It can be hard not to feel that way, when you look back on a life of attempting to create belonging. Doomscroll where we are at this societal crossroads today closer to Imperial Star Wars than Star Trek Federation and wonder if, you are not simply irrelevant? These thoughts have been cascading for a while in my mind, it can be hard not to as I battle the great fear of my life as Dad, outliving my child (in the case of both my kiddoes) or my son outliving me (and leaving someone not seen as person, in the care of the system that holds this to be true).

These ideas came stronger, after seeing a simple tweet this morning, something akin to Gen X’ers aren’t okay, as all that we fought against, and created a better forward, has been ripped away with worse returning. It is true, we at a whiney minority vocally level are letting the bullies shape the world. That which we were always taught to stand up to, push back into the beneath the rocks where they existed and were dying under, now allowed back out into the sun, and like the worst garden choking weeds are thriving in the rain pain of the world.

How can a world of belonging be created? Is it still possible?

I have to say yes, not just because I am an eternal optimist, but I was also raised with a firm belief that evil does not win in the end.

Yes I am exhausted. Yes I am tired in a world, where we have to tirelessly advocate for my children to be seen as people, where we continue to exist in the tension of life expectancy for my son. Where systems fail to support staff, and as such, as we explain reality, well damn it, at this moment and time corporation or government I do not feel like being your staff’s counsellor or pastor as they process the reality of my son’s lifespan.

But I digress, for I also worry, looking back at a time in my life of about 2 year where I wrote op-ed pieces for a local paper. Where I spoke out in support for Angels in America, LGBTQ Rights, and marriage equality (that last one almost cost me my life) in the mid-1990’s. Fast forward to 2022, and once again, I worry of the violence or death that may be visited upon my youngest and their friends.

We live in a world where The Orville: New Horizons Seasons 3 episode 5 “Tale of Two Topa’s” should be seen as timely or necessary, but especially for extremists and church, take view, and know, in the world of Klydon and Bortus as parents, be a Bortus. The closing image one of the most powerful of belonging on screen:

See Topa is a Mochlan child, who wants to join the union when he is old enough, yet he knows something is not right. If you have viewed previous season episodes around Bortus and Klydon’s child you know. See Mochlan’s are all male. Or are they? Topa was born female, and underwent a gender reassignment surgery to bring him in line with other Mochlan’s. Even after another female Mochlan would testify it was unnecessary. It never sat fully with Bortus, but for Klydon a true believer (and himself, a surgically altered female shortly after birth) a necessity.

A Tale of Two Topa’s is a story of truth, reconciliation, and being who you were created to be. It also shows how fear and hatred can shatter connection, as Klydon walks away from his child “I wish you were never born”…but the Orville Family, as seen in the image, calls Topa to the bridge, for her to belong.

If you fear authenticity in the image of God, why?

It is a powerful episode, and raises some hope that stories of power can still be told, though like, Deep Space Nine episodes seeming current and timely in the social justice issues they confront, it does become exhausitng. Though as watching, there was another aha moment that clicked for me.

So often when we have pilgrimaged/journeyed to other spiritual centres, some would chastise us, that we should not be leaving when they are not accepting due to this or that of one of our family members. We should stay and fight, for how will change happen? Simple, our spiritual centres are a space for connection, belonging, and renewal. I have no issue educating or equipping, but I am not there to fight, there is sapce for us and we will be there and present. If we are not wanted, that is fine, at some point the segregation, isolation, fear and hate, will runs its course within certain spiritual centres, and they will close (and yes we have outlived a few).

The other show that hit hard this week, was the latest Star Trek Strange New Worlds, and it was around Hemmer, the Aener engineer:

The Magic of Science “Abrakadabra”

Reading an interview with Canadian Actor, Bruce Horak, who plays Hemmer, about the character’s sacrifice in episode 9 (a well plotted horror inspired episode with the Gorn). Where infested his only choice was to end his life, that his character was created for a specific purpose. Hemmer, noted his purpose in the series when talking with Cadet Uhura “I fix broken things”. A foreshadowing statement, for a character created as a mentor for Cadet Uhura on their journey to open up to connection and belonging.

