Hello Merlin

Our effervescent Merlin

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The year 2016 has brought with it a new direction for me. In June, I completed the lengthy process to qualify as an Immigration Consultant. The year also came with an unexpected surprise: a second cat. His name is Merlin.

Kidney failure claimed our beloved Obi-Wan in late July of 2015. Bob and I and Obi-Wan’s furry fellow house cat Bebe, missed Obi-Wan terribly, though we were not ready for another animal. Last December, one of Bob’s friends from the USA offered us a cat from a Michigan shelter where his wife volunteered part-time, and my sister Donna offered us her own cat, which she could not take on her next diplomatic posting.

Then one Friday in late February, Bob stopped at our favourite pet shop to get some food for Bebe. At the shop, they have an arrangement with a cat rescue agency called Ninth Life Cat Rescue. They accept cat litters, arrange for people to foster expecting females, and place both kittens and also older cats given up for one reason or another by their owners.

One such cat, named Merlin, was at the shop on that day. Bob asked what the story was on Merlin. Merlin had been raised and owned by a lady, now elderly, who was slipping into dementia, and was struggling to remember to look after Merlin. Just past his 13th birthday, Merlin needed a new home. Bob picked him up, and something magic happened to both of them.

Bob had never in his life brought home an animal. He signed Merlin out to be a ‘foster cat.’ Bebe has taken her time adjusting to Merlin, but Bob and I fell in love with Merlin instantly. Merlin and Bob have a strong bond reminiscent of the friendship Bob and Obi-Wan shared. About two weeks after Merlin came into our home, we brought him to our vet for a thorough check-up, including blood and urine samples. Merlin passed with no issues. Bob signed the adoption papers that day, and Merlin became ours.

Merlin even has his own Facebook Page. Be sure to Like Merlin.

Merlin has taken to his public duties like a duck to water, going with Bob to the International Children’s Day festival in Toronto, where he sat on the podium as Bob spoke; making two appearances on Canada Day; helping Scouts in their annual tree planting; and hanging out with seniors in Mississauga.

Merlin is a smart cat. He’s learned to shake hands, and walks well on his leash. And he is a very handsome boy with piercing blue-grey eyes. Merlin is no live-and-let-live cat. He wants to be where his people are, and be part of whatever his people may be doing. Merlin loves his back yard, and a snooze in the gazebo is his idea of how to spend a summer afternoon. We think Merlin is onto something.

In the first week of his July vacation after Canada Day, Bob needed to relax and let go of the day-to-day need to stay focused and pent-up in his MPP job. He tends to stretch out in the gazebo in that first vacation week, and go through a book or two. Merlin can be found just beneath Bob’s seat in the gazebo. Bebe is indifferent to going for a walk around the block, but Merlin follows Bob right to the door. In his harness walking with Bob, Merlin now walks on the sidewalk. He follows Bob much like a dog. From time to time, Merlin likes to be picked up during his walk. He is always picked up when it is time to cross the street, and sits at the edge of the street. Merlin enjoys his trips to the park.

As we commemorate Obi-Wan’s life a year after his July 2015 passing, Bob and I are convinced that from the hereafter, our late cat not only pulled some strings to offer us this exceptional animal, but seemed to breathe a bit of himself into Merlin. Our big, white, handsome cat, Merlin, is one of the best things to happen to us during the year 2016.

We hope many of our friends will be able to visit, say hello to, and shake hands with Merlin.

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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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