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Woman of the Week: Sara L. Austin

Sara L. Austin has had a sweeping impact on children’s rights worldwide and has dedicated her life to helping kids. She is the founder and CEO of Children’s First Canada, a non-profit that focuses on educating the public and holding the government accountable regarding their policies on child poverty.

“People often ask me how I got started with this, I’ve worked with thousands of kids. I was a summer camp counsellor in Ontario and responsible to look after five or six year old kids. One of the kids told me she had been sexually abused by her stepfather and didn’t want to go home,” Austin said. “We called Children Aid’s Society and when they finally arrived, she held onto me. I had to let go and trust that we have a system that protects kids. I learned very early in life that lots of kids don’t get the start in life that they deserve. Whether as a parent or a citizen, we need to give children our very best.”

Austin launched Children’s First Canada in November 2016. “There is an idea that kids in Canada have the jackpot of life. Research shows though that we have millions of kids that are falling through the gaps. There are a lot of mental issues, and several children have experienced abuse or neglect,” Austin said. “We haven’t achieved any significant progress in child poverty over the past two decades so we are trying to build public awareness for change.”

Child poverty affects one in five children in Canada and one in three Canadian children have experienced abuse. One of the pillars of Children’s First Canada is to accomplish widespread public awareness and to have a significant impact on the media in educating people on the relevance of child poverty. “We are doing after-school programs or mentoring. We are bringing these organizations together to jointly advocate together and to bring forward solutions that are evidence based,” Austin said. “It is a combination of policy influence and advocacy to make a difference for children.”

Austin launched the non-profit in Calgary, motivated by the Children First Act, a provincial law in Alberta that protects children and is one of the strongest child protection acts in Canada. Her hope was to inspire the rest of the country to follow suit.  “I was inspired by the social innovation in the city of Calgary and the province of collective impact as well as the role of the private sector,” Austin said.

Previously, Austin worked at World Vision and held a number of positions including Director of the President’s Office and Policy Advisor for Child Rights and HIV/AIDS at World Vision Canada, Senior Advisor for Child Rights at World Vision International, and Manager of Operations at World Vision Thailand.  “I started researching children in South East Asia and I was directly interacting with children in prostitution and brutal child labour,” Austin said. “We can’t treat children as objects, they are experts in their own lives. They have their own views on how things can get better. It has been a consistent thread throughout my career.”

One of Austin’s proudest achievements was creating the ‘Optional Protocol’, an international UN law that allows a child, or an NGO, to act on behalf of the child to launch a complaint if their human rights aren’t being protected through international law. The protocol was passed in 2014. “The law had been discussed for children for decades, but it hadn’t been developed. That was what prompted me to do my master’s degree at Oxford University,” Austin said. “It was a bittersweet moment, but at the same time the Canadian government didn’t support it and still hasn’t signed onto the protocol. The new government has pledged to sign onto the protocol and we are following the government to hold them accountable.”

Along with helping children, Austin is also a huge advocate for women. She won the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) top 100 award in 2010 and also sits on the advisory board for the organization. “WXN celebrates women leaders across the country and their motto is ‘We inspire smart women to lead’,” Austin said. “They celebrate women from all walks of life. They provide mentorship opportunities as well.”

When Austin is taking a break from work, she loves to go skiing with her family and be out in nature. She also enjoys biking and hiking in Calgary. “Having a family keeps me grounded every day. I flew home and it was nice to come home to my own son and be reminded everyday how lucky I am to provide for and care for my own son,” Austin said.

Austin is a leader for advocacy relating to children and she teaches us how to stick up for the people who need us most. Her life-changing impact on an international and national level makes Canada a better place for kids to live in and gives public awareness to the fact that child poverty still exists today.

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Hello Spring! Now, get outside!

Have you ever gone outside just for the sake of going outside?

