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Oct 28, 2013

Below is South Of France's response to my e-mail of yesterday. Much as Jordan's cereal has decided, South of France states it will not cease using Palm Oil. I include my response to them at the bottom of their e-mail.

SOF soaps and the use of Palm Oil
Victoria Neilson <>
4:22 PM (3 hours ago)
to meEmily

Dear Mr. Kirkby –

Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out to us regarding your concerns on the use of illegally harvested palm oil.  We absolutely share your concerns and have been working diligently to address this critical issue since Palm Oil is an integral part of our formula and is responsible for the rich creamy lather in each bar.  In preparation for the introduction of the new 6 oz bar which started shipping to stores in September, we worked closely with our suppliers to ensure that we only used sustainable palm oil in these new bars.  All of these 6 oz bars are now made with palm oil certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the leading organization in this area of promoting change in the effects of palm oil planting on the environment.   We feel that this is the most effective way to support the effort of encouraging sustainable palm production.  For additional information on the RSPO, please visit


I hope that this allays your concerns and that you will be able to continue to enjoy our terrific soaps.





Victoria Neilson

Vice President and General Manager






> From: Michael Kirkby []

> Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 3:58 PM

> To: Info

> Subject: South of France Soaps


> To Whom It May Concern,

> I have used South of France soaps for three years now. It is a very good product and one of the finer soaps on the market.

> I recently looked at the ingredients on the label and noticed that you use Palm Oil in your soaps. Although most companies say they use only sustainable palm oil most palm oil is not from sustainable oil estates that were either converted from a prior product or were created prior to the governmental issue of what is allowable and sustainable.

> The fact of the matter is that illegal logging and the creation of illegal palm oil estates is still ongoing and is the originator of much palm oil on the market. Our forests and particularly the rain forests are the lungs of our planet. It is not just that orang-utans and other indigenous wildlife are endangered due to habitat loss it is the loss of forests that help to regulate climate and global temperature.

> Until you cease to use palm oil in your product; I will no longer use it.


> Sincerely yours,

> Michael Kirkby

Michael Kirkby <>
7:35 PM (0 minutes ago)
to Victoria
Dear Ms. Neilson,
                          Thank you for your timely reply but due to the damage that palm oil has already done; I've decided to boycott all products containing it. Might I suggest using coconut oil instead?
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Posted: Oct 28, 2013 4:36pm
Oct 27, 2013

I recently just sent an e-mail to South of France soaps; one of my favorite products. Upon reading the label I found that they use palm oil. Below is a copy of the e-mail I just sent them.

If you wish to contact them and urge them to cease using palm oil; their e-mail address is:

My e-mail to them:

To Whom It May Concern,

                                        I have used South of France soaps for three years now. It is a very good product and one of the finer soaps on the market. 
I recently looked at the ingredients on the label and noticed that you use Palm Oil in your soaps. Although most companies say they use only sustainable palm oil most palm oil is not from sustainable oil estates that were either converted from a prior product or were created prior to the governmental issue of what is allowable and sustainable.
The fact of the matter is that illegal logging and the creation of illegal palm oil estates is still ongoing and is the originator of much palm oil on the market. Our forests and particularly the rain forests are the lungs of our planet. It is not just that orang-utans and other indigenous wildlife are endangered due to habitat loss it is the loss of forests that help to regulate climate and global temperature.
Until you cease to use palm oil in your product; I will no longer use it.
Sincerely yours,
Michael Kirkby
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Posted: Oct 27, 2013 12:59pm
Apr 1, 2013

For those of you who have wondered what a Delaware Corporation is here's a useful website.

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Posted: Apr 1, 2013 5:22am
Mar 16, 2013

These days we pick up a packet of frozen prawns from the supermarket almost without thinking. They’re healthy, flavour-some and cheap enough to count as an affordable treat, perhaps on a skewer for a barbecue or daintily arranged for a dinner party starter.

If we give even a moment’s thought about where they come from we probably imagine a sun-burnished fisherman skilfully tossing his nets out into the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean or South China Sea before hauling in his valuable catch.

Nothing, I’m afraid, could be further from the truth. 

Jumbo tiger prawns

Intensively farmed: Jumbo tiger prawns are not so appealing after seeing the putrid factories where feed is processed for the prawn farms

As an environmental journalist, I’ve visited Thailand, the world’s leading exporter of farmed king prawns, many times to investigate the prawn trade, and what I discovered is so horrifying I will never eat another king prawn again.

Every aspect of this trade is stomach churning: from the putrid factories that process the feed to the prawn farms that pollute the oceans.


Welcome to the rotting, stinking and very dangerous world of the prawn trade, a world where industrial fishing boats exploit illegal slave labour to harvest the so-called ‘trash fish’ on which the prawns are fed and leave devastating environmental damage in their wake.

I began my investigation aboard the trawlers that plunder the seas to provide the feed for the prawn farms along Thailand’s shoreline.

While on board, I discovered that trafficked labourers from Burma and Cambodia are forced to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, on boats where they are often beaten, abused, even killed by unscrupulous skippers.

These men suffer appalling treatment — some even dying on ship and having their bodies tossed casually overboard — just so we can taste king prawns in a lunchtime sandwich or Friday night curry.

The damage to our oceans is also devastating. 

Watching a haul of trash fish being pulled over the side of a Thai fishing boat is a heart-breaking sight: a muddy mess of seaweed and rocks mixed with a vast variety of small or juvenile sea creatures: crabs, starfish, sponges and small fish that will not get the chance to grow any bigger. 

