Thursday, October 11, 2007

WE Cover - Issue 003 (October 2007)

WE Cover Story - THE CURE: True Reflections from a Free Jah Cure

by Niama S. Sandy

Photo by Roy Sweetland

Freedom reigned on July 28, 2007 for Siccature Alcock – the man many Reggae aficionados the world over know as Jah Cure.

During his eight-year incarceration at Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility, Jamaica, Jah Cure released three albums, Free Jah Cure (2000), Ghetto Life (2003), Freedom Blues (2005). He also received commercial and critical acclaim for hit songs like "Love Is" and "Longing For," one of the crooner's personal favorites and admittedly a tearjerker for this writer. One couldn't help but wonder if the man was this productive while in captivity what he has in store for us now that he is no longer behind prison walls.

True Reflections: A New Beginning was released on July 31, 2007 just three days after his release – needless to say Mr. Alcock hit the ground running. Roughly two weeks later, on August 12, the luminary was off to Holland for the Sundance Music Festival.

The Cure, as many fans affectionately call him, was in full effect on the day of our interview – six weeks after his release. On the day of our conversation, the Cure had spent the better part of the day in and out of studios around Jamaica laying down vocals on dub-plates and tracks of his own for his forthcoming album. We talked about his beginnings in music, his thoughts on the Rastafarian lifestyle, his feelings on today's Reggae music, and - for many one of the most anticipated events in Reggae history - Curefest!

Ever the entertainer, the Cure recalled first memories of music as a young boy - singing to girls at school. "I can remember my schoolmates and I making music together, singing to the girls, singing love songs by Anita Baker and those singers," explained Alcock. He names Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley as a few of his favorite artists when he was growing up.

When he was 13, Alcock hit the streets of Kingston from Hanover. Upon making the rounds in Kingston, he met Capleton - who gave him his moniker. "I knew Capleton and he was already in the business as an established artist. I was around it and that's how it all started," explained Jah Cure.

Whenever opportunity knocks Siccature Alcock is not the type to shut the door. From that point forward, he has kept coming and 17 years later as he put it himself, "me never stop."

In that 17 year journey, there was a turning point – Alcock's discovery of the Rastafarian way of life. "I'm not too far from where I was before. I live Rasta different. It changed my life on a spiritual level and I see the Father from different heights. Right now, I try to stay humble and give thanks and pray," explained the crooner.

For young and burgeoning stars he offers a few choice tips. "Stay focused, try to stay positive," he said. "Come with your own sound, learn about the business before you get into it - there's a whole heap of tricks within the trade," he shared.

When asked how he thought today's music measures up to old school music Jah Cure expressed avid appreciation for the artistry of both today and yesterday. "We don't want everything to sound the same. Every music bigs up different flavours, you always have elders who do it good and those who do it not so good. There have been improvements through the technology and advancements. It is what it is," said Alcock.

In the wake of mainstream audiences taking notice of Caribbean music through the work of artists like Elephant Man, Kevin Lyttle, Sean Paul, Tony Matterhorn, I asked the man who many tout as the future of Reggae music his thoughts on artists who produce "crossover" music.

He responded in the way a musician's musician - a person who really loved music - would respond, "I like every kind of artist's music. I love it! Everybody has a different style - if you feel like traditional style isn't working cross over then. Experiments are good. If you try and it works for you give thanks! You can't follow fashion every day - spread your wings try new ideas. I feel good about the music. Anywhere you have reggae it's a good thing."

Taking his words to heart, I asked the Cure about his time at Holland's Sundance Music Festival. "It was nice. It was the first time with this kind of welcome. I've done a show there opening for another artist. This second time it was the real time." As it was his first time in front of an audience in nearly a decade, you have to wonder whether there was an element of awkwardness in being on stage. The Cure quickly and calmly refuted any thought of the sort. "I was a captive. I've been doing this for 17 years so now I'm doing it and I'm loving every second of it. I'm doing what I was put here to do."

Next up is the highly anticipated CureFest taking place in Trelawny, Jamaica from October 12 to 14, 2007. The first night of the festival, October 12, will feature the True Reflections party and dinner in Trelawny, featuring sounds by 45 Cure, DJ Renaissance, Stone Love, Danger Zone and Fire Links. On October 14 the Longing For concert will take place at newly erected Trelawny Stadium. Featured artists at CureFest will include Barrington Levy, Richie Stephens, Richie Spice, TOK, Capleton, Jah Mason, and others.

Of his fans experience at the concert Jah Cure says "they have to come out and get it because" he will be giving it to them. Exactly what ‘it’ is, is open for debate and speculation. I for one would call it natural mystic.

For more info on Jah Cure and his upcoming concert visit or

WE People - Rhoma Spencer

Actress, Playwright, Broadcast Journalist – a force to be reckoned with

by Nathalie Taghaboni

Where do you begin with Rhoma Spencer? Her accomplishments are many, her talents myriad. She is a one woman cultural bridge to the Caribbean and she flatly refuses to water down or compromise all that she offers to the arts.

“I bound to, must to, have to – return to the region frequently in order to give this country the authentic Caribbean.” says Rhoma in an interview with WE magazine. “I cannot feed off of anything here. This environment doesn’t allow me as a Caribbean artist, to do the work I have to do in order to bring authenticity to the stage. And while I am an Afro-Caribbean woman, I identify with all that is Caribbean, the Dutch, French, Spanish Caribbean, the Arawaks and Caribs – their histories are all part of me. I am very much a ‘Caribbeanist’. Yes I am a Trinidadian but I identify with the entire region.”

Rhoma was born in Curepe, Trinidad and spent over 10 years in Tobago as a child. She studied theatre at the University of the West Indies and later came to Toronto’s York University to complete her Masters in Theatre.

Ms Spencer is the director and founder of Theatre Archipelago which began in 2004. It is the Theatre’s mandate to present work from the pan Caribbean and to this end Rhoma visits and works with cultural companies and artists throughout the islands, including those islands about whom we may not hear much, perhaps due to access, language or other barriers. Rhoma will be heading to Surinam shortly to work with Henk Tjon – a man she describes as ‘”the ultimate Caribbean director”.

During the first few seasons of Theatre Archipelago, Rhoma noted her audience to be made up largely of academics and non Caribbean people – people who were interested in the culture. But over the past two or three seasons she has noticed a shift that brought more and more people of Caribbean descent. “By virtue of the nature of the particular play I am presenting, I would notice the change in audience demographics. If I am putting on a play that is Jamaican or Trinidadian, the audience tends to reflect that. Mind you, some plays and playwrights cross all borders, so for example when I presented Twilight Café earlier this year - a play by Tony Hall, the same author who did Jean and Dinah, the audience was very pan Caribbean.”

Theatre Archipelago’s presentations have all been critically acclaimed by Toronto’s media. “But”, says Rhoma, “now and then you will notice in a review, that there is a lack of knowledge of the culture presented in the play”. The reviewer may see the presentation as an exotic one and niche it as such.

A dream very close to Rhoma’s heart is to create theatre facilities for individual theatre performances with focus on Caribbean theatre. “Canada needs to see the real Caribbean theatre,” emphasizes Rhoma, ‘as opposed to the beaded and feathered Las Vegas or Broadway version that they have been fed for so long. They don’t know us well and we need to change that.”

In 2006 Theatre Archipelago offered a taste of that authenticity at the Caribana parade with a presentation of an ‘ole mas’ band. “Police tried to stop us!” laughs Rhoma wryly. “They thought we were protesters because they just did not know. They were used to the bra and panty mas. We have to educate Canada. We have to tell them about the beginnings, the roots of how we started long before we got to the pretty mas. In essence we are responsible for how we are viewed.”

