Magic Mixed with Awesome and Fun–Youth Camper on PB Leads

General on August 12th, 2015

This camp made the sad happy, the quiet yappy, and everyone more sunny! Believe me it was more than words could explain… It’s like magical mixed with awesome and fun, all thrown into a giant smoothie of laughter.   —-Sunni Zhou, Camper

I like this camp because it lets you interact more with other people. For people who are shy like me, you will be outgoing by the end of this camp. You can learn how to cooperate, have fun and also interact with others more. But there is another part of this camp that you can’t miss. Going on field trips! That’s right, every week, we get to go on exciting field trips like Rock Climbing, Go Karting, and Archery Tag etc.., which makes this camp the best camp in the world.

We shared almost everything with everyone. Our childhood memories, our laughs, our memories from each cooperative game we have done etc… If we could share all of these to your children, parents that are reading this, we could definitely convince you guys to bring your children to PBL. —Davin Ma, Camper

PBC Leads: Developing Leaders

The pilot program under The Plum Blossom Centre struck a balance between academic and non-academic (read: super awesome fun) activities. The purpose was to infuse fun into the process of learning and to help each developing leader find their “intellectual calling”, or in the very least, hone their research, leadership, learning and communication skills. The objective of the program was that participants leave with a good working common knowledge of rights, domestic Canadian issues, Sino-Canadian relational issues, international relations, and some historical and social context in which these matters operate.

Academic: Research, Writing, Analytical Reasoning

The academic component was structured around issues including but not limited to immigrant and refugees, policies that affect young people in Canada,accessibility, income disparities, international disputes, and so on. The program surrounded preparing developing leaders for post-secondary learning, such as academic research skills, formal debate skills, preparing and executing a seminar presentation on a topic of their choice.

Skills-Building: Trust Games, Leadership, Team Sports, Creative Communications

These days, young people will change careers multiple times. Transferable skills are ever more important for this reason.

There was an emphasis on self-reflection: each activity was designed to explore various leadership and learning styles, so that the developing leader can find what works for them. De-briefing sessions followed every activity completed.

Evaluation was done formally and informally, peer-to-peer and counselor/teacher-to-camper. Learning exercises took the form of independent work, but mostly as collaborative work, outdoor team activities and collegial/friendly feedback.

Innoweave launches New Seniors SI Program

General on June 20th, 2015
 

Multiple Levels of Support to Reduce the Social Isolation of Seniors!

Source: http://www.innoweave.ca/
Published: May 25, 2015

Earlier this year, Innoweave announced the launch of Seniors SI, in partnership with the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).  Through Seniors SI, Innoweave will help organizations across Canada generate, implement, and scale socially innovative community level approaches to reduce the social isolation of seniors.

Seniors SI provides multiple levels of support to communities looking to build local action plans focused on the outcome of reducing social isolation of seniors in their community. As a starting point to facilitate preliminary discussions, the Seniors SI team held engagement sessions in 9 major Canadian cities and national webinars in French and English. These sessions were attended by city policy makers, local seniors organizations, community service providers, neighbourhood houses, and academia. From these sessions, organizations were able to start the conversation about the current barriers facing their communities, and what solutions and partners would be needed to have an impact on reducing social isolation of seniors. Leveraging the momentum of these preliminary sessions, groups have organized follow up meetings to start to develop their impact plans. Seniors SI supports groups to develop their impact plans in numerous ways including facilitating community connections, providing access to knowledge resources, and delivering direct coaching support.

Seniors SI is already benefitting community organizations across Canada. “The support that Innoweave is offering including expertise in developing the plan and application is incredible. Across our community, Innoweave’s support has helped connect our efforts to combat seniors’ social isolation, to figure out how to build a collective response from each of our unique organizational assets” said Lee Anne Davies, Director of Community Investment at the United Way of Greater Victoria.

