The Feast is On: Happy Eid!

To all those who fasted, celebrated, or acknowledged Ramadan, please have a Blessed and Happy Eid this weekend as the feast begins on Sunday.

Eid marks the end of Ramadan which is a month of daily fasting from dawn until dusk and a month of giving charity.

It’s all about the food this Sunday

Muslim around the world and in Toronto will celebrate Eid this Sunday with a feast.  The food at various celebrations across will vary greatly representing the vast cultural mix of people who are Muslim.  Culinary delights rooted in tastes found across Asia, Africa, and Europe (areas such as the Mediterranean, and the Balkans) will grace the tables of homes, mosques and community centers beginning early Sunday morning. Modern mixes of juices and smoothies will be upstaged by traditional milks boiled with almonds and raisins and saffron, drinks with rose water and apricot nectar, seeds and herbs, mint and basil will be shared among friends and family. Meets and savories with varying degrees and mixes of spices will sampled and taken across to neighbours and and friends along with baked goods and desserts.

There is nothing like food to bring people together. Combined with the collective hardship of fasting there is also a unity in the celebration that begs to be shared.

The kid next door

Muslims apparently make up over 7% of the 6.4 million people in the Greater Toronto Area (link).  Like any other group of people categorized by “religion”, Muslims are a pretty diverse bunch.  For those who have been following CNN’s United Shades of America, you may have caught on to the fact that, as with many other ‘religious groups’, identity and group affiliation is as much cultural as it is based on belief.

This year the City of Toronto hosted a ‘Fast in the 6’ event at Nathan Phillips Square on June  9th to celebrate the themes of diversity, unity and prosperity,    Torontonians of all sorts gathered for a shared experience of breaking fast at sunset and fundraising for the Daily Bread Food Bank. It was an evening of arts, entertainment and, at sunset, food, hosted by G98’s Mark Strong.

While great things happen all over the City, it necessary to boast (in our blog) that our little corner of the world at Eglinton and Oakwood / Dufferin has always been a place of diversity welcoming new people and traditions and histories evolving together.  The Muslim population of our neighbourhood is not evident, however, there are two mosques within a 10 minute walk of our main corners and you can find Halal restaurants if you care to look.  If you stop for a while and chat on the street you will find more people, Muslim or not with Eid stories to share than you would have expected.

Eid Mubarak!

And as always, we invite you to visit.

Three Parks Near You to Take Advantage of This Summer

by Isabela Muñoz

Summer is just right around the corner, and you know that means. The sun is out, the air is warm, and just about everyone is happier. There is no better way to spend these happy days of your lives than at a park near you. Whether that means going for a stroll, having a picnic, or just soaking in the sun that summer has to offer, a park is the place to be. Especially one where you can benefit from its proximity! Here is a list of parks near the York Eglinton BIA which make for a great way to spend an afternoon in the neighborhood.

Courtesy of torontofunplaces.com

Walter Saunders Memorial Park

This park may be small, but don’t let that discourage you.  Walter Saunders Memorial Park has a lot to offer to people of all ages. As a small park, it surprisingly has plenty of green space, so make sure to bring a blanket and snacks for a picnic.. The splash pads in the park are a big hit for the kids and perhaps even for the adults who can’t handle the Toronto heat. The park also has a basketball court for those looking to practice and stay active.

The most intriguing aspect of Walter Saunders is probably the historical 9 km trail that passes through the park, also known as the York Beltline Trail. The trail runs from Bowie Avenue all the way to Bayview Avenue. It follows an abandoned railway which goes back 125 years ago. The railway was constructed in 1892 as a commuter railway line to promote growth in new suburban neighbourhoods north of what was then the city. Now, the railway has mostly been buried by the trail but you still get a real sense of its presence and it is interesting sight to see.

Many people walk and run along the trail but for some real exploration, if you get to know this trail by bike you can explore its nature landscapes such as the Moore Park ravine, one of Toronto’s best.

If you’re looking for a craft to pursue while in the park, Arts in the Park and the Steps Initiative are hosting a series called Woven, celebrating our rich textile history. Join them for their 2017 summer programming on June 24, July 29 and August 26 for some weaving and pom pom making!

Cedarvale Park

The next park on the list is Cedarvale Park. This park may be more known to the public since it is much bigger than the park above. The park is located between the subway stations Eglinton West and St. Clair West making it very accessible to those who use the TTC. It is bordered by steep hills, perfect for snowy winters or even some adventurous summers; yes, I’m talking about rolling down the green hills!

This park is a hub for outdoor activity. It has four tennis courts, two sport fields, and a baseball diamond. There is also and outdoor exercise area near the south side of the park equipped with pull-up bars, dip bars, and other fitness equipment to help you stay in shape.

For those who are dog owners, there is a permanent off-leash area within the park. Whether you’ve got a small or big dog, your canine companion will be thrilled with the size of the dog run and convenient water station.. If you don’t mind keeping your dog on-leash, bring it to its new happy place, Cedarvale Ravine. This ravine is another perfect temporary urban escape to nature.

Fairbank Memorial Park

This well-kept park is located on Dufferin Street just south of Eglinton Ave West. It’s got plenty of green space, hills and a great amount of facilities to take advantage of on a sunny summer day in Toronto. These facilities include a baseball diamond, five bocce courts, a basketball court, and lastly but definitely not least, an outdoor pool, perfect for those hotter-than-you-want-it-to-be days that are coming soon.

On site is the Fairbank Memorial Recreation Centre. Just like the park itself, this community centre has a lot to offer to its visitors. Their facilities range from a crafts room to a fitness room and everything in between.

People who visit Fairbank Memorial Park can spend their whole day there. With so much to do and so many facilities, you’ll never get bored.

 

There is no reason to choose which park to visit.  The hot weather is just beginning and there is plenty of time to explore all three!

Come visit us while you’re in the neighbourhood.

Walking Through Toronto's Reggae History

Our Jane’s Walk. Reggae History. Eglinton West.

During our Jane’s Walk last weekend on Toronto’s Reggae History, it was Reggae talent Jay Douglas who gave us the background story behind the musicians in the mural.  According to Josh Colle, who led the naming of Reggae Lane in our neighborhood, the mural at the Green P Parking closest to Marlee Ave. is the largest mural honoring Reggae History in North America.

As part of his presentation,  Jay Douglas told us about some of the connections between himself and the Toronto Reggae artists in the mural. One friendship that continues today is with reggae legend Bernie Pitters.

Bernie Pitters

Pitters spent the ’80s and ’90s touring with Toots and the Maytals after learning the ropes from Bob Marley’s keyboard player in Jamaica. Pitters is still known to make an appearance on stage or at a keyboard,  despite losing most of his vision through time.

We also learned a little about Toronto’s role in in Reggae Music internationally.  Our recording studios and artists are among the best!

It is said that Toronto holds the ground for dub music and that we maintain the rhythms for rock steady.

According to Mr. Douglas, when Jamaicans back home became enraptured with the new and current music coming out of America, the hard core dub fanatics maintained their original sound in Toronto.

As many growing up on Toronto between the 70s and 90s can attest, Reggae can feel as much a part of local culture as the TTC.

The following paragraphs are a collection of on-line media sources that give some insight to the story we heard last week.

Leroy Sibbles

Leroy Sibbles has received much acclaim as an all-round talent in reggae.  Primarily a bass player, he is a composed and arranged music with a long long list of artists.

The following excerpt from Wikipedia references his Canadian connections making it very clear why he is honoured in this mural. (Please click through for all references.)

After Studio One, Sibbles and the Heptones recorded for other producers including Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry,Harry J,JoJo Hoo Kim, Niney The Observer, Clive Chin, Gussie Clarke, Lloyd Campbell, Prince Buster, Ossie Hibbert, Phil Pratt, Harry Mudie, Geoffrey Chung, Danny Holloway, Rupie Edwards, and Joe Gibbs.  Sibbles also worked with Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes,Lloyd Parks, Sly & Robbie, Augustus Pablo, Bruce Cockburn, and Lee Perry, but primarily produced himself.

Sibbles moved to Canada in 1973, where he married and remained for twenty years, and won a U-Know Award for best male vocalist in 1983, and a Juno Award for best reggae album in 1987.He left the Heptones in 1976, midway through a US tour. Also in Canada, he recorded an album for A&M and licensed several albums to Pete Weston’s Micron label, including Now and Strictly Roots. In 1991 he collaborated on the one-off single “Can’t Repress the Cause”, a plea for greater inclusion of hip hop music in the Canadian music scene, with Dance Appeal, a supergroup of Toronto-area musicians that included Devon, Maestro Fresh Wes, Dream Warriors, B-Kool, Michie Mee, Lillian Allen, Eria Fachin, HDV, Dionne, Thando Hyman, Carla Marshall, Messenjah, Jillian Mendez, Lorraine Scott, Lorraine Segato, Self Defense, Zama and Thyron Lee White.

Sibbles is featured in the 2009 documentary Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. He continued to perform and record into 2010.

Jackie Mittoo

According to the  Canadian Enclyclopedia, Said to have been a piano prodigy, Mittoo began his career in his mid-teens in Kingston, Jamaica. He worked in turn with the Rivals, Sheiks, and Skatalites and was a major figure (keyboard player, composer, arranger, producer) at Coxsone Dodd’s Jamaican Record Manufacturing Co (familiarly, Studio One), where he led, or was a member of, a succession of studio groups.

In 1969 he moved moved to Toronto, but continued to work in Jamaica and toured, and/or recorded, as a member of the Skatalites and with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, Sugar Minott, Johnny Osbourne, Willie Williams, and others. He was music director in 1980 for a short-lived Broadway production, Reggae, and further supported reggae’s growing acceptance in mainstream pop through the guidance he offered non-Jamaican bands like England’s UB40, with which he recorded (Labour of Love, Virgin DEPCD-5) and toured in 1983.  In 1985 he was initiated into the Black Music Association of Canada.

Nana Mclean

Our very own Tre Jah Isle was founded by Nana Mclean (under the name Treasure Isle Records).  As the only women to be represented in the mural she must receive a notable mention.

Mclean made her debut recording sessions at Studio One in 1977. She is most known for singing sweet melodies and is rumored to be putting on a number of performances in 2017.

Jay Douglas

According to Ontario Idependant Music Archive, Jay Douglas first appeared on stage in Montego Bay, Jamaica when he was a youth.  In over 45 years of entertainment, Jay has developed a wide-ranging repertoire of American Blues, West Indian Rhythms, Jazz Standards combined with fancy footwork and incredible on-stage charisma.

In the early ’60s, Jay fronted the R&B group “The Cougars” who with their skill and verve lit up the city of Montreal as well as Toronto’s Yonge Street nightclubs in the late ’70s with Soul Funk and Reggae.

Over the past 10 years, Jay has performed around the world, and at annual Toronto events such as the Beaches Jazz Festival, Jerk Fest, Canadian National Exhibition, Yonge and Dundas Square, and a Taste of Lawrence.

In 2012 Jay was nominated for “Reggae Recording of the Year” at the JUNO Awards and was the recipient of the “G98.7 FM Entertainment Award” at the Harry Jarome awards that same year.

By the way, when you’re looking at the mural, Jay Douglas is the one in the green suit.

Thank-you for spending the afternoon with us Mr. Douglas!

Here is a link to the Jay Douglas reggae rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

 

Thanks to all business that participated in our 2017 Jane’s Walk:

Wisdom’s Barber

Tre Jah Isle

Kaydee’s Clothing

And yes, those Randy’s patties were tasty enough that people lined up for some more!

 

Why Should Low Income Earners File Taxes?

 

Why Should Low Income Earners File Their Taxes?

Filing your taxes might not be a high priority for low income individuals, teenagers, and students. This may be because they question the belief that since they aren’t making sufficient or any income, there is no reason to file taxes.  However, there are several government incentives and benefits that pay back.

One thing for sure is that, if you don’t file your taxes, you do not get the various government benefits which can mean money back in your pocket.

The benefits are the following:

  1. GST/HST & Provincial Tax Credit

The Canada Revenue Agency is providing billions of dollars to Canadian Resident who file their taxes. The federal government provides a maximum amount of $280 in GST credit while the provincial government provides a maximum amount of $291 in provincial tax credit also known as “trillium benefit” to Canadian residences, even if they did not earn any income.

  1. Child Tax Benefit

If you’re a parent who has a dependent(s), the Canada Revenue Agency will provide you an amount of $5400-$6400 annually per child, for those households who are medium to low income earners. Parents can also claim for their child’s “children arts and fitness amount.”(Photo credit: Financial Post)

  1. Public Transit Credit

If you take the transit such as the TTC, you can claim for the full amount for which you spent on transit passes, tickets or tokens. The Canadian government will only credit 15% of what you had spent on transit.

*Note: 2016 is the last tax year to claim for public transit credit as it will be removed in the upcoming tax years.

  1. Medical & Other Taxable Credits

You can claim your medical expenses for which you spent such as eye glasses prescription, dental checkup, prescription medicine, and etc. Some other taxable credits that you can claim are charitable donations, political contributions, tuition slips, interest claim and many more. Deducting these expenses, might potentially give yourself a refund or reduce your taxable owing.

This post was sent to us by www.sfttaxservices.ca 1656 Eglinton Ave. W.