Claire Martin

Real Facts: Paris Agreement – by Claire Martin

A lot has been said over the past few days about The Paris Agreement – and what it means for any one country. So without getting into politics (seriously) – let me set the record straight about this Agreement. And I’m going to use overly simplified language here, not to demean anyone’s comprehension, but so that everyone understands exactly what the Agreement means for us and our planet.
1. The Paris Agreement is an agreement between 195 UN countries to deal with global greenhouse gas emissions. In this agreement the countries basically all got together and agreed to try really, really hard to slow down climate change by limiting their greenhouse gas emissions and to submit their own individual ongoing progress reports. For clarity I have to state that there are NO penalties within the agreement.

2. The agreement is NOT legally binding. But that doesn’t mean it’s toothless. If I agreed to help a friend – and (for example) said that I would pick their kid up from school – that is NOT a legally binding agreement. You can’t, strictly speaking, punish me if I decide to leave the child sitting on the curb. But — and this is a big but — you can shame me. You can avoid me, distrust me, and not make any more social agreements with me. Essentially turning your back on an agreement is bad for a relationship.

3. Sovereignty is the ability, inherent or granted, to govern oneself or self-determine one’s course. The Paris Agreement does not affect a country’s sovereignty.

The Paris agreement, signed in 2015 by 195 countries, does four simple things.

  1. It sets a global goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising 2 dec C (compared to temperatures pre-Industrial Revolution) by the end of the century.
  2. It sets a nonbinding agreement for countries to reach peak greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible.”
  3. It adds a framework for countries to become more aggressive in reaching those goals over time. In 2020, delegates are supposed to reconvene and provide updates about their emission pledges, and report on how they’re becoming more aggressive on accomplishing the 2 degree goal. 
  4. It asks richer countries to help out poorer countries: to give them capital to invest in green technologies, but also to help them brace for a changing world.

And it’s important to remember: The Paris agreement, as it currently stands, won’t stop global temperatures from rising. The point of Paris was to create incentives for countries to voluntarily grow their efforts to avert a warmer future. 

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Susan Young

Conquering Hills, Spills and Cancer – by Susan Young



Everyone has a cancer story. I’m no different. Mine is not a personal story, but seeing the disease affect family and friends, has left me with the desire to make a difference. Or at least, try.
Four years ago, I embarked on a rather ambitious journey; The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer.

For me, this journey opened up a whole new world of training, bike fittings, comradery, fundraising, and of course…more fundraising.
Challenging doesn’t even begin to describe the experience. From the day you sign up to the day you cross the finish line; exhausted, emotional and chaffing all over.

I was very nervous embarking on my first ride. It was a huge crowd of riders, that seemed have all the professional gear! The event however, is very organized. There is an enormous amount of volunteers, and plenty of rest-stops with food, that you can recover at for as long as you need.
Training means wind, hills (yes, cycling up SFU can be soul destroying), and really early weekend mornings to try not to disturb my family. Over all the commitment was: one longer ride, 1 shorter ride per week for at least 4months. (Within a couple of weeks of the ride, I like to substitute distance for hills.)  I’ve fallen off my bike no fewer than a dozen embarrassing times as I get used to being clipped in. I’ve also made many new friends.

This year will be my third Ride to Conquer Cancer with the CTV team, but not my third in a row. The first year, I was surprised at what almost broke me. The hills are hard, but mind over matter, and I dealt with them better than I thought I would. The only time I felt like giving up was on the final stretch of the first day; on a long flat gravel stretch  – with a head wind so strong it felt like you were making very little progress. The more people that passed me, the more I wondered what I was doing there!

To be blunt, it’s too hard…and it honestly takes me over a year to psych myself up to do it all over again. The fundraising can also be taxing; $2,500 is a substantial amount to raise. Despite that I’m always grateful and overwhelmed by how generous people can be.
For this year’s ride, I plan to write the names of people battling cancer – donor’s loved ones – on my body in marker so I can carry them with me. The steep hills of the second day are nothing compared to their fight.
And I’m completely humbled by my fellow riders – many who participate every year. Many – who carry red flags because they’re cancer survivors themselves.

The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer takes place on the last weekend of August. 2,000 cyclists riding approximately 250 kilometres over two days, from Vancouver to Seattle. Day one ends at a central campground where you can enjoy food, beer, yoga, massages and inspiring speeches. You can sleep in a ride-provided tent, or choose to book a hotel (don’t judge…but a hotel with a hot tub calls my name!)

