Taras Natyshak

Amherstburg Freedom Museum recognized by Ontario Trillium Foundation at AGM

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum held its annual general meeting inside the Nazrey AME Church and the meeting included provincial recognition for the museum.

The museum was recognized by the Ontario Trillium Foundation for receiving a $45,000 grant under the Ontario 150 Community Capital Grant program. The money helped the museum complete the project to put a new cedar shake roof on the Nazrey AME Church with some of the funds also being put towards a new courtyard at the museum.

“We had a great year in 2016 and we’re looking forward to a great 2017,” said Monty Logan, president of the museum’s board of directors.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant.  The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant. The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Logan also pointed out the challenge to repair the church roof was assisted by a fundraising campaign, and thanked those who donated towards it.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak recognized the museum, saying while he gets to honour those who receive grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), it is the OTF that does the bulk of the work.

“The importance of maintaining, preserving and sharing this facility – this place of worship – and all the stories within is immense,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak pointed out the church’s role on the Underground Railroad, stating people seeking freedom from slavery found solace and love at the church. He said it not only means a lot to the Amherstburg and Essex County communities, but the church means a lot to the nation as well.

Dan Allen, a member of the OTF’s grant review team, noted the Nazrey AME Church has been part of the community for 170 years and it has played a vital role for so many people throughout the generations.

The AGM also was a time to recognize volunteers, including awarding the 2017 recipient of the Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award. That was presented to Carolin Harris.

“It’s an incredible place to volunteer,” said Harris. “It was humbling to receive such a prestigious award. It’s humbling because it’s something I enjoy.”

Harris, who estimated she donated 200 hours of her time in 2016, said she lives across the street and came to volunteer about ten years ago when she saw a need to help maintain flowers and plants the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society had planted.

“Ever since then, I’ve been taking care of it,” she said.

Harris added her children have worked at the museum and said “I could never repay what the museum has given to them.”

“Without volunteers, we couldn’t keep the doors open,” said Logan, who also paid tribute to the museum’s staff.

Logan also pointed out the museum is looking at getting a new website and wants to digitize their archives to make them more accessible online.

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

“We’re really excited about that initiative,” she said.

The museum is excited to host the Amherstburg Freedom Summit this fall, he added.

Programming committee chair Philip Alexander noted the museum facilitated the photography of some Underground Railroad descendants for an exhibit called “North is Freedom.” It was launched at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and was later displayed at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Alexander also pointed out the museum housed a portion of the “Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150” exhibit and also presented Mac Simpson Awards to students Sarah Tesfay and Keenan Wilson to help them pursue post-secondary educations.

Fundraising chair and museum vice president Darryl Hogan said they have a $35,000 goal that they want to hit and noted the upcoming June 3 “Ribs & Ragtime” event is one of the ways they will do it along with the Emancipation Gala and the Walter Perry Golf Classic. He encouraged people to bring family and friends to the museum so they could see what it’s all about.

Curator Mary-Katherine Whelan said the museum welcomed 1,654 visitors last year including school groups and people from across Canada and the United States. She thanked the volunteers and staff for their work and believed one of the most important parts of their jobs is sharing the history and stories the museum has to offer.

 

Essex MPP not impressed with 2017 provincial budget

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Despite cash in the 2017 Ontario budget for a new hospital system in Windsor-Essex, Taras Natyshak is not impressed with what has been put forth by the Liberal government.

“In all respects, I’d say the budget falls short,” said the Essex MPP.

Natyshak, a New Democrat, attributes the hospital funding to those who fought for it. He said it “can be credited to the community for coming together.”

Natyshak said he continues to be a supporter of the new Windsor-Essex hospital system and that “we deserve this.”

“I certainly congratulate everyone who has worked on this effort,” said Natyshak. “It’s one victory in a budget that falls short.”

The 2017 provincial budget does little to aid those impacted by high electricity rates, he added.

“I saw nothing in the budget that will help people afford electricity costs,” he said.

