US, UK & Canada — How Hard Is the Recession Really Hitting Us?

US, UK, Canada and the RecessionBecause I work for clients throughout the globe, I’m often asked if the recession has hit us hard here in Canada. I’d like to say yes, but as an outsider watching the US economy and the world as a whole, I’m really not so sure. It has certainly affected us, I don’t think anyone is exempt from it entirely, but I certainly don’t think it has crippled us the way it has so many others.

US and the Recession

The US as a whole seems to have been hit really hard. People are going homeless by the droves, homes are sitting empty, and don’t even get me started on the banks and auto industry. Entire states are going broke and there seems to be no end to the fallout. It’s no surprise that low-income families are feeling the brunt of things and children are experiencing a higher level of stress.

Not everything seems to be going horribly wrong there, however. Some industries seem to be doing quite well. Some people who were fortunate enough to play their cards right also seem to be profiting quite nicely.

UK, Ireland, Europe, and the Rough Economic Waters

Across the big pond, you don’t seem to notice the people dumping their Irish credit cards too quickly or going sour on their mortgages. Their systems have undoubtedly tightened up, but it doesn’t seem to be too serious, or at least not to the point that people becoming homeless like they are in the US. Everyone there seems to be making it through relatively unscathed with a few adjustments in the way they’re doing things.

People seem to travel just as much including the Irish, reward credit cards in hand, having a good time. Of course, many are staying a little closer to home, or going less frequently, but overall, it seems unaffected. Shopping seems alive and well, the housing market has slowed down a bit, but all in all, pretty good.

Canada and the Current Economy

Canada has survived in about the same manner as Europe and the UK. We’ve seen a bit of a slump, but not like the US. Yes, some people here have lost their jobs and their homes, but Saskatchewan has also created a record number of jobs to give it the lowest unemployment rate in the country. In my own copywriting business, I’ve experienced exponential growth because everyone seems to be moving to the Internet either for improved marketing or just to start a business and a new income stream.

Our retail industry is slow, but not as bad as you’d think. Everyone seems to be finding a way to make ends meet. People are changing their spending habits, and considering how out of control this seemed to be, it’s certainly for the better. Those who don’t, well, they’ll figure it out eventually.

I’ve seen entire towns continue to spend until the money dried up then attempt to defend themselves when taxpayers started getting angry. Germany has also seemed to discover what happens when you gamble a little too much.

The way I see it, we’ll all learn and rise from the ashes. Some just take a little longer than others.

(This post can also be found on Travel the Prairies at http://www.traveltheprairies.com/canada/us-uk-canada-recession/)

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Canada’s Oldest Culture: Western Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples

Canada's First Nation's People - True Canadian Culture

Canada’s First Nation’s People – True Canadian Culture

©2008AngieHaggstrom

One of the most prominent things you’ll notice as you travel in Saskatchewan and Canada is its rich Aboriginal culture. Having lived on the continent for more than 12 000 years their stories and dances aren’t just entertainment. These dances and songs have been performed for thousands of years and tell of the world’s creation.

Dance

Aboriginal dance is one of the most well known examples of this rich culture. Amazing, brightly colored costumes are generally handmade and decorated with quills, beads, and other religious and sparkling symbols in a traditional fashion. Although slightly different from the original costumes, the time and care put into each one is truly stunning. Some of these costumes can weigh more than 100 pounds when complete. Traditional dances include the round dance and several native dances and competitions throughout the season often called the Powwow Circuit from May to September. These are massive celebrations and frequently have large cash prizes.

Art

Aboriginal art is unique to each band and reflects the nature and daily activities around them. Animal spirits, flowers, and hunting scenes are all common in traditional works. More modern art still has threads of their original culture, but display more of the artists soul and some even addresses modern issues. Beadwork, leather, and carvings are just a few of the items frequently made. Religious items such as medicine wheels and dream catchers are also popular cultural items.

Housing, Language, and Education

Many First Nations People do still live on reserves, but they do NOT live in teepees. Like others in Canada, they live in homes, in communities, and speak English or French. Traditional teepees are generally reserved for special festivities and informational purposes. First Nations People attend schools, some of which may include traditional teachings and stories. A majority of the history is passed from elders to children through story. Each tribe has its own language unique to their area.

First Nations People are not like they are portrayed in movies. They are real Canadians like everyone else you see in the country with the added benefit of a rich and colorful heritage. Take the opportunity to experience this genuine Canadian experience. You’ll be glad you did.

If you would like to learn and see more, visit the Virtual Aboriginal Trade Show

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(This post can now be found at: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/canada/canadas-oldest-culture-western-aboriginal-peoples/)

The Journey of a Lifetime: Churchill, Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Quest

Hudson Bay Quest - Churchill, Manitoba

Hudson Bay Quest - Churchill, Manitoba

©2008AngieHaggstrom

For anyone how travels to Churchill, Manitoba on March 21, 2009, the sound of dogs barking will be unmistakable. The Hudson Bay Quest is a 400 km self-sufficient dog sled race running from Churchill to Arviat, Nunavut along historic lines used by the Hudson Bay Company. The typical four-day event is an exciting celebration of the history of dog mushing and Canadian culture.

