Addiction…why talk about it?



Note: Green text below are clickable  links.

About the author…

Why talk about addiction? As a community we try to encourage constructive development and promote positive values for all our people, so the subject of addiction may seem counter-productive or at the very least uncomfortable even annoying to some. Let’s face it there is a stigma attached to substance use and abuse. Opinions vary widely on substances, whether they are “legal” or “illegal” or we may have totally different attitudes toward different users. For example,  a middle-age rock star usage seems almost “normal” or not threatening since he/she has the money to pay for the addiction and rehab. We may not be so lenient thinking about people experiencing substance dependency in the city core, we worry about the social cost and criminality that may result. I have to acknowledge that the two examples I just used may reinforce stereotypes and as such, are not a reliable picture of the problem of addiction. In reality problematic substance abuse exists in all socio-economic classes, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 
               Truly it is not an easy topic to handle. People have differing opinions and different degrees of tolerance, prejudice and discrimination towards people who use substances. This stigmatisation and the feelings of shame and guilt often become a significant barrier to treatment and recovery for the person living with substance dependence.
                We also have to acknowledge that our community members are subjected to the same circumstances that contribute to substance abuse in the general population: stress, depression, mental illness, loss of employment,  physical pain, family problems, life-altering changes and a family history of substance abuse to name a few. Our children and grand-children are influenced by popular culture and may also experience peer pressure. For all these reasons it is valuable to get a better understanding of the problem of substance use and misuse so we can be better prepared to deal with it in a positive and effective manner.
               The following podcast and article are quite enlightening to understand the reality of addiction and the pervasive nature of stigma.
               Please send in your comments so we can have a lively discussion. For those who want to probe more deeply I would recommend this publication from Canadian Mental Health Association.
Eveline Stewart

COVID-19 and Alcohol

Substance Use during COVID

Canadians drinking their way through the pandemic are far from alone. Alcohol consumption has soared in many parts of the world — and the uptick has some experts concerned that misinformation is playing a role.
Addressing several myths that have been circulating, the WHO counters each of them in its factsheet. “Consuming alcohol will not destroy the virus,” it states. As other health authorities have similarly emphasized, drinking alcohol can actually weaken the immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness. Additionally, “consumption of alcohol will not kill the virus in the inhaled air,” and neither will it purify your mouth or throat.
The WHO also dispels misconceptions around drinking and stress relief. While you might pour a glass of wine thinking it will help you relax, alcohol is known to amplify symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. “At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence,” it said.

by Eveline Stewart

                                                                                                                               CCSUA, 4.28.2020
About the author
My name is Eveline Stewart. I am a French-Canadian who has lived in Hamilton since 2002. My husband David and I have been attending many of your functions over the years. We truly appreciate the love for the family and the community cohesiveness we experienced with you. We have been promoting those values in our work with the Universal Peace Federation and Women’s Federation for World Peace over many years.
I decided to go back to school in 2016 to complete a diploma of Addictions Care-worker through a continuing education program at McMaster University. Additionally, I volunteered at a community treatment program for two years and did a practical experience course at a residential treatment facility. This formation helped me gain knowledge and enhance some skills but I must disclose that I have not acquired the official certification (CACC) from Canadian Addiction Counselors Certification Federation, the addiction workforce regulation body.
I have been inspired by what I have learned and the different approaches used to help individuals overcome this very persistent, problematic predicament. By opening a conversation on the subject we could deepen our understanding and recognize the factors that can improve our community resiliency.
My hope is to submit short articles and different links as a starting point for conversation. This would enable us to have a more informed exchange. I would also like to invite anyone in the community to contribute your knowledge, experience, expertise or questions for the benefit of all. I believe such a collaborative approach would be more enriching and meaningful.  