If you would like to make a difference in the world of cancer research, consider getting involved. You can donate, or volunteer, or pass the message along….or better still – ride!

I’m not particularly fit or determined. I just did it. And if I can, so can you!


– I had the pleasure of working with Jody at CTV. She was anchoring sports and I was directing. Our similarities have included working crazy early mornings and raising 9-year old boys!

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Claire Martin

Dear Claire… – by Claire Martin

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to snag a U2 ticket.
To attend a concert, that I had already been to, 30 years ago.

Judging by the average makeup of the crowd – I wasn’t the only one on a night’s trip down memory lane. My girlfriend even had in her purse the cut-out front and back swatches from her original tour shirt!

Yeh, we were going down memory lane hard; together, with faded props and 40+ thousand of our closest friends!

Needless to say, the concert was wonderful. For those of you that don’t know The Joshua Tree (and #really who are you?!) – it’s a “listening experience” type record (are they still called records?!). It was written in the tumultuous 80’s during a time of political unrest in England and Ireland and many of the lyrics and all the songs resonate profoundly for me, even to this day.

The first 5 songs “Sunday Bloody Sunday” / “New Year’s Day” / “A Sort of Homecoming” / “MLK” / “Pride (In the Name of Love)” sent me reeling back to Wembley, London, June 12, 1987 – the last UK date of the original tour. It made me want to pen this letter to the 21-year-old who watched raptly, buried in the exuberant crowd.
Dear Claire,

Chill out!
Stop worrying so much!
You’re going to be ok.
Life will actually get better than this.. and this is just the beginning.

Capture this moment though; burn it into your memory. Moments like this are rare, and they will become rarer and more precious as you pass 50.

Enjoy yourself as much as possible. Life experiences like this are the building blocks of your evolving character – and they will stand you in good stead for the tough times.

There will be tough times….but never more than you can’t handle. The strength you discover inside you will surprise you. So too the bonds you develop with your friends during the tough times.

Your women friends will become your rocks. Trust the ones around you right now – they will be with you for the next 30 years – tightly close, unwavering and supportive – cherish every moment you have with them.

Finally – reconsider the perm and leggings. (They do you no favours.) Trust me, you, on this one!


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Jody Vance

Mother’s Day – by Jody Vance

Getty Images: Cora Niele

May is for Mother’s day. Happy for so many, tough for so many.

Some of us are lucky enough to celebrate Mother’s Day today — my thoughts are with those who crave this gift and can’t conceive.

This is not like Valentines Day with a broken heart, or Christmas during a divorce – this is harder.  (I speak from experience.)  I’ve done Mother’s Day after a miscarriage and have lived through it during fertility treatment, luckily I’ve also been through one while nervously navigating the first trimester of pregnancy.

This can be an incredibly sad time for those who are knee-deep in the struggle.  It’s a feeling that cannot be realized without having survived it.

Motherhood, becoming a mother, seems so simple to the masses —  “an accident”, “unplanned”, “an oops baby” or a “we were ready and it happened”.

Right now there are thousands and thousands of women struggling to conceive — crying tears of soulful failure — on Mother’s day.

I feel you.

I’ve been you.

Today I send this out to the universe because I want, even one, hopeful Mom to know that you are not alone.

One big moment in my journey to parenthood was when a very wise physician said to me: “It’s a miracle, you can literally do everything right and still not be successful in conception and carrying to term.”  It was devastating — poignant and heady.  In hind site, it was a comfort along the way.  Yes, we can use modern medicine to assist us in our desire to parent our biological child, but being a Mom isn’t about biology.  It’s about love.

Do not hate your body for failing you. (I did, and wish I hadn’t)  Do not feel a failure for infertility, it’s not your fault.

If your friend, or loved one, is going through this — talk with them about it. Bring it up.  Share.  The isolation of “not wanting to hurt their feelings” is the journey’s very worst part, believe it or not.

Food for thought on this day to celebrate a special level of love.



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Jody Vance

Voter Turn Out – by Jody Vance

Dear President Donald J. Trump,


Sincere thanks to you today for teaching voters, world-wide, to show up at the polls on Voting Day.  We have watched what can happen to a Nation when one neglects their civil duty.