Taking a walk outside and breathing in the fresh air, running along the beach, or just sitting in a field of green can work wonders for relaxation and stress-relief. Nature can be incredibly peaceful and rejuvenating — and luckily in Canada, these green spaces and beaches are accessible throughout any landscape.

Most people feel they need a reason to go outside, whether it be to play sports or for a planned outdoor adventure to get their next Instagram photo opportunity. Instead, why not just go outside for the sake of it. When I’m in a bad mood, taking a break and walking outside cures the blues faster than almost any other possible solution. The fresh air, sunshine, and peaceful silence creates an appreciation of life that is impossible to find anywhere else.

If you aren’t quite sure how to get outdoors for the pure enjoyment of it, the secret to success lies in making sure you do it mindfully. Don’t go outside equipped with your phone to distract you. Free yourself from all your devices and take your lovely self for a walk and really look at the world around you. You will find that there is so much beauty to see once you remove yourself from the bubble of technological existence. Birds still exist. Trees actually grow taller. It is amazing how much can be noticed without our phones two inches from our faces at all times.

Take note of how your body feels when you are outside as well. It is good to stretch out in the open space and understand which muscles are sore and target those areas. Even doing yoga outside would feel relaxing and in tune with how nature can make our aching bodies feel better.  Even if you have a cold, talking a brief walk can help get some fresh air into your body and may rejuvenate you if you have been inside sleeping for a long period of time.

Next time you find yourself with a free 30 minutes (or even an hour), go outside and revel in the oncoming spring. There is so much to be thankful for in good weather, and taking time to appreciate it leads to a more fulfilling and connected life. The more people use the greens paces and natural areas, the more likely it is to be conserved for future generations. Get outside today and enjoy it!

Green Lentil Soup for St. Patrick’s Day

The day of green! How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (or weekend)? With the cold weather of late, a green soup recipe is the perfect choice for a warm cozy meal. Green lentil soup is hearty and filling, a must-have before embarking on a night of frolicking and drinking. It is easy to make — simply chop various vegetables and along with lentils, let it simmer in the pot until it is ready to eat. It is green, lean, and simply delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup French green (Le Puy) or brown lentils
  • 8 large green chard leaves
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed
  • 12 cups gently packed spinach (about 10 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground (see Tip)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in pan and add onions until brown. Add two tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover until onions are caramelized for about 25 to 35 minutes.
  2. Rinse and cook the lentils.
  3. When the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, add in chard, potato, scallions, and broth. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in broccoli, cumin and coriander. When the onions are caramelized, add them to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the reserved spinach, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and pepper; return to a simmer, cover and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more. Stir in one tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or pepper, if desired.

Lentils are incredibly healthy and yummy. It is easy to make a homemade soup and any leftovers can be frozen for future use or gobbled up as a St. Patrick’s hangover go-to. Either way, in the chilly March weather, a delectable green soup full of protein and veggies will not be regretted.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Women’s Post!

Snowstorm a sign of the apocolypse or just normal Canadian weather?

The late winter weather in Toronto has left many people feeling shaken. It appears that climate change is rearing its ugly head, making spring something akin to living in an ice box.

This change in the weather has left many struggling to prepare for a severe winter storm set to hit the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — because apparently, as Canadians, we are easily frazzled by the mere possibility of this newfangled thing called snow. It is the Great White North after all. Snow in March isn’t that unusual. Still feel the need to bunk down in your basement and prepare for the next 48 hours of high winds and below freezing temperatures? Don’t worry, Women’s Post is here to help.

If by some random chance, the weather does become catastrophic, it is important to have an emergency kit. Everyone needs to have an emergency bag on the off chance that a natural disaster occurs, but what should go in it? Definitely include a flashlight with extra batteries and an extra phone battery if possible. Being able to contact people in the case of an emergency, especially when the power is out, is incredibly important. Also have a few non-perishable foods, toilet paper, and a first aid kit on hand. Some reports say to keep cash on hand to purchase goods if the ATM machines spark out, but it’s also handy to bribe people to help you in the case of an apocalypse. You can also burn it to stay warm!

