After retiring; I enjoy doing volunteer work at different organizations and one of my favourite
is “John Howard Society”. John Howard was an 18th century Englishman who was captured by
the French while sailing from England to Spain. He spent 5 years in French dungeons before
returning to England in a prisoner exchange. Upon his return he was nominated as high Sheriff
of Bedfordshire and immediately embarked on visiting hundreds of prisons in England,
Scotland, Wales and Europe and came up with recommendations to improve the mental and
hygienic conditions of the prisoners. His recommendations were adopted by the house of
common and implemented across England, then across Europe and North America. Today John
Howard society has branches all over Europe and North America with 65 locations in Canada
working with youth and senior citizens who committed minor infraction to the law. The police
will channel their cases to JHS not to the regular courts. This is a very cost effective way that
minimizes the time of judges and lawyers spent in small infractions and concentrate their
effort and time on serious crimes. This also help clear some of the backlogs and result in faster
handling of cases.
JHS philosophy is to give first time offenders a second chance and integrate them back into the
society instead of jail sentences that expose them to hard core criminals and may end up
repeated offenders. We have a panel of three volunteer judges who look after a specific case,
asking questions about the circumstances of the offence, who did the offence affects and how
the offender feels after getting caught. Then the judges will deliberate and give their verdict
which revolves around community service, letter of apology, donation of money to a charitable
organization or attending a course about theft run by the police. After complying with our
verdict we send a letter to the judge and he/she will confirm the verdict and wipe out the
criminal record of the offender allowing him/her to work and integrate into the society.
This humane and constructive approach is in contrast to the cruel and outdated Sharia laws (in
Muslim countries) of cutting the hands of the thieves that condemn them for the rest of their
lives and prevent them from integrating back to the society. The number of crimes in any
country reflects its social justice and how this society is taking care of the poor and vulnerable
of its citizens. The more egalitarian society the less crimes and vice versa and the numbers
speak for its selves: In US the crime rate is 783 per 100 thousand, but only 107 in Canada,
while it is 66 in Sweden, 75 in Norway and only 61 in Denmark (with half of the incarcerated
are from Africa and middle East or Asia). It is clear that the more egalitarian the society is, the
less crimes. I feel sad when I meet people from the Middle east who enjoy going on Fridays to
watch cutting the hands or the heads of criminals. It is a barbaric custom than never take into
account the mental health or how the offender was desperate to steal to feed himself or his
kids. Crimes is in the rise in the ME because more than half the population lives under the
poverty line ($1 per day) while it is going down in countries like Holland to the point of closing
many jails. Fighting the circumstances of the crime not fighting the criminals is JHS approach
and I am glad to be part of that humane system and a citizen of this great country called Canada.
By Mohamed Fetaih
John F Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise
I recently attended a board meeting of John F Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise. The topic centred around what sorts of things should a school such as that do.
And of course there was a lively debate about entrepreneurship – one of my favourite topics.
I believe television has created the myth that business ideas are mostly inventions. In reality, most money is made in business by people doing the same boring thing as every other boring business. Look around your city – who are the business people – the coffee shop owner, the landlord, the car sales place, the mini storage, the dry cleaner, the jeweller, the lawn care person, etc etc. Unlike Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den – business is mostly NOT big invention – it is micro-refinements and good implementation (and hard work) of a boring business.
Entrepreneurship is also mislabeled. An entrepreneur should be willing to risk their time and money – by definition. What I see is people who say they are entrepreneurs want other people to risk their money so the “entrepreneur” can get paid a salary. Those same entrepreneurs want to retain most of the upside.
I also see businesses raising money when they should not – they should just be profitable and grow from those profits. Bootstrapping makes a company strong. Service companies particularly should not raise money.
I talk a bit about bootstrapping in my Ted Talk.
Perhaps I am just jealous because I had to bootstrap my business and no one paid me a salary.
The source: http://www.jimestill.com/
Retailers vanishing in Toronto
The Migrant:The last seven years has seen a roller coaster within the retail industry both in Canada and worldwide. On one hand we had businesses exiting retail, such as Target which acquired Zellers and then exited Canada due to declining revenues, and Sears that was a go-to place for Canadians across generations, and on another spectrum, successful Canadian household names such as Hudson Bay & Tim Hortons being acquired by International investors.
In anticipation of such an inevitable fate, several companies set out to reduce their footprint, postponed or modified their expansion plans, and set up electronic platforms to support their sales to keep up with the global market, escalating the demand for storage space.
Conversely, more than 50 major companies opened their stores in Canada during the same period in the field of clothing or eyeglasses and most were associated with high-end or new products to the Canadian soil such as Nordstrom, Miniso and Richard Mille. While other companies thrived and expanded such as Canada Goose, in addition to numerous Canadian start-ups that spread globally but with an adoption to an innovative modus operandi, such as Freshii and Frank & Oak. Reasons may vary, and some may argue that this is business as usual, but rather accelerated.
