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Expanding camp in N.S. includes program for kids in grief, with ample time for fun

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HALIFAX — When Meaghan Belanger’s mother informed her about a Nova Scotia camp for children in grief, the teenager’s initial reaction was unenthusiastic as she feared it would be too teary and dull.

Instead, she found herself immersed in unabashed fun — ranging from a delicious dinner to meeting new friends — during her first day at Brigadoon Village in the summer of 2019.

“Five minutes after my Mom left I realized, ‘This is going to be great,’” the teen said in an interview Saturday. She was 14 when she attended the camp in Aylesford, N.S., and is now 17.

Her mother, Janette Belanger, said she initially struggled to find her children Meaghan, Sean and Sarah  help with bereavement after her husband, Gilles Belanger, died from a rare form of cancer in the fall of 2018.

A doctor told her about Brigadoon’s pioneering camp for children with chronic illnesses, created in 2011, noting it had steadily expanded into bereavement and mental wellness programs over the past decade.

Janette Belanger recalled her oldest daughter’s grief had “built a wall around her heart” that the camp experience “chipped away at” as she settled in among peers living through similar emotions and began opening up about her feelings.

“She came home a very different girl,” Janette Belanger said, recalling the contrast between the child she dropped off amid objections to attending in the first place and the daughter who greeted her with a hug a week later as she bid emotional goodbyes to new friends.

“A week of camp that was stress free and that was fun all day gave me an opportunity to grow, I’d say,” Meaghan Belanger said.

The expanding programming that the Belangers have taken advantage of is part of the camp’s more general growth, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Graham, Brigadoon’s chief executive, announced a $12.5-million expansion on Saturday that includes a new arts building, an outdoor nutrition facility and other additions that will permit up to 300 more campers to attend Brigadoon this summer. It was carried out in the thick of the pandemic while most of its programs were put on hold.

The non-profit camp — the largest of its kind in Canada — relies on fundraising for about two thirds of its $2.5-million operating budget, according to Graham. It’s gone from about 30 campers in its first summer in 2011 to a capacity for about 3,500 campers a year.

“Each week is dedicated to a different group of children with a different diagnosis. Our blind and visual impairment week is going to look considerably different than the week for children who just had heart surgery,” said Graham.

But Graham said the common thread is a long-held philosophy that breaking down isolation is a key way forward for many young people.

“When you arrive at Brigadoon and there are 60 or 70 children having that similar thread of experience, you see you’re not as alone as you thought you were in what you’re going through,” he said.

Graham said the mental health component has become a growing focus of the camp’s programming, in part because it’s now recognized that depression and anxiety are the largest secondary illnesses children will experience alongside their chronic health conditions.

“We’re becoming more aware of the tremendous mental health impacts going on within society today within children. Take the pandemic and add in a chronic illness or the loss of a loved one, and you have a pretty potent cocktail there,” he added.

Simone Sewell, a leadership co-ordinator and former counsellor in the grief program, said children often come to camp without having time at home to begin the grieving process.

“They’re practically mini-adults because of all the stress they’ve gone through … One of the magical things about camp is we give them the opportunity to just be kids,” she said.

She says the approach is to immerse the children in typical, camping activities — including art workshops, outdoor games and swimming — while including daily times to share their emotions with trained counsellors.

On the final day, jars created in art classes have a candle placed inside and are used to line a pathway to a cairn in the woods. The children walk that pathway together, and leave small stones in memory of their lost loved ones at the secret site.

Sewell said the simple ritual often creates a lasting bond among the campers.

“I think getting away from home is a big component of why it works so well,” she said.. “At Brigadoon the kids are in nature, they’re in a cabin with people who’ve had similar experiences to them.”

Meaghan Belanger says she wants to return to reconnect with friends, learn leadership skills and keep on having a good time.

“It’s a chance to be a kid. I don’t have to worry about anything,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2022.