Rhoma credits Ronald Amarosa as being the one person who turned the tide towards theatre as her career. He was Rhoma’s first director in ‘Best Village’ performances in Trinidad and nurtured in her the abiding love of the stage. “To this day, with all the degrees and international accolades, it is Best Village theatre that comes out of me. It is the truest form of drama and national theatre in Trinidad.”

Information on Theatre Archipelago may be obtained online at

WE Community – Toronto Man Teaches Life Lessons through Discipline

by Niama S. Sandy

At the Malvern Youth Centre in 70 students are learning the art of discipline and self-restraint through Tae Kwan Do. Their teacher, 42-year old Stephen Salicksing, has been a student and teacher of Martial Arts, for 30 years.

Guyanese-born and Trinidad-bred, Salicksing and his family moved to Toronto at age 8. When he was 11 years old he started taking his very first martial arts course. After months of taking the classes, young Salicksing was able to begin instructing other children in his neighbourhood on how to defend themselves. His instruction helped to ease tensions in the area. "Everyone knew everyone else could fight so no one really interfered with anyone else," said Salicksing.

At 18, Salicksing completed the training required to receive a Black belt - though the period of study for the Black belt generally takes far less time. "I came from a very poor family," explained Mr. Salicksing. His days consisted of getting up to go to school, returning home, tending to his siblings, and going to work. In those days where Martial Arts was concerned, Salicksing said "when I had the time I trained." Salicksing also underscored how times have changed. "Back then, when it was over it was over and it was good being able to walk away and leave it at that."

Upon leaving high school, Mr. Salicksing began to coach basketball at Stephen Leacock High School. This time coaching led him to discover his passion for working with youth.
"When I left high school, I went back and I decided to help coach the basketball team at Stephen Leacock High School. They enjoyed it! A lot of the kids went on to play university ball, at Syracuse University and some other schools in Canada," said Salicksing. The young coach ended up returning to school and receiving a degree in Social Services. In addition to his own studies, Salicksing engaged in more coaching in volleyball and track.

In a world where senseless acts of violence and innocent bystanders becoming victims of heinous crimes is the norm, Mr. Salicksing is trying to instil in his students at the youth center a different set of values. Simply put, "they know how to fight and they know they can hurt people - but they will not because I ask them not to. I feel bad for my kids that they can't defend themselves because they can really damage people. I spar with them in class so I know exactly what they are capable of."

The most fulfilling part of his job is the privileges of implanting this discipline and the seeds of inspiration to go above and beyond in his students. "Their parents complain that they're so distracted in school and they can't be taught. I teach them when they don't think anyone else can," explained Salicksing.

Students of Salicksing's have gone on to do great things. "We have students that have become doctors and police officers. 90% of our current students are getting B+'s and up," explained Salicksing.

The Salicksing children are following in their father footsteps. One student was doing very poorly in her French studies. As a result, her mother wouldn't let her come to Karate school. One of the Salicksing daughters lent the student a study guide. On the day I spoke with Salicksing, the student was just returning the book and raving about how much her French grades had improved with use of the French book. "The same thing I do, my kids are doing," explained Salicksing. "It grew on them. They're all teaching Karate now, the three elder children - they teach for the city. They're doing what comes naturally now." Just as their father is doing what is second nature to him.

WE People - Les Birch: Don’t Shoot The Camera Man

by Krysta Celestine

For Trinidadian-Canadian Les Birch, working in the film industry has always been a dream. But it wasn’t until he travelled to Trinidad that he realized that he really had a passion for it. “I had a cousin (in Trinidad) who always wanted me to film things that were going on out in Toronto,” says Birch. “Pretty soon I was bringing him low budget music videos shot on camcorders and interviews with local artists, and my desire to create quality projects was born.”

And before he knew it, Les was making his dream a reality. In March of 2006, the 29 year old Videographer/Editor’s Hip Hop documentary, “Take a Trip”, which chronicled the lives of up-and-coming artists from Baltimore, Atlanta, Montreal and Toronto, premiered to a packed house at Brampton’s Heritage Theatre. With such a receptive wide audience and impressive camera work, one would never guess that Birch has just three years of “professional” experience under his belt.

And yet in such a short space of time, he’s accomplished things that newcomers to the industry can only dream of: from designing Electronic Press Kits (EPKs) for Rocafella recording artist Tru-Life and The Dungeon Family’s head producer, Rico Wade; working behind the camera for 90s rapper Vanilla Ice’s “come back” attempt and a red carpet P-Diddy party; to two nominations for best music video of the year at the MAJA awards, which recognizes excellence in Canadian Gospel music; and a Covenant Award nomination by the Gospel Music Association of Canada.

Whew! Les is hardly a novice. Yet one can not help but think that jumping from Hip Hop to Gospel is a gigantic leap. But it’s a genre that he’s been working in for a while now. “A Hip Hop gospel recording artist named Malichi Male saw my work and got in touch with me to do a video for him. That music video ran for over a year across Canada, and got nominated for a couple awards. Since then, we’ve collaborated on several projects including a couple other music videos, a documentary, and a few commercials. Other artists in the same genre have seen my work and so far I’ve kept pretty busy.”

Although working with Gospel artists keeps him “busy”, make no mistake that Les has a genuine love for Gospel, crediting it as a diversion from the “Bling Bling” mentality that seems to be permeating Hip Hop today. “I enjoy working with gospel artists because their music is still about relaying a message”, says Birch. “Nowadays it’s hard to separate music from marketing. It seems like everything is about selling a lifestyle---clothes, jewellery, cars etcetera…so it’s refreshing to create things that have a distinct and positive objective.
While he recognizes that the industry is fickle --“one minute you’re relevant, next minute you’re not”, he is thankful that he’s had the opportunities that he’s had, and his biggest goal, he says is to “stay grounded and true to my beliefs, and to keep pushing”.

Don’t expect him to stop now. “I got something really exciting coming up”, he teases. “It’s a script I’ve been sitting on for a while. It’s a comedy. All I can say is, no one has seen anything like this, and we’re still looking for investors. Hint Hint”, he laughs.
For more information on Les Birch’s work, visit

WE Life - Global Warming and the Caribbean

by Krysta Celestine

By the year 2050, the Caribbean will dry out. The beautiful coral reefs that serve as a habitat for a wide array of coral species will become non existent, and so will its inhabitants. The beautiful, warm beaches that tourists flock to escape the harsh winter months will disintegrate. All of these things are the direct result of global warming-- the environmental disaster that is rapidly destroying the Caribbean.

We hear about the effects that global warming has on North America: early snow melt, the destruction of polar bears, and ski seasons becoming more and more non-existent. But rarely, if ever do we hear about the effects that global warming has on the Caribbean region. The results are just as, if not more, devastating than that of North America.

So what is global warming? The term ‘global warming’ refers to the upward trend in the world’s average temperature. Power plants and automobiles are the main culprits, emitting thick layers of carbon dioxide, which act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the Earth's surface.

“Over the last century, there’s been a warming of about 0.74 degrees Celsius. This is unprecedented in records. The Caribbean Region has never had this amount of temperature change. We are experiencing change in weather patterns", says Dr. Ulric Trotz, a native of Guyana, and Science Advisor for the Caribbean Climate Change Centre in Belize.

These changes in weather patterns can cause devastating floods, which have tremendous impacts on the Caribbean community. “In my own country of Guyana, for instance, we’re getting unprecedented episodes of heavy rainfall. In a very short period, you are getting rain that you would normally get in a longer period of time.” says Trotz.