Toronto market, which has seen a paradigm shift in a positive direction, due to an influx of distinguished and experienced entrepreneurs. New stores opening their doors, especially in the domain of food and cafes, that led to greater competition and perhaps better variety and quality for the communities, notably, the middle eastern. These market dynamics, if anything; are in sync with the global market.
Opportunities exist and created a negotiating environment between landlords and new retailers. The Canadian economy remains robust, yet we repeatedly observe retailers going belly up and capitals evaporating in thin air and ultimately those investors are losing faith in the Canadian economy. The key reasons impeding the success of new retail ventures are:
1. Systemic reasons: The global economy, of which Canada is a part, is not at its best and adversely affects the purchasing power. According to retail analysts, many global retailers reduced their footprint due to decline in sales volume.
2. Change in the retail landscape: As the online shopping experience continues to improve, and retailers increasingly moving into the retail 3.0, consumers, more so the millennial, focus on convenience and product accessibility. Today’s prudent retailers combine brick-and-mortar stores with e-stores to increase sales volume. In addition, some companies break the mold by going online first and then expanding through physical storefronts.
3. Local experience: Last but not the least is the local experience, one of the key factors underpinning the success or failure of any business. Challenges and pitfalls can be mitigated by conducting feasibility studies that would typically analyze the demographics, products, financial projections, and site selection, zooming in on the occupancy cost being a key item in the operating costs that could eat up the bottom-line and push business into the red.
Veteran investors are more likely to be aware of the key challenges in starting new business, but don’t have clear understanding of how the local experience combined with language barriers make it difficult to access key resources and to shore up a sound business plan.
Many investors have taken a gambit by overlooking this key step and started their business based on market canvassing, tell-tales and emotional decisions, that in many instances led to losses, business closure, bankruptcy or business still operating at a loss.
In a nutshell, the most pressing question: Is it time to move a motion to support those vulnerable businesses and explore ways to integrate them into the retail space and probably attract and encourage more investors to enter the market with clear line of sight?
By Sean Aslambouli
Business & Commercial Realty Consultant
Fredericton (NB), the silent Victorian
By Abdelkader Bouaziz
For the past three days, we have been talking about Fredericton where four people were shot dead, including two policemen. The shooting ended with the arrest of a suspect who is accused of four premeditated murders. The city has never had to deal with something like this. I know it because I lived there for the last 3 years. It’s known with its peacefulness “atmosphere” and the legendary kindness of its residents.
Fredericton. The smallest “provincial capital” of Canada. I call it the silent Victorian, because there are many houses with a Victorian character and it inspires a feeling that imposes tranquility.
While strolling through the arteries of the city, it looks like we are in the 1800’s, where the structure of the houses makes us think of an open-air museum of Victorian houses. Its down-town exudes a singular charm and the Saint John River (that cross the city in north and south area) contributes to this peaceful feeling.
People are courteous, and they exchange a “good morning! … hello! … hi! …” every time they cross each other, in the street, in the supermarket, in the library, in the park,… and we can’t talk about the city without mentioning the City’s traditional market he Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market. Recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 community markets, it’s a Saturday morning (6am-1pm) gathering spot, for fresh and healthy foods, craft, creativity and most of all: a place of ritual meeting of its inhabitants who keep this tradition of long time.
There is rarely traffic jam during peak hours (no more than 10), the nature is abundant; Odell Park, the centrepiece of the city’s parklands and highly acclaimed by its citizen, takes up almost a quarter of the southern part of the city. Renowned as one of the most beautiful parks, of its kind in Canada. It contributes also to this feeling of a rural aspect within the city itself.
Numerous gatherings, weddings, graduation parties or other occasions have been organized in this beautiful place, and it has served as a backdrop to pictures shooting, in addition of being a great place to do family/friend picnic. We can walk there and feel the sights and sounds of the 4 seasons.
Fredericton residents are known for helping out when a major emergency or disaster occurs. Statistic Canada revealed that more than half (57%) of people who experienced an emergency received help during or immediately after the event. Family members (26%) and friends (17% were the most common sources of help.
Living in small city, having shorter commute times comparing to bigger cities, having smaller population densities, and living close to families, foster strong social ties and feelings of belonging. And that is what I felt when I used to live in Fredericton.
Our heart thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families!
About the writer : Living in Canada for almost 15 years, originally from Morocco, spending all his childhood in France, Abdelkader is active in social-cultural life of immigrants, in Montreal QC, where he used to live for 3 years, then Ottawa ON for 6 years, then Fredericton NB 3 years and a half, before moving back to Ottawa. He contributes voluntarily with writings and stories that touch lives of immigrants in Canada. He wrote columns in immigration websites and answered interviews in a few blogs for expatriates.
Graduated from the National School of Public Administration of Quebec, with a master degree as International Analyst, he has a particular interest in immigration news, international student experiences, cultural activities and social media.
He discovered his passion for writing during his first years of immigration, when it became clear that sharing the daily life of an immigrant and telling stories, are how he will appease the struggling of a new life for an immigrant, in Canada.
His moto is ” Dream about your future, learn from the past, and live your present!”
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