Category Archives: ethical living

Wawatay News – Celebrating beaver’s history at Mattagami

Wawatay News published out of Thunder Bay is one of the biggest Aboriginal weekly newspapers in the country — and this week, they published my story on trapping beaver with Leonard and Larry Naveau for Mattagami First Nation’s annual Beaver Fest.

Read the whole story here.  Or take a look at my pictures from the expedition on my flickr page.

Want some tasty, tasty beaver?  Go to Mattagami’s Beaver Fest this Saturday, April 24, 2010.


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Filed under Aboriginal, ethical living, travel

Shane Belcourt’s Toronto on blogTO

shane_belcourtEver struggle with coming out of your parent’s shadows?  Try having a father who is one of the most famous Aboriginal activists and thinkers in Canada.  But filmmaker and musician Shane Belcourt has done better than most.  Find out how the Ottawa-born native lives his life in Toronto – he’s the latest subject for my blogT.O. Toronto through the eyes of column.

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Filed under Aboriginal, ethical living, family, people, Toronto

Girl Guides of Canada on its deathbed and it’s killing me inside


When I heard the news that the Girl Guides of Canada have lost 40 percent of their members in the last ten years, I felt kind of sad.  It’s slightly hypocritical of me to mourn the death of this 100-year-old citizen building organization though.  I followed my older sister into Brownies (they didn’t have Sparks then) and quickly moved up the ranks from Seconder to Sixer.  Both proud moments.  How I loved that little brown change pouch on my belt, although I don’t recall what the hell it was for.  I took pride in tying my scarf correctly, standing in line while our Guider checked our knots.  This was as far as our camping skills went.  We mostly just hung in the church basement with our “Brown Owl and a toadstool made of cloth.  We sat in a circle, sang songs, told stories.  On Halloween the leaders turned the whole thing into a Haunted House – we put blindfolds on and stuck our hands in bowls of eyeballs (the hours one mother must have spent peeling those grapes).


When it came time to become a Girl Guide, I was bored.  I wanted out.  But my mom went and signed me up anyway.  I was pissed.  My older sister, who loved Guiding, was smug.  After that, for a reason I still can’t quite fathom, I stuck with it.  Yes.  I was a Girl Guide (OK technically a Ranger) until I was 18.  I wasn’t a particularly good one.  I never won a trip or a scholarship.  Our troop won second in a singing contest once I think.  I even coaxed my best friend to join.  My first boyfriend was a Scout. We went camping in the winter, spring, summer and fall.  I won a bronze in the cross-country ski race at the Jamboree and then danced with pimply-faced Boy Scouts to Stairway to Heaven and first heard the swear chant to AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long.  My older sister and I were in cahoots when it came to the rest of our group – a rare time of sister solidarity among the hormonal teenage infighting at home.  I did my first backpacking trip and sold flowers for cancer at the mall.  Most of the time I was pretty bored.


The whole thing feels a little grey.  So why then do I feel sad at what looks to be the slow death of Guiding?  I suppose my patriotic, community-oriented, girl-needing-guidance-outside-of-Teen-Magazine-and-Barbie is upset that there aren’t many spaces for girls to hang out together without hating on each other, to do stuff that doesn’t involve tube tops and bikini waxes in your pre-teens; to work toward a shitty little badge in cooking, volunteering or even bird-watching.  Life should slow down when it comes to growing up.  Guiding helps.


Filed under cheap fun, ethical living

Best winter purchase ever.

winter biking, university of toronto

It’s minus 13 in Toronto and I left my house before light, cycling about 15 minutes to the radio show where I volunteer.  The face-slapping chill provided a caffeine-free wake-up call but the rest of me was warm and toasty.  Mostly thanks to the best winter buy ever — my new Sorels.


Cheesily dubbed Joan of the Arctic by its manufacturer, wearing these puppies is like having space heaters on your feet. Totally waterproof and arguably stylish thanks to the fur trim and higher boot than the traditional Sorels. And if I had bought these prior to 2000, I could have boasted about purchasing a made-in-Canada product, invented by Kitchener boot baron, A.R. Kaufman in 1959.  Now, they’re made by Columbia, likely in one of its “third party” overseas factories, for which it has a code of ethics. And this of course means they’ve got something to hide — although a quick Google search yielded just one article on Columbia’s untoward behaviour from way back in 1996.  Ah well, guilty pleasures and all that.


Another key to winter cycling?  The hat-helmet combo.  It’s a look not everyone can rock, but clearly one some of us can pull off.  I even caught a hot guy staring at me, although that could be because I nearly wiped out when “off roading” it through the Bellwoods…

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Filed under ethical living, green living, thrifty, Toronto, urban cycling

Indians in Toronto

Here’s a shameless plug for a blog post I just wrote on The Walrus. Inspired by Kent Monkman’s Miss Chief Eagle Testickle: a Portrait in the May issue of the magazine, I set out to discover how far Canada has come in its imagining of the Indian as stoic brave sporting requisite headdress and war paint in the mid-nineteenth century. The answer? Not very.

Read the full post.

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Filed under ethical living, Toronto

a dress a day #4

vintage black shift dress, lace sleeves, empire waist, jewel detailing, 1960s, England
This dress found me at the Custard Factory’s vintage flea market held every Saturday in Birmingham, England ($30).  Its fun details made it stand out.  I adore the silvery bejewelled, empire waist. 

empire waist, shift dress, vintage, jewelled waist, embroidered

It’s label-less and homemade — demanding a trained eye to size it up.  In fact, all vintage dresses do.  I normally wear a US size 8-10, but I own vintage dresses in sizes 4 to 14; obey labels at your peril.   Wiggling into armfuls of musty dresses is key to finding just the right one.

vintage dresses, rack

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Filed under Birmingham, clothes, ethical living, green living, thrifty, Uncategorized, vintage

Bazaarly happy

I only go to church once a year – to pay homage at the Christmas bazaar.  On that blessed day, musty church basements are filled to the rim as revellers line up to buy  homemade gingerbread, pies, jams and relishes of every flavour, handicrafts and used tat.  What bliss!
This year I even volunteered (a little).  The night before the bazaar at Eden United Church, my sister asked me if I wanted to help box cookies.  Sound cutesy?  Not quite.  The operation is done every year with military like precision by my sisters and a few other grade-school teachers, they’re a well-oiled machine. 
Cookies came in fast and furious at 7pm.  We carefully packed a selection of two dozen homemade cookies into 185 white boxes.  The church’s annual “cookie walk” sells out every year.  All that yummy, home-baked goodness for $7 a box, it’s no wonder.

Turns out volunteering does have its rewards.  I snagged this one-of-a-kind hand-knit sweater by shopping the night before the sale. 
pink sweater, handknit, Eden United Church sale
I was hoping for some fabulous finds at the jewelery table, but nothing stood out. If you have kids though, the knitwear at these bazaars is truly precious.  But what I like best is the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from buying from the wrinkly ‘church ladies.’  “You made their day,” my sister said after I gushed over the pink sweater I picked up.  Looks like I may have to go to church next Sunday as well.  The church down the street is having their Christmas bazaar,  and I hear the shortbread is heaven-sent.
bunny mittens, handknit, Eden United Church bazaar

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Filed under cheap fun, ethical living, thrifty