Let me start the week by sending out a huge congratulations to our friend Rochelle Grayson on her new position as CEO at Vancouver startup BookRiff. Rochelle is an incredible lady, and I know that with her awesome talent and drive, great things will be happening for BookRiff and its parent entity D&M Publishing. Congratulations also to the Deus Ex: Human Revolution team over at Eidos Montreal for all of their nominations and awards from E3, including Best of E3 from Gamepro and 1up, plus Best E3 trailer from JeuxVideo.
CIX, the Canadian Interactive Exchange has sent out their annual call for showcase presentations. Submissions deadline is October 1st, so companies who “consider themselves to be the very best in the fields of ICT, Digital Media and Cleantech should complete a profile in order to be selected to present live at CIX in the showcase of Canada’s Hottest Innovative Companies.” CIX takes place at Toronto’s at MaRs Discovery District on December 7th.
There are two Canadian creations out on Nintendo’s DSiWare today. First up is Puffins: Let’s Fish from Other Ocean Interactive. Available for only 500 Nintendo DSi Points, this E-rated title lets gamers dive into the deep blue sea and fill their virtual bellies with delicious fish. Puffins: Let’s Fish is an action game that has you swimming the beautiful ocean in search of a puffin’s favourite meal: the elusive capelin. However, the ocean can be a dangerous place, and you’re not the only one hunting for food. Throughout 18 underwater stages and two game modes, you’ll be avoiding sharks, jellyfish and other fearsome predators who are very interested in making you their next meal.
Today’s other new DSiWare title comes from Digital Leisure. Also available for 500 DSi Points and rated E (with cartoon violence) is Mega Words, where you need to put on your thinking cap and see how many of the hundreds of puzzles you can solve in Mega Words. Three classic puzzlers are included in this puzzle pack: Word Scrambler, Anagram Hunt and Hangman. There’s no need for erasers here! These portable editions feature extensive dictionaries to challenge novices and expert players alike. See how fast you can unscramble words, sharpen your vocabulary and stretch your mind with Mega Words.
Winnipeg-born Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will be the new face of the NHL® 11 videogame from EA Sports™. With last year’s title featuring Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, NHL 11 marks the first time that EA SPORTS has put back to back players from the same team on the cover of the NHL franchise. The 22 year old’s image will be on the front of all packaging when NHL 11 is available in North American retail stores this September for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® with an MSRP of $59.99.
“I am really excited to be on the cover of NHL 11,” said Toews. “It’s been an amazing year for me and the team, and it’s nice to end it by being a part of a game I played growing up. The NHL games have always been great, so it’s an honor for me to be a part of the EA Sports family.”
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary with NHL 11, the EA Sports NHL® franchise has won 22 Sports Game of the Year awards over the past three years and is poised to raise the bar yet again. With a revolutionary real-time physics engine that brings an unprecedented amount of realism to the franchise, gameplay innovations like broken sticks and a revamped face-off system, as well as the addition of the Canadian Hockey League, NHL 11 is set to be the most complete hockey videogame ever created.
After being selected third overall in the 2006-07 entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews has emerged as one of the most skilled centers in the NHL after just two seasons. After helping lead team Canada to a gold medal win during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Toews locked up the Conn Smythe, given to the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs, after playing a crucial role in leading the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. Toews is currently the youngest captain in the NHL, and has registered more than 65 points in each of his first two seasons.
“Jonathan Toews is one of the best centers in the NHL today,” said Jordan Edelstein, Vice-President of Marketing for EA SPORTS. “He is a great ambassador for the sport of hockey and his impact on the sport this year is undeniable. It’s great to have him in the EA SPORTS family.”
The Green Girls, a group of four web-savvy fifth grade students from Meadowvale Village Public School, are receiving top marks-and a visit from Mayor McCallion-for a website they designed as part of the Green Website Challenge, an educational competition created by Bullfrog Power®. Asking students to design a website exploring the topic of renewable energy, Bullfrog hoped to increase awareness of clean energy and conservation among young people through the Challenge. The Girls’ website, “Green energy: It’s our future now,” was selected the top site and will be linked to Bullfrog’s website as well as the City of Mississauga’s and act as a platform for educating Mississauga residents about green energy and electricity generation.
“We are very impressed by the quality of all submissions and the hard work that everyone put in to creating the websites,” said Tom Heintzman, President, Bullfrog Power. “The Green Girls developed a creative and informative site that will help more young people learn about renewable energy and how it can help us create a cleaner, healthier environment for them-and for future generations.”
Bullfrog Power and the City of Mississauga teamed up to launch the Green Website Challenge in December 2009. Over 40 students got involved in the project, submitting more than a dozen entries for consideration. Through the Challenge, students were able to learn about how energy from renewable sources compares to energy from non-renewable sources and use their web skills to help educate other Mississauga residents about conserving energy. The Challenge’s panel of judges included Heintzman and the City of Mississauga’s Manager of Energy Management, Rajan Balchandani, and Manager of the Environmental Group, Brenda Osborne.
