Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WE COVER STORY: Exotic Fruit – Jully Black

By Ian Andre Espinet

Julie, the island of Jamaica's favorite mango, is an incredibly sweet, entrancingly coloured fruit that grows best in the rich, deep loam of tropical climates. Jully Black, the last of 9 siblings and the only one born in Canada, shares 2 of the 3 attributes of her exotic counterpart – namely her demeanor and complexion.

Unlike her dwarflike namesake, however, Canada’s Queen of R&B stands at a staggering 5 feet 11 inches - a fact that is evident immediately upon glancing at her leggy album cover – an obvious nod to another queen of Soul, Tina Turner. In further contrast, she was reared a far cry from the lush Jamaican soil of her parentage, in Toronto’s Jane and Finch, an area that she represents to the fullest at every opportunity.

Jully’s story is much the thing of fairy tale lure and begins with the matriarch of the family. Her Mother, as many of Caribbean heritage, left her native land in search of a better life for herself and her children. Jully’s countless stories tell of a strong, prideful, ambitious woman. It is no surprise then that she toiled tirelessly for $1.65 per hour with the goal of immigrating her children, so that they too could experience opportunity - accepting sacrifices and disappointments for the greater good of her family.

Jully, no stranger to disappointment, grew up in a single parent home, in awe of her hard-working mother who was the nucleus that held the family together. Her twin brother died at birth. And her beloved sister Sharon passed away prematurely at the age of 24. In spite of it all - Jully was her mother’s child.

Jully first discovered her voice in church at the age of seven, but as her vocal ability developed so did her self-consciousness about her powerful alto range. Her raspy almost gravel like voice caught the attention of fellow Torontonian’s Choclair and Kardinal Offishall in the much celebrated “Fresh Arts” program which also spawned talents such as video producer Little x, hip hop artist Saukrates and MC Kid Kut from the Baby Blue Soundcrew. She was recruited to sing and write and ultimately became a member of “The Circle”, a Toronto based music family consisting of Choclair, Kardinal, Solitair, Tara Chase, Ro Dolla, Marvel and countless others, who collectively formed a large part of the Toronto Urban sound in the late 90’s. They would frequently appear on each others songs and videos, exercising a collective economics and support that should be not only inspirational, but intrinsic to Canadian artists.

Her association with Canada’s hip hop elite would become a launching point as the ever ambitious Jully started to want more than to sing on hooks (coincidentally, she often become the focal point of the song). Armed with stage, writing skills and freestyling abilities that she had developed, she ventured onto the solo path, shortly thereafter pursuing songwriting. Her talents as a singer, coupled with her magnificent ability to craft beautifully structured songs, melodies and lyrics, led to a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music in 1998, at the age of 20.

In addition to the network, comaraderie and skills that would develop with peers in “The Circle”, Fresh Arts, part of the “JOY – Jobs Ontario Youth” program also acted as catalyst. The program, targeted at black youth was built on the mentorship of established artists providing youth with artistic training and encouraging pride in culture and history. “It’s sad that it went away – I took a bus, a train and a streetcar to go downtown to take this program. I don’t think I’d be the woman I am today if it weren’t for it”.

Much like her “Circle fam”, Jully is an avid flag carrier – she decided that she “wanted to have one foot in Canada and one in America”, with her music played worldwide, and her base at home. “I went there, spent some time, and didn’t want to integrate. I really didn’t feel I should be exiled. I was born here – if I ran, my neice who’s coming up – wouldn’t think it possible. Besides, my Mom came here and raised 9 kids by herself – I HAD to stay here and do it too”. Jully sites her dream as coming home to perform at Massey Hall. “I need to be able to come home no matter what - like Alanis Morrissette and play Massey, yet still enjoy the intimacy of venues like Mod Club”.

After a few setbacks, Jully volunteered as part of a Much Music documentary on working conditions in the garment industry in Bangladesh. The experience gave her new insight and “put it ALL in perspective. People are living in substandard conditions, working for wages that are disgraceful – and I’m complaining about a record deal? I was like Jully – get over it”.

And she did – continuing to release her own music, while writing for international superstars such as Esthero, Nas and Destiny's Child. Her hard work resulted in 4 Juno nominations ("Rally'n” w/ Saukrates: 1999; “The Day Before” - Baby Blue: 2001; "You Changed": 2003; Sweat of Your Brow: 2006) and 4 Much Music Video Awards nominations, as well as being named “One of the Most Alluring Canadians” by Fashion Magazine. Ironically, despite her perceived success, she was “signing autographs on withdrawal slips at Royal Bank in my wicket”. She decided that she had to do more.

She redoubled her efforts, releasing “This is Me” on Universal Music Canada in 2005. It included the hits, "Sweat of Your Brow" and "5x Love". Although incredible, the offering sold a heartbreaking 15,000 units. Notably, the album was SO excellent that according to IFPI (The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), there were a reported 2.8 MILLION illegal swapping requests for it in the first 2 weeks of the album's release.

Never one to give up, Jully put her faith in God, and was rewarded with an offer for position as “celebrity reporter” for CTV’s eTalk Daily after high-jacking an interview being conducted by Ben Mulroney. She continued producing music while traveling worldwide interviewing celebrities, as notable as Oprah, Barbara Walters, Bill Clinton, Aerosmith, Sean Paul and Shakira.

That same year, Jully also joined the cast of the acclaimed Mirvish production of “Da Kink In My Hair” at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre for 106 performances. Shortly thereafter, she toured with the Black Eyed Peas after Will I Am remixed “I Know”, a song that Black had co-written for Destiny’s Child. On tour she met Peas' drummer Keith Harris with whom she went on to co-executive produce Revival. The band driven first single "Seven Day Fool" became her first Top 10 hit in Canada, and acted as engine in driving the album to Number 1, and then GOLD status just a day before New Years Eve 2007.

The album could have been called “Transformation”. In 10 years, she has gone from a girl, to a strong, self-assured, confident, humble woman, transforming herself on a multitude of levels. Spiritually and mentally she has remodeled her being - and then there’s the physical renovation: one no less worthy of Debbie Travis. Jully’s body is a temple sculpted from a regiment which includes an hour of cardio 6 days a week and a dizzying 3 days of circuit based, heavy weight training. She jokes that “our mothers, whether by walking up stairs, or walking with groceries, or water, developed strength that we don’t have. “In preparing for my new album, I decided I needed a total lifestyle change”. Her mental regiment is no less rigorous, as Jully finds therapy in blogging on her website.