The CEO of Hydro One makes $4.1 million annually while colleagues in other provinces make about $500,000 per year, Natyshak stated, adding that hydro should remain a public asset.

“That’s just ludicrous,” he said of the salary.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Natyshak said the budget “fails to acknowledge” the two million people struggling to pay for prescription drugs and said a youth pharmacare plan, that would provide free access to approximately 4,400 prescription drugs for those 24-and-under doesn’t go far enough. He believed it was “a piecemeal pharmacare program” and that it doesn’t address those over 24 years of age, including seniors who often have complex prescription drug needs.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath recently unveiled her party’s proposal to create a universal pharmacare program in Ontario, one that would be in place by 2020 if her party was elected in next year’s provincial election. Reports indicate that it would initially cover 125 essential drugs.

The budget is health care-oriented, said Natyshak, but it doesn’t do enough for area hospitals which have had to go through five years of frozen budgets. Funding will rise with the rate of inflation, he said, but that it still falls short of what is needed.

“There’s no commitment to improving access to affordable child care,” he added. “There was no focus on non-profit and affordable child care.”

The budget doesn’t do enough for precarious workers, Natyshak continued, stating the NDP advocates a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“By any standard, it’s still below what a livable wage should be,” said Natyshak.

Further enhancements in long-term care support are needed, he continued and the budget “does nothing” as it relates to school closures in rural and northern communities.

Continuing the widening of Highway 3 is also not included, with Natyshak noting that phase three of the project has been on the books since 2006. He said he was told it could be part of the 2017 budget and was disappointed when it wasn’t.

“Immediately after the budget, when I confronted the Minister of Transportation, I was told we’d have to wait a little bit longer,” said Natyshak. “I responded that we are tired of waiting.”

Natyshak promoted the NDP as the party that is “ready to take the helm and meet the needs of families.” He said they knew the Liberals were looking to balance the books but “what they fail to remember is they are balancing the books on the backs of the province.”

There are still people struggling in Ontario and when listening to the unveiling of the budget, he believed it was a case of too little, too late.

“This is a Premier that is trying to undo the damage her government has done the last 14 years,” said Natyshak. “There were pennies for everyone but no focus on eliminating the structural problems that exist.”

Skate Amherstburg presents “Musical Mania”

 

By RTT Staff

Skate Amherstburg held its 46th annual ice show Sunday afternoon before a large crowd at the Libro Centre.

Senior skaters with Skate Amherstburg perform during the March 26 "Musical Mania" ice show at the Libro Centre.

Senior skaters with Skate Amherstburg perform during the March 26 “Musical Mania” ice show at the Libro Centre.

This year’s theme was “Musical Mania” with songs from Chicago, Hairspray, Mama Mia, High School Musical and more featured during the two-hour show.

A pair of young CanSkaters make their way onto the ice.

A pair of young CanSkaters make their way onto the ice.

Skaters have been preparing for the last several months with participants ranging in age from three-years-old to 60-years-old. A total of 145 skaters in all participated.

Lauren Kawai performs a solo number to the tune of Hairspray's "New Girl in Town."

Lauren Kawai performs a solo number to the tune of Hairspray’s “New Girl in Town.”

The day was also used as an occasion to pay tribute to the club’s award winning skaters and to celebrate the $100,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant that Skate Amherstburg received earlier this year. Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was in Amherstburg several weeks ago when the club held a Mini-Fun Competition to help Skate Amherstburg celebrate.

Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 celebrates 95th birthday of World War II veteran

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Nearly 80 people stopped by Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 last week to wish Doug Ramsay a happy birthday.

Ramsay, who served as a private in the Essex-Scottish Regiment from 1939-45 in World War II, turned 95 last Wednesday (March 15) and the local Legion held a party in his honour. Ramsay received the Netherlands Commemorative Medal of Liberation and a medal recognizing Canada’s 150th birthday during the ceremonial portion of the afternoon with local dignitaries also recognizing Ramsay as well.

Cornelis and Tina Heeren present Doug Ramsay the Netherlands Commemorative Medal of Liberation.