If this “storm” turns out to be a few snowflakes and a slight chill wind, which is the more likely option here in every-centimetre-of-snow-is-a-disaster Toronto, take the time to hang out with family and enjoy yourself. Read a few good books and catch up on a Netflix series, and try not to let the cold air depress you. It will pass soon enough and spring will be well on its way. Take advantage of being able to cozy up in your slippers and cuddle with your loved ones. This final stretch of winter is manageable as long as chocolate and warm drinks are involved. If you have an indoor fire, make sure to turn that on for an added touch.

Winter is almost over (unless the apocalypse really is upon us) and doing relaxing indoor activities in the last stretch is the best way to survive this last big snow storm.  Be sure to enjoy how bright and beautiful the snow really is. Try and appreciate how that fluffy white stuff clings to the trees and makes everything so silent and still. Soon it will be gone for good and the warmth will set in. In a way, won’t you miss the ethereal beauty of the snowy weather.

Or will you? Just kidding…you definitely won’t!

How to handle March Break on a budget

As parents, we often hear ‘I’m bored mom’ or ‘why do we never do anything fun?’ when the kids are stuck at home. Instead, here is a survival guide to March Break that includes tips on how to entertain kids kids and celebrate the week off school on a budget.

March Break is here and there are many free or discounted events going on around Toronto to entertain kids on their days off from school. Are your kids bouncing off the walls at home? It’s important to get them out of the house and exercising — too much TV will just make them cranky or hyper. The City of Toronto is offering free swimming during March Break and free indoor leisure skating at their facilities. You can also simply go for a walk or a hike in a local ravine or park. My daughter and I like to walk in the ravine near our home and learn about different types of nature in the woods. This promotes a sense of attachment to nature from a young age and also helps us get fresh air.

If you have budgeted for March Break, head to the Ontario Science Centre, which is hosting a special exhibit on the biomechanics of the body, or pay a visit to the Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto. There are many indoor play zones with bouncy castles, tunnels and mini golf located around the city too in case the weather takes a turn and going outside isn’t possible.

Want to try something with a bit more of an end result? Try scheduling some spring clean or bring donations to a Salvation Army. My daughter made special art cards for the kids that would receive her old toys to prepare for our planned donation during March Break, which made her feel included and excited to give her things to kids that need them more!

Finally, put those aprons on and get messy in the kitchen. Baking and cooking healthy snacks always makes for a a fun afternoon or you can break out the arts and crafts after to complete the messy day. Children love art and collaborative projects always turn out to be pretty special bonding experiences.

No matter what, remember to enjoy the time with your kids and don’t feel guilty for not spending thousands of dollars on a luxury March break vacation. Most children just want to hang out with mom and dad and have a good time. Even if you can only take a couple days off work to enjoy quality time with the kids, it will be fun for the whole family to herald in the spring.

International Women’s Day march should celebrate all types of activism

Women helping women is one of the founding mandates of Women’s Post — and this comes in many shapes and forms in the world of activism.

International Women’s Day isn’t only a day to celebrate women, but is also a time to bring women, men, and children together to fight for equality and justice in a world that is often filled with rampant sexism, bigotry, and hatred. It is a time to stand up for what is right and feel empowered by the community of women that surrounds you. On a personal level, it is also a time to be proud to be a woman and shout it to the world.

The International Women’s Day March is taking place at 1 Kings College Circle in Toronto from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and connects several networks of like-minded individuals across the world to advocate for positive change for women. It is also an opportunity for women to support each other regardless of sexual orientation, race, or religion. The most integral and motivating element of fighting alongside women across the globe is that we are all affected by various types of hatred and must fight them together. We must support each other and show solidarity and unification against all types of hatred.

