What I did on my last vacation.


When given this assignment, I was quite excited as I’ve been blessed with much travel in my life.  But, my last vacation was to a training camp for the sport that I have competed in for the past 15 years.  It’s called Lifesaving Sport, and is the only sport in the world that has a humanitarian aspect to it.  There are some pool and ocean simulated rescue events.  Above are 2 pieces of equipment we use to compete in the ocean.  The first is a paddle board which is longer than a surf board and only as wide as your knelt position.  The other is a surf ski, designed to break through surf with its duck-billed nose.  It’s about 19 feet long and you sit on it verses in it, so it is very unstable, but effective for getting through waves quickly.

I had been out of the sport for a few years, but was really excited to travel with the team to Florida for a 16 day training camp.  We normally get up, go for a 5 kilometre run, back for breakfast and then pack up for a session at the local 50 metre pool.  Back for lunch, rest and then off to the beach for surf training.  Although we are masters and all done at your own pace, I quickly remembered how exhausting this pace was.  Our first day was not long or structured, just get back into the waves and play.  It was day 2 that I ran into problems.  First is was the sighting of 3 sharks, but that’s a story all not itself.  What really set me back was that I thoroughly applied sunblock, but forgot the top of my feet.  They got so burnt that I had to have ice packs on them and take Advil for why fever.

After sitting out 2 full days of training, I got lonely.  I was talking to my daughter on the phone and Ottawa had just received one of our infamous 20 centimetre snow falls.  She has been tagging along my training camps for years and this was the first time she didn’t come.  As I felt bad that I was away and her not with her usual trek to our camps I said, “Come to Florida!”  From that statement, she was at the house in Vero Beach within 14 hours.  Coach and I had to drive to Orlando at midnight to pick her up but this made this my best vacation ever!

Below is my post on social media made at about 2am!


Have you ever had an exciting change of plans to a vacation?

The Drowning Tragedy of Refugees – The story of Tima Kurdi

This past week I was in Vancouver attending the World Conference on Drowning Prevention.  This was the largest gathering with over 850 delegates, and a waiting list to attend.  This conference is a gathering of like minded people and organizations that are tackling the leading cause of accidental death of children under the age of 5 and the third leading cause of all deaths world wide.

Each day started with a plenary session of main speakers, ranging from leaders in the World Health Organization to Doctors Without Boarders.  This one particular morning started off much differently.  The speaker was introduced only by name, without an official title.  She did not stand behind a podium as the others had with a power point presentation full of informative slides full of statistics.  She somberly walked back and forth on the stage, speaking of her own journey. Her journey of leaving Syria, a country she loved, a country that was full of beauty, a country full of her family.  This was a country she was forced to leave because of war, death, poverty and people full of desperation and survival.  She came to Canada to seek a better life.

Tima arrived in the early 2000’s,  and for many years she applied to have  her brother’s family find refuge for his family here in Canada.  After all applications were exhausted and after her brother explored many venues he deiced to make a fateful decision.  He would pay illegal smugglers, thousands of dollars to take his wife and 2 sons on a boat to Greece.

This is what he woke up to find all over the news media.

There is not a person that I know that does not recognize this photo.  Tima explained the heart wrenching pain that the family has gone through.  Her brother was devastated and grief ridden, so much so that many of us cannot imagine-and thankfully we as Canadian’s we will never have to face anything like this.  As Tima continued to speak of how the family tried to navigate this new world of trying to mourn the death of these 2 boys and their mother, and how to try and do it with one of the most iconic pictures of this decades media continually bringing it to the front pages of the media.


I have never been in a room where the pulse of the people was so visceral.  As we are all proponents of drowning prevention, her personalized story will never leave me or any one else in that room as a person.  She continued to speak about her brothers extreme grief, about the continued struggle to survive.  As I did have an opportunity to speak with her alone later that day and she was completely exhausted.  She says speaking out is both what she needs to do, but also has her reliving the death of these little souls over and over.  I told her that I commended her and admired her incredible strength.  This kind of strength  is something that all of us can only imagine as it comes form some source of power humans receive when needed, and hope we never need to call on it.

Tima had challenged us, a room full of advocates for drowning prevention, to make a change in the unaccounted thousands of people who drown every day trying to flee their countries because of war, poverty or persecution.

The next morning during plenary session, Dr. Steve Beerman took the stage,  He simply stated that Time had challenged us and we as a world group would take the challenge.  We are now in the process of tackling how we reach governments to aid in the drowning issues of refugees.

There are a documented 87 people who drown every hour in the world.  This number does not include those in low income countries where victims of floods and other natural disasters and refugees are unaccounted for.

We have received the challenge and accepted!


     We need to bring attention to the drowning victims in the Mediterania 

   Canada accepts Lima Kurdi’s challenge to help refugees

Sexuality in the work world: #boundaries

News and media were filled this week with the breaking news of the women who came forward with the allegations against Hollywoods mogul, Harvey Weinstien.  The woman who came forward is being hailed a hero, brave and quite apparently, not alone.  I have  a few questions to ask about this story, and the many women that have come before in regards to men using their power by forcing themselves on women.

I think the first question is:  “Why is the boundary line for some men so clear, and so blurry for others?  I think of one of the mind blowing media stories about Trump during his run for presidency .  It was that of the leaked recordings of Trump admitting that he groped women against their will, and I don’t think I need to repeat the word that were leaked to the public!  How did the American people overcome this and elect such a person into power?   Was it the strong media campaign against the hatred of the Democratic Party that the Americans would rather have a man like this in office?  Women around the world were outraged, yet it just seemed to get buried into the news of Hillary’s emails and Trump going to “Make America Great Again!”  Hillary recently brought this back into the forefront with her doing interviews of her new book, “What Happened”, by stating that the American people voted “someone who admitted to sexual assault” into the White House.