Seniors SI began connecting organizations around the issue of senior’s isolation in preparation for the upcoming NHSP Call for Proposals. The call was announced March 27th, by the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), and opens May 29, 2015. This call will fund clusters of projects in communities across Canada which are able to effectively demonstrate how they will achieve the outcome of reducing social isolation of seniors.

Using a collective impact model to achieve population level outcomes is a complex but worthwhile endeavour with the potential for generating meaningful large-scale change. The Seniors SI team is excited to assist and guide the development of innovative community approaches to achieve this important social goal.

To learn more about Seniors SI please visit SeniorsSI.ca, or email seniorssi@innoweave.ca with your questions.

- See more at: http://www.innoweave.ca/blog/innoweaves-new-seniors-si-program/#sthash.toZ2eDy2.dpuf

Forced Organ Harvesting in China, 2015 Update

General, news on June 15th, 2015


Left to Right: Sir Alex Polowin (moderator), Hon. David Kilgour (guest speaker), Dr. Maria Cheung (guest speaker) at the Forced Organ Harvesting forum at Congress 2015 for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

From May 30 to June 2, the Plum Blossom Centre (PBC) operated an exhibition booth at Congress 2015 of the Humanities and Social Sciences, in Ottawa University, Ontario. On June 5, PBC invited Hon. David Kilgour and Dr. Maria Cheung (University of Manitoba) to speak at the forum, “The Persecution of Falun Gong and the Issue of Forced Organ Harvesting in China: Why We Have to Care.”

At the forum, Hon. David Kilgour  described “the covert large-scale seizure of Falun Gong organs for commercial transplantation purposes” as a “highly profitable feature of this persecution.” Today, despite overwhelming evidence researchers and investigators around the world have uncovered to verify the existence of the inhumane practice, China continues to deny the pillaging of organs from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience (such as Uighurs, Tibetans and House Christians).

On February 3, 2015, the Canadian House of Commons’ all-party subcommittee on International Human Rights released a statement calling for an end of organ pillaging due to their concern over “credible allegations that prisoners of conscience and members of religious and ethnic minority groups, including but not limited to practitioners of Falun Dafa and Uyghur’s, in the People’s Republic of China are being executed for the purposes of harvesting and transplanting their organs.”

Dr. Maria Cheung explicated the years of investigation that has identified the chain of operation in this organ harvesting business led by the Chinese Communist Party. Dr. Cheung also contextualized China’s forced organ harvesting within the continuing persecution of Falun Gong that dates back to 1999.

In 2014, award-winning China analyst and investigative journalist, Ethan Gutmann, published his latest book, The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem. Despite being based in London, England, China issues is far from foreign to Gutmann. His writings on China have been widely published, and his testimonies have been heard before the U.S. Congress, European Parliament and the United Nations.

The Slaughter marks the end of a seven-year investigation, during which Gutmann finds new evidence by interviewing over 100 witnesses including prisoners of conscience survivors, doctors, policemen and camp administrators from China. Gutmann’s research  estimates that over 65, 000 Falun Gong practitioners and 2000 Uighyurs, Tibetans and House Christians were killed for their organs within state systems in China from 2000 to 2008. Gutmann also found that the organ removal procedures are done while the victims are still alive.

Gutmann tells Vice that The Slaughter is a comprehensively researched work, framing forced organ harvesting within a history of persecuting prisoners of conscience. The book conclusively demonstrates that prisoners of conscience have been targeted for their organs since 1997 when they were transplanted to high-ranking state officials.

Gutmann has spoken and written about the dilemma journalists face when it comes to Falun Gong. “There is a long-standing taboo in the journalism community about Falun Gong, about this [forced organ harvesting] issue. To touch this issue is the Third Rail of journalism. If you touch it—if you are in Beijing, if you are based in China—you will not be given access to top leaders anymore.”