It also gives women involved in other types of activism an avenue to express their solidarity. Women in animal rights activism have organized to meet at the Women’s Day March to celebrate women fighting to make the lives of animals better. This protest movement comes in the wake of Toronto Pig Save Leader, Anita Krajnc’s trial, where she is being charged for giving pigs to water. The verdict is due to be released on May 4 and is greatly anticipated by protestors across the world. The pig trial has given even more reason for women to gather and unify to fight against perceived injustices towards animals. The solidarity of these women also demonstrates there is an intersectional connection between women’s rights and fighting against other types of hatred, and linking the two together inspires even more change at a societal level.

There are also many women who will be at the march to fight against islamophobia at the Women’s Day March. The alt-right movement has been heavily advocating islamophobic ideologies and the protestors at the march will also unify for our Muslim sisters to demonstrate that love is more powerful then hate. Needless to say, Kellie Leitch will not be invited. Advocating a LGBTQ friendly space is also essential to show the world that homophobia is not acceptable and this form of hatred will not be tolerated or accepted amongst women at the march either. Women’s rights issues are at the helm too with thousands of women walking off the job this week to protest pay inequality in the workplace.

Many groups that will be represented at International Women’s Day and this shows that the event is about advocating for women in many ways. It encompasses equality and justice against hatred and intolerance. Women deserve equal treatment across the board, and homophobia to anti-semitism to racism to speciesism must be destroyed. Only by unifying as a cohesive and unified whole can everyone together defeat the injustices that pervade the world we live in. Join the events on Saturday if you can and never forget to treat your fellow women with respect every day, because only though community and solidarity do we stand any chances of defeating the evils in this world.

Tourism Toronto captures beauty and creativity in city

The perception of Toronto by outsiders and those actually living within the city are very different. As someone who moved year a little over a year ago, I can confidently say that Toronto is not the mean, green, and cold place many across Canada think it to be.

Toronto is hot, it is fresh, and it has an edge to it that offers people many creative outlets to express themselves. The new video “The Views are Different Here,” released by Tourism Toronto, truly manages to capture Toronto’s essence and shows a variety of different perspectives to living in the Big Smoke. The video is getting massive hits on social media because it shows the quintessential Toronto narrative of a multicultural city, where everyone is welcome. Tourism Toronto manages to capture the annual pride parade, the AGO, Caribana and a Drake concert in the video and it creates a narrative of what it is like to be a part of the multicultural fabric of this city.

When I moved to Toronto from Western Canada, I had certain assumptions of the city. I thought it would be big, mean, and greasy. It has the reputation of being the main hub of Canada where people go to work long hours and spend most of their time underground on the subway. I was completely surprised when I learned that Toronto isn’t just a chaotic and busy city, but actually exudes a vibe that is creative and beautiful; yet, authentic. Toronto is replete with people full of large ideas concerning art, the environment, music, and everything in between. Most of these folks manage to own their ideas, but are not pretentious or self-serving about it. In other words, they are real and genuine creators looking to collaborate and work with other like-minded people.

Though Toronto typically has a reputation of being one of the more ‘unfriendly’ Canadian cities, its actually just the opposite. The majority of city dwellers are non-judgmental and very kind to each other. I have met so many lovely people since moving here and am struck nearly every day by how kind the average person really is. There is a level of openness and progressive discussion in this city (perhaps due to deep ties leaning to the left politically) that opens doors for a variety of topics. Any daily conversation could range from an 80 year old man about attending a drag show to discussing the future of classical music with a 20 year old woman with green hair.

I will even admit that the man bun has grown on me. It isn’t just a sign of the dreaded hipster, but has become a fashion symbol for the Toronto urban style ([note the clip in the tourism video of the older gentleman with the man bun, doesn’t he look suave?). It is important to notice that the video also includes a special focus on graffiti art in the city. To see the beautiful street art that exists in the city showcased as a tourist grab is phenomenal. It is a form of art that deserves celebration and there is a turn happening in Toronto where art is become an important avenue of expression for the city. Lastly, the video also manages to put a creative spin on the TTC with ballet dancers on the subway. This gives a more positive outlook for the subway system, and dare I say it almost makes commuting on public transit look enjoyable.

