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Whistler Cornucopia – celebration of food and drink

The hour and a half drive from Vancouver to Whistler was indeed a scenic one. I enjoyed looking at the breathtaking mountain and ocean views along the Sea to Sky Highway route. For the adventure seeker, one can stop in Squamish and take a 10 minute ride up the Sea to Sky Gondola. Once you reach the top there are hiking and walking trails for all levels of abilities.
It was still sunny skies when I arrived in Whistler, a place to participate in many activities from mountain biking and hiking in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
My stay at the Fairmont Chateau was a pampering experience because of its luxury amenities with an upscale fitness and health club. There was plenty of workout equipment to choose from to participate in a free yoga class. I choose to relax in one of the three outdoor pools while soaking up the mountain view. I attended the 22nd annual Cornucopia: Whistler’s Celebration of Food and Drink this past November.  Every year, the event draws foodies, wine and whiskey experts. It is a two-week event, and a chance to rub shoulders with some of the top chefs from around the globe and learn about fine wine and whiskey. Even though I’m not a wine expert, I felt a warm welcome from everyone. And the events offered were extremely informative.
The first event I went to was called NOURISH: Plant-Based Deliciousness. This workshop offered multi-course tastings. Renowned chef and ultra marathoner Wolfgang Sterr served up a tasty lentil dish. And taught my group  about food presentation. By adding colour to your dish, it looked more appetizing. The lentil dish was not only delicious but colourful.
Lentils
The next stop was the Washington Wine Trade Seminar. DJ Kearney, the Director of Wine talked about the perfect mixing with the old and new world of wines. She was referring to the old world wines in European countries and the new world wines that are produced in countries such as the United States. I enjoyed tasting some of the wines such as the Benchmark Washington State Syrah. Then, there was the Spanish Wines seminar where I learned that Spanish wineries age the wine in barrels or bottles. At Turning Over a New Leaf: Oregon Weird and Wild Wines I was introduced to wines made with unusual grapes. The wine seminars were not only a great opportunity to sample wine but the small intimate groups attending the seminars made it easy for everyone to ask questions.
But by far the highlight was going to the Signature Event: Crush Grand Tasting. The gala was the place to sample some of the best wines in the world, as well as some Whiskeys. I enjoyed being introduced to some of food and wine pairings and it was a terrific cultural learning experience for me.
I had a fun and educational day attending this year’s Cornucopia. I watched and learned how some healthy dishes were made by world-renowned chefs.  I recommend this event for those who want to learn about healthy eating tips, and as well as some fine wines. For more information https://whistlercornucopia.com/.

The best and worst of Toronto’s Bestival

What is better than listening to music in a kitty costume and feeling completely accepted by everyone around you? Bestival, an annual festival in the United Kingdom, made its way over to Canada to fill people’s minds with great music and an opportunity to dress in style.

Upon entering the festival, I anticipated a fun and loud experience and was not disappointed. The venue was quite extensive —Cosmic Café was the first stage I could see (and it happened to be a moving stage) before seeing the massive main stage. There was an indoor tent that had a heavy dance crowd within. The heard of the electronic soul of Bestival  was of course Bollywood Stage.

There were food trucks spread out in the festival, but limited arts & crafts vendors on site. A knitting café was tucked way into the corner, which allowed people to sit on comfortable coaches covered in a knit canvas. There were several washrooms for guests, which is often an issue in festivals. That being said, the porta potties were gendered with female and male symbols and this struck me as odd.

The gendered porta potty. By Kaeleigh Phillips.
The gendered porta potty. By Kaeleigh Phillips.

I had been excited for Bestival because there were a number of LGBTQ-friendly events listed for Pride Month, including a drag queen costume party and same-sex “fake “ weddings on site. Instead, I was surprised to see gendered outdoor bathrooms and not one pride flag on site. When I checked the inflatable chapel to see if any weddings had occurred, the staff indicated that every “fake” wedding were heterosexual. Though this is no fault of the festival organizers, it was disappointing to see an apparent lack of support around Pride month.

The music itself was spectacular, with Grimes on Sunday night busting her butt on stage even though she reported she was sick. The entire crowd danced through her set. The Cure played a great set, nailing every song and attracting a surprisingly mixed crowd considering the age of the band. They had a two-and-a-half-hour set and ended slightly early, but were otherwise a great performance to watch. The Bollywood Stage was full the entire weekend and left its dancing fans exhausted when the festival concluded.

Overall, Bestival is a stellar new festival for Toronto and Woodbine Park is a spacious venue for the event. With more focus on inclusivity, including genderless washrooms, the party shall continue stronger than ever next year.

What was your favourite part of Bestival? Share in the comments below.

Meet YWCA Toronto’s 2016 Women of Distinction

Half of the federal government’s Cabinet is made up of women, but 90 per cent of women do not report sexual abuse. Investment in community infrastructure is on the agenda again, but in Toronto alone, there are 95,000 households on the social housing waiting list.

While it would be wrong to claim there has been little or no improvement on so-called “women’s issues,” it would be equally erroneous to suggest that continued progress is inevitable, especially for women and girls living in poverty, fear, and isolation. The work to secure equality and social justice remains an ongoing challenge. That’s why we need to support associations like YWCA Toronto.

For 140 years, YWCA Toronto has provided shelter and support to those seeking refuge from violence and abuse; offered training and resources to help women into jobs and out of poverty; increased participation and empowerment among girls; and advocated for a fairer and more equitable society.

Over the past year alone, more than 6,000 women received training, job-seeking assistance and links to community resources through YWCA Toronto’s employment and skills development centres. More than 900 women and their families found permanent homes through YWCA Toronto and 1,300 women and their children were able to escape and recover from violence. Working together, YWCA Toronto was able to help 1,000 more women and young girls than the previous year.

YWCA Toronto has also played host to the launch of the provincial government’s Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Harassment; advocated for better child care, poverty reduction and national housing strategies; and called for action on Truth and Reconciliation recommendations, among other things.

YWCA Toronto recognizes that these results can only happen if women work together. For the past 35 years, YWCA Toronto has honoured extraordinary women who have worked tirelessly to make a difference for women and girls across the city, country, and the globe.

More than 200 women have received a Women of Distinction Award since the first awards ceremony in 1981. They are game changers in their respective fields – law, education, health, culture and the arts, politics, environment, international development and corporate leadership. These women have used their talent to improve the lives of other women and young girls, and helped raise awareness about inequities in local, national, and international communities, and create systemic change.

See for yourself. On May 26 YWCA Toronto is hosting the 2016 Women of Distinction Awards ceremony – the organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Proceeds support the over 30 programs that serve more than 12,000 women and families in the Greater Toronto area.

There will be eight women receiving the honour of a Woman of Distinction award. These women are truly awe-inspiring:

Roberta L. Jamieson (President’s Award) First Nations leader, highly acclaimed public figure and CEO of Indspire, Roberta has spent five decades in numerous breakthrough positions advocating for change and justice for Indigenous people and Canada.

Tessa Hill and Lia Valente (Young Women of Distinction) Tessa Hill and Lia Valente were 13 when they took on rape culture as a documentary project and turned it into a successful public campaign bringing sexual consent into Ontario’s health education curriculum.

Colleen Johnston (Corporate Leadership) This senior executive from TD Bank Group and women’s leadership guru has successfully championed for stronger representation of women in corporate leadership, which helped to significantly increase the number of women in TD’s executive ranks.

Georgia Quartaro (Education) Georgia created innovative education programs and violence-against-women training that reaches women and marginalized groups who have experienced trauma and responds to their needs and potential.

Reeta Roy (International Development) Reeta Roy saw that opportunities and conditions for girls and women farmers in African countries were disturbingly unequal to men’s. The MasterCard Foundation she heads guarantees that at least 50 percent of program participants are women and girls.

Elizabeth Shilton (Law and Justice) Elizabeth argued before the Supreme Court to uphold the rape shield law; won a pay equity case ending wage inequities; defended the right of sexual assault survivors to keep their names out of the public eye; and prevented the disclosure of counselling records of sexual abuse survivors.

Dr. Cheryl Wagner (Health) When HIV/AIDS first hit women, Dr. Cheryl Wagner was one of the first – and few – Toronto physicians to whom they could turn for expertise, help and health care. She extended her work to include researching and advocating for services to address their distinct needs.

Celebrate these women and what they have accomplished! To get your tickets to the exciting event at The Carlu (444 Yonge St.), visit www.womenofdistinction.ca.