Created by the owner of Wapusk Adventure owner Dave Daley and a group of fellow mushers, the race was intended on growing the sport of traditional dog sledding. Now in its sixth year, it is one of the most popular events in the area. Approximately 20 teams take off on the morning of the first day and endure extreme cold, winds, polar bears, and the wild to make it to the other end.

The skill and endurance needed for this race is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Miriam Korner, fellow Saskatchewan freelance writer and photographer, is the only female to enter the race and was able to sum up the race perfectly. When asked what her goals for the race were, she replied “Don’t get wet, don’t get lost, don’t get eaten by polar bears, and finish the race with happy dogs.” For a native of Germany, her fifth place finish is nothing short of an unbelievable feat. For more stories of life out on the trail, read the interesting anecdote at the bottom of her interview with Sleddogcentral.com. It’s one of those ‘that was too close’ moments that I’m sure brought on a few other words!

The entire event finishes off with a fantastic banquet and awards ceremony for various categories including the best lead dog and the unofficial ‘Best Snotsicle Award,’ which according to their website was 2.53 inches for anyone interested. To put that in perspective, I was once told that spit freezes in mid air at minus 50. I have no idea how cold it has to be for a snotcicle, but I could just about imagine what it would take to form an amazing natural phenomenon such as that.

The race itself is not for the faint hearted. Many of the mushers and teams simply can’t take the extreme conditions and grueling pace the race requires (and there is no way most could, be it 2-legged or 4!). It is not without its tragedies either. The participants all learn a lot about the art of mushing and survival while making life-long friendships with those who share their passion. For spectators, however, it is an unforgettable, nail-biting event.

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(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/churchill-manitoba-hudson-bay-quest/)

New Baby Giraffe Introduced to Calgary Zoo Visitors

*This is a video of the new baby giraffe at the San Francisco Zoo. Lots of great images and information!

©2008Angie Haggstrom

June 29th, 2008 brought a new life to the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada after a long 15 month pregnancy. One week later, on August 5th, loving mom Carrie and her beautiful unnamed daughter stepped out into the sunshine of their African Savannah side pen. Zookeepers will introduce them slowly to their herd to ensure that everything goes smoothly with a minimum amount of stress on the baby and the herd.

Fifteen-year-old Carrie is very loving and caring mother, but she is also very private and protective of her beautiful baby girl. The little unnamed calf is flourishing under her mother’s care and very curious about her new surroundings. She is the second calf born at the zoo, and with the string of unfortunate deaths the zoo has been experiencing, she is a welcome sight to all.

New animal babies are always good news, but for conservationists and animal experts, a new baby giraffe is very important. In the wild, giraffe numbers are continuing to dwindle, but the species is not endangered. Best of all, the baby giraffe isn’t the only new baby at the zoo. A one year old baby elephant named Malti and a three month old baby gorilla named Yewande are also residents of the Calgary Zoo.

The Calgary Zoo, which began in 1929, is the second largest zoo in Canada and features more than 1000 animals and approximately 290 different species. The entire zoo is divided up into a series of different ecosystems that allow you to travel the entire globe in one afternoon.

There is an Arctic and Antarctic exhibit complete with animals that are both alive and extinct including dinosaurs and penguins. Austrailia, Botanical Gardens, Eurasia, the Dorthy Harvie Conservatory, and the African sections include both indoor and outdoor exhibits that are complete with vegetation, animals, and climate that mimic the real locations. If bats and other nighttime creatures are your thing, be sure to check out the ‘Creatures of the Night’ exhibit. Be warned however, the reptile and nighttime exhibits aren’t the greatest places for those who are extremely squeamish.

Children and adults both love the zoo’s Primates exhibit. All sorts of primates can be seen playing and interacting in the exhibit. The Prehistoric Park is also another popular exhibit. The life-sized dinosaurs roam through a recreated ecosystem. Last but not least is the vast Canadian Wilds exhibit. Be sure to make note of the actual size of the elk, moose, and bears in the exhibit — Let’s just say that television is very deceiving.

The Calgary Zoo has a lot more to offer its visitors. With admission running between 8-18 dollars, the zoo is actually one of the most inexpensive ways to spend an afternoon. Pretty amazing considering the costs of running the zoo and caring for all the animals. The zoo also provides all kinds of interactive programs and educational activities that prove to be a valuable and memorable experience for all. Finally, the zoo also accommodates large groups and functions. They also have an “Osprey Cam” where you can see right into the bird’s nest. (The hatching video is FANTASTIC!)

If you fall in love with the zoo, consider sponsoring an animal or giving a donation for yourself or giving it as a gift to someone!

*NOTE: The Calgary Zoo is hoping to release a video of the giraffe’s birth online. If they do (and it is locatable), I will provide the video or at least a link so that you can also witness the birth!