Hurricane intensities have also increased, and as Trotz notes, are forming in a more southerly direction than they normally do. Not only do hurricanes have a devastating impact on the region, but also on its economy. 200 percent of the Gross Domestic Product was damaged as a result of Hurricane Ivan, which hit Grenada in 2004. Yet despite all of this rainfall, researchers anticipate a decline in rainfall by the end of the century.

Humans aren’t the only ones at risk, unfortunately. Coral reefs are drying out as a result of warming sea temperatures, and according to preliminary research conducted by the Regional Climate Change Centre, the fish may just migrate out of the Caribbean looking for cooler habitats. Of course, this also impacts the fishing industry, which are the bread and butter for many in the Caribbean.
Although we’ve got a long way to go, there’s still a glimmer of hope. The European Union (EU) has agreed to try to decrease green house emissions by 20% by 2020, and is also committed to cutting their green house emissions by 50% by the year 2050. “The Americans have just announced that they are going to improve what we call ‘green house gas intensity’- the amount of green house gas that you emit per unit of production in the country. The US is committed to decreasing it by 20%” says Trotz.

Trotz is calling on Caribbean nations to significantly cut down on green house gases. “We have to significantly cut back on the emissions in the atmosphere. We want significant changes from the ‘developed’ world. India, China, and Brazil, whose economies are expanding rapidly—we want them to cut down significantly on the green house gases. That is the key.”
For more information on Global Warming and the effects on the Caribbean region, visit the Caribbean Climate Change Centre at

WE Culture - Sharing the Steelpan with the world

by Monica J. McIntyre

On a recent visit to Las Vegas, while walking along the Strip, I was delighted to hear steelband music wafting through the air. I followed the melody and discovered, in a busy market square, a trio of musicians. A young, white American was playing a steelpan, accompanied by a guitarist, and percussionist. They were entertaining a group of shoppers who were taking a respite from the desert heat. Some sat at tables and listened to the music, while others were dancing.

After the set, I approached the pannist, who told me that he used to play drums for a steelband in San Diego. A Trinidadian taught him to play the pan, and now he was earning a living playing the steelpan, in Vegas.

Trinidad nationals are proudly showcasing and sharing the steelpan with the world. As the only acoustic, melodic instrument created in the twentieth century, the versatile instrument is used to play not just calypso, soca, and reggae, but also classical music and jazz. Today there are steelbands in many countries, including North America, Australia, Japan, China, England, France and Switzerland, to name just a few.

In Toronto, the steelband continues to grow and evolve in spite of challenges, thanks to the dedicated professionals who soldier on to advance the instrument. They put on shows, teach, make and tune the pans, and arrange music.

Tommy Crichlow is one of the ambassadors for the steelband, in Toronto. He has been playing the steelpan since he was a boy in his native Trinidad. Now the veteran arranger runs a home-based business making and tuning steelpans. Crichlow also arranges the music for his steelband Pan Masters. In 1988, he was invited to start a band in Nantes, France. Crichlow made the pans, arranged the music, and taught a group to play.
“Steelband is picking up here nicely,” he says, “we started the Ontario Steelband Association.” Crichlow admits there is always controversy among the players when it comes to competition, but that “it’s a normal steelband man thing.” Pan Masters takes part regardless of the politics. “We are here to keep the thing alive,” he says.

“The steelband has come a long way,” says Danny Mosca, another professional pannist, in Toronto. Mosca leads the band Silhouettes which he founded in 1980. Like Crichlow he has been involved with the steelpan for many years. “People have a better understanding of the pan now because it is being taught in schools,” he says. His son Mark also an accomplished musician, arranges the music for the band.

Wendy Jones is a rare female in the male-dominated steelband arena. She started playing the steelpan as a grade 10 student in the school programme. She’s had her band Pan Fantasy for some 30 years. Jones says steelband is in a good place right now, the community steelbands have grown and there are about 25 school bands. For the bands to continue to grow they need help with accommodation. “A lot of bands don’t have ‘homes’ which makes it difficult to keep the band going during the winter,” she points out. “The only time the bands can come out is in May or June when it’s warmer. Years ago, steelbands could use schools or school portables to store their pans and practice”, Jones says, “but budget cutbacks changed that. Now steelbands have to pay a fee to use the schools.”

Jones and Earl La Pierre Jr. of the popular steelband Afropan started Pan Arts Network (PAN) ten year ago. It is a programme dedicated to keeping steelbands working year round. PAN puts on two steelband shows during the fall and winter months: “Snowflakes on Steel,” and “Autumn Leaves on Steel.” The shows have featured many talented pannists including Liam Teague, Ken “Professor” Filmore, and Dane Gulston.

Some pannists earn their living playing the steelpan. La Pierre who comes from a family of pannists is one of them. La Pierre plays all genres of music at functions and festivals throughout Canada, and the Caribbean. He recently returned from the Harvest Jazz and Blues Musical Festival in Fredericton, N.B., where he played a gig at the Caribbean Flavors Restaurant and worked as an official street performer at the festival. When Glen Lewis an R&B singer from Toronto was signed to a record company the steelpan played by La Pierre was featured on the track that went gold. “That record got him a contract with Sony,” La Pierre says.
In spite of its growing pains, the steelband continues to delight audiences and musicians around the world. The pannist in Vegas told me to pass this message on to Trinidad: “Thanks for the pan - it’s my bread and butter.”

WE Spotlight - Warrior King

by Monica J. McIntyre

Acclaimed reggae star and Rasta messenger Warrior King is sending this message to all women: “Keep your heads up high and keep strong. It’s the 21st century and women must play an equal role in the day to day activities of society,” he says. “ It’s not like back in the day when women cooked the food, and washed the clothes, those days are over. No more woman on the back burner.” The message is no surprise coming from an artist whose breakout single “Virtuous Woman,” praised and uplifted women.

When the single hit the air waves in 2001, it topped the charts in both Jamaica and New York, and was a hit internationally. Since then the talented 28-year-old has put out two albums: “Virtuous Woman and “Hold the Faith” and has toured throughout the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and Japan. When we spoke he had recently returned from touring in Europe.

His positive lyrics are about social and cultural issues, “man and ohman relationship,” and Africa. He says love is the foundation for all of his messages.

He’s now working on his third album, and has released the single called “Melody,” a track from the album. “No matter how powerful your words are if you don’t have melody people can’t sing along,” he points out.

Warrior King feels blessed for the success he has achieved so far, but credits Jah with using him as an instrument to spread his love, message, and positive vibrations, around the world. “We cannot take the praises for ourselves because without him we can’t write a song, or find a new melody, so we have to put him first in everything,” he says.

Born Mark Dyer, in Kingston, Jamaica, he is the second of four brothers. His father is a businessman, and farmer, and his mother, a nurse. As a child he loved music, but only realized that he could sing when he was 13 years-old, he says. He imitated reggae artist Bounty Killer, and was so good they called him “Bounty Junior.” As a young singer he also used the sobriquet “Junior Kid” and “Junior King.” When dancehall artist Frisco Kid began calling him “Warrior” because of the powerful lyrics in his songs, he became Warrior King.

Although he was immersed in music, and pursuing a career as a reggae artist, Warrior King didn’t let his education lapse. He attended the National Tool and Engineering Institute, in Kingston, and received his diploma in mechanical engineering. He says it’s a profession he can fall back on if he ever needs to, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
“If you have a car and you are driving to the country you should have a spare tire,” he says, “because you can get a puncture along the way.”

