winter sickness
07 Feb

The best advice for staying healthy this winter

The winter season can be brutal on ones physical health. All the cold and darkness can also be tough psychologically. There’s a lot that can bring down your health and wellness this time of year. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risks and maximize you overall health.

Here are just a few tips for staying healthy this winter.

Eat well. It is so important to maintain a healthy diet during the winter months. The more fresh produce and lean protein you take in, the better your body will be equipped to fight off possible sickness strains like the flu and cold. The worst thing you can do during the winter is sit around and eat junk food. Do that, and you are just asking for trouble.

Drink lots of fluids. It’s something we don’t think about, but when the weather is bleak and the temperatures are cold, staying hydrated often gets overlooked. It’s easy to work up a sweat and realize we need to quench our thirst in the hot summer sun. This winter, carry a water bottle around with you and drink from it regularly. Lots of fluids help keep every system in our body well-regulated and running at maximum efficiency.

Supplement. We got a lot of health benefits from the sun, including the awesome power of nature to produce vitamin D from cholesterol. However, when it’s dark and we stay huddle indoors, we lose out on that benefit. It’s important to find a good multivitamin and mineral pack that can provide us the nutrients we may be lacking. If you want to learn more about a clinically proven supplement pack, visit

Exercise. This one can be hard for those of us who love a morning jog or bike ride. Winter often brings temperatures and icy conditions that make outdoor exercise unsafe. But you can still work out at home. Instead of watching another 20-minute episode of your favorite series on Netflix, use that time to exercise instead.



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08 Jan

The changing face of Canadian diplomats, policymakers

From what you’ve seen, how is Canada’s multiculturalism received abroad?

This is one of those funny anecdotes. I was at an event hosted by the Pakistan High Commission here in Ottawa. I met someone new, who shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you for organizing this event.’ I was born and raised in Canada, but someone there shook my hand and thought I was a part of the organizing community, rather than the government of Canada. I don’t think you can take offence to that because it’s an honest mistake — the world is different now, Canada is a different country from what it was 50 years ago. I think that’s something to be celebrated. Occasionally, yeah, it leads to confusion or interesting encounters, but I think that’s actually really rich and a neat thing.

Being born in Singapore and ethnically Malay, people often think I’m Malaysian. [But] we’re moving along as a society, as an international community, to look at things differently and start recognizing that, hey, beyond nationalities and statehood etc., we’re individuals, and we’re persons, in spite of where we’re from.

Whenever you go to any multilateral forum, I know a lot of Canadians will do this, they’ll just put on the Canadian pin, because it helps and creates less confusion. People are genuinely curious anyway, about, well, ‘you’re Canadian, you’re not what I would think of as Canadian normally.’ You can take it one way, and can think ‘wow, these people don’t get what Canada is,’ or you can take it as they’re really interested in figuring out how Canada works, as a multicultural society.

Is there anything you’d like to see the department do to be even more representative?

I know Mahmud mentioned geographical representation, that’s a big thing, in terms of making sure that we truly represent Canada from coast to coast, from north to south, and on top of that, that we’re also representing different values and different experiences and linguistic abilities, to understand more in the diplomatic relations that we do.

We could probably do a little bit better in terms of raising awareness amongst Canadians about how much we would like them to be part of the public service. It’s tough, because there’s a tendency to recruit among the Ontario-Québec region. So maybe we could do a bit more of awareness raising, reaching out to those provinces that are a bit further away, but also looking at our internal policies and looking at how the system in place may not make it easy for those who aren’t well off economically to find their way here.

Even taking a step back from the department — something like Aboriginal representation is something that I think there has been a lot of effort on over the years through employment equity, and through recruitment and encouragement and various different programs.


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USA and Canada. USA flag and Canada flag
15 Oct

Why Canadian-American Studies

Canada and the United States share a continent and are linked by deep economic ties, several common historical experiences, and many cultural similarities; they are also marked by real and important differences.