 

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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Sanctions: Who they really hurt

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Sanctions hurt
Sanctions have been a weapon for the West these many decades. Promote global trade, see pretty well anything to other nations and their economies until these trading partners piss you off.
Example: The Ukrainian-Russian War. For centuries these two combatants were partners, working within a Royal and then Soviet  Empire. Ukraine develops nationalistic ambitions and achieves nationhood. Russian Oligarchs attempt to control Ukraine’s economy with little luck. Ukraine has its own Oligarchs, former government officials have gone rouge, gaining control of the Ukrainian Economy.  This is a war of attrition between Oligarchs, except Western Nations also have their attention on Ukrainian Natural Resources, and attempt to isolate Russia Economically and Socio-politically. The West freezes personal and political national accounts and boots Russia out of most international events and sports. The West invites Ukraine into NATO while filling this country with massive amounts of weapons. Without declaring a war on Russia, America, NATO, The EU and others attempt to damage Russian Industry and its economic structures. The Russian Leadership is attacked by using international banks to freeze and deny the use of their accounts.
Who suffers? So the Rich are perhaps deny denied products, the ability to travel freely, and also may have to be happy with Russian Champagne instead of French Wines. BoHo 🙁  These leaders of Russian Industry, Government and the higher class do not suffer like the average Russian, the workers, teachers, farmers, techs and shop workers.
There is a void found within the grocers and auto shops of Russia. True scarcity of essential products these Russians need to survive. Why would the West impose these sanctions? Who are they really hurting?
Why the little guy and girl, the worker. The West wants to hurt them greatly, so much so that once their economy begins to fail, and their kids go without food, electricity or any essential “The downtrodden People” will put pressure upon their government to change their ways. It may even be hoped that a “democratic” revolution may happen. Would not President Biden, Prime Minister Trudeau or The Leaders of the EU not like this to happen. Get rid of President Putin and “The Oligarch Soup” that rules Russia. All wars have casualties, Except it will not be those who started the war, but the little guy, their family and neighbour are who will suffer and possibly die.
How weak can the West be to use such weapons against families just like yours, whose only crime it is to be Russian, North Korean, Iranian and so on? America, with its allies, has used this weapon many times before, just not so gleefully. The West has the chance to crush one of its main political and economic competitors. Today Russia, perhaps tomorrow China. If the West goes all out, they have found a way to manipulate and forcefully transform a society. It is maybe effective in the long run. Much depends on how long Ukraine can survive. Once all this war-mongering ends, they will all be back to regular business again. Did the West simply provide Putin with an accident ending his regime? America has invaded many nations and assassinated many unwanted leaders in the past. They look upon the Afghan Genocide of mass death caused by the International isolationism of The Taliban. The ends will often justify the means, and America has as much blood on its hands as do the Russians. They do not have money to feed the poor and starving globally but find billions of dollars to kick Russia’s Financial-Political Ass.
They all talk about the importance of diplomacy while they ship more weapons to Ukraine, all the while Ukrainians and Russians die, killing each other.
“It is very queer that the unhappiness of the World is so often brought on by small men”(Erich Remarque-All Quiet on the Western Front).  Only the little amongst us suffer, a brother, sister, mother or father, a child or cousin. We are all the same. We allow “our leaders” to dictate their will to us.
Remember a word of command made these silent figures our enemies, and yet a word of command might transform them into our friends.
Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca
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Inflation: Half of Canadians' finances worse than last year – CTV News

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As inflation rates soar to the highest they’ve been in Canada in forty years, nearly half of Canadians say that right now, they’re doing worse financially than they were at this time last year.

A further third say they expect things to get even worse in the coming year, the largest number of people to answer this way in more than a decade.

The numbers come from a new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) survey released Friday, which surveyed more than 5,000 Canadian adults between June 7 and June 13 on their financial standing and struggles.

The results shed light on the plight Canadians are facing coast to coast.

Currently, inflation is at a staggering 7.7 per cent higher than last year, according to Statistics Canada. The inflation rate hasn’t been this high since 1983, the year that Canada Day replaced Dominion Day.

TRENDING DOWN

The percentage of Canadians answering that they are worse off financially now than a year ago has been increasing steadily over the last few years. In 2018, only 29 per cent of Canadians said they were doing worse than the previous year. That number climbed to 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, then to 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.

It’s now the highest that it has been since ARI started tracking this specific question in 2010.

At the same time, the number of Canadians who said they were doing the same as a year ago plummeted, going from 54 per cent in 2018, to 44 per cent in 2020, to 36 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.

