Singer notes Black history content in songs of the 1960s and ’70s

Rich Pearson learns more and more about the music he performs, especially this time of year.

When he recently sang Paul McCartney’s lyrics, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these sunken eyes and learn to see; all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free,” he realized the song wasn’t about birds at all.

“(McCartney) was thinking about the civil rights movement at that time he wrote it; he wrote it at the 68,” Pearson said.

Toronto firm puts books in the hands of children with greatest need

The head of an agency promoting youth literacy says books in the hands of children can change the future.

On Feb. 10, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in partnership with First Book Canada, hosted a reading event at the First Nations School of Toronto. The event acknowledged Tata’s donation of 1,000 new books to the First Nations School of Toronto, just south of the Danforth. Wayne Cochrane, the director of operations for First Book Canada, explained the value of the gift.

“I think the biggest barrier to literacy is lack of access to books,” he said.

Todmorden PA day celebrates animals of Chinese New Year

It’s a good thing Andrew McArten’s favourite animal is the dog. It came in handy recently when he needed to create an image associated with the Chinese New Year.

With some help from his mom, Andrew, created the image of a dog, in honour of the Year of the Dog, during a lunar craft day at Todmorden Mills Heritage Site.

Colleen McArten, a music teacher at an East York elementary school, decided to put other things aside that day so that she could bring her son Andrew and his sibling to the TDSB PA day at the Heritage Site.

Local artist wows with new gallery show

Liliana Vera’s interactive art exhibit will change and grow every day during its three-week life.

The artist, a student at Centennial College’s East York campus, says she will replace some works daily, and visitors can take some pieces home with them. The show, which she calls ‘Indelible’, is currently on display at the campus’s Corridor Arts Gallery.

Carmen and Suzanne Kirschling

Washington women’s march also a personal statement

Eva James may well have needed the march in Washington to prove that her mother Carmen Kirschling was right.

“I always believed women were the strength of a nation,” Kirschling said. “That’s how I was raised, and how I tried to raise my daughter.”

James, 34, said she was devastated when she learned that Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

“I started hearing what Donald Trump was saying about women and then I heard that other people were starting to accept what he said as the truth,” James said. “I didn’t want that for women, especially the younger girls who don’t know who they are just yet.”

Church publication gets acclimatized to new home in East York

Jocelyn Bell’s work is figuratively and literally on the move. As the managing editor of The United Church Observer, she has seen both the content of her publication and its office location change.

Readers of the most recent editions of The United Church Observer can read stories about becoming a vegan or about the daily meditations of First Nations traditions.

“(With) our tag line ‘ethical living, justice and faith,’ there’s a heavy emphasis on how we are in the world,” Bell said. “That’s kind of how we express our faith at this place.”

EMS dispatcher talks couple through birth of their daughter

With the assistance of an EMS dispatcher, a father delivered a baby girl in an Uber vehicle near a busy East York intersection.

On Jan. 18, Anita Thompson, a Toronto Emergency Medical Services dispatcher had nearly finished her 12-hour shift when she got a call. An anxious father and his wife, who had gone into labour, were travelling in an Uber vehicle en route to a hospital. Thompson said the father explained that the Uber driver had pulled off the road at Overlea Boulevard and Thorncliffe Park Drive, so the ambulance sent by Thompson could rendezvous and assist the parents. Thompson described the scene inside the Uber.