Which, in your own vocational and life formation, opens up two questions for you:

  1. What is your life purpose?
  2. Who are the mentors that helpded you in discovering and entering this purpose?

This has been a rough week or two journey for me. Where the word irrelevant has preyed upon my heart. Making me wonder if it was worthwhile, if I could still do something valid. Especially as it appears that our world is darker than it should be as anger and hate push for control and power.

“Your employers actions will show how they value you, more than their words”

Yet,

in these moments, a question from so long ago, on a night shift in a Calgary shelter, as I spoke with a guest rings in my soul:

“How do I ger hope?”

Hope.

A simple four letter word.

Can we regain it? Where do you feel it?

Can we emerge into the light? And see one’s simple intrinsic value in the beautiful diverse mosaic that we are created in the image of? Are we, even more powerfully, able to look in the mirror, and see that in ourselves?

“I wonder if Alberta Separatists wishing your Happy Canada Day, hear the hypocrisy?”

Canada Day 2022

Posted: July 1, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality

Ah Canada Day, a day of celebration. Its past incarnation was Dominion Day, a nod to the Doctrine of Dominionism and Discovery that allowed for a thumbs up approach to cultural and active genocide of First Peoples. If you’re involved in non-heretical Christianity, both these doctrines have been revealed to not only be hate filled, but fallacies, and heresies. But there is more, as one wonders, the truth is constantly being told, will we hear?

Actually hear? That is with hearts and souls, that want to reconcile, want to change?

Yes, as the last residential school was closing, I was graduating high school. Even with family intersections (most sadly with MMIWG, but also the schools) and connections historically and generationally, sometimes, the implicit bias was there to be unlearned. Within my wife and kids, that inter-generational trauma exists as a reality, a loss of tradition and culture that we work to rebuild, and re-connect with.

As more unmarked graves are found throughout geo-political Canada, creation cries out, and one has to be quite self-absorbed not to feel the pain. A pain that must be heard, known and understood. For I personally, may not have done the atrocities, may have family and friends impacted by the systemic issues. But I am here, and willing to work on the healing, to amplify the truth, to make reconciliation a reality.

These are all the things that role around within my mixed heritage soul, and that of my family, as we struggle with Canada Day, yet here is the thing as well, Canada Day, is something else within my family story. It is a day of generational connection, of connection between urban and rural, of belonging, and yes, a parade that has been a part of making the world better.

As we emerge from the era of pandemic, it was a mixed and struggling blessing to be back in Rosemary, AB with the family, to celebrate Canada Day, to be together, but also to know that in celebrating, it is not the fallacies propped up as (mis)truth. But rather it is celebrating in the heart of a time of history, where we can choose to understand and know historic truth, and as gathered peoples of the Creator, choose a different way.

Is your soul ready to hear the truth?

And to live Reconciliation?

And now some lighter fare of sights and sounds of horses, parades, bands, family, show and shines, petting zoos, owls, eagles, craft markets, and hey, my son also found— Hockey! Oh My

And if you are wanting a world where no one goes hungry: https://foodgrainsbank.ca/

A Psalm for my son

Posted: June 26, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

They said you shouldn’t live

You stepped into and through the Holy

N’uh

was the response, as the numbers went up

They said, you’d never understand

They used your friends and you as an excuse why other kids could not be funded

you felt the anger and hate of friends parents

Supports roll back

We are told we decided to have “it” be happy with what you get

that you will fall between the cracks

there is no academic and therapeutic

We challenge the system,

they respond to fill the crack.

You thrive again,

Dacning, giggling, singing,

Loving on your elders

Curiousity of the world you live into.

Experiencing the Holy wherever you turn

if only all

would see the image you are created in.

Many tell how they know you

how you loved

how you were pastor

The only way, they knew

God’s love

was through your laugh

your hug

your joy

sharing your burger

Another adventure to help

to cheer to be in a parade

to help friends you have yet to meet

When your buddies

went to be at God’s Tea Party

they said you did not understand

you could not feel

it did not matter

you could not grieve

As you sobbed into me,

banged your fist in anger

cried into the void of the Holy

Why my buddies

Told me, I wasn’t your buddy

you didn’t want me to die

The experts did not want to listen

as white envelopes

flowed

then it stopped

diagnosis added

yet the dark time was yet to come

each year

when you mourned the losses

you simply want to go

Please wait to be with them,

the seizures roll

do you come back

slowly to who you are today

but where do you emerge in your timestream?

