Monday, February 21, 2011

Equity and Human Rights

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Image: World War II opened opportunities for work in defence industries for women, including Black women like these munitions workers. Once the war was over, however, jobs largely returned to white male veterans (courtesy National Film Board of Canada and Library and Archives Canada/no. e000761869).

Black immigrants from around the world have been attracted to Canada by the promise of freedom-to live, work, worship, study, maintain cultural traditions, and be involved in the daily activities of one's community. However, there were barriers to their participation that they did not create. The colour of their skin immediately indicated that they were enslaved people, or the descendants of enslaved people, and the negative attitudes of ordinary people as well as those in high office have affected how well Black people have been able to achieve the dream of equality and freedom, or equity.
While Canada did not have legal segregation, there were always "understandings" about which neighbourhoods Black people could live in, or where they could worship. Most professional organizations, sports, schools, unions, and trade associations would not admit Black people; stores would not hire them; restaurants, theatres, and skating rinks did not permit African-Canadians; and hotels would not rent rooms to African-Canadians no matter how famous they were. The 1850 law that created separate Catholic schools also facilitated the creation of separate Black schools; the last one closed in the 1960s. Are you free if your ambitions are unattainable because of restrictions placed on you by power holders (eg. landlords, teachers, employers, realtors, government officials) due only to the colour of your skin?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Image: Harriet Tubman (courtesy Library of Congress/LC-USZ62-7816)
Born an enslaved African in Maryland, Harriet Araminta "Minty" Ross spent her entire childhood working without payment for the benefit of her owners. Preferring the work in the fields, she was able to learn about following geographical directions and about helpful plants from her father and her brothers. These survival skills came in handy when Tubman later realized that the only way she could gain her freedom was to run away. She did follow someone who was making his way to freedom, only to suffer a serious head injury. Despite suffering from seizures and sleep attacks brought on by the injury, Minty later married John Tubman, a free Black man. Her enslavement did not end upon her union to Tubman, so she tried to convince her husband to run north with her, where they could both live in freedom, but he would not go.

When her owner fell ill, Harriet Tubman was in a difficult position; often, to settle debts, owners would sell their slaves and reduce their holdings. Tubman fled north, making her way to Philadelphia, where she learned about the connections of the Underground Railroad. Returning to Maryland, she sought to free her family and friends; so began her rescue missions as a "conductor." Initially, she and her charges were safe in the northern US, but with a change in the laws, she had to go to Canada. Tubman then began and ended her rescues at St. Catharines; she lived there for eight years. Later acting as a nurse and a spy for the Union forces, Tubman spent her last days in Auburn, New York.

The Underground Railroad: Harriet Tubman
Scroll down to pages 49 and 50 for descriptions of properties in the US associated with Harriet Tubman. The Underground Railroad, from Google Books.

Thanks for reading

From Your neighborhood Proffessional Cleaning Company


Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Forgotten Stories

Image: Black soldiers have had a long history of defending Canada. The Volunteer Military Company from Victoria, BC, active between 1860 and 1864, served during the American Civil War (photograph by Charles Gentile, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-022626).

What are the forgotten stories of African-Canadian history? There are several, and their absence has led to many misconceptions about the role of Black people in the development of Canada.

One fact is that the first African arrival took place over 400 years ago with interpreter Mathieu da Costa. Since that time, Black people have been constantly coming into Canada helping to build it. Another is the idea that Black people have not "paid their dues," have not served in any military defense of Canada, that Black people are not pulling their weight or taking the level of responsibility that they should as good citizens of Canada.

However, the reality is that African-Canadians have volunteered in every case for active duty, and persisted even when they were not wanted. In order to help defend Canada, separate Black units were created, the first one, on the initiative of African-Canadian Richard Pierpoint. Black people have consistently defended the interests of Canada, or the British controlled territory of Canada from the time of the American Revolutionary War through to the Mackenzie Rebellions and the present.

Whether they were born in Canada, or newcomers supporting the direction that Canada was taking, African-Canadians have been ongoing defenders of this nation, allowing us all to experience the freedoms that we have today.

Thanks for reading

From Your neighborhood Proffessional Cleaning Company


Monday, February 14, 2011

February is Black History Month

MULTI SERVICES is presenting some of the introductions to Black History Month

The First is Enslavement


Image: A typical slave auction in the New World. Although these slaves appear to be sold together as a family, this typically was not the case. In fact, many families were broken up and never reunited (watercolour by Henry Byam Martin, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-115001).

Enslavement was forced on Africans in many places, including the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, South America, and Canada. From the 1400s to the 1800s, slavery primarily relied on the capture and free labour of Black or African peoples. They were forced to be slaves, could expect to remain slaves for life, and any children they had could expect to be slaves for life.

The African continent is home to many ethnic groups who built civilizations and competed with each other for trade. When Europeans looked for ways to open the New World in the west, the demand for captured Africans workers increased dramatically. Kidnapping trips to the interior removed many Africans from their homes. The demand was high for labourers in places like the islands off Africa's west coast, South American mines, and plantations of the Caribbean and North America. Owning slaves was also a sign of wealth in Europe and the various colonies, even the Middle East and China.

Slave "castles" housed the captured Africans until slave ships arrived to collect them. Africans from diverse societies, with different languages and religions, were shackled together. Purchasers from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Britain, and France selected the healthiest and strongest men, women, and children who could survive the crossing to the New World. The death rate en route typically was 40%. As many as 20 million Black people were taken from Africa during this time. This African Holocaust devastated societies within Africa and crippled African identity elsewhere.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Washing Machine Cleaning Tips

Do you have a front load washer and its starting to get a little smelly. Well we found some cleaning tips that will help you fix that problem.

Front Loading Washing Machine
In Europe, almost all home washing machines are front loading, and this type of machine is becoming more and more popular in other places. Because they use a tumbling action, they can get clothes cleaner with less water, a double whammy any household could benefit from.

I have noticed though that a front loader gets dirty over time and can even start to stink rather badly if action is not taken. The top drawers where you place detergent and other additives can accumulate scum and a layer of hardened lint may cloud the transaparent door. Humidity can develop into black mold inside the rubber door seal and create a possible source of bad odors.

All of these problems are easily taken care of, even if you have been putting off cleaning your machine for a while.

Cleaning Washing Machine Front Loader
Step 1. Begin by removing the detergent and additive drawer. You may need to consult the owner's manual to see how to do this correctly - don't force it. This can either be washed in hot water in the sink or placed in the top rack of the dishwasher and washed there. You may need to use a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies.
Step 2. Using a warm, damp cleaning cloth, and possibly a little all purpose spray on cleaner, wipe out the cavity into which the drawer fits. You may need to use a toothbrush and warm water to get down into the crevices here.
Step 3. Once again, using a warm damp cloth, thoroughly wipe out the inside of the rubber door seal. I advise against using any harsh cleaning products in this area, as the rubber could be damaged. Wipe all around the door itself as well, both inside and out.
Step 4. Return the drawer to its place and fill the appropriate partition with a cup of bleach. Run the empty washing machine on the hottest cycle. The bleach will flush through the system and eliminate all bad odors. I usually run a load of white towels after doing this, just to be sure that all traces of bleach have been eliminated from the system. However, this is probably not necessary. Learn more about cleaning with bleach.
Step 5. Wipe the top and sides of your washing machine occasionally with a soft, damp cloth. Keeping it dust and debris free, as well as dry, will prolong the finish on these parts.

Or just watch this video

Thanks for reading

From Your neighborhood Proffessional Cleaning Company


Saturday, February 5, 2011

The History of Valentines day

The History of Valentines day

Every year, the fourteenth day of the month of February has millions across the world presenting their loved ones with candy, flowers, chocolates and other lovely gifts. In many countries, restaurants and eateries are seen to be filled with couples who are eager to celebrate their relationship and the joy of their togetherness through delicious cuisines. There hardly seems to be a young man or woman who is not keen to make the most of the day.

The reason behind all of this is a kindly cleric named Valentine who died more than a thousand years ago.

It is not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentine's Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day. The history of Valentine's Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace. It is only some legends that are our source for the history of Valentine's Day.

The modern St. Valentine's Day celebrations are said to have been derived from both ancient Christian and Roman tradition. As per one legend, the holiday has originated from the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia, a fertility celebration that used to observed annually on February 15. But the rise of Christianity in Europe saw many pagan holidays being renamed for and dedicated to the early Christian martyrs. Lupercalia was no exception. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set its observance a day earlier, on February 14. He proclaimed February 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rd century. It is this St. Valentine whom the modern Valentine's Day honors.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by the name of Valentine. While one was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni. Nothing is known about the third St. Valentine except that he met his end in Africa. Surprisingly, all three of them were said to have been martyred on 14th February.

It is clear that Pope Gelasius intended to honor the first of these three aforementioned men. Most scholars believe that this St. Valentine was a priest who lived around 270 AD in Rome and attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II who ruled during this time.

The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers.

The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch's orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested.

While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius' blind daughter.

When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.

Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius' daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend's imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after. As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD.

Thus 14th February became a day for all lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. It began to be annually observed by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, on this day to the women they admired. With the coming of Christianity, the day came to be known as St. Valentine's Day.

But it was only during the 14th century that St. Valentine's Day became definitively associated with love. UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of "Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine", credits Chaucer as the one who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance. In medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14. Hence, Chaucer used the image of birds as the symbol of lovers in poems dedicated to the day. In Chaucer's "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine's Day are related:

"For this was on St. Valentine's Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate."

By the Middle Ages, Valentine became as popular as to become one of the most popular saints in England and France. Despite attempts by the Christian church to sanctify the holiday, the association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship continued through the Middle Ages. The holiday evolved over the centuries. By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began to be created on this day and handed over to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies. It was not until the 1840s that Valentine's Day greeting cards began to be commercially produced in the U.S. The first American Valentine's Day greeting cards were created by Esther A. Howlanda Mount Holyoke, a graduate and native of Worcester. Mass. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap". It was when Howland began Valentine's cards in a large scale that the tradition really caught on in the United States.

Today, Valentine's Day is one of the major holidays in the U.S. and has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are "valentine"s. The "valentines", as Valentine's Day cards are better known as, are often designed with hearts to symbolize love. The Valentine's Day card spread with Christianity, and is now celebrated all over the world. One of the earliest valentines was sent in 1415 AD by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. The card is now preserved in the British Museum.

There may be doubts regarding the actual identity of Valentine, but we know that he really existed because archaeologists have recently unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to a Saint Valentine.