Blogs list

Stephanie Wilson - Hire Immigrants Ottawa

Connecting the dots to give employers a global competitive edge - Sponsored Article   Immigration is critical to increasing Canada’s productivity and mitigating skills shortages. In today’s global economy, employers are continually being challenged to find new and innovative ways to access the best and brightest talent in order to remain competitive.   Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) research estimates that an additional 106,000 core ICT positions will need to be filled in Canada by 2016. Organizations will need to invest in effective HR tools, practices and resources to recruit and integrate the right talent to grow their businesses. Diversity and inclusion have been proven keys to organizational expansion and success. Organizations like Fortinet understand: “Fortinet welcomes diversity in the workplace.  We recognize that each employee brings unique abilities and experiences which greatly enriches our organization.” – HR, Fortinet   As mentioned recently by ICTC President and CEO Namir Anani , “… the ‘Internet of things’ is shaping up bigger and better with increasingly connected, smarter, mobile devices that are making their way into our everyday lives. The widespread development and use of apps (‘The appification of everything’) combined with cloud computing are paving the way for smarter and increasingly more convenient services in mobile banking, e-health, media & entertainment, and many others.”   To mitigate the skills shortage, the Canadian economy must utilize all talent sources including its highly skilled internationally educated professionals and provide them with opportunities to contribute in their fields.  If you are looking to be an employer of choice here are a few questions that can help you to assess…

Photo : Stephanie Wilson March 18, 2013

R. Samuels - AgoraPublishing.com

Ottawa: Will new Casinos be constructed? - Big players in the gambling industry, including MGM and The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp have been trying their best to get approval for new casinos in Ottawa with Jim Watson the mayor of Ottawa backing the idea of constructing new casinos in the nation's capital. In Mr. Watson's calculations, the city would benefit greatly from the revenue that will be generated from more land casinos.  His office has speculated that many jobs would be generated if these casinos are constructed, and these estimates have been affirmed by at least one big player in the casino industry.  Casino giants like MGM estimate that such casinos can provide jobs to thousands of people within a few years. Recently, MGM organized a job information session in the city of Toronto, on 16 March 2013. The U.S.-based company urged local residents to support their efforts and MGM asked Torontonians to encourage their city councillors, to vote in support of getting their project approved. MGM is pitching a massive casino complex with a 1,200 room hotel and shopping mall in Canada. It says its proposed development will create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, if the project is approved. However, the company did specify that the jobs will not be created overnight, and the process will certainly take a few years. In these hard economic times which involve federal budget cutbacks, the city of Ottawa would surely benefit from the addition of new jobs, and Jim Watson has sought to gamble on casino job creation as a likely…

Photo : R. Samuels March 28, 2013

Mike Runia - Deloitte

Getting the right advice for your business - I was pleased when our marketing group recently approached me about an opportunity to write an “Expert Blog” for the OBJ as part of a series of Deloitte profiles.  The big question was “What should I write about?”. I’ve been the Managing Partner of the Deloitte Ottawa office for close to a year now.  During this time we have experienced many significant events that have had a tremendous impact on our both our clients and our people.  We have experienced significant highs as Canadians united to celebrate the 2010 Winter Olympics, watched our clients tread very carefully through the global recession and political uncertainty and have had to deal with continuous change in business rules, regulations, and tax laws – including HST, IFRS, Private Company GAAP and the continued discussions regarding a National Securities Regulator.However, the more I think about how much is changing, the more I realize that there is one thing that always stays the same—the importance of a strong relationship in providing quality business and financial advice. In an industry that’s often grounded in complexity, it’s an insight that’s refreshingly simple: the better I know you, the better I’ll be able to take your goals, challenges and growth opportunities into account when advising you. In fact, giving sound business advice hinges on understanding key business and personal goals. How much time is an owner willing to devote to their company? Where do they want to be in five years? Where is the industry trending? And since everyone is in a different situation,…