The second question I have is;  “Why do women continue to “let” this happen?”  I use the word “let”, as this is the word used by some when speaking about this topic.  I have had a personal experience in my work place.  I had applied for a job in an organization I have worked for, at that time over 20 years.  When I was told I didn’t get the job I was told, “Well you were certainly the best looking candidate”.  This is a much smaller scale as I dismissed it at the time as a kind of backhanded compliment coming from a senior manager.  Is this what happened to powerful women like Angelina Jole and Gwyneth Paltrow to only name a few, who never came forward until this past few weeks?  Is it just so shocking that you’re afraid to say something?  Is that you question what you are wearing, did you make inappropriate eye contact?  These were all points brought up by Meygn Kelly this week on her show.  She was relating her experience of leaving Fox News because of the attacks on her from Donald Trump through his Twitter.

What was a coincidence is that all of this came in the same time that we celebrated the movement “International Day of the Girl”.  We had leaders like Sophie Gregoire Trudeau speaking out about the power girls have in so many aspects of life.  This campaign came with many social media messaging that I think is very important today.


CTV News.ca

I think that it is great to have leaders like the women we see on the big screen and women like Sophie Gregoire Trudeau or Emma Thompson who have a platform and use it to lift girls and women to their full potential throughout the power of education, knowledge and being fearless.

So how do we teach this generation how to carefully navigate this world of SnapChat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

Here are a few media campaigns that are trending on Twitter….or not trending!

#MeToo is taking Facebook by storm where women can share their stories

#Rose McGowen has been silenced on Instagram and Twitter

The “Good and the Bad” of Trump Tweeting

The “Good and the Bad” of Twitter with Donald Trump

So my question to everyone is, can we all agree that this American President is using social media through one main medium-Twitter to the max.  There has never been an American President who has been so controversial in his opinions and his voice through his followers on Twitter.  I have been watching American news and at least one morning every week and more often more than one, where we wake up to a Tweet from the President that is challenging a person or group, a government policy, his own staff or the media themselves.


There have been many American’s who have a voice that also have our attention who have been using their power to voice out their concerns about the sometimes crazy actions of their President.  My favourite is the Nightly Update on Saturday Night Live.  My question is, how is their President become such a great source of comedy for all of us?

This seems very controversial for we Canadians as we expect so much more finesse from our Prime Minister.  Can we imagine that Prime Minister Trudeau would challenge one of our National Sports teams by saying they need to be fired because they are using their platform to voice their opinion?  I believe as Canadians we do a much better job of inclusion and listening to peoples options and repeating rights of all.




My question is, is he challenging them as disrespecting the flag or is it a racial response to why the players are kneeling during the National Anthem.  The issue is not being handled as we would expect a leader of a nation to do, but rather President Trump continues to challenge the issue by having Vice President Pence leave a sporting event after the National anthem and then have the picture Tweeted out.  To me, this is simply fuelling peoples internal fires and not leading the country to common grounds and compromise and consideration.

I believe that challenges and controversy does bring growth.  Can you imagine the difference this presidency could bring if he did put out challenges as he has in the past and then came with solutions for growth?

What is the most controversial Tweet you have heard from Trump?



COM0011- Blog 1 Target – Zero Drownings

Do you know That on average 40 people drown ever hour in the world?

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5?  On average 370,000 people drown every year, 500 in Canada alone, making it the third leading cause of unintentional death.  We, collectively need to work together to reduce or even eliminate this intolerable number of lives lost every year.

Drowning is preventable!  The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced their first report dedicated solely to drowning and has identified 6 major causes that directly relate to drownings.  These are lack of barriers, lack of adult supervision, unprotected water, lack of water safety awareness, travelling on the water and from flood disasters.  More details can be found in the WHO GLobal Report on Drowning. 

Immunization against Drowning

This is an exciting time in the world of organizations and individuals who are currently working in the drowning prevention field.  The term, “Immunization against Drowning”, was coined in this first ever report from WHO, on the importance for the developed nations to establish a plan and act on the drowning numbers around the world.  This call to action now has Canada’s first ever Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition.  We have formed a Canadian steering committee consisting of Civic, Government, NGO’s, Academics, Industry and Citizen Engagement groups to provide a multi-sectoral input and leadership to this effort.

To achieve zero drownings is a strong statement. 

The Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition has targeted 8 groups that are the leading numbers of drownings in Canada.  These groups were targeted by fact based data mining to determine where our focus will be.  These targeted groups are: New Canadians, children ages 1 to 4, unintentional water entry, young males, water transport, Indigenous people’s, Northern Canada and rural areas and drownings in supervised settings. Recruitment is underway for technical leaders for each of these areas and our progress report will be presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention this fall in Vancouver.

So what can you do to make a difference?

This is where public education comes to action.  Have you ever been at the cottage and there was not enough proper fitting life jackets?  Have you ever been at that pool party where there wasn’t a designated person watching the kids in the pool?  These are tough decisions and vocalizing your concerns at a social settings that may make a fun social time a difficult conversation, as it may call that boat operator or pool owner look like they are ill prepared or have lack of responsibility to their guests.

Have you ever been in one of these situations?  Did you speak out for someones safety?