Can you hear us? As we softly encourage you home with us?

we want you here with us

one more adventure

Now they see

they witnessed,

they felt what you feel

and how SUDEP can roll… and they acted

but you cried

was it in joy?

Sorrow?

Or simple release…

will this be a time of a turning corner

Sacred breathe caught in the throat…

will your eyes close tonight for sleep….

For tomorrow will be a new adventure?


For those unfamiliar with the term, you are either not a Trekkie (which can I show you some stuff?) or you are not a fan of the fifth movie adventure of the original series crew, The Final Frontier. It is essentially the journey for the Source, God if you will. Some balk because of the idea, humanity advanced beyond the concepts of religion (or is simply we had advanced beyond the bigotry and divisions that religion used as an opiate for the masses, as a mean of power and control?). For those who do not think spirituality (those intrinsic pieces of us that get renewed through certain practices that speaks to the beginning of the answer to the why question of life), look no further, than the show enjoying a renaissance thank to streaming, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, which interweaves rebirth, renewal, de-colonization, reconciliation, science and religion together. Illustrating the types of questions each is designed for. 

Why does this matter? What percolated these thoughts once more, about how stories, like Star Trek, and science, and faith can co-exist together? It began two-fold, one part with the side quest to Vul-Con, but more importantly with my family connecting with Marda Loop Church here in the city as the restrictions of covid lifted. Many churches threw masks away right away, but MLC kept the safety valve as they followed the science. As a family with medical complexities, it mattered for safety. Then the mission resonated, the reading of the two scriptures- the written and creation, the various ways to experience God. 

Re-connects with how I have entered my own eclectic faith journey of life, but as I journey through dark nights of the soul, that has been shared in collects and poetry recently, it has renewed this liturgical entering story once more. 

So, what is the journey to Shaka Re? 

To the center of the galaxy, think of that imagery, a labyrinth like journey where the path is known, but it gives you space not to worry about the steps, but what is happening along the way. 

Before the use of the Enterprise, and the next step, in between the question of pain? What role does pain play in our lives? Our formation? What does heal or avoidance look like? What does reconciliation to self? 

Within the story of McCoy and his medical assistance in dying with his Dad, what role does self-forgiveness play in our own healing? Are we able to give that forgiveness or will it always be something that evades so the pain remains consistent? As McCoy speaks to how soon a cure was found, yet why do we withhold our own forgiveness? Why do we continue to berate or punish ourselves for decisions made in the past based on information we have today?  

We made the best decision possible in the moment, given the events of life and what was known. Do not forget that. 

Towards the galactic barrier, can it be breached? A leap of faith to even attempt? What leap of faith has your journey taken you into, what was the outcome? What was discovered on the other side? 

On the other side, was it God? Or was it a shadow reflection of ego? The voice that challenges, that shifts, do we want to demonize? More importantly though, showing what happens when the journey accepts the ends justifying the means. What was held beyond the barrier was not the loving Creator, but what the creation created, a godling driven by power, anger and vengeance that would not broker any dissent. As was seen by the reaction to Kirk, then Spock’s question of “What does God need with a starship? 

This was shaped around the backdrop bigger questions of connection and belonging. What is family? Who are actual members of the family? As the camping trip that the trio (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) were on at the beginning, and at the end, the statement was made, that people like them did not have families. Yet the journey answered, it may not be what was defined as “family” yet, there is family through love, connection and belonging.  

Who is your family? 

The other question touched upon mortality; how do we know when our time has come? 

And I am not forgetting Sybok, for Sybok was complicated, looking to alleviate pain, to avoid, but also seeking the Source, the meaning of life. How would you explain God? And the confrontation of the darkness, and in the moment, what light do you shine into the darkness? 

These are questions along the journey, take the 1 hour and forty minutes to watch the film, explore the questions, what other things do you notice? What other stories resonate with you from the settlers of Nimbus III (the Planet of Galactic Peace)? The journey to the Source? 

Has there been a moment in your life, when you are consumed with the outcome of the journey that you miss the journey itself? When you saw into the darkness and thought it was the light? Did you have a Sybok moment of transfiguration? 