Photo : Mike Runia February 27, 2013

Matthew Dufresne - IDS Systems

Five Rules of Automating a virtual data center - So we're all tired about talking about cloud. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where we’re tired about talking about how people are getting tired about talking about cloud! The reality is that for the most part, organizations have already passed the point of no return, and are now looking for real ways to realize the benefits that the virtualization paradigm delivers. As it turns out, some of the most immediate benefits in the virtual datacenter are achieved through automation. According to Wikipedia, Automation is the use of machines, control systems and information technologies to optimize productivity in the production of goods and delivery of services. The correct incentive for applying automation is to increase productivity, and/or quality beyond that possible with current human labor levels so as to realize economies of scale, and/or realize predictable quality levels. I really like the second part of this definition, because it reminds me that most of us are interested in technology and are truly amazed at the possibilities it presents - so much so that we often forget the most practical incentive of applying automation: because it saves organizations time and money.  More importantly, it can make my life as an IT administrator much easier by automating repetitive tasks and ensuring that complex tasks are performed consistently. As a result, potential problems are reduced and I am able to extend this functionality to much less sophisticated users while still maintaining control. Of course automation is not new. Those of us experienced with test automation have been through some of…

Photo : Matthew Dufresne February 11, 2013

Clarence Lochhead - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Clarence Lochhead

Leveraging Immigrant Talent for Business Development - Sponsored ArticleSo I recently purchased an environmentally friendly humidifier for my home – called the Rumidifier – you may have heard of it. It’s a great innovation, requires no energy to run, and it works really well. What’s that got to do with immigration and business development you say? Well, it turns out that the Rumidifier was developed by a local immigrant entrepreneur. It’s a terrific success story, and one that illustrates how the skills and talents of newcomers can lead to exciting new Ottawa based business ventures, creating jobs and growing the region’s economic base. To be sure, business development objectives are at the forefront of local efforts to ensure continued prosperity in the Nation’s Capital. Invest Ottawa for example, is leading the way with innovative programs and resources that promote and support entrepreneurialism, investment and business growth in the capital region. With downsizing and adjustments in the federal public service, this focus is both timely and welcomed.Along with this focus on growth and diversification, there is a widely held view in Ottawa that immigrants will play an important, perhaps even critical role in the future success of the city. The Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP) for instance, tells us that “successful attraction, settlement, and integration of immigrants is essential for Ottawa’s future prosperity and vitality.”  So is there a relationship between immigration and the broad objectives of economic growth and diversification? Can immigrant talent be leveraged to advance and optimize Ottawa’s business development objectives? I’d like to suggest a few of the ways in…

Photo : Clarence Lochhead February 17, 2014

Mélanie Drouin - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Melanie Drouin

Communications tips to reach ALL of your audience - Sponsored ArticleDid you know that almost one-quarter of Ottawa’s population is born outside of Canada? The growing diversity of our city presents an opportunity for organizations to leverage the skills of its diverse workforce to boost productivity and insights into the demands of a changing local market. Being a clear communicator in order to reach ALL of you audiences – employees, clients and stakeholders is essential.DiversityWhen I began my work in communications, diversity was for me, not much more than a concept to keep in mind when producing brochures that were representative of Canada’s population. However, since volunteering as a career mentor with newcomers, I now understand diversity as an important consideration that guides much of my communications work. To the PointOne of the biggest challenges to communications today is clear language. Have you ever heard of anyone being criticized for being too clear?  More than 200 languages were reported as spoken at home or as mother tongue in Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey. In fact, 20.6% of Canadians or 6.8 million people reported a mother tongue other than English or French. This considerable language diversity should signal to your organization the importance of using clear and concise language to cater to your stakeholders, clients, and customers.   What is in a word?Through my volunteer mentor experience, I learned that it is especially hard to get noticed as a potential employee when you do not speak the lingo (specific language) for a specialized field. For example, communicators or public affairs professionals are often called “spin…