Some additional information;
After I introduced myself I was asked some questions from the HFCC officers. I think many members have similar questions so I will try to clarify some points.
There was some worry about maintaining confidentiality, a valid concern. In the training for counseling and managing the care of people with addiction issues, the importance of maintaining confidentiality is paramount. We thought it would be better for those with questions or concerns to send their questions directly to my e-mail. This way I can address your concerns and give you proper information. If/when I talk about your area of concern in a speech/article, your name would never be mentioned.
I was also asked if I am expecting to be paid for my contribution to HFCC Facebook. The answer is No! My intention is to support the well-being of the Filipino community: elders, adults and youth. Additionally, because I have not completed all the requirements to obtain the certification from CACCF it would not be ethical to ask for payment.
Hopefully, I will provide useful information for your community, more knowledge and a better understanding of how to deal with and help those in need. I will not offer treatment but can help to connect individuals to the proper sources of care in our community.
You can reach me with any comment, question or concern at 

A Beach Meeting p3

A Beach Meeting P3

“It is good to meet an English speaker,” the man said. “We do not get many tourists here compared to places like Boracay. You’re a tourist?”
“No, I have been here for some time,” John repeated. He did not want the stranger to think that he was totally new to all things in the Philippines. The man might think that he was more vulnerable if his intentions were not good. John could not help but think that there was something more behind this meeting. It was just a feeling, but he could not dismiss it. He had a lingering sense too that the man was determining, perhaps even hesitating, whether to act upon his real purpose. Warily, John watched the man slip a hand casually into his jacket’s pocket.
“His intention is armed robbery.” In his mind, John clearly heard these words. He felt the adrenaline rising in him but relaxed just a little upon thinking maybe the hand had become cold from the sea’s chilling breeze.  Even while thinking these things, John was telling himself that he was being too imaginative, which was supported by the dark loneliness of the beach. Still, he considered his physical chances against this stranger. The man was not large, but that did not rule out that he was strong and able. That and he might be carrying a knife or some other weapon.
“What do you do?”
“I am a missionary.”
John then was positive in his own mind that the next question the man would ask is ‘where’. He realized that he had stayed too long with this person and must now excuse himself and get away.
Then, further down the beach, he saw another shadow coming towards them. The man turned to face the shadow seeing that John was being distracted by something. Gradually, the shadow turned into Pastor Gabriel who had come down to fetch him. John was relieved to see the pastor. Gabriel was not a big man, but John was confident in the experience and personal authority that he possessed.
When Gabriel had drawn close to them, John even in the darkness caught the concerned look on his face. Without saying a word at first, Gabriel looked intently at the stranger. John knew right off that he was suspicious of the man’s intentions. They had some words, nothing unfriendly, but regardless, the man suddenly left to return up from the beach again, soon appearing as a shadow. John realized he would disappear in the darkness as if this meeting had never taken place at all.
Walking back to the restaurant, at first little was said. John felt sheepish thinking that Gabriel must have thought him naïve to be talking to this stranger who suddenly came out of the dark from nowhere. 
“It did seem strange meeting up with that stranger,” John admitted.
“He was asking a lot of questions. On one hand, he seemed friendly, but I did sense something was just not quite right with him.”
“His intentions may not have been good,” Gabriel agreed. “Anyway, I talked to him and very quickly he showed that he was no longer interested in staying around once I came on the scene. He just wanted to leave.”
“In the end, it turned out well,” John concluded. And he was glad of that.
Sitting at the restaurant table now with Keren and Sheila was Gabriel’s wife, Elisa. The food they ordered had just been served. Sheila was taking careful nibbles from hot ‘barbecue on a stick’.
Keren announced when she spotted the two men trudging up from the beach through the dry sand: “Pastor Gabriel you were able to find my husband.”
“Oh, he was not far. He was just taking in the beauty of the night down by the shore.”