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(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/baby-giraffe-calgary-zoo/)

Include Pyramids, Unique Festivals, and Pure Canadian Culture in Your Edmonton Travel Plans

Tons of other Edmonton attractions and activities exist outside of the West Edmonton Mall in this lively capitol city. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is an important cultural hub for the prairies. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and more than 30 festival held here each year perfectly compliment the excellent shopping restaurants, and hotels. Edmonton travel plans are easily customized to suit everyone’s tastes.

The popularity of the Edmonton Gay Pride is quickly growing, but so are the other festivals held in the city every year. For music lovers, the Edmonton International Jazz Festival, Capital EX, Yardbird Jazz Festival, the Folk Music Festival, Edmonton Labatt’s Blues Festival, and the Symphony Under the Sky are just a few of the events sure to thrill.

Read the rest here on the new site: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/pyramids-festivals-canadian-culture-edmonton-travel-plans/)

Four Days of Great Music and Unforgettable Fun at Craven Country Jamboree

Include some fantastic music in your summer travel plans!

Include some fantastic music in your summer travel plans!

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Running in the beginning of July is one of the biggest music festivals in Canada. Craven Country Jamboree 2008 is over, but next year’s show is already in full swing. With some of the biggest names in country music in one of the friendliest places in the Canadian Prairies, it’s no wonder people travel here from all over the world.

Located at Craven, Saskatchewan in the beautiful Qu’Appelle valley, the World’s Greatest Country Music Festival is a short drive from Regina. Their show has hosted some of the world’s biggest music stars on their stage throughout their 25-year history. Reba McEntire, Roy Orbison, Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and the list goes on and on.

Besides an amazing lineup the show also includes a wide variety of activities. You can hang out in the beer gardens and listen to the tunes. There are Pro Bull Riding events, beach parties, a 50/50 lottery, and cowboy church. The surrounding communities also hold many different events and sales throughout the show.

So where do you lay your head while you’re here? Right here, of course! The grounds includes open group camping where you find yourself a spot and set up camp. Reserved camp sites are available as well away from the crowds, but you might want to book those early. The general camping area is $40 for their 2009 show and reserved areas range from $75-$100.

The 2008 Jamboree had sold out all 23 500 tickets before the show had even started. The music linup included the talents of Sara Evans, Mark Chesnutt, Paul Brandt, Toby Keith, Sawyer Brown, and many more. Tickets are already on sale for the 2009 festival. Prices range from $139 – $179 for the entire show and there are only 21 000 available.

If you are looking to include an unforgettable event in your travel plans next summer, you should definitely consider this event! If great music and a fun time isn’t enough, there are so many more things to do. Regina has a natural history and science museum as well as a host of other attractions and services. Until then…

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/music-craven-country-jamboree/)

The Most Unique Festival You Will Ever Attend

Unusual Sumer Festivals In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Unusual Sumer Festivals In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

©2008Angie Haggstrom

The oldest Canadian festival dedicated to street performers wraps up this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Beginning in 1985, the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival was the brainchild of Sheldon Wilner and Dick Finkel. The show started with at total of 20 performers including the famous wirewalker Phillipe Petite, who is most known for walking between the World Trade Center Towers. Today, the festival hosts more than 60 performers to an audience of approximately 180 000.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event at Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. There are performers from all over the world including musicians, dancers, face painters, comedians, acrobats, clowns, and magicians. A strong lady from Australia also attends the famous event that is a favorite of established street performers around the world. Best of all, the entire event costs nothing to attend. Instead of charging a fee to get in, the festival encourages a ‘pass the hat’ sort of payment. What a great way to introduce a public unfamiliar with that style of entertainment to the intimate quality of street theater!

The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival isn’t just a sit back and watch type of event by any means. Besides the rover performers, the festival has a variety of children’s activities as well as ‘busking lessons’ that allow you to learn some of the tricks of the trade. This includes a hip hop workshop as well as circus skills and face painting. The entire festival finishes off with a large group performance Sunday afternoon.

Also occurring in the city at this time is the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. The event features fine performances of Shakespeare’s finest works in the evenings and weekend matinees from mid-June to mid-July. Two plays are performed 6 days a week throughout the festival in the outdoor Heritage Amphitheatre.

The event began in 1989 and has performed more than 25 performances for almost 170 000 people since its humble beginnings. If you would like to go, the tickets are very inexpensive especially if you consider the caliber of performance. They also have “pay-what-you-will” on Tuesdays and openers. For the kids, the organization holds a ‘Shakespeare Camp‘ in the summer as well.

There are many wonderful events throughout Edmonton and the Canadian prairies. Music, art, and many other visual performances give you the chance to support the art community and enjoy intimate performances that you cannot experience anywhere else in the country. Even people who are adamant about this type of thing not being their style easily become addicted to these festivals and continue to return year after year.

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(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/edmonton-street-performers-festival-alberta-event/)