The Canadian-American Studies major helps students to understand and navigate these similarities and differences, preparing them to engage key cultural, environmental, and economic issues in North America today and in the future through three specializations:

  • Canadian-American Relations
  • Canadian Histories/Cultures/Identities
  • Francophone Canada

Additionally, students may design their own specialization in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Why Consider a Canadian-American Studies Major?

On its own, the major provides an excellent international and interdisciplinary course of study for students looking for a broad-based, liberal arts education. By drawing upon courses from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, the major explores key concepts and methods across multiple disciplines and applies them to complex problems in our shared regional and continental contexts.

Through identified specializations, the major is also designed to combine with other majors to add depth and international expertise. Examples include combining Canadian-American Studies’ specializations with: anthropology, economics, environmental policy and science, geography, history, international business, languages, or political science.

In addition, students can learn about the business and trade relationship between Canada and the U.S. Knowing the ins and outs of how maple products are exported to the U.S. and Nike or Melaleuca products are imported to Canada, for example, can give hopeful professionals a leg up on the competition.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom, the Center and Club Canada offer opportunities for students to immerse themselves in Canadian culture by holding events such as hockey and broom ball games, regional food celebrations, film screenings, guest speakers and faculty talks, and field excursions to Vancouver, Whistler, and more.

The Center provides support and resources to students interested in participating in relevant internships, including opportunities with the Canadian Consulate in Seattle.

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Canadian-American Studies curriculum prepares students for careers related to art and literature, education and research, environmental policy, diplomacy, international business, international law, and politics.

Recent Western graduates have found fulfilling careers working for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, directing internet marketing for a Canada-US import/export firm, serving as a US federal government liaison to a municipality for emergency preparedness, working for Google in their map division, and coordinating border and emergency management programs for the cross-border Pacific Northwest Economic Region.

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15 Sep

Getting to know Canada’s nonprofit sector: why we need better data

Did you know that we can tell how many eggs are produced and how many asphalt roofing tiles are manufactured each month in Canada, but we don’t know how many charities and nonprofits there are?  Unfortunately, knowledge about the composition and impact of the Canada’s ‘third sector’ has declined for more than a decade.

There is growing recognition of the impact of the sector, in terms of employment, volunteerism, service provision, community building, and contribution to Canada’s GDP.  In a recent paper, for example, Brian Emmett, Imagine Canada’s Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable Nonprofit Sector, projects that the sector will “account for more than $200 billion in revenue and roughly 700,000 jobs in 2026”.  Indeed, the sector is growing.  In addition to having a major economic impact and providing employment for many Canadians, the sector’s impact is also felt in terms of quality of life in Canada.  From arts and culture to sports and recreation, from education and research to health, from social services to religion, and beyond, the charitable and nonprofit sector plays an active part in making communities vibrant.

To speak precisely and meaningfully about the composition and impact of the sector, current and more frequently available data is sorely needed.  How does the sector differ from Halifax to Vancouver?  Are specific subsectors differentially impacted during tougher economic times?  How is charitable giving changing over time?  How is employment in the sector changing over time?  What is the sector’s contribution to Canada’s GDP?  To best answer these and other important questions, the collection and publication of corresponding data is key.

Of still greater concern, without current data, policy decisions are being made with a weaker, and less evidence-based, understanding of their impacts on the sector.  Indeed, given that key information about the sector is a decade or more old, policy makers have to rely on data from before two economic recessions!  Economically and socially, Canada has changed significantly since the last time the above-mentioned data initiatives were conducted.  The sector itself has also changed.  But, how has the sector changed?  What does it look like now?  What is its current impact for Canada and the communities it serves across our country?

Working group on Sector-Wide Data

Major stakeholders have come together in a sector-wide data working group to improve the availability and accessibility of data about the charitable and nonprofit sector (meet the working group).

The working group’s mandate is to:

  1. Map out currently available federal data resources for the charitable and nonprofit sector and identify data gaps
  2. Develop policy recommendations on what the federal government can do to address the gaps in data

Our goal is to advocate for renewed and improved information about the sector, which contributed over $160 billion to the Canadian economy in 2007 (Satellite Account) and featured $112 billion in revenues in 2003 (NSNVO).  The group aims to advance the collection and publication of data pertaining to the wellbeing and nature of the sector.  This includes data about the size (e.g., by annual revenue and economic impact), subsector breakdown (e.g., arts and culture, social services, etc.), staff and volunteer resources, and financing of the sector.