Photo : Mélanie Drouin October 15, 2013

Susan Brigitte Blain - Ottawa Business Events

How to WIN with Sponsorship Marketing - Well, this is my very first blog and I feel the need to confess, I’m not much of a writer. I write like I speak, so hopefully I will keep your attention despite my lack of abilities. Working in an environment surrounded by skilled writers, one can feel at times somewhat intimidated. But lucky for me I have a few skills of my own.  Mine are in the areas of marketing, business development, negotiating, and sales. Not sales in the traditional sense but more in a non-traditional way; being 100% customer centric, helping them, if I can, to build their business. Now that sounds good to say (or in this case, write) but genuineness is the key.  I have a curious nature so I am naturally wired to be inquisitive. I’m curious about people, how they tick, who they really are, and how I might have a positive impact, how I may be of service.  It may sound corny or cliché but it is my truth. So why am I writing a blog and why should you read it? For almost a decade I have been fortunate enough be associated with and working for a great local company, Ottawa Business Journal.  I’ve had four different roles, through three different ownerships, and learned a little along the way about OBJ’s value proposition and the audience we serve. OBJ’s audience is comprised of managers, owners, professionals and executives in the small to medium-size enterprise space. We affectionately use the acronym MOPEs. My role for the past seven…

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Photo : Susan Brigitte Blain January 14, 2013

Kyle Toppazzini - MCO Business Group Inc.

Incorporating Critical Thinking into Lean Six Sigma - The three value concepts of my new lean Six Sigma model are based on the Chinese terms shin, gunaxi, and zhi. The third term, zhi, means to know or understand. Confucius believed that for most people, learning was ongoing. One of the philosophies of Confucianism is that everything a person learns is subject to evaluation and reflection, and it is through this iteration process that people move toward righteousness.Thus Confucius believed that only a “small man” would try to think without learning, or not reflect on what he has learned.Critical reflection and thinkingIn my model, the idea that learning is continuous and subject to evaluation isn’t significantly different from other quality management frameworks; however, the concept of reflection is significant. In particular, I focus on a concept referred to as “critical reflection,” which goes further than the normal definition of reflection. It includes the following four activities, as defined by Don Clark:1. Assumption analysis. The idea is to think in a way that challenges our own beliefs, values, and social norms.2. Contextual analysis. This is a realization that our assumptions are formed based on our personal beliefs and values.3. Imaginative speculation. This is conducted by imagining alternative ways of thinking that challenge our beliefs and values.4. Reflective skepticism. This is the ability to think about a subject in such a way that the evidence is temporarily rejected in order to prove its validity.In any training or formal education, it is rare that reflection is taught in a way that instills deeper critical thinking. In the…

Photo : Kyle Toppazzini January 07, 2013

Jeysa Martinez - Brazeau Seller LLP - Jeysa Martinez

Environmental liability - Beware! - Sponsored Article Innocent and blameless property owners may be exposed to significant environmental liability risk.When assessing environmental liability one might think that, if a land owner did not create nor contribute to an environmental spill or contamination, fault and fairness would be taken into consideration before a cleanup order is issued against an otherwise innocent party. In May of 2012, in the case of The Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Divisional Court concluded that an innocent party can be held liable for the pollution on their  property, even though that pollution was caused by someone else.  In this case, the Court upheld the decision made by the Environmental Review Tribunal in 2009.   The Court focused on the purpose of the Environmental Protection Act and, although the Court did not go so far as to exclude the fairness factors from being considered (as they were in the Appletex case, a previous decision which set out the “fairness factors”), the Court did confirm that the Ministry of the Environment’s Compliance Policy allows the Ministry to exercise their authority and issue cleanup orders against innocent owners.  The Divisional Court further noted that the Environmental Protection Act specifically contemplates that innocent owners can be held responsible for environmental cleanup costs regardless of fault and, accordingly, the Director is not required to consider the fairness factors before issuing a cleanup order to one or more parties.   We have stepped away from the days where the size of the deal dictated…

Photo : Jeysa Martinez September 23, 2013

Brian Munroe - IDS Systems

How troubled are your projects? - How do well do projects run in your organization?  Are they just trotting along happily or are there a number that are “troubled”? And, if they are indeed troubled, just how much are they actually costing your organization? There are many statistics available. PM Solutions Inc. conducted a survey in 2011, and in a list of projects valued at over $200 million, those claimed to be at risk of failing were valued at over $74 million.  Undisclosed were the projects that were in the process of being salvaged and those that were being pushed through, regardless of time and budget constraints.Failed projects do greater damage than costing a lot of money without achieving the desired results – they leave a huge negative impact on the project team which, in turn, spills over into the customer environment and the internal organization.  Staff morale takes a hit and team performance suffers.  Troubled projects also have negative financial implications due to extended costs, overtime, stress leave, loss of good will and reputation and even employee turnover.  Often, these costs go unseen initially, and then erupt when not expected – weeks, months or years later.So now what?  How do you deal with troubled projects? It is critical to identify a project that is in trouble before it hopelessly spirals out of control, destined to total failure. Through the projects that I’ve managed, assessed and reviewed, I have compiled a number of lessons learned.  In fact, I have a “Top Ten” list of symptoms of projects that are spiralling out…