Jim Wickens says that now he has seen Thailand's prawn trade first hand, he will never eat a king prawn again

'Horrifying': Jim Wickens says that now he has seen Thailand's king prawn trade first hand, he will never eat a one again

It was a sight I had to get used to as I worked undercover on these boats. My technique for getting aboard was a dangerous one. More than once I had to throw myself into the sea so that a passing trash fish boat was obliged to ‘rescue’ me.

From my vantage point on deck, I saw how this grisly industry operates at first hand. Every few hours, a whistle would sound and a net would be hauled up from the depths, raised above the deck and, on a signal from the captain, the contents spilled out.

Panicked marine creatures including sea snakes, baby octopus, sea horses, puffer fish and pretty pink crabs would scurry across the deck, only to be crushed underfoot and shovelled up into a heap before being thrown into the hold.

These trawlermen employ one of the most environmentally damaging forms of commercial fishing to be found anywhere in the world: bottom trawling.

This practice, which sees the nets weighted down so that they sink to the sea bed, is enormously destructive. Entire tranches of marine life are effectively swept away and habitats and ecosystems that might have been there for centuries are destroyed.

Breeding populations of many marine species are being all but destroyed and with them the futures of local fishermen who, until the arrival of the bottom trawlers, had been harvesting sustainable catches of local fish for decades. But no longer.

Back on deck, the often enslaved crews, who are tricked into coming to Thailand by the false promise of generous wages, are woken by the deafening blare of an air horn mounted above their cramped sleeping quarters.

Exhausted, but too frightened to disobey an order, they stumble to the deck to sort through the latest trash fish catch. It’s only really the rocks and the weed that go over the side; everything else is shovelled into an already stinking hold.

Many of these boats do have ice-controlled holds, but they are reserved for commercially valuable catches. The trash fish go straight into a filthy compartment where, with boats often at sea for days at a time, they soon start to rot.

The Thai fishing trade leaves serious environmental damage in its wake and pollution in the ocean

Damage: The Thai fishing trade leaves serious environmental damage in its wake and pollution in the ocean

By the time they return to port, the stench from these holds is almost unimaginable and there are regular reports of crewmen fainting and even dying after they’ve been sent into the holds to help with unloading, only to be overcome by the toxic fumes.

These men are often at sea for months, even years at a time, thanks to the unscrupulous practice of transferring crew from a returning vessel loaded with fish, to an empty trawler setting out. In such harsh working conditions, where disobedience is often met with a beating from a metal pipe or even a bullet, suicides are common and murders not unknown.

One crewman I spoke to had been shot at four times and had seen at least one crewmate killed. These desperate men are dying unnoticed, far out at sea, hundreds of miles from their homes and family.Once the trawlers return to port, the commercially valuable fish are unloaded first and sold at the dockside market.

The king prawns are fed on 'trash fish'

Putrid: The king prawns are fed on 'trash fish'

It is only later in the day, when the market has cleared and the port almost seems to have shut down, that the trash fish trucks arrive.

Time and again, I witnessed the boats’ stinking holds being unloaded and their rotting cargo shovelled into ten-tonne dumper trucks.

From here, it is a very smelly ride to an industrial processing plant, where the feed destined for prawn farms is produced. It is produced amid swarms of flies, temperatures that can approach 38C and a sweltering humidity of 100 per cent. The stench is foul.

Load upon load of putrid fish and decaying marine creatures is poured into fetid storage containers. Every now and then you spot the eye of a beautiful coral fish or the glint of a long-dead starfish as the noxious mess is crushed and passed through a series of ovens until the final product — fish flour — is obtained.

Transformed into pellets, this is then driven to the prawn farms that have all but destroyed Thailand’s mangrove forests.

If you’d driven down the coast of the Gulf of Thailand 20 or 30 years ago you’d have seen mile after mile of these flooded forests, an incredible breeding ground for fish and a natural barrier that protected Thai farmers and their land from tsunamis.

Today, however, most of these forests are gone. In their place is mile after mile of prawn ponds, their valuable contents protected by high fencing and security lighting.

In these ponds, prawns are farmed on an industrial scale to meet booming demand from consumers in North America and Europe. In Britain, we consume about 85,000 tonnes of prawns a year, two-thirds of which are warm-water prawns like those farmed in Thailand. The trade is worth £450 million in Britain alone.

Prawns need brackish, slightly salty water, which is why former mangrove forests that have been cleared of their trees and cut off by sluices from the sea are ideal.

But prawns also need feeding — a lot of feeding. Spend a day peering through one of those security fences and you’ll see men coming out every few hours to toss another bucket of ‘feed’ to the growing prawns.

I watched from the side of one prawn pond as they prepared to harvest the fattened prawns. The sluices were opened and the prawns caught in a filter as the water drained out.

They are beheaded and frozen in minutes but, in many cases, the filthy lagoon water, a grim cocktail of several months’ worth of excreta and food waste, is simply washed out into what’s left of the surrounding mangrove forests or straight out to sea.

In Hugh's Fish Fight, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall went to examine farmed King Prawns, at Asia's biggest prawn market near Bangkok

Concerned about Thailand: In Hugh's Fish Fight, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall went to examine farmed King Prawns, at Asia's biggest prawn market near Bangkok

Thailand does have marine conservation laws designed to protect both its coastal waters and specially designated marine conservation reserves. But these are poorly policed and routinely ignored by ruthless commercial fishing fleets whose only concern is short-term profit at any cost.    

Meanwhile, thousands of miles from this marine destruction, we unthinkingly bite into a delicious skewer of tiger prawns, perhaps coated with garlic butter.

But what are the alternatives to industrially produced prawns?

Some certification schemes for so-called ‘responsibly produced’ prawns do exist, and marginal improvements to farming practices are beginning to take place.

