Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Canada’s Most Prestigious Non-Fiction Award Has A New Jury

RBC Taylor Prize Announces New Jury for 2018

The Trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are pleased to announce that the jurors for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize are: Christine Elliott, Anne Giardini, and James Polk.

Christine Elliott
Christine Elliott is Ontario’s first-ever Patient Ombudsman and has been an advocate for vulnerable people for many years. Ms. Elliott has served as a volunteer with numerous community organizations, including the Grandview Children’s Centre and Durham Mental Health Services. A lawyer by profession, she was also a longtime Progressive Conservative MPP (2006 to 2015) representing her home riding of Whitby-Oshawa.

Anne Giardini

Anne Giardini
, O.C., Q.C., is an author, board director and the 11th Chancellor of Simon Fraser University. She has published two novels, The Sad Truth About Happiness and Advice for Italian Boys. In 2016, together with her son Nicholas, Anne Giardini published Startle and Illuminate, a book of writing advice from her mother, the late Canadian author Carol Shields. Giardini has been Chair of the Vancouver International Writers Festival, and a board member of the Writers’ Trust of Canada and PEN Canada.
James Polk
James Polk was the long time editorial director of House of Anansi Press and edited two books by Charles Taylor, as well as work by Margaret Atwood, George Grant, Northrop Frye, and many others. With a literature PhD he has taught at Harvard, Idaho, Ryerson and Alberta, and has written a comic novel, a stage comedy about Canadian publishing, articles, short stories, and criticism about Canadian writers and writing. As an advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Culture, he worked on grants for theatre and books, developed a tax credit for publishers and remodelled the Trillium Book Prize to include Franco Ontarian writing. He lives in Toronto and, trained as a pianist, still practices daily, playing classics and show-tunes in seclusion.
Noreen Taylor, Prize Founder and Chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, remarked: “Literary non-fiction is the best medium for our nation’s top authors to examine the world beyond the recording of facts and a parade of data. Our esteemed jury will read through 150+ entries and rigorously debate titles to be included on the prize longlist announced in December. Readers across the country look forward with great anticipation to the jury’s selections for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize.”
Key Dates: The Longlist will be shared on Wednesday, December 6, 2017; the Shortlist will be announced at a news conference on Wednesday, January 10, 2018; and the winner revealed at a gala luncheon on Monday February 26, 2018.
The RBC Taylor Prize recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates.

About The RBC Taylor Prize:
Established in 1998 by the trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation and first awarded in 2000, 2018 marks the seventeenth awarding of the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. Awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the Prize consists of $30,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the remaining finalists. All authors are presented with a custom leather bound version of their shortlisted book at the awards ceremony.
The Prize provides all of the finalists with promotional support to help all of the nominated books to stand out in the media, bookstores, and libraries.
Earlier this year, Ross King won the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize for his book Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Liliespublished by Bond Street Books.
Mr. King selected Cassi Smith as the 2017 recipient of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award. This award featuring a $10,000 cash award, and mentorship from the naming author was established in 2013 to provide recognition and assistance to a Canadian published author who is working on a significant writing project in literary non-fiction. Ms. Smith, a Saskatchewan based graduate student, is working on a collection of non-fiction short stories based on her interviews with Saskatchewan’s First Nations Elders.
The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are: Michael Bradley, Vijay Parmar, David Staines, Edward Taylor, Nadina Taylor, and Noreen Taylor. The Executive Director is Su Hutchinson.
The presenting sponsor of the RBC Taylor Prize is RBC Wealth Management. Its media sponsors are The Globe and Mail, Cision, The Huffington Post Canada, Maclean’s magazine, Quill & Quire magazine; its in-kind sponsors are Ben McNally Books, Event Source, IFOA, The Omni King Edward Hotel, and the Toronto Public Library Board.
To download high-resolution images of the trustees and the jury
please go to: www.rbctaylorprize.ca/2018/2018_trustees_and_jury.zip
For general information about the Prize please go to: www.rbctaylorprize.ca.
Follow the RBC Taylor Prize on Twitter at www.twitter.com/taylorprize
Follow the RBC Taylor Prize on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RBCTaylorPrize

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For further information:
Media contact: Stephen Weir & Associates

Stephen Weir: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 | stephen@stephenweir.com

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Innocence Canada hosting 4th Annual Wrongful Conviction Day Reception