Cornelis and Tina Heeren present Doug Ramsay the Netherlands Commemorative Medal of Liberation.

Ramsay said it was recognition he didn’t see coming.

“It was a surprise,” he said. “I thought I was coming down to have a few beers with the boys.”

Ramsay was accompanied by sons Duncan and Peter as he accepted his awards with his sons also surprised by the ceremony.

“There’s a lot more to it than we were expecting,” said Peter.

Duncan said the ceremony was “very special” and said his father was overwhelmed, adding his father is a humble person.

Long lives run in the family, Duncan added, noting Doug’s father lived until he was 100-years-old and his mother died when she was 98-years-old.

Legion members, dignitaries and other veterans joined in wishing Doug Ramsay (second from right) a happy 95th birthday March 15.

Legion members, dignitaries and other veterans joined in wishing Doug Ramsay (second from right) a happy 95th birthday March 15.

“He has longevity in his family,” said Duncan.

Capt. Jeff Turner, who acted as master of ceremonies for the formal portion of the afternoon, praised Ramsay for his bravery, dedication to the cause and humble nature. Turner said Ramsay sets an example people can emulate daily.

Turner also pointed out Ramsay has served with the Legion for over 66 years.

Cornelis and Tina Heeren presented Ramsay the Netherlands Commemorative Medal of Liberation as Cornelis is a veteran of the Dutch army. Bruce Tribute, Sgt. At Arms with Legion Br. 255 in Riverside, presented Ramsay the Canada 150 medal.

Sgt.-at-Arms Bruce Tribute (left) from Legion Br. 255 in Riverside presents Doug Ramsay a Canada 150 medal.

Sgt.-at-Arms Bruce Tribute (left) from Legion Br. 255 in Riverside presents Doug Ramsay a Canada 150 medal.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo presented Ramsay a framed certificate from the town of Amherstburg and thanked Ramsay for his service to Amherstburg and to Canada.

“Happy 95th birthday,” said DiCarlo. “I hope we’re hear to celebrate your 100th birthday.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo presents Doug Ramsay a certificate from the

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo presents Doug Ramsay a certificate from the

Patti Hayes represented Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and praised Ramsay for his dedicated service to the Royal Canadian Legion. She added that Ramsay is an inspiration for future generations.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey was in England and unable to attend last Wednesday’s event, but federal recognition for the 95-year-old veteran is still expected.

Skate Amherstburg officially receives Ontario Trillium Foundation grant

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Skate Amherstburg received a $100,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak helping them to celebrate.

Natyshak attended Skate Amherstburg’s “Mini Fun Competition” recently at the Libro Centre where he helped present awards to the skaters but also helped them celebrate the $100,000 OTF grant. Natyshak said he wanted to congratulate the skaters but also pointed out the OTF funding will help support them in their training all year round.

“I presented them a certificate recognizing the grant,” he said, adding he also wanted to thank the organization for its hard work.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was on hand for Skate Amherstburg’s recent “Mini Fun” competition to present awards and to officially congratuate them on an Ontario Trillium Grant. From left: Paige Paquette, Regan Moniz, Lauren Coleman, Adelaide Hered, Alivia Piper, Zoe Zdzairski and Natyshak.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was on hand for Skate Amherstburg’s recent “Mini Fun” competition to present awards and to officially congratuate them on an Ontario Trillium Grant. From left: Paige Paquette, Regan Moniz, Lauren Coleman, Adelaide Hered, Alivia Piper, Zoe Zdzairski and Natyshak.

Natyshak noted the contributions of the families in helping the young skaters as parents and grandparents “play an integral role” in their children’s success. Skaters will only get better if they continue to work at it and have fun.

“By practicing and practicing, they are going to get better at their sport,” said Natyshak.

Lauren Kawai, a board member and coach with Skate Amherstburg, said the grant money is being put to good use.

“It’s being used for programming and aligning the skate program with the long-term development model,” she said.

The Mini Fun Competition was for pre-junior and junior skaters.

“It’s just for fun,” said Kawai. “It gives young skaters a taste of the competition world.”