The Week — Oct. 18: Bullying forces community

News of cyber-bullying forces community, occupation is back, Victoria mixologist passes the bar and Great Canadian Food Fight scores

Josh Boudreau gloats his champion bar trophy beside host Missie Peters and runner-up Ryan Malcolm.

Bullying forces community

With news of Coquitlam teen, Amanda Todd, committing suicide last week due to bullying, the YMCA-YWCA’s Week Without Violence and The Power of Being a Girl conference couldn’t come soon enough.

The international campaign is recognized in over 90 countries. This year, the YMCA-YWCA of Greater Victoria is hosting The Power of Being a Girl conference for the third time on the West Shore on Wed., Oct. 17, and for the first time in Victoria on Thurs., Oct. 18.

“It’s a pretty challenging time for kids, and there is so much around now that wasn’t there when I was a girl,” says Janet Champion, Y manager of Community Health. “We believe the key to empowering girls is to get them moving, teach them how fitness and proper nutrition is such an important part of supporting this time in a young woman’s life.”

The free conference will take girls in Grades 7 to 9 through workshops on everything from hip hop, yoga and Zumba dance to stress busters, self-esteem, healthy relationships, discrimination, sexual health, bullying, cyber-bullying, nutrition, hormones, happiness and what it means to be a girl.

For those who can’t make the conference or don’t fit the age range, Champion emphasizes that the Y is always open — and from fitness and life coaching to peer support, there is a program for everyone.

“An important part of combatting any bullying is building a supportive community around yourself,” she says. “Being active puts you in touch with your body and lets you really think about what’s important to you. It’s a much different experience than sitting in front of a computer screen.”

For more info, visit VictoriaY.com.

On the mainland, Vancouver-based band Childsplay are already leading the charge for February’s upcoming Pink Shirt Day – also known as “Anti-Bullying Day”. http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/174683121.html

Remember Occupy Victoria?

The occupation is back. On Sat., Oct. 20, assertive citizens will occupy the front steps of the legislature from noon to 3pm to gather for the second-annual Freedom and Solutions Rally. Liberty-minded speakers from across the country are rumoured to share viable solutions for Canadians  “to tackle government abuse and our predatory financial system.”

“We are all in this together,” says occupier Josh Steffler. “This is a chance to celebrate the similarities we share rather than the differences that divide us.”

For the rally minded, check out Occupy Victoria’s website WeAreChangeVictoria.org. Then, keep up the spirit by joining the mass sit-in against the Enbridge pipeline at the legislature Mon., Oct. 22, 11am.

Passing the bar

Thrilling news for the bar crowd this week, that the Best Bartender of the Pacific Northwest will remain Veneto’s Josh Boudreau.

Boudreau successfully cinched the Art of the Cocktail title for a second year in a row, with his tribute drink “John Coffee.” Sauce’s Ryan Malcolm pulled second, up from third last year, while Tia Stonier from The Mix in Whistler scored third. This year’s theme was “The Whole Beast,” which saw contestants create meaty cocktails using ingredients from duck fat and bacon, to pig’s blood and chicken bones.

A country-wide food fight— By Colin Cayer

After three days of The Great Canadian Food Fight from Oct. 11 to 13, a community push of food donations shows the final tally, with Victoria notching out third-place (99,067 lbs), coming in just higher than Nova Scotia at 98,635 lbs. Second-best goes to the Waterloo Region (135,014 lbs), with Regina winning the champion donation at a whopping 218,930 lbs.

“They win every year!” says a teasing Chris Riddell, executive director of the Mustard Seed food bank. “They must be emptying their grain silos!”

For Victoria’s Mustard Seed, those donations amount to 76,218 lbs of actual food and $57,124 cash — converted to 22,849 lbs — and not a moment too soon.

With a 20 per cent decrease in donations since 2010, tough decisions had to be made this year at the food bank. “We’ve cut 25 per cent of everyone’s hours: 40 to 30 hours per week. It’s heartbreaking. People need their full paycheque,” says Riddell.

Forty volunteers run Mustard Seed’s programs every day, with 100 volunteers dedicating their time over Christmas. Approximately 7,000 Victorians access the services, which have expanded since 1975 to include haircuts, food-safe and First Aid certification, addiction services and educational seminars. Both families with dual incomes and more vulnerable populations wait in line. “Lining up at The Mustard Seed is humility at its best,” says Riddell. “We get to know every person who comes through so they feel a sense of dignity and community.”

Don’t miss another chance to help with The Spirit of Giving fundraiser Dec. 1 to 24 at the Bay Centre. Learn more at MustardSeed.ca. M

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