which is being taken on by people of every age group across the country, is a creative way to get people engaged in the poverty eradication movement by getting them to experience the daily struggles faced by a large portion of the people on this planet.

Her new focus in Canada is radically different from her former corporate life, but there are no regrets.

“Personally, the biggest difference is passion. When you do something that you love in a field that you deeply care about – it doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Erin says.

Although the initial shift was shocking, Erin adapted and learned from it. As she explains it, “that difference in resources has actually proven to be engaging – in that you have to be creative and resourceful. I think that makes work in the not for profit sector exciting in that there is room for new ideas.”

Not afraid to take chances, Erin has proven that she is willing to stand up for what she believes in. This, she believes, is what sets her apart from her competitors.

“You can’t ignore me,” she says.

30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out

 

Jason Collins shocked the world this week by becoming the first openly gay pro athlete (besides baseball player and inventor of the high-five Glenn Burke who was out to his teammates) and has been met with hate from ignorant people along with the praise he has received.

The hate being spewed at him is sadly not a surprise.

This collection is not intended to change any minds. The people who wrote these tweets think that what they are doing is okay and right, and it would take a lot more than simply holding up a mirror to them to get them to change their minds.

This collection of tweets is intended to open the eyes of anyone who is passively indifferent to gay causes or may be on the fence about vocalising their support for gay people in their lives.

Gay people wake up every day knowing that there are millions of people in the world who hate them for what they are. Gay people in other countries wake up every day unsure if they will be alive at the end of it. Kids here in Canada are bullied to death with words like these.

After reading these please do your part to let your friends and family know that you support gay people and gay rights. Send a positive tweet to Jason Collins, for example, or just do something simple as update your Facebook status to say that you love and care about the gay people in your life.

These are 30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out.

Jason Collins should die

Jason Collins is a Faggot

Jason Collins is disgusting, certainly not a hero

 

Jason Collins will burn in hell

It is attitudes like these that make his coming out all the more important.

Hopefully someday soon a gay athlete, actor, politician, or person won’t require the fanfare, but until then every single gay person needs the reassurance of your love and support. Their life could depend on it.

@travmyers

Win a Wilbe Bloomin bouquet of flowers

Women’s Post and Wilbe Bloomin want to ensure that your Mother’s Day is blooming. This stunning hand tied bouquet of flowers will be delivered to the winner (or the winner’s mother) in the GTA, just in time for Mother’s Day. Take time to smell the roses, then enter today!

 

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Friday, May 10th, at 4 p.m.

 

CONTEST CLOSED

Owner of shelter for abused men and children commits suicide after financial ruin, ridicule

Erin Pizzey took to internet community Reddit this past weekend to answer questions from users. She is known for her integral hand and tireless efforts in exposing domestic violence to the public consciousness throughout the 1970s by setting up one of the first battered women’s shelters and writing the groundbreaking book on the subject of domestic assault: Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear. In more recent years she has taken on neglect and abuse of men and boys as her cause and this is where the majority of her questions and answers focused.

andreipmbcn:
Looking at it from a perspective of abuse and neglect, would you say that there is
a general attitude of neglect towards men today?

erinpizzey:
[…] My problem is that it’s men who’ve been victims of domestic violence, which is
largely ignored by society… and not only ignored, but ridiculed. Billions are spent
– billions I say – across the world for women’s refuges and virtually nothing for men.
And the one men’s refuge in Canada was so denigrated and despised by the Canadian
government, as you will see from our introduction, Earl committed suicide after he
was forced to sell his home and he lost everything.

The Earl she is referring to is Earl Silverman, a Canadian man who spent 20 years of his life crusading for better access to victim and emergency services for men and boys who are victims of abuse. Earl was a victim of abuse at the hands of a former spouse and dedicated his time, energy, and money towards creating a shelter specifically for male victims fleeing abusive situations.

For three years Silverman ran the Men’s Alternative Safe House out of his own home, taking in about 20 men and children over that period. Earl spent the entirety of his own savings to keep MASH running while trying, unsuccessfully, to convince the government to allocate funds for his and other projects directed at male victims. MASH was the only refuge of its kind in Canada.

After years of being unable to keep the shelter through his own funds and meagre private donations he was driven to financial ruin and forced to sell his home and, by association, give up his hopes for helping other victims. After selling his house he committed suicide on Friday, April 26, by hanging himself in the garage.

Silverman’s death appears to be caused entirely by what he and Prizzy have been fighting. He was a victim of abuse whose inability to find services eventually killed him.

Suicide is a predominantly male problem with rates in Canada making it the seventh highest cause of death for men here. In Canada just under one in every 5,000 men will kill themselves. In Yukon, Quebec, and Northwest Territories it is one in every 4,000 men. In Nunavut one in every 1,000 men will commit suicide.

There are many who would argue that men are incapable of experiencing abuse, physical or otherwise. Police statistics, for example, seem to tell a different story where only 20 percent of victims from domestic calls are male.

In fact, according to Statistics Canada, men are almost exactly as likely as women to be victims of domestic abuse:

“A similar proportion of men and women reported experiencing spousal violence
during the five years prior to the survey. Among men, 6.0% or about 585,000,
encountered spousal violence during this period, compared with 6.4% or
601,000 women.”

Perhaps the low rate of police calls for men in distress is not indicative of low rates of abused males but rather indicative of men being afraid to coming forward to police or attempt to escape their situation.

Male victims are being told from all sides that they are not victims; that statistics are so low they don’t matter; that if they were a real man they would just suck it up and take it; that women aren’t capable of delivering the same kinds of abuse that men can; that what they are experiencing is normal.

After hearing enough of that, it is no surprise that men would be afraid to step forward.

Even if they did manage to overcome everything they’ve ever been told, now that Canada’s only shelter for men is gone, where would they even go?

Ed Note: This story has been updated to include more reliable figures on suicide in Canada.