There have been many years, here in Canada, where voter turn out has been embarrassingly low.  Today, in my home province of British Columbia we are voting, en masse.  Hopefully in numbers rarely seen at polling stations, thanks to you.

Many in line to cast their ballots are doing so for the first time, some in their mid-50’s, and their reason for finally getting up out of the armchair is largely due to what they’ve witnessed you do with the power given by your “base”.  Today, I have personally over-heard many say that they’d “learned from Trump winning” — that they “will never sit idly by again”.  You have created a world ready to be better educated on platforms and facts — ready to do their duty, in the name of protecting our precious democracy.

We all witnessed you lose the popular vote, while taking swing states — we’ve learned the consequences of being lazy on election day.  The world believes, if given the chance for a do-over, you would lose in a landslide thanks to voter turn out likely doubling.

The world now knows, more than perhaps ever before, the value of their ONE VOTE.

Thank you and best regards,


Jody Vance

Proud Canadian

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Claire Martin

Slow Down, Smell the Roses – by Claire Martin

It has been brought to my attention that I have been posting a lot of “ahhh, life” photos recently (check @ClaireMartin50 on Instagram). And here’s the reason why.

1. At 50 I found myself unemployed and diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma
2. At 51 I found myself a fabulous new job and cancer free (6 months and counting).

As has often been noted on #MyBackYard – I’m an acerbic, sarcastic little shit of a person. Until very recently, when life got scary and real. Then, surprisingly, I found myself soft, caring, vaguely weepy, introspective and in awe of L’Chiam.

So why the change of outlook?

I have recently moved to the BC Interior – given up on the Vancouver market as I got methodically priced out – and I am thrilled with my choice.

I am lucky enough to have found a little piece of heaven in Vernon, BC. I wake in the morning to the sound of birds, and I go to bed in the evening to the cacophony of bullfrogs. Last night I heard thunder booming in the hills around me, and I’ve routinely watched the space-station crest overhead in the night sky from my little backyard deck.


I am not writing this to

a) extol the virtues of the BC Interior,

b) encourage people to give up on the most magnificent city in the world (aka Vancouver) nor c) feel some sort of misplaced jealousy.

I am writing this to say that at the grand old age of 51, I have decided to start treating myself to the life I’ve always wanted.

Now, let’s be honest: I’m not retired. I will have to work for at least another 12.5 years (yes, I’ve counted), to pay off this decision. And, admittedly, at times I find myself a little lonely. But I am surrounded by astoundingly beautiful scenery, I am finally sleeping through the night and I am actually slowing down.

So here’s the point of this note: at some point, we all need to slow down and smell the roses. We need to put ourselves first.

So here’s to posting a few more “ahhh, life” photos. May they bring everyone a little piece of quiet in what can often be the chaotic, rat-raced pace of life!

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Pete Quevillon

Kindness in The Winter of Bert’s Life – by Pete Quevillon

In early 2015, I made the decision to move my dad from an assisted living residence in Kingston Ontario here to BC. He was in need of more intense care and had no family left in Ontario. Seeing him two or three times a year when I went to Ontario for work just wasn’t leaving me with a good feeling and so I began the search for facilities here in Vancouver.

I toured several care homes and Windermere provided the opportunity for him to access a room as soon as we moved him. I knew several people whose parents had spent time at Windermere and all of them had very positive things to say about the quality of care.  While the first six months, until he became a BC resident, were at a full rate; once he became a BC resident he qualified for the subsidized rate. Fortunately for those on fixed incomes, the rate is a set percentage of  income always leaving at least 25% of pensions to bank.

As one would expect of a care facility, the rooms are rather Spartan but he has his own washroom and some of his own furniture and pictures to add a homey feel. There are regular recreational opportunities for residents, music, and a host of other diversions that residents can participate in at their leisure.

With the care of an aging parent, there comes the guilt associated with placing them in care…in my case lapsed Anglican guilt rather than Catholic guilt! Should I be keeping him in my home with private nursing care? Could we afford a more exclusive facility? Bottom line for me is that dad is happy and has people around him who truly care about his well being and are far more skilled than I in providing the necessary professional care.