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15 Sep

Best food tours in Canada

There are many ways to seek insights into a country’s identity. It could be through art, music or even fashion, but the tastiest way to understand a culture is through their food. As a nation of diversity, Canada’s flavours are often as much about fusion as they are locally sourced or lovingly made.

If you are short on time, it can often be daunting to do more than drop into Tim Hortons or order a portion of poutine at the airport. If you are looking for true culinary insight into Canada, the best way is often through a food tour which is easily booked through Canadian Affair and can be added on to any holiday. Food tours happen across the country and are a brilliant introduction to the methods and flavours central to Canada’s foodie scene.

Granville Island Market tour – Vancouver

If you have a flight to Vancouver or a stopover, this is a market not to miss. Though Granville Island is no longer the industrial hub it once was, this historic area of Vancouver is a great place for curious foodies or anyone looking for a wander. The large covered food market is accompanied by outdoor stalls and the presence of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design along with the Arts Club Theatre Company lends a creative feel to the area. Granville Island is ranked fifth on Trip Advisor as one of the best things to see in the city, and if you’re a food lover this can easily become the number one destination.

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01 Aug


Carbon pricing is an effort by government to raise the cost – by taxes or by regulation – of carbon-based fossil fuels, in the hope of reducing their use, thereby limiting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a national climate-change policy that included a system of carbon pricing across Canada. Under the plan, each province must adopt carbon pricing by January 2018, or Ottawa will impose its own carbon levy in that jurisdiction.

The federal government tabled a discussion paper on the so-called federal “backstop”—the default carbon pricing rules that will apply in those provinces that choose not to put in place their own system.

Under the federal plan, any province or territory that brings in its own carbon price—whether it’s a carbon tax like British Columbia and Alberta, or cap and trade like Quebec and Ontario—will be exempted from the federal backstop if it meets certain conditions. Provincial systems must cover most fossil-fuel emissions and have a price level equal to the backstop price or, under cap and trade, must result in equivalent emissions reductions as a price would have achieved. Provinces that do not bring in their own system will fall under the federal backstop rules. Under the backstop, a direct tax or levy will be applied to all fossil fuel emissions, starting at $10 in 2018 and rising to $50 by 2022. These measures assure that all provinces will have systems with a roughly similar price, emissions coverage, and roughly equivalent effort at reducing emissions.

While these parts of the federal plan have been clear since last fall, today’s discussion paper adds two more important details. Two of the biggest criticisms of carbon pricing in Canada have been that it could hurt the competitiveness of Canadian industries, and that it could impose unaffordable costs on Canadian households. The federal plan will go a long way to resolving the first problem: to deal with competitiveness, the federal plan, like Alberta’s system, will include output based allocations to ease the impact on large industrial emitters. Plants producing more than 50,000 tones of carbon dioxide will only be charged the carbon price to the extent to which their emissions are higher than the emissions of best in class facilities in their sector. This will prevent companies in internationally competitive fields like oil and gas, cement, steel, and fertilizer from being fully impacted by the carbon price, and give them a strong incentive to improve their performance to meet or beat best-in-class standards.

But the plan also opens the door to solving the second. The federal government had already said that it would not keep carbon revenues from the federal backstop, but would return all revenues to their province or territory of origin. However, this still left open the possibility that provinces could simply spend the money on whatever they wanted—which could make the federal carbon price a form of tax increase. In recent days, however, federal sources have hinted that rather than send the money to provinces, it could send revenues raised directly to citizens within those provinces. The discussion paper is silent on this point, merely saying that the government is “open to feedback,” although the accompanying press release suggests that they are “evaluating how best to return the revenues, for example, by giving it back to individuals and businesses in the province.”