But in my research I have found that none of the certification schemes properly address the damage being done to local communities or the destruction to the marine environment caused by trash fishing.

King prawns can also be produced organically. Naturally, this makes them very expensive for supermarket customers. But even organic prawn farming usually requires the destruction of wild mangrove forest — even if trash fishing has been avoided.

As consumers, however, we can look elsewhere. There are cold-water prawns from the North Atlantic, which currently account for about one-third of all prawns eaten in this country.

Dublin Bay prawns from the Irish Sea  — most of which are currently exported to France as langoustine — are another alternative. Neither, however, is currently available as cheaply or conveniently as Thailand’s tiger prawns.

The only answer, I believe, is to stop eating warm-water king prawns altogether.

I, for one, don’t want slave labour and the destruction of the ocean mixed in with my prawn cocktail. Do you?

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Posted: Mar 16, 2013 9:52am
Feb 9, 2013

Leaders out of their mines


QMI Agency

First posted:Friday, February 08, 2013 07:41 PM EST| Updated:Friday, February 08, 2013 07:51 PM EST

De Beers CanadaThe De Beers Canada Victor Mine, located in northern Ontario is seen in this undated file photo.

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With little else to do in Attawapiskat, and with no leadership worth noting, it is no surprise that a bunch of residents from that frozen ghetto would bite the hand that feeds them with a blockade of the ice road to the De Beers diamond mine.

It is just one more example in a long list of why unmanageable and unsustainable reserves like Attawapiskat should be shut down.

After all, De Beers has only deposited around $300 million into the band council’s coffers over five years – that’s $60 million per annum, or $50,000 per resident per year - so there’s no sense letting that good deed go unpunished, now is there?

So block the road.

And who cares if 100 of the 500 employees at that mine are actually Cree workers from Attawapiskat?

Let them eat frozen cake.

And, most of all, why allow them to be examples to others when the federal government, via the taxpayer, will continue pumping in the cash to all and sundry with disappointing results.

And, while we’re at it, why not give a big raise to whatever lawyer the band hired to make its deal with De Beers?

Why? Because De Beers purportedly signed what amounts to a non-disclosure clause with Chief Theresa Spence’s crew to not reveal what any of that $300 million is for, or how it is spent.

That’s one humdinger of a rider.

But look who was behind the since-suspended blockade at De Beers. It was none other than Danny Metatawabin, the media spokesman who figuratively spoon-fed Spence her surprisingly nutritious fish soup while she was in Ottawa conning the media with a “hunger strike” routine.

According to reports, he’s the band's co-ordinator of the Attawapiskat Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) with De Beers, and chose the week of Spence’s return as the moment to complain about certain layoffs and hiring practices at the mine.

So they bit the hand that any First Nations band in the country would love to have stroking its back.

Imagine: $300 million, with no questions asked, and a 100 well-paying jobs to boot.

Yet they throw up a blockade.

How hopeless is that?

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Posted: Feb 9, 2013 3:32pm
Jan 14, 2013

John Kiedrowski: First Nations’ housing is not up to code

John Kiedrowski, National Post | Jan 11, 2013 12:01 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 10, 2013 3:20 PM ET
More from National Post

CBC News / Allison Dempster/ Photo of a property indicative of the bleak conditions in Attawapiskat, the northern Ontario First Nations community that has dominated the national news.

Stories about poor or dilapidated housing conditions on First Nations reserves are a recurring news feature. First Nations leaders argue for more funds to build more houses, and blame the federal government for the poor condition of existing homes. But who really is responsible for the construction of homes in these communities?

The short answer is that the Chief in Council is responsible. In 1983, as part of devolution of responsibility to First Nations, Chief in Councils became the authority with respect to homes built in their jurisdiction.

It also became the responsibility of Chief in Councils to pass by-laws to control building activities. The responsibility included introducing building permits, and ensuring that building activities such as electrical work were performed by licensed electricians.

However, only some 12 of 650 First Nations communities have passed by-laws stating that residential homes must be built to either the national or provincial building code. For the majority of communities, there are no by-laws or processes to approve building plans or the site where the home is to be built.

In many cases, electrical work is done by unqualified workers. New construction is generally not inspected, and if it is, the approval is based on a band housing policy and not on whether the construction complies with actual building codes.

In 2003, the Auditor General of Canada raised similar concerns, but little has changed. Homes that are not built to code are fire traps. That is why First Nations have the highest rate of injuries and deaths due to fires in North America.

Homes built in communities without enforceable by-laws don’t last long. Poor construction practices lead to what are known as “disposable houses.” A study by a national association revealed that some First Nations communities without by-laws or sound construction practices are forced to rebuild their homes every five years — as compared to 50 years for homes in communities that are built to code.

If a home is estimated to cost, say, $180,000 to build, and you’re making major repairs on a regular basis because of shoddy construction, you can spend what amounts to almost $1-million over a normal 50-year lifespan. And since rents aren’t collected (as some believe housing is a treaty right), Chief in Councils sometimes are forced to take funds from other areas such as education to pay for emergency home repairs.

The inferior construction in First Nations housing also opens the door to possible liability challenges for the Chief in Councils by their band members. Band members who are injured or are sick because they are living in poorly constructed homes with resulting mould issues may be able to sue.

There are some simple solutions to address this problem. The federal government needs to take a more businesslike approach in funding the construction and renovation of homes. Funds should be allocated only to those communities that have appropriate by-laws and a framework to ensure homes are built to code.

And the by-laws need to be enforced: Inspection progress reports should be based on compliance with code. Funds should not be released until final sign off by a certified inspector. The federal government should follow similar lending and loan practices to those used by financial institutions for homes built off reserve.

