Sunday, November 29, 2015

Muslim women in Montreal by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon

My first encounter with a Muslim woman was about 45 years ago at a friend’s house.  I was under the impression because of ignorant journalists that Muslims and Jews hated each other. One of my friends (Jewish and Israeli) had invited me to help her prepare a small party. We were going to play cards which meant lots of talk and a feast. The hostess had food that was filling, appealing and plentiful, the secret of a successful party. The leftovers were distributed when guests were leaving. 

By then I had been properly trained, and she knew I could make falafel, cut vegetables for each dish be it a salad or to dip in hummus.  We had some fresh pita and some was roasted in the oven and served warm and a bit spicy and crispy.

Finally, for desert, we had baklava and good “Turkish” coffee. So I went to her house the day before, because some salads had to marinate. I slept over and the next morning, we were cooking up a storm.  We started by making the hummus and then the falafel and all the salads. Yes, my vegetables were cut in small pieces, my garlic properly crushed and the parsley chopped finely. Onions were marinated that same day with a bit of salt and lemon juice. For the falafels, the tomatoes were sliced paper thin, so were the cucumbers. We made a cabbage salad the night before because the cabbage and onions had to marinate in the lemon and olive oil overnight for flavor and texture. It was flavored with garlic (roasted and raw) and various spices and herbs. Taste and presentation were so important and the pride of all women because we liked to show off our culinary skills, To our mind, hospitality is central to the tradition. Coffee and baklava was to be served last.

Two tables were set up, one on which to play cards, and the other as a buffet that included the all the various salads, falafel, hummus, tzatziki with pita bread and the seasoned crispy pita.  The buffet was dairy and kosher hence, there was no meat so everyone could eat and enjoy. No wine or alcohol was served because a few Muslim women were coming over. They would eat kosher food, but no alcohol.  Cultural etiquette demanded that all guest were to be respected be it dietary needs or religiously. Muslim women were as respectful when their turn came and so were Greek Orthodox women. When they invited Jewish women they went out and bought serving dishes in foil and thick paper plates, to respect dietary kosher law.  The cups for coffee were in fine porcelain to serve the coffee or tea. 

The women came in and introduced themselves; one woman came from Alexandria and was a descendant of Alexander the Great, and she was Greek Orthodox.  Another woman from Yemen was Muslim and a descendant of the Prophet. Yet another Muslim woman was from Iraq. My friend was originally from Yemen was Jewish and had moved to Israel.  As for me, I was born in Canada, Irish and French origins and brought up Catholic.  Religion was a plus and not a problem.
Culture and tradition united the women and the food was known and loved by all, as the hostess made sure that each person had a special dish, such as tzatziki for the woman from Greece and the soft pita.  Hummus, falafel and salads everyone loved. Baklava was Greek and Turkish in origin but all knew it and loved it. Some was flavored with orange water, others with rose water, and honey syrup was used in both cases. The coffee was interesting as I was told the following: Turkish coffee was served to Jewish women, Greek coffee to the woman who was Greek and Arabic coffee to our guests from Yemen and Iraq. Each coffee is similar, but prepared a bit differently due to the technique of boiling and sweetening and the serving.  As a Canadian, I could not see the difference and wondered, "Why so much fuss? Make drip coffee."  My friend told me, "No we do not drink American coffee when we get together, you know that we need to have good coffee." She then explained it is out of respect for the women - Greece had been attacked by the Turks, and they had a war with the Arabs. The Arabs were defeated by the Turks and the Greeks. but Jews had been well treated by the Turks during the period of the Ottoman Empire. 

If you have a friend that is Armenian, serve them Arabic Coffee as they were invaded by both the Turks and the Greeks. So much to remember and to think of when inviting people.  Mediterranean culture is complex and diverse, and it seemed to me that women had found a way to get along and be friends based on respect for each other and knowing one another’s history. Food well prepared, served, and prepared with lots of love and caring, was the solution.  A bit too much caring when it came to eating made these card games interesting and very festive.

Women were great at offering food; actually food was not only offered but pushed on the guest. Have this dish, "You did not eat," and, "You do not like the food," was repeated by every hostess. "Do not be shy, eat, come on you have to eat, try this dish. I made it for you.  Let me make you something you like. Eat, come eat, you are not eating enough."  