Jully has transformed misfortunes to triumph, becoming one of the most respected and acclaimed R&B artists in Canada. As the sweet Julie mango is the favorite of her descendant land, Jully has secured her spot as ours. And like the plentiful mango, our never idle Canadian, can be found everywhere: the gold album, “Revival” is in stores now; Jully can be seen on eTalk Daily on CTV, blogging at, on tour, and in countless other places in coming months, as she takes on new challenges in the realm of TV.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Often called The Caribbean Queen, Sophia who is from the beautiful island of Jamaica is the second youngest of seven children. That's right 7! Her family unit has been a vital part of her existence, serving as the foundation of her perseverance through life’s many challenges.Sophia resided in Queens, NY for approximately ten years. During her time in NY City, she cultivated her craft as an entertainer, as that has been her passion for as long as she can remember. She attended numerous Theater Arts programs and pounded the pavement of NYC experiencing all that she could get her hands on. Sophia immediately became known for her versatility. At any instance she is able to look anywhere between the age range of sixteen to thirty and can favour an array of ethnicities.

It all started when she accompanied her cousin to an audition for Parent Magazine when she was eleven years old. Sophia tells the story…

“I didn’t even know what an audition was at that age. I just wanted to hang out with my cousin. I remember standing in the hallway trying to peek through the crack of the door to see what was going on. The photographer saw me and came out and said hello. Long story short, I ended up booking the print job for Parents Magazine. I was so excited about knowing that I was going to be in a magazine, but I didn’t want to rub it in my cousin’ face and so I down played it. I didn’t realize that this was the start of my career, but after doing this shoot, I fell in love with being in front of the camera and couldn’t wait for the next shoot.”

Before Sophia was even a teenager she had already booked roles on, Young & The Restless, As the World Turns, GhostWriter and had shot several print campaigns. She said one of her most memorable experiences growing up was working with Lauren Hill and Aretha Franklin when she was fifteen years old. The shoot was for a music video entitled “A Rose is still A Rose.” She explains, “I adored Lauren Hill and her music and so it was quite an honour to work with her. I remember it was the middle of winter and the scenes that we were shooting were outdoors. It was freezing and Lauren was such a sweetheart that she took off her tights and handed them to me to put on. Kind gestures mean a whole lot to me especially in the entertainment business where you will see most people with their nose in the air.”

Devoted to her aspirations, at the age of seventeen Sophia relocated to Los Angeles. She enrolled in acting school and landed roles on ER, Malcolm & Eddie, Moesha, Felicity and City Guys, just to name a few. She moved away from Los Angeles after only being there for three years. When asked why she left she smiled and said, “The Hollywood scene was not my cup of tea, if you know what I mean. I have morals and integrity. When I realized that was being compromised it was not a very difficult decision for me to make. I love acting and modeling, but I love myself even more. I knew that I would be blessed because of my decision regardless of where I decided to move. I wanted to test new waters and so I moved to Atlanta. I love it here.”

Since her transition, Sophia has been featured on Good Day Atlanta three times. She represented Maybelline Cosmetics, Mac Cosmetics and the third time was for FUBU. She has also filmed several commercials including Verizon Wireless, Continental Hotels, WBLS, Spa Sydell, Foot Joy, and Greenville Technical Institute. She has done countless print campaigns. Some of her print jobs includes, Oprah Magazine, Essence Magazine, Health & living Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, Instyle Magazine, American Heart Association, Cartoon Network, Coors Light, National Vision, Russell Athletics, Home Depot, Rooms To Go, Sally’s, Design Essentials and many more. She said one of her most interested shoots was for a cartoon on the Cartoon Network called “Frisky Dingo.” “They had to shoot me doing about fifty different facial expressions. Then they transformed my face to make it look animated. The charter they used my face for is a woman called “Mercy Moreno.”

Sophia has been quite busy, but what you may not know about her is that she is a business woman. “I love the entertainment industry, but there’s so much more to me.” She is the owner a successful Trucking Company in Georgia called Yashar Trucking. She laughs and says, “No, I don’t drive the trucks!” She is involved in a number of different investments and is also an owner of a Travel Agency. I asked Sophia what she does with the little free time she does have. “Well, I love music, especially reggae of course. I even studied Audio Engineering in school for a while. But no one told me math was involved and I really dislike math and so the rest is history!!! I also love baseball. I enjoy travelling to different games and leagues. I am definitely still on the grind and you will be seeing a lot more of me, but I am also enjoying life with the amazing family that I have been blessed with.

Management: Morena Entertainment, LLC / Bookings:

WE WATCH – What’s new in DVD’s, MUSIC, GAMES & BOOKS


D’Soca Zone – The 8th Fete

The 8th edition of D'Soca Zone hit stores on January 29th. The 2008 compilation offers a mix of Soca music from all the islands; including big hits from Zolah -"Go Down Low" (St Vincent), Lil Rick - "Can't Wait" (Barbados), Berbice - "Water" (Grenada), Taxik - "Don't Mess Wid Me" (Antigua), Peter C Lewis - "Over and Over (Trinidad). Plus more from Edwin Yearwood, Rita Jones, Bomani, Lima Calbio, Adrian Dutchin, Peter Ram and others. The 8th Fete great addition to your Soca collection.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) along with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) sail into uncharted waters and meet a new rival, Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), on the high seas. Available at


EA Sports NCAA March Madness 08 (Playstation 3 & Xbox 360)
The 2008 version now has a new game play called Dynamic Post Control that enables you to take complete control of your offense in the post, and defending in the paint. There are dozens of new offensive post moves, including finesse ones like an up-and-under, drop step, hook spin, jump hook, and pump fake, and the ability to combine moves together.


Four Taxis Facing North – by Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw
The debut collection of short fiction from Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, the Trinidadian daughter of St Lucian Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott, was released a couple months ago but is already sold out from most book stores. Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw takes us inside the lives of Trinidadian families, and the anguish and heartache they endure.

