Hump Day: Great way to appreciate Canada is from the outside looking in

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

It’s Canada Day and this has me thinking about this wonderful country we all live in as we celebrate our 148th birthday with parties, barbecues and a whole bunch of fireworks as long as the weather cooperates. So far this summer, we’re having a beautiful October, aren’t we?

When I was growing up, I didn’t really have a concept of other countries except from television shows featuring characters with different accents or of different races and living in faraway places. As I grew older, I started to recognize that not everyone was Canadian and exactly what that meant.

Like many people from around here, my first exposure to non-Canadians was from cousins living in New England. While their parents (siblings of my own parents) still sounded like they were from around here (either Moncton or P.E.I.), my cousins were another story altogether since they were born in the U.S. – Massachusetts to be exact. While one set of cousins was a bit older with an accent that wasn’t as strong as the stereotypical Boston accent, I did have one set of cousins from Boston proper. And let me tell you, they had the Boston accent.

They didn’t say “car” – they said “cah.” And my cousin Mark wasn’t nicknamed “Marky,” he was “Mahky.” When they’d arrive to visit, we were all terribly shy until about an hour later when we’d start gabbing and playing, only finishing when our toys were destroyed. Apparently, Boston-raised kids take after the Boston Bruins hockey team and are pretty rough. And when it was time to go, we’d hear, “Mahky, get in the cah!”

They were on my mother’s side. On my father’s side, I don’t remember much colourful language from my cousins, but I do remember my uncle asking for a tonic. Everyone in his family knew what he wanted, but the rest of us sitting around were bewildered until he finally told us that what we call ‘pop’ is actually ‘tonic’ where he lived in Massachusetts. I always found that so interesting for some reason – about how there could be such different regional words for things. Of course, I knew soda and soft drink, but tonic was a new one for me.

flags countries

My first mega-introduction to people from different countries took place when I attended the Junior Chamber International world convention in Miami in 1992. There were 5,000 delegates in attendance from all over the world. It was fascinating to see so many different cultures mingling.

The Japanese were very serious about the entire thing. It was all business and tuxedos! Like Canadians, the American delegates were a mixed bunch depending on which part of the country they were from. The Canadians seemed to have a lot of affinity for the New Englanders (we were all probably related to each other anyway) and the Texans, who were loud, happy and lots of fun.

The ‍Finns loved to travel and regaled us with their stories while we munched on reindeer tartar in their hospitality suite. (I counted the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh at Christmas later that year and none seemed to be missing. Phew!) The Dutch all seemed to be very tall. The Australians were friendly and liked to party.

I don’t remember many people from any of the other countries, except for the Scots. The Canadians and the Scots got along like long-lost friends. Even if we didn’t know each other personally, it was almost like we were all part of some secret affinity group. Maybe it was the Commonwealth. Maybe it was a love-hate relationship with England and the monarchy, I don’t know. Whatever it was, we were attracted to each other like magnets – in a good way.

I could sit and listen to someone who speaks with a heavy Scottish accent all day anyway, but having a few drinks with an entire clan really pushed the envelope, especially after you’d had one too many and could barely understand someone who lived next door to you let alone someone who lived across the ocean. After a few hours of revelry, for all I know someone could have asked me to marry them while I thought they’d asked for directions to the washroom.

I saw something online the other day that made me think about my propensity for not travelling much. It went something like, “I’d rather pay for an experience than a new computer gadget.” I have many outdated computer gadgets sitting around not doing much, but I’m still talking about that trip in 1992. Maybe it’s time to spread some good old Canadian hospitality around again. It makes someone think, eh?

TransAqua no longer considering P3 for wastewater treatment facility upgrade

TransAqua logo

TransAqua, the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission, announced today that it is no longer pursuing a public-private partnership (P3) option at this time for funding the federally mandated upgrades to its wastewater treatment facility located in Riverview.

“After much thought, study and consideration, the Commission has decided to remove P3 from the table,” says Winston Pearce, Chair of the Commission. “While P3 can certainly be a viable option for a number of projects, we determined that it just wasn’t right for us at this time. This decision was made after completing a thorough due diligence process.”

