Foster Fail Julie Benz from Foster Boy talks about how the film exposes abuse, corruption in the foster-care system in the U.S. Tell us a little about the movie Foster Boy. Foster Boy is a legal drama about corruption in the for-profit foster care system. It is based on true events. Foster Boy was written by an attorney and is based on his experience as a top litigator in Chicago. How do you think his first-hand knowledge and experience really lends to the credibility of this film? Jay Paul Deratany was able to bring his real-life experience as a top litigator to the page. It adds an incredible richness to the film. As a litigator, he prosecuted numerous child welfare cases against for-profit foster-care companies and won. His screenplay pulls together a number of the cases he has prosecuted in order to tell an extremely compelling story and illuminate the bigger issue of corruption in the for-profit foster-care system. Foster Boy has been described as “Art Activism.” What does that mean to you? Wow. That’s a powerful and accurate description of Foster Boy. To me, ‘Art Activism’ means the ability to inspire change through art. And that’s exactly what this movie does. It holds up a mirror to a very corrupt system in our country and forces you to look at it. It leaves you wanting to make a difference for these innocent children and to fight for reform. Why do you think it’s so important to highlight the abuses within the foster-care system in the U.S.? Foster children are the forgotten children in our country. There are 430,000 children in the foster-care system at any one time. The statistics show that the majority of foster children are abused, neglected and denied basic services. And over half end up homeless, unemployable or incarcerated after aging out of the foster-care system. What’s your take on for-profit foster care? It doesn’t work. Profits are frequently prioritized over a child’s well-being. These companies are hard to regulate and are not always transparent with their data. It’s heartbreaking because it’s the children that suffer at the hands of these greedy companies. There’s an incentive to make the placements for these kids to intentionally fail so the company can make more money. It’s criminal. You play Pamela Dupree in the movie. Can you tell us about your character? Pamela Dupree is a representation of what it’s like to be a social worker in a for-profit foster-care system. Through
My Favourite Shops to Find Fun Gifts for Teens By Rachel Naud When Interac challenged me to shop local, it was a challenge I gladly accepted! Part of the reason I love living in Toronto is the array of independent shops and boutiques in every area. When searching for some fun gifts for teens, I certainly didn't have to travel far! Here are some of my favourite spots where I discovered fun finds and gift ideas. Yellow House Gallery & Framing This contemporary art gallery and custom framing shop in the Upper Beaches of Toronto showcases local, regional and international emerging artists and focuses on original works and limited edition prints. I picked up a super cool graffiti-inspired custom painting, perfect for any teen! (Or myself, really!) Tertulia This independent coffee shop is new to the Riverside area. Inside, the vibe is quaint and contemporary. I went for the gourmet chocolates and caramels but I stayed for the London Fog! Best in the city! The Nooks Located in Toronto’s East End on “The Danny,” The Nooks sells hand-crafted and curated gifts, made by local artisans. The perfect place to get that one-of-a-kind gift! I found some cool necklaces! Good Neighbour This funky find is a one-stop shop for everyone on your list. This little house turned gift emporium serves up everything from house & home and bath & body items to men’s and women’s clothing and winter accessories. iQLiving Located in the heart of Greektown, I adore the kitchen accessories and cookware in this shop, especially the Orla Kiely line. It’s got a retro vibe that I love!