Asked what he thought about the prevalence of guns, gangs, and drugs, among young people nowadays, he points to the negative images young people get from the media, and its influence on them. “Young people listen to the radio, watch TV, and read magazines, and there is a lot of negative news happening,” he explains. “A lot of positive things are happening in Jamaica, but if you check the news, and listen to the radio, the only thing you’ll hear is who got shot today, and who got killed. If the media would put a greater focus on the positives there could be a big change,” he says.

Now a family man with two young sons he says the family unit is very important as it’s where love begins. “It starts within the family, and then goes to the community, the nation, the world, and the universe.”
He encourages young people to get an education. “Read and examine all things, and choose and follow the good,” he says, “and women and men must stand side by side. Unity is strength.”

WE Spotlight - Ricky T

by Karen L. Richardson

He is ghetto rudebwoy hidden in the mountains of the Eastern Caribbean. Ricky T’s infectious lyrics are putting St. Lucian Soca on the international music map. This carnival, Pressure Boom took St. Lucia by storm and moved down through the Windward Islands like a hurricane. Ricky T’s energetic anthem received heavy rotation at both Vincy Mas and Spice Mas. The voice behind all the fuss is a 24-year-old boasting two road march wins in as many years.

“It feels great to know people are supportive of my music and me,” said Ricky T “Is the people that really request the songs. So it’s them that determine who road march is.” The artist says he takes inspiration from Bounty Killa for his ability to represent the people.

Originally on the scene as a dancehall artist himself, Ricky T. made the decision to record Soca in order to carry his name to distant shores. His 2006 breakthrough hit Container helped to realize that dream on the Piton Riddim in the company of more established artists such as Nicole David, Nadia Batson and Mista Vybe.

The 2007offering was an unrivaled party-starter on the Leggo Me Riddim. Pressure Boom is a J’Ouvert style eargasm about drinking and getting on bad on the road. While the original tune is a stand alone classic on a riddim that features tracks by Alpha, Faye Ann Lyons and Bunji Garlin, Pressure Boom now boasts a DJ Scratch Master road mix and a remix featuring Mr. Vegas.

“If I'm on a riddim and an artist like Bunji or Machel on that same riddim, then I stand to get airplay along side them. But in de same way if someone has a tune and it not popular on that same riddim then it could get left out of rotation, " said Ricky T.

Producing duo Penn and Ace know they have struck gold collaborating with Ricky “Teasel” Joseph: “Ricky T. is a natural talent and is a very patient and humble person. We always seem to catch a good vibe in studio and he takes criticism and channels it into results. [He] has a natural smooth voice, no additives," said Ace.

Ricky is equally flattering of his production team, "Dem men have magic in de studio. They help me write my big tunes so far and they have the whole concept on lock. They know what go make de people move."

According to CEO Irvin "Ace" Loctar, that concept includes trying to push SLU records to the forefront of the Caribbean music industry with the help of partners Dwayne Mendes (Managing Director) and Thygeson "Penn" Joseph. Penn is described as the mastermind behind the infectious riddims, but studio has built strong singles too. Nicole David's 2005 road march Bounce is a prime example.

For now, a video for Pressure Boom with Mr. Vegas is in the works. Ricky is looking forward to getting out there to continue spreading his irresistible vibe. He has been booked for a few dates in Canada and the US, and really hopes to get out to other islands where his songs have enjoyed success.

For more information visit

WE Feature - Scratch Lab DJ Institute

by Stacey M. Robinson

You don’t have to be Machel Montano or Chris Brown to activate a dancing frenzy, or leave a crowd in awe. As a DJ, you single-handedly have the power to ignite vibes into a room, whenever you put on headphones and select a tune.

Abby Tobias, Jordan Fisher and Baba Kahn acknowledged the phenomenal impact of DJ culture, and decided to create an institution that would take this art form and make this musical power accessible to everyone. Thus, the Scratch Lab DJ Institute was created nearly two years ago, to nurture, motivate, and train Canadian DJs to carry on the legacy of excellence already established in Toronto clubs.

Located at 1170 Sheppard Avenue West, the Scratch Lab is a 2500 square foot studio with state-of-the-art equipment, world-class instructors like DJs Baba Kahn, Grouch, Baby Yu, Dave Campbell, Jr. Flo, Starting from Scratch, Jedi and many other legends of the Canadian music scene.

“I went to an all-ages club at fourteen, and fell in love with the way the DJ managed the crowd. I was in awe. I begged my mother for turntables, she bought them, and I didn’t leave my room for about a year,” said Baba Kahn, DJ-ing now for 15 years. “I asked every DJ I could find how they do things. Everyone would give me five minutes to teach me something, and I just practiced. Learned about beats, and bars, how to mix – basically absorbing everything.”

Although anyone with a laptop and a reliable downloading site can DJ and create their own mix CD now, the Scratch Lab recognizes that the art of vinyl is back, and with programs like Serrato, turntable mechanics will not be lost. Students of the Scratch Lab Institute are taught on vinyl, and have access to the school music library containing everything from classic house to dancehall.

The Scratch Lab curriculum, now in line with the Ontario Ministry of Education Secondary School’s music curriculum, takes students from Beginner to Advanced levels, and covers a variety of courses from DJ Skills & Techniques, to Equipment Knowledge and Use, the History of Music, Remixing, DJs and the Digital Age, and Mixed CD and Tape Production.

For just under $500, students can register for 10 classes, running 70 minutes each, for a span of 12 weeks. Registration also includes 6 hours in a private practice room where students can experiment, and take advantage of equipment they may not have regular access to. Along with in-studio privileges, students over 19 are given the opportunity to job shadow with one of the instructors in a nightclub setting. The Scratch Lab also ensures that advanced students are schooled in the business aspect of the game, teaching the fundamentals of taking their hobby to a professional level.

Baba noted that although DJ-ing is a hobby-turned-profession for him, he doesn’t lose sight of the fact that it is still, indeed, a job; a job that he is dedicated to 52 weeks a year. His resume reads like the soundtrack to the experiences of many of Toronto’s 20- and 30-somethings: live-to-air on 93.7 fm’s Wreckshop Radio, Thursdays at Fluid, Friday’s at Guvernment, parties at Tropicana, and long weekends at Power Bar. Kahn was there to see the urban club industry begin, develop, and now excel. The hot spots may have changed, and the participants have matured or been replaced, but the process is still the same. For Kahn, he has transcended the generational gap, and managed to stay current. You can now find him back at Guvernment on Friday nights, at Afterlife on Saturday, and Embassy on Sundays.

“Having a school like this was important to me,” said Kahn. “I want to show people that this is a true art form. Myself, Scratch, Dr. Jay and a few others, we’re still here because we understand the fundamentals of the game…you have to be well-rounded to survive.”

Kahn, also busy with his first fully licensed album with Universal, his music label 747 Records, and his event marketing group Soul Shock, has allowed music to successfully influence all aspects of his career. Baba, Tobias and Fisher, proud of what they have created, hope to one day expand the DJ Institute into a franchise, giving this unique opportunity to aspiring DJs across Canada.

“There’s nothing better than seeing people react to music,” said Kahn. “I really get high off the music. I love people’s reaction. I love seeing their faces. That’s important to me. That’s what keeps me where I am. I still get the chills. If I were to ever lose that, I think I’d get out of the business. But I won’t, because I have too much damn fun.”

For Info see

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Who is the Queen of Soca?

In last months edition of WE, I asked where you feel the responsibility lies for the promotion of 'small island' music. The vast majority of you agree that the artists and producers have the responsibility to get their music into the hands of the DJ's who then must continue the forward momentum of a song by giving it airplay.

