The World Around Us

2011 is “Investment Year”

Country: Canada by Lisette


Happy New Year!

This year has already started great with a new job and a new study. Starting the post-graduate diploma program Non-Profit Management at Ryerson University will boost my expertise, hence my resume and hence my career. Or so is the plan. This, in combination with a new job as Standards Development Specialist at MicroSkills, should give me an enormous learning curve in program management that I am looking for. It is ideal, theory and practice at once!

For those interested in what I’ll be doing specifically, I can share I’ll be undertaking research concerning employment bridging programs for newcomers and ensure MicroSkills’ programs are comparable. As a former volunteer and Information Manager, it is not hard to predict we will have to work hard on evaluating our programs and come up with an additional implementation plan to advance our programs. MicroSkills’ has been around for over 25 years and has an amazing track record. However, this shouldn’t qualify for stagnation and I feel very lucky the organization is instead aiming for continuous development. For themselves and for their clients.

To start the year even better, Marlowe and I just came back from a 2-week vacation in the Netherlands. It was time, I got those itchy wandering feet and this little trip was perfect. Of course it also meant we were stuck a few times as Europe seems to be shifting back to the Ice Age, but all in all it was wonderful.

Take Back the Night : 30 Years of Struggle, Resistance and Liberation

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women (VAW) in Canada since 20 years. This is usually celebrated with some events including candlelight vigils across the country. Canada choose this national day after Mark Lépine shot 28 people at the École Polytechnique in 1989. He singled out the women and raged he was “fighting feminism”.

I took part in the Take Back the Night rally that takes place every fall in Toronto for the past 30 years. We rallied to bring visibility and exposure to the impact of sexual violence in women’s lives, from personal to political impacts in our everyday lives. This day, and especially during the rally, we ensured women and children took up space and had their voices heard. As a board member, I was proud to walk with the clients and staff of Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. Together, we dared to say out loud “Hey Mister, Mister – keep your hands of my sister!

Violence against Women has been brought into mainstream awareness, but it still persists in the lives of women, trans-people and children every day. Shelters are continuing to save lives every day. Ernestine’s never has a free bed for long. That is the simple reason why I volunteer at and donate to a local shelter and sincerely hope more people are interested in helping their local shelters succeed.

Chez Ici’s personal menus

Chef Lisette and interior decorator Marlowe have combined their enthusiasm for good food and opened up Chez Ici at the end of the summer. With menus made per occasion, this duo hopes word of mouth will ensure they can keep their restaurant open for many years to come. Events like “A trip to Paris” hold a menu with fresh French cheeses, French onion soup and Quebecois tortière. Dessert was served with traditional bread pudding.

We further enjoyed learning all about the Chinese kitchen as well as Cajun cuisine, Canadian Thanksgiving (try the acorn squash!), Hungarian stuffed peppers and so forth.

acorn-squash-recipeVegetarian acorn squash 4 persons – 1 hour prep time

2 squashes, 4 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup rice, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup dried cranberries

pepper, salt, thyme


1. Heat the oven at 275ºC. Cut both squashes in half and remove the pits. Melt the butter and mix this with the brown sugar. Grease the squashes and put them in the oven for 1 hour.

2. Cut the walnuts small and mix this with the rice, cranberries, a bit of salt, pepper and thyme.

3. Spoon the mixture in the squashes and mix it carefully with the butter. Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes (roast). Bon appetit!

What to expect when you are immigrating to Canada

Here is my Top Ten of what Canada’s immigration means to me personally.

  1. A long, long wait before you get your permanent residency. Just hang in there, because you will receive it… without ceremony at an extremely dull government office.
  2. Take time off from work and go away for the weekend. There are many places to visit, from cultural and historical hotspots like Ottawa to rural outdoor places like Muskoka.
  3. Volunteer! It gives you great experience, brings you in touch with people you never would have met otherwise and looks great on your resume.
  4. Expect a struggle to find an appropriate job. The key to tackle this is to find someone who always supports you (thanks Mar!), to hang in there and keep on trying.
  5. Even better, take up networking as soon as you can. Jobs aren’t coming your way. And you better realize sooner than later that the competition is hard. Get to know the right people and show them what you got.
  6. Canadians are loving, endearing and welcoming. Especially my in-laws have been the best!
  7. Expect the Unexpected. There is a growing VSO-community in Toronto and I really hit it of with some of them. Here’s to reminiscing, meeting new people and supporting one another!
  8. Eat, Eat, Eat. Canadians are North Americans and therefore want everything big, including their meals. They also socialize with dinners (try Korean BBQ!) and celebrate their birthdays with a dinner!
  9. Learn the Canadian way. Take courses and figure out how systems, laws and businesses work.
  10. Take up something challenging like public speaking is for me. Now, who wants to book me for a speech about shelters? Enjoy the summer while it lasts. The summer is short, busy, and full of fun! Kensington Market isn’t what it is in the winter, Torontonians put on their flip flops as soon as it’s above 0 degrees and all the street festivals bring the city alive.

Pictures say it all

Here is a collage with images I took in Canada since 2009. For more pictures, check out my website.