WE SPOTLIGHT - Tarrus Riley

By Cheryl Nneka U. Hazell
The Jamaican sun sits high in the sky as Tarrus Riley shops in a busy Kingston marketplace. Our conversation is focused but from time to time this latest blessing on the reggae scene gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of his surroundings and utters a long drawn out “chaaa”.

Several years after the release of his debut album, “Challenges” in 2002, producer Dean Fraser brought out a 15 track album entitled, “Parables”, (distributed by VP Records,) which has turned this ex-deejay into a highly sought out man. Tracks from “Parables”, such as “She’s Royal” set to Delroy Wilson’s Money Love melody, “Beware” which rides on the rhythm of Half Pint’s Political Friction, the John Legend cover, “Stay With You”, and “Lion Paw”, are top choices on every reggae deejay’s playlist and popular favourites with dancehall patrons.

It’s hard to believe that Tarrus never received formal musical training when you hear his soulful voice but he was saturated in the art via his father, ex-Techniques member, Jimmy Riley, and was gently pushed more towards it by his mother. He reflects on the way things worked out. “Me jus’ tek me likkle time and gwan and gwan until I couldn’t refuse it anymore.” It may have been his calling but his style does remind some folks of musicians that have preceded him.

Being a singer, songwriter and arranger are not the only contributions Tarrus brings to the table. Musicianship is equally important. “I play my likkle keyboard, and play my likkle instruments and I think that is good for your hearing and a professional in any trade should have tools to do his job.” Self-described in a humble manner as a “cool youth man, who mek music wha de people dem groove to, an easy youth who jus’ love music, live up and jus’ go through.” Riley is certainly covered with strength and protection, which according to Rastafari doctrine is symbolized by the lion paw. His latest production was the live video of the song of the same name. Lion Paw LIVE was recently recorded at the historical Ward Theatre and the Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston and was the first video in recent Jamaican musical history to feature a combination of top instrumentalists and musicians.

Tarrus Riley is a young visionary and bold artist who is naturally plugged into what he feels his people want. “I want to give the people the feeling that I am right there with them in the struggle giving them inspiration.”
For information visit

WE DESTINATION - Things the ads won’t tell you about Barbados

It can be cheaper than you think by Benoit Legault

According to some ads, Barbados is a great tropical patch of sea and sand where flying fish jump over you. These ads describe Barbados as an exclusive, expensive place for the happy few.

Barbados is actually more diverse and interesting than its promotion makes it appear. Thanks to three different coastlines, it’s like three different island destinations in one. And the agricultural island interior, where tourists rarely go, provides slices of genuine ‘Bajan’ life. With 430 square kilometers and 270,000 people, Barbados has a lot to offer.

Tour operators usually promote the posh, exclusive, and expensive foreign-owned and operated resorts on the West Coast (where Rolling Stone, Keith Richards, owns a villa). Yet Bajans and middle-class tourists hang out on the South Coast (where there is a wide range of hotels, including affordable and intimate accommodation.) It’s not as pretty as the West Coast, but the waves are bigger, and the local flavour is abundant.

The adventurous ones go on the East Coast to see its awesome coastline, reminiscent of the wild coastlines of Western Australia. The scene is made up of surfers who have to be excellent swimmers, because the undertow is merciless.

The rural interior of the island is peaceful, although the urban sprawl of the capital, Bridgetown, is spreading like wildfire. Cheap eats and authentic local life can be found a few hundred metres from the main road, which circles around the island. It is here that you may experience a Barbadian mutton recipe, light-years away from what most tourists eat. The interior is also where rum distillers do their magic, Mount Gay being the oldest and most famous of them.

All beaches are public, even the ones in front of the most expensive hotels and resorts. Strolling in tourist-deserted historic Speightstown is free and drinks there are very cheap. Eating in a typical Barbadian snack bar will cost you very little for a substantial meal cooked the local way. Having grilled big-game fish at the famous Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry, held in a fishing village, is an unforgettable and delicious experience that costs just slightly more than a snack bar. By the way, the fish is not generally fried but rather flame-grilled – as if the fish has to pass through hell to pay for some underwater sins.

There is more to Barbados than beaches and packaged attractions. It is also a place where visitors can enjoy an authentic, proud Caribbean culture, in a safe environment.

If you go
Barbados Tourism Authority - Canada office:
Suite 1010, 105 Adelaide Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1P9
Telephone: (416) 214 9880 & 1-888-BARBADOS.
Email: & website:

WE MUSIC – Dr Jay asks the question…

Widely reported in the Trinidad press, there is a proposal put forth by various Carnival stake-holders, including representatives from Pan Trinbago; the National Carnival Bandleaders Association; Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organization; various event promoters as well as the National Carnival Development Foundation; to create a fixed date for the annual celebration. They propose that instead of basing Carnival Monday and Tuesday by the Roman Catholic Calendar and when Ash Wednesday falls, instead they would prefer a fixed date of the final Monday and Tuesday in April.

Due to the short season in 2008, many have complained that with Carnival being so close to Christmas, many problems arose. Moreover, some say that the change is necessary to make Carnival a viable business. The secretary of the National Carnival Development Foundation, Peter Raynald, stated that there will be a four day symposium held next month which will look at a "Strategic Plan For The Transformation of Carnival As An Industry". He also added that, "the concern is that our Carnival has a constantly changing date but other Carnivals around the world have a fixed date. They can plan better, so why can't we?"

Those sentiments are echoed by Dane Lewis, who is the co-bandleader of ISLANDpeople Mas as well as a promoter who is instrumental behind popular Carnival events such as Girl Power and Insomnia. He has gone on record to say, "Carnival is now an industry and like any other it needs regulating. The truth is every Leap Year, Carnival encroaches Christmas. So while you may have a religious argument against a fixed date, it is an industry. It's not just about celebration."

This celebration Mr. Lewis alludes to is deeply rooted in tradition. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, followers of the Catholic religion in Italy began the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Due to the fact that Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they named their festival ' carnevale ' which is Italian for "put away the meat". As time passed, and the Italian festival became more and more famous, this costumed practice spread to France, Spain and all the Catholic countries in Europe. In many parts of the world, where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered the slave trade, Carnival took root. Brazil, once a Portuguese colony, is famous for its Carnival as is Trinidad.