Take time with the stories you engage with, to notice, what other things come through, for the artists, the dreamers, the musicians, the writers, craft into the book of creation the same as creation and science, each exploring a piece of the meaning of life, and understanding. Each a piece of figuring out the who, what, where, when why and how questions on this pilgrimage into, within and alongside the Holy Mystery. 


Written before a neurology appointment 4 years in the making.

Nervous for the day. The appointment. Ability to articulate, to advocate so the child is seen as whole, not a collection of diagnosis. What is the possible outcome? Ignored for so long. I don’t want my son, to die. Respond No, as he asks for permission to leave this life. I am not a strong enough Daddy, to give one who loves life, to simply close his eyes and drift off to eternal respite. May the light, hidden under the pain of the losses, that many say he cannot comprehend, shine bright again.

Amen.


I must admit before I jump in that I do love some of the confused comments I get from folks when they realize that my exploration of life, stories, sci-fi, science, come under spirituality. It is quite simple, God is in everything, and everything is in God. Or simply, in a, I guess if I am to take a denomiantion label with it, reformed lens if you will (though I prefer to say ecclectic) that the canon is not closed, there is the scriptures in our bible (and there are a few versions, with varying additions), and creation, that we read together to discover the Holy Mystery. The unfolding story of creation, though I digress for this is to explore some of the unique topics one can bring to discussion as you navigate some of the new streatming content for sci-fi fans, and here we go–

The Orville, the first two seasons once it found its voice, became an updated version of the Original Star Trek, and yes, as you explore these seasons watch for the discussions that emerge. As we move into Disny+/Hulu with season 3, came a FX upgrade, and sub-title, The Orville: New Horizons, we get some great explorative discussions. The premier episode (Electric Sheep) follows the cliff hangar of the Kaylon attack, Isaac, a Kaylon, is still a member of the Orville crew. This is a story about forgiveness, truth and reconciliation. As the crew wrestles with Isaac’s species, and the possibility of betrayal, the blame they lay on him, and the exploration of depression, suicidal ideation, and what comes after or during those decision making processes. It touches on formation of bigotry and prejudice as well. It is a heavy episode, but one that works well for a group discussion. The second episode, takes the Orville into “Shadow Realms” of a mysterious area of space, one they are warned not to go to by the Krill who allows them passage to explore. The main questions is what lurks in the shadows, society can be an easy topic to explore, but as we dive into the mystery, what is within our own shadows? That leads to the Mortality Paradox, the third episode, which dives into the trope of an advanced species exploring fears (or humanity), and ties back to a previous season episode (but no spoilers), as the crew is drawn to a planet and begins to experience various different life stage experiences? What is safe? How do you connect? Belong? Overcome fear? How do we know what is real? When we begin to explore our spiritual selves or any new aspect, sometimes (most times?) we can dive all in, and over contextualize through that lens every aspect of our lives, we can also lose sight of who we are completely and where we are on the journey.

Star Trek Picard’s Season 2, I will just briefly touch on, if you’re in Canada, Crave carries it. The serialized Star Trek’s some have challenges engaging with, after so many decades of the one and done, or 2-4 part arcs. What one needs to remember when approaching Picard or Discovery, is that they have taken what would be a movie or 2-4 part arc and simply expanded to a weekly story, so some episodes end low, some with cliffhangars, but you do need to hang on to the end for the Star Trek finish. Season 2 of Picard (which is an anthology style series, each season has its own arc), is the story of friendship, connection, belonging, purpose, and why it matters?

I will also touch on the Fourth season of Discovery, this season had ebbs and flows, the emotional finish of Picard Season 2, had fans talking due to who was involved. Now into the 32nd Century and the Federation renewing itself, Discovery’s finale, exploring forgiveness of self and others through Book’s story, the other characters like Tilly, being placed in different situations and the grwoth of discovery, to the finale, which took you the feels of an ugly cry through the story telling of a truly powerful first contact story.

Now into Star Trek Strange New Worlds, a return to episodic story telling that is not animated (though I do encourage you to check out Lower Decks and Prodigy). This is, as some have jokingly phrase, the sequal to the Cage (the original pilot episode). It is Pike’s enterprise (Star Trek Discovery Season 2, re-introduced us). There are the familiar- Pike, Chapel, Number One, Uhura and Spock. But then the mastery of this episodic brilliance is the new characters, and how well the stories are written to show the others as well, Ortegas, Noonien-Singh, Hemmer, M’Benga (yes I realize the character was in 2 episodes of TOS, but this is where the character begins to shine), T’Pring (yes she has 1 episode in TOS, but is a recurring character), Kyle, and Sam Kirk.