This month, we ponder a question whose answer is not so obvious and will cause much debate. By the time you read this column, ALISON HINDS will have released her new album entitled "SOCA QUEEN" (available on iTunes on Oct 9; album in stores Oct 26). I am wondering with whom this title of Queen should truly lie and based on what qualifications? As we all know, many promoters have used the title of "QUEEN OF SOCA" to describe not only Ms. Hinds from Barbados, but Trinidad's DESTRA as well. Are these titles well-earned? Self-declared? Or has it simply been thrust upon them?

What, in your mind, constitutes a Queen for Soca music? Many female artists have won titles and awards in our industry, but does that make them a queen? In music in general, where the phrase one-hit-wonder is often used, longevity obviously plays a part in bestowing the title of Queen to a singer. Does sex appeal even count as a factor? Should that even matter?

In my opinion (and since it’s my column we'll go with that lol), beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So that cannot have a bearing on your choice as the "SOCA QUEEN". For example, to some people NADIA BATSON is the #1 Caribbean Girl; while for others TIZZY from Antigua can "Expo-o-o-o-ose" herself anytime!

On a serious note, what if the lives of T&T's ONIKA BOSTIC and JANY from St. Lucia weren't cut short by tragedy? Would one of them be your choice?

Let's look back at Road March winners from different islands and see who can truly claim to be the "QUEEN OF SOCA".

In 2005, NICOLE DAVID had St. Lucia on fire with "Bounce". That same year, the duo of NATAHLEE and SHONTELLE took the honours in Barbados with "Colours". Even though no woman has won the Road March in Antigua, CLAUDETTE PETERS has been a dominant force by winning the Party Monarch competition in 2005, 2006 & 2007! Yup, she got the hat-trick. But what makes her win even more remarkable, is that she took home the very first Groovy Soca Monarch this year as well.

Back in the land of the flying fish, ALISON HINDS had the most popular song during Cropover in 1996 when she sang "Raggamuffin" with the band Square One. Then the following year, she released a solo single, "In De Meantime" which tied for the Pic O De Crop with Edwin Yearwood's "Highway Robbery".

In Trinidad, more women have made an impact in the Road March historybooks than in any other island. In 1999, SANELL DEMPSTER won with "River"; FAY ANN LYONS in 2003 with "Display"; plus PATRICE ROBERTS alongside Machel in 2006 for "Band Of The Year". Of course, if you know your history then you would look even further back to the years of 1977 and 1978 when CALYPSO ROSE was on top of the game, with her 2 consecutive Road March tracks titled "Tempo" and "Soca Jam".

It's unfortunate, but in a society where female entertainers are often pitted against each other in the media and where friendship and healthy competition can be the exception to the norm, what makes a woman stand out in your eyes as a true ambassador for our music? Who deserves to be the "SOCA QUEEN"?

Now that is THE QUESTION.Dr Jay de Soca Prince looks forward to getting your answer to this question at

WE Entertainment - Virgo's "Poor Boy's Game" enriches TIFF

by Carol A. Allen

Torrential downpours usually tend to play havoc on scheduled events, but on the evening of Tuesday, September 18th, Jamaican-born Director, Writer and Producer, Clément Virgo, wasn’t going to let anything rain on his parade.

With his newest Canadian feature film, Poor Boy’s Game, making its North American Debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier that day, the after party was just the icing on the cake.

The guest-list only event was held inside the Manyata Courtyard Café, one of Yorkville’s hidden gems, located in Toronto’s luxurious Hazelton Lanes district.

With a lavish set-up equipped to entertain hundreds of guests, this world-class establishment attracted many industry personnel including film critics, directors, producers, photographers and, of course, the stars and contributors to the film. For certain, amongst all of the other receptions, dinners and parties during TIFF’s 10-day run, this party stood out as the premiere party celebrating the achievements of people of Canadian and Caribbean heritage.

Poor Boy’s Game is a racially-charged boxing drama that was filmed and set in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Virgo co-wrote the film with up-and-coming Nova Scotian Writer/Director, Chaz Thorne.

The All-Star line-up of Actors includes: Danny Glover, known for his roles in Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple; The Young and the Restless star Tonya Lee Williams who plays Dr. Olivia B. Winters on the daytime soap drama; Flex Alexander who stars in the series One on One; Rossif Sutherland who had a re-occurring role on the hit TV drama ER; Laura Regan, a Halifax native, who played Jessica Lynch in the 2003 film Saving Jessica Lynch; Greg Bryk, who has made appearances in television shows Relic Hunter and 1-800-missing and rising star K.C. Collins whose previous work includes Soul Food and Blue Murder.

The story reveals the struggles and tension after Sutherland’s character, “Donnie Rose” goes to jail at the age of 17 and is released nine years later after committing a violent crime against K.C. Collins’ character, “Charles Carvery.”

With most of the cast members in attendance, guests had the opportunity to meet, mingle and take photographs with the film’s stars. Danny Glover and Tonya Lee Williams, who play husband and wife “George and Ruth Carvery,” were seen posing for pictures, speaking to guests and nibbling on scrumptious hors d’oeuvres. Glover, an avid Activist, has been in Toronto filming Blindness and also stars in the film, Honeydripper, which premiered at TIFF the previous night.

Actor and Hip-Hop Pioneer, Wesley “Maestro” Williams treated the guests to an energetic performance of his classic hip-hop anthem, “Let Your Backbone Slide.” Released in 1989, the single still remains the best-selling Canadian hip hop track to date. The Guyanese-born, Scarborough, Ontario-raised artist got married this summer, and now resides in Vancouver, B.C. with his wife. He is also featured in Poor Boy’s Game and is currently in Toronto filming scenes for the CTV show, Instant Star.

Emmy-award winning Canadian Actor Donald Sutherland, was there to celebrate his son, Rossif’s accomplishments. Donald’s stars in a television family drama titled Dirty Sexy Money, debuting this fall on ABC.

Actor, Stunt Co-ordinator and Stuntman, Roy T. Anderson, flew in from the U.S. just for the day for the film’s premiere and party. In addition to co-ordinating the boxing scenes for this film, he also acted as the Second Unit Director. Anderson has worked on previous Clément Virgo films including the Genie-nominated and 2001 Urbanworld Film Festival Special Jury Prize winning film, Love Come Down, and Rude which won a Best Canadian Feature Film - Special Jury Citation in 1995’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Poor Boy’s Game is scheduled to be released in theatres on October 5, 2007

WE Sports - Catching Toronto's Soccer Fever

by Shami Maharaj

Look at two of WE beautiful Caribbean flags!

What a blessing it is to be a sports fanatic with a forum to express my opinion about WE sports. After last issue’s article on me missing the frenzy of Caribbean soccer, Duane DaSilva a reader and former business associate, felt my aching and contacted me with an opportunity to ease the pain. I really didn’t care to do another soccer commentary especially one about a newly created Toronto team. I know well of futile efforts to force-feed a limited Toronto soccer market, with no appetite for sub-standard savannah football. Thankfully, Duane relentlessly insisted that he host me at a Toronto Football Club home game and man was I in for a shocking and satisfying delight.

