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January 2003 - Nr. 1
Happy New Year from Echo Germanica
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister2000


Dear Reader

According to some farmer’s almanacs we will have a green Easter because we had a white Christmas. Nothing would please us more. Every year anew we lament the length of our Canadian winters. The amount of snow we shovelled in the first few days of the new year are hopefully not an indication of what is yet to come. But no matter, we will have to take what comes our way. And speaking of comings and arrivals, after all, that is what Christmas was all about, I can report that we have a new arrival. Just in time for Christmas our neighbourhood had a few kittens on the loose that no one wanted to claim. We are now the proud family of a pure white feline we named Simba, and she is definitely a lion princess and dominating the otherwise male cat household. I do not mind a little female reinforcement either. She is delicate but fierce in her determination, which is very necessary since she is deaf, like many of her colour. Our number one cat Duke Marmaduke invited her to stay, and the number two cat, Motto, is also getting used to the idea.

 

The garden abounds with all sorts of animals. Squirrels, racoons and birds of any description make regular visits in our backyard. We even sport a skunk in the neighbourhood. When he becomes a bit too exuberant about his existence in the big city and leaves his heavy scented perfume on my veranda I use Fabreeze to clean up after him. Works like a charm; I guarantee it! Also applies for the stench un-neutered male cats leave behind.

By feeding the wild animals some leftovers of fruit and proteins and bread, and making sure they have something to drink, just a couple of times per week, the neighbours can be certain that their garbage is quite safe from desperate animals. And they stay out of sight.

All this of course brings me to my wish list for the New Year:

I wish that people would be more responsible and take better care of the pets they get and fix them and do not let them run around unsupervised.

I wish people would stop using their cultural backgrounds as an excuse for bad behaviour. Living in Canada means that we can practise our culture freely, but we do not shove our convictions down other peoples throats. The old adage of "When in Rom do as the Romans do" still holds true. There is enough opportunity to be different. We do not have to insist on our rights by making everyone else wrong.

I wish trade unions would not protect bad and lazy workers, as can be witnessed in the snow when they clear streetcar tracks in the city. They hardly moved in 2 hours.

I wish the city would not just dump salt onto the streets and create a huge amount of unnecessary slush.

I wish we would elect responsible politicians that make responsible policies and do not sell, for instance, our water to foreign countries without consulting the population properly. If you are interested in fighting this dangerous development, please, contact the Council of Canadians in Ottawa. You can call them and ask how you can help, perhaps by signing a petition that is available, or in other ways. (1-800-387-7177). We would also like to see more planning in the way our other energies are being handled. The Hydro story is a joke! Adam Beck is turning in his grave! This is not what he had in mind. (In case you forgot, Adam Beck was that fabulous man who brought us Ontario Hydro. His statue is located in Toronto at the foot of University Avenue.)

Actually my list is quite long, so I will shorten it. I do not want to loose your attention, because I have a request: Our newest columnist is a fine artist and belongs to the very young generation of German descent. She is an artist through and through and, like all artists, she wants to help and be useful to her society. She wants to make the world a more liveable place than it is.

Since we have often wondered in our ranks what it is that makes us integrate so much that we do seem to discontinue as a group of a specific background, we are hard at work to find out ways to change it if possible. For that we need to understand what it is that keeps "young people" away from the traditional venues. In this she has our full support because it has been our endeavour too for all these years. But we do need everyone’s help.

If you are a younger reader, please contact us, any way you want, online at our website www.echoworld.com , or by phone, 416-652-1332, or by fax , 416-658-6909, or email us at info@echoworld.com, or use my email, sfr@echoworld.com. I will forward the mail to Elizabeth Kuehn, the young artist, conductor and musician I spoke of. If you do not belong to that "young" category, but know someone who would fit this description, please pass on this request.

We realize this takes a little bit of extra effort. But is it not worth it to discover what is really on our minds? If you think you know anything on this subject, feel free to contact us too! We are not alone in being concerned about the diminishing of German culture in this land of ours. Active participation is needed to swing it around. Even big venues, like the Christmas Market can fail if nothing is done to create and renew the interest in our culture. Dig up your social conscience and lend a helping hand. If we take care of one thing, then we can take care of other things too. Fence-sitting does not change anything.

So maybe that should be our New Years resolution as a group, the refurbishing and support of German Culture in Canada as a group, not as single entities that do things but do not coordinate with anyone else.

Maybe we have to start an organisation to do that. I always thought that it was the job of the German-Canadian Congress to include that in its responsibility, but since most active members are in Kitchener it is that city that is benefiting, not much of the rest of Ontario. Heck why don’t we? What do you think? I always thought of the two fallen Cs in the name Echo Germanica, look at the logo on the front page, as Culture Club. Call me if you are interested in exploring this possibility at 416-652-1332, or contact me in any of the other ways described earlier.

In the meantime have a wonderful New Year! I am heck bend on making it the best ever! I had not been feeling well for a few years now, but found my bearings again. I am like a tropical storm gathering strength. Who knows what I will dream up next?

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

P.S.: About culture, local Canadian culture: Standing in line at Fortinos on the Friday after New Years Day, I buy some of my staples there, I looked at the customer behind me and saw a young handsome fellow with a huge cart full of buns. They were the kind one uses for hot dogs and hamburgers.

"Big party?" I asked. He shook his head in denial. "We ran out of buns and our supplier is closed."

I wanted to know who is ‘We’. "I am the purchasing Manager for the Rainbow Café in Yorkdale! And we have been extra busy. My name is Joseph Carta. Have you visited the restaurant?"

I told him that we had been invited to the media launch at opening time but had to miss it. But every time we go to the movies in Yorkdale I comment on the lifelike Anaconda right at the entrance.

Well, Joseph, get ready, we are coming. I want to have a closer look at the fabulous aquarium in the back of the restaurant and sample some of the food you are cooking up in the kitchen.





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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.
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Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, editor, editor-in-chief of Echo Germanica, comments, cultural, artistic, political, daily events, German-Canadian, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,

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