Interestingly, the percentage of Canadians who say they are doing better than the previous year jumped to 23 per cent in 2020, after years of hovering around 13-14 per cent. That number is now at 17 per cent.

When these results are broken down into the household income of the respondents, those who are in the upper echelons of income, making more than $200,000 annually, were much more likely to report that they were doing better than last year financially, at 26 per cent, and the least likely to report that they were doing worse, at 30 per cent.

On the other end of the scale, those making less than $25,000 per year were more likely to say they were worse off this year, at 51 per cent, and less likely to say they were doing better than last year, at 15 per cent — underlining how the rich are hurt less by shifts such as inflation, and the poor keep getting poorer as rising costs hit their wallets.

Only one in five Canadians said they expected things to improve a year from now, while a third anticipated things to get even worse.

“Residents in Saskatchewan voice the most pessimism and least optimism on this question,” the report stated.

COST OF LIVING IS EXORBITANT FOR MANY

Concerns about the cost of simply living is the one that consumes the time and energy of most Canadians, with food, housing and bills driving a huge amount of financial worries across the country.

When asked what the top provincial issues were, with respondents being able to choose up to three options, “cost of living/inflation” was overwhelmingly the most popular selection, with 63 per cent of respondents selecting it as a major issue.

Health care and housing affordability took second and third place at 52 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, with climate change and the environment coming in at fourth with 26 per cent.

“Some regions of the country are under more economic stress than others,” the report stated. “In Atlantic Canada, the cost of living was already higher than most other parts of the country last year. And Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have experienced higher rates of inflation than other provinces, alongside Manitoba and British Columbia.”

When it comes to the country as a whole, more than half of those who rented said that it’s difficult to afford their rent.

For homeowners, monthly mortgage payments are on the rise after a series of interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada. One quarter of Canadians with a mortgage say prices have already gone up, while another half said they anticipate a price jump. Two thirds say that if their payments increased by $300 a month, they might not be able to afford it anymore.

“The challenge for many, as pandemic-era supports are removed, and some struggle with repayment of the CERB they received, is to avoid debt creation,” the report stated, noting that many Canadians are already struggling with debt.

Two in five Canadians said they had credit card debt.

Of those who scored high on the ARI Economic Stress Index and were classified as “struggling” on that index, 62 per cent had credit card debt, and three-in-five of this group said it would take them more than a year to pay it off.

The Economic Stress Index, created in January, looks at core costs related to quality of life, such as debt, housing and household food costs, as well as the respondents’ anxieties and assessments of their own finances, to map out who is having a harder time.

There are four categories: struggling, uncomfortable, comfortable, and thriving. The proportion of those who are “thriving” has dropped six points since May, while the number of those who “struggling” has risen three points in that time period. Some good news is that 29 per cent of Canadians fit into the “comfortable” category compared to 26 per cent in May.

“A majority in each of the Atlantic provinces fall under the Struggling or Uncomfortable categories,” the report stated, with 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador falling into one of these two categories.

Across the country, in most provinces, more than half of the respondents fell into the one of the bottom two categories, with 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, 59 per cent in Alberta, 62 per cent in Saskatchewan, 57 per cent in Manitoba, 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 54 per cent in Ontario. Prince Edward Island was not included in the survey.

“Only in Quebec (61 per cent) and B.C. (52 per cent) do more than half fall into the top two categories on the ESI,” the report stated. “Notably, by Statistic Canada’s CPI, those provinces have the lowest cost of living of any province in the country.”

The province with the single highest percentage of Canadian respondents deemed to be “thriving” was Quebec, with a whopping 30 per cent.

Just over 75 per cent of Canadians said their province had done a poor job of handling inflation.

Around one in three Canadians said their costs due to purchasing gas had increased, while just under half stated that those costs had gone down for them because they were consciously avoiding driving and seeking out other forms of transportation to save money.

FOOD PRICES LEAVING SOME HUNGRY

The report noted that inflation affects some goods more harshly than others.

“Food inflation was 10 per cent in May, higher than the 7.7 per cent inflation rate overall,” the report said.

Just over half of Canadians surveyed reported struggling to make the grocery bill each month, with the report noting that this is seven points higher than last October.

