A film by Bryan Law and Dan Dicks "United We Fall" is a documentary about the North American Union that is being developed right now between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. For years this topic has been debated in the news and in political circles as being a possible future for North America. In recent years, the mood has shifted and a rift is developing between those who want a Deeply Integrated North American Community, and those who wish to retain their national sovereignty. This film takes a look at both sides by interviewing both insiders and activists who have been at the heart of this heated debate. The film also looks to the broader agenda of building a world government and its implications.

Featured Interviews: Robert Pastor (Council on Foreign Relations), Allan Gotlieb (Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg) Herbert Grubel (Creator of the "Amero") Luke Rudkowski (We Are Change) Dan Dicks (Press For Truth) Vijay Sarma (Political Activist, Independent Journalist) Dr. Andrew Moulden (Canadian Action Party) Richard Syrett (Talk Radio Host)
After viewing some incredible portfolios today of my peers and fellow photographers, and watching some amazingly creative videos as well... I've come to realize how extremely talented so many people are in this world - especially within my own world or little bubble called Toronto. The talent brewing here, like many other places no doubt, is staggering and growing at an overwhelming rate. It's truly humbling to watch and be inspired by those around me.

It reminds me of a story my high school art teacher, Percy Payette, once shared. He shared this story to us (the grade 9 or 10 visual arts class) during our very first drawing lesson. Drawing is something a lot of people are rather shy about - most people think you're either good or terrible at it - there's no in-between. But Payette was determined to teach us otherwise, and shared this story...

The story he shared (as best as I can remember) was about one of his first classes in drawing school at college/university where he was studying fine arts. He sat beside a kid who was, in Payette's opinion, absolutely amazing at still life drawing. From day one, Payette said he was constantly looking over the shoulder of this guy sitting next to him in class, and felt absolutely terrible about his own work. Payette did his best to emulate his style, but always came up short and he thought for sure that he would fail, or that drawing just wasn't his thing. The guy sitting next to him in the studio just seemed to have all the style and grace in the world in his drawings, something Payette just didn't seem to have. He assumed the guy was getting straight A marks, too (of course, right?), and was surely a class favourite. It was going to be a depressing semester for sure, sitting next to this creative genius.

One day Payette built up some courage and decided to actually talk to his classmate and let him know how much he admired his style. After all, it seemed like the right thing to do, maybe they could get along and Payette could learn a trick or two. So he did just that - tapped the guy on the shoulder and said, "Hey man sorry to interrupt you but I really, really like your work. I just thought you should know that it's truly inspiring. I wish I was as good at this as you are."

And the guy replied, "I feel the exact same about you and your work. I've been watching you and wish I was as good as you are, too." Payette couldn't believe his ears. This guy must be joking, right? The creative genius likes HIS work? Yep. it was true. They had a good laugh, and from that moment became friends and fed off each other's creativity.

It was just an amazing story to hear and a great reminder that no matter how much you might doubt yourself sometimes, there may be someone looking over your shoulder wishing they could be as good as you. There are a million different styles out there, in drawing just as there is in photography, and there is no "right" or "wrong".

Once the story was finished, Payette jumped into our first drawing lesson and we all felt totally empowered and willing to give it a try - whether we thought we were good at it or not - he told us anyone can be taught how to draw and he's absolutely right. Sure enough, I was looking over the shoulder of the guy next to me and I thought his work was absolutely amazing, but in the back of my mind I knew that he might feel the exact same about mine.
I first became aware of Charles Veitch and his organization, the Love Police, during the G20 summit in Toronto. He was among those arrested under false laws and detained for an extended period of time (some 20 odd hours) at the Toronto Film Studios makeshift prison. A simple YouTube search of his name will bring up many inspiring videos of activism and insight:
A class action lawsuit in the amount of $45M has been launched against the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney-General of Canada who represents the RCMP (The Star reports) for all those wrongfully arrested, detained, imprisoned or held by police during the G20 summit at locations across the city. There are many horrific stories and eye-witness accounts circling the web backed by plenty of video footage on YouTube depicting police brutality (among other things like sexual abuse) during the G20 summit in Toronto.