It really is incredible to see Tourism Toronto for giving other outsiders such as myself a more realistic glimpse of what this beautiful city has to offer. I am proud to live in this dirty, artsy, and fascinatingly multicultural city. It is busy, it is loud, and it is in your face. I would ask for nothing else in the years of my youth and I am astounded nearly every day by something new and fresh in this city that I just hadn’t noticed before.

What did you think of “The Views are Different here”? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Women of the Week: Mandy Rennehan

Staying humble and true to yourself after achieving success in the business world may seem like a difficult feat, but CEO of Freshco Mandy Rennehan, makes it look easy. Rennehan leads the retail construction supergiant, an enterprise that has spread across Canada and the United States. Rennehan is one of the top CEOs in Canada; yet, anyone in her presence feels extremely comfortable and important, a rare and welcome way to treat others in the high stakes modern business world.

“Growing up in a small town on the East coast, people are humble and simple. People will give you everything they have because they truly care,” Rennehan says. “I didn’t know I was going to be an entrepreneur, it just picked me and I’m 41 now. When people from home see me and talk to me, they tell me I’m the same way I was when I was 10. I left the east coast with a personality, a smile and a work ethic. I want to treat people like I want to be treated.”

Freshco is a boutique facilities firm that focuses on maintenance, projects and reconstruction. The company has landed some massive clients including Home Depot, Lululemon, Sephora and Apple, among others. “Freshco does everything on the mechanical and cosmetic level to retailers with any form of structure,” Rennehan says. “As soon as they are ready to open a store, we renovate, maintain and come in when there is an emergency. We call ourselves ninjas sometimes. All you see is the beautiful design, and merchandise and Freshco is the company that maintains that look all the time. We are there in the morning, and overnight.”

Rennehan believes that employee happiness is paramount to the success of her company. She handpicks all of her employees with her management team and then dubs them with a nickname. The chosen nickname for a new employee is put on company hoodies and business cards.  “I don’t believe in work-life balance and I think employers put too much strain for people to have two lives,” Rennehan says. “I create an environment that is cool, trendy and comfortable. I believe in the fun and narrowing in on people and bringing out the personality in them. Happy people are productive. We jam up the music and have fridges full of beer.”

Rennehan is also invested in helping others who need support in the trades industry. She launched the Chris Rennehan Scholarship in 2015 that supports people in dire financial circumstances to go to trade school or work for Freshco. “I launched the scholarship because my brother is a lobster fisherman and before he died, we were making a plan to get him into the floor renovation business. His death really affected me and my family. There are so many people who are lost and don’t have the time to go to school. They need to learn something right now because they have bills and families,” Rennehan says. “The scholarship fund sends them to trade school, or sends them to me and we can teach them. People are donating to the fund because they know I am going to do the right thing with it. These people are almost on the brink of mental health issues. My philanthropy and objective long-term to fund the passion of any trade and any individual.”

Due to her amazing work as a Canadian entrepreneur, Rennehan has received a number of awards including being on WXN’s 2015 Canada’s most powerful women: Top 100 award, in which she also received a letter from the Minister of the Status of Women. She also won EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 and was named 20th in Profit’s 2016 W100 list for top female entrepreneurs in Canada. Rennehan is often asked to be the keynote speaker at various events, most recently at the Women with Drive Summit on March 2.