5:30 7:30 p.m
Convocation Hall
Law Society of Upper Canada, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario: This October 2, 2017, people from around the globe will come together in recognition of the wrongly convicted. Innocence Canada, along with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), will be hosting its 4th annual Wrongful Conviction Day (WCD) reception. The reception will be attended by many of the wrongly convicted, their family members, Innocence Canada Board and Foundation members, staff, volunteers, members, sponsors, funders, donors and members of the public at large.
The highlight of the evening will be the introduction and acknowledgement of the wrongly convicted and their families. Some of the exonerees that will be attending are David Milgaard, Réjean Hinse, Leighton Hay, Anthony Hanemaayer, Jamie Nelson, Tammy Marquardt, Rob Baltovich, John Artis and Maria Shepherd. We are honoured to have Ontario Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, and David Miller, former Mayor of Toronto, who will each offer short remarks. A keynote speech will be given by renowned criminal lawyer, Marie Henein, who had this to say about wrongful convictions.
“Wrongful convictions remind us of how painfully human our legal system is-and how in these times, we must remain uncompromising and unyielding in protecting those foundational principles that seek to counterbalance our inevitable fallibility.” – Marie Henein
During the evening’s program, the annual Rubin ‘HurricaneCarter Champion of Justice Award will be presented by one of Innocence Canada’s Founders, James Lockyer and exoneree, John Artis, Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter’s co-accused. This award is given to an individual or group who has in some significant way helped champion the cause of the wrongly convicted. In addition, The Tracey Tyler Award will be presented by her sister Angela Tyler and Innocence Canada Co-President, Kirk Makin. This award is given to an individual or group who through the news media, documentary or film has through an article or a body of work over years has helped to expose wrongful convictions.
In conjunction with the events taking place around the world there are 18 confirmed landmarks (twice as many as last year) that will illuminate in recognition of WCD. Among these will be the CN Tower, Toronto City Hall Towers, Niagara Falls and the Peace Bridge.

“What started as a trickle three years ago, has tuned into a global movement,” said Ron Dalton, Exoneree and Co-President of Innocence Canada. In addition to illuminations, cities across Canada have signed proclamations declaring October 2nd as WCD."
Since its inception in 1993, Innocence Canada has helped in the exonerations of 21 Canadians. These innocent individuals combined spent more than 190 years in prison. Innocence Canada has 86 cases currently under review and is undertaking a major initiative over the coming year to cut into this backlog.

For more information and interview requests for exonerees and Innocence Canada representatives please contact:
Win Wahrer
Toll free: 1-800-249-1329 x227
In Toronto: 416-504-7500 x 227, Cell: 416-459-2065

www.innocencecanada.com www.facebook.com/inno 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Paparazzi advice on how to get a picture of Machel Montano (and avoid a selfie stick up the butt).

Machel Montano about to be mobbed by media

It is a paparazzi thing I picked up by observation in Beverly Hills. When I need an uncluttered shot of a superstar without other photographers elbowing me out of the way, get the celeb just as he or she steps out of the car BEFORE the waiting throng smell celebrity blood.

Fresh. The smile is genuine and if I am lucky I might get a quote before I get jabbed out of the way by selfie sticks and deafened by blown-out lungs yelling "Machel. Machel. Please. Please. Look this way?"
Such was the case earlier this week when I attended the gala launch party for the 12th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) in downtown Toronto. Standing around the organizers with my big ears on alert I heard the Walkie Talkie crackle that The King of Soca, Trinidad's Machel Montano was in an Uber on College Street and would soon be here! Tonight 'here' was a closed sidestreet near the Royal Theatre, home of CTFF. The fete was in full party mode with Mas models in skimpy costumes, steel drums drumming and a hundred Caribbean Canadian celebs and media with cameras and phones raised high.
Machel and I have met several times. When I helped him out of the Uber I reminded him of our history. He pretended that he remembered and agreed to pose for a single picture, which instantly tells the night's story.

Here is a happy confident guy who has performed for millions, including Obama, and knows there is nothing he can't handle at the CTFF premier of his feature length film; Machel Montano: Journey of A Soca King.

Pstt - Theatre is across the street Machel!
If you have never heard of the Trinidad singer Machel Montano, it means you most likely aren't from the Caribbean. You probably have never jumped up to his Soca classics like Party Done, One Wine and Shake Yuh Bum, or wined and palanced (don't ask if you don't know) to his song It's Carnival at Toronto's Caribana.
For me tonight, he is a Soca hurricane, steps from making landfall. As we talk I see him mentally preparing for his entrance. No one in Little Italy knows him but, once in front of the waiting Caribbean community it's Bacchanalia time.
Never mind that TIFF activities were taking place a few blocks away. For anyone living the diaspora, holding a ticket to the Montano flick is akin to finding Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket.
The demand was so large that an extra screening was quickly arranged for the next night at a Malvern cinema (A Caribbean Canadian neighbourhood in Northeast Toronto). No one seemed to care about what the movie was actually about, what matters is that Machel is in the house.