A Beach Meeting P2

A Beach Meeting P2

Have’nt read part 1?
That thought was quickly dispelled when John became aware of something coming towards him from out of the dark above the beach. At first, it seemed mostly a shadow. Drawing closer, it was seen to be a man. John could just make out that he was wearing a jacket opened at the front. In the darkness, it had no colour. John wondered why he seemed to come out of nowhere and apparently specifically to meet with him. The man kept coming until he stood before John but kept his distance. He appeared to be reasonably well dressed. John did take a passing glance at the flipflops worn on the man’s feet. Flipflops or not, he was unlikely to be a poor fisherman living in the area.  He saw that he was not a large man, rather thin, but typical in size for a Filipino male. The man’s general appearance gave no cause for John to feel intimidated. However, he still felt uncomfortable.
“Hello,” greeted the man. John returned the greeting while assessing that by all appearances the man seemed legitimate and friendly. But, could he be something more than that? John thought warily. Why did he come out onto this now dark deserted beach? He sensed that the man was sizing him up too. ‘But what for?’ wondered John. Some star light broke through a short-lived opening in the clouds and he had a glimpse of the man’s face. It was high cheek-boned and his eyes dark. His face did not reveal anything amiss. 
“You are an American?” he asked softly.
“No, a Canadian,” John responded evenly.
“Have you been in the Philippines for long?”
“Oh, fairly long,” John said somewhat evasively.
“Do you like it here?”
“The Philippines is a very beautiful country.”
“There is a lot of poverty though,” the man stressed.
“That is true.”
“Where do you stay?” he then asked.
“Near the city centre,” John again being ambiguous. He was being watchful in what he said, however, he also realized that Filipinos will in friendliness ask such questions. It shows that they are really interested in the person that they meet. However, it still seemed a strange setting to be communicating with someone you had never met before on a lonely beach in the darkness. And where did the man come from? He seemed to come out of nowhere.
Proceed to part3

A Beach Meeting P1

Perhaps, some of you have had an unexpected meeting with a stranger in a place that leaves one questioning the motive intended by that person. That thought still came into John’s mind long after the happening.
It was getting dark. The cloud cover parted just long enough to let the evening stars have a peek at the earth below. The wind coming off the ocean felt a little on the cool side, which was welcomed after the tropical heat of that day. John and Keren with her niece, Sheila, had arrived at a small restaurant just above Baybay beach and alongside the road leading to the city’s port. Sheila had arranged a supper meeting with a ministry couple, Pastors Gabriel and Elisa De Juan to discuss the idea of forming a mission partnership. They had not yet arrived, so John thought it would be good to go down to the beach while there was still an inkling of light.
The beach extended for kilometres. It was narrower now because it was high tide. When low tide, the retreating sea made the beach grow quite wide.
“Keren, I will go out onto the beach until they come,” John said.
“Don’t go too far. You will need to hear our call when they arrive.”
“I’ll just be out front.”
“Be careful. It is already getting well past dusk.”
John pointed to a slight break in the clouds. “See? The opening lets in light.”
“How long do you think that will last? It gets dark quickly here in the tropics. Just be careful,” she repeated.
The restaurant was completely open except for having a roof to shelter from sun and rain. There were several high concrete steps leading down to the beach. From these, John stepped out onto the fine soft sand of the higher beach. It parted under his shoes causing them to sink down at their sides with each step taken. The awkward difficulty of walking through this dry sand reminded John of walking through freshly fallen snow in Canada. He plodded directly towards the sea where the beach would be wet and firm beneath his feet. To keep his shoes dry, John stood a safe distance from the water that rose and ebbed at the shore. He listened in the forming darkness to the breaking of a wave as it came crashing towards shore. It flattened out flowing as high as it could onto the beach before being inescapably drawn back to the sea. He could see the white of another breaking wave making its way to shore.
John looked back towards the restaurant.  He could see from the light there that Keren and Sheila were still seated alone at a picnic style table. He decided there was time to walk further down the beach. He reasoned that he would only go a short distance.  After awhile, he stopped to listen. The only sound was that made by the sea. When he turned his eyes towards the road above the beach, he saw no evidence of lights from vehicles travelling it. There was only the dark silhouette of closed buildings hugging closely along the roadway. He could feel a slight chill from the light sea breeze and wished that he had worn his old hockey jacket over his short-sleeved shirt. For the meeting with Gabriel and Elisa, he did wear long pants and he was glad of that.

