Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Heading into 2023

Posted: December 23, 2022 by Ty in Current Events
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It has been awhile. I have been keeping a blog in various locals (with many writings losts to the ther of the internet) since they first emerged as a platform. Sometimes shared, mostly by myself, a space to muse, to share poetry, thoughts, fiction and non-fiction. Postulate theories, and share some important information to aid those to transition from survival to thriving.

We as a planet appear to be in survival mode as we struggle to emerge froma pandemic not yet done with us, fracturing into what was once known as dulaism (now dubbed polarization), where for my view point to be completely correct and right, means that yours must be completely wrong. As well, as being in a space of not trusting any barometer of fact (note I avoided the term truth, for this has been supplanted by the religious-spiritual realm, and does not hold much water in current debates). Fact, however is something that should, we need at this point to listen to philosophers, artists, mystics, and theologians to discover the deeper intrinsic meanings of this time of transition, shall I risk, birthing of the new to come as the necroptic tissue of the old colonial world holds onto us within the womb?

It is also a time, where we have to trust fact. We have to listen to verified sceintists and social scientists. We have to challenge our news outlets, to move away from info-tainment and back into the slow news cycle. For authentic journalism takes time, and isn’t about sharing a both sidism, but about cultivating what the facts are for the reader to draw the conclusion. As well, requires resources, so this can happen, and not just using op-ed writers as defacto journalists, they both provide a function on the site or paper but both have different roles and responsibilities.

I sit here, 3 years out from losing my vocation to health reasons, with stumble starts into a new vocation. Wondering if, as the documentary states, I will ever move away from being professor precarious to actual full time continual/tenure role. I ponder this as the winter term 2023 looms, teaching in mulitple psot-secondaries and faculties to support my family. Intrigued and excited for the new courses I will teach, and learn from my learners as much as I facilitate their own discoveries. It is a vocation I feel as much passion for, as I did my past one. Yet I know to care for my beloved family, something needs to shift, and that is my prayer out into the universe for the narrative of ap rovincial government to shift and realize that education is not simply a cog in the capitalist machine, but rather a way of equipping a society for the transofrmative power of creating new, being kind, and changing this world for the netter. With that change of mind-set, comes a change in funding and understanidng that the gig economy is destructive to community, family and self-cohesion, health and authentic belonging, not only does it need to be addressed, it needs to be challenged, and dismanteld with incentives for employee retention, growth, and yest, being able to retire within an organizations that has ensured you and yours are cared for in proper and robust full compensation packages.

People before profits.

But I digress, as this is a message of the shift of the site, back to a sapce to share thoughts, musings, poetry, resources, writings and in spite of teaching 7 courses in Winter Term, I hope regular writing to be shared with you dear reader. For it is when I am engaged with this lifelong passion of writing, that pieces of my holistic health (mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual) are kept well.

As we enter into the eve of Christmas Eve, when Christians of the West celebrate the birth of light, joy, faith, peace, hope, and the greatest gift–love in the flesh to shatter the oppressive empires of politics and religion, may you stay warm and close to those that you lvoe and love you. May you know that embrace of authentic belonging, and may the journey into and through 2023 be smooth and one of discovery, curiousity and learning.

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The Dahls, The Mays, The Lewis’, The Prestons, The Ragans that gave for our Freedoms. My Granddad was part of the Royal Canadian Signal Corps overseas, where he fell in love with my Nan on furlough in Stour-Port-on-A Severn, UK. My Great Uncles and Aunts served, in the field, and on the guns trying to stop the bombing of England. My Great-Granddad Lewis (my Nan’s dad) served in both world wars, as a Sherwood Forrester (those who know what inspires me know); and when he came back took up the fight with his own government to give a damn about our veterans, to care for them.

My Uncle Red (who was like my grandpa in Jr high and high school) was on continent, with my Grandpa Joe (who in his tortured soul, was a victim of the CIA brainwash experiments at McGill-declassified by the Trudeau government), in the air force.