"Journey of a Soca King chronicles his rise from a child star competing on Star Search, to his reign as a Soca Monarch in Trinidad. The film utilizes never before seen vintage footage to tell the phenomenal story of the "Michael Jackson of the Caribbean", while giving viewers a backstage pass to his 15 high energy, nonstop, live performances during the last 5 days before Carnival Monday 2015 in Trinidad."                IMBD

The film has a strong launch but I want to know what the star thinks about the state of the Caribbean homegrown film business.
"It is exploding, not just in T&T (Trinidad and Tobago) but Jamaica, Grenada and Cuba too. Look at the number of films in this year's festival."
He was right. CaribbeanTales has been trying to introduce to North America's movie industry to feature length films, shorts and TV pilots created with a Caribbean connection. In 2017 there are 17 features and 30 shorts being shown in Toronto between now and September 21st.

St. Lucia's Joseph Marcell and friends at the Gala.
You know him as the Butler on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
photo by Anthony Berot
"There will be more if we can overcome one problem," said Machel. "Money. We need Caribbean investors to believe in us."
Last year Montano's Trini/Bollywood musical feature Bazodee opened CTFF to a huge critical acclaim. The movie then toured the world, selling-out theatres where ever Soca fans are. But, and this a biggie but, the distributor found huge tracts in Canada and US where Soca isn't understood.

Bajan Soca Queen Alison Hinds attended the opening!

"It took us 10 years to make that movie because of a lack of investors. I put my own money into it and I still haven't broken even. We are hoping that a NetFlicks deal will save the day!" Machel told the audience at a talk-back following the film.
" I want to do more movies to get the world turned onto Soca and this could be the movie and the city to do it in."
Organizers of the film festival couldn't agree more. Their mantra? "TIFF shows THE movies but at CTFF we show OUR oeuvre."

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Canadian Jamaican Courtney Betty’s Timeless Herbal Care signs significant with Jamaica re: medical marijuana

Canadian Jamaican Courtney Betty’s Timeless Herbal Care

Government oks restoration of Jamaica’s Bauxite mine lands for cultivation of medical marijuana

For Immediate Release

Toronto, Canada. September 12, 2017 …Timeless Herbal Care (Timeless) a leading Jamaican Nutraceutical /Pharmaceutical company has signed a historical agreement with the Government of Jamaica to grow herbal plants including medical marijuana on previously mined bauxite lands.  The agreement paves the way for Timeless and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute to restore the mined out territory to the benefit of the local community.

The signing late last week in Kingston Jamaica, was hailed by the Minister of Mines, the Honourable Mike Henry, as the fulfillment of his vision to restore the productivity of these lands to the benefit of grassroots communities who now have a chance to control their own destiny. “Timeless Herbal Care has established itself as a company committed to create value added products from Jamaican herbs including our very valuable Jamaican ganja,” said Minister Henry. “Jamaica is positioned to be a leader in medical marijuana and this is a major step in a true public private partnership!”

Minister Henry noted that the farmers will be taught new skills, so that they can produce the plants to internationally accepted standards. The plants to be cultivated are guinea hen weed, moringa, black castor bean, and medical cannabis.

Also speaking the signing ceremony was the Minister of Culture Olivia Babsy Grange who highlighted how Jamaican culture and branding will play a key role in bringing medical marijuana products to  the world. According to Minister Grange “our musical icons such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were visionaries of the healing power of the herb and we are committed to make their vision a reality bringing health and wellness to the world.”

Timeless President and CEO Courtney Betty expressed his joy at reaching this significant agreement with the Government of Jamaica.  According to Mr. Betty; “four years ago Timeless began with a dream of establishing a legal and regulatory framework to make Jamaica the medical marijuana hub of the world.  Having already established the only certified facility for growing medical marijuana in the Caribbean we look forward to bringing our years of experience and knowledge to transform local communities.’”

Timeless also unveiled its partnership with Jamaica’s University of Technology.  The university has created a research unit headed by Dr. Lawrence Williams who was recently awarded a United States patent related to medical marijuana. Timeless is committed to developing true medical products with  proven safety and efficacy based on international medical and pharmaceutical standards.


