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Statement from Kristyn Wong-Tam on Bill S-238, Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act

Senator Fabian Manning, Chair
Senator Mark Gold, Deputy Chair
Senator Jim Munson, 3rd Member
Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

Good day Senators and thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on this important matter. My name is Kristyn Wong-Tam. I am a Toronto City Councillor and the Chair of the Toronto East York Community Council.

Prior to my election to Toronto City Council, I served six years as the past-President of the Toronto Chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC). The CCNC is a national non-profit organization with 27 chapters across Canada and a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more just, respectful and inclusive society.

Today, I have travelled from Toronto to extend my personal support for Bill S-238, short titled, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act.

As you likely know, shark “finning” is the cruel act of capturing an entire shark to remove only the fins by cutting them off with a blade and tossing the shark body generally while still alive back into the water. The finless shark unable to swim, falls to the bottom of the ocean while in agonizing pain and where it will die in a matter of days by suffocation, drowning or killed by other ocean life.

Although shark finning in domestic waters was outlawed in Canada in 1994, this cruel, wasteful and unsustainable practice is still widespread and the importation of shark fins obtained in such a manner is surprisingly not illegal. Leaving a massive legal loophole that is eagerly exploited by those who profit immensely from the legal sale and trade of shark fins and its derivative products, often times obtained illegally through uncontrolled shark finning.

Other than shark fin being the main ingredient in shark fin soup served at upscale Chinese restaurants and formal banquet dinners to show “respect” to the guests, and to allow the hosts to demonstrate their personal wealth and affluence, there are no other legitimate uses for this product. Not medicinal, nor scientific, nor educational.

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In June 2011, I proudly introduced a member motion with my colleague Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker to ban the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin and derivative products within the city limits of Toronto. This motion was presented to Toronto City Council along with a petition signed by 10,000 residents who supported the creation of this municipal ban.

Knowing that Toronto has one of the largest Chinese Canadian populations in Canada, by eliminating the consumer demand for shark fin soup, we believed that such a ban would in effect help eliminate the inhumane and irresponsible practice of “shark finning” which results in the slaughter of an estimated 100 million sharks per year.

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Help Make the Indigenous District Toronto's Smart Cities Challenge

Last Thursday, 100 people turned out for our presentation on the Smart Cities Challenge with a special focus on Innovation and the Indigenous District in Toronto. We were quickly overwhelmed by the response as many more people showed up then had originally RSVP’d. My sincerest apologies to those who were unable to come into the main room. Thankfully, our gracious host, MaRS Discovery District, quickly opened an overflow room and allowed people the opportunity to watch the presentation on Facebook Live.

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As the City of Toronto explores its options for submissions to the federal Smart Cities Challenge, our team was encouraged to see so many people interested in the concept of an Indigenous District. We believe this to be a real opportunity for Toronto to take an important step towards reconciliation, innovation and broad social inclusion.   

As we learned last week, the time to submit ideas for the Smart Cities Challenge is fast approaching and entries must be received by this Friday, February 2, 2018.  If you would like to see the City and the community work together to further explore the concept for an Indigenous District, I encourage you to complete the online survey here to indicate your support.  The more submissions received supporting this initiative, the more likely it will be chosen as Toronto’s Smart Cities Challenge proposal.

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We believe the Indigenous District is the ideal Smart Cities Challenge proposal. This initiative will accelerate the transformation of the Dundas Street corridor into a world centre for Indigenous innovation and leadership, act as a tool to engage and encourage other knowledge hubs throughout the region and country through the creation of physical and virtual corridor. The Indigenous District will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to work with the community to access Indigenous-led innovation, technology and talent through virtual and physical co-working locations. The creation of Canada’s first-ever Indigenous District serves as a scalable model for private, public, university, and civil society partnerships.

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Prominent Toronto Residents call for 1000 shelter beds in 2018

January 23, 2018

CALL TO OPEN 1000 NEW SHELTER BEDS IN 2018

Dear Mayor Tory and Toronto City Council,

We are writing to you as a group of Torontonians who love our city and want the best for it.

To begin, we would like to thank the Mayor for opening the Moss Park Armoury this winter, and also for his personal support of the introduction of 1000 new permanent shelter beds. We recognize the belated but important actions that have been taken to deal with this crisis thus far.  We also recognize the excellent people who are working on the front lines to help people who are homeless.

However we need more proactive and permanent solutions. We are writing to ask that city council take five urgent steps:

  1. Fund and open a minimum of 1000 new shelter beds in 2018.
  2. Keep the Moss Park Armoury open until the beds can be replaced with permanent shelter beds.
  3. Honour the 90 percent occupancy cap on shelters.
  4. Make long term advancements in wrap around care such as getting more mental health, addiction and harm reduction supports to those who need it.
  5. Establish new standards and invest in improving overall drop-in and shelter conditions.
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Smart Cities Challenge: Innovation and the Indigenous District

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Infrastructure Canada has announced a $50 million prize for Smart Cities Initiatives that will improve the liveability of cities.

We think that Indigenous District is the ideal, made-in-Toronto submission for this exciting competition. With one of the largest and fastest growing Indigenous populations in Canada, right here in Toronto, we have the opportunity to dramatically shift the urban conversation as it relates to reconciliation, entrepreneurship and social inclusion. We are currently developing a 16,000 square feet Indigenous business incubator in the Downtown East. This extraordinary initiative will be the catalyst for a future Indigenous District, soon to be an international visitor destination anchored with Indigenous cultural and entrepreneurial ingenuity both traditional and contemporary‎ in its pursuits. We will leverage and utilize data, technology and community strengths to uplift and bring Toronto another step closer to being a truly inclusive Smart City.

Supported by The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Indigenous Placemaking Council, and the Toronto Aboriginal Social Services Council.

We want your feedback and hope you can join us for a special presentation on January 25, 2018 from 2-4pm at MaRS Discovery District, Room CR3 to learn more about the Indigenous District and #SmartCityTO.

 

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Councillors Wong-Tam, Cressy and Fletcher to host media availability on shelter crisis

MEDIA ADVISORY
January 16 2018

TORONTO – On Wednesday morning Councillors Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), and Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) will host a joint media availability to comment on the recently released open letter to City Councillors on the shelter crisis.

The Councillors will also speak specifically to the motions they are planning to move at that day's Community Development and Recreation Committee.

What: Media availability on shelter crisis open letter
Date: Wednesday January 17, 2018, 8:45am
Location: Outside Committee Room 1, Toronto City Hall (100 Queen Street West)
Who: Councillors Joe Cressy, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Paula Fletcher

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