If my plate was not full enough, one of the women would add more food. Now, if I happened to say I liked a specific dish, she would go and make some for me and would make sure I had enough for a whole week. At times food fights verbal fights would go on until the guest was so full we would need to go out for a long walk and fast for the rest of the day.  Some women gave me fantastic advice: When you come to an event or card game, do not eat breakfast and you will not to have supper, just enjoy the food. 

Culturally, I found out that to be polite in some groups like in Tunisia or some parts of Iraq, you had to refuse three times before you accepted food. In Egypt, Yemen, and other countries, you had to have seconds and even a third portion to be polite. 

Etiquette and cultural knowledge is what binds women together - it is their strength. Food matters as it is part of hospitality, The saints that women go and pray to in order to ask favors also matter.  Saints were saints they could be Jewish, Christian or Muslim as each saint had a specific role to play in the life of women. 

Women from Egypt living in Montreal by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon

This is the first of a series of articles about women from the Levant and North Africa.  I am going chronologically and starting with Egypt.

For more than 50 years, I have had friends that came from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon.  Because politics was the problem, we talked about the problems that politicians created. Their views were often backed by uneducated journalists, historians and anthropologists. These men focused on politics and religion that created in our conscious and subconscious a subliminal message of war; whereas my friends and I focused on getting to know each other by sharing the best of our culture and stories that are often never reported or recorded.  

I got to know these incredible women and communities because I met a young woman from Egypt who was Jewish.  I was around 15, and we met in secretarial school. We would meet every day at recess in school,  and we used to walk to the bus together.  I was living outside Montreal in a small village, Léry; and she lived in the Cote des Neiges area of Montreal. We all migrated to Montreal for various reasons: I to attend school, and her family came as refugees and were landed immigrants, soon to be Canadians.  

Language was never a problem, I was bilingual French and English and they were polyglots as they spoke, French, English, Arabic, Ladino, Hebrew, Bulgarian and Syriac.  As to religion, I was brought up Catholic and they were Jewish.  I knew very little about Judaism except some prejudices that were told culturally, such as Jews killed Jesus. This prejudice did not stop us from being good friends; and in time I got to know the truth about Judaism. My friends, however, knew about Catholicism as their mothers had attended Catholic School, in Alexandria. Their moms had a very high opinion of the Nuns because they were by Catholic nuns from France. Their moms thought nuns were the best teachers as they were disciplined and made sure language was respected and well spoken. Hence, the reason their daughters were enrolled in the Notre Dame Secretarial school.  

The school was run by nuns from the Congregation of Notre Dame. The dress code was strict: skirts that covered the knee, hats and gloves were required as we were young ladies. Plus we needed to have excellent skills in typing, dictation, shorthand, economics, and accounting.  I never liked typing nor shorthand, so it was an unpleasant chore. But, we knew we needed those skills to earn a living as a secretary or as a clerk. We were being trained to assist men in their work, follow orders, and do the manual work - or as I call it the grunge and boring work. 

Our friendship is something I cherish and remember fondly, and this made my studies palatable, bearable, and even enjoyable because my weekends were spent one week at my friend’s house in Cote des Neiges and the other week she came to me.

In Cote des Neiges at my friend’s house, I had such a good time.  I was treated as part of the family - no difference between the girls as we all shared in duties of the house.  First we had to study and excel in our schooling; second we needed to learn how to cook, and then learn how to serve the food and entertain guests.  Everything was done in coordination, as a community where each person was assigned a job.

As the new person, I had to learn how to cut vegetables, and her mom taught me to cut in small pieces while her dad from Algeria, showed me how to prepare olives, so they would be flavorful and delicious. I had been used to eating olives out of a jar full of brine. He taught me how to desalt the olives and then marinate them with garlic, some herbs, and put them in a jar full of olive oil and lemon juice.  

Her mom showed me the fine art of making stuffed vine-leaves (dolma). Vine-leaves stuffed with rice, onions, meat (ground beef or lamb) and cooked in a sauce made of water, spices and lemon with a tomato. Later, another friend from Iraq gave me her mom’s recipe which used pomegranate juice or syrup.   

We sat around a table, all the girls, and worked together under the watchful eye of the mother. The role of the mother was of a guide and a teacher. Women were in charge of the house: it was their kingdom and they were the law as they passed down tradition.

Mothers are the law and religion must be respected. Therefore, we went to synagogue on Saturday for Shabbat and on Sunday we would go to Catholic Church.  There was no way of going against my friend’s mother. Synagogue was quite different from Church as we sat in the woman’s section and we could talk during the service. 

One Saturday, it was the Bar Mitzvah of a young boy who was becoming a man. The family was from Morocco and as per their tradition, the women did the traditional song of joy and threw candies. The rabbi was not very happy, but the women told him off that it was part of their tradition and their mothers and grandmothers did it as a sign of joy and elation for the Bar Mitzvah boy who is now a man.  Tradition trumped the law and the rabbi relented grudgingly as he knew that tradition was important.  The rabbi was Ashkenazi from Europe and the women where Sephardi from North Africa, and they came from Andalusia, Spain. 

An example of how women were respected and could argue with a rabbi, made me aware of my power as a woman. Well, I tried this method in a Church, when a priest during a sermon reminded the parishioners that Jews had killed Christ; and my friend who was Jewish, was sitting next to me. I stood up in Church and corrected the priest, I was told to sit down and I decided to voice my opinion. Unlike at the synagogue, I was shushed and pulled down to sit, and was even escorted out of the church. I guess no one liked my new tradition of telling the truth as no other woman had done this and traditionally men were the uncontested voice.  Interestingly, a few years later after Vatican II, the Pope told Catholics that Jews had not killed Jesus after all: it was the Romans. Mothers in Catholicism are not the law and are told to follow the law and to never question it. 

In the past 50 years, I have met women from the Levant and North Africa from various religions who have shared culture and tradition including a great oral tradition. Women from Egypt told me that a woman needs to have a good education - a minimum of a Master’s degree, and men need to know about business. The reason why a woman needs a Master’s or Doctorate is that it is her job to educate her children, both boys and girls - hence her need of a good solid education. 

Men, on the other hand, need to earn money and need to learn business. In Quebec, it was the reverse: a woman did not get a good education, the man had to go to university and get a good job. Today, it has changed. There are more and more women who get a university education. However, it is still not the main focus. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


By Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon  

Two suitcases is all that is left of a life. For the Katbe family. One suitcase for the wife, the other for the husband.  They had four sons: they loved them, taught them the ways of their world, educated them, and made sure they married well.  The sons immigrated to Canada became Canadian citizens and yet have remained faithful to their country of birth and their parents.  Their sons want the best for their parents.
They are from Syria and are Christians. Syria is imploding and exploding. Civil unrest creates a very unhealthy climate that degenerates into pandemonium, into civil war that turns into a full-fledged war. Bombs explode, homes become empty shells. A bomb falls on the shell of a deserted, abandoned home - a house explodes in thousand pieces.  Whole streets turn into rubble; the man-made tornado of war circles around like a hawk looking for food. Those warmongers are hungry for power, for control. They kill the innocent, the unprotected, for a piece of land, for greed, as they are hungry for power and control so they can claim victory, plant a black flag tainted with the blood of those who died. Their victory is built on death, the death of the innocent regardless of religion or culture. Warmongers are warmongers - they worship the god of war, of destruction, the god of hell, for their bombs create hell on earth.
Two suitcases for survival linking the peaceful happy past with the traumatizing insecurity of the present and the uncertain, traumatizing future. They have to leave their home as war rages on, a civil war erupted, and a new enemy emerges making their flight an imperative. They flee war to find safety and hopefully be able find peace and join their children in Canada.  A stopover in Lebanon, a visit to the Canadian Consulate to make an application for immigration in order to become residents of the country chosen by their sons, their wives and their grandchildren.
 Family reunification is the order of the day, reunited families is on their minds.  War has caused division that ripped families apart, forced some to flee to refugee camps full of horror and fear, where intolerance is the weapon of choice and brutality becomes the reality as life rarely matters and death is the release.
At 80, the old couple think what they should bring.  What matters is legacy.  They leave behind their locked up home; and, key in hand, they say farewell, not goodbye as they are hoping to come back soon.
Two suitcases are packed carefully; two suitcases, hopefully, a short stay at a relative’s home in Lebanon. They are lucky they can avoid the danger of the camps. They have family in Lebanon, a house to stay at for an ailing father and an aching worried mother. They make their way to Lebanon, leaving their home near Aleppo for a dream of life in Canada to spend their last days with their sons.  The sons want them and work for their parent’s safety. Personal tragedy, their father is ill very ill; his dream of return is but a dream his death is a nightmare for his mom.  She is a widow, without a husband to care for her to make sure she can be protected.  She has her sons, four sons, who now are head of the family. Their duty is to do for their mother what their father can no longer do: care for her, make sure she is protected and fulfill the dream of going to Canada.  

In her nightmare, her grief, she has a dream: she can be a grandmother and a doting mother to her loving sons.  Her sons, all Canadians, have jobs, and make a pact, a promise, a pledge: their mom will not be alone. They will come stay with their mom for two months each.  Petition the Canadian government to fast-track the refugee claimant, so their loving and beloved mom can come to Canada as a resident.
The two suitcases were packed with love and are the keepers of the past, are for the present and open the door to the future.  Legacy and origins matter. You can see that past matters by the content of their suitcases. Two lives packed in the suitcases filled with papers, birth and marriage certificates and last will and testament. Photos of their wedding, their children which is the legacy of their children growing up in Syria for their grandchildren living now in Canada.  The other part is their clothes and travel items.  One person now has the two suitcases full of memory with one wish, one hope, to be reunited with family.
 We hear of men doing evil deeds. They thrive on hate, create hell for all those living on earth. Yet, there is another reality which is love, the love of a son towards his mom, and the love of a mother for her sons. War causes not only confusion, but also hate, anger, division, unrest, and even death. Families are broken: fathers are killed, mothers abused, and children see what they should not see or feel.  War can also bring about the reunification of a family - especially in Canada where we as Canadians pride ourselves because of our humanitarian principles.  We offer refuge to those who have none. There is a fear of invasion or radicalization, of unrest and uprising.  An old woman of 80 is not threat to security. She saw war, she lived through it, and she now wants a few final years to dote on her loving sons and grandchildren.
 Her sons will not forsake her as they live the commandment to "honor thy parent."   They will leave their own wives and children to go and stay with their mom in Lebanon. In those two months, the sons make sure they have enough money to care for their home in Canada, pay bills, feed their family over here. No salary coming in, living off savings. Money is not their motivation; it is family, it is life, a good life for their mother. The hope she will be there to be a doting grandmother, a mother-in-law and a mother. 
On humanitarian grounds and for the love of family, of surviving love please help this family, and fast-track their humanitarian request. Make sure that a family is reunited out of love for an older woman with two suitcases, who has four loving sons.

Video from CTV that speaks Mrs. Katbe

UPDATE: Mrs. Katbe will be coming to Canada hopefully soon by the end of the year ---  we ask that her application be fast tracked so she can be reuinited with her loving sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015


WEAR RED FOR REDRESS in support for the GO RED CAMPAIGN OF FIRST NATION WOMEN by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon October 4 2015 
Red is associated with the heart and heart diseases. Red is also associated with blood. Go Red is a campaign that highlights and features MISSING AND MURDERED First Nation women in Canada. I have a broken heart as First Nation or indigenous women are being raped, kidnapped and too often murdered. LET US DEMAND REDRESS from our leaders.
No one cares that their blood is spilled in vain. No one seems to care that the blood of the innocent is being spilled. No one seems to care. Their lives matter. They are daughters, mothers and someone’s friend. They often leave behind families worrying, wondering, thinking, asking and now demanding answers to the ultimate question, "Will she come back?"
Few politicians have taken up this important cause. Even fewer have done anything. My heart is breaking because of the inaction on the part of elected officials. Bring back our girls falls of deaf ears. This is why I am writing this short piece to create solidarity with First Nation women and to make October 5, 2015, the day we go RED at Waking UP Woman. The date that was requested was October 4 which is a Sunday. I did make a mistake on the date, however. October 5, is a Monday. We can generate more attention as we all go out wearing RED and speaking not for, but about the MISSING AND MURDERED First Nation women and demand from political leaders to speak about their plan to help the women.
I see RED anytime I read an article in newspapers that speaks of those MISSING women and girls. I see RED when no one talks about the MISSING girls. I see RED when pleas for an inquiry fall on deaf ears as the buck is passed to the Police. I see RED when I find out that the RCMP stated in a report that over 1000 First Nation women have gone missing in the past 10 years and no one has spoken about them. We are blinded by uncaring media and we have become deaf because of uncaring reporters and journalists as we did not hear their pleas, their cries, and their voices. Some journalists do care. Canada AM on Monday October 5, 2015 will have a feature about the Missing and Murdered First Nation women.
IDLE NO MORE has had a campaign that is now being listened to. It is time for us to cast a vote. We are asked to make a choice as voting matters. Let us ask our politicians to prioritize the cause of First Nation women who have gone missing and been killed.
MISSING and MURDERED First Nation women in Canada should go viral and should have the support of every woman in the world. Because, indigenous women all around the world are missing and killed. It can be done in solidarity and empathy with the Yezidi women, the Assyrian women, the Syriac killed by violent men of IS, the Nigerian women kidnapped by Boko Haram. We can gain support from various communities: the Jewish community whose women and men were in the Holocaust, African American and Canadian women who were enslaved, the LGBT community where women have been raped or even killed.
Each and every woman regardless of her skin tone, her religion her ethnicity or origin, can relate to First Nation women and, in my opinion, should join the GO RED campaign. I add GO RED DRESS IN RED, DEMAND REDRESS.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Say NO to verbal rape

Say NO to verbal rape by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon   August 28, 2015

CJAD in Montreal, reported a very disturbing incident that involved Valerie Assouline the Conservative candidate in federal riding of Pierrefonds/Dollard des Ormeaux that was not only sexist but sexual harassment and sexually explicit. I could say that it was a verbal pornography that encourages sexual abuse and condones rape of women, all women.  She took action and called the media and CJAD responded with an article.  Highlighting these problems matters as she condemns all attacks be they verbal, graphic - such as graffiti, or defacing posters of the candidate. This time the vandals and hooligans went one step further: they used sexist and sexual explicit messages.
This is very disturbing and needs to be talked about. Women from all parties should get together and talk about this important topic.

Vandalism: Political campaigns and posters are targeted by graffiti artists. You see mustaches on candidates, glasses are added, the vandals use a marker, a paint brush or a spray-paint can.  At times you can see a swastika. Or political comment on the leader regardless of his/her party.  I have seen words like communist or leftist spray painted on posters of the NDP or the Green Party.

Racism: Nazi or the swastika spray-painted on posters of Jewish candidates. Even some said “Jews go home”  First Nation candidates had words like “savage”.  Muslim women had words like “terrorist” or Muslim preceded by a religious slur spray painted.

Sexism: First Nation women candidates saw words like “savage” or “Fat Cow” spray painted.   Black women could read: “Whore” on their posters. Derogatory words I saw targeting women of all parties included: Whore, Lesbian, and the "F" word used a prefix…

This graffiti destroys private property, on one hand, and is sexist and racist on the other.  Women have been sexually discriminated against for years.  It is time for it to STOP.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  STOP raping women physically and with words.

These racist and sexist vandals, hooligans MUST be exposed as such.  In an ideal world, they would be held responsible for their choice of words and would be prosecuted and labelled as racist, sexist,  misogynist jerks.  Too many men have swept it under the proverbial carpet. Time to lift the carpet because it is hiding a hill that can become a mountain. 

Some may think that the vandals are teenagers while it has often been proved that some older men in the 50s and 60s were the criminals. These men need training; first in gender equality, second in respect of women, all women, regardless of their political affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality. We share one thing in common that makes us daughters, sisters, mothers: We are WOMEN. 

Women, both individually and collectively, are waking up. They are taking charge of their lives and are entering  politics.  Each woman who is a candidate has a cause that matters to her.  Let us listen to their message, discuss the issue, think and respect. Let us use words to offer a rebuttal or to offer an alternative solution. Let us use our pens and the power of words to expose those misogynist hooligans who rape women verbally, who spray paint sexually explicit words, be they on the sign of any woman candidate of any party. It is easy to dismiss it and say, “Oh well, she is (add the party)”. The reality is that it affects all women.

The “old boys” Clubs had signs saying, "No girls allowed."  Yet, there is a New Boys’ club where men include WOMEN. I think: WOMEN as a group, must be stick together and develop a gender inclusive girls/women's club or sisterhood.   

Monday, August 24, 2015


SHOT GUN WEDDING by Celine Leduc August 2015  edited by Norman Simon 

A man forced to take responsibility,
A woman impregnated by the man;

He lusted for her,
She lusted for him;

He knows her in the biblical way,
She knows him carnally;

He blames her for his fall,
She reminds him, "You wanted me;"

He says I wanted you but not the child,
Is he not responsible for the child?

They lusted after each other,
Yet never really knew each other;

Friends they were not,

Friends they never will be;

A shot gun unites them,

Sadly not their LOVE child.

JUMPING THE BROOM   by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon 

Parents speak to each other

A couple wants to be one;

Characters matters,
Similarity is needed;

Complement each other,
Her strength, his weakness;

His strength a student, he is,
He learns from her and she from him;

They are different, yes,
But so similar as each knows the other;

Friends, they become, best, they are,
First criteria they do not jump the gun;

Lust comes, lust goes

Friendship lasts forever.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


MORNING COMES by Celine Leduc August 2015 edited by Norman Simon 

Morning rises, the first ray of sun.
The golden rays break at dusk;

Mourning rises with death
When my heart is but darkness;

Morning, the first light so bright,
A pageantry of colors dance;

Mourning, all colors left at dusk,
My heart is but night, without light;

Memories, of one shot – it is dark,
My heart no longer shines – mourning;

Your body in my arms --- lifeless
Cold invades my soul --- mourning;

Memories of your smile – so bright,
My heart rejoices --- morning.

Your body in my arms --- LIFE
Warmth is in my soul --- morning;

In the cold of night I mourn
Alone in darkness, I am blind;

My eyes can see a shining star,
Reminds me of your smile;

Oh! My shining star, guide me to you,
Show me my way home into your arms;

Your golden smile in the morning,

In your arms it is forever day!

Friday, August 21, 2015


EMPATHY by Celine Leduc August 2015

My friend told me
“Feel my pain.”

I ask:

She answers:  
“It is about EMPATHY”

I retort:
“Too much bother.”

She quips:
“Why? Do I not matter?”

I state:
“It is not pleasant!”

She retorts:              
“It is ok to distort?”

I jibe:
“Truth I want to hide.”

She asks:
“Why? Why hide.”

I joke:
““Cause I’m white.”

She banters:
“You whitewash truth.”

I shrug
“Yep, makes me pure “WHITE””

She smiles and gives me a HUG
I smile back and hug her back.

I feel her pain: EMPATHY
She feels my pain: EMPATHY

Thank you Norman Simon for editing

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


A Woman and Campaign Unparalleled. (by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon)

Valerie Assouline is a woman, a wife, a mother, a career woman, a lawyer, a political activist for gender equality, and is the Conservative Party of Canada's candidate for the Pierrefonds/Dollard des Ormeaux Riding. Her dream is to get elected see more women get involved in politics. She is taking the lead to inspire women who have immigrated here, to get involved and make positive changes.

Family values matter, and so do women, as the woman is, most often, the pillar that holds the family together. She has the backing and support of her husband, David Janowski, and the respect of her children. Being Canadian of Moroccan descent and Jewish, she knows all too well the dangers of the kind of politics that can lead to extremism. Her unique perspective based on life experience, academic knowledge, and family history, all of which can help assure the safety of all her constituents. 

Pierrefonds/DDO is a multireligious, multilingual, multiethnic community where people interact with each other at school, and in clubs for the young and old - be they the younger sports person, or the senior. People meet at private and public swimming pools. They worship in synagogues, mosques, churches and temples. Multi-ethnic diversity defines the richness of the area: Canadians of various origins live here; some are older immigrants who came from France, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Syria, and Ukraine, some have been here for generations. The new wave of immigrants came from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Israel, China, India and the Caribbean. They are Jews Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists whether practicing or not. What unites them is where they live, what matters is their family, a strong economy, a safe place to bring up their children, and for the elderly to enjoy their retirement in safety. 

Valerie Assouline has the ability to unite those various components of society and to assure them a peaceful life. Many have known horrors back home and so the need to live in peace and at peace with everyone is of prime importance to them.

Valerie's background and roots make her an ideal candidate, as she knows how selfish politics, and nationalism gone wild, can hurt people. Yet she knows that good, solid policies that are inclusive is the answer.
Valerie Assouline promises to include everyone knowing the danger that excluding or focusing on one group can lead to. We do need laws, and those laws must be respected and enforced with compassion and fairness.

Valerie lives her words of inclusion. For example, the buffet she served at the launch of her campaign showed her sensitivity to both cultural and dietary laws. She had coffee and tea for everyone, and sweets for the morning. At lunch sandwiches were fish or egg, so everyone could eat including religious Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. She even took the time to greet older folks, asking if she could bring them food, and coffee or tea. She included everyone, taking the time to greet everyone with a handshake, but more often with a hug. She was busy. It was her day, but she included everyone, and those are the qualities of a real leader.

She has the respect of her fellow Conservatives, and her volunteers. You can feel the support by the way everyone welcomed her at the official opening of her campaign. Other candidates her supporters and volunteers spontaneously, and in unison, chanted her name, "Val-er-ie!" And as she took the microphone, the voices became louder and more rhythmic. Her face was filled with emotion and humility as she entered. When she spoke, she reinforced her commitment, and made a promise to represent everyone in her riding: a promise she will keep.

Canada is now facing a critical time, one where security is at the forefront due to extremism, radicalization and polarization of people. The threat is both outside of its borders and inside. It is a time when people are asked to make choices, very difficult choices between personal freedom and security. Valerie Assouline is the best choice as she knows through her own family's immigration how radicalization can put people’s lives in danger.

Canadians need to know the importance of safety and everyone must feel safe. Radicalism or extremism can come from within our society, It can be part of hate speech, bad jokes, or cultural biases which point an accusing finger at a person because of their religion, skin tone, ethnicity, sexuality or gender. We need our laws better enforced to make sure that the freedom of everyone is assured. Who better than a lawyer who knows the law and applies it through compassion and sees every person as an individual and not as a group?

Women are waking up to a new reality - that of being leaders. Valerie Valérie Assouline is a leader who will inspire all women from all backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and origins to take a leap in politics to get involved as activists for the rights of all women, children and men.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two poems to honor the tragedy and genocide the Yezidi community faced on August 3, 2014

Dedicated to all Yezidi people 

CYRUS the LION by Celine Leduc   August 4, 2015

Media gave Cyrus first page
He was the lead story for many
Cyrus is the poster boy
For animal cruelty.
Anger, outrage is heard.

Get the murderer!
Arrest him!, issue a warrant!
Bring him to trial!
Fine him, jail him, or kill him!
He is a murderer!.

We are told the name of the man
We know he is a dentist
We know he is American
We know where he lives
We know he is a criminal

He killed Cyrus; it was illegal
He did not have a permit
To shoot to kill.
All he needed was a permit
To make it legal.

I ask you? Where is your outrage?
Where is your rage?
For those nameless women
For those nameless young girls
Those kidnapped sold and raped?

Why do we not know one name?
Why are they not Poster women?
Why no young poster girl?
THEY ARE YEZIDI They have a name!
They matter more than Cyrus!

Yezidi women are human beings
They are mothers or daughters!
They are in need of justice
Arrest the perps, put them on trial.
A human life matters.

This poem is dedicated to my good friend Jemal he and I share a birthday both born on August 3 
MY BIRTHDAY WISH by Celine Leduc August 4, 2015  

Dessert is served! A Birthday cake!
Candles light up my cake.
Make a Wish… do not say it out loud!
Keep it a secret, not to jinx it!

August 3 is my birthday
Life and death dance this year.
A celebration of my birth my life
A day of mourning for the Yezidi.

August 3, 2014 was the first day
Of their genocide at the hands ISIS
ISIS, is an acronym and not Egyptian Isis
Who made sure dismembered Osiris was whole?

ISIS the acronym dismembers Yezidi!
They kill Yezidi men violate women
ISIS is the nemesis of Isis
ISIS is the antithesis of woman.

Isis gave life ISIS brings death.
Isis loves men ISIS hates men.
Isis is linked to daybreak ISIS to darkness.
Isis brings light ISIS blows out light.

Before blowing out the candles on my cake
I make a wish that I do not want to keep secret!
My wish is to shed light as silence kills Yezidi!
I say it out loud: May YEZIDI massacre STOP. NOW!

May all those who are alive
Come back home, safe and sound.
May their return light up the community.
May they be made whole again! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


How can I trust the media mainstream media when Mohawks are made to be guilty for the death of Corporal Marcel Lemay?  The journalists were at the Inquest into the death of Marcel Lemay and NO CHARGES were brought against Mohawks.  There was no conclusive proof because evidence was tampered with, when trees were chopped down.  There was no autopsy report that told us who shot the bullet, no one knows.   In all honesty no one know who shot the Corporal.  His death was tragic.  A life was lost.  However, today another loss is felt that is the loss of truth.
Journalists are burying the truth under a mountain of false information and cultural perception. Because it is assumed that Mohawks are guilty.  Some have interviewed the sister of Corporal Marcel Lemay who said she forgave and was working towards peace.  Who did she forgive? No one knows who shot the fatal bullet.  I cannot forgive nor forget the media for making up stories, for implying the Mohawks are guilty.  They had the Inquest report and they saw or read that there was NO CHARGES against Mohawks, because of lack of proof.  Yet, journalists imply the Mohawks were guilty.  

Journalists are there to inform to help us understand our world in an honest fashion.  Journalists use facts and should be able to make the difference between malicious gossips, urban legends, and cultural assumption their role is to differentiate between lies and truth. Journalists are human and are subject to cultural biases and systemic racism.  This racism is part of a larger problem that is colonialism and a colonialist mentality.    Journalists are still playing cowboy and Indians or calling the cavalry heroes, those who murdered First Nation are heroes.  Bridges, lakes, cities, streets, schools are named after them.  It is the same as naming a building or street after a Confederate hero.  It would be the same as if we named a school Hitler or Mengele.  People will object to a school being named after Hitler but they are happy to name a lake after Champlain. 
As a child because I was the only girl playing with boys’ cowboy and Indian, the boys were the cowboys and I was always the Indian.   I was outnumbered 3 or 4 boys against one girl. Girls are supposed to be weaker than and not as good t strategy as boys.  Yet, I could outwit, outsmart, overcome and win.  Well, they were always surprised to see that I won.  Maybe this why I can empathize with First Nation and see them as winners.  I am comfortable being a woman as I know I have power over myself and my actions. 

Truth will set us free as lies shackle us and tie us down.  Lies create enemies perpetuate division and creates enemies.  By telling the truth we clear up the way to have an honest open discussion with each other.  I listen to you, hear your pain, feel your pain and empathize with you.  I do not see you as a victim in need of my help as I am no hero and do not have any solutions. By talking, discussing and being honest with each other we can find solutions. Because, we are equal yet different but equal nonetheless.  By sharing our knowledge, our concerns and our solutions we will be able as Canadians to be free. 

We came here seeking freedom and a new life, because back in France or England or Spain the water was polluted. Life expectancy was short.  Houses were built side by side.  When Cartier first landed he remarked there was chateau, no forts, no houses, no cities:  the area he called virgin land and uncivilized.   After Cartier came Champlain de Maisonneuve and the French aristocracy and peasants.  A feudal system was put in place and these men decided to civilize this part of the world, which they called India hence Indian. 

India was where they came landed.  Yes, they were sure they had landed in India it took a few hundred years to realize it was a new world.   Yet the word Indian still persists to be used.  We as Canadians never bothered to ask the people what their names were. We stole their identity. Just like we did to Jews, we took their religious book their Bible and then used it to gain control of the world by converting people.  They came with the cross (missionaries) accompanied by guns (the army) preached the Bible and stole the land a Native friend told me.  These preacher men wanted the people to be created in their image or what they perceived as such, so they appropriated people called them My Indians.

First Nation were appropriated by being renamed.  We speaking French could not pronounce Wendate so we called them Huron, Kanien’kehá:ka impossible to pronounce let us call them Mohawks or Iroquois. Let us say they are blood thirsty because women are leaders.  Truth be told they are the “people of the flint”.   Women were leaders.  This mentality still persists in Canada that Mohawks are killers, this is a lie.  No one knows which bullet killed Corporal Lemay no autopsy no evidence as proof was destroyed by the police.  The SQ chopped down trees destroyed evidence.  

In 1990 I started by reporting for CKUT the Inquest into the death of Marcel Lemay.  I had a radio show for ten years, as a result, Twisting Tongue. 25 years later I have a blog and I write about my own experiences with First Nation people, my own unvarnished truth.  I do not whitewash truth not do I distort facts.   Truth and reconciliation will be a reality when we as Canadians in all provinces stop lying and start telling the truth.