So many stories fading into the fog of memory and lore, so that some believe the Holocaust (13 million people exterminated for their crime of being Jewish, LGBT, disabled or born a multiple) never happened, and that it is okay to think Hitler was right, when we say never again, this is our stand and our time to actualize that in the West, we have failed many times since with Indigenous Peopels, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Palestine and the list goes on…can we make 2022 the year that our grand parents, great grandparents and their generation fought back against evil in the shadows and plain sight a reality in our world?

Or will we simply forget.

Benefit Concert for Ukraine

Posted: September 29, 2022 by Ty in Current Events
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A blessing of love at Countess for the youngest,

on the day you would not awake

and the 23 day journey to come…

The fear since you stated “No more owies”

cascading through as I lifted you to the van

Was this the time?

The unwanted walk for those left behind?

Were you sipping tea at the Grand Tea Party with those that had gone before?

Unanswered questions

Prayers that fell on a deities deaf ears

As Trauma hits in the hospital

the offense of the soul is more than simply my son in distress and wondering if he will survive?

Is it Metis or Disabled on your file?

That causes the berating of questions?

Are you inbred?

Did he get into your drugs?

No, We’re a sober house.

Oh so he got into your Fentanyl.

No, ya dumb ass what do you not understand about S-O-B-E-R

Questions of the past

that no longer matter

yet they fumble about a file in the room with you

I know the revisti of pain upon you

even if they think you are not able to hear or understand

as rescue drug

after rescue drug is administered

Is it simply epilepsy?

Is it more?

Those moments you spoke of being tired of loss

Have you simply said you will not open your eyes?

In PiCU looking like a Borg…

they try to say it is stabilized base line

For they only know the you here and in the file,

not the you the world loves and loves the world,

Your Mumma shows video

of your loving curious self to prove them wrong

They see you as a person

The darkness yet to come,

not fully yet foreshadowed as they would lose the plot

of you as the super hero of this tale

Three research studies in and yet you will not wake up

BPAP comes off

You struggle to breathe on your own

an oxygen line

Sepsis

and mystery

as we move (4 days in) to a unit

bacterial pnuemonia

You still won’t awaken

Another round of push back to unit staff

about going home

As you are at baseline

NG Tube as you show some alertness

Two Student doctors

who do not see the person

push

crisis

as the feed tube comes out

nourishment

how you got your medications

refusal to do what needs to re-insert

the clock is ticking

4 attempts

14 hours

no go

they finally hear

when asked, if they do not see you as a person

because you are disabled or a metis

They saw it as hostile

I saw my boi in pain

caused by those who were to heal

4 more attempts with x-ray

clock ticking

22 hours

still nothing

new doctor

as I sit vigil

to try to ensure you do not slip away due to SUDEP

asks what can be done

A useless question

A happenstance

of a fill in the next day

Tries to say the staff sees you as a person

Shocked by the word bullocks state only actions matter now

And at hour 40 you got into radiology, live imaging, tube back in…

meds…nourishment

another lie revealed,

physio never contacted…

an order finally put in

and within hours in to see you.

The regular team tries to brush off as a minor hiccup,

only a few hours,

Another time of push back,

revealed a star pupil was the cause

could this be why the cover up?

Research study #4

on racism int he system

too many scared to speak out, my gut says simply, for fear of further lack of care

So many fun nurses and doctors

engage

laugh,

learn who you are

as you are heard, we are heard

they slow down

your system in healing, catches up

and your own super powers kick in

from bed to sitting to a walker

to walking from gym to room

to me seeing the twinkle on day 2 of this

you giggle, “gotta say hi”

and your greeters soul

walks the unit greeting staff and neighbours

No tubes

from purees to soft foods to beloved foods

Not fully at baseline

but more you than you have been for awhile

is it time to go home?