I am a dedicated reader here on and have noticed a definite theme, of late, as many contributors are of the generation where care of aging parents becomes their responsibility,

It is all too easy to target our challenged, under-resourced, health care system with criticism — those concerns are certainly valid.  It is very much up to us to  be aware, and hold our politicians to account, to ensure improvements are made. Often lost in this conversation are those who work within the current system selflessly.  They regularly bare the brunt of frustration at the system and are targets of abuse, undue criticism and most certainly are underpaid.

As someone who has a parent in long term seniors residential care I see, up close and personal, both the shortcomings of our health care system and the extreme dedication and passion displayed by those health care professionals. Certainly I’m not alone in seeing, and being constantly humbled and moved by, the concern — and dare I say love shown by the health care professionals in my dad’s facility.

Very few of us could display the compassion and effort put forth in caring for a complete stranger — yet there they are with my Dad, day in and day out. From care aides and nurses to cleaning and kitchen staff, everyone seems to know Bert and constantly make conversation and take every opportunity to exchange some friendly humour and barbs with my dad. He thrives on the interaction and, despite his mild dementia and his inability to remember everyone on staff, he feels loved and valued by everyone on staff.

I’ve often said that the staff make him feel like Norm from Cheers…each time he comes back after our walks or trips out for lunch, he’s welcomed like a long lost family member. “Hi Bert”; “Where have you been Bert”; …all that’s missing is a cold beer on the bar!

I cannot imagine providing the same level of not only expert medical care to a nearly 90 year old, I’m not sure that I could maintain the cheery disposition and professional demeanour that is on display at Windermere at all times given the challenges of caring for seniors of widely varying needs. 

I would ask that our elected official, health care administrators and management continue to find ways to improve our medical system — but I also ask that we appreciate those unsung heros in our hospitals, clinics and care facilities.

To all of you, Bert says thanks!

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Charlotte Phillips

The Price of Vegas – by Charlotte Phillips

No matter how many times I visit Las Vegas, it always plays out the same way.

At first, I am excited and enthusiastic as the plane lifts off from rainy Vancouver and heads due south to the hot, palm tree environs of Sin City. I usually consider a cocktail as my self-control slips the surly bonds of real life on earth, but the good angel on my shoulder pokes me in the conscience a few times and I opt for tea or maybe a Canada Dry Ginger Ale and feel good about myself. Also, as it is not quite noon, I think about pacing myself.

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Jody Vance

“Old Fashionable” – by Jody Vance

Yesterday, at a family bbq, my sister in-law inadvertently coined a new phrase.  Chatting with my 79 year old mother (who was calling herself “old” and “old-fashioned”, of which she neither) my sister said: “you are old fashionABLE.”

We all loved that newly coined phrase.

Question: Why can’t we be fabulous at any age?  Answer: We can.

My mom is fashionable to the nth degree.  She’s always been independent and smart, driven and kind, sensitive and strong; beautiful.  She’s a fashionista on the inside, and out.  At almost 80 she’s cooler than most will ever be, yet is incredibly self deprecating.  She is a strong woman who will, often, say what no one else has the guts to say — she is the queen of nice, with a big dose of crassness.

While spring cleaning yesterday, I came across this photo of her from 1975.  That was the year that the hard working, single mom of two, scraped together enough money to take her kids to her homeland of Yugoslavia:

Later yesterday, here she is at the Everett Family Lamb Roast:

My mom has sparkle, she loves a sparkle. She is beautiful.  She is Old Fashionable, and one day I hope to be as old and fashionable as she is.

Sure, much to the chagrin of my Dad, she shops for things that she will never wear.  Sure, she wears things that no one really understands (the moon stones from her mom, the gecko pin I gave her in 1985, the gold Tiffany ‘bean’ necklace I talked my Dad into buying her one year for her birthday.)

As I look across the table to my mom, with all of the above, a fedora with designer knock off sunnies propped on them, the leopard print cardigan, the rings that tell a life story……I see myself.  I love that my mom dresses for herself.  She dresses for her history and for her soul.

She is Old Fashionable.

This post is about us all, men and women, taking a moment to consider our age and then ponder becoming Old Fashionable.  Own it.  Live it.  Devour it.  Like my Mom.

Perfectly imperfect.  Loveable and beautiful always.


** Update from Dad: “One error, her sun glasses are not knock offs, they are originals Now, I do have a problem getting her to wear them over her many knock offs ……………Why, only she knows.”

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