There is a rhythm within the season of emotionally charged episodes like , and fun-light episodes that still bring impact. Children of the Comet that shows how music and math interweave for communiaction. Ghost of Illyria that explore a lost colony of a species that genetically engineered themselves to be able to adapt to any environment, and Number One’s secret. Memento Mori is the return of the Gorn, done well with a horro sci-fi (almost like Alien) vibe, to explore hatred, fear, and how trauma shapes us. Spock Amok, is about relationships, and how do we go from me to we in only the way Vulcan ritual can.

Lift us where suffering cannot reach is a haunting episode, where you have to explore why you trust people? What questions need to be asked around belief systems? What do you do in a no win situation? Ending with Pike starring out the window, leaves the viewer with the question hanging in the air– was there another way??

To the fun of misdirection, pirate stories, and can Vulcans misdirect? The Serene Squawl, has an almost Harry Mudd like rhythm to the story.

But throughout these stories, there is an underlying subplot of the chief medical officer, Dr. M’Benga, and his daughter who is dying. She is only seen in glimpses, see he is trying to have more time with his child. M’Benga is searching for a cure for the incurable in the 23rd Century. This means she is in the emergency meidcal transporter buffer, and has been for over a year. Only short times out of the buffer, and during these times he reads here a favourite story book by DS9 Character, Benny Russell (and that story is another journey, but check out the episode, Far Beyond the Stars), The Elysian Kingdom. She is like any child htough, she simply wants to be with people, to play, to re-write the stories she loves…and M’Benga is a powerful archetype for the parent with a child with a chronic condition, not wanting to give permission for them to go to whatever the next life is.

In our own family journey, it is hte one question I have currently answered unequivocally no to for my son. He asked me yesterday, “Daddy let me go to the Tea Party?” (our family’s allegory of Heaven). I reosnate with M’Benga’s struggle. I hope his subplot can aid others to empathize more and create healthier spaces for parents of children with chronic conditions, realizing we all belong.

The Elysian Kingdom, well it is first fun, as it is basically Star Trek does Princess Bride/D&D type fun, as the ship and crew are transformed, with only M’Benga and Hemmer (King and Wizard) knowing what existed before on this fun quest–that ends with the powerful questions for a parent:

What do you do for one more day with your child?

When do you let them go?

And how do you go forward knowing how you have answered?

Expecting light, the day before we finally got in to discuss my son’s prognosis, broke this Daddy’s heart. And left the biggest question that always dangles for me, why?


Spock Days is a family activities in Vulcan, Alberta that runs alongside (at leas this year, a Star Trek Convention in the town, Vul-Con). Now this is not new information to me, as the first Spock Days I believe, of all folks in my family, my Grandma Ragan, went on a weekend trip to it through the now defunct Golden Age. It has been on a list of things I want to do, and haven’t gotten around to (only Star Trek convention I have been to, was a community one in Calgary through the Village Square Leisure Centre when I was a kid).

Now, this year, on the sidequest with friends (Bruce, came in from Costa Rica, and his brother Doug), we did not buy the weekend access tickets (though after the day of free events, my hope is to be able to swing the tickets and weekend next year for my Dad and I, who introduced me to Star Trek, through CBC re-runs and the comics). There was a vendors market, local artisans, the two ships in the area from Starfleet International, this ia unique thing, as yes, it is fan clubs with social activities structured like starships, yet there is also service pieces. Which has made me wonder as some lament the waning of service clubs, are the cosplay-fan clubs stepping in and changing the way this works to create connection, belonging, values and change?

But i digress, for this is simply to enter into a photo montage of the day. And an encouragement to ake time to discover the hidden gems in our world. If you are a Trekkie, or just want to see how a town can use some uniqueness to create space for connection take a trip to Vulcan, AB any time of year, visit the Trek Station and Tourism Centre, do the self guided tour to see the artifacts, monuments, and local art shaped by one of the shaping mythologies of our time (55 years and counting from television, movies, books, comics, games, social media, etc).