Carnival was first introduced to Trinidad around 1785, as the French settlers began to arrive. The tradition caught on quickly, and fancy balls were held where the wealthy planters put on masks, wigs, and beautiful dresses and danced long into the night. The use of masks had special meaning for the slaves, because for them, masking is widely used in their rituals for the dead. Obviously banned from the masked balls of the French, the slaves would hold their own little Carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating their masters' behavior at the masked balls.

For the slaves, Carnival became a way to express their power as individuals, as well as their rich cultural traditions. After 1838 (when slavery was abolished), the freed Trinidadians began to host their own Carnival celebrations in the streets that grew more and more elaborate, and soon became more popular than the balls.

Do we respect those humble beginnings and keep Trinidad Carnival right where it is? Or do we continue on the commercialization path and create new fixed dates that have the support of those that work tirelessly to put forth the Carnival that we all enjoy immensely? Having fixed dates every year should increase tourism and be easier to market, but is that worth changing the very essence of Carnival?

That is THE QUESTION.Dr Jay de Soca Prince welcomes your feedback on this topic at

WE ENTERTAINMENT - Jokes! Drama! Action!--Comedy Show Prepares Nubian Disciples For the Big Stage!

by Carol A. Allen

In the heart of downtown Toronto's Entertainment District, the last Sunday night of the month at Yuk Yuk's has been the home to the Nubian Disciples of Pryor All-Black Comedy Revue, a popular stomping ground for young, entertaining Black comedians.
The event, founded over 12 years ago by Host, Actor and Comedian, Kenny Robinson, continues to be one of the most popular outings in the city's entertainment scene. It has given many comedians a platform to hone their talents and create an outlet to express themselves in front of a diverse audience.

The Nubian Disciples of Pryor, a name given to the comedians who have performed at the revue, is a dedication to the late Richard Pryor, one of Robinson's major comedic influences. Pryor was well known for his take on racism, issues affecting the Black community and his use of colourful language. He is said to have influenced other internationally known comedians such as Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy. Pryor died of cardiac arrest in December, 2005 at the age of 65.

Robinson, who turned 50 in early January, has been active on the North American comedy circuit since moving from his native Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Toronto in 1983. He has spent half of his life in an industry where many entertainers struggle to survive and get noticed and continues to promote opportunities for new and established comedians of colour.
Aside from creating the highly successful Nubian Disciples night, his other major accomplishments include: After Hours with Kenny Robinson on the Comedy Network, which he created, wrote and hosted; Gemini-award nominated, Thick and Thin which he created and co-produced, plus he has done several series, television movies and a variety of comedy festivals
Yuk Yuk's is Canada's largest chain of comedy clubs. Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey and Russell Peters, who recently moved to Hollywood to develop a sit-com, are just a few successful Canadian-born comedians that have graced Yuk Yuk’s stages and continue to expose and influence Toronto’s talent.

Playwright, Producer and Actress, Trey Anthony, who often portrayed one of her Jamaican characters on stage at the revue, used that character as the lead role in her stage play, 'Da Kink in My Hair.' Launched at Toronto's Fringe Festival in 2001, it went on to sell out at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre and became the first Canadian play shown at the historic Princess of Wales Theatre. It’s been adapted for television as a weekly series now airing on Global Television.
Mark Trinidad, who was the first Canadian Comedian to perform on BET's Comic View in 2003 and Jean Paul, whose career began as a Nubian Disciple, have been featured on the Nubian stage on many occasions. Both draw on their Trinidadian culture in their routines. Ugandan-born Arthur Simeon is a regular performer who often jokes about his African roots.
The revue has attracted many American-based comedians and celebrities. And, with a line-up of some of the funniest people in the business, be prepared for an evening of guaranteed laughter.

For more information on the event, visit:

WE ARTS – COBA (Collective of Black Artists) celebrates 15 years with YEBO!

COBA, Collective of Black Artists leaps boldly into its 15th year with YEBO! – a season program that pays homage to African traditions and blazes an exciting trail for the future of contemporary dance.

Following a two-year creative hiatus, COBA’s artistic co-founders BaKari E. Lindsay and Charmaine Headley are gearing up a rejuvenated company to satisfy faithful COBA followers and new audiences alike with the Toronto premiere of two new dance creations: Cross Currents, a highly anticipated African contemporary piece by Lindsay; and Doundoun dance (Hibbert), a recreation of a women’s traditional drumming dance from Guinea.

Both pieces will be unveiled February 29 to March 2 at the Premiere Dance Theatre when COBA takes YEBO! to the stage during Black History Month as part of the Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps series of globally-inspired dance from Canada’s best.

Also on the program is the return of acclaimed South African dance master Mantsoe’s Bodika / Sessions, an avant-garde fusion of traditional African physicality with Balinese dance and martial arts.

COBA will make its first UK appearance in May with the international premiere of a new co-creation (commissioned by dance Immersion) between the Collective and the London UK-based Tavaziva Dance Company.

An exclusive YEBO! sneak preview concert is set for February 12 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the prestigious Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. (

COBA presents YEBO! at Premiere Dance Theatre, 235 Queens Quay West, Feb 29-Mar 1 at 8pm; Mar 2 at 3pm Tickets: $25-$30 ($20-$25 students & seniors) Box Office: 416-973-4000 or

Founded in 1993, COBA’s mission is to promote the finest traditions of African, Caribbean and contemporary dance through research, education and performance. The company’s critically-acclaimed repertoire of over 25 pieces includes traditional African, Caribbean and contemporary works – some commissioned by renowned Senegalese, Haitian and South African choreographers. Visit to learn more.

WE COMMUNITY - SAPACCY: Saving Toronto's Black Youth

By Krysta Celestine

Back in 1996, a group concerned with the growing number of black youth incarcerated for substance abuse and involvement in the drug trade; approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal for a service that was sensitive to the cultural needs of black youth and their families as it relates to substance abuse. The result was SAPACCY--the Substance Abuse Program for African, Caribbean and Canadian Youth, and for the past 12 years the organization has been making a difference in our community.