And the lower your tax bracket, the harder it is to put food on the table. Seven out of ten Canadians making less than $25,000 a year said it is difficult to feed themselves and their family, while at least one third of all incomes reported finding it hard to budget for food.

One B.C. resident told The Canadian Press that her grocery bill has more than doubled. Food Banks Canada are concerned that more and more children — who make up a third of those who rely on food banks — could be going hungry this summer as school ends and access to school-based food programs is cut off.

Earlier this month, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called out MPs for laughing in the House of Commons after he spoke about Canadians being unable to afford groceries. In a video Singh posted of the incident, laughter can be heard after he states that one in four Canadians are going hungry.

“I just mentioned that Canadians are hungry and I hear laughter in the chambers,” Singh said after the Speaker asked him to repeat himself. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely ashamed.” He stated on social media that those who were laughing were Conservative MPs.

TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS

Amid rising inflation, the Bank of Canada is meant to keep the impact on Canadians to a minimum through policy adjustments, but Canadian trust in this institution is split, according to the survey. While 46 per cent said they trusted the Bank of Canada, 41 per cent said they did not.

When the political leanings of survey respondents were taken into account, the results became more stark: Past supporters of the Conservative party and the People’s Party of Canada were less likely to trust the Bank of Canada, with 59 per cent and 86 per cent indicating this respectively.

The Bank of Canada has admitted that it made missteps, and is now playing catch-up as Canada’s economy overheats.

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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser discusses Express Entry reforms – Canada Immigration News

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Toronto skyline

Toronto skyline

The Canadian government is on track to pass a bill that would allow the immigration minister to invite Express Entry candidates based on an economic goal.

Bill C-19 is currently in consideration with the Senate. If passed, it will give the minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the authority to invite Express Entry candidates by occupation, language ability, intended destination, or any other group that supports Canada’s economic goals.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told CIC News in a face-to-face interview that he hopes it will pass through the Senate, and that the new authorities will be implemented soon. The minister said although Express Entry gives Canada a competitive advantage, there is room for improvement.

“Where [the Express Entry system] could be improved is at present if there are particular challenges that your economy is facing it might be facing in the long term we don’t have the ability to tailor the invitations to apply to the Express Entry system to meet those in-demand skills or qualifications,” Fraser said.

“If you’re in a circumstance where you have an abundance of applications that are all in one particular sector, and that sector doesn’t have high needs in Canada the Express Entry system as it exists today, is likely to bring in people that might not be perfectly matched to the needs of the Canadian economy.”

The new authorities would allow IRCC to include selection factors that would support Canada’s labour needs based on sector, region, and language competencies. The minister said that in doing so, Canada would be able to select more immigrants who are already primed for success in the labour market.

“The goal is really to maximize the contribution that a newcomer can make in their communities so they’re set up for success when they arrive, but also that they’re going to meet the needs of the community where they’re going to reside,” Fraser said. “I expect we’re going to see potential increase of retention rates have opened up because people are coming in where they know they have opportunities because that was the basis of their invitation to apply.”

Critics of the bill say the new authorities could allow for special interest groups to lobby for a certain type of candidate. Amendments were made in earlier drafts of the bill to reflect the need for a transparent selection process. Fraser acknowledged this concern.

“If I sit at my office in Ottawa and start making decisions about what regions and what sectors should benefit from this new policy I would be going down a very dangerous path,” Fraser said. “I need to engage with people at a local community level. I need to engage with my provincial and territorial counterparts. I need to engage with business councils and sectors that have high needs so we can understand what their needs are.”

The Express Entry reforms found in Bill C-19 won’t become law until it is given royal assent by the governor general of Canada.

Special interview series with Minister Fraser

CIC News sat down with the minister on June 21, 2022 to discuss the future of Canadian immigration.

Over the coming weeks, CIC News is releasing a special series of articles elaborating on the interview with Minister Fraser on topics including:

  • Part 1: Express Entry all-program draws tentatively resuming on July 6
  • improving application processing and client experience
  • Canadian citizenship fees
  • legalizing undocumented workers in Canada
  • the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025
  • creating more immigration pathways for foreign workers and students, and
  • how his life has changed since he became minister

Minister Fraser was in Toronto to speak at Collision, one of the world’s largest technology conferences.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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