And now some of the sights of the day, and the great fun of simply being, celebrating IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), and welcome…that started with a hearty pancake breakfast, parade, sign unveiling, fun cosplay competition improv. I write of a yearly retreat in my rule of life, I have missed out over the last several years, and yes I still need one of solitude to focus on where my next book will go, and how the Holy speaks into my journey, yet in a pinch, this day, filled a bit of that missing void.

Unwanted Walk 3

Posted: June 8, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , ,

Unsure

some days simply numb

others, the sensations of cold

or was that a seizure once more?

A walk in God’s creation

seeing the createdness of Creator’s creators

a ch-zoo

so freeing, but challenging

for other folks

who fear the same, to speak openly

the unknown, the fears

as children grow

existing in a system that can do such harm

when the voice of advocacy is silenced by age

Rumbles in the sky

neurology roles

fades once more

what will the reboot do?

Will he come back

to where he was

or stay regressed

a simple prayer for hope

a simple little light

to not go to smoke

Morning light….

a new day

one more day

fear recedes to joy

but the great fear remains

for this Daddy..

an unnatural end where I outlive my son,

or my son outlives me,

and is left to a system that does not see the beautiful wholeness of his created self

and the joy that he is

being fully him…

Strange Ethics?

Posted: May 23, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

A long weekend to hopefully renew, a week showing (the first in many months) of a revitalized Wally West Flash run, so the public library for what used to be called “four colour” fix it is. King, Gerards and Shaner’s Strange Adventures collection. I am a fan of Tom King’s writing style, so even though, I am not even minute fan of Adam Strange, this was on the list of curious reads. To catch you up dear reader, Adam Strange is a man of two worlds, due to zeta beams, he is taken for times from Earth to Rann, on Rann he has a wife and child (daughter). I would soliquie more on the stories of Adam Strange, but these basics are pretty much all I know, he has been a sci-fi super hero since about the Silver Age me thinks, and there has been some good stories I have read in the Hawkman-Hawkworld-Hawkgirl-Hawkwoman mythos (Rann-Thannagar War???), but really not one I think of.

This story opens up as an old war hero, sharing his thoughts on fighting of a Pykkt (alien horde, alledgedly evil) invasion of Rann, and now back on earth, having written his memoir and is in the bookstore-talk show circuit. Because really, who doesn’t like an intergalactic war hero? Allegations surface of nefarious, possible war crimes surface, a murder mystery ensues, and we dive into an investigation if the hero is what he attests to be or is simply trying to put a spin on his own devilishness.

Throw in the complexity of the Pykkt now looking to invade earth, and asking, will the super heroes do what Adam had to do to stop the invasion of Rann?

And why is Mr. Terrific focusing his investigation of Adam Strange on the inscription to Strange’s memoir for his daugther that was lost in the invasion…

But enough spoiler fodder, for sometimes reading Tom King, is like a Shalaman movie, and the twists are the fun, but what formed in my mind is a reapproach exploration of ethics in crisis…can one go biblical? Possibly, thinking of concepts of Adam, Ancient Aliens, or even simply looking into the David Story or maybe the Maccabees, but that would take a bit longer, and have a few more spoilers involved.

Yet, exploring ethical decision making would not, for it lays out a lens. A first year ethics course (within your faith background, or philosophy department) will lay out, all the different ways to approach–absolute, positive, natural, etc.

What I want to touch on, is how one makes decisions within the scope of human services and for that there can be some simple steps to see if there is an ethical dilemma at play:

  1. What does the law say? Criminal law, is contextual to where you are existing–whatever happened on Rann cannot be judged by Earth laws…or can it?
  2. Is it simply unethical– there is a code from a professional association you are a part of that stipulates what ethical conduct is, and in black and white it has been broken. Is it untehtical, if Adam Strange is an active member of the Justice League, to take a life, even in war?
  3. Then there is the dilemma. The not cearly black and white answered in the first two. Within the scope of these, sometimes time can be working against the porfessional in maing the decision, sadly, but let’s assume this is a perfect time placement scenario, what steps after realizing something is hinky can one take?

Step 1: What do the policies and procedures of where you work say? (does not mean these are fully ethical, just gathering information).