SAPACCY provides counseling and early intervention for youths who are at-risk at becoming involved in the dangerous world of substance abuse. The service helps youth and their loved ones make positive choices about substance use and mental issues.
An alarming 40 % of black youth do not finish high school, and turn to the drug trade as a means of survival. This, says Lou Golding (program manager at SAPACCY), creates a vicious cycle: "where there is a drug trade, obviously there are users. [Drug dealers] are selling drugs to other kids, creating a cycle where people are stuck".

An alarming fact is that, despite SAPACCY's efforts, there is still a dangerous amount of black youth who are involved in substance abuse or the drug trade. Goulding warns that the need is outgrowing SAPACCY's capacity to respond. As a community, we need to challenge this problem, says Golding. The community needs to be aware of the increasing numbers of black youth that are smoking weed and are experiencing psychological problems, such as schizophrenia, paranoia and depression.

"One of the things that people do not realize [is], once the psychosis is triggered, it does not go back to what it was before. They (drug users) have to be medicated", he says. "We have a small staff, and an amounting number of referrals that they receive, so people need to be aware of that. One of the things that may be useful is to provide more exposure to young people from the point of view of prevention, so that they have that as a basis to make some decisions."

Golding lists Hip Hop culture as the main culprit of substance abuse among black youth. Teenagers are still young and impressionable, and with one listen to a hip hop record, it's easy to see how drug use, or more specifically, drug dealing, is sensationalized. "I look at how hip hop has had an impact on our young people so much so that more of our youths are exposed to substance abuse (marijuana, ecstasy, and crack) as a result of the social scene. Hip hop culture normalizes these as tools to suppress pain... to create happiness."

Covered by OHIP and free for Ontario residents, SAPACCY offers counseling, assessment, consultation, family support and community-based programs for youth. For more information, visit:, or call 416 535.8501 x 6767.

WE CARNIVAL - Priceless at Trinidad Carnival

By Antoinette Ifill

There is no dollar amount tantamount to the experience of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival; and as the Mastercard commercial goes it is indeed “priceless”. You can tally up the total amount of money spent to experience what is dubbed as The Greatest Show on Earth, however, you might be left with a feeling that Trinidad Carnival has now become one of the most expensive vacations ever.

With costumes averaging what some of us pay monthly for rent, fetes adding up to the equivalent of a second costume not to mention the never ending list of Carnival essentials that need to be purchased before getting on that plane some of us dare not do the math as we would then have to ask ourselves is there such a thing as “too much” when it comes to the love of Carnival. In spite of the glaring commercialism of this festival, there are still a few activities that one can enjoy in Trinidad and Tobago that will not break the strains of an already burdened wallet.

With a proliferation of Mas Camps in the Woodbrook area, namely between Rosalino and Gallus Streets, making a tour out of visiting each mas camp is an activity that will cost you nothing. The headquarters of TRIBE, Evolution, Mac Farlane Carnival, Trini Revellers, Pulse 8, Masquerade and Dream Team can all be found within the same block. At the mas camps, costumes are displayed for viewing, and one has a chance to observe these creations at leisure.

Woodford Square is the venue for a series of free mini concerts which take place every day at noon from January 21st to 25th, featuring Soca stars such as Peter C Lewis, Machel Montano, KMC, Bunj, Olatunji and Shurwayne Winchester. This very popular event draws a huge crowd so it is best to get there early and enjoy the same artistes that perform at all the various fetes, only you will not be spending a dime!

If a little bit of history is what you desire, check out the Traditional Street Characters Parade from Memorial Park through the streets of Port of Spain on Carnival Friday (February 1st). Accompanied by music and performers such as Moko Jumbies, this ode to mas of long ago features Dame Lorraine, Sailor, Fancy Indian and Pierrot Grenade among other characters and is an enjoyable and informative look at Carnival of the past.

When it comes to “pretty mas”, nothing is a greater spectacle than Kiddies Carnival where the children parade in costumed splendor. This event takes place on Carnival Saturday. With free spectator stands lining the route from downtown Port of Spain to the Queens Park Savannah, pack a picnic basket, walk with a hat, sit and enjoy the spectacle.

Maracas Beach is Trinidad’s premiere water playground, with a long sandy stretch of coconut lined sea front; this beach attracts locals in droves on the weekends. This is the ideal spot for a respite from the hectic pace of Carnival fetes. Enjoy the scenic drive through the rain forest and sample a culinary delight called “shark and bake” when you get there. If time allows, a quick visit to the sister island can easily be achieved for little expense by taking the 2 hour fast ferry, at just under $20.00 (CAN). The ferry departs Trinidad for Tobago in the early morning and returns in the late afternoon making a day trip possible.

It takes little to enjoy the strains of steel pan music from a Pan Yard, chipping down the road covered in mud at J’ouvert or enjoying an impromptu lime at the home of a friend. Take this advice, embrace all that is Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival and forge memorable adventures of your own, that are indeed priceless.

WE SPOTLIGHT - Joy Lapps - Princess of Pan

By Monica Joseph-McIntyre

Joy Lapps wants to see the steel pan accepted on the world stage as a legitimate musical instrument and to see it being paid the same kind of respect instruments like the guitar and piano receive. Lapps, who has been playing the steel pan since she was 13, has seen her hard work and love of the pan pay off. Now 23, she is one of Toronto’s top female pannists, and has earned the title “Princess of Pan.”

Born in Canada to Antiguan parents, Lapps began playing the instrument by chance. The church her family attended was offering lessons and her godmother suggested she take lessons, insisting on paying for the first one. That introduction sparked a passion for the instrument that continues to grow to this day. Playing the steel pan “wasn’t something I decided to do on my own,” she says. “It was guided by my godmother and my parents, but I enjoyed playing so much that I stuck with it.”

She credits her teacher, Vince Kato, for making her the pannist she is today. She started on the bass pan, before switching to the tenor pan. She would often take the instrument home to practice. Kato also took her along when he had a gig and they played duets together.

Since then she has made many solo appearances playing at weddings and dinner receptions and other high-profile events, including a service at the Moravian Church in London, England, the Harry Jerome Awards in Toronto, Ryerson University’s convocation ceremony and ‘Autumn Leaves on Steel,’ a celebration of the pan held at the Glen Gould Studio in Toronto.