The bottom line is that bands need to adopt good construction practices. This not only includes passing by-laws to adopt building and fire codes, but also conducting site and mandatory inspections; using contracts that have not been written by the contractors; using contractors that are qualified or certified; allowing the issuance of stop orders and hold-backs for inferior construction; engaging professionals to manage these projects; and taking the politics out of the housing portfolio.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the main issues explaining why housing in First Nations is such a challenge. The good news is that there are some First Nations communities that are providing leadership in construction practices that can be used as models of excellence.

Everyone in a cold country deserves to live in a safe and warm home. There should be no exceptions.

National Post

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Posted: Jan 14, 2013 8:59am
Jan 14, 2013

Jonathan Kay: What’s wrong with remote native reserves? Let’s ask a veteran doctor who worked there

Jonathan Kay | Jan 10, 2013 8:07 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 10, 2013 11:10 PM ET
More from Jonathan Kay | @jonkay

Files Steamboat Colvile docked at Norway House, Manitoba, circa 1880

Since this week’s release of an audit report showing Chief Theresa Spence’s Attawapiskat reserve to be the land that accounting forgot, the tide of public opinion has turned against her. But at least one knowledgeable observer makes a convincing case that the audit numbers may not be nearly as bad as they seem.

His name is Murray Trusler, a former doctor who began his career in Norway House, Manitoba in 1967-68.  He retired in 2010, after serving as Chief of the Medical Staff at Moose Factory, where he worked serving the four First Nations communities on the west coast of James Bay, Moosonee and the two First Nations in Moose Factory.

As explained below, Dr. Trusler is no apologist for Canada’s current aboriginal policies. But as a doctor, he’s seen what kind of financial pressures chiefs come under.

From his experiences, he supplies the example of a set of six siblings living in a remote fly-in reserve (such as Attawapiskat), whose father is dying at Kingston General Hospital, where he had been receiving specialized treatment. Their bill for return airfare, accommodation and food in Kingston easily could total $15,000 — money they don’t have, because there are no jobs. “The band, out of compassion, pays the expenses,” he explains. “There is no alternative. Then the chief is reprimanded for mismanaging funds.”

Dr. Trusler isn’t arguing that all of Attawapiskat’s undocumented expenditures were medical mercy calls. What he’s arguing is that the larger issue isn’t corruption, it’s destitution: People who have no jobs and no money inevitably become dependent for ad hoc handouts on band leaders, whose only political legitimacy comes from making life as bearable as possible with the money that they get from Ottawa.

And so in the long term, Dr. Trusler believes, the solution has to come in the form of economic development — not more handouts from the federal government. Quoting Clarence Louie, chief of the economically successful Osoyoos Indian Band, Dr. Trusler explains: “If you want to kill a man, take away his job. If you want to kill a community, you take away its economy.”

Over his career, Dr. Trusler has watched many native communities fall into poverty. When he began at Norway House in 1967, many aboriginal Canadians still worked as true subsistence hunters, trappers and fishermen. But as modernization set in, the old ways were largely abandoned, and Natives increasingly became sedentary, like the rest of us. Men lost their traditional jobs as their economy lost its relevance in the modern world. Furs went out of style. Hunting and fishing could no longer support the growing population; and, out of necessity, social welfare became the new normal. Resource development passed them by, as most lacked the skills to participate.

In 1967-68, Dr. Trusler witnessed just one myocardial infarction at Norway House. Now, coronary artery disease is common on reserves. So is Hepatitis A, due to contaminated water supplies. Overcrowded, unhygienic living conditions also contribute to poor health. Dr. Trusler has very specific memories, from his Moose Factory days, of “25 people living in a three-bedroom house with one washroom.”

Forty-six years ago, Dr. Trusler remembers, the reserve at Norway House was dry: There was just one alcohol-related death that year (a poor fellow who’d gotten drunk on “moose milk” — fermented potatoes, raisins and yeast — in -40C weather). Now, alcoholism is epidemic, and a fifth to a quarter of kids on some reserves are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (a serious problem that no one wants to talk about, Dr. Trusler reports).

Like a lot of First Nations reform advocates, Dr. Trusler believes a major root of the problem on reserves is the communal land ownership model: Because most band members do not own their own home, they are denied pride in ownership, and cannot accumulate home equity over their lifetimes. As for the bands, they are dependent on the federal government for construction and repair funds. Many houses become mold traps with unventilated plywood basements, leaky roofs, and no weeping tiles (a particular problem for James Bay reserves, which are built on lands that are flood-prone or swampy). Some of these houses, he can attest, end up getting torn down within just a few years of their construction.

Doctors and other needed non-aboriginal professionals, meanwhile, get homes built to code with ventilated basements. These homes stay up in good shape for decades. This is a form of ongoing “housing apartheid” that no one ever talks about. That includes band leaders themselves, some of whom collaborate with shady contractors to throw up a high number of rickety non-code homes that everyone knows are shoddy. When the mold-infested buildings quickly become uninhabitable, the leaders can cynically just throw up their arms and claim they have a “housing crisis” — and demand help from Ottawa.

In a normal, capitalist-based Canadian housing market, no one would move into these homes — even putting aside the code issue — because no one would buy them. But residents of reserves typically must accept whatever housing their band leadership gives them, just as citizens of Soviet Russia had little choice about what crumbling apartment edifice they had to inhabit.

Dr. Trusler has an ambitious home-ownership reform plan for rectifying this. But as a doctor, he also has developed a wide range of very specific health-related reforms that he’s articulated to Ontario authorities in a letter-writing campaign waged over the last few years of his time in Moose Factory — several of which he shared with me (and one of which is reproduced below). These include access to basic Ontario health, housing, water, policing, education and infrastructure standards.