Toronto FC officially came into existence when awarded a franchise in October 2005 by Major League Soccer (MLS) the premier level of professional soccer in North America, yes, the league with David Beckham in it (Los Angeles Galaxy). Shortly thereafter Duane got drawn in with his idea of starting an Official Supporter Club to represent the Caribbean, African and Latin communities in the GTA. This was indeed a visionary, albeit daring undertaking, as there wasn’t even a venue for home games available yet and kick-off was still a year and a half away! Even so, Duane pressed full steam ahead and founded Tribal Rhythm Nation in time for the first home opener in April 2007, and with its’ mantra of ‘The Drums The Rhythms The Vibes’, TRN has continuously entertained a 45 seat section at BMO Field every home game since then.

Now let me define ‘entertain’ in this case, imagine this, MLS soccer on the field with non-stop footballing action back and forth, Talana Blu Tassa Boyz rollin’ up de tassa in a heavenly musical combination with Phoenix Revolution Steelband, African drums thumping out metrical pulses, SKF on de Cowbell and alternating engaging and melodious chants on the megaphone with Najja Caliber – including the one that had even the non-ethnic fans on their feet wining and singing, “TFC… WE WANT A GOAL! TFC… WE WANT A GOAL!” It was sweeeeeeet! I hear it gets even wilder sometimes when Uncle Mike and Farmers Rhythm Section come with dey Iron! Ah can’t wait!

The game itself was unexpectedly interesting. Of course with Toronto FC fielding Caribbean professionals Collin Samuel from Trinidad and Jeff Cunningham from Jamaica our section was buoyant from pre- kickoff. Both players were solid but failed to fuel us any further with a goal, the lone score came from local Toronto boy Maycoll Canizalez in a 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew. Watching Tyrone Marshall athletically defend the Toronto net though was enough to inspire my thunderous vocal contribution. Make sure to check out Marshall’s (14) game if you are lucky enough to secure tickets for the 2 remaining home games October 4th against the New York Red Bulls and October 20th versus New England Revolution.

Moreover, if you will be attending, you’d want to do so with the recognition of a true rabid Caribbean soccer fan, register for free at and send me an email for your chance to win 1 of 6 Official Tribal Rhythm Nation t-shirts. Don’t forget de chant either, make sure you represent, “TFC… WE WANT A GOAL!”

WE Carnival - Essential Carnival Survival Tips

By Antoinette Ifill

Persons visiting Trinidad Carnival for the first time would often hear the rhetoric that it is “The Greatest Festival on Earth”. To maximize your enjoyment of the festival as a first time masquerader, or even a veteran, here are some very handy tips complied from years of experience playing mas:

· Mas stockings are not your usual panty hose which do not have the strength to stand up to the rigors of Carnival Monday and Tuesday leaving the uninitiated with runs and tears. The proper stockings are sheer to the waist tights that are made with lycra. You can get a variety of non shiny, flesh toned stockings at stores that sell tights for dancers or in Trinidad at Micles and Samaroos.

· If you plan on wear mas stockings to prevent your toes from cramping, cut off the toe part so your toes will be free. Remember to use clear nail polish to "seal" the edges.

· Use Sun block, sun block and MORE sun block. Apply showering in the morning, apply while waiting on the band, apply when you stop for lunch, apply often, apply liberally, and just make sure you apply it. The sun in Trinidad can be brutal and you will burn without precaution.

· Always carry a small "survival pack" on the road. Use a small pouch that can be secured to your person and carry items such as sample sized sun block, wet wipes, safety pins, pain killers, clear nail polish (for stocking runs on the road), a cell phone, money and makeup.

· It is imperative to wear comfortable shoes, sneakers or boots. If wearing sneakers or boots make sure you "break them in" at least 1-2 months before carnival. Some people often play mas in gym sneakers because they are already "broken in" and comfortable so it gives support all day. For additional comforts use gel insoles.

· For Carnival you need lots of stamina, so start doing brisk walks at a park, on the treadmill at the gym or even up the street. Wherever you can go walking, do it because it helps come Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The additional benefit is that it helps you to loose the weight. The ideal time to start a work out plan is about 3 to 4 months before Carnival.

· Drink lots and lots of water when playing mas and for every alcoholic drink consumed drink at least 8 oz. of water to prevent dehydration.

· Make sure and EAT BREAKFAST!!!!

· It's a good idea to designate a pre-arranged meeting area in case you or anyone else in your "crew" gets lost. Also, have the address of where you are staying and a contact number for someone close to you on hand

· You do not have to wait until the costume collection day to pay the balance on your costume. All bands accept part payments towards your costume periodically, for example you can make payments monthly. Not only does this ease the burden of having to pay up the balance of $2000.00 in February but it also saves time when you go to collect your costume.

Even though Carnival is a time to "free up" always make safety your first priority. DO NOT accept drinks from strangers, DO NOT wear expensive jewelry and DO NOT wander away into lonely, dark areas. If you need to use the toilet always go with a companion. Some bands provide mobile restrooms, if yours does not many bars that line the parade route allow you to use their facilities for a fee, take along a friend as some of these bars may have seedy characters loitering around. Ensure that you have secured a ride to and from your destination on Carnival Monday and Tuesday

WE Destination - Montego Bay, Jamaica

Derived from the Spanish name ‘Manteca Baha’ or ‘Bay of Lard’, so called because of the lard-making industry in its early beginnings, Montego Bay was originally a sugar and banana town. Mo Bay’s claim to ‘resort fame’ came from the beautiful Doctor’s Cave Beach which attracted many celebrities from all over the world. The Beach is said to be fed by mineral springs and boasts the most uncommonly clear and sparkling water.

Over the years many other beach clubs have been developed in the area, each with its own special character. Walter Fletcher Beach is closest to town on Gloucester Avenue. Cornwall Beach is just a little beyond Doctor's Cave, Tropical Beach and Rose Hall Beach lie further out of town.

Montego Bay is now Jamaica's tourism capital. It boasts the most hotels and transport facilities and offers a wide choice of amenities. ‘Mo Bay’ is divided into three distinct parts. There is the city itself which nests a variety of shops, craft markets, restaurants and even an art gallery. There is the ‘hotel area’ which is a mile-and-a-half long strip that runs through the town, past the very popular Doctor's Cave Beach and to the Dead End Bar. Thirdly, there are the outlying hotels and villas along the beach and the hillside.

Montego Bay boasts a wide selection of accommodation, from the older luxury-hotels and the newer all-inclusive resorts to the many small and more intimate places. Villas await those who want to get away and do their own thing.

Things to do in Montego Bay

Aquasol Theme Park
Situated on Walter Fletcher beach, this park offers enough entertainment to keep you busy all day including go-karts, volley ball, tennis courts, and water sports. At night it is said to host some of Mo Bay’s best beach parties.

Belvedere Estate
Just minutes away from ‘Mo Bay’ is one of the first sugar cane plantations in Jamaica and is still a working estate. You can visit the ruins which hosts many exotic plants and birds, plus several rivers and waterfalls. 952-6001

Bob Marley Experience & Theatre
You can view shows paying tribute to Jamaican legend Bob Marley every hour at the theatre located at Half Moon Shopping Village. The souvenir shop boasts the largest selection of Bob Marley T-shirts in the world. 476-953-3946.

Chukka Blue Adventure Tours
Go horse-back riding through picturesque landscape at an old estate at Sandy Bay or an exciting mountain-bike tour through Hanover. Chukka Blue also offers a ‘Heritage Tour’ through the countryside in a ‘Safari Jeep’. 476-817-3624

Coral Cliff Gaming & Entertainment Lounge
You can play slots machines and catch nightly entertainment from vintage Reggae, to Jazz and Cabaret.

The capital of Trelawny, Falmouth was once one of the island’s major commercial centres, in the early nineteenth century. You can view the spectacular architecture that still remains in the court house, churches and many Georgian style homes.