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01 Aug


The Canadian federation has evolved, and it continues to change in a number of important ways. This needs to be better understood and appreciated. By almost every meaningful measure, we are not the same country we were a few decades ago. Our economy is more open to the world and draws its strengths from different regions and sectors. Our people are older, more diverse and more urban. Our provinces have different relationships with Ottawa and with each other.

Yet many of our fundamental challenges remain the same. We continue to struggle to balance the differing aspirations of our regions; fundamental issues concerning our Indigenous peoples remain unresolved; and one of the founding partners of Confederation, Quebec, has yet to sign on to important parts of our basic law. The 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 provides an opportunity to re-imagine our approach to addressing pan-Canadian issues such as these.

In addition to encouraging research and public discussion on key elements of Canadian federalism — institutions, intergovernmental relations and fiscal arrangements — this research program will devote particular attention to Indigenous issues and perspectives. It will also examine how key elements of community – living together with others from different backgrounds, sharing, and adaptation – have been and will remain central to the country’s development. The following parameters guide the program:

The federalism-public policy nexus: Research will explore the impact of federal and intergovernmental institutions, processes and dynamics on public policy decisions and Canadians’ quality of life. Taking stock and looking forward: While there is value in reviewing the developments of the past decade, there will also be a strong focus on the future. Multidisciplinary approach: The program will include academics and researchers from a range of disciplines and from different approaches within disciplines. Inclusiveness: The inclusion of younger researchers and Indigenous researchers, in particular, will be important.

Canada’s Changing Federal Community is engaging Canadians from multiple regions and backgrounds in conversations about the achievements of the Canadian federal system and the challenges that lie ahead.

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30 Jun

The Culture Of Canada

The culture of Canada is a term that embodies the artistic, culinary, literary, humour, musical, political and social elements that are representative of Canada and Canadians. Throughout Canada’s history, its culture has been influenced by European culture and traditions, especially British and French, and by its own indigenous cultures.

Over time, elements of the cultures of Canada’s immigrant populations have become incorporated into mainstream Canadian culture.The population has also been influenced by American culture because of a shared language, proximity and migration between the two countries. It has also been influenced by American business, as Nike, Melaleuca, Microsoft, and more all sell their products in Canada.

Canada is often characterized as being “very progressive, diverse, and multicultural.” Canada’s federal government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration. Canada’s culture draws from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a just society are constitutionally protected.

Canadian Government policies—such as publicly funded health care; higher and more progressive taxation; outlawing capital punishment; strong efforts to eliminate poverty; an emphasis on cultural diversity; strict gun control; and most recently, legalizing same-sex marriage—are social indicators of Canada’s political and cultural values.[8] Canadians identify with the country’s institutions of health care, military peacekeeping, the National park system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian government has influenced culture with programs, laws and institutions. It has created crown corporations to promote Canadian culture through media, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and promotes many events which it considers to promote Canadian traditions. It has also tried to protect Canadian culture by setting legal minimums on Canadian content in many media using bodies like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

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30 Jun

Canadian Clothing


The colonization of eastern Canada began with the French in the 17th century. For some years, these settlers depended for clothing on what they brought with them. New garb was expensive and the only clothing available was ready-made garments made locally from imported cloth or, sometimes, from dressed skins. Weaving did not become widespread in the new settlement until early in the 18th century; some local manufacture of fashionable shoes and hats had begun by the late 17th century.

Fashionable Dress

With the appearance of towns, affluent male and female inhabitants dressed in elegant clothing similar to that worn in France. However, there was a time lag of at least a year between the initiation of a style in Europe and its appearance in Canada, since ships from the continent came only annually.

In 17th-century Canada a fashionable male wore a wig, rich fabrics and elegant lace. Portraits of Jea Talon, the first intendant of New France, show him stylishly attired in a wig, brocade dressing gown, shirt lavishly trimmed with lace at the wrists, and lace cravat.

In 1703 Madame Riverin, wife of a member of Quebec City’s Conseil Souverain, was painted in a stylish dress called a mantua and an elegant head-dress known as a fontange. Her daughters were dressed similarly and her son was garbed in a miniature version of fashionable male clothing. Such imitation of adult clothing was customary in children’s attire.