His plan isn’t anything grand and romantic on the order of treaty renegotiation. But taken together, his recommendations would make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of ordinary First Nations people. Stephen Harper and the other politicians appearing at this week’s First Nations summit in Ottawa might want to have a read.

National Post
Twitter @jonkay

Dr. Murray Trusler
Chief of Staff
Weeneebayko Health Ahtuskaywin and James Bay General Hospital
P.O Box 34
Moose Factory, ON
P0L 1W0
Tel: 705-658-4544 ext. 2269
Fax: 705-658-5215
November 17, 2007

Dr. Renée Arnold
Ontario College of Family Physicians 357 Bay Street
Mezzanine Level
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 2T7

Dear Dr. Arnold

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss briefly my concerns about the desperate conditions on many of our First Nations reserves in the Province of Ontario on Friday, November 16, 2007. I also appreciate your invitation to put my concerns in writing. After our conversation I spoke with Dr. Claudette Chase, a Past President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, practicing in Sioux Lookout. She asked to be a co-signatory of this letter as we both agree on the issues of concern and hope that the College will take a leadership role in driving an agenda for change with the Government of the Province of Ontario

Few individuals have good insight into the plight of native people in this province. As physicians we are privileged in this respect. We work with First Nations communities at every level. We are there when their children are born. We are with them in sickness and health. We witness their deaths, too many of which are premature. We are coroners trying to understand their excessive mortality and morbidity. We see their endless suffering.

As physicians we have the opportunity to interact at four levels. As neophytes we often pass through native communities as mere “medical voyeurs”. We are typically students, residents or locums coming north for the “native experience”. We see the “interesting cases”, take some photos, collect some handicrafts and move on.

Others decide to spend more time in a native community. They interact primarily at the doctor/patient interface. They are shocked at the severe morbidity and mortality. They hone skills quickly. With few resources, they

dig deep to cope with the demands of rural and northern medicine. For some the challenge is daunting. For others it becomes medically satisfying. But for many, this is the limit of their northern experience. They never travel beyond the interface.

The third group takes the next step and becomes involved in the community at large. These physicians go beyond their patient’s pain and suffering and experience the quiet resilience of a people who have survived the ravages of poverty, disease and systemic inequality for hundreds of years. They understand the issues, but are overwhelmed by their enormity. They, like most Canadians, feel incapable of changing these intolerable circumstances.

The fourth group analyzes the problems further and pushes for change. They see a solution and attempt to make it happen. Until the Kashechewan crisis, most physicians were mired in the third group. But, with Kashechewan, it became obvious that we have the power to inform the Canadian public and enlist their support as agents of reform.

This letter is an appeal to you, as the President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, from we, the physicians of the Mushkegowuk Territory and the Soiux Lookout Zone, who collectively represent the thirty-four northern and remote First Nations communities of LIHN 13 and 14 which together constitute 85% of the total land mass of the Province of Ontario. Our request is for the College to adopt a formal advocacy role in an effort to address the following issues:

1. Access to Provincial Public Health Services

Natives living on reserves in the Province of Ontario are the only Ontario citizens, except prisoners and the military, who cannot access provincial public health services. For instance, a local Medical Officer of Health is needed by all aboriginal communities. Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change this inequality and make provincial public health services available to all Ontario citizens including those living on First Nations reserves.

2. Access to Provincial Housing Standards

Most Ontarians live in housing that meets the Ontario Building Code standard. It ensures the proper and safe construction of the home to meet the needs of the owners and the financiers of residential property. However, the Ontario Building code does not apply to housing on reserves. Instead the National Building Code (a lower standard) is the applicable standard.

Mushkegowuk Territory means “swamp land”. We live in a maritime climate along the coast of James and Hudson Bay. In addition to an

overabundance of ground water, the coastal conditions also provide high levels of humidity and rainfall. In addition, the community of Kashechewan is built on a flood plain. Much of their housing has been subject to repeated spring floods. Despite this formidable water challenge, housing has been built and continues to be built with plywood basements with no ventilation. Within months of construction, these homes become contaminated with mould. Many homes have leaking roofs, no weeping tiles and no eaves troughs. According to the Assembly of First Nations website, 50% of on-reserve housing is contaminated with mould.

In contrast, my house, in the same territory, was constructed by Public Works Canada to the Ontario Building Code standard. It has a concrete basement which is fully ducted and ventilated. Our house is dry and mould free.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development itself reports that 44.2% of on- reserve housing is inadequate, 15.7% is in need of major repairs and 5.3% is no longer habitable or has been declared unsafe or unfit for human habitation.

Our first housing request is that the Ontario Building Code be the standard for all buildings in Ontario including those constructed on First Nations reserves.

Secondly, there is extensive overcrowding on reserves. In some of our communities there are more than 25 people living in three bedroom houses with one bathroom and one toilet. Many people sleep in shifts because of the lack of bedrooms. Bands have inadequate funds to build new homes. They also have inadequate funds to maintain their housing stocks. On remote reserves there are no building materials available for purchase, so residents have no way of properly maintaining their homes. In some communities, such as Fort Albany, because of the poor quality of the homes that have been built many must be replaced after five to ten years.

In addition it should be pointed out that most Canadians’ personal wealth resides in home ownership. But, for most people living on reserves, home equity is not possible. Reserve land is controlled by the federal government and individual home/land ownership is generally not permitted. We think there may be a solution to this issue. Please see Appendix A.

