Amazing efforts, heroes and artists

Neighbourhood garage sales are part every Canadian Saturday but this isn’t just any garage sale.


“All proceeds to go support Karim — Afghan interpreter that served with Canada,” reads the poster promoting the Sept. 9 garage sale, which goes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 7488 Greendale St. in Niagara Falls.

Karim Amiry might not be able to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention but it turns out somebody does care about him.

Wendy Long, a Niagara Falls woman, is not only trying to get the embattled former linguist to the Canadian troops out of danger in Kabul but also raising money for his future.

“He deserves it and so do all the interpreters who served Canada in a dangerous place,” said the wife and mother who believes people like Karim deserve to be here.

These men served Canada but have slipped beneath the cracks of refugee programs and the red tape and bureaucracy is very difficult to sort out as the Taliban and ISIS have bounty’s on their heads.

“In Karim’s case we helped him apply to business school at Niagara College and we were so thrilled he was accepted,” she said.

The money from the garage sale will go toward tuition, as will a golf tournament at Beechwood Golf Club on Sept. 30 and a special Murder Mystery Night in November.

Everything is set for Karim — except for a visa to get into Canada.

“Turns out he can’t even register as a refugee in Afghanistan and can’t get to the right offices without going through Taliban controlled territory,” Long said.

But she’s hoping Ottawa might help him with is a student VISA.

“A spot at Niagara College is waiting for him if we can get the student VISA approved,” Long said.

She and her husband Doug and son Devon are also willing to board Karim.

I am hopeful Trudeau and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen notice this effort by a Canadian family.

I have a column planned for the Sunday Sun on the latest on this very subject. In the meantime, if Trudeau and Hussen can’t find a way to help the terps to our troops in Afghanistan, maybe they could come by the Long household Saturday to pick up a deal at the garage sale.


David can sometimes beat Goliath.

When it comes to retail sales it’s such a tough time for small mom and pop operations. Big operations have a price advantage.

Not any more.

“Direct Co-ops has launched an initiative that will see 29 million small and medium enterprises come together to form the world’s largest buying group,” reads a statement from Direct Co-ops. “Through the cooperative, these SMEs will have the purchasing power to lower costs on everyday business products and services, making them more competitive with ‘big box’ stores.”

I got to tell you as much as I find myself in box stores shopping, my favourite experiences are when I am in an urban neighbourhood or a smaller town looking at retail stores, often run by families.

They not only have unique merchandise, food or fashion, they are also the heartbeat of many towns.

However, it’s no easy task taking on the big boys.

“Now more than ever, small businesses are being squeezed out by big box retailers,” says Ahmed Attia, CEO and Founder of Direct Co-ops.

This idea helps with this.

“Our goal is to level the playing field by bringing all the mom and pops together to help them cut costs much like Walmart does,” Attia said. “By purchasing products together with other businesses, we can negotiate lower purchasing prices on the products and services we need to run our businesses and items we retail to our customers.”

If 1,000 small businesses do this, they can cut the cost by 75%.

“The Direct initiative is a great way of supporting independent business,” said Mike Shepard, chair of the Business Improvement Area for Kensington Market and founder of Big Fat Burrito. “Independent businesses are the backbone of our middle class, so it gives people the opportunity to keep our middle class strong.”

People power.


Gas bar hero Jeff Annett told me his favourite part of taking down an accused armed robber was “getting a high five from the Durham Regional Police officers, who do such a good job without a pat on the back.”

You never know who you are going to meet on a story.

Photographer Veronica Henri and I went out to Kingston Rd. in Pickering and met contemporary artist Agnes Bae, whose talent blew me away when I checked out her website. Originally from Korea, she said her inspiration is as much Canadian as her upbringing.

Turns out she has a show Sept. 28 to Dec. 2 at the OACD Continuing Education Gallery on Dundas St. W. Maybe I will see you there.

Speaking of amazing artists I was walking up Yonge St. and came across lots of other amazing talents.

At Yonge-Dundas Square I took in the TDOT Fest, which publicist Sasha Stoltz tells me is “the largest outdoor urban music showcase in Toronto.”

No wonder. Amazing rappers there. Juno-winning artist Dru was phenomenal, as was rapper Peter Jackson. The next time I see these guys I doubt it will be free like this was. Terrific.

And they are not the only artists turning heads in the square.

Madam Bling Jewellery Stylist & Mobile Boutique had it’s offerings on display there, once again showing the importance of small business entrepreneurs.

Garie Adamson and Suzette Simpson of Toronto’s own fashion house 100 Miles also had an amazing booth to visit. Garie told me he doesn’t complain anymore about Toronto traffic since he thought of the 100 Miles brand while sitting on the packed Don Valley Parkway in rush hour after telling a person he was on his way to meet that he might as well have a 100 miles to go.

Last but not least I walked further north to where the steps at the new Ryerson building had been turned into a mini-amphitheatre for a busking show by Steve McLaughlin, who like the others I mentioned here today is wickedly talented. He does Neil Young, Blue Rodeo, Pink Floyd and James Taylor just as good as the original artists. All for free or a small tip in his guitar case. The guy’s amazing.

The whole city is amazing.

No wonder Amazon is kicking the tires. It’s not as much us wanting them as it is them wanting us.

Toronto and the GTA is the best area in the whole world. But you already know that. Have a good weekend everybody. Scrawler out.

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