As dinner time approaches

Day 23

we enter rush hour…

home…

*The vast majority of staff we encountered on this journey saw my son as a person, and were negaged in his healing, the unfortunate piece is the few that were not, caused the largest traumas and set backs because the rest of the team would not speak up or out against them.


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.


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:

C-Tears

Posted: March 20, 2022 by Ty in Current Events
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The Next Crisis

Posted: February 16, 2022 by Ty in Current Events
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Oh what a nebulus time we are in within my Province. Leaning into what UK and Denmark did in ripping the “band aid off”, that they have now had to re-apply not only the band-aid but gauze and tape to. Yet, in true `Berta fashion we are holding the line after making a decision, not letting anything change our trajectory (just read your latest utility bill for the legacy character on this story). Now we are cementing a new legacy character–

If by some miracle we avoid wave 6, and the manifestation level of religious science tells us that covid actually ends March 1 there are a few outside challenges that are not being addressed:

  1. WCB for long covid haulers who contracted while on the job. With the end of PCR testing in our provicne and moving to rapid testing, it does create a huge loop hole of denying claims. In other news, the ending of emergency measures, creates challenges for workers accessing Federal entitlements to help out.
  2. Shows the problem with Majority governments. We got the citizen support, not necessarily because it was a Liberal government federally, but I hold it was a minority goverment, so more than one political ideology needed to be heard in the devision making process for Peace, Order and Good Governance of Citizens.
  3. Public eduction in Alberta needing to be reinvested in, and to teach critical thought, but also history of our species in such a way that builds compassion and empathy (so tired of the reductionist to outright denial of Holocaust, Residential Schools my kid is standing against).
  4. Mental Health- it has been the rallying cry as children have been used as proxies and trojan horses in the logistical gymnastics that led the five waves. But many do not understand the term beyond the Twitter sound byte. What does it mean to go beyond the mental health tweet?

What does it mean to go beyond the mental health tweet?

It is needing to understand we have travelled through a communal trauma. Previously I wrote about who will be missing in the pew when the tape comes off, but this is something that is going to hit those who have invested so much time/anger and definition of person in being anti-vax/anti-mask. What happens, when there is no longer that collective drive? Collective anger? When they have to face reality of who in their personal circles of supports, loved ones and family have long covid? Have died? Or quietly disconnected, and having seen the worst of a person exposed no longer want relationship?

Is our mental health system robust enough for 15% of the population in mass grieiving?

And that does not even touch upon the fact, that we have fixated so long on what was lost in c-tine for those who followed mandates, and got vaccinated, that we have not taken time to celebrate the joys and triumphs. There is many, as the normal was paused and crumbled, and we were able to be differently. It is in engaging in this work that we renew and grow resilience as the battle ends.

Then there is the guilt and shame and grieving. Even if you are the one that disconnected the relationship it is change, and change brings grieving. Taking time as we reset, to acknowledge the loss. Even if work has changed, housing has shifted. Take time to abide and feel, process, reach out and engae with mental health support. Even if you think there is nothing there, and you are okay, treat your mental and emotional health like your physical. Have that annual check up, check in, be heard, affirm what works, and see what other tools you can add to your tool box.

This doesn’t even touch on the kiddos, who have carried even more of a burden of the possibility of bringing this to thier grandparents, their medically complex siblings, or other family. Have we supported them in processing their grief and emotions through the rolling changes? Have we helped them see the joys and serenity that truly builds their resilience?

What of those who have clearly heard the eugenics message from society, like myself, existing with pre-existing conditions, like my son, that the rock was rolled away, and we heard society say clearly–

You are expendable for my wing night?

March 1, will be what it will be, but do not hide behind mental health as a hashtag for rationale unless you support a robust government investment in the system of support.


Reading Andre Picard’s 2021 book, Neglected No More, about long term care in Canada. The introit is so true– covid did not break long term care, it revealed something most knew to be true. A system underfunded, not in the right jurisdiction, and ripe for abuse/neglect. Though there are many ideas on how to make better, and many trying to do just that, it is lost.

