Canada Day 2016

Canada Day Greetings

Here are Bob’s Canada Day greetings to our western Mississauga neighbourhoods of Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville, and also to our friends and family all across the world. July 1 is Canada Day, the day in 1867 that Canada became a nation. Next year, in 2017, Canada will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Bob and I hope our friends and family all enjoy their summer.

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Immigration Consultant

New profession for Andrea

Re-inventing my career to capitalize on the many years of serving new Canadians through settlement services, Upper Canada Immigration Consultants will set out to attract and serve high-quality prospective immigrants to Canada.

Re-inventing my career to capitalize on the many years of serving new Canadians through settlement services, Upper Canada Immigration Consultants will set out to attract and serve high-quality prospective immigrants to Canada.

June 17, 2016 is Day Zero. It is now official. I am a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). This means that, effective immediately, I am fully licensed (and regulated), and am able to practice as an Immigration Consultant.

I was advised by the Council by e-mail at 4:12 p.m. It is both the end of a year-long journey through the nine-course qualification procedure, through the afternoon-long final exam, and the start of a new line of business for me. I have completed the paperwork and application process to set up the new business, which even now has its first client.

The new entity, by the way, is called Upper Canada Immigration Consultants. Bob has already got me my domain name, and is even now working on my new web site. I continue to own and do business as EduNational Canada.

My course marks were all in the 90s. A year of slaving away at a hot computer is behind me, and now the business challenge of finding and assisting high-quality prospective newcomers to Canada lies ahead.

As one of my friends told me when I advised him that I had passed the Full Skills Examination: “That was the easy part, Andrea. Now comes the real test of finding the best program and using the best strategy to succeed in each application that you undertake for a client”. I have a feeling that he is right. But this is the sort of stuff I really like.

To be able to find the best route possible for a client, and to succeed at it is what I hope is going to become the core competence of my business. It all sounds very exciting, and I am so very happy that it is a new beginning for me. Having spent 15 years working in the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees, I can now focus on citizenship and immigration as a new line of business. So I am now open to receiving referrals from my wonderful family and friends.

Wish me luck. Here I go down a new path!

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Angad Ramwa

Passing of Angad Ramwa

The family of Dr. Angad Ramwa sadly announces his passing late Friday evening, March 18, 2016 at the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Ramwa was a distinguished scientist, whose many positions included Professor of Chemistry for many years at the University of Guyana, and Director of Research at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST). He studied at the University of Guyana, graduating with a BSc in Chemistry. His outstanding performance in his undergraduate studies earned him a “pass with distinction” citation on his certificate and a United Nations Fellowship to pursue an MPhil degree in analytical chemistry at the University of Leeds, England. Returning to Guyana, he was one of the first Guyanese to be hired at the newly formed IAST, which was affiliated with the University of Guyana. During his brilliant career he spent many months each year travelling into remote areas of the interior of Guyana, either taking university students on field trips or conducting research on the physics and chemistry of clays. He returned to the University of Leeds for PHD studies in the early 1980s again on a United Nations Fellowship.

Dr. Ramwa was an eloquent and charismatic individual who was well loved by his students, his family and his friends. Born to humble parents in the village of Industry, he embarked on a journey of learning, excelling in many disciplines, and rising to the top of his profession at a young age. He was well traveled, and represented Guyana at many conferences, presented papers and seminars widely and was well-respected in academic circles.

He was married from 1976 to 2001 to CHS graduate Andrea Seepersaud (Class of 71). They had two sons: Zachary and Nicklaus. Dr. Ramwa’s parents Ram and Nandy, as well as brother Ralph and sister Indrani predeceased him. He leaves behind his wife Valerie, brothers Donald and Arnold, and sisters Savitri and Babsy.

The visitation for Angad Ramwa took place at the Brampton Crematorium and Visitation Centre, Monday March 21st. The Funeral Service and Cremation were held on the morning of Tuesday March 22.

