Live from the 3.5 2020, #4 — Canada’s Dance with Diversity (A Toronto Does Not a Canada MAKE.)

“Why’s your skin so dark?”

— an eight-year-old boy from small town Ontario at the Canadian National Comic Book Exposition, 2003.

When a little White boy asked me why my skin was so dark at my comic con table, I wasn’t ready for it at all. As a Mississauga kid, I knew diversity. I knew a public aware of all the races, never dreaming of a situation where people wouldn’t know about people who didn’t look like them.

But that also meant that I grew up in a bubble, thinking the Greater Toronto Area a reflection of how things worked across the country instead of seeing it for what it is—one big Canadian anomaly.

Many Torontonians make the same mistake (after all, being steps away from an international airport makes cheap trips to the Caribbean far more alluring than costly domestic travel), but I wanted to show my kids more of the country than I’d ever seen myself. In those journeys, I realised something:

This country is white as hell.

And, Toronto? This might come as a shock to you.

Yes, we have Black people in Canada. No, they’re not LOST.

Embed from Getty Images

For a long time, people were surprised we have Black people in Canada, sure it was a country full of White people living in igloos and travelling by dogsled through a wintry tundra.

And they weren’t entirely wrong.

But before Drake came along and showed the world a different side of what a Canadian looked like, there were always Canadians who’d run online to our country’s defence, telling everyone that they’d be stunned if they knew how diverse our country was. We have representation from every corner of the world. Canada embraces people and weaves them into a cultural mosaic instead of having them assimilate as the United States does.

And their hearts were in the right place—if you look at our urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, this is indeed the case, as vast proportions of our BIPOC population calls urban Canada home. But it doesn’t take much travelling outside of those metropolitan hubs to understand just how homogeneous the rest of our country is.

Calgary 101: It’s More than Just the Stampede!

A Toronto does not a Canada make.

Toronto’s Cool, But What About the REST of Canada?

Ask most Torontonians what Canada means to them, and they’ll give you a perfect view that sounds very… Toronto.

Calgary 101 — The City that's More than Just the Stampede! — Toronto from AboveBusy and abundant with life. Representation from every corner of the world. It’s everything we big city slickers spout when we want to prove why our city is better than yours, but that’s from the same city who rarely explores their country east of Montreal or west of Niagara Falls. Instead, we hop on the nearest flight to the Dominican Republic or Cuba—after all, it’s hotter, cheaper, and it takes a lot less time to plan an all-inclusive vacation. But I’ll say the same thing about our country that I did about camping—it’s a mighty big world out there, and we’re doing ourselves a horrible disservice by not experiencing more of it.

Let me tell you some of what I’ve seen.

Welcome to Canada! Well… at Least SOME of it!

Calgary 101 — The City that's More than Just the Stampede! — Niagara Falls

At 9.985 million square kilometres, Canada’s the second-biggest country in the world, but much of it’s woefully underutilised.

I’ve seen a bit of it so far—plenty of Ontario through cottages and camping; weekend trips throughout western Quebec; and even some time on the West Coast lately.

But this isn’t the Canada I grew up discovering—it’s the 99.93% of the country that isn’t the Toronto area. The travelling I did with my parents was to see family—affording anything else simply wasn’t in the cards. But the travelling bug eventually caught me, and I realised how important it was to see more of my country if I truly wanted to call myself Canadian.

So on this journey to see the Canada everyone else sees so I can better understand it—and taking my kids along for the ride—I’d like to share some thoughts on this country with you from some of the people who live within it.

Our first stop? Calgary, Alberta—Canada’s great cowboy capital of the west!

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation

You only need to travel a few hours outside of the city to remember that very little of Canada is like Toronto.

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation — Driving Around in Smalltown Ontario

For last summer’s annual #PalmersGoWild camping trip, we hit up Port Burwell, Ontario, a small community of just over a thousand people and home to a lighthouse; the Simply Scoops ice cream parlour, and Port Burwell Provincial Park—the place we’d call home for a week in late August. Found just under three hours west of Toronto on the north shores of Lake Erie, it’s the perfect place to go if you want to slow things down a little—the kind of place you can let your kids roam free sans worry.

But I’m starting to understand that it’s not for everyone.