Photo : Brian Munroe November 12, 2012

Heidi Hauver - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Heidi Hauver

It’s Talent, Not Canadian Work Experience, That Counts - Talent is talent, period. Pythian is one of the largest and most respected remote database and consulting service companies in the world, and we got there because of our focus on talent.We recognize that our greatest resource is our people. And we know that the talent they bring to the table is what has helped us grow —and built our reputation as a provider of quality products and service.While almost any company can state that their strength is the human resource factor, at Pythian, these aren’t just words. We live by them, and act on them, every day. Every human resource decision is predicated on actively seeking the best talent, nurturing that talent and keeping that talent, no matter where it was acquired.What does this mean, really? First of all, it means looking actively beyond traditional talent sources to find the people with the skills we need to grow our business. Many of the best minds at Pythian were not trained in Canada, and we have found that their presence with us helps to attract even more global talent and expertise. Second, it means analyzing what a prospective employee — even those who we haven’t pursued — can bring to our company in terms of their knowledge and skills. We don’t care whether this knowledge and those skills were obtained in Nigeria, or Russia, or Spain, or New Zealand. Knowledge is knowledge and skills are skills.Third, it means treating every résumé with unbiased introspection. Every résumé that crosses the desk of a human resource staff…

Photo : Heidi Hauver November 05, 2012

Danielle Silverman - MCO Business Group Inc.

Taking charge of our Careers - As a Baby Boomer and a Career Coach I am right in the thick of all things regarding work and careers in the 21st Century.  It is now certain Baby Boomers will stay in the workplace beyond the customary retirement age 62, partly because of their own financial need, but also because they enjoy it, or simply because there is no replacement.   With that sector of the population being the largest, there are fewer and fewer people to take over the mantle of work.  The younger population, those between the ages of 24 and 35 are also a large cohort but they are less inclined to stay in jobs for any length of time.So what does the world of work look like in the near and perhaps also distant future?  Well, companies are and will continue to downsize….or “right size.”  The same work will still need to get done however and that means companies will have to hire temporary help or contract workers to get the job done.  Studies indicate that only 50% of companies’ workers will be full-time employees.  The rest will be temporary and contract workers.The implication for companies is that they will have to pro-actively figure out where to put their energies for full-time work.  What part of the company can be outsourced and what part needs to stay central to the operation?   Since Baby Boomers are staying in the workforce longer, simple attrition will not be enough to balance the equation.Organizations will have to address the issue of career management, also…

Photo : Danielle Silverman October 24, 2012

Kerri Pereira - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Kerri Pereira

Performance Management in a Diverse Workplace - We are living in difficult economic times. Government and private sector alike are looking to get lean, find efficiencies, think outside the box and be strategic. In times like these, every person in an organization is expected to contribute and in many cases this contribution is recognized through Performance Management. Performance Management is no longer a punishment for under achievers but rather a system for championing all employees’ performance.One succinct definition of Performance Management comes from Susan M. Heathfield (About.com Guide). Performance Management is the process of creating a work environment in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. She explains that effective Performance Management requires managers to be in continual discussion with the employee to set standards, establish expected outcomes and provide orientation, coaching and feedback. The key to these activities is the communication between the employer and the employee.As one out of every ten skilled workers in the local labour market is an Internationally Educated Professional (IEP), it is important to recognize the influence of cultural factors  on performance management in order to maximize engagement and productivity within your organization.  In implementing any performance management system, managers face communication challenges.  In a diverse workplace, these challenges can be especially complex.  A local organization offering support in this area is Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO).  HIO dedicates an entire training module to communication and, most recently, they created a module to specifically address Performance Management in the Diverse Workplace. What follows is a brief overview of some of these challenges…