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Cat Event

Bebe’s appearance at family skate

Every year, Bob holds a free family skate for residents of our riding. A few hundred people show up for the events, held every fall, every new year, and during March Break. Our late friend, Obi-Wan was a big hit when he went to family skates. Since last year, Bebe has taken up much of Obi-Wan’s public event load, driving with Bob and I at the 2015 Santa Claus Parade in Streetsville.

In mid-March, Bob held his March Break family skate. I brought Bebe for about 45 minutes of skating with Bob. She was just as much of a hit as Obi-Wan was. Bob held her and skated around the rink while local residents could pat her. In the video above, Bob skated over toward me, where I was shooting a short video from my phone.

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Christmas Greeting

Our Christmas 2015 Wish

Each year, Bob records his Christmas greeting to our western Mississauga riding. This year, I thought I would share it with friends and family. We hope to entertain as many of you as can make it to Mississauga between now and mid-February. Be sure to be on the lookout for our 2015 Christmas Card, in a mailbox near you soon. Merry Christmas, and a Happy and healthy New Year in 2016.

Andrea and Bob

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Remembrance Day 2015

Centennial of In Flanders Fields

To commemorate Remembrance Day, Bob wrote a brief background to the iconic poem of World War One, In Flanders Fields. Click the image above to see his 2015 Remembrance Day. Here is what Bob said on his MPP web site…

One hundred years ago, amid the carnage and chaos of World War One, and while at the front, Canadian Army Doctor (then Major) John McCrae wrote the most recognized poem of the war, and probably any war. He called it In Flanders Fields.

Said Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson, the first person to ever read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, “The poem was an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind.” It was May 3, 1915.

McCrae’s friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer had just died in the Second Battle of Ypres that spring. McCrae had just presided over Helmer’s funeral when he wrote his iconic words. McCrae didn’t have to be in France. He was 41 years old. He had fought in the Boer War at the turn of the century, and volunteered with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of World War One in the summer of 1914.

Just prior to the writing of In Flanders Fields, the German Army had attacked the Canadians and the British Expeditionary Force at Ypres, using chlorine gas. McCrae’s friend Alex Helmer was killed on May 2. McCrae, a native of Guelph Ontario, did not survive World War One.

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A farewell to summer

While Bob followed the Toronto Blue Jays journey into the baseball post-season, and I tried to learn the cricket-like game, autumn was also a time to bid farewell to the things we treasure most about our home: our divine garden and the ability to have our ‘outdoor rooms’ during the good weather.

We enjoyed a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast this October. Thanksgiving weekend was a balmy throwback to summer, with daytime highs in the mid-20s. Bob wanted scalloped potatoes to go with the turkey dinner, and set out to make it with me. We were both surprised at how relatively simple it was to do, and how good it tasted. We used my toaster oven to bake it, and of course, eliminated much of the salt for our customary low-sodium dish, substituting instead fresh herbs and spices picked that day from the garden to bring out the taste of the potatoes.

That Thanksgiving weekend, we put out four bulging yard waste bags. Bob cut the grass, and I disassembled many of the crumbling annual flower arrangements, and took down the tomato plants that gave us such a bumper crop of delicious tomatoes to enjoy all summer long. I have made pesto for our winter cooking, and our friends have received some big and tasty tomatoes in recent weeks. On an unusually cool post-Thanksgiving weekend, much of the balance of autumn take-down happened, with the lawn ornaments being wrapped and boxed, and the patio furniture stored. Bob also wrapped our downspouts with bird wire to keep the neighbourhood raccoons from moving into our attic. We have already found out how destructive they are.

It has been a summer of having mechanical things fall apart, the latest of which was the lawn mower, for the second time this year. Earlier in the summer, the power switch on the handle failed, and halfway through the last grass-cutting, while I was away taking a test for my immigration consultant certification, the motor failed on Bob. Luckily, our neighbour behind us was right there, and Bob finished the job with our neighbour’s mower. We have the reconditioned lawn mower back, and Black and Decker threw in a few extra fix-ups because it was the second time the mower was in the shop. It reminds me of the story of the farmer who boasted of his generations-old belt. It had had several new straps, and half as many new buckles, but every generation swore it was the same old belt.