The taboo is not uniquely within journalism. The pervasive propaganda against the meditative spiritual discipline, Falun Gong, circulated by the Chinese party-state government has made the topic taboo in many fields.  In the Congress 2014 Q&A session at the forced organ harvesting forum last year, an attendee asked international human rights lawyer David Matas why well-established human rights organizations have not launched their own campaigns to raise awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong. In response, Matas said he has raised this to international human rights organizations before, who have responded that Chinese representatives would “leave the room” upon mention of the issue, thus making any progress in discussions on China’s other problems impossible.

Gutmann himself had a “cloak of scepticism” about whether the Chinese party-state was taking organs from prisoners of conscience for transplant profit. Aware that a singular interview can only go so far to dispel any disbelief of a claim, Gutmann has shared that a middle-aged female Falun Gong practitioner’s interview convinced him the allegations were true.

In that interview, the middle-aged woman was given a highly specialized physical examination in labour camp. Gutmann states, “What made her testimony so credible was that I wasn’t looking for evidence of organ harvesting and she did not recognize the [physical] examination as having any importance whatsoever. Actually, if I hadn’t interviewed her for hours she wouldn’t even have mentioned it. That sort of unscripted slip is investigative gold to someone like me, particularly as I went into the organ harvesting story suspecting that it might all be an urban legend.”

Although the international community has largely remained silent on the issue, it has not been wholly. Canada has been one of the few countries who have talked directly about the Falun Gong persecution and forced organ harvesting with their Chinese counterpart. Israel has taken a hard stand against their citizens traveling to China to receive organs.  France has banned Gunther von Hagen’s “Bodies” exhibit due to surfaced evidence indicating some bodies sold to the exhibit are from the cells holding prisoners of conscience in China.

Notably, Human Harvest (Davids & Goliath), a documentary partly based on the investigative findings of Matas and Kilgour won a 2015 Peabody award. CBC is scheduled to screen it on national television on June 16 8PM ET/10 PM PT.

As China’s state government continues to profit from ending the lives of prisoners of conscience in order to profit from their bodies or parts thereof without consent, the international public has a duty to echo requests that China ends such practices.

Sign the petition to the UN here.

Evidence of forced organ harvesting, organ pillaging and trafficking can be accessed at http://www.dafoh.org and www.david-kilgour.com.

PBC at Congress 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario

Event, General, news on May 29th, 2015

PBC at Congress 2015, Ottawa, Ontario

Welcoming All to Congress 2015 and the PBC Forum

Once again, the Plum Blossom Centre (PBC) will be attending the 2015 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The theme of this year’s Congress is “Capital Ideas”, inviting attendees to reflect on the power of ideas to ignite discussion, debate, and spark discoveries. An estimated 8000 people will be in attendance.

On Friday June 5th 11:00AM-12:00PM, PBC will host the forum entitled, “Persecution of Falun Gong and the Forced Organ Harvesting Issue in China: Why We Have to Care.” The forum will take place in the Congress Hub, East Expo Event Space.

Visit Our Booth

PBC will be operating a booth in Montpetit Hall, University of Ottawa (125 University) in booth #12 next to the East Expo Event Space from May 30 to June 5. There will be an opportunity to purchase books publishing the findings of independent investigations on the issue. A petition calling for government action to end the practice will be available for signing.

Why We’ll Be There and What to Expect

PBC will explicate the state of forced organ harvesting from unwilling live hosts in China. We care because China has the second highest transplant volume in the world but nearly no organ donors. International investigations have consistently found that Falun Gong practitioners constitute the majority of victims being pillaged of their organs. Hon. David Kilgour, former MP and Cabinet Minister for Asia-Pacific Affairs will speak about his and human rights lawyer David Matas’s investigation spanning the past nine years into the claims of forced organ harvesting. Matas and Kilgour began looking into the allegations of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in 2006 upon calls for action made by concerned Canadians. They were prompted to independently investigate due to the level of atrocity associated with the claims. With a lack of official records and a formal donor system in place to legitimately justify the sources for organ transplants, Kilgour and Matas adopted various approaches in their research.