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation — The Boys Hanging Out in the Tent

Whenever anyone hears we’re going camping, we generally get one of two responses—nostalgic memories from the people who’ve done it, or good luck wishes from the ones who haven’t. And others fall somewhere in the middle, whether scarred from a bad experience or had a nice time, but too intimidated to go out and try it again on their own.

But let me tell you this as someone who didn’t take a shining to camping at first—if you’re unwilling to get out of your comfort zone and take the world as it comes, you’re missing out on so much of what it has to offer.

Chatting with Casey 0015 — I’m Where I Need to be Right Now

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, holiday traffic, and a whole gaggle of germs with cold and flu season upon us… just in time for the holidays.

Chatting with Casey 0015 — I'm Where I Need to be Right Now — Christmas — Must Buy All The Things

With our youngest hit by a pretty nasty cough over the weekend, productivity ground to a halt. You can easily take for granted how much you’re doing until something more important comes along and forces you to reprioritise. I learned over time to feel the pressure a little less and accept that my family doesn’t need me to be the best creator in the game—they need me to be present.

And so as I lay down in the bottom bunk of my sons’ bed with a kid who woke up for maybe the twelfth time that night, I put all thoughts of podcasting aside and took care of home as Dave Hollister aptly put it back in 2000.

But now that he’s up and running again, so am I, and it’s time to continue our storytelling journey with Chatting with Casey, Episode 15—I’m Where I Need to be Right Now.

Insurance Done Right — How to Protect the People You Care About WITHOUT Selling the Farm!

Change the Way you Insure with Esurance Insurance! — Winter in TorontoIt finally happened, Toronto. We thought we could dodge it and the good times would last forever. People strolled around in the middle of December with their coats wide open, not caring that the calendar marked toboggan season. I saw people still mowing their lawns in late November—a time of the year where everyone’s usually salting their walkways so they don’t slip and break their necks. No—snow’s hit Toronto, and it’s here with a vengeance.

But it could be worse—at least we have some idea of what to do when the world freezes over. Bundle up. Get winter tires on your car. Stock up on groceries just in case the weather gets bad. We do all we can to make it through winter, but is anyone making winter easier for you?

Let’s be real—winter takes its toll. Salt and snow do a number on your car, you need extra nutrition so you don’t catch cold… there are extra costs we need to pay to make it through this season, and it’s not like anyone’s paying us more to help out.

Good thing there are ways for us to pay less.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Esurance, an online insurance provider that can protect your interests and save you money!

Why My Next Phone HAD to be a Pixel 2 XL — a Casey Palmer x TELUS Joint

Zach Bussey put it well; to paraphrase: “if you’re going to be a serious influencer, you should be using serious tools.” As someone whose phone’s fused to his hands, it’d better be a good one!

Why My Next Phone HAD to be a Pixel 2 XL — a Casey Palmer x TELUS Joint — What's in the Box

I haven’t rocked a flagship model since my Lenovo Moto Z a little while back, and man do you notice a difference! The phones I’ve had since were okay, but there was always something not quite right when I used them. The camera wasn’t sharp enough. They lagged a little when I gamed. Enough of these imperfections and I knew—my next phone needed to be as close to perfect as possible… and that’s when I spied the Google Pixel 2 XL!

A DAD ABROAD — It’s a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out Ford Canada’s SUVs in Muskoka!)

If I learned anything from a recent trip to the Muskokas, it’s that Ford is great at making SUVs!

It's a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out the Ford Canada SUV Line in Muskoka!) — The Ford Escape
The 2017 Ford Edge in full effect!

Sure, the Sport/Suburban Utility Vehicle might not be everyone’s first choice when shopping for a new ride, but if they’re not, they are missing out! SUVs are growing in popularity worldwide as drivers seek more flexibility and utility from their vehicles, no longer content with options that do the bare minimum. We don’t just want to get from A to B anymore—we’re doing it with our groceries. Our furniture. Our ski gear. And our babies. We need vehicles that grow with us—not ones left behind as our circumstances change.

And perhaps that’s why SUVs stand as the top-selling vehicle segment in Canada and the US—heck; Ford sold 1.7 million of them in 2016 alone! As the #1 SUV brand for seven years running (with an eighth hot on their heels), I’d say Ford knows what it’s doing—which is why they’re introducing five new SUVs by 2020, including the Ford EcoScport compact utility and the all-new Ford Expedition! With Ford’s global SUV sales growing a staggering 80% these past five years, ain’t no stoppin’ ’em now!