Bob, Andrea and Bebe

From among our annual Christmas Card photo shoot for 2015, this shot is taken by the banks of the Credit River late on a cool mid-October afternoon.

We recently took our annual Christmas card picture. It is our first without Obi-Wan. It is hard not to think of him as we remember him following us around the yard while we did the annual autumn take-down tasks. Bébé was very good in her first Christmas photo as the ‘top cat.’ We took it at Streetsville Memorial Park on a cool, dry mid-October late afternoon. The sun peeked through the cloud cover just long enough to let us get the last golden rays of a fading Ontario afternoon.

This summer, I set out to do the on-line certification program to become certified as an immigration consultant in Canada. Much of it is complementary to what I learned as the Executive Director of Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services. However, there is a lot of new information that I never knew in about 15 years of being in the settlement services business. Taking the English-language proficiency test, however, is mandatory. There is both a spoken and a written component. It happened in two parts over the Saturday of our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in October. Bob was teasing me about whether I was able to prove I could speak English. Indeed, according to the metrics measured in the various tests, I can speak English. Everybody has to do it to become certified.

I hope everyone has had a pleasant autumn thus far. Look out for our 2015 Christmas card in the coming weeks.

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Our iconic cat is gone: Obi-Wan, 1999 – 2015

Obi-Wan in his basket

Obi-Wan’s favourite place to take a nap was in his basket at home in the hallway near the kitchen. He liked to be close enough to hear conversations among his people and our guests when they came to our home.

It is with deep sadness and sorrow that Bob and I convey to friends and family the passing of our eldest cat, Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan died at 6:34 p.m. on the afternoon of Monday July 27, 2015, secure with Bob and I, in his basket and with love, compassion and mercy at his vet’s. My children, Zachary and Nicklaus, came to the vet’s office to bid goodbye to Obi-Wan. It was they who picked him out of a litter born in Wasaga Beach, Ontario in September of 1999. Obi-Wan lived with us for a bit more than three years before Bob and I became a couple.

Obi-Wan lived for 15 years and almost 11 months. Obi-Wan was diagnosed with chronic and incurable kidney failure in April, 2015. Much to the pleasant surprise of his vet, he responded to drug therapy, and for nearly four months, remained in good health. Obi-Wan did much better than anyone expected, and even went off his pain killers for more than a month in June and July.

In July’s fading days, Obi-Wan began to have trouble keeping food down, and became visibly uncomfortable. During the weekend of July 24 to 26, he began to have trouble eating. By Sunday of that weekend, he had stopped eating. He showed the remainder of the end-of-life kidney failure symptoms he had not exhibited before. We were not going to let Obi-Wan linger or suffer through a predictable decline. Through the weekend, his condition worsened. His vet confirmed that his poor little kidneys had shrunk to less than half their normal size. His organs could no longer rid his body of its poisons, which built up within Obi-Wan. His heart, however, was as big and strong as ever. Of course, we knew that part, though the vet confirmed it in her final examination of him.

Obi-Wan and babies

Here at a 2007 Christmas party at Erin Meadows seniors’ residence in Mississauga, Obi-Wan let two little babies play with him.

Obi-Wan’s enduring legacy

Obi-Wan has been on our Christmas card every year since 2004. Local Mississauga residents have seen Obi-Wan at the Streetsville Santa Claus Parade every year for the past nine years. Obi-Wan attended the Streetsville Bread and Honey Festival, was a frequent visitor to seniors’ homes, and went with Bob to many of his community events as an Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament. Obi-Wan was picked up, handled and patted by hundreds of kids, been photographed countless times. He came with us as we inspected our present home while it was being built in 2005.