Our second housing request is to provide the land and access to funds that would allow every native family the resources to own their own home, on their own land and to enjoy the security and pride of home ownership. This would reduce overcrowding and improve both the mental and physical health status of citizens living on reserves. But most

importantly, it would allow native people the same rights and privileges of home ownership enjoyed by all other Ontarians and Canadians.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change these inequalities in housing experienced by those living on First Nations reserves.

3. Access to Provincial Water Standards

In October, 2005, the Canadian public was made aware of the terrible water problems plaguing native people living on reserves. One hundred reserves were under boil water advisories and fifty of those communities were in the Province of Ontario. Kashechewan is an example of how the current system has fails people living on reserves, as provincial water treatment standards do not apply to them. Again native people are the only civilian group to whom this exception applies.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change this inequality and make provincial water treatment standards applicable to all Ontario citizens including those living on First Nations reserves and that the Province of Ontario monitor all agencies, including the federal government providing water treatment services, to ensure full compliance with provincial standards.

4. Access to Provincial Policing Standards

In the spring of 2006, two prisoners were burned to death in a frame jail in Kashechewan. Their doors were chained shut. At that time, there were two Nishnabe-Aski Police Services (NAP police officers on duty in this community of 1,900 people. The typical complement for native communities of this size in our area is four officers. This means that most of the time one officer is on duty and a second is on-call. In the Kashechewan case, the two NAPS officers were expected to police the community and care for the prisoners in custody. According to the Regional Supervising Coroner, this tragedy will be the subject of the largest coroner’s inquest in the history of the Province of Ontario. It has yet to be held.

In addition to the obvious building code issues previously covered, the fundamental issue is the under-resourcing of police services. All other communities in Ontario receive the services of the Ontario Provincial Police. Moosonee, a nearby community of 2,500 people, has a twelve officer OPP detachment and a properly constructed jail.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Attorney General, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change this inequality and make OPP provincial policing standards applicable to all Ontario citizens including those living on First Nations reserves. In addition, that the Province of Ontario ensures that native police services receive the same resources available to all OPP detachments.

5. Access to Provincial Education Standards

Many native people living on reserves in Northern Ontario are functionally illiterate. Unemployment rates in some communities are 90-95%, the highest in the country. 70% of native children in Canada do not complete high school. The level of education is deteriorating at a rapid rate with many native children not attending school. In Kashechewan, one school was contaminated with mould, abandoned and subsequently burned. The children from the public and high schools are now using one school and attending in shifts. In addition, with the serious overcrowding, homework is not possible in most homes.

The curriculum offered is truncated on many reserves with limited courses available. Expensive offerings such as music and industrial arts are often not provided which is tragic given their usefulness in northern communities where music abounds and building and mechanical skills are essential.

Most native children do not attend post-secondary school educational institutions. Those that do have the opportunity often cannot gain admittance because of stringent admission requirements and the challenges faced because of the poor quality of the education afforded them by the current system. A case in point is Elaine (Wabano) Innes, nurse practitioner, Moose Factory. Her reference letter is attached as Appendix B. It was written by me on her behalf as she applied twice to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and was subsequently refused admission on both applications. The admission process included ten interviews which she found daunting. We feel that a more culturally sensitive process should be used.

When I asked a young native woman why there were so many suicides amongst young people on her reserve, she said “It is simple, no jobs, no future and no hope”. Until we address education adequately, there will be no jobs, no future and no hope and this tragic saga will continue.

Suicide and self-injury are the leading causes of death for native youth and adults. In 2000, suicide accounted for 22% of all deaths in native youth (aged 10 to 19 years).

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change this inequality and make provincial educational standards applicable to all Ontario citizens including those living on First Nations reserves and that the resources available to other schools in Ontario, be provided to those on reserves and be adjusted to compensate for the remote locations involved. And finally, that school systems, especially in Northern Ontario, be much more culturally accommodating.

6. Access to Infrastructure

Unlike most Ontario communities, reserves have no property tax base. The reason is simple. People are not allowed to own property. In addition, they are severely impoverished. Thus there are few funds available for roads, drainage systems, walkways, recreational areas, garbage disposal and recycling programs. The result in Ontario is dusty, potholed roads in the summer and mud during the spring and fall.

This has a major negative impact on asthma rates, sinusitis, pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. In addition, it makes it extremely difficult to walk around the community resulting in a more sedentary lifestyle and higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Disabled people such as amputees and those with muscular dystrophy are unable to leave their homes. They are imprisoned in wheelchairs at home because of the lack of a place to safely run a wheelchair.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change this inequality and make proper municipal services available to all those living on First Nations reserves including the paving of roads and walkways.

7. Access to Alcohol and Drug Prevention Funding

The most profitable business in our communities is the LCBO store in Moosonee. Yet, despite its large revenues, it contributes zero municipal tax dollars to Moosonee. Alcohol brings us nothing but grief, death and destruction. Similarly, because of the inability of the justice system to adequately deal with the drug problem and our aforementioned inadequate policing resources we are now being over-run with cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is now estimated to affect 20-25% of Canada’s native children. These children in turn cannot learn properly and compound the epidemic of under-educated and unemployable

aboriginal youth. The cost of this to the province and the nation is horrendous. In addition, it completely incapacitates whole families.

This is an emergency that needs a comprehensive strategy. As a medical community we were quick to complain to governments about the cigarette industry. They were constrained, taxed, sued, campaigned against and regulated to the full extent of the law. This has actually had some very positive effects. The impact on physicians’ smoking habits is a good example.

Why have we, as physicians, not pushed a similar strategy with alcohol? Worse still, why is the Province of Ontario in the business of marketing and selling alcohol? Why is the LCBO not obligated to fund some of the resources required to clean up the terrible problems created by alcohol in our communities? Why does the LCBO contribute nothing to our needy municipal tax base?

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Revenue and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to change the province’s policy with respect to alcohol and bring its fundamental goals in line with policies being applied to the cigarette industry. The principal objective being to reduce alcohol and drug consumption by all legal means available in First Nations communities.

8. Access to Family Health Teams (FHTs)

Family Health Teams would work exceptionally well in northern locations where the availability of physicians is often limited. Another fifty such teams are being contemplated for the province. At the present time, because of our funding structure, we are not in a position to apply.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to ensure that the Mushkegowuk Territory and the Sioux lookout Zone be allocated two of the fifty FHTs on the rollout. And that these FHTs be given adequate additional funding to compensate for the huge geographical challenges inherent in the areas they serve.

9. Access to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

For the past three years, the physicians of the Mushkegowuk Territory have been unable to procure the funding required to purchase and implement an electronic medical record. Without an electronic medical record, it is impossible to function as an effective family physician. Canada is known world-wide as a laggard in the adoption of EMRs. To its credit, the province is diligently trying to rectify this situation. However, the funding for EMRs comes through OntarioMD. To qualify for funding,

the physicians must own the patient data and the software. As we are hospital based and our records are also those of the hospital, we are disqualified for funding because under the Public Hospitals Act of Ontario the hospital, not the physician, must own the hospital patient data and the software upon which it resides. Similarly hospitals don’t fund physician office systems either. So we are caught between the cracks with no funding, no EMR, a defined need for an EMR and no evidence that this situation will change despite our petition to OntarioMD (Appendix C).

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to provide hospital based physicians serving northern aboriginal communities with EMR sustainable funding so that they can properly serve their patients.

10. Access to the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario

In the past, it has been impossible to communicate with the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario. This is totally unsatisfactory and has impeded our ability to serve our native population. Appendix D is a series of letters sent to the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario with no replies.

Our request to the College is to formally petition the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health Promotion and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to rectify this communication problem in accordance with item number 1 in this letter requesting equal access to Provincial Public Health Services for all native peoples in Ontario living on reserves.

The thrust of this series of requests is fundamentally one of equality. The late Dr. Harold Cardinal played a pivotal role in drafting “Citizens Plus” (1970) – the “Red Paper” – in response to Indian Affairs Minister, Jean Chretien’s 1969 “White Paper” proposing to do away with the Indian Act and native land claims in Canada under a government policy of assimilation. (Appendix D)

‘Citizens Plus” described the need for native Canadians to be treated in a manner equal to all other Canadians plus the need to ensure their distinct rights under their specific treaties with Canada and the provinces. The problem with the present systems that have been in place since the Indian Act, is that they ignore native peoples fundamental rights as citizens of provinces. This is inherently wrong. These rights to provincial services and resources cannot be taken away just because they signed a treaty with the federal government.

Secondly, it must be remembered that Treaty 9 (the James Bay Treaty) was signed by both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario making it absolutely clear that the Province of Ontario and the

Government of Canada bear dual responsibility for the rights of native peoples.

Finally, this is not an issue of jurisdiction, this is an issue of rights as citizens of the Province of Ontario. We all have a right to equal treatment including aboriginal men, women and children living on reserves. Most of these people have little political voice. Almost fifty percent of them are children.

So we wish to thank you for your interest in these serious issues affecting our native patients who are the primary occupants of such a large portion of the Province of Ontario. We sincerely wish to facilitate making the changes necessary to provide them with equal access to these essential services and resources and are willing to assist the College in any way possible in order to make it happen.

Thank you.
Best personal regards,

Murray Trusler, BA, MD, MBA, CCFP, FCFP
Chief of Staff
Weeneebayko Health Ahtuskaywin and James Bay General Hospitals


Rt. Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Rt. Hon. Chris Bentley, Attorney General
Rt. Hon. Margaret Best, Minister of Health Promotion
Rt. Hon. Michael Bryant, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

Rt. Hon. David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal Rt. Hon. Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance
Rt. Hon. Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services Rt. Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Rt. Hon. Monique Smith, Minister of Revenue

Rt. Hon. George Smitherman, Minister of Health
Rt. Hon. Jim Watson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Rt. Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education

Legislative Building Queen’s Park Toronto ON M7A 1A1

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Posted: Jan 14, 2013 8:54am
Oct 29, 2012
Webroot Antispyware, Virus and Malware Protection
  • Call:  1-866-612-4268
The Rising Flood of DIY SMS flooders Cybercriminals abuse Skype's SMS sending feature

Cybercriminals are masters of abusing legitimate infrastructure for their malicious purposes. From phishing sites and Black Hole exploit kit landing URLs hosted on compromised servers, abuse of legitimate web email service providers' trusted DKIM verified ecosystem, to the systematic release of DIY spamming tools utilizing a publicly obtainable database of user names as potential "touch points", cybercriminals are on the top of their game.

In this post, I'll profile a recently advertised DIY SMS flooder using Skype's infrastructure for disseminating the messages, and assess the potential impact it could have on end and corporate users.

More details:

Sample screenshot of the advertised DIY Skype SMS flooding tool:

Skype SMS Flooder DIY Tool

The DIY tool is available on selected cybercrime friendly communities for $20. It has the capability to send SMS messages to numbers in Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. It's taking advantage of the fact that every Skype account with a positive balance has the ability to send SMS messages. Once the spammer authenticates himself with a stolen Skype account, the tool will automatically start using the account's balance and flood the victim's cell phone number with multiple messages.

Does this tool represent an actual threat to Skype's users, or victims of the SMS flooding attack? Thanks to the fact that it has the capability to use only one Skype account, it will have a limited impact on Skype's network, as well as on the device of a prospective victim. However, the tool is currently released as v 1.0, and the author can add support for multiple Skype accounts at any time, potentially multiplying the SMS flooding effect.

We'll continue monitoring the development of the DIY tool.

You can find more about Dancho Danchev at his LinkedIn Profile. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Oct 29, 2012 1:42pm
Oct 29, 2012
Care Enough to Send the Very Worst Cybercriminals resume spamvertising bogus greeeting cards, serve exploits and malware

Remember the recently profiled themed malicious campaign?

It appears that over the past 24 hours, the cybercriminals behind it have resumed spamvertising millions of emails pointing to additional compromised URls in a clear attempt to improve their click-through rates.

More details:

Sample screenshot of the spamvertised email:

Sample spamvertised email

Sample screenshot of the Java script redirection:

Sample of the javascript redirection

Sample spamvertised compromised URls: hxxp://; hxxp://; hxxp://; hxxp://; hxxp://; hxxp://; hxxp://

Sample Black Hole exploit kit landing URL: hxxp://

Detection rate for a sample Java script redirection: MD5: 75e030e741875d29f12b179f2657e5fd – detected by 5 out of 42 antivirus scanners as Trojan.JS.Iframe.aby; Trojan.Webkit!html

Upon successful client-side exploitation, the campaign drops MD5: 864e1dec051cbd800ed59f6f91554597 – detected by 3 out of 42 antivirus scanners as W32/Yakes.AP!tr

Once executed, the malware phones back to (, AS32181). Another domain is known to have been responding to the same IP in the past, namely, hxxp://

Webroot SecureAnywhere users are proactively protected from these threats.

You can find more about Dancho Danchev at his LinkedIn Profile. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Oct 29, 2012 1:38pm
Oct 29, 2012



New study adds to evidence that common pesticides decimating bee colonies

Jeremy Hance
October 24, 2012

 Honeybees in an apiary in Germany. Photo by: Björn Appel.
Honeybees in an apiary in Germany. Photo by: Björn Appel.

The evidence that common pesticides may be partly to blame for a decline in bees keeps piling up. Several recent studies have shown that pesticides known as "neonicotinoid" may cause various long-term impacts on bee colonies, including fewer queens, foraging bees losing their way, and in some cases total hive collapse. The studies have been so convincing that recently France banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Now a new study finds further evidence of harm caused by pesticides, including that bees who are exposed to more them one chemical, i.e. neonicotinoid and pyrethroid, were the most vulnerable.

In agricultural areas, pesticides are not sprayed in a controlled environment, instead insects like bees may become exposed not to just one type of pesticide, but a whole cocktail of them. Given this, researchers with the University of London were curious as to how bees, which have recently declined in many parts of the world, fared when faced with a mix of different chemicals versus just one.

Scientists split 40 bumblebee colonies into four groups. One group was exposed to imidacloprid, a pesticide in the neonicotinoid family; a second group was exposed to gamma-cyhalothrin, a pyrethroid; a third group was exposed to both chemicals; and the last group was not exposed to any. Bees were exposed to doses that would be commonly found in the field and were then tracked by radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

The researchers found that bees exposed to imidacloprid lost 41 percent of their worker bees in four weeks compared with 30 percent for the control colonies. Overall, worker productivity was slowed, meaning less food for the hive and fewer bees making it out of the larva stage, findings that are buoyed by past research. The bees exposed to only gamma-cyhalothrin experienced a higher rate of mortality for worker bees, leveling off at 51 percent. But the bees exposed to both chemicals were the worst off, losing 69 percent. Two of the ten colonies treated with both chemicals completely collapsed within just four weeks.

"It's certainly concerning that having these combination of pesticides outside could be causing such a severe impact [...] we've only looked at two pesticides but we know that there are hundreds of pesticides out there," lead author Richard Gill says in a Nature video.

In all, these impacts also likely make the bees more vulnerable to other threats, such as disease.

Past research has also shown that exposure to pesticides can result in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) over a period of months. Scientists in the U.S. fed tiny doses of neonicotinoid pesticides to 16 hives, and left four hives unexposed. In the first few months all the bee hives remained healthy, but after around six months over 90 percent (15 out of 16) of the hives fed with the pesticides had collapsed, while the four control hives remained healthy.

"There is no question that neonicotinoids put a huge stress on the survival of honey bees in the environment," lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, an associate professor at the HSPH, told back in April.

It has taken a long time for scientists to make the connection between bee health and pesticides in part because of the way agro-chemicals are tested. When undergoing testing, scientists look to see if pesticides are lethal, for example if they immediately kill beneficial insects like bees. However, the focus is not on the "sublethal" impacts of pesticides, i.e. impacts that don't outright kill bees, but harm them over the long-term. The other problem is that testing is over short period of times, whereas sublethal impacts may not become clear for weeks or even months. The picture becomes even more complicated when one considers that pesticides may make bees more vulnerable to other well-known impacts, such as habitat loss and disease.

The decline in bees has become a major concern since bees are among the world's most important pollinators, both for agricultural crops and wild plants. Some produces in North America and Europe have seen 90 percent of their hives collapse. While such periodic collapses have occurred in the past, probably linked to disease, the current crisis appears much worse. The economic value of honeybees in the U.S. alone has been estimated at $8-12 billion.


Chensheng Lu, Kenneth M. Warchol, Richard A. Callahan. In situ replication of honey bee colony collapse disorder. Bulletin of Insectology. 2012.

Gill, Richard J.; Ramos-Rodriguez, Oscar; Raine, Nigel E. Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees. Nature. 2012.

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Posted: Oct 29, 2012 9:45am


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