In addition, Dr. Maria Cheung, associate professor at the University of Manitoba will provide a critical analysis of the persecution of Falun Gong and forced organ harvesting in China. Dr. Cheung will assess the extent of varied and wide global efforts that have been executed to counter the ongoing crime against humanity. Dr. Cheung has conducted a Canadian study on the peaceful resistance and resilience of Falun Gong practitioners. Her article “the intersection between mindfulness and human rights: The case of Falun Gong and its implications for social work” will be published in the upcoming special issue of Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work – Social Thought.

Associations also present at Congress 2015 sharing similar interests to PBC include the the Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE), Canadian Peace Research Association (CPRA), the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID), and Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA). Related events to PBC at Congress 2015 below:
1. CASWE Conference < http://caswe-acfts.ca/events/conference-2015/>
2. CPRA Conference <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/conference-cpra-46>
3. CASID Conference < http://congress2015.ca/program/events/conference-casid-225>
4. CLSA Conference <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/conference-clsa-229>
5. Global Shifts and Canada’s International Policy <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/global-shifts-and-canadas-international-policy>
6. Humanities and the Future of Democracies <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/nafisi>
7. DH Futures: Conflict, Power and Public Knowledge <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/dh-futures-conflict-power-and-public-knowledge >

PBC Forum: <http://congress2015.ca/program/events/persecution-falun-gong-and-forced-organ-harvesting-issue-china-why-we-have-care>

More information on forced organ harvesting in China, please see the following links: http://www.dafoh.org/; http://endorganpillaging.org/

For more information about Falun Gong, a Chinese traditional spiritual discipline practicing “truthfulness, compassion and tolerance” please see http://www.faluninfo.net/

Organized by the Plum Blossom Centre.

Is Social Work Activism Still Alive? Forced Organ Harvesting in the Context of Globalized Human Rights Violation

General on May 29th, 2015

China has massive organ transplant volumes; second only to the United States, yet within the country, there are almost no willing donors due to cultural beliefs and values. In China, virtually all organs for transplantation come from prisoners. Evidence collected by researchers, including Canadian lawyers David Matas and David Kilgour, American journalist Ethan Gutmann and American medical academic Kirk Allison, conclude that the bulk of Chinese transplant organ sources are prisoners of conscience, killed through organ extraction. Of these prisoners of conscience, the primary victims are practitioners of the traditional Chinese meditative practice Falun Gong. The poster presentation will elaborate on this issue in light of globalization, importance of cultural awareness, and the crucial role of activism in social work towards social justice within a globalized context.

Forced organ harvesting is not only a human rights violation but also a crime against humanity. Thus, social work by its very nature has an obligation to take a stance and advocate against this inhumane practice. Findings from Sharif and colleagues (2014) demonstrate that from 2003-2009, among its population of 1.3 billion, a mere approximate 130 organs were freely donated in China. In the same time frame, Matas and Kilgour (2009) found 41,500 organs transplanted in China remain unaccounted for.

According to Gutmann (2014), evidence also reveals that the Chinese bodies used for “Bodies: The Exhibition” belong to Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience. Sadly, these exhibitions tour around North America as a spectacle widely visited by people in Western countries.

If social workers are unaware of the complexity of oppression in the globalized world and are not reactive to global issues, they may risk replicating and perpetuating global oppression. Social justice is one of the six core values of the social work profession. Hoefer (2012) reminds us that advocacy is a key tool in achieving social justice at all levels of practice. Yet, social work has been challenged for not being regarded as a leader within the larger global human rights movements (Healy, 2008). “Social workers have an obligation to not only actively advocate, but to empower others to do so as well” (Hoefer, 2012).

Through the presentation, I will illustrate my personal experience in advocating against forced organ harvesting, and the crucial knowledge and skills I have obtained through this experience. I have become cognizant of the importance of advocacy within our profession, as it provides opportunities for students to strive for social justice; gain a deeper understanding of global human rights violations and the role of social work; and most importantly, creates compassion and respect for ALL individuals. I will explore ways social work curriculum can gear towards promoting students’ activism experiences.