Every animal that sheds its instinctive reserve and embraces a human being, loving and being loved, is a special animal. One like Obi-Wan, who worked at being a good communicator, who would shake hands, sit on command, sit up for treats (especially his favourite, cooked ham), who loved learning things, and who loved being with people transcends the special to the unique. It is no exaggeration to call Obi-Wan our city’s best-known cat. Watching Obi-Wan shake hands with visitors, our guests would normally exclaim, “I have never in my life seen a cat do that.” That was Obi-Wan. He sat in the living room to take in the discussion, seldom further away than his basket so that he could hear what was being said.

Obi-Wan in his prime: hopping up on the counter to share a Sunday morning with Mummy, reading the newspaper together.

Obi-Wan in his prime in 2009: hopping up on the counter to share a Sunday morning with Mummy, reading the newspaper together. He would focus so intently on the newspaper that one would wonder if he really could understand what was inside the pages.

Obi-Wan’s last journey

Even as Obi-Wan was part of our public face, he brought Bob and I so much joy and companionship at home. Obi-Wan was there whenever one of us fell ill, or went through challenging times. Obi-Wan has had his own health issues through his life as well. He survived a bad reaction to vaccines years ago. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007; and made the journey of being a managed diabetic with us. He knew how to tell us when his blood sugar was high or low. Obi-Wan was never a problem when measuring his blood glucose or administering insulin. He has survived pancreas and liver infections. In recent years, his eyes began to form cataracts, and he struggled with osteo-arthritis in the past two years. He was in some pain, and having trouble getting around. Obi-Wan spent two days in April with his vet trying to flush out his kidneys after his chronic kidney failure diagnosis. His vet saw him again in June, and was amazed at how he had managed. His kidneys, however, were not getting better. He was then stable at stage three of four stages. Obi-Wan had good months in May and June, and up until mid-July. Though his taste in cat food changed, he kept a strong appetite. It was only in mid-July that Obi-Wan clearly dropped into stage four of terminal kidney failure, with vomiting and diarrhea problems beginning in recent days. There was no doubt that for Obi-Wan, life had become a struggle for existence.

By the winter of 2015, Obi-Wan could no longer hop up onto our bed to sleep at night, needing a lift up and preferably down when he did come. In the past few months, he has stayed downstairs at night, though he would, until his very last few days, climb the stairs in the morning to wake everybody up. Obi-Wan didn’t complain when we offered him a ride back down the stairs in the morning. Ever independent, he squirmed as soon as he was on the main floor, letting us know he was quite capable of walking from there, thank you very much. He gratefully accepted a footstool to help him get up on his favourite living room chair, owing to the pain in his joints. Right to the end, he used the cat port in the screen door to go for a stroll in the back yard, taking a nap in the gazebo on his second-last day, and sniffing the outdoor air to check up on who was around his yard. He walked around to have a last look at his house before we left for the vet. He was a loyal, loving, big boy cat with a sense of humour to bring a smile or a laugh to his people when they needed it most.

Obi-Wan in 2009

Here was our big boy as we knew him best. His eyes and heart were full of love every day of his life. We will never be able to forget Obi-Wan. His life has enriched our own and so many others. Thank you, Obi-Wan. Click the picture for a larger size.

We will have a much more extensive photo gallery of Obi-Wan on the web site soon. Obi-Wan’s friends, and those who admire him, can visit his Facebook Page to share their thoughts.

A new Texas foal named Obi-Wan

A Texas classmate friend of mine from the 1960s, Lomas Sharma, has named a new male foal, born August 2015 after Obi-Wan.

A Prayer for Obi-Wan

Heavenly Father, Creator of all things, thank You for having entrusted us with such a loyal friend as Obi-Wan. Thank You for letting this handsome animal teach us unselfish love. Thank You for the memories we will recall to brighten our days for the rest of our lives. Finally, in gratitude, we return the spirit of our cherished companion, Obi-Wan, to You, until we meet again in glory. Amen.

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