Canadian kids in martial arts are helping trauma survivors in Rwanda - The Nelson Daily - Canadanewsmedia
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Canadian kids in martial arts are helping trauma survivors in Rwanda – The Nelson Daily

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Dean Siminoff has made six trips to Rwanda in the past four years to help spread a message of hope and confidence to the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. He spreads this message through his specialized training designed to help people rebuild their capacity for resilience, empowering these individuals while healing their past trauma. This training method called “Enhanced Resilience Training” is the evolution of his more than 25 years of martial arts experience and his quest for justice.

When he returned to Rwanda this past April he saw the impact even a few hours of resilience training had on widows still recovering from the trauma of the genocide. Along with his Rwandan team, Dean visited one of the widows who had participated in Martial Arts for Justice’s enhanced resilience training in Kigali last October.

“This group of widows spent a couple of hours with us learning how the martial arts can help them become more resilient and overcome the lingering effects of their trauma from 25 years ago. The next day, one participating lady told me she’d had the best sleep she’d had in years, and that she dreamt she was being assaulted again, but this time she was able to fight back,” Siminoff says.  “It was an awakening of sorts for her, for her mind, her body and her spirit.”

“When I was back in Kigali in April, we made a point of going to visit her. She was excited to tell me that every day she practices the moves we taught her in October. She’s kept up the practice. This is the impact that our Enhanced Resilience Program can have,” he adds.

Siminoff is the founder of Martial Arts for Justice, a Nelson-based Canadian national charity that raises money each spring with a board breaking competition to fund projects such as bringing the Enhanced Resilience Program to Rwanda.

This year, the Breaking Boards Breaking Chains campaign raised $40,000 through martial arts schools from BC, the Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The competition brings together martial arts students for a public display of breaking boards and raising awareness of the problems of violence and oppression around the world.

Students collect pledges for each board they break, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to Martial Arts for Justice.

The money raised is helping bring the Enhanced Resilience training to survivors, therapists and educators in Rwanda. Martial Arts for Justice has a small team in Rwanda that builds the connections, lays the groundwork and assists Siminoff on his training trips.

“The theme of our fund-raiser this year was healing trauma through building resilience. Coming back from Rwanda with stories, testimonials and evidence that the training is working helps these students at martial arts schools here in Canada see that their efforts have an outcome and are making a difference,” says Siminoff.

Breaking Boards Breaking Chains has raised more than $240,000 since it started in 2013. The money has supported efforts to end modern-day slavery, rescue victims of human trafficking, and help survivors of the Rwandan genocide overcome trauma and begin to rebuild their lives.

Martial Arts for Justice is an alliance of martial artists and school owners who choose to actively pursue justice, locally and globally. Located in Nelson, British Columbia, it works with martial arts schools across Canada and internationally to help bring an end to violence and oppression.

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Greta Thunberg will join Sustainabiliteens at #FridaysforFuture climate strike at Vancouver Art Gallery – Straight.com

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Expect throngs of young and old climate activists to converge on downtown Vancouver on Friday (October 25).

They’ll converge on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery to listen to a speech by their 16-year-old Swedish hero, Greta Thunberg, who will be making her first visit to the city.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thunberg attracted a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 when she spoke recently in Edmonton.

When she spoke at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City in September, Thunberg emphasized the importance of keeping the global average temperature rise since the start of the Industrial Revolution to below 1.5 C.

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius] at the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control,” Thunberg told world leaders at the summit. “Fifty percent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, or the aspects of equity and climate justice.

“They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50 percent risk is simply not acceptable to us—we who have to live with the consequences,” she continued. “To have a 67 percent chance of staying below a 1.5-degrees global temperature rise—the best odds given by the IPCC—the world had 420 gigatonnes of CO2 left to emit back on January 1, 2018.

“Today, that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budgets will be entirely gone within less than eight-and-a-half years.”

Thunberg’s event in Vancouver will be hosted by the teen-climate group Sustainabiliteens Vancouver.

Last year, the north plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery was renamed šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square in honour of the region’s Indigenous heritage.

The name incorporates languages of all three Indigenous peoples in the region—the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish.

Video of Say it with us! šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square

This City of Vancouver video explains how to pronounce the name of  šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square.

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Society says City of Kamloops price tag for new performing arts centre would not exceed $45 million – CFJC Today Kamloops

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Benefactors Ron and Rae Fawcett have already committed $3 million, as well as a building already on site.

“We look to secure these funds through fundraising and a contribution from the city. This is very typical of similar projects of this scope,” said Daley.

The proposed PAC would be City of Kamloops-owned.

Council sent the issue to staff for analysis of the business case. Staff will bring a recommendation back to council for its Nov. 5 meeting, conceivably giving the society enough time to meet a Nov. 12 federal grant application deadline.

“We know this project is right now,” said Daley. “We have momentum.”

Councillor Arjun Singh tried to temper the enthusiasm for quick advancement of the project, saying the city would need to carefully weigh how to frame another referendum question asking the public for permission to borrow up to $45 million.

In 2015, Kamloops residents voted 54 per cent against borrowing up to $49 million to help build a PAC with a $90 million price tag.

Daley told Singh he believes the society can sway opponents of the 2015 proposal who were worried about the timing of the expenditure.

“It wasn’t ‘No;’ their big thing was, ‘Not now.’ We’re saying, ‘We think the time right now is the time.’ We believe that there is a basis of support out there.”

Councillor Bill Sarai told Daley a new PAC fits in well with the city’s Tournament Capital identity.

“We’re starting to realize we are the Tournament Capital of Canada, but performing arts is part of recreation,” said Sarai. “There was talk years ago that Sandman Centre would stay empty, you couldn’t fill the seats. Now it’s almost too small on Blazer days. TCC was never going to be used. Now it’s overused.”

“I think back to my family members who were involved in sporting activities — they have the greatest sporting facilities in Western Canada,” said Daley. “I think to my family members who are involved in arts activities — we can give them the greatest venue in Western Canada.”

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Arts upstart Meow Wolf says jobs up after public investment – CityNews Vancouver

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Offbeat arts adventure and entertainment company Meow Wolf says it has surpassed hiring goals outlined in a $1.1 million economic development grant from New Mexico and the city of Santa Fe, amid plans for an aggressive business expansion into Denver, Las Vegas and other major U.S. cities.

Meow Wolf co-founder and board member Vince Kadlubek said the addition of 290 employees since 2018 puts the company ahead of employment requirements under the 2017 grant award for building renovations.

The agreement called for Meow Wolf to create 250 jobs at an average salary of $46,000 a year by the end of 2021, with the opportunity for a $100,000 bonus if 300 jobs are created.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department that monitors the grant agreement could not immediately verify employment figures and average salaries on Tuesday. Agency spokesman Bruce Krasnow said it appears that “Meow Wolf has exceeded its job creation goals for state economic assistance.”

More than 1.5 million visitors have visited Meow Wolf’s kaleidoscopic walk- and crawl-through exhibit space in Santa Fe since it opened in a converted bowling alley in early 2016.

The company’s labour practices have come under scrutiny after two former employees filed a lawsuit this year complaining of unpaid wages for overtime and discrimination based on gender. Meow Wolf denies the charges. Court records show the company is seeking to move proceedings to arbitration.

In May, Meow Wolf announced a company-wide $17 hourly minimum wage — or roughly $35,360 a year for fulltime work. Santa Fe’s current minimum wage is $11.80 an hour. Meow Wolf’s executive compensation rates are not public.

Kadlubek, who helped broker the infrastructure award from New Mexico’s closing fund, announced last week in a blog post that he will step down as the company’s CEO to focus on improving his own business skills and taking better care of his personal health.

Going forward, the CEO post is being shared by three Meow Wolf executives, including a former creative director for Disney and a former vice-president at Lucasfilm who worked on business spinoffs from the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” film franchises.

The 2017 award from New Mexico’s closing fund for emerging businesses was used by Meow Wolf to purchase and renovate an art and video production facility on the south side of Santa Fe, in a warehouse previously owned by construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. The state committed $850,000, and the city of Santa Fe pledged $250,000.

“At this point, we are packed to the brim at that facility, having literally run out of parking spots and space to operate,” Kadlubek said in an email. “So we are, in addition, renting out another 15 locations around the city to accommodate our workforce. It’s amazing.”

New Mexico also previously awarded Meow Wolf $450,000 through a jobs training incentives program to create 33 jobs.

The taxpayer funding is dwarfed by the company’s $158 million securities offering in May — borrowed money from private investors that Meow Wolf is using to expand. Permanent exhibitions are planned for Las Vegas, Denver and Washington, D.C. — along with a hotel-related project in Phoenix.

Morgan Lee, The Associated Press

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