Coldest Night of the Year – Burlington – Fundraiser Walk for Homeless and Hungry

Many of you will remember walking with me to deliver meals to the homeless. Well here’s a chance to do more to combat homelessness and help those living in poverty right in Burlington. The Coldest Night of the Year is a fantastically fun, family-friendly walking fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in 80+ communities across Canada on Saturday, February 21st, 2015.Coldest Night Logo (Date 2015) Bitmap - PNG

In Burlington the host organization is Burlington Open Doors located at St. Christopher’s on Guelph Line. All proceeds from the Burlington Coldest Night of the Year walk will go to support Open Doors programs.

About Burlington Open Doors:
Open Doors serves people living with poverty in Burlington. Your involvement in this walk impacts hundreds of lives in a positive way, helping build a bright future that once seemed out of reach.

By supporting Open Doors you will:

• Help provide over 34,000 nutritious meals a year to families in a social environment.
• Help clothe over 2000 people a year in our Free Clothing Store
• Support 2 after school programs that provide care for children ages 4 and up.
• Support 10 programs and one Network that help people connect with one another, building a stronger social network while providing needed goods and services.
• Provide opportunities and support for over 200 volunteer jobs.
• Support an organization that values and respects diversity.
• Help provide community based programming that targets social inclusion.

Mission Statement:
To provide a welcoming and accessible place for
the gathering together of individuals of diverse
income, education, age, ability and health that
adds an inclusive feeling of community to their

Participants in our programs over the last 10 years
have described Open Doors as a community hub.
Through programs and partnerships we provide a
meeting place that offers food, family support and
socialization for all members of the community
that choose to participate.


Here are just some of the Open Doors programs in Burlington:

1 Partnership Food Bank West @ Open Doors
2 Weekly Community Dinner
3 Seniors’ Lunch
4 Halton Fresh Food Box Distribution
5 Community Kitchen
6 Halton Meal Network


So click here to go to the Coldest Night of the Year website to sign up, volunteer or donate.



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Street Artist depicts Toronto homeless

I was contacted by a family friend last week,  Dan Bergeron. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM – the ROM is holding an exhibition over the next few months to showcase street art that depicts the lives of the street homeless, the struggle for affordable housing and to commemorate Toronto’s Tent City. The project, called Housepaint2, first grew out of a Luminato installation on the site of the former Tent City on Toronto’s port lands down by the harbour. In the summer of 2008, Luminato sponsored the Housepaint installation which consisted of canvas houses on which street artists were invited to portray the homeless and issues connected to the lack of housing.

Tent city was a squat on abandoned property just south of the Gardiner overpass, east of Jarvis, which grew slowly in the 90s until it housed over a hundred homeless people in tents, shacks constructed of scrap and the inevitable cardboard shelters. I first visited Tent City in 1999 during a week of homeless outreach and delivered bottled water to the residents there. In 2002, Home Depot, which owned the vacant land, hired private security guards, evicted almost one hundred homeless squatters and bulldozed the tents and shacks. Many of the former residents ended up back out on the streets of Toronto where project417 staff and volunteers still see them today.

Dan Bergeron is a rising young Toronto photographer and street artist who runs Fauxreel Studios. He’s perhaps best known for guerilla style billboard “interventions” – [another billboard here of Donald Trump] and poster art mounted throughout Toronto. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM as one of the new artists to contribute to the evolving Housepaint exhibition. As the display was moved indoors in the ROM there was a disconnect with the homeless it is to portray, and Dan hopes to bridge that gap through art that focuses on our homeless friends and raises awareness about their place in our community.

Inez - by Dan Bergeron / fauxreel

This might be through similar methods to two of his recent projects – the first was also for Luminato and was based in Regent Park last summer – where large portraits of people living in Regent Park were applied to the sides of buildings slated for demolition. Regent Park is Canada’s largest social housing project – most of it is being torn down and re-developed by the city into mixed use dwellings including market value homes and condos, not just social housing – resulting in a massive relocation of hundreds of low income families. According to Dan, in that way the community has a face. The second recent installations last summer and fall were for the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario’s youth council  titled Shiftchange – it similarly was lifesized posters throughout Toronto, and then the hoarding walls around the AGO renovations itself.

Shiftchange poster -

Shiftchange poster -

Over the next months,  I’ll be working with Dan through our Project417 outreach programs, like the sandwich runs and community dinners, to connect him to our homeless and under-housed, street involved friends. Hopefully the result will be a series of portraits with the active involvement of the subjects to depict their real-life struggles with homelessness and inadequate housing solutions and a connection to their hopes and future aspirations of careers and life. Dan’s hope and mine is that there is ongoing follow-up with these homeless friends  to contribute to them in a real way. We look forward to the installation at the ROM when it is ready – based on Dan’s past works it is bound to raise community awareness about the homeless and make a real difference.