Step 2: What does any ethical guides you adhere to stipulate? (this can be professional or other belief systems).

Step 3: Objectively what are the facts of the situation.

Step 4: Engage the first steps in discussion with teammates and/or a supervisor

Stepf 5: Arrive at a decision. Establish the rationale for the choice of this as the solution (this is key, if you are working contrary to policy or procedure or in the gray area, being able to explain why aids your growth, but also worst case scenario if you lose your job, you are able to find a place that better aligns with who you are).

Step 6: Inact the decision.

Step 7: Afterwards, debrief, did it work? Is there changes in procedures? What was the objective outcome.

Sidenote: Sometimes I will here from professionals not wanting and/or refusing to follow through on their duty to report for fear of losing therapeutic rapport. This is bullocks, in these hard reporting decisions, rapport can be strengthened by working/supporting the client to be a part of the disclosure or lead in the disclosure.

As you jump into Strange Adventures gather the clues, and explore the layers of ethical dilemmas at play, the resolutions, and walk through Step 7 with them (as well as the other steps to see where you would go).


An Interview with Bruce Callow

On Feb. 24, 2022 what was rumbling for many months became a reality, as Putin led Russia invaded the Ukraine. Many of those in Alberta, and Canada (a country with the third largest population of Ukrainians) could carry the empathy, of those being conscripted to invade (as many in Russia are also Ukrainian). What began was a stand off of people fighting back for their own country, and now infamous line of President Zelensky of Ukraine, I need arms not a ride (a loose paraphrase). In the midst though, is yet the creation by aggression of another humanitarian crisis, currently at roughly 5 million refugees seeking resettlement in lands to become new homes.

One guidepost on the journey is the Centrum Expo Refugee Center, and Warsaw; where many have gathered to support the holistic needs of those seeking safety, connection and new places of belonging. I have the privilege of knowing one of those that answered the call. Bruce Callow, a community builder, educator, and musician most recently known for his work in STEM and Space in Costa Rica, the use of sports to inspire, and from my own journey, a community builder within affordable housing for those exiting the trauma of homelessness.  What follows is some of his own thoughts, and answers on the experience, and what we can still do in response to the question of who is my neighbour?

Ty: How long were you in Poland?

Bruce:  I was in Poland for almost a month.

Ty: What led you to give of yourself?
Bruce: I saw in the news what was going on in Ukraine and felt compelled to contribute something on a personal level. I felt a strong calling to bear witness, to see things firsthand and to try to support Ukrainians in some small way. I did some research on the kinds of actions that were going on to support refugees in Poland and I felt I could complement these efforts. The attack on Ukraine felt like an attack on my own people. Ukrainian culture was always close to us growing up in Edmonton so no doubt that childhood imprinting had some impact on my decision to take personal action.

Ty: We can focus on many aspects of human crisis and pain, what were some moments of joy in the darkness?

Bruce: There were many moments of joy and laughter. Distributing NASA pins and stickers while casually interacting with people at the railway transit centers proved to be an effective way to generate smiles, both amongst children and adults. The somewhat odd idea of talking about NASA and space in the midst of all that chaos was not something I was sure would work at all. But the 900 NASA stickers and 200 NASA pins as well as other souvenirs donated by the Canadian Embassies in Costa Rica and Warsaw were gratefully and happily received.  These train station transit centers are very raw and intense places where the refugees have just arrived after their harrowing journeys from Ukraine. But in brief conversations and nonverbal interactions you could connect with people and by doing so help reassure them that they’re in a safe place and there are people from other countries that care about what they’re going through.  Through one of these brief interactions, I was able to meet a lady and her daughter with whom I introduced to a host family in Toronto, Canada. It’s a very humbling experience to see how a random intersection of lives can lead to such things.

I had the opportunity to give classes about outer space in more settled environments at permanent refugee centers as well as in private schools that created extension programs for Ukrainians refugee kids. They were extremely fun, and the kids and I enjoyed the banter between English and Ukrainian as we discussed the planets and other space concepts. It’s fortunate that most of the names of the planets are very similar in Ukrainian to English, not to mention the layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

The music jam sessions I hosted  were amongst the most meaningful experiences I had and had the opportunity to get to speak with a number of Ukrainians and volunteers through that medium. The young Polish soldiers I met at the refugee centers also  enjoyed the music but they had to keep a low profile about it as they were on duty.  I am still in contact with a number of people I jammed with.