Rennehan is clearly an innovative and forward leader that is taking Freshco to the next level with projected growth across the United States in the next year. The company is a success story, but had its trials as well. In 2010, FreshCo, a grocery chain owned Sobeys, was launched and there was little Rennehan could do about the extremely similar name (only difference on Sobey’s part being the capital ‘C’). The rub? Sobeys was one of Rennehan’s first clients. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that’s the truth. We got our heads kicked in with this, and Sobey’s was my first client,” Rennehan says. “I should’ve trade-marked Freshco and I didn’t. They took my font, my colours and everything. We completely rebranded and with the media attention I get, people are seeing the difference between the two.” Rennehan, true to her positive and upbeat attitude, decided to make a joke out of the issue and even launched a national campaign that including rebranding her trucks to say “FRESHCO, not the grocery store”.

Rennehan is also an avid supporter of women in the trades. Though she has been immersed in a male-dominated industry for the last 20 years, she has never felt discriminated against in her field.  “The trades are still very male-dominated, but it has never bothered me because they know I’m better than them,” Rennehan says. “Despite my sexuality, I’ve never been discriminated against a day in my life. I don’t listen to the garbage and I arm myself with knowledge. I’ve really been a poster child for not being a woman, but being amazing at what I do. Feminism is all fine and well, but just be amazing at what you are and you won’t face that discrimination.”

Rennehan is reading a book called “Spark”, based on a study between physical exercise and how it improves brain function. “Being married to Jane Fonda [a nickname Rennehan calls her partner] for years, I’ve been very involved in exercise,” Rennehan says.”She also loves to golf, play tennis, travel ad is a big wine connoisseur. Her favourite travel destination is Tuscany.

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How to cohabitate with urban wildlife humanely and ethically

Urban critters are a fascinating part of a city landscape and Toronto is replete with creatures small and big. Raccoons, squirrels, skunks, pigeons, and other animals are seen regularly patrolling the streets, and unfortunately can sometimes be spotted in our green bins as well.

Urban wildlife is often given a bad rep because they enjoy eating human food and can be disruptive to human homes. But, when you think about it, it’s incredibly fascinating how these animals have adapted to living amongst people — don’t forget they were here first and deserve our respect. In other words, Toronto belongs to the raccoons and squirrels and people need to share it appropriately with them! This does not mean turn into the token squirrel lady (my mother) or start giving squirrels or raccoons daily pieces of bread and other treats. Instead, people need to learn how to co-habitate with these city dwellers in an ethical and humane manner by animal-proofing your home, securing green bins, and providing urban green spaces for critters to thrive in.

People often complain about their green and garbage bins being raided by raccoons and squirrels. This is a common issue and in 2015, the City of Toronto tried to solve the issue by introducing raccoon proof green bins. Unfortunately, these intelligent and ingenious animals found a way around the latch system on the bins by learning how to open the latches or chewing through the sides of the lid.

To combat the determination of the urban raccoon, put a large rock or heavy bin on top of your containers and the problem is effectively solved. The raccoons will not be able to open the bins and people can stop having to listen to you complain about having your compost strewn about the lawn. The next generation of green bins are being rolled out by the City of Toronto throughout 2016-2017 and the Region of Peel has also released the new bin. It is much more difficult for raccoons to break in, but who knows, they may yet find a way!

If urban critters have taken up residence in the attic, chimney, or other accessible spaces in your home, don’t call just any wildlife control company . The City of Toronto does not require licensing for wildlife control businesses and many will harm or even kill these critters. AAA Gates’ Wildlife Control is a humane and ethical wildlife control company that will make sure to remove urban critters living in homes to more fit living spaces and will not separate a mother raccoon from her babies (very important!). Raccoon and squirrel mothers are some of the best and most dedicated urban animal moms, and will travel great distances to retrieve their babies.

AAA Gates also provides tips on how to prevent animals from getting into your home, which is the most ethical and humane way to prevent having to remove wildlife. By covering chimneys with cage wire, covering the space underneath decks with caging, and keeping your roof up to standard to prevent any holes will keep critters out and everyone happy. Squirrels and bats are especially apt at taking residence in tiny spaces, so be sure to do an annual check of your home to make sure there are no unwanted holes in the siding and roof of your house.

squirrel gif photo: squirrel 8923bc04.gif

Another great solution is to create a space for them to enjoy in the trees and put nuts and seeds in it. By creating a ‘squirrel house’ or fashion an area for a raccoon, it keeps them out, but you can still enjoy their company in a more natural environment for these lovely animals. The same goes with having bird houses on your property. There are many creative different wildlife homes to make and it is a great interactive project to do with kids.