References
Gutmann, E. (2014). The Slaughter: Mass killings, organ harvesting, and China’s secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem.

Healy, L. M. (2008). Exploring the history of social work as human rights profession. International Social Work, 51(6), 735 – 748

Hoefer, R. (2012). Advocay practice for social justice (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum
Books, Inc.

Matas, D. & Kilgour, D. (2009). Bloody harvest: The killing of falun gong for their organs. ON: Seraphim Editions.

Sharif, A., Flatarone Singh, M., Trey, T., & Lavee, J. (2014). Organ procurement from
executed prisoners in China. American Journal of Transplantation, XX, 1-7.
The Epoch Times (2004). Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. United States: Broad Press Inc.

Forum on Forced Organ Harvesting in China – Oct. 23 – Panel Discussion

General, news on November 7th, 2014


Panel discussion on forced organ harvesting in China, Oct. 23, 2014 at the Toronto General Hospital. [L-R] Moderator Frank Markel, author Ethan Gutmann, director of bioethics Linda Wright, professor emeritus Bernard Dickens and director of renal transplants Dr. Jeff Zaltzmann.(Courtesy Becky Zhou/Epoch Times)

Author Ethan Gutmann’s lecture at the Forum on Forced Organ Harvesting in China was followed by a panel discussion with prominent members of the medical and academic community.

The panelists focused on the impact of the forced organ harvesting in China on Canadian doctors and patients, and discussed ways to curb this crime against humanity.

The talks were followed by a Q&A period.

The forum was hosted at the Toronto General Hospital by the Plum Blossom Centre, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Transplantation Institute and other University of Toronto health units.

The panel included Dr. Jeff Zaltzmann, Director of Renal Transplants at St. Michael’s Hospital; Linda Wright, Director of Bioethics at the University Health Network (UHN); and Bernard Dickens, Professor Emeritus of Health Law and Policy.

The forum was moderated by Frank Markel, Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Panel Discussion




Dr. Jeff Zaltzmann, MD, Director of Renal Transplants, Medicine and Nephrology and Director of Diabetes Comprehensive Care Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.



Dr. Zaltzmann stated his hospital has many Chinese Canadian patients, and many of these patients have gone abroad for an organ, particularly kidneys. Many are recruited in the dialysis unit by external recruiters.

Based on evidence of patients who have gone abroad to purchase an organ, those who acquired it from the black market received relatively poor results; however, the results from Chinese hospitals were good. Thus, it has been hard to dissuade patients from going to China.

Dr. Zaltzmann said he has met a young patient who has gone to China for an organ and found he had two scars. When asked about it, the patient reported he got a second kidney within a week of the first failed kidney transplant, something which would never happen in Canada.

Dr. Zaltzmann noted that in the organ transplant community, there are different types of donors and said the ones from China come from “living dead donors,” referring to the prisoners of conscience who are killed on demand for their organs.

Grappling with the question of what the transplant community should do, he said doctors faced with such patients must confront a difficult ethical decisions: Can they choose not to treat them? Can they turn them in to the police?




Linda Wright, MHSc, MSW, RSW, Director of Bioethics at the University Health Network (UHN), Toronto, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery and a member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto.



Linda Wright stated that the purpose of organ donation and transplantation is to save lives, and therefore the idea to harm others in this process is counterintuitive. Organ donation has always been based on voluntarism from living donors and deceased donors.

She noted that the forced organ harvesting happening in China is a clear contradiction of basic human rights and justice, and contravenes all codes of ethics. Wright noted that current practices to curb this crime include regulations for medical journal publications and conferences, which do not allow doctors from China to publish or present a paper, unless they declare they have not been involved with transplanting organs from unwilling donors. Wright suggested that they should also be required to declare that the hospital has not been involved.

She stated that there is a responsibility to inform patients of crimes against innocent people, and also to let them know they would not be reimbursed of any costs should they be implicated in this.