“This is a great way to get our youth involved with our community,” said Hazel McCallion, Mayor, City of Mississauga. “Introducing these ideas to our children ensures they become invested in protecting our environment. In Mississauga we have made it a priority to lead and promote the use of technologies that help reduce our carbon footprint and preserve our natural environment.”
In recognition of their winning submission, the Green Girls and their entire class will receive a special visit from Mayor Hazel McCallion. During the visit, McCallion and Heintzman will present the Green Girls with plaques to celebrate their accomplishment. The Green Girls and their class will also receive a complimentary trip to the Ontario Science Centre where they will participate in the Action Earth program, which explores how humans are affecting the environment. All students who participated in the Challenge will receive certificates of achievement for their web design efforts.
Through its Best Buy for Kids program, Best Buy Canada has donated $50,000 to develop a Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Canada national program that is already showing great promise in select communities across the country. The new Teen Mentors Program takes a unique approach by having teens aged 15-17 become mentors for children in elementary school. Teen mentors will act as role models for the children in the program, helping them with their homework while developing a friendship with the younger students. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada’s Teen Mentors Program is a natural fit for Best Buy for Kids, developing life and leadership skills in the teen mentors while helping the elementary school children succeed and reach their full potential.
“This program arrives at a critical time for children in Canada” says Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “It will allow us to provide much needed mentorship to children across the country. Our teen “Bigs” will play a valuable guiding role to their “Littles”, while also developing their own skill set as volunteers.”
Some Big Brothers Big Sisters local agencies have already experienced the positive results of matching teen role models with children, and currently offer a variation of the In-School Teen Mentors Program in schools. With the funding from Best Buy, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada will expand this program across the country, reaching over 600 students.
Holland Bloorview Kids’ Rehabilitation Hospital has put out a call to budding film-makers to enter filmpossible, a unique online video contest which will showcase the possibilities for children living with disabilities. Film-makers have until Aug. 31 to submit their videos.
Using any type of video recorder, including cell phones, Holland Bloorview is challenging film-makers of all ages and abilities to show us their own creative twist on bringing visibility to disability.
“Filmpossible is a unique opportunity for film-makers to dispel myths, perhaps by showcasing achievements or showing changes we can make,” said Christa Haanstra, Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs. “By entering this contest, you can help Holland Bloorview change the way the world views childhood disability.”
Working with a class from the Claude Watson School for the Arts, two Holland Bloorview youth ambassadors, Gabriella Carafa and Crystal Chin, helped kick start the contest by creating videos promoting filmpossible. Gabriella has a neuro-muscular disorder that affects her mobility and she uses a wheelchair.
“When I was younger, I used to fear growing up. I thought my adulthood would be spent struggling to do daily tasks of living and never experiencing things that able-bodied people my age would,” said Gabriella, 21, of Toronto. “Holland Bloorview helped me to see the possibilities for people with disabilities. With this contest, we will be able to reach more people to show them what can be achieved.”
While the contest closes August 31st, entrants can increase their chances of becoming a finalist by entering early and encouraging their friends and family to visit filmpossible.ca and vote for their video. Three of the six finalists will be chosen by online public voting, open throughout the entry period. Another three finalists will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges. Winners will be determined by a final round of online public voting in October.
Films will be reviewed by a jury consisting of an eclectic mix of people who have come together to embrace this important cause, including experts from the film industry, high profile comics, a singer and an acclaimed journalist and author. First prize winner will receive $5,000; second prize is valued at $500; and third prize is valued at $300. Three honourable mention prize winners will each receive a Flip Video Camcorder donated by Cisco.
Competition judges include:
– Trevor Boris, Much Music personality
– Ian Brown, Feature Writer, The Globe and Mail and best-selling author of The Boy in the Moon, about his disabled son, Walker
– Allen Braude, Co-Director, Learning, Toronto International Film Festival, Sprockets programmer
– Justin Hines, singer /songwriter working on his fourth studio albums. He has appeared on radio and in documentaries focusing on both his successes as an artist with Larsen’s Syndrome and being a philanthropist
– Nikki Payne, award-winning comedian and actress, whose lisp and cleft lip give her an affinity with Holland Bloorview’s issues
– Tania B. Reilly, Programming Manager, Canadian Film Centre Worldwide Short Film Festival
– Karen Shopsowitz, award-winning independent filmmaker. Her most recent credit is One Summer at Camp Winston, a documentary about a camp for children with complex neurological disorders
In Canada, one in five Canadian families is raising a child with a significant emotional, behavioural or developmental disability; in Ontario alone, there are almost 230,000 kids with disabilities. However, not everyone has had the opportunity to spend time with children with disabilities. “This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings about how kids with disabilities experience life. That’s why filmpossible challenges people to create videos that bring visibility to disability,” said Haanstra. “Let’s work together to create a world where these children can live as full participants.”