Ty: Is there any story or stories that you want to ensure are shared?

Bruce:  In the Torwar Arena I had the opportunity to meet the most amazing gentleman named George who accompanied me on the piano as we performed and sang Hallelujah.  That song proved to be a favorite on many occasions and I remember once a group of four or five women were singing along with me. After we jammed, George and  had lunch together and he told me in detail the experience of his city being under attack and having to escape. He Is a medical student specializing in psychiatry. George  expressed gratitude for all the support Ukraine is receiving but at the same time he wishes that they didn’t have to receive all of this support. Ukrainians are hard-working and self reliant people and they’re not used to being in such a situation.  This was an attitude I saw reflected; Ukrainians want to take care of things on their own but it’s just not possible for them to do it under these circumstances.

“My Star Trek medical tricorder proved to be a huge hit”  

-Bruce Callo

Ty: I noticed in some of your sharing on your social media around music, what are your recollections? Favourite songs?

Bruce:  One young lady named Kari was particularly keen on Nirvana and Coldplay and we did some pretty good renditions. 

Ty: There was a story you had shared about space and the kids at the centre, can you re-share now please?
Bruce: The story was shared well, here: Santaneño traveled to Poland to help Ukrainians (santaanahoy.wixsite.com)

Ty: We both have worked in the homeless serving sector, and know, that we can learn as much from those we serve as they can from us or others; what are some key learnings you have from those you met?

Bruce:  I think one thing I reflected on was what’s happening to Ukrainians could happen to any country. It made me wonder how Canadians would react under a similar situation. One day you’re living your life normally, studying, eating lunch in a restaurant or whatever and then suddenly your world has turned completely upside down. I saw people studying for exams and working remotely from Railway transit centers and refugee centers. Trying to keep the threads of their life together. I remember back in 2013 when we worked at the Calgary Drop In Centre we assisted with the evacuation of the entire  population to a hotel where everyone slept in the ballroom area.  What I saw at the Centrum Expo with over 2500 people camped out, it kind of overwhelmed me.  But with the music, and quiet conversation you can break this mass of  humanity down into individual parts.

“the gentleman you see in this video is Pavel, he was a neighbor of mine where I stayed in Warsaw and he kindly matched all of the money I brought with me to buy emergency supplies so the total came to about US$800.”

Bruce Callow

Ty: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience?

Bruce: There were quite a few levels to this experience, and I think I’m still processing a lot of it. But I can say it was an amazing experience to get to meet some extremely brave people who are going through something they should never have had to suffer through. I made a lot of friends over there including fellow volunteers and people who are coordinating the opening of even more refugee centers.  I’m looking forward to supporting this network and to continue to help Ukraine as much as I can.

I want to thank the many people who helped make my program in Warsaw come to life, there were so many good Samaritans. Among these people are Mirela, Pavel, Magda, Magda ( Star Wars), Maria and Bart and Anna.

Ty: I want to thank you, Bruce while you were in Poland reaching out with some stories of folks to aid in resettling in Canada. As well, as the success, of them finding a sanctuary space for a new home. What are other ways that we can help?

Bruce: I invite readers to contact Roman Lakhnyuk at the email below. Roman is from Edmonton and is Ukrainian and I met him coordinating operations at the Central railway station. Photo attached. He is wearing the baseball hat.

Through Roman donors can contribute to purchasing urgent food needs to supply the food tent at the railway transit station or they can contribute to purchasing flights for refugees to get to Canada.

roman.lakhnyuk@gmail.com

I snapped that photo of Roman in a brief 10 minute visit I made to the control center at the railway station and he showed me photos today of the lady and child in that photo on their way to the UK. He saw through that entire process – Bruce Callow

As happens with life experiences, there are many ways that things come to a close, for someone who is at heart, a fan of stories of science fiction and hope in all forms they come in (including both a Trekkie and Star Wars), nothing is a better end for a chapter of this story than what Bruce shared on his Facebook:

Thank you, Bruce, it is always inspiring to see ways you continue to help. 

See the source image

*Images and videos from Bruce Callow’s time in Poland are from his collection, below are a few other videos: