Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nation Building or Bust!

Story by Norm Richards

I've wondered and felt concern like many others in Canada since the newly elected government has committed to accept twenty five thousand Syrian war refugees into Canada before the end of the year just forty days from now. I want to know more. I didn't think I'd find many answers. Meanwhile, I could end up with militant neighbours if you belief what you see and read on the Internet. I've seen the pictures of hundreds of thousands of young men moving across Europe in search of safety and freedom. At the same time disturbed by the countries rejecting them and putting up barbed wire fences to keep them out. What is wrong with people for doing that? Our national newspaper are running stories which beg reading to better understand the issues. Mark MacKinnon, Doug Saunders and Joanna Slater are some of the authors.  

The men running across Europe today are men with hopes and dreams. They want safety for themselves and for their families too. Don't they? I see actions against them that demonstrate indifference and intolerance. Yes, I know some of the those counties have their own problems. But their actions speak loudly. They may as well say, "We don't want extremist groups coming into our country!" Well, who does? But have you taken a look at who they really are? I just hope, however, that the newly elected government here knows what they are doing and are smart about it. People seeking asylum from oppression is what I believe these people are. What I've been asking USA governors through Facebook comments is; have they considered that? I'm not sure they read my comments. I spoke with a landed immigrant USA citizen to Canada the other day what he thought. He said the US governors who are against Syrians coming into their state are right wing politicians who appose President Barack Obama and his call for accepting refugees. Kind of says it right there. Where do they go from here? We have our own challenges in Canada as well. It's to find a way to get 25,000 refugees into Canada in 40 days. I read today, some have arrived.

What can we expect when more get here? If other people who come here are any example of integration into our society, things are possible. China sends their children for education while buying houses on the west coast to house them while these kids get an education. Historically, when the west needed tilling, migration from Europe expanded farming and land occupation in a rapid and permanent way. When Jewish owned clothing factories needed workers, Filipinos were hired to take those jobs. They discovered these folks were friendly and caring. Hospitals are large employers for immigrants from the Philippines. Now, even decades later and generations in, those immigrants are successful and prosperous. The taxi services are dominated by another ethnic culture. These people contribute to the economy in a substantial way. I'm pretty close to the street, so to speak. I hear many different languages daily in my city. Among themselves they speak there mother tongue but function well in English as needed. We are a mosaic from other lands here in Canada. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I worked in the aerospace industry where many UK workers were recruited and settled in this country before and after the war. People from all over the world have come to Canada to find prosperity. Can refugees make it? Why not. Governments just have to welcome them, facilitate their arrival and makes things possible for them. The rest is up to them and us to know and understand them. Integration is not impossible, it's necessary. How do you build workable nations without it? Not by force that is for sure.                


Monday, June 22, 2015

Adventures of Jim Richards

by Norm Richards


Born in 1904 at Winnipegosis, Manitoba, Canada, Jim Richards at twenty six years of age is fluent in four languages. He's self sufficient on how to live in the woods and how to live off the land around him. His early life is driven by energy and will power. He becomes a champion boxer and can run faster than any man around. Not a large fellow, trim and slim, he is as strong as any man. On the lake at the west shore he spends his time building his skills and sharing a confident manner and sense of humour. After his family, originally from Saint-Laurent, Manitoba, moved north to prosper, they relocate to the largest trading community of The Pas, Manitoba where Jim gains a reputation for his natural skills in the fish and fur trade including transportation logistics for mining companies north of The Pas.  

One day, he is visited by the man who runs the mine at Flin Flon, Manitoba. The fellow tells him about a letter received from Chicago inviting a search for an experienced northern guide and team leader. The letter is from a man wishing to create an expedition to reach the Arctic Ocean and turn east across rivers, lakes and vast territory on the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The trip will take a great deal of planning and preparation. Jim is charged with the job of gathering a team of hands to make this trip. He is told that visitors from Europe will make this journey with him. In time, he will learn who the adventure seekers from Europe are. 

In late spring of 1932, the train arrives at The Pas Station. In the clouds of steam wafting through the air on a cool day, fine leather boots appear down the steps and onto the platform of the station. The conductor dressed in a dark blue uniform with bright gold buttons reaches up to hold the hands of two young women disembarking the train. The first woman waves away the need for any help in sharp dismissal. The other woman, lays out her hand in expectation of assistance off the train steps. A man in a three piece wool worsted suit descends the stairs behind them beaming with a friendly smile in search of acknowledgement from someone in the crowd awaiting the trains arrival.

"Hello." says a voice in the crowd.

"Are you the miner from Flin Flon." The American asks.

"Yes, I am."

"I'd like you to meet Jim Richards." 

" Oh yes, we've heard a lot about you, Richards. We only hope you're up to the task."

Everyone laughs and the entourage is guided through the crowd on the platform, through the station and exists the front doors. 

"This is Madame Edw Guyot de Mishaegen of Belgium. She is accompanied by her Royal Highness Baroness de Buffin from Belgium." 

Each of the men bow, while Richards stands erect and reaches out to shake hands. No one responds except the American in the three piece suit. Otherwise, warm smiles are in evidence by all.

 "Madame de Mishaegen will keep record of this trip and write about it later for the French press. We intend to help publish the stories."  


"Tomorrow, after you have all had a good nights sleep, Jim here, will take you down to the river and show you the team and plans he's worked on for a successful expedition."

"That sounds wonderful." 

"Bon, Merci." says a deep female voice. 

Jim examines these two exotic creatures before him. 

Jim responds in the French language " I bid you a fine evening. I look forward to our rondi vous." 

The two women turn to him warmly with smiles of recognition and familiarity as all the other English speaking men seem to be left out of this part of the conversation. 

As the party arrives at the hotel, Jim turns and waves so long for the evening and walks off.  

More story to follow ............ 


Copyright protected.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey - the movie.

Review of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie

By Norm Richards

I saw the picture this evening. I admit I have not read the novel and now I wish I had but I don't usually read books like that. Someone told me E.L. James the author of the novel had some say in the screen story's development. I am pleased to hear that since making an adaptation depends on good cooperation between authors and screenwriters. Even if this is so or even partially, I enjoyed what I saw. Why? I think the script is well played, directed and acted even though some of that is a bit wooden, at least at the start. The exchange between Grey and his new discovery Anastasia is not run over by a director's need to get to the point. Instead, he takes his time.

The characters take their time getting down to a relationship that might or might not work. The delight is in the exchange. Anastasia is rather innocent, even pure in her delivery. I like her. I could go for her, but enough about my fantasies. She is clean cut and beautiful, there is no doubt. Is she smart enough for Grey? Without question. But he must dominate and he does, although fair, which is not what the film's critics want to see or even know. There is plot, there is story and there is story resolution, even if a dimwit audience I was in attendance with, realized. I think those dimwits still crave 91/2 Weeks and certainly missed the point of this picture. My congratulations to Director Sam Taylor - Johnson and Screenwriter Kelly Marcel for making a good movie in a nice subtle style. Nice to see the homage to Vancouver. It could have been my school Kelly.      

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tracking Life

Story by Norm Richards

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood today, I thought I'd just start out that way. Last weekend I went to visit my daughter and her family. I had a wonderful time. I saw my eight month old grandson for the first time in person. He looked at me straight in the eye like he had to know me but he just couldn't place me.

Throughout my last visit they were busy finishing the side by side condo they are now living in. It's now done and it's really nice. They didn't spare on quality of the material for the inside finishing. They have good taste. For re-sale they will do well so long as the market doesn't drop out on them.

This visit was on the occasion of grandson Sebastian's baptism. My daughter insisted I wear a suit. I searched my closet for a suitable garment but much to my disappointment, I had nothing to wear. Don't get me wrong, the closet is full of suits but most are winter weight and the others are worn around the edges from daily use at work. I needed something nicer. I went shopping. I tried on a bunch of suits and I found two I really liked but they were not quite right. I ended up with a black blazer. I can use it to update the one I wear often for work. This one is of a finer quality wool and nice stitching along the lapels. It came together with a non-iron slim fit grey shirt made in Italy and a swell black tie. My pants are salt and pepper tones and will replace the pants I've worn out. I didn't have to say anything. My daughter took one look at me. She approved. Don't know what I would have done if she took issue with my wardrobe. Missed the party I guess. 

We went to church and saw Sebastian's baptism. It was a nice serene moment, so much so I was lulled by it. I sat in the front pews with my other two grandchildren. It just felt good inside being there. I took still photos but when it came the moment the priest pored the holy water over Sebastian's head I didn't have my video on. A small let down. I got the camera and there was a part of the ceremony where a candle is brought forward. I rolled the video but the parents and God parents had their backs to us so I couldn't get a good shot. The priest was saying interesting things and every once and awhile he'd call over those before him to address the other grandfather in the pew right behind me as if he was including everyone in the ceremony more actively. It just had a feel like he was having a distracted conversation from the actual purpose we were all there for. It was fine. We all enjoyed the service.

Breana and Breydan chatting with little brother Sebastian.

After the baptism ceremony we went to a nice family gathering at a local hall and we had a nice meal. A professional photographer was hired so there will be some good photographs available in due time. 

This is Sebastian and his daddy Paulo.

Cheers everyone!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

In Memory of Charles Nabess

by Norm Richards

I've included the link below of my original story.

I will always remember Charles' great smile!

Charles and Larry appear here with me during the Charles Nabess Benefit.

Charles spoke briefly about us playing together in the old Elks Hall we all loved to play in at The Pas.

The Essentials

Photo with Wolfman appears courtesy of Maureen Fitzhenry. One of the lineups of Three Penny Opera.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I go for coffee often with a number of what is a group of senior guys and gals. After being at home and seeing the headlines that come across Facebook, in a quiet moment between sips, the table fell silent. Spontaneously, I mentioned Bob Geldolf's daughter died today. She was only 25. Without hesitation, the most elder at the table, said, " I guess she don't like Mondays!"