A Money Coach in Canada

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Every quarter, my Bank (and employer) cuts a cheque to Amnesty International, thanks to members who use an Amnesty Visa Card. Every time they use it, the bank sets aside 10¢ which pools into a three or four grand every quarter (inexact estimates). That’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about Citizens Bank of Canada.

My path is crossing Amnesty again today: It’s a day many bloggers have set aside, in partnership with Amnesty, to draw attention to human rights.

Readers will know that I am increasingly politicized. From time to time I write and rant boldly about topics like: City Hall taking a thoughtful approach to my inner-city neighbourhood, or my disillusionment about the Olympics in Vancouver or my reminder of basic human rights that Canada signed off on, but falls sadly short in keeping.

Having spent a number of years working directly with people and their money, either in my money coach capacity or at the bank I can’t help but notice how oblivious we can be (me too, trust me) about broader, and imho much more weighty issues around the world. We stress out and lose sleep over money but we don’t lose sleep over things like honour killings of young women, or China’s arrest of journalist Hu Jia who was simply calling attention to human rights.

I don’t blame us: our own context of life presses in on us and sometimes our worries about money are very real. But if we care about the fact that some of us can blog freely without fear, and if we take some comfort in the fact that while our money may cause us the occasional troubled sleep, we’re none of us wondering if the police are going to pound on the door and take us away in the middle of the night … maybe its time we do a few bare minimums:

1. Increase our alertness to global issues. If there’s an opportunity to read about or listen to or discuss global concerns, take it. One inspiring place is Ted.com – see both the issues and also creative, intelligent responses.

2. Take 10 minutes to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

3. Make a promise to yourself that next time you see an Amnesty volunteer on the streets, you’ll give them 5 minutes of your time and listen, really listen.

…and if you want a visa card that gives all the points as you’ll get anywhere else AND the bank will donate 10¢ to your choice of Amnesty or Oxfam every time you swipe it, you know where to go 🙂

Readers:  do you agree?  we are disproportionately concerned about our financial well being compared to the acute violations of human rights  around the world?  Why is that?

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. MyJoy


    Since you mentioned honour killings and the UNDHR in the same post, I need to point out a fact that few people are aware of:

    There are two Human Rights Charters in the world.

    League of Arab States, Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, entered into force March 15, 2008.

    The law that is constantly referred to in the document above is based on Shariah within Islam, therefore it is not the secular common law which governs Human Rights in Canada and the rest of the world.

    The UDHR in Article 18 allows people the *freedom* of religion, “includ[ing] freedom to change [their] religion”. The Arab Charter on Human Rights ignores this human right [does not even mention it] because under Shariah, changing one’s religion is punishable by death http://tinyurl.com/5622gh

    If the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is universal, why did these Arab nations have to develop a *separate* document? The answer is very revealing. I have the links if you want to read them.

    An interesting news item about UN High Commissioner for Human Rights endorsement and retraction of that endorsement:

    UN rights chief clarifies stance on Arab charter

    I know if it doesn’t answer your question directly, but it does provide context as to why there is no simple solution.



    May 15, 2008
  2. MyJoy – by all means, please do provide the links!
    I will read it more in depth later, but immediately I was struck by the masculine language used. Was that just the translation, or is it indeed “fraternity” “his rights” etc.?


    May 15, 2008
  3. Jennifer

    Hi Nancy.

    Thanks for the great post. Over the past few years I tried to let go of worry and focus putting time and money towards important things. I consider it to be a way of aligning my values with my most valuable resources. Although I earn less money than I did when I was in a “job” I am happier, more content and contributing more in my community. In some ways they feel like small steps yet I wonder what we could accomplish together if we all became more connected to things we believe in. Keep up the great work.



    May 16, 2008
  4. oh shoot, i missed that. (we need a calendar somewhere with all the blogging events …)

    yes, it’s interesting. we have financial advisers but not ethics advisers. we save for our children’s comfortable university future and don’t even spend 1% of our GNP on saving children who lack the most essential necessities. we hunt around for the best mortgage and don’t spend 1/10 of that time hunting around for information on human rights violations.

    why? i guess because what’s right under our noses (and specifically, under our very own noses, not yours or our neighbours’) is so much more immediate than “those” people “over there”.

    i truly believe that one of the benefits of the internet is to give us the insight that “those” people are much closer than we think.


    May 16, 2008
  5. MyJoy


    Here’s a link indicating the differences between the two systems/values of secular vs religious Human Rights.


    The live link is no longer active but in case you think it the content is no longer valid, please remember what happened to 15 school girls in 2002: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1874471.stm


    May 18, 2008
  6. @jennifer I wonder if we’re inching towards coming full circle – we’re collectively finding ourselves exhausted by consumerism and seeking to ensure what we do consume is connected to our values. That in turn requires us to clarify our values, and we start to discover what we *really* want, and I dare say really wanted all along, was community.
    @isabella I know since I’ve started getting ‘hyperlinked’ I’m emotionally feeling waaaay more connected to people “over there”. Sites like TED and KIVA and even less direct connections like reading bloggers who live around the world – cumulatively, I’m starting to really ‘feel’ inside the global village-ness of planet earth.
    @myjoy Thanks again; I’ll have a look.


    May 18, 2008
  7. @myjoy Excellent, informative links. Thank you. The embassy’s responses to the (penetrating) questions were fascinating. As one of the few Cdns left who actually is active in organized religion (Anglican) it made me deeply grateful to live in a secular society. My own religion has had repeated (utterly misguided imho) goes at creating theocracies, all abysmal failures. I think of Calvin in Geneva and of course Cromwell in England.
    Reading the Saudi’s take on UDHR, I found I got led down a blind alley a few times. It made a certain kind of sense, then I’d shake my head. For example, they note that 46 people were killed in the UK by murderers let out of jail. There’s a subtle implication that the state is thus guilty and responsible for those 46 tragic deaths. It’s not. The murderers are. Also, the document notes that democracy won’t be coming anytime soon to Saudi Arabia, as democracy is antithetical to their religious belief. In my mind, the only thing that makes faith genuine is that we get to *choose* it, not have the state dictate it.
    All of this is not directly related to money but wow – that was an informative and personally thought-provoking rabbit hole! Thanks!


    May 19, 2008

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