You can see more about Dan Bergeron’s work and the ROM Housepaint exhibition at  Find out how to volunteer for Project417 or contribute to our homeless outreach programs at

Thunder Bay Trillium Emergency Response Exercise

100_0372 by you.

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada – Nov.15th to 22nd, 2008. Trillium Emergency Response Exercise. The largest ever emergency and disaster response exercise held in Ontario by Ministry of Community Safety & Corrections. More than 1500 volunteers took part. The exercise scenario, which escalated throughout the week was an extreme ice storm striking Thunder Bay, plunging the city of over 100,000 at the northwestern tip of Lake Superior into chaos with hydro and communications blackouts and limited travel in the storm conditions. More than 20,000 residents were to have been in need of immediate emergency shelter, food, water and medical services.

Participants – Ministry of Health; EMO Emergency Management Office; O.P.P.; EMAT Emergency Medical Assistance Team; Salvation Army; Project417; Red Cross, St. Johns Ambulance, Thunder Bay Fire Dept and Police; HUSAR -Heavy Urban Search and Rescue; local and regional Fire and Rescue; Canadian Armed Forces and Reserve. Project417’s Andy Coats was invited as a volunteer with the Salvation Army’s Emergency & Disaster Services team providing mobile emergency meals and food services in their 30 foot emergency response vehicle and mobile canteen – CRV4, which we drove the 1,500 km to the city over a day and a half travel in bad winter weather and road conditions. (two Army Reserve trucks went off the icy road on the mountainous Lake Superior Hwy 17 route – the drivers and passengers had to be rescued and suffered non life threatening injuries). Myself and three other Salvation Army team members, lead by Incident Commander Jeff Noel, had just returned from Hurricane Ike disaster relief in Galveston County, Texas.  Our team in Thunder Bay served over a thousand meals in five days to exercise staff and volunteers from two mobile canteens along with local Salvation Army staff, who prepared all the meals in their Booth Centre Homeless Men’s shelter.

The province of Ontario’s Ministry of Health EMAT unit, Emergency Medical Assistance Team, is a 56 bed fully equipped and volunteer staffed mobile hospital. It was flown in on the Canadian Force’s C-17 heavy transport. Also taking part was the EMO command and communication vehicle: Mobile One.

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Ontario Stages Largest Ever Emergency Exercise

Andy Heads to Thunder Bay with Emergency Disaster Services Team

Before heading back to Texas with a small Project417 team to help with the Hurricane Ike recovery in San Leon, Galveston County, I have one stop to make – Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. It’s almost as far north from Toronto as Texas is south. I’ll be driving one of the vans for the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services response team, including several members who also were in Texas last month. It should prove to be a challenging test of our disaster preparedness. Disaster teams helping with the exercise will include the Canadian Armed Forces, O.P.P., local police and fire-fighters, Red Cross, St. Johns Ambulance, Salvation Army, etc. We’ll be staying at the local armoury and primarily involved in food preparation and distribution to both emergency responders and the mock disaster victims. We leave Monday early for a 15 hour drive and return the next Monday, Nov. 24th.  See you then…with more photos. Here’s the news release.

Ontario will test its ability to respond to a disaster by participating in the largest emergency response exercise held in recent history. Exercise Trillium Response will involve all levels of government and will
simulate a massive ice storm in the northwestern area of the province, similar in scope to the one that devastated eastern Ontario and Québec in 1998. The exercise will take place in Thunder Bay and area between November 17 and 23. More than 1,500 participants from the Ontario and Canadian government,
25 municipalities and three First Nations communities, the province of Manitoba and non-government organizations, will participate. A fleet of specialized equipment and tactical teams will be deployed…


Help Find Missing Youth – Brandon Crisp

From – It’s been two weeks since Brandon left home after an argument over an online video game. His bike was found about 6 miles from home a few days later along the Rail Trail, an abandoned railway line through Oro-Medonte near Lake Simcoe, ON. Sgt.  Dave Goodbrand said Microsoft has agreed to help police track Brandon’s online gaming partners. [end of excerpt] Can you help? Are you an online gamer or internet friend that had any contact with Brandon preceding his disappearance? Perhaps you can help. Call Barrie Police (705)725-7025. Read more for the Star articles, or visit the site set-up for Brandon Crisp.

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Share the poster with your friends!

Share the poster with your friends!

Text Message Cash Grab Hurts Ordinary Folk

First they charge us for non-existent “system access fees”, now they want to up the ante and charge for incoming text messages…

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