At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Ever wonder what makes Canada so unique? From foods to sports, Canada is home to many amazing entities! Check out the awesome list of Canadianisms that we’ve combined and be proud to be Canadian.

You know you’re Canadian when…

Timbits are considered breakfast (we will not tell you what they are, if you don't know!).

We consider Poutine a food group.

You eat chocolate bars instead of candy bars.

You drink pop, not soda.

You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.

You know that Mounties "don't always look like that".

You are excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

You can eat more than one maple sugar candy without feeling nauseous.

You know Toronto is NOT a province.

Back bacon and Kraft Dinner are two of your favorite food groups.

You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

You attend a formal event in your best clothes, your finest jewellery and your Sorels.

You can play road hockey on skates.

You know 4 seasons: Winter, Still Winter, almost Winter and Construction.

You pronounce the last letter of the alphabet "zed" instead of "zee."

and ... You end some sentences with "eh," ... eh?

You’ll only find these in Canada...

The Beavertail


Montreal smoked meat and real Montreal bagels

Maple syrup pie

Nanaimo bars (we made 'em first)

Butter tarts

of course, Poutine!

Ketchup chips

Vinegar on fries


Did you know…

Lacrosse is Canadian.

Hockey is Canadian.

Yes, Basketball is Canadian.

The biggest flags ever seen at the Olympic closing ceremonies were Canadian (twice...and the second one was smuggled in against a rule that was made because of the first one).

The Hudson Bay company once owned 1/11th of the Earth's surface.

The light bulb was actually invented by a Canadian. (Henry Woodward patented it in 1874). The patent was bought by an American named Edison who improved upon the design and took credit for inventing it.

Other Canadian inventions include: the jolly jumper, duct tape, insulin, walkie talkies, roller skates, Superman, air-conditioned vehicles, acrylics, standard time (and daylight saving time), the paint-roller, the radio compass, snowmobiles, jet skis, improved zippers etc.,etc., etc. (there are thousands more!)

Happy Canada Day from our BIG family to yours!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mentoring in Aboriginal Communities - Amy Joe's Story

In School Mentoring provides girls and boys with a role model and a friend to talk to and share the experiences of growing up with, within school grounds. For one hour a week, mentors meet with their mentee and engage in fun recreation activities. In 2014, Boston Pizza Future Prospects provided a multi-year grant of to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kamloops & Region to expand the mentoring program to better support Rural and Aboriginal students in Merritt, BC. This is just one of many stories of how mentoring is making a difference for aboriginal youth in their community.

As a teenager, I always enjoyed spending time with children. My first job was a babysitter for my younger siblings, cousins and family friends. During my post-secondary studies in business, I worked at the Conayt Friendship Centre in my hometown of Merritt. The term Conayt originated from Nlaka:pamux or Ntlakyapamuk, the Thompson language. Conayt means "helping others". One day at work, I came across a Big Brothers Big Sisters poster for In School Mentoring. The program looked amazing, so I applied to be a volunteer mentor.

I was matched with Savanah, who attended the same elementary school I went to as a child. Savanah was full of funny stories and had an amazing talent for drawing. We instantly bonded over our love for animals and art. As an only child, Savanah did not have a great deal of socialization outside school hours and struggled to make solid friendships. We loved learning about each other’s families and culture, and both looked forward to our weekly visits. I was so happy to have the opportunity to become a friend and role model to Savanah.

As the weeks passed, I met other students and teachers who really cared for Savanah’s well-being. Throughout the program, I made several friendships that I still treasure today. During my time working and volunteering in my community, I realized my dream was to become a teacher. I believe all young people need encouraging role models and a supportive network to reach their full potential. Many students lack positive role models in their life, and as a result, struggle with their academics and self-esteem.

Thank you Big Brothers Big Sisters for giving me the opportunity to meet my little buddy Savanah. The experience was truly life changing as I will soon complete my Education degree and look forward to a day where I can work with In School Mentoring as a teacher.

by Amy Joe, In-School Mentor Volunteer

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Has Big Brothers Meant to Me?

by Brian Weller

Big Brothers was introduced into my life at age thirteen, one year after I lost my Toronto ex-policeman father. That was when I met my Big Brother, Wayne. Some of our more memorable times together would include going to the stock car races at Pinecrest and other tracks, with some time spent in the pits afterwards with drivers he knew. We also had visits with his close family, who always made me feel at home.

Having a Big Brother was such a positive experience for me that, at twenty-one, I became a Big Brother myself, to two fatherless boys in Toronto, and played on the Big Brothers Toronto hockey team.

For a time, Wayne and I were asked to assist together at the orientation meetings, where we would introduce the agency to prospective Big Brothers. In the early 1970s, I moved my young family and became a volunteer with Big Brothers Oshawa/Whitby. Jean ran the agency at the time when we set up the Big Brothers hockey team to play in the local Durham Men’s League. Our team, with the addition of former NHL stars like Ron Ellis and Dick Duff, would also play a benefit game once a year at the Civic Auditorium against Dave Duval and the CFTO Bassett Hounds, with the crowd supporting an equipment fund for our needy Little Brothers.

I have now known Wayne for forty-nine years, and our friendship continues to this day, although things have changed. Now it’s me who picks him up, taking him to events he enjoys, like seeing LeAnn Rimes at Massey Hall or Merle Haggard in Rama. Wayne and his wife, Marie, are good friends with my wife’s family and are included in family functions. You reap what you sow! Wayne was my best man at my wedding forty years ago, and we still maintain regular contact. To paraphrase, “A heart is not known for how much you love but how much you are loved by others.”

Today, I am semi-retired from a successful York Region manufacturing business that my son now operates. My wife and I have four children and four grandchildren. Wayne and Marie took a hurting thirteen-year-old child into their hearts many years ago, and for that I will always be grateful.

Magic happens when a caring adult stoops to help a youngster in need! Every fatherless boy needs a Big Brother, and every motherless girl deserves a Big Sister to share time with, talk to, or confide in. From the Soap Box Derby to the annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake, the focus is always on the child! Volunteering makes a big difference in everyone’s life.