While an exchange business student in France, Lapps played with the highly respected “Calypsociation Steelband” and at the Carnaval de Paris. In Toronto, she has played with local steelband, “Pan Fantasy,” which won the 2005 and 2006 Pan Alive competition held during Toronto’s Caribana celebrations. This past Christmas season, Lapps has added her tenor pan to the parang group Los Amigos. She is currently practicing for “Snowflakes,” a show celebrating the pan, which takes place in January.

Lapps has so far released three albums: “Praise on Pan: How Great thou Art”; “Make a Joyful Noise”; and her latest, a collection of Christmas carols.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from musicians I meet,” Lapps says. “It’s nice to meet somebody and feel like you can relate to them.”

Lapp now has a business degree from York University, but has returned to York to pursue a degree in music.

For more information visit

WE PEOPLE - Miss Jamaica Universe and her hair

By Natasha G. Samuels

Zahra Redwood, 25, is the first Miss Jamaica to be crowned from the country’s Rastafarian faith and the first contestant to compete in the Miss Universe pageant with dreadlocks. While the University of West Indies graduate certainly met the standards (intelligence, articulate, beauty, cultured), her win symbolized acceptance (finally) of the countries minority religious sect.

Rastafarianism emerged in Jamaica in the 1930’s as a result of an interpretation of a Biblical prophecy based on the coronation of Ethiopia’s former Emperor, Haile Selassie I. Reggae artists such as Bob Marley brought the religion’s message of peaceful coexistence marijuana use and African repatriation to the world in the 70’s. Despite their positive contributions to Jamaican culture, Rastas’ have not always been accepted due to their traditional appearance and marijuana rituals. Zahra’s win was a victory for Rastafarians all over the world. Her crowning and participation in the Miss Universe pageant also brought relief to black women whose subjection to the good hair bad hair debates left psychological scars on their self-esteem.

During the live televised Miss Universe contest, it was amazing to see the “vilified” hair streaming down the shoulders of this confident black sister who embraced her hair not because she was trying to make a statement but because this is who she has been from birth. As a result, Zahra never considered that her hair would hinder or aid her chances in the pageant. In an interview with the Jamaican Observer shortly after her April 2007 win, Zahra said, “I really didn’t think of it at all. I am a package; my hair is not a separate entity…so I entered based on the characteristics that all contestants were asked to have, and I fit those.”

There was a lot of media focus on Zahra’s and Miss Tanzania (Flaviana Matata, who was hairless,) because the two contestants didn’t exactly fit the mold of traditional contestants who compete with coifed and fluffed manes of hair. Regarding comments that hers and Miss Tanzania’s entry changed the face of the pageant---she said “change is inevitable, so naturally something like this would have had to happen.” The questions (much of it from the international media) regarding her hair are not new to her either. In a recent interview with WE Zahra said, “from ever since I’ve been growing up I’ve been getting those kinds of questions. I’m just so used to all of that.” She said the questions regarding her hair started since primary school days and came from teachers, students, or people on the road. “I’ve just become accustomed to responding to those questions politely that right now it’s not a huge difference. To international persons locks is a part of the identity of a Jamaican so it actually never matter whether or not, as a matter of fact when you do have locks as a Jamaican the international forum actually sees you as an authentic Jamaican and that was the feed back I was getting when we first made our presentations of our costumes,” she said.

Despite the media attention, she says she was not disappointed in not reaching the coveted top 15. “In everything you do, there must be something gained from it,” she said. She is however satisfied that she was able to make an impression and that she was able to inspire greater self-esteem and awareness in black people and black women.
Currently, Zahra is juggling her busy schedule as Miss Jamaica with a new position as a Medical Representative for Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals in Jamaica. She is planning to publish a book, which will showcase her most glamorous hairstyles, which she styles herself. Her reign as Miss Jamaica ends April 2008.

WE BEAUTY - Foods That Make Your Skin Glow!

by Carol A. Allen

Using an advanced skin care system and drinking water daily will give you a healthy, radiant complexion and minimize the signs of aging. But, the foods that you eat everyday are just as important. You'd probably be surprised to learn that many of your favourite foods can actually help you to achieve a natural glow.

Green and orange fruits and vegetables such as spinach, green beans, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes help to prevent premature wrinkling and bumpy skin. Sweet potatoes, spinach, grapefruit, cantaloupe and tomatoes are high in beta-carotene which helps to absorb light and may minimize sunburn. They contain vitamins C and E and the beta-carotene converts to vitamin A once digested, acting as an anti-oxidant and speeding up new skin cell growth.
Milk, liver, eggs, oily fish, some fortified cereals and margarine contain Vitamin A. B vitamins in milk, liver, eggs, cheese, beef, lentils, nuts and whole grains improve poor circulation often associated with itchiness. Soothe flaky, oily, and dry skin with a sprinkling of wheat germ on oatmeal.

Vitamin E, another powerful anti-oxidant, is found in avocados, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Papayas, rich in vitamin B and beta-carotene, help to cleanse the stomach, the starting point for many disorders. Stomach toxins can appear on your skin as a blemish, pigmentation or dullness. Prevent this by drinking a teaspoon of pure honey with half of a lemon squeezed in a glass of warm water daily and avoiding strong laxatives which can dehydrate the system.
Taken internally, the healing properties of the aloe vera gel are very unique as it detoxifies your system and provides vitamins and minerals. Apply it topically to relieve dry, irritated or damaged skin.

To build collagen and improve your skin’s strength, eat Vitamin C-enriched foods such as broccoli, kiwi fruits, oranges, guava, blueberries, and strawberries. Berries and melons are generally low in sugar which keeps skin firm, while soy milk and tofu are high in protein maintaining the skin’s collagen levels.

Skin elasticity is enhanced by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water per day which makes the kidneys and oil glands function better while minimizing dryness. Limit your tea, coffee and alcohol intake to prevent dehydration. Green tea, however, has powerful health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, preventing tooth decay and cavities, and boosting the immune system.

Iron, found in dried apricots and sesame seeds, improves skin tone. Zinc-enriched foods such as oysters, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, liver, walnuts and sardines, help to soften and repair damaged skin. Onions and garlic contain sulphur which helps to keep your skin smooth.
Cooking with olive oil gives you healthy boost of essential poly and monounsaturated fats including omega-3 fatty acids. It reduces inflammation in the body such as puffy eyes and saggy skin.

A generally healthy diet which includes taking multi-vitamins and minimizing processed and high sugar content foods and saturated fats, can incredibly improve the tone, texture, and brightness of your skin while reducing lines and wrinkles. And, together with a consistent skin care routine, you've got a recipe for glowing success!

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 Relationships - Rules of Engagement

By Niama S. Sandy‏

Expect the unexpected?

You're walking out the door and you realize you don't have your keys. You rummage and rummage, creating an even bigger mess than what may have already existed in your house and still after 20 minutes you got NOTHING. You sit down and decide you ain't goin no where again. You feel something poking you yuh look…it's your keys. But you still don't want to go anywhere. What does it all mean?

How many times have you decided that you were going to stop looking for "it," when the universe seems to align perfectly and the ever-elusive "it" finds you? In the quest to quench our thirsts for companionship we are often met with appetizers. How do you tell the difference between the first and third course? And with that I give you our anecdote for the month.

I have a female friend, we'll call her Cara. Cara, like me, often has frustrating (though, again like me, often wildly entertaining) encounters with males. From the man she was with who wasn't trying to move out of his parents' house, to the medical resident fella she met on Yahoo personals, it was one messy situation after another. Fortunately, this woman is one of the strongest and most resilient people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. With that in mind she decided a break from the disorder and disappointment was in order. Fast forward to two months after that decision; a friend invited her to his house warming. Also invited to this housewarming was a man the host wanted her to meet.

Interestingly and perhaps by providence, this man does not show. While Cara is standing in the doorway of the kitchen talking to the host, another man enters the kitchen. As he walked into the room, they locked eyes – okay maybe his eyes locked on to her behind. The host introduced them. They started to talk. They chatted for the rest of the party, went to an after party after that, exchanged numbers and chatted on the phone for five hours after that. They went out the day after that. For the next week, Danny was calling or trying to hang out with Cara every day. Though she liked him, she began to feel like he was trying to push her into relationship prematurely. As right as it felt, to a degree something just wasn't right. Should she ignore her instincts and go ahead anyway? Time will reveal…to be continued

The rule on engagement for this story…Patience is a virtue. In today's society there are countless ways that we try to expedite the process of finding a mate. From the million and one social networking websites to the ever-popular blind date, we are constantly trying to speed up another one of life's processes that happens in its own time. When it's time for it to happen it will happen. No amount of rushing it - or for some of us fighting it - will make life easier.

WE BACCHANAL - 10 Things You Don’t Want to Hear From Your Partner

By My PlayHouse

10: “Oh gosh, I’m not in the mood” – You need to take it for the team, don’t be selfish damn it!

9: “There’s someone else” – that’s when you scratch your head and ask yourself, is that why she/he is never in the mood?

8: “I doh know how to cook” – that poses a huge problem if you as well don’t know how to cook. Being anorexic is not an option.

7: “I’ve be intimate with “X” amount of people before you” – Don’t need to know, lie if necessary.

6: After two minutes in bed they say, “ah buss”, when you just getting started – WTF?!?!

5: “Babes go down on me nah (while pushing your head down)” – But ah find you’re bright to be pushing my head. Doh ask me for s**t if you’re not returning the favor. WE WILL FIGHT!!!!

4: “I don’t like your friends and I want you to stop limin’ with them” – Guess What! They don’t like you either, so should I also stop limin’ with you?

3: “Honey, I just came back from the doctor and there’s something I need to tell you” – At that point, that’s when a heart attack will take me over.

2: “Love me up nah” (after now having sex) – *lol*.

1: “We need to talk” – That’s when you play deaf and walk in the other direction right away.

WE FOOD - STEW PEAS with pig’s tail

By Natasha G. Samuels

Like most kids, I was not a fan of red peas. Peas were an even greater woe to those of us who grew up on farms where peas was one of the main crops. As we consumed what we grew, peas was not only guaranteed to show up on Sundays with rice, but it also showed up during the week as peas soup or stew peas.
To me, peas were bland, nasty and served no purpose, especially given the long and mundane process that came with reaping them. The low tech method was to pick the pods from the vine by hand before they were dried on tarpaulin. Once the pods were dry, they were wrapped in the tarpaulin and the tarpaulin was then pounded with a stick to separate the peas from the pod. The peas would fall to the bottom of the tarpaulin leaving the trash from the pods on top. The older women would put a sizable amount of the peas in a large sift and with a skillful and quick upward flip of the wrist, the peas were hoisted in the air momentarily to allow the wind to sort out the remaining trash before falling back into the sift. The naked peas were then measured, bagged and brought to market for sale.
My malice with peas continued into my adult life until a sold out menu and hunger forced me to order the only remaining item, stew peas with pig’s tail. Perhaps, it was the hunger or my maturing palate but the salted pigs tail gave life and flavor to the legume.
Here is a recipe that you can try at home using a slow cooker.

½ lb salted pig’s tail (cut up)
½ cup of red peas
1 sprig thyme
1 clove garlic minced
2 stalks scallion
Hot pepper (whole with stem in or hot pepper sauce)
Black pepper
Flour spinners (optional)

Soak the pig’s tail and beans in cold water for at least 1-hour.
Boil the peas on the stovetop for at least 10 minutes to help break down the toxic compound – lectin phytohaemagglutinin, which is concentrated in red and white kidney beans. This toxin is known to cause severe gastric upset. Transfer the peas to a slow cooker and add the meat and enough water to cover the meat and peas. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is tender and the peas is almost disintegrating. When the meat and peas is tender, add the thyme, garlic, scallion, pepper, black pepper and spinners (optional).
Serve with white rice. Serves 2 – 3 people.

WE LITERATURE - V.I. Callaloo - a well-seasoned poetry book

Callaloo is a tasty Caribbean dish that is high in nutrients and flavour. Callaloo is a ‘cookup’ of spinach or dasheen and other leafy vegetables, okra, peppers, onions, the usual seasonings and the ‘salt thing’ of your choice. Some of us remember Callaloo to include fried fish, salted pork and ground provisions which makes this dish a complete meal.

The idea for the book came about from the Callaloo concept – a complete meal with different flavours. There are eighteen poets included in this compilation. Each poet has a unique writing style that offers the nutrients which make this pot flavourful and complete. V.I. Callaloo consists of poems of love, awareness, social issues and culture.

The Callaloo Poets are Lavanta Thompson, Oren Hodge, Tremis Skeete, Linette Rabsatt, April T. Glasgow, V. Celeste Fahie, Earold O’Kieffe, Urenna Francis, Stephen Payne, Prudence George, Raja H. Pemberton, Jehu Nisbett, Quincy Lettsome, PH.D., Charles P. Bartholomew, Elton Hazel, Jerome Joseph, Sonjah Smith and Justin Hodge; all with links to the Virgin Islands - both British and US. Some of the poets have roots in other Caribbean islands – Trinidad, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Antigua. Although each poet has a unique background and writing style, each share a love for writing and desire to inspire and uplift readers.

You can purchase V.I. Callaloo online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Yahoo Shopping,, and AuthorHouse online. Copies can be bought in the BVI at Serendipity, Esme's Shoppe, BVI News, Mellows Moods and from all of the poets. V.I. Callaloo is available in St. Thomas, USVI, at the Dockside Bookshop.

For more information about the Callaloo Poets, you can visit, or email

Monthly poetry readings are also held every third Saturday of each month at Mellow Moods or the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park, both on Road Town in the BVI.

When a Rose Stings – Urenna Francis
So beautiful it stood there
Petals perfectly made
Swaying in the wind
Anyone who dares look at it becomes enchanted
By such beauty
To behold its loveliness
Wanting so much to reach out and touch such splendour
Without warning or alert
You reach to pluck a rose
Only to be stung
Because you did not see
What was meant to deceive
What seems to be a rose
Was a serpent in disguise

A Cooking Oddity - Quincy Lettsome, PH.D.
Some may call it a cooking oddity,
Virginners – no peculiarity
To pick a sugar apple, full and green
Boil! A custom never before seen.
Ripe and full, apples come from the same tree
This is something there for every one to see;
They could be hanging close together
Perhaps even touching one another.
A recipe of our ancestral line
Perfected so it will taste mighty fine
Boiled apple – corn pork – a delicacy
Dessert an apple so ripe and juicy!

WE FILM - How She Move

Director: Ian Iqbal Rashid
Writer: Annmarie Morais
Release Date: 25 January 2008
Genre: Drama
Rating: Rated PG-13
Filmed in Ontario

How She Move is an energetic, gritty and ultimately inspiring coming of age tale about a gifted young woman who defies all the rules as she step dances her heart out to achieve her dreams. Bursting with raw talent and intelligence, Raya Green (Wesley), the daughter of Jamaican parents, won the rare chance to break out of their drug and crime-infested neighbourhood when she was accepted into the exclusive Seaton Academy. But when her sister dies of an overdose, the family is shattered and Raya is forced to return to the place she tried so hard to escape. To Raya, getting involved with a major Step Competition was her only hope of changing her fate.

The film looks at a real Caribbean immigrant community. Set in Toronto’s “Jane-Finch corridor, How She Move showcases Canadian West Indians like they have never been showcased before.

Screenwriter Annemarie Morais, a Jamaican immigrant who grew up in Canada, developed a deep love of stepping while studying at Canada’s York University. Morais found herself compelled to write a screenplay that would have a young black woman as its central heroine.

How She Move was directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid who, like the film’s lead character, Raya Green, grew up in urban Toronto as an immigrant from Tanzania.

Michelle (Tré Armstrong), one time friend of Raya, also grew up in Toronto, and took classes at the Dance Factory in Mississauga and later attended Erindale School of Dance.
Another Caribbean-Canadian face seen in the movie is Raya`s mother Melanie- Nicholls-King of Trinidadian parentage who grew up in Toronto and attended the University of Windsor.

And then there was Raya`s crush, Bishop (Dwain Murphy), who hails from the Caribbean island of Dominica, was challenged by a high school drama teacher to pursue acting as a career and did so by enrolling in the Acting for Film & Television Program at Humber College. Playing Bishop’s younger brother, Quake, is Brennan Gademans, a BC native hip-hop dancer and actor who made his acting debut playing the young Michael Jackson in a telefilm.
Bishop’s best friend, E.C., is played by rising, Toronto-based actor Kevin Duhaney, who has already been seen in films as John Singleton’s FOUR BROTHERS. Also joining the cast as part of the Jane Street Junta is actor, dancer and Platinum-recording artist Shawn Desman, who plays Tré, the team’s sole white kid who becomes Raya’s unlikely supporter.

WE ADVICE - Dear Sonya

Dear Sonya,
I lived with my girl for 4 years, we bought a house together and things were going well. One day she decided that things were not working, her parents did not approve of me and our relationship, so she left. I let her take the furniture and whatever she wanted. I make her car payments and cell phone bills (the account is in my name) and I give her rent money sometimes. I dont want her back, but I do want her to be happy. I called her the other day and I think she had someone over, I heard a guys voice in the background. She said it was just a friend!, should I even care?

Dear Sugar Daddy,
Yah you should care, you should care about yourself a little more. This girl just up and left you and also left you with her bills. She wanted to leave and make it on her own, well let her be. I know you care about her, but the girl is taking advantage of a sweet deal. Cut the cell phone, no more car payments and if she cant make the rent, let her to go back to her disapproving parents’ house.

Dear Sonya,
My mother has a new boyfriend in her life. She is 52 and he is 35. He comes over all the time, he hangs out at the house, brings his buddies over. My mom supports him fully. He says he has a part time job, but I never see him going anywhere, except my mom’s purse. I’m ready to go to college next year and I work full time to make money to go to college and my mom is spending all her money on this dude. What is she thinking?, I brought it up to her and we got into a huge fight and we barely talk anymore. I feel like her boyfriend is using her, but she wont listen.

Dear Distraught Daughter,
This guy has it good - maybe its easy for you to see, but remember "love is blind" and plus your mom needs companionship too, she needs to feel good too. At 52, it’s a little more difficult to get out there in the dating scene, so she just may find it that much easier to keep what she’s got. If you are really concerned about this guy- write your mom a letter, this will avoid the 'bickering" and you will have your say. After that, leave it and let it be: don’t strain your relationship with your mom over this guy, just be there for her.

Need advice? Send your questions to