For a lot of us in Canada, the buzz this past week surrounded a sandwich. A triple decker to be exact. But I’m not talking about a Club House here. I’m talking about The Sandwich Generation, otherwise known as Baby Boomers between the ages of 40 and 60 who face the dual challenge of caring for aging parents while at the same time supporting live-at-home adult children. Three layers, with Boomers in the middle – get it?
The Sandwich Generation was the focus of this year’s Credit Education Week Canada (CEWC), and we had a fine time with it from the point of view of financial literacy, which is the CEWC mission. That is to say, CEWC strives to educate as many Canadians as possible about credit, debt and personal money management so we can all find financial peace of mind.
This year’s fifth annual celebration went a long way toward strengthening that mission. Thanks to Capital One and a long list of other corporate and community sponsors, we explored money issues of importance to Boomers and their families through events and activities in Toronto, across Ontario, and throughout Canada.
Quite a brain trust of money experts and media personalities helped in this effort. We also got words of encouragement and support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. With public forums, presentations, workshops, national essay writing contests, and a gala dinner, CEWC once more excelled in bringing important financial issues and insights to the table for discussion, analysis, and illumination. And, yes, we had some fun in the process, too.
We got off to a rousing start with the CEWC launch at Toronto’s central YMCA downtown. Alison Griffiths - award winning co-author of 10 books and the host of W Network’s popular and critically acclaimed financial show Maxed Out – once again graciously served as master of ceremonies for the launch.
Wunderkind Neil Pasricha – whose award winning blog 1000 Awesome Things made him an international celebrity and a best-selling author - offered words of inspiration with his keynote presentation, followed by other notable speakers during the course of CEWC’s Professional Development Day.
Jonathan Chevreau - columnist for The Financial Post and author of the remarkable financial novel Findependence Day - provided all kinds of insight into the financial challenges facing Boomers today. It’s not surprising, given the work he put into Findependence Day. It’s a financial love story aimed at the children of wealthy Boomers: young people just embarking on careers, family formation and investing.
Much more of interest was supplied by speakers that included: Tom Hamza - President, Investor Education Fund; Jane Rooney - Director, Financial Literacy and Consumer Education - Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC); Judith Wahl, Executive Director and Senior Lawyer for The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE); and Bill Woods -Executive Director of Labour Market and Social Development Programs Branch with Service Canada. Lots was learned about the services and products the various agencies provide.
CEWC’s Gala Dinner at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel was a great success. Keynote speaker Debbie Travis regaled attendees with stories about her amazing rise to success as an international television personality, bestselling author, syndicated newspaper columnist, and home collection designer. The woman Oprah Winfrey described as the “master of paint and plaster” has faced many trials and tribulations in her career as a home design specialist, not least of these challenges being what to do with all the money that has flowed her way. She engaged everyone at the gala as she discussed her life with wit and wisdom.
Highlights of the evening included the presentation of cash awards to winners of CEWC’s Grade 12 Essay Writing Contest and Adult Essay Writing Contest, the latter being a new development this year. We were delighted with this year’s response of 1,500 submissions from Grade 12 students. A total of 35 awards - with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 - were presented to students from across Canada (winners are listed at the end of this blog).
Students brought insight and humour to essays that answered the question: “What is the dumbest thing I have ever done with my money and what did I learn from it?” Grand prize student essayist Filip Zekic from Windsor, Ontario, presented his work at the Gala and had the audience in stitches as he described how his blind infatuation with a young woman compelled him to squander a big chunk of his youthful savings.
Meanwhile, this year CEWC introduced an adult essay-writing component focusing on “credit conquest” stories with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Adults from across Canada were challenged to describe how they conquered a formidable financial challenge, and we were encouraged by the response (winners of this competition are also listed at the end of this blog).
All in all, the week CEWC dedicated to The Sandwich Generation turned out to be a grand feast on many levels, including another first – the full-blown development of an event publication entitled CEWC Focus Magazine, whose 40 pages offered in-depth coverage of issues and services of interest to The Sandwich Generation.
Of course, any discussion of the week requires mention of a special survey about The Sandwich Generation commissioned by Credit Canada and Capital One Canada this last September, with interesting findings released as CEWC got underway. Statistics from the survey offer insight into the financial challenges and situations Boomers are facing. I will be discussing those findings in detail in my next blog.
In the meantime, all of us at Credit Canada wish to extend our sincere gratitude to all sponsors and participants for coming on board to reprise the success of CEWC. Here’s looking forward to more of the same next year.
• Grand Prize Winner - Grade 12 CEWC Student Essay by Filip Zekic (we will publish his essay in full in tomorrow's blog)
• CEWC Grade 12 Essay Winners: Alice Gauntley from Toronto Ontario, sponsored by Sun Life Financial for $3,000 Edmund Siu from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by RBC Royal Bank for $2,500 Alex Duffield from Stoney Creek, Ontario, sponsored by TD Bank for $2,500 Paige Addesi from Richmond Hill, Ontario, sponsored by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $2,500 Adam Claybo from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, sponsored by Money Mart for $2,500 Cris DeArmero from Windsor, Ontario, sponsored by RBC Royal Bank for $2,500 Rebecca Peterson from Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by TD Bank for $2,500 Alexa Rochfort from Vancouver, British Columbia, sponsored by Capital One for $2,000 Mathieu Catellier from St. Malo, Manitoba, sponsored by Sun Life Financial for $1,500 Eddie Song from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by Money Mart for $1,500 Caitlyn Conrad from Woodstock, New Brunswick, sponsored by Sun Life Financial for $1,500 Kaitlin Bracko from Calgary, Alberta, sponsored by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $1,500 Kyle Hodder from St. John's Newfoundland, sponsored by Capital One for $1,000 Kristina Caunt from Surrey, British Columbia, sponsored by Money Mart for $1,000 Nulifar Atadjanova from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal for $1,000 Michael Wolk from Mississauga, Ontario, sponsored by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. for $1,000 Vlada Replete from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by Harris & Partners Inc. for $1,000 Sagel Osman from Scarborough, Ontario, sponsored by Canadian Bankers Association for $1,000 Jessica Dejewski from Pickering, Ontario, sponsored by Meyers Norris Penny Inc for $1,000 Minal Patel from Pickering, Ontario, sponsored by The Oakman Group for $1,000 Manuri Srikugan from Milton, Ontario, sponsored by VISA Canada for $1,000 Katy Martin from Oshawa, Ontario, sponsored by Davis + Henderson for $1,000 Zi Wei Li from Richmond, British Columbia, sponsored by Deloitte for $1,000 Anna Longrigg from Oakville, Ontario, sponsored by Trans Union for $1,000 Meghan Mcleod from Tower Road, Nova Scotia, sponsored by Trans Union for $1,000 Susmita Sarkar from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by Citi Bank for $1,000 Japreet Kaler from Brampton, Ontario, sponsored by Financial Planning Standards Council Winston Cheung from Mississauga, Ontario, sponsored by Credit Education Week Canada for $1,000 Nikhile Mookerji from Mississauga, Ontario, sponsored by Credit Education Week Canada for $1,000 Dylan Padkowka from Edmonton, Ontario, sponsored by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $1,000 Timothy Leung from Toronto, Ontario, sponsored by Deloitte for $1,000 Christine Lyons from Ajax, Ontario, sponsored by CAAMP for $1,000 Louise Chow from Scarborough, Ontario, sponsored by CAGT for $1,000 Samantha Lee from Barrie, Ontario, sponsored by Rotary Club Barrie for $1,000
• CEWC Adult Essay Winners: D. K. for $5,000 Dawn Erstelle for $2,000 Esme Gosling for $1,000