To go to page 2 

COVID 19 Know Thy Enemy

How Co-VID 19 Works provided by Nucleus Medical Media

Disclaimer: This video is attributed to the author and was not created by HFCC.
This is for for educational and informational purpose only.
However the advice is in step with the  department of health directives which is social distancing and to be obsessive compulsive about personal hygiene-washing of hands with soap and water  for 20 seconds or so.

Thess Filio news

"The realities family members must face as COVID-19 spreads through nursing homes" an article shared by Thess Filio of Dignity Memorial.

Thess can help  advise you about end of life services. Should you require her expertise she can be reached by email at or  by phone at   647.231.2601.

Read article here

Another Storm P2

 Coming out of the Freddy Channel, they entered the open stretch of water in front of Franceville. They would need to cross this to pass through Hell’s Gap and arrive at the Bone Island cottage beyond. The water was smooth not showing a ripple. Not even a faint flutter of wind could be felt.  John did become aware of a muffled rumbling coming out of the west. When he looked back, he saw above the tops of distant pines a blackening of the sky. He felt little concern as he determined that he could get across the open water before the storm was upon him.  But the storm was closing in fast. The thunder became louder and fork lightning drew nearer etching the sky with violent flashes of startling white light. The sky darkened above blotting out the sun. John felt the temperature drop and saw that the water had turned black. He heard the ominous roar of wind coming. 
John knew then that he was caught by this fast-moving storm. He knew that he would not safely cross the open water. A tiny rock island was the nearest land. Frantically, he dug the paddle deeply into the water and pulled towards it. The rain and wind came with terrible force. Waves were building. The only thing he knew was that he must get off the water. He feared for the pup that was still too young to take care of himself. It would drown if the canoe swamped or overturned. The pup was hunched down on the floor of the canoe trying to escape the frightening sound of the wind and the torrential pelting from the rain.
“Stay down Rand!” John tried to shout over the wind and driving rain.
In his mind, he estimated a dozen more strokes to the targeted island. Then, before the canoe would be rammed bow first into the rock, John swung the canoe so that the side came up hard against it. He picked up the pup and swung it onto the shore. He leaped out just managing to hold the canoe’s side as the wind lifted the canoe making it airborne.  He held on tight, barely keeping from slipping off the sloping rock of the island into the storm churned water.
As quickly as the storm blew up, it passed. The wind and black sky moved away to disappear in the east. The chopped disturbed water began to settle flat again and return to its normal hue imitating the now blue, sun filled sky.
“That was a close one, Rand.” The pup already was wandering and sniffing about the island. “We are soaked, but intact.”
Tipping the canoe over onto its side emptied it of water. Soon, John and his dog were again crossing the open stretch in the canoe as if the violent storm had not really happened. Everything was again in place to make it a beautiful summer day on Georgian Bay. John gave silent thanks knowing that the outcome could have been very different.
John Klein’s vision of that time when he was a teenage boy was abruptly broken. “You still out there?” Keren called out to him again. “That lightning is still around.”
John wondered about this memory recalled years after while watching a tropical storm in a remote Philippines village. He turned from the mission doorway and entered the main room. Keren and another missionary, Marilyn, sat on wicker chairs waiting out the storm.
“So, you finally retreated,” Keren teased. Marilyn giggled, shyly holding her hand in front of her pretty face. 
John did not respond. His mind still had not fully left that summer’s afternoon of light and warmth.

The End

Another Storm P1

John Klein stood in the doorway of the mission watching the incessant tropical rain fill the air. The roadway in front was a blurred mystery until a jagged bolt of lightning fleetingly assured that it was still there. He counted out in thousands listening for the inevitable clap of thunder. He didn’t get to three thousand before the explosive clap shook the building. Looking behind him to the main room, he saw Barney, the brown Filipino dog, dive under a cane chair. The creature looked scared and embarrassed at the same time.18 “John, you had better come out from that doorway,” cautioned his wife, Keren. “I do not understand why it is that you must stand there watching this storm.”