TransAqua will continue to pursue options which include the Building Canada Fund and self-financing the project on its own. “We remain fully committed to upgrading our facility to meet the new federal regulations by the 2020 deadline,” Mr. Pearce said. “We continue to work diligently toward establishing a secondary treatment process which will greatly increase the quality of our effluent into the Petitcodiac River.”

About TransAqua

TransAqua, the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission (www.transaqua.ca) was established in 1983 to support the wastewater collection and treatment needs of the Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview tri-community. Since then, it has developed a 31-kilometre collection network and a treatment facility to best deliver on this mandate. It has also become a leader in the reuse of bio-solids through the generation of type ‘AA’ compost (the highest grade currently achieved in Canada) as opposed to disposal in a landfill site. The organization is now positioning itself to further upgrade its facilities to provide an enhanced secondary treatment approach that will allow it to meet recently introduced mandatory federal regulations prior to the 2020 deadline.

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Media contact:

Brian Cormier
506-874-8725
brian@briancormier.com

Hump Day: Some words of wisdom for graduates

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

It seems like an entire batch of young people I know are graduating from high school or university this year. The good side is that you get invited to some nice get-togethers among friends and family to celebrate. If you’re really lucky, however, you get to go to the parties and skip the god-awful boring graduation ceremonies.

My high school graduation – the 1982 class of École Mathieu-Martin – was apparently the largest graduating class in school history with more than 500 graduates. It was a thousand degrees outside that day 33 years ago. Inside the J.-Louis Levesque Arena at the Université de Moncton, it was probably twice that hot.

As we sat there in the sweltering heat in our gowns and formal attire, most of us fanned ourselves with our programs to make it bearable. We were, however, warned against doing so because it would seem undignified seeing that it was such an important event in our lives. Many of us obeyed until we eventually figured out that we weren’t about to be denied our diplomas because we created a bit of a comforting breeze around us with a piece of cardboard – so we went ahead and fanned ourselves as if our lives depended on it. I don’t think anyone’s diploma was shredded before we hit the stage.

graduatesAs silly as it sounds, this was the first time I remember feeling like public school was really over. The teachers who lorded over us (most of them benevolently, may I add) for years were still trying to control us for silly little things like fanning ourselves inside a hot and humid arena. Although it was a baby step, many of us realized as the ceremony dragged on that fanning ourselves with our programs was a bit of harmless rebellion which was starting on us on our journeys.

For the most part, the only other times I’d been in the J.-Louis Levesque Arena was for Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling matches in the 1970s and 1980s – also in the sweltering heat. I still remember being petrified when a couple of wrestlers – Nature Boy Dillon and Bulldog Bob Brown, I think – brought their brawl out onto the concrete floor and then into the stands. Or maybe it was Killer Karl Krupp. Regardless, I was scared.

Of course, they weren’t going to beat up little kids in the stands, but I remember begging my father to leave while my equally terrified younger brother’s cup of pop got squeezed so hard in his hand due to stress that the top came off and the pop flew all over the place. He didn’t even notice until my father asked him what happened to his drink. My father made us stay, though, knowing we were perfectly safe high up in the stands. I’ll never forget that.

So, graduates, those are my first two bits of advice: don’t listen to people in authority when you know what they’re asking you to do is wrong. It could be as silly as keeping yourself cool in uncomfortably high heat and humidity, or something much worse. Over your working careers – paid or volunteer – you’ll likely be asked to do stuff you disagree with. That’s normal – and most of the time you may have to hold your nose and do it anyway. However, if it puts you or others in danger, it would be wrong to follow through. You know the difference between right and wrong. Trust your instincts on that.

Secondly, people with more experience than you can be valuable assets when faced with scary situations. It may not involve you being afraid that Killer Karl Krupp will climb into the stands of an arena to beat you up, but when someone with a lot of experience advises you to remain calm and that everything will be OK, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re sincerely trying to help you – and a pretty good chance they’re right.

I’ll always remember my father just staying put while my brother and I were panicking to high heaven to get the heck out of the arena, but I had to trust him. After all, he was my drive home and I was only about seven years old at the time. However, if he started running for the exit, I can assure you I would have, as well.

Most reputable, experienced mentors will give you sound advice based on experience. You can panic anyway and run, or you stick around and enjoy the show. Considering you’re going to be around for another 70 years or so, you might as well enjoy the show – and learn from it.