When the province of Upper Canada was created in 1791, the newly formed governing class, as well as the other members of the elite, also attempted to maintain fashionable standards of dress. These standards, like those of English dress, were generally more conservative than the modish styles of 18th-century Paris.

The first Canadian fashion plate, a magazine illustration displaying the most recent fashions, which appeared in March 1831 in the Montreal Monthly Magazine, probably was inspired by one in an English or French publication. With the improvement in overseas communication that occurred in the mid-19th century, the time lag between new European fashions and their appearance in Canada was substantially reduced, becoming as short as two months.

Everyday Dress

All but the wealthiest settlers wore clothing made in the home, often of cloth spun in the home and woven domestically or by professional local weavers. Styles tended to be conservative and to reflect rural French or, later, English styles.

In the mid-19th century, as more ready-made clothing became available, fashion slowly became more accessible to the masses; however, most working-class attire continued to be made at home.

Relatively small quantities of this clothing have survived because, as it wore out, it was recycled into quilts and rugs. In 1884 the first mail-order catalogue, the T. Eaton Company pamphlet, appeared, making recent styles more accessible to everyone, even in remote rural areas. This important development decreased the difference between conservative rural and up-to-date fashionable dress.

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28 Jun

Canadian Industry

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a selection of my favourite stats and feats from my new book Canadian Geographic Biggest and Best of Canada: 1000 Facts & Figures (in stores now!). If you enjoy trivia, particularly Canadian trivia, or have a particular fascination with Canadian facts and accomplishments, you’ll surely enjoy my book. In the hopes of further capturing your interest, I’ve been sharing a top-10 selection of items from each category that particularly stood out for me. This week: business/industry.

  • The Hudson’s Bay Company, founded in 1670, is North America’s oldest continuously operating company. In its earliest days, the business was instrumental in European development in the country, particularly its eastern half, where numerous outposts were set up to trade goods. Today, HBC runs the country’s largest department store, with 90 locations across the nation.
  • The world’s richest vein of silver was found in Cobalt, Ontario in 1903. In the following 60 years, silver mines in the area produced a total of almost 1.2 million tonnes of silver ore and concentrates, and the total production over that time was more than 11,921 million g of silver. The silver rush ended somewhat abruptly in the mid-20th century, and the town turned its mining attention to the mineral it was named after. Thanks to improved technology, cobalt had become more useful.
  • Oil! The first oil company in North America was founded in the aptly named community of Oil Springs, Ontario, southeast of Sarnia. On December 18, 1854, Charles Tripp received approval for his commercial oil company.
  • The Hibernia oil platform, located in the waters of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, is believed to be the largest object ever towed. It took 13 days — from May 23 to June 5, 1997 — to tow the 1.08 million tonne structure from Bull Arm, Newfoundland, to the Grand Banks.
  • Need salt for that? Then head to Goderich, Ontario, home of the world’s largest salt mine. Owned by Sifto Canada, 6,577,089 tonnes of salt are mined from the site every year.
  • If you like your mustard, thank Saskatchewan. The prairie province is the world’s largest mustard exporter. In 2013, the province produced 117,000 tonnes of mustard in three different types — yellow, brown and oriental.
  • Get out the ketchup. And lots of it. McCain Foods, whose global headquarters is located in Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, is the world’s largest manufacturer of French fries. Indeed, one of every three French fries eaten on Earth is a McCain fry.
  • Canada is home to the oldest brewery in North America. Molson was established in Montreal in 1786 by John Molson.
  • The first tidal power plant in the Americas, and the only one in North America, was built near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, in 1984. The Annapolis Tidal Station has a capacity of 20 megawatts, and depending on the tides, a daily output of roughly 80 to 100 megawatt hours. It boasts the world’s largest straight-flow turbine generator, capable of producing more than 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power some 4,500 homes.
  • Toronto’s Eaton Chelsea is the country’s largest hotel. It boasts 1,590 guestrooms and more than 2,200 square m of meeting and event space, including two ballrooms. The hotel also has four dining options.
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