“I’ll come in soon, honey,” John replied. But his mind drifted off to a different storm that he experienced years before at Georgian Bay when he was a young person. He clearly remembered his dog, Rand, whom he still occasionally dreamt about as if still alive.

The memory of that day
remained vivid.

The summer afternoon’s light and warmth accompanied John and his pup, Rand, as they canoed from Bone Island and now through the twists and turns of the Freddy Channel. John greatly enjoyed such excursions whereby his canoe would slip silently by ancient rock islands where stunted white pines clung to thin patches of soil in the rock’s crevices. Some leaned out over the water with their roots exposed and appearing ready to let go of their precarious grip to the rock. The only sound was that of the paddle dipping into the water. John watched the swirling symmetry made in the water from his J-stroke. Occasionally, this symmetry might be broken by the accidental clipping of the paddle against the side of the canoe. Otherwise, everything was still. No breeze vibrated the leafy shore birches or swayed the tops of the taller pines blessed to be rooted to deeper inland soil. John considered it to be good luck that there happened to be no boat traffic and therefore no waves churning up the water’s smooth surface while travelling up the Freddy’s narrow channel.

destination was to a little island store, which served more as an end
point to the canoeing rather than being a place to buy anything
specific. John saw that his German shepherd dog was getting restless.
Until then, the pup was content to snooze with his head tucked under
the front seat where he found some shade from the sun. Now he began
to wander about and when he leaned over the side of the canoe to try
to get a drink, John called out to him.

no, don’t do that. You are going to fall overboard.”

pup moved back from the side and, panting lightly, stared expectantly
at John.

know, you are feeling both hot and bored. We’ll be there soon and
I’ll find something you like to eat.”

put his paddle down and reached for a small plastic bowl beneath his
seat. Scooping it over the side of the canoe, he filled it and then
held it while the pup thirstily lapped up the cool water.

that should hold you for awhile.”

A runabout boat powered by an outboard motor cruised slowly by causing a wake that was little more than a ripple. An older man wearing a Tilley hat steered and his grey-haired wife motioned her greeting. John responded by holding his paddle up in the air. He waited until the canoe quit its gentle rocking from the boat’s wake before digging his paddle in and doing a J-stroke and continuing.

Around a bend, the Freddy opened revealing the island store tucked into a more accessible area of the shield rock. John dug his paddle in deeply and soon covered the distance. He chose a space at one of the docks to tie up. There were several boats already docked; their occupants inside the store. John decided to leave the pup the short time it would take to purchase a few things for the trip back. Attaching a rope to the dog’s collar, he then secured the other end around the canoe’s centre strut.

“You stay there, Rand, I’ll be right back,” John promised. The pup sat down and whined. “Don’t cry pup. I’ll get you something.” John left and entered the store.

On a shelf displaying breads, he found some sweet bun that could be shared with his dog.

Returning to the docks again with a bag containing his purchases, John saw a middle-aged man dressed in white slacks and wearing deck shoes standing there hovering above the canoe. He was eying Rand intently. The same could be said for the pup who did not take his eyes off the man. John guessed at what the boater’s suspicion was. The dog was a long-haired German Shepherd, however, even as a pup it looked wolfish. John excused himself as he untied the canoe near to where the man stood without correcting his unspoken belief that the creature in the boat was a wolf. After untying, John eased himself into the canoe, released Rand and paddled a distance from the dock. Resting the paddle across the canoe’s sides, he took a sticky bun from the bag and tore a large piece off for his dog. A few chomps, and it was gone. He wanted more, so John gave him the rest. Taking the paddle again, he did not look back, but continued along the way they had come. He wondered if the curious man still watched. TO BE CONTINUED