However, Wright emphasized that doctors are in a difficult situation. While they do not wish to take care of such patients knowing they are enabling a crime, at the same time, they have duties to their patients. The best solution is to be as preventive as possible and inform people of the situation.

One measure that the Canadian Society of Transplantation has taken so far is to issue a statement allowing physicians the option not to treat patients who have purchased an organ (in a non-emergency situation), as long as they are able to find another physician who will treat them.




Bernard Dickens, LLB, LLM, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Health Law and Policy in the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto.



Bernard Dickens discussed the proposal by former attorney general Irwin Cotler to criminalize the actions of patients who go to China to purchase an organ. This would become an extraterritorial crime, which makes the offense abroad the same as if it would be taking place in Canada.
Dickens discussed the implication of the law for Canadian patients, as well as how it would be reinforced.

Following the panel discussion, the moderator opened the floor to a Q&A session.

Q&A

Maria Cheung, one of the event organizers noted that the organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) presented the UN with 1.5 million signatures from people around the world last year, and she asked what medical practitioners can do to stop this practice.

Dr. Zaltzmann stated that a law would be most effective to dissuade this problem as it would compel doctors to report transplant cases, and patients would be dissuaded knowing they face prosecution.

One attendee asked the question of why Canada is not taking a stronger stance on China, when they have harsh stances against Iran and North Korea.

Gutmann stated that while Canada has mentioned the issue of the persecution of Falun Gong to Chinese authorities, it has yet to come up with a resolution against organ harvesting, such as the one currently being discussed in the U.S. (American House Resolution 281), which has a high chance of being passed.

The U.S. resolution condemns the CCP’s practice of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.

Gutmann also cited the example of Israel, which has banned its citizens from purchasing organs in China, despite the fact that Israel’s economy is highly dependent on China. However, as a nation whose people have gone through the Holocaust, Israel had decided not to partake in this crime.

One doctor in the audience suggested that every medical practitioner should have the obligation to inform their patients about this crime. Dr. Zaltzmann said that transplant doctors do inform patients, however there may be a lack of conviction—it’s currently not at the forefront of the agenda.

An audience member asked why the media has been silent on the issue. Gutmann stated that there are a variety of factors, including reporters with connections to China, lack of investigative resources for journalists, and other factors. However, he encouraged Canadian media to investigate the cases of Canadian patients going to China for an organ transplant.

A lawyer for the human rights group Choose Humanity asked a question regarding the body plastination exhibits that display bodies from prisoners of conscience.

Guttmann called the exhibits a crime scene that is being exported across the world and encouraged medical schools to take DNA from these bodies so they can be matched to the DNA of missing people in China.

At the forum’s conclusion, the moderator said that one way to prevent terrible crimes such as forced organ harvesting is through small gestures in the community, and cited the example of the Italian people who saved many members of the Jewish community during World War II.

He also encouraged organ donation registration as part of the solution to the problem.

Links

Ethan Gutmann’s website – “The Slaughter”:
http://ethan-gutmann.com/the-slaughter/

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting:
http://dafoh.org/

Petition:
http://www.dafoh.org/petition-to-the-united-nations/

News Reports

CBC Radio: The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/popupaudio.html?clipIds=2566536474/

Toronto Star: Q&A: Author and analyst Ethan Gutmann discusses China’s illegal organ trade
http://www.thestar.com/life/2014/10/21/qa_author_and_analyst_ethan_gutmann_discusses_chinas_illegal_organ_trade.html/

The Source: Ezra Levant
http://www.ezralevant.com/chinas-secret-solution/

Epoch Times: Organ Harvesting in China Puts Canadian Doctors in Tough Spot
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1050800-organ-harvesting-in-china-puts-canadian-doctors-in-tough-spot/

New Tang Dynasty Television: Ethan Gutmann – Slaughter is Alive in China
http://www.ntd.tv/en/programs/news-politics/china-forbidden-news/20141030/242309-ethan-gutmann-slaughter-is-alive-in-china.html/