It's a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out the Ford Canada SUV Line in Muskoka!) — Casey Palmer Chillin' in a Muskoka ChairBut that’s only part of the story—I could go blue in the face telling you about the thousands of features that go into making Ford’s SUVs top-notch, but you don’t want stuff you could lift from a spec sheet… you want to see how they work in the real world.

And that’s exactly what Ford Canada challenged us to discover this past summer!

What it Means to be a Champion — My Experience at the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Under 13 Fútbol Tournament

When most Torontonians think of Mexico, they dream up sandy beaches. Swim-up bars. Just about every stereotype possible! It’s a Mexico that’s Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Mayan Riviera, coastline paradises supplying your every want and need. But what they don’t see is the rest of the country, where 99% of its people live lives more concerned with putting food on the table than they are that your cocktail’s lacking in tequila. That, my friends, is the real Mexico—and it’s in this Mexico that nearly 300 fútbol players competed to see who’d come out on top not only in their countries but all of Central and North America, as well as the Caribbean, too!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you—the third annual Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Under-13 fútbol tournament (SCCLU13). Please fasten your seatbelts!

Toluca, Mexico — Because There IS Life Outside of Mexico City!

What it Means to be a Champion — My Experience at the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Under 13 Fútbol Tournament — The FEMEXFUT Fields

An hour west of the very populous Mexico City (with an estimated 30 million people living in the area) lies the industrial city Toluca, which I don’t imagine many of you would visit unless you had a reason to be there. A town of 800,000 found 2600 metres above sea level, Toluca’s prone to altitudinal challenges, fluctuating temperatures, and a strong curiosity about tourists (locals asked to take photos with me five times in the four days I was there!)

While I didn’t have the time to catch the city’s sights, I soaked the city in as we drove through it, immediately noting the differences between the “normal” there from the one I knew back home in Toronto! Like the food and drink offered to you instead of squeegees at red lights. Or starting dinner at a time where many Canadians are heading to bed. With a vibe and identity all of its own, Toluca made for an interesting proving ground for young men from ten different countries. One providing a unique opportunity—to become part of the youngest age group ever to compete in an official CONCACAF event!

Let me tell you more about it ?

Getting Your Grown Self On with Sheets from Merchant Sons!

Part of being a grown-up is investing in things that help you lead a better life. Better food that keeps you healthy. Better clothes lasting more than a few washes. But it also means investing in things we often don’t think about. Getting better appliances to save you time and effort. Better tools to do the job right when you need to. Or in one of the most neglected areas of our lives, better sheets so we can have ourselves the sleep we deserve.

And with that, I welcome you to Merchant Sons!

Getting Your Grown Self On with Sheets from Merchant Sons! — 273 Richmond St West Storefront

Launched earlier this year aiming to design products for your home that look great and work better, Merchant Sons has an entire line of housewares that’ll help you upgrade your idea of what you call “home.”

Offering cushions, candles, towels and more, I recently got my hands on Merchant Sons’ Sheet Set, a 300 thread count Tencel-Egyptian cotton blend specially crafted to keep you comfy no matter how you sleep!

Let me tell you what makes them so great!

A DAD ABROAD — Make Vacay Matter More with Stays at Sherkston Shores!

As a family influencer, the issue I have with a number of my pitches is that they require time away from my family! It sounds nice in theory to explore different cities and celebrate in festivals across the globe, but taking care of two boys under four as a solo parent ain’t easy, and it’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on any parent—least of all my wife!

So it was great when Port Colborne’s Sherkston Shores invited the entire family for a weekend stay at their Lake Erie resort, letting our boys experience something different from what they’re used to in downtown Toronto!

Sherkston Shores Day 1 — A Time to Learn

Make Vacay Matter More with Stays at Sherkston Shores! — The Sherkston Shores Sign

While the commute to Sherkston wasn’t the greatest (rookie mistake leaving Toronto at 4 PM on a Friday), the accommodations were impressive! The three-bedroom Premium Rental Cottage proved plenty for a young family of four! It had a living room flush with furniture and a cable TV with far more channels than we had to offer at home; a spacious deck where the boys could run around once they felt too penned up; and of course, high-speed Wi-Fi for someone like me who never wants to be too far from the interwebs! It didn’t hurt that the team at Sherkston put a nice care package together of fruit, snacks, and local wine to welcome us to our vacation!