It is also important to note the proper procedures when finding a baby wild animal in the city. I found a baby squirrel in spring 2014 that had fallen from its nest. I was instructed by Toronto Wildlife Centre to leave it for 24 hours in case the mother found it. I checked back several times and after a day, I decided to take matters into my own hands. It is illegal to keep urban wildlife in Toronto and I spent several hours contacting licensed wildlife rehabbers (interesting to note that rehabbers must be certificated but animal control isn’t). I was incredibly lucky to find a wildlife rehab outside of Toronto where the little guy was taken care of before being released back into the wild.

Toronto Wildlife Centre normally does not take baby squirrels or raccoons in their high season and will often offer for animal control to come and put the baby down. It is a very difficult situation to be in as the babies require immediate feedings and finding a home for them is difficult, but can be managed with effort and dedication. If you are ever looking to donate to a worthy foundation, any wildlife rehab centre in Ontario deserves financial aid tenfold.

Overall, never forget that living without urban wildlife, your city would be empty and eerie. Imagine not seeing squirrels bounding through the trees or pigeons gathering on street corners? These animals deserve to be here as much as we do so next time you see an urban critter in your neighbourhood, take a minute and appreciate this adaptable and amazing animal.

Ontario moves towards zero-waste using a circular economy

Landfills are one of the most glaringly obvious examples of human waste, holding over 2.6 trillion pounds of trash worldwide per year. Over half of this garbage is organic waste, which can be composted. Many other sources of ‘garbage’ can be recycled or reused. Something needs to be done to reduce waste and Ontario is taking steps towards a zero-waste future.


Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario
is an initiative that will introduce a circular economy to begin the process to become zero-waste in the province. The strategy is a creation of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and is a welcome addition to Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. The circular economy is a model that would divert waste from landfills by changing from a make-use-dispose landfill system to a re-using products until they are truly not useful any longer. This will lower levels of waste substantially and will promote the use of the three R’s, reduce-reuse-recycle.

In 2014, Ontario generated 11.5 million tonnes of waste, nearly a tonne of waste per person every year. Approximately 75 per cent of this waste goes to the landfill.  It is definitely time for a massive change when it comes to managing waste. If Ontario increases organic waste diversion from landfills by 10 per cent, from 38 per cent to 48 per cent, it will prevent 275,000 tonnes of green gas emissions. According to the Ministry of the Environment, this is the equivalent of removing nearly 64,000 cars from Ontario roads per year.

In order to implement steps towards building a circular economy, Ontario will use the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which establishes full producer responsibility and makes them environmentally accountable for recovering resources and reducing waste. Producers are described as importers, wholesalers, retailers and e-tailers. The ministry will also create a Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry to oversee producer performance and will monitor progress of the producers’ waste reduction strategies.

The province plans to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020, 50 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050. The zero-waste plan has a relative timeline to meet these goals and in 2017, the province plans on developing the Food and Organic Waste Action Plan, and establishing the Resource Productivity and Recovery Registry. The ministry also plans on making amendments to 3R regulations, implementing the Organic Waste Action Plan and transitioning the Used Tires Program. All of these changes should make it possible to lower waste 30 per cent by 2020.

Zero-waste in Ontario sets the stage for the province to be a leader in creating a green economy that focuses on the financial gains of recycling and reusing items. It will save producers’ money to enact the 3R’s when disposing of used products and will reduce waste in the province. It is time for the green economy to become the mainstream way of making money in the western world, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is taking important steps to making that a reality.