It reminded me growing up, when someone would age and need long term care, my Nan & Granddad sharing stories of his parents in care, and how they knew back then that you had to vary the routine of visits to ensure staff would provide (nee: owner-operators-managers would ensure proper coverage) proper care. Are we ready to rise to the challenge? We have abysmally failed the Greatest Generation? Will we do the same to the Boomers? That is proper funding, proper supports, staffing, wages & benefits (a powerful note, using casual & p/t & contract staff to avoid paying healthy living wages and providing benefits. Hmmm… wonder which other sector is using this model currently?).

It is the echo reverberating in lives of seniors since the rise of “common sense” and austerity in the 1990’s. That federally saw 5% reductions across the board, and detrimental and harmful policies in Alberta and Ontario to reduce spending. In Alberta the rally cry to pay off the debt, shifting the debt from government level onto the backs of ordinary citizens, privatization that detrimentally removed competing public sector jobs to keep the equal job in the private sector at a liveable competitive wage. It is something that those working in infrastructure in municipalities I encourage you to track with your own jobs.

But back to seniors, it has been a systemic attack on them in Alberta, back to Klein’s common sense revolution, that saw a system that cared and honoured them stripped away, and a pittance returned. Those on AISH in the province, reaching retirment age, are seeing the the loss of already poverty living, and then having the added insult of losing medical coverage for a cost share through Blue Cross.

Don’t believe me about what was taken from seniors? Read Kevin Taft’s Shredding the Public Interest, from the era. He was a bureaucrat with integrity (lost his job) by not shredding the document outlining the playbook of pain. He would go on to lead the Opposition party in the Legislature. After almost a generation of trying to lift Albertans placed in poverty by the illconceived and executed common sense revolution and gutting of our oil royalty system… anger of a few who were hit with hard consequences of actions that allowed for bully motif, and every stereotype and hate to be allowed, erupted in the 2019 election, and a less equitable governing party was elected.

It is a playbook, provincially that has gone back to with the idea of personhood being politicized while a pandemic is politicized. Our current premier, pointing to human best before dates, pre-existing conditions, as reasons that deaths from covid are not valid.

Does elder care, as Picard terms it, need to be revamped?

Yes.

Even more dire, what needs to be revamped in Alberta, Canada’s Bible Belt, is seeing a person as valid, with dignity for life. And it is a long road to get there unfortunately.

Will Alberta answer the call?


Saw a tweet that percolated this rumination:

What “learning to live with covid” could actually be for a healthier world?

1) Paid Sick Leave for all workers (part or full time) so folks can stay home when sick.

2) Increased funding of frontline services, and locales for health services (mental, physical, neurological, and emotional/spiritual-and expansion of harm reduction & abstinence spectrum of services for those experiencing life with Substance Misuse Disorder)

3) Increased investment in communities to create spaces of belonging (this means removing grandfathering and providing grants so all buildings meet the accessibility standards).

4) Requiring proper filtration systems in all buildings (and yes this may need to be another grant program) and no grandfathering so older buildings built pre-2022 can escape the requiement.

5) Investing in communities to remove user fees and membership fees for recreation and hobby leagues so folks can make healthy personal supports.

6) Warming & cooling centres in the extreme seasons for our houseless neighbours.

7) Expansion of affordable housing at an increased rate, this is new builds, converting empty office buildings, and mandating certain percentages of all new builds to be affordable.

8) Renewal of community nursing and social workers in schools and community centres for ease of access to systems.

9) Return to the spirit of the minimum wage laws where no more than 30-50% of income would go to basic needs for a family of four (let that set in).

10) Universal Pharmacare, adding dental and optical to the health care act.

11) Universal Basic/Guaranteed Income

This is a start, but shows we have learned from the scars and wounds exposed during and continuing during c-tine and are committed to a new and renewed reality.