Charlie often uses a sort of humorous in-your-face styled approach to inspire people around the world to question what they're doing with their lives - I thought this was video below was particularly awesome. Something I'm glad I did was get out of the 9-5 "drone" lifestyle a year or so ago. Here he speaks to commuters crossing the London Bridge:
Watch this long interview for a glimpse into his mind and world views, which are extremely interesting in my opinion. He touches on subjects including perception of reality, police, world population control, swine flu and much more:

So I would assume by now that most if not all of you socially-aware individuals have come to realize that a woman by the name Ashley Kirilow has been exposed as a scam artist, after pretending to be a cancer patient and raising money for herself through a false charity. (Toronto Star cover story HERE)

I've spent the better part of today speaking with media including CBC, CTV, and ABC (Good Morning America) with some other friends who knew Ashley and cared to shed some light on the developing situation, and Ashley as a person.

I met Ashley one night at a bar with friends some time in November/December of 2009. She approached me randomly and asked if I was Matt Vardy. I said yes and I, too, recognized her from all the mutual friends we have and the Facebook updates I had been receiving from her 'charity' Change For a Cure. Not long after exchanging names she dove right into the sad stories of her battle with various forms of cancer and I was definitely affected by this and wanted to help in any way I could - like so many others. To make the story worse, she said her parents had died and she had no family left to rely on. I told her I was unfortunately not in a position to help her cause financially in any significant way, but she suggested that I accompany her (as the photographer) on her walk to the University of Alberta where she planned to personally donate the money she raised to cancer research. I said I would consider the opportunity and it would depend on my schedule and the timing of her trip, but it was definitely something that sparked my interest because I had always wanted to put my skills to good use for positive change in the world. That being said, I had my doubts about the truth of her story and her ability to walk such a long distance (if she was indeed so ill), plus she seemed oddly more excited about the fame she might get as a result of the task as opposed to the benefits for the University and cancer community. Never the less, soon after talking about these elaborate plans, she stopped texting me back and disappeared from Facebook. A few weeks passed and I assumed the worst - that she had lost her battle with the disease.

Of course, now I know that was not the case and she was in fact alive and well and was most likely preparing to flee the area or go into hiding since her story was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as more and more questions were being raised.

My personal goal throughout this process in speaking with the media was not to vent and get angry about the things Ashley has done, though there is no doubt that they are absolutely terrible at best, but rather to focus on reminding people that she is just one bad apple in an entire orchard flourishing with love and integrity. I tried my best to communicate to the media that although we are all so quick to judge and hate - there is more to life than this and there are good charities still out there who need our continued support. Not the least of which include Skate4Cancer and Love Everyday clothing, two organizations that were immediately questioned upon the release of this troubling scam because of their friendships with Ashley. I can't stress enough how legit these organizations are, among many others, and how important it is that Canadians and people around the world don't shy away from giving - like we always have - except perhaps in a more educated way moving forward. Ask the right questions, if the questions can't be answered - send your money and support elsewhere.

Media from around the globe as far away as India, China and beyond are covering this story, it seems that the cancer community is indeed truly global and stories of this nature really do affect many people on many different levels. The story is ever changing, even as I write this to you media from god knows where is releasing new articles, and all I can hope is that justice will prevail in one way or another.

My final words with ABC today (after a 20 min long interview) were in response to the question, "If Ashley was watching right now, what would you say to her?" I said, "I would tell her to seek help. She's done some terrible things and needs professional care. Somewhere buried deep inside that girl is a heart that needs rescuing before it's too late" And that, my friends, is the truth. I emphasized these points, fully aware that the majority of them sadly wouldn't be aired or published.

There are tons of people out there who were much closer to Ashley than myself and were deeply involved in her story and helping her charity. My thoughts go out to those people, and I hope everyone can "push past" this as Rob encouraged on Twitter yesterday.