Timeless Herbal Care is an industry leader in the provision of health and wellness related services though the research and development of medical marijuana products. With operations in Jamaica, Israel, Canada and the United States; world-class experts and years of experience, we are uniquely equipped to supply the overwhelming international demand for medical marijuana products.

Timeless has established strategic partnerships with the University of the West Indies, the Jamaican Ganja Growers & Producers Association, the University of Technology, and Open Vape, a world leader in the development of vaporizers. For further information consult the company’s website at: http://www.timelessherbalcare.com/index.php


Timeless Herbal Care
Courtney Betty
In Jamaica
In US/Canada:
Phone: 416-907-0973
For interviews and pictures
Stephen Weir



Tuesday, 8 August 2017

First Nations artist James Simon Mishibinijima’s Residential School Paintings

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Important Stories Being Told at PAMA as part of Peel 150

James Simon Mishibinijima
As part of the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) Peel 150: Stories of Canada exhibition, First Nations artist James Simon Mishibinijima’s work is woven through the timeline showcasing two powerful series: his Residential School Paintings and Seven Grandfather Teachings. PAMA is offering free admission all summer (until Aug. 31) in celebration of Peel and Canada 150.

Born in 1954 in on Manitoulin Island, James Simon Mishibinijima grew up in Wikwemikong, one of the few Unceded Territories in Canada. Never the subject of a treaty, Wikwemikong has been able to preserve some of its pre-Columbian First Nations characteristics. 
Mishibinijima means “Birchbark Silver Shield.” As a boy, Mishibinijima was given the name James Alexander Simon by missionaries who found his name difficult to pronounce. His path as an artist was set early on as he was growing up in Wikwemikong. In some ways he feels that his destiny in art found him, pulling him in an unexpected direction away from an inclination to become an RCMP officer and toward a life as a professional artist.
Among his early teachers was Francis Kagige, an artist and neighbour, and recognized as one of the important pioneers of Wikwemikong art. Kagige had one of the few painting studios in the community. Mishibinijima would frequently visit his elder there where he was given his earliest instructions in painting and some lessons about style. Kagige also shared teachings about their Ojibwe culture and told the young artist his stories. The community’s elders and Mishibinijima’s relatives also imparted oral histories and described the myths and legends that are part of his cultural heritage.
Over the course of his career, he developed two signature styles. One is known as his “mountain paintings.” A dominant characteristic of these paintings is the blending of the land and the human elements to create images of energies that the land generously provides to all who seek it as sustenance.
A second personal style adapts the style of ancient pictographic paintings. Just as the painted petroglyphs make use of mysterious visual symbolism referencing human forms and translating radiant energies in pictorial terms, so Mishibinijima found in their spare human-like symbols potent signs with which to set down his, his family’s, and his community’s stories.
The paintings comprising the current exhibition at PAMA entitled “Indian Residential School Paintings” tell – illustrate – Mishibinijima’s mother’s stories as she gave them to him and as they revealed themselves to him in dreams. Her stories are depicted as pictographs.
 They recount her experiences when, as a young Ojibwe woman, she was a student in the middle years of the twentieth century at the Spanish Indian Residential School situated on the northern banks of Georgian Bay.
Mishibinijima’s mother passed on her stories to him later in her adult life, over the course of perhaps a decade and a half. By giving her stories to her son, she exhorted him to “paint them.”i By sharing such shocking details from her life as a young adult, it was her hope that the truths of “what happened” would live on into the future, beyond her own life. 
The paintings’ deceptively simple style provides the maximum opportunities for someone experiencing his paintings, particularly children and young adults, to reflect on this tragic chapter in our nation’s history and to understand the pain and trauma that people their own age experienced. His paintings are intended to open dialogues about personal and community values, and about the need to confront the truth.

PAMA is a place to explore and learn about Peel Region’s culture and heritage, as well as use conversation, questions and stories to help make new and fascinating connections to the surrounding community. Throughout the year, PAMA offers a variety of workshops and programs for all ages, families and adults. With so many different programs to choose from, PAMA has something for everyone. Operated by the Region of Peel, PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E. in Brampton. Visit pama.peelregion.ca to learn more.

Contact: Erin Fernandes 
Marketing Co-ordinator 
Peel Art Gallery, Museum and
Tel: 905-791-4055, ext. 7596 
Cell: 416-312-3425 
Twitter: @visitpama 

Stephen Weir 
Stephen Weir and Associates 
Tel: 416-489-5868 | cell: 416-801-3101 
www.stephenweir.com twitter: