Tag

toronto

Browsing

Christopher Peloso, husband of George Smitherman, is missing

Christopher Peloso, 39, has been missing since Monday afternoon. The husband of George Smitherman, former mayoral candidate, was last seen in the Davenport Road/Bathurst Street area.

Peloso was last seen wearing a dark-blue hooded jacket, tan cargo shorts and blue flip flops. He is 5 foot 8 and 150 pounds, white with brown hair and brown eyes.

Through his website, Smitherman released a statement about his husband’s disappearance.

“I regret to confirm that Christopher Peloso has been missing from our home for almost 24 hours. Michael, Kayla and myself, with the support of family and friends, are hopeful that our husband and father will be home safely soon,” he wrote.

Smitherman and Peloso were married in 2007 and have two adopted children.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477,  online at 222 Tips, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or leave a tip on the Toronto Police Service  Facebook page.

 

UPDATE: Peloso has been located. Police tracked his cellphone signal to Dupont and Lansdowne and found him alive and conscious.

An ode to librarians

This article was originally published in the summer of 2012.

From the beginning of recorded time, librarians have stored and protected knowledge to stave off the plague of ignorance that, like other plagues, doesn’t distinguish between poverty and opulence. I’ve just finished reading Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. The lead character struggles to understand the world in a time when books and ideas are thwarted by religious belief and superstition. It is a terrific novel about life during the black plague and has me thinking about the amount of knowledge our librarians have collected over the generations and how important this knowledge is to understanding the world.

My family and I are currently visiting Costa Rica where the division between the wealthy and the poor is extreme.  The house we have rented is high up on a mountainside (Del Congo de Uvita) and it looks out over the coastal town of Uvita. The town has a small one-room open-air school; its windows lack glass and the shelves are empty of books. There isn’t a library in the town, but further north Librarians without Borders built an elementary school library in El Hum. Things move much slower here; roads are rough, most of them are unpaved, and in some places knowledge and the advancement it brings haven’t taken hold – there are internet towers and cell phones almost everywhere, but even this technology hasn’t had a huge impact on daily lives in most of the coastal towns.

While there are libraries here in Costa Rica, they are nothing like the public library system we have in Toronto, which has had much more investment, both financially and socially.  The Toronto Public Library system grew out of a campaign by city alderman John Hallam back in the late 1800s. It has become the largest public library system in Canada and has higher circulation per capita than any other public library system in the world.

But as Toronto’s city government reviews all areas to cut spending, this precious and priceless gem of a system could get whittled away by budget cuts so that its true value – not only the books, data, and information, but also the hundreds of librarians that protect and pass on the knowledge we’ve accumulated  – disappears. Too many people now mistake data for knowledge and wrongly assume that the internet can provide all the necessary information society needs. But it is the desire to further ourselves through literacy, and understanding, that our librarians, our custodians over knowledge, work to nurture and feed.

When I ran for mayor of Toronto, I learned quickly that the opposition hires fake writers to post bogus “articles” made to discredit their competition. The internet allows almost anyone to pose as a “journalist,” or to create fake “news” sites that distort the truth. One site went so far as to falesely report that I had suggested privatizing libraries – which goes against my core belief that having a strong public library system is essential to protecting knowledge from being distorted by private enterprise. And it is precisely because the internet enables both truth and misinformation to co-exist that the need to maintain a strong library system is so vitally important to our city.

Libraries must continue to collect and protect knowledge, and, as a society entering the internet age, it is essential that we continue to fund them.  Toronto’s public library system is one of the most important long-term investments our city can make. And it is our librarians who serve as custodians to protect our history and inform our aspirations.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

Women of the week: Susan Wright

Susan Wright has helped hundreds of people stay the course over the last 15 years.

As a life coach and founder of Wright Momentum, she has worked with entrepreneurs, organizations and a handful of creative professionals enthused about making significant changes in their lives.

“It’s really cool when you get to light somebody’s fire,” says Wright. “They get that spark. They get the focus to stay steady.”

Before Wright started coaching and consulting she worked as a recreation therapist in a clinical environment, helping people to effectively cope with an illness or disease. She enjoyed working with people, but realized she wanted to focus her energy on performance, professional and personal development. She also wanted to integrate it with her health and wellness background.

“I tend to know when I’m ready for change and I knew that my career would take me only so far,” she says. “So there was a ceiling with what I was doing. I had already challenged myself in that area [and] felt fully confident and proficient at what I was doing. I knew that to take myself to the next level, to the next step, I would need to expand my horizons.”

Wright started seeking information about coaching when it was an emerging profession and information about it wasn’t easily accessible. She discovered a number of coaches and was coached herself. She then went on to be certified through the Adler School in Toronto, one of the first few students to go through the coaching program.

“For me it’s a personal philosophy,” she says. “Everybody has the potential, it’s just figuring out how do we tap into that.”

Wright’s approach is very holistic. She takes into consideration the various facets of a person’s life, discovering how they interact in their relationships and what’s important to them.

“Taking care of ourselves in all aspects of health and wellbeing is essential so we can actually bring the best of ourselves in no matter what we do,” she said. “It’s finding what that is for you as an individual.”

Pilates is another large part of Wright’s life. She is a certified Second Wind® Pilates Plus® and Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT) ® instructor. Practicing pilates improves coordination and brings awareness to the body. It can also reduce headaches, mental stress and increases energy.

To Wright, everyone has the potential to drive forward and develop. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and then finding the perfect coach. Wright tends to work with high-energy creative individuals who are dedicated to improving their lives.

“If somebody has far too many excuses and no level of commitment, it’s not going to work,” she says. “You’re not ready for coaching. You really need to want something and want something to change. Whether it’s a team leader, a professional, it doesn’t matter. The commitment needs to be there.”

Wright’s book, Seven Steps To Change The Status Quo, looks at what prevents people from making change in their lives and how to go beyond the fears that prevent change from happening. Reaching goals comes with no shortage of roadblocks.

“There will be barriers when we’re making any change in life,” she says. “We’ll hit a cross barrier. Sometimes they’ll be even more mountains to climb. It’s staying the course, staying steady and strong on that course.”

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.

 

 

Nearly a year later

It will be a year next month. Boyfriend and I will have been together for a whole year of our lives, which probably sounds like nothing to couples who have been together for five years or a decade or more, it probably sounds like we made it through the honeymoon phase. But having never really made it through a whole year in a row this feels like a moment worth celebrating. I know, I probably sound like a teenager, but it’s kind of amazing to be here staring down the barrel of a year for only the second time since I was actually a teenager.

I spent my first half of my 20s pining for a dead love, dating someone who spent our first anniversary with his ‘other’ girlfriend and sleeping my way through agencies and sports bars. It wasn’t a good start, if I’m honest. But I had a lot of fun, I got drunk with many an Irishman, I danced around kitchens baking brownies, I fell in lust and I never worried what would happen next because when it did go south it just meant that I would have a great story to share. So what if he broke up with me in seven words, most of which were the same. Who cares if he declared his deepest darkest secrets to me last night, he’s sober this morning. Everything was a story to tell my friends over drinks.

Bad dates are practically a rite of passage in any major North American city. Toronto gets a new Tumblr every other week completely dedicated to how ridiculous dating in this city can be. Does he live North of Bloor? Yep, that’s not happening. Voted for Ford? Not a chance in hell. Does he pronounce the second ‘t’ in Toronto? He’s basically a tourist. Does he work on Bay Street? Definitely not, I saw American Psycho. We’re picky because there are so many options, but with over two million folks living in our ‘mega city’ it’s really easy to pick wrong, a lot, which I did like it was my job.

Am I happy that I’m not dating anymore? Yes. But it’s not because of the craziness that comes with being single (that was actually pretty fun), it’s because I finally don’t have to pretend anymore. I was always myself with the guys I dated, sure, but it was like a diet version of myself. With Boyfriend I’m learning to stop apologizing for being me, I’m learning to speak my mind and not just in a way that I think people will find entertaining, and I’m learning that love looks a whole lot like falling asleep in someone’s arms on a Friday night after marathoning the latest Netflix original series.

Is a year a long time? No. But at almost 26 this relationship is the first I’ve ever been in that’s built on more than just a desire to tear each other’s clothes off on a semi-regular basis and that is worth celebrating.

My tears over Sochi and the IOC

When the ignorance of governments, businesses, and organizations is overwhelming we can’t forget what we are fighting for.

I cried twice this summer.

I’m not much for crying, I have a tendency to express my deepest feelings through irreverence and sarcasm. This year, perhaps showing my advancing age, I found myself twice at a total loss for words and broke down in tears.

The first was during Toronto Pride. I was spending my Saturday at a garden party in the gay village and wandered away from my friends in search of a drink. The beer table was located not too far from the makeshift dance floor right beside a splash pad and jungle gym. I got into line and took stock of the scene in front of me.

Young friends laughing with each other enjoying the ambiance, old couples holding hands without fear of slurs or hatred. I saw a straight mother in her fifties dancing with her twenty-something gay son and his partner.

My moment turned into a living cliché as an acoustic version of “Born This Way” came over the speakers I saw two toddlers splashing each other calling out in opposite to directions, one to her two dads and one to his two moms. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I turned into a sobbing, blubbering idiot.

In that moment I wished I could invite anyone who thinks there is something bad or wrong about being gay to stand with me and take it in.

I cried because it was everything we’ve ever worked towards. It was everything I had ever hoped to see in my lifetime. It was love, happiness, and unequivocal acceptance. It was just right.

My second set of tears came just the other day on the streetcar upon reading that the International Olympic Committee has sided with the Russian government, agreeing that gay and gay friendly athletes expressing themselves would be espousing some kind of political agenda and should be punished, either by arrest at the hands of the Russian police or reprimand from the Olympics themselves.

I thought of all the brave Russian people who are trying their best to survive right now and cried for them, and I cried thinking about how this opportunity for the men and women of the IOC to stand up and exhibit just one sliver of the bravery that these Russians show every day had reduced them to sniveling cowards.

The organizing body behind games meant for international cooperation threw the fags and dykes under the bus.

They’re in good company.

Amidst calls for Canada, harbringer of anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage, to pull out of the games in response to Russia’s draconian, hate-fueled laws there has been little response. Who cares about these homos anyway? Pulling out would punish the athletes, and apparently playing a game is more important than the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags.

Our national broadcaster, despite having a number of queers they keep behind the desk to deliver you the news, sees it fit to continue covering the games. The excuse the CBC has cooked up is limp at best, using the Kremlin’s homophobic spectre over the games as an excuse to continue traditional sports coverage as if it were also news, despite the fact that they would be in direct contravention of Canada’s Human Rights Act to send (or not send) any gay reporters there to watch curling and speed skating. Besides, they just spent $100 million in taxpayer money to broadcast the games — the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags obviously isn’t worth that much.

Sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, two of the biggest brand names in the world, haven’t made any motions towards stripping their names from the Sochi games, despite having both funded two of the largest gay celebrations in the world in NYC and San Francisco in recent years. I mean, bigots and homophobes eat Big Macs and drink Coke too, right? So, despite having already pledged their support to gay rights in the past, these big brands have to get their advertising while it’s good, nevermind us stupid fags.

When I cried on the streetcar they were tears of exhaustion. What can any one of us little people do in the face of giants like governments and multinational corporations and groups?

Part of me feels utterly defeated. Every broken bottle at Stonewall and every chant at the Toronto Raids worth nothing. Every gay person being arrested in the 38 African nations where it is a criminal offence worth nothing. Every single drop of blood from every single stupid fag like Matthew Sheppard worth nothing, and it has brought us here, to a place where we can’t even convince our own government, media, or businesses that we are human beings worth respecting or even protecting.

It is so frustrating and overwhelming to see my people being arrested and murdered, to see that all of our voices shouting can do so little.

And then I remember that scene in the park and I get it.

I’ve seen the perfect world, the one we are fighting for. I’ve felt the love, happiness, and acceptance all around me in one fleeting moment and I know that we can’t ever stop fighting until that world is real for us and for everyone around the world all the time.

If the IOC will side with the Russians we will shout twice as loud until our voices are heard. If Coca-Cola will sponsor these games we’ll dump it out in the street with the Stoli. If Stephen Harper and the CBC won’t pull out in order to send a message to Russia that these are despicable, evil laws we will bang on every door, write every letter, sign every petition, and march in every street until we are heard.

There is no giving up. Human rights and dignity are all or nothing. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to save our brothers and sisters in Russia and around the world, and if us little people scream loud enough in the ears of giants we can begin to change the future.

And if we can’t be respected and protected for who and what we are in this life than I can pray it will become true within the lives of my children, so that when they see the love, happiness, and acceptance surrounding a gay family in the park they won’t stop and cry, they won’t pause and reflect. They won’t even bat an eye.

 

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…

 

1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.

 

3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.

 

4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.

 

5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.

 

6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.

 

7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.

 

8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.

 

9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.

 

10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.