Photo : Kerri Pereira May 14, 2013

Lisa Deacon - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Lisa Deacon

Diving into the Global Talent Pool - Ottawa’s got talentOttawa businesses operate in one of Canada’s most highly-educated and creative cities, according to the Canadian Creativity Index of the Martin Prosperity Institute.  In this post, I challenge you to consider the extent to which you are maximizing the opportunity to hire from one of Ottawa’s high-potential talent groups–skilled immigrants.      In order to be competitive and innovative in this period of economic uncertainty, your organization will no doubt strive to attract and retain the best workers.  However, the best candidates may not be found through your traditional sourcing methods.  Did you know that immigrants account for the net growth of the city’s labour force?  As the fall hiring season gears up, I invite you to discover, and benefit from this incredible opportunity.  Who are Ottawa’s skilled immigrants?- An average of 3,200 immigrants join Ottawa’s labour force every year;- These newcomers come from many countries around the globe and represent a rich and diverse set of cultures, skills and professional experiences;  - Between 2006 and 2010 over 11,000 immigrants came to Ottawa with a university degree; 37 % had completed graduate-level degrees.        In addition to bringing highly sought skills to your workplace, leveraging the skilled-immigrant talent pool could help your organization tackle additional strategic objectives such as:- Better understanding and responding to the increasingly diverse local customer base;- Expanding into niche local markets and creating opportunities to build connections  in new global markets; - Enhancing productivity, creativity, employee relations, and decision-making through diverse approaches and perspectives.How to get started?You may be wondering: Where do…

Photo : Lisa Deacon September 06, 2012

Nancy Mark - Hire Immigrants Ottawa - Nancy Mark

Do we need to take down the tree? - Sponsored ArticleAs holiday season approaches, we are all looking at how to celebrate and create inclusiveness in our workplace…especially in work environments with diverse staff. Since celebrating together is a hallmark of an inclusive workplace, we want to be certain that everyone feels included in the festivities.  But does this mean we should eliminate, for example, certain festive aspects of the Christmas holidays?  Does inclusion mean that organizations should take down the tree?  Certainly, eliminating such things as Christmas trees does not encourage inclusiveness… in fact it is a deterrent for those workplaces where the tree is a cherished tradition.Actually, the concept of inclusion is fundamental to celebrating the holidays.  As a cross-cultural trainer, I cannot think of any New Canadians that object to traditional decorations, traditions and festive events if, and this is the important part, their own holidays are acknowledged in some way as they occur throughout the year.  This can present a delightful challenge for workplaces and is an important way to ensure that those entering our culture are acknowledged.  Creating the inclusive workplace during holidays and at all times is a matter of addition, not subtraction.  Celebrating different cultural festivities doesn’t require large events or activities. But acknowledging other traditions, celebrations in some way – and authentically- goes a long way to creating inclusiveness.  When I feel included, I am happier to participate in events which are new or foreign to me.  We have at this writing just celebrated several Islamic and Hindu festivities.  A discussion with your staff can help…

Photo : Nancy Mark November 25, 2013

Mike Haley - Intersol Group Ltd.

Can Technology Help Build a Performance Culture? - In previous Intersol blogs, we talked about thinking strategically, change management, corporate culture, collaboration and building strong teams. Today we look at a practical means to pull much of this together by using technology to engage all levels of the organization in a “performance discussion”.   Winston Churchill is often cited with his quotation “No matter how beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Few organizations however have truly embedded performance thinking into everyday decision making. In many businesses, performance monitoring and reporting is still often considered a “necessary evil” to meet either corporate or governmental compliance reporting requirements. Part of the frustration all managers have is that responding to performance based requests are generally time consuming, tedious, and error-prone.   Where Does Performance Technology Fit? Advances in Business Intelligence (BI) technologies offer the promise of readily accessible information around the planning, monitoring and reporting processes that are essential to any organization’s ability to achieve long term success. The conundrum however is how to generate and sustain the necessary organizational engagement to undertake the development efforts towards building a well aligned performance solution? Technology provides the vital link for both designing and deploying quality performance content. Figure 1 (see this link) illustrates how performance technologies like collaborative planning, dashboards and scorecarding are key components in both a Performance Content Design and Development Cycle and a Performance Awareness and Decision Cycle. Utilizing technology not only helps clarify and standardize the requisite supporting performance content and data, but enables employees at all levels to…

Photo : Mike Haley July 16, 2012

Brin Sharp - Intersol Group Ltd.

Trust - A force multiplier - Last week, my colleague, Frank Van Gool, talked about dysfunctional teams, and I want to build on that in this week’s blog.What makes a great team?To some people, the word “team” conjures up a vision of everyone agreeing with each other . . . and getting along . . . and having group hugs!  I think they’ve may have missed the point.From my experience, one of the key ingredients of a great team is diversity.  Great teams need introverts and extroverts.  They need deep thinkers and broad thinkers, and practical people and academics.  And these folk don’t always get on that well.So the challenge with teams is, “How do you make diversity the plus in the equation and not the minus?”It just so happens that when you do this well, people do tend to get along - and they may even have the occasional “group hug” - but that isn’t the point.  The point is that we need to work in teams more and more these days for very good business reasons.  Because today’s problems are often too complex to solve by going it alone and good teamwork impacts the bottom line.So how do you get synergy out of diversity?  Well, I think there are two things that can help.  One is trust and the other is open mindedness.  I’m going to focus this blog on trust.  I’ll come back to open mindedness in my next blog.TRUST - not trust that you’re not going to steal my wallet (although that’s important), but trust that you…

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Photo : Brin Sharp July 05, 2012

Melanie Poulin-Delisle - Intersol Group Ltd.

Online Engagement and Participation: Going Digital - The global explosion of information technology and online activity is increasingly transforming our patterns of human interactions. A growing number of people are adopting new media habits and engaging in a new form of many-to-many dialogue in a way never before seen. The availability of robust online engagement tools now provide a means of sharing information, fostering rich discussions, soliciting feedback and obtaining input into organizational decision-making - all online. So why consider moving online? Online engagement forums can be genuinely deliberative spaces for inclusive, transparent and civil discussion. These spaces can allow for participants to voice opinions, exchange ideas, and arrive at conclusions and decisions through reflective deliberation, at a much lower cost per input than traditional methods. Online spaces also offer the potential for greater reach and higher levels of engagement. Participants enjoy a high degree of flexibility to connect “anytime, anyplace”, and can connect with a broader range of perspectives and ideas than they would through traditional face-to-face interaction. Online forums can also reduce the potential for discrimination by eliminating social status cues from the discussion environment. In addition, they can take groups beyond discussion and reflection, and move them to collective action and more active forms of participation. In some cases, the online phenomenon will completely replace face-to-face interaction, and in other cases it will serve to complement it. Key Considerations: There are a few key considerations that one should keep in mind when moving to the use of online engagement tools: Engagement: First and foremost, people are busy and getting…

Photo : Melanie Poulin-Delisle July 03, 2012

Frank Van Gool - Intersol Group Ltd.

Is my team (dys)functional? - Last week’s expert blog focused on investing in corporate culture.  That’s a big corporate kind of question.  This week, let’s look at your own team?  Is it getting the job done or is it more like today’s “Modern Family” and just a little bit dysfunctional? I wonder.  I’ve worked with many leaders and their teams over the past 20 years and learned some real “truisms” and alt-“truisms” about what makes a team functional or dys (not) functional.  It almost doesn’t even matter what kind of team it is.  I’ve worked with dysfunctional Boards of Directors, CEOs and their VPs and front-line customer service providers.  There are some great ones and some awfully bad ones.   Basically, a team is a group of people that share a level of interdependence with each other in order to be both individually and collectively successful.  It’s easy to find the lists and articles about what makes a great team, but do you see any of the following signs of dysfunction in your team?   1.    What’s the Purpose of this Meeting Anyway? Do we hold meetings with the purpose of improving communications across the team?  It starts with one person describing what he is working on and then goes around the table.  The manager thinks this is great stuff.  Everyone else is either thinking about what they are going to say or is day dreaming if their turn has passed.  Team processes need to be productive with formal and defined processes for planning, decision making and problem solving.  …

Photo : Frank Van Gool June 20, 2012
Photo : Terry Gillis June 15, 2012