Tee-off to a world-class 18-hole gulf course at Tryall 2,200 acre estate next to sea. 476-956-5660.

King Pepper
A company which produces Jerk Seasoning, Hot Pepper Sauce and Jerk Ketchup, welcomes visitors to its factory just past Falmouth on the way to Ocho Rios.

Lester Art Gallery
The Gallery is the former home and studio of Polish sea captain and painter, the late Michael Leszczynski who later anglicised his name to Lester. The house was built in the 1950s on a cliff side at the village of Belmont and has stunning views. 476- 605-1299

Just west of ‘Mo Bay’ lies the ruins a 17th century fort. Lucea (pronounced Lucy) is a great site-seeing trip on the way to Negril.

Luminous Lagoon
Take an after-dark boat ride from Glistening Waters Marina to one of the most spectacular wonders of Jamaica. At night the ‘glistening waters’ aluminates when agitated and you can see the outlines of fish swimming around. 476-954-3229

After tasting one of the 52 tropical flavours of marguerites and sampling the grilled specials, you can relax in the rooftop hot tub or be adventurous and ride the monster slide that plunges 100 feet into the Caribbean Sea. Then go jumping on the water trampolines. 476-952-4777

Montego Bay Undersea Tours
You can view the wonders of the Montego Bay Marine Park from glass bottom boats. 476-940-4465.

Mountain Valley River Rafting Tour
Take a breathtaking ride through the valley of Great River aboard a30 foot bamboo raft. This is a very relaxing and romantic trip for couples.

Rocklands Bird Sanctuary
A visit to Rocklands Feeding Station in Anchovy, also minutes from Montego Bay, is a must for all bird watchers. Feeding time is four o'clock.

Rose Hall Great House
Take a tour of the once home of the notoriously wicked Annie Palmer, the White Witch of Rose Hall, who murdered three husbands and terrorized her slaves. 476-953-2323

Rum Jungle
A fitting name for the place that offers more than 100 varieties of rum. 476-952-4130.

Sunset Cruises
Cool Aqua Sun Sports offers sunset cruises from 5pm-7pm aboard the ‘Lady Sharon’. 476-680-0969. Sharky's Boat Tours offers evening dance parties from Pier 1. 476-971-1049

Water Sports
Rose Hall Beach Club claims to be water sports capital of Jamaica. From waterskiing, para-sailing, kayaking, jet-skis, snorkelling, diving, and fishing; you name it, they got it. 476-680-0969. Other companies are Sun Sports 476-680-0969, North Coast Marine Sports 476-953-9266, Captain's Watersports & Dive Centre 476-952-5860

For more info on attractions and accommodations in Montego bay visit

WE Relationships - Rules of Engagement: What a tangled web we weave…

By Niama S. Sandy

Because of human nature, boredom, morbid (and sometimes other types) curiosity, we indulge in things we have absolutely no business being involved in. Examples you say? How many times have you given someone yuh know yuh eh have no business looking at yuh number and then when he/she calls and becomes a stalker yuh want to kick yuhself? Two? Three? Twenty?
Yuh already know ah have a story fuh yuh…

One night I was out with a girlfriend of mine. We'd been at the spot for awhile, when a gentleman - whom we shall call Jack- begins talking to my friend. Holding big conversation about his twin daughters and all kinna ting. He bought us both a drink each, and still he hasn't said more than three words to me - not that I minded as I didn't find him particularly engaging or handsome.

Eventually we say our goodbyes and hit a next spot. By chance or the misguided hand of fate, of all people who could be parked in front of us…it's Jack. He asked for my number. Yes, I said my number. I didn't understand it but he "explained" that he was shy and didn't know how to approach me (no, that doesn't make any sense to me either). So out of curiosity, and because at this point I'd probably had way more to drink than I should have, God help me, I give the man my number.

He calls the next day, and the day after, and the day after. Finally, the following week he catches me. Though I knew I was to meet up with someone for a drink later that night, I let Jack convince me into dropping in to his friend's house - this friend's father just passed away. I explain that I had a long day (which was true), an even longer one the following day, and that I thought it vaguely inappropriate for me to be visiting at such a time. He said "Just come by! I will take you home when you're ready. Just tell me when."

I arrived at Jack's friend's house at about 9:30. Jack and his friends are all from Africa and they're all speaking English and a little of their languages. The friend whose father passed is the host and is preparing fish for us- his guests. It's now 10:45. I am beyond tired, Jack has just said that we should go to Africa in December, and that he has the aforementioned twins' names tattooed over his heart and (supposedly jokingly) that he is going to put mine on the other side of his chest. It's time for de I to go HOME! I tell him so. He is gracious, or so he had me think. "You can't leave! In our culture, if you leave before allowing the host to serve you, it's basically like saying @%&$ you!" says my host. The others echo his sentiments and Jack stays quiet and does not move an inch. If I wasn't convinced before that moment that Jack was not the chap for me, then that comment acted as the mortar to cement my decision to officially give jack back he jacket!

Our rules for the month…

1. Go with your gut. Enough said…

2. "May be he/she'll grow on me."
This is not the framework to be working in. If you aren't interested right at the beginning there's a 98% chance you won't be. Why browbeat yourself into liking someone? You know what you like, use that as your compass.

3. "Does this person have a backbone?"
There is a difference between being reasonable, being a pushover, and pretending to be nice. Feigning "niceness" is a sure fire way to get someone into a faux comfort zone. Beware of all potential chain-ups

Ask WE (Dear Sonya)

Dear Sonya,

Recently my girl moved in with me. In the first month things were great …now I feel like she is mooching off me. I pay the rent, bills and buy the groceries and when we go out I pay for dinner and movies etc. She never offers to pay, doesn’t even pull out her wallet or acknowledge that the bill is on the table. Last week I spent money at the LCBO and stocked up the liquor cabinet and her friends came over on the Friday and drank up the supply. I am not cheap, but I am not rich and I can afford to pay for her –she works too!

Dear poor guy,
Get a back bone! She is saving her dollars while you are spending yours. You created a bad habit, you need to fix it now, otherwise you will be sitting in overdraft and renting for the rest of your life. Do not reach to pay the bill, better yet dont even go out to dinner, tell her that you guys can’t go out because you can’t afford it.
What you should have done is discussed the budget and bills before. If she is still not keen on helping out – then ‘seeee yyyahhh’

Dear Sonya,

I have been dating a guy for almost 2 years now. Recently we have been trying to spice things up in the bedroom. I am ok with certain things however recently he has suggested we bring a third person into our bedroom. I am not comfortable in sharing my man with another woman. He keeps on reassuring me that this won’t ruin our relationship but I don’t think I will be able to feel the same way towards him if we go through with it. Do you think I am over reacting?

Dear ménage a trios,

I would not feel the same way either! Actually just asking that question would do it for me, “see yah buddy”. If you were comfortable with it (which some people are) in exploring open relationships then that would be a different story. Let him reassure you all he wants, why don’t you reassure him that he will be seeing the door next time he suggests that to you.

WE Beauty - Developing a Decent Skin Care Routine

The Steps to Great Skin Care (part 3)
by Carol A. Allen

Achieving a beautiful, glowing complexion takes discipline. And, there are basic steps to getting your skin into tip-top shape. Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing are the key steps, with nourishing and exfoliating significantly enhancing any skin care routine. Once you’ve determined your skin type, it’s time to begin a daily regimen.

Your first step in skin care is cleansing. Cleansers are designed to lift dirt, bacteria and oil from the skin in order to prevent clogged pores. Some cleansers also remove make-up and should be used twice daily, morning and evening. A cleanser should be gentle, not strip the skin and applied on the face in an upwards motion, and then removed with a facecloth and lukewarm water.

Follow the cleansing step with a toner. Toners are your main weapon to balance the skin's pH level which ideally should have a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. Toner helps to refresh the skin and remove any residue left from the cleansing step. Some toners contain cucumber, chamomile or willow bark which increases cell renewal. Others may contain alcohol which can be very drying to the skin. Alcohol-free toners are recommended. Toners should be applied on a 100% cotton pad, starting from under the neck and upwards until there is no trace of soil on the pad. Residue on the pad is an indication that something is trapped below the pores and needs to be removed.

Treatment products such as facial masks and scrubs (exfoliators) should be used one to three times per week. A mask pulls toxins out of the skin while a scrub exfoliates the dead skin cells making way for fresh new cells. Masks can be used at least once a week, whereas scrubs should be used anywhere from once a week to three times per week, depending on your skin type. Treatment products are generally applied after a cleanser and followed by a toner to remove any excess.

Just as you should take vitamins for your body, your skin also needs vitamins. Nourishing products usually have healing properties such as Vitamin C. A rejuvenating mist can give the skin a boost especially if the skin has encountered stress or extreme sun. Serums, help to reduce the signs of aging on a cellular level as well as minimize lines and wrinkles. Most anti-wrinkle serums are fortified with free-radical fighting vitamins such as A, B, and D. Anti-aging serums protect the skin from the environmental elements such as pollution, weather, and the sun, and can minimize the appearance of crow’s feet and deep-set lines. Apply a small amount to your forehead, chin, cheeks, nose and neck, rubbing in an upward and outward motion. Serums immediately absorb into the skin and should be followed by a moisturizer.

Moisturizing the skin twice daily is a critical component of any skin care regimen. Moisture protects the skin from debris and acts as a seal before applying make-up, preventing foundation and powders from seeping into the pores. Moisturizers with SPF 15 or higher are great for protecting against the harmful rays of the sun, however, they generally vary by skin type. Moisture also needs to be applied around the eyes and neck, as there are no oil glands in either area, often leading to wrinkles. Some skin care lines offer one moisturizer for day and night, while others include a night cream. Regardless, it is important to choose the moisturizer for your skin type.

Keep in mind that's it's never too late to start a skin care program. But, the sooner you start, the better your results will be.

Carol Allen is a Skin Care Consultant and Make-Up Artist for Aloette Cosmetics.
You can book a personal consultation by calling (416) 410 7556 or by email to

WE Food - Mangoes really can make you feel better

Revered not only for their exotic sweetness and juicy quality, mangoes are known for their many health blessings. Beyond being delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, mangos contain an enzyme similar to papain in papayas, which acts as a soothing digestive aid and are very effective in breaking down protein. The enzyme list continues with magneferin, katechol oxidase, and lactase that not only protect the mango from insects, but help humans by stimulating metabolism and purifying the intestinal tract and are an ideal antidote for all toxic effects inside the body. They also provide sufficient resistance to fight any germs and afflictions.

Research has shown that dietary fibre has a protective effect against degenerative diseases, especially with regards to the heart; may help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels. An average sized mango can contain up to 40% of your daily fibre requirement. For those of you who are physically active, mangoes are a great way to replenish lost potassium. Deliciously rich in anti-oxidants, potassium and fibre - the mango is the perfect fruit!

In India mangoes are used as blood builders. Because of their high iron content they are suggested for treatment of anaemia and are beneficial to women during pregnancy and menstruation. People who suffer from muscle cramps, stress, and heart problems can benefit from the high potassium and magnesium content that also helps those with acidosis.

One lab test turned up rather startling results when mango juice was poured into a test tube that contained viruses. Shortly, the viruses were destroyed.

Health Benefits of Mangoes:
- High in antioxidant and low in carbohydrates.
- Valuable in combating acidity and poor digestion.
- Effective in relieving clogged pores of the skin.
- Reduces risk of colon and cervical cancer.

Nutritional Benefits of Mangoes:
- High in fibre (3.7g) but low in calories (135) and sodium (4mg).
- Contains no cholesterol or saturated fat and contain only about .6 grams of total fat.
- Contains phenols and has powerful antioxidant and anticancer abilities.
- Rich source of vitamin A (beta-carotene) (8061 IU), E and Selenium which help to protect against heart disease and other ailments.
- Has good amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C (57mg) as well as Potassium (322mg), Calcium (20mg), Iron (.27mg) and Magnesium (18mg).

Although the above numbers will vary with the different varieties and sizes, there is little doubt that the mango is an exceptional fruit, not only for its high-ranking nutrients, but also for its delightful flavour that just may taste like paradise itself.

How much mango should you eat?An average mango weighs about 150g. They can be eaten just as is, mixed into fruit salads, made into marinades, even top some of your favourite dishes like a ‘Bake & Shark’. And don’t forget the all time favourite, ‘Mango Chow’

For more facts about the mango and the largest on-line mango recipe guide, visit

WE Film - Shake Hands with the Devil

by Tony Chankar

Starring Roy Dupuis, Deborah Kara Unger, James Gallanders, and Michael Mongeau. Written by Roméo Dallaire (book) and Michael Donovan. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode.

The film commences in 2004, as Dallaire returns to Rwanda for the first time to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 100-day massacre during which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by militant Hutus. Everyone familiar with the horror knows Dallaire was not to be blamed, that he simply didn't have the resources to stop it - everyone except Dallaire himself. He remains haunted and horrified by what occurred a decade ago, frustrated with the U.N. and the world for not stepping in to help him, disappointed in himself for not being able to do more.

Roméo Dallaire is not the kind of guy who preens whenever he recalls that he saved thousands of lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He is, rather, the sort of fellow whose memories of the hundreds of thousands he couldn't rescue pushed him to the brink of suicide. Indeed, it is the breadth of his conscience and the depth of his compassion that make him one of the moral beacons of our time. Dallaire's mission wasn't a total loss – his 450 peacekeepers saved some 32,000 lives – but it seems miniscule set against the greater atrocity. And that's a reality that haunts him to this day.

If you think Hotel Rwanda is intense and upsetting, prepare yourself for something infinitely more disturbing, as Shake Hands With the Devil inserts you right into the middle of it, putting you in the shoes of a tormented person directly responsible – yet unable to act – for protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the path of long-standing hatred that dwarfed in magnitude the ethnic cleansing of the former Yugoslavia and rivalled the horrors of the Holocaust.

This is an honest film that tosses aside the stereotypes of military leaders that get repeated play in the movies and instead shows us the humanity of a man trying to do the right thing who is stymied by the system within which he works. Roy Dupuis’ understated performance as Dallaire is right on the mark, resisting the temptation to make melodrama of this intense story, and instead portraying Dallaire for what he was – a person fighting hard to do the right thing who is absolutely devastated by his failure to protect the innocent and stop this genocide, which reportedly took the lives of about a million people.

The film also makes it very clear that this was a tragedy that didn't need to happen. France, Belgium and especially the United States could have intervened at any time, when what they actually did was hamstring the UN force with ever more impossible rules of engagement. Its approach is sane, sober, and intelligent, and it doesn't shy away from the gaping horrors of machete and mortar wounds, either.

Beautifully filmed, brutally frank, and forceful in its political message – in support of the sort of active peacekeeping that passed into history in the post-September 11 era – Shake hands With the Devil is a powerful film that’s not to be missed.

(4 out of 5 stars)

WE will come to you !