Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Why? Well why not (and last I checked it was my blog lol). Anyways it is also a way to explore some issues in lifespan development we may not want to touch upon. It relates to a three arc novel (unofficial trilogy) by Kirsten Beyer in the Star Trek: Voyage book series. That being Protectors (2014), Acts of Contrition (2014), and Atonement (2015). I will attempt my best to not reveal any spoilers in the action, as it is quite a fun read through all three books in the adventures of Starship Voyager with Captain Chakotay at the helm, and Vice Admiral Janeway (recently returned from the dead) in charge of the Full Circle Fleet back in the Delta Quadrant.

There are some ethical questions that arise within the series, it would not be Star Trek without it.

In no particular order we have to deal with Admiral Paris’ widow challenging Tom Paris (first officer of Voyager) and B’ellana Torres (Voyager Chief Engineer) for custody of their child, siting them as unfit to be parents. It is a balance of battle between family dynamics, hurt, fear of the unknown, grief reactions, and what family believes is best for a child.

Follow that with the parallel that there is a plague attacking Federation worlds, and a mysterious wing of Starfleet Medical has “recruited” or “captured” the non-Borg ala Axum and Seven of Nine to mine them for a cure. Raising the question of medical ethics, and what price is life to be saved? How much of one’s own humanity– ethics– morals can one let slip away to achieve a goal, and what exactly is the goal of the medical facility? Is it to treat a plague or create a weapon?

The challenge of going from crisis to crisis.

What is love? As Chakotay and Janeway continue growing their relationship.

What is the definition of family? What does it mean to support family? How far would you go to save a family member?

In the midst of all that, Mrs. Janeway (Katherine’s mother) makes a comment that I believe is very astute for us in this day and age, as we journey through Lent to reflect upon. She points out that Janeway was educated not in the streamed schools for Starfleet academy, even though her parents knew that was her destiny. Their goal was to give her as broad an education as possible through the public system so that she could be exposed to many interests, activities and knowledge.

Stop and reflect on that. As our public education system continues to move to more specialized schools. As parents have over programmed children that during the Polar Vortex in Calgary recently parents were freakin’ out on Facebook because they had already done all these activities with their kids and had no idea what to do next. Before a child leaves elementary school we want them to know their future.

Then we sit and wonder why the rise in anxiety and mental health issues within children. We have to read experts saying to allow kids to be bored. The rise of social media and the ability for anyone to publish an opinion that others will quote as fact. Algorithms that eventually keep you in an echo chamber online. We have a history and knowledge of humanity at our finger tips, but are unable to process because learning is no longer an endeavour to simply learn, and critically think.

What if we paused and realized there is time for specialization of expertise later in life. That as one ages and grows a passion for learning and hobbies needs to be nurtured and developed. How to fill boredness with creativity and interests is not done through scheduling and programming, it is done through being present in life and connecting with a child, with another human being.

As the mentors of the present generation, we need to allow growth and understanding, exploration and learning. It is about discovery. It is about passion. It is about knowing who your child is, but being a rounded person able to human, means not just streamlining to specific interests for “job prospects” but to become a fully enriched human being with a passion for life long learning.

What else happens when you have that innate curiousity cultivated?

You are able to think outside yourself, your own self-interest and selfishness. As such you are able to have empathy, compassion and love for others. The question then is changed from, how does this effect you…to a better one as to how this creates a loving community (world ) of belonging for all?

A courageous safe space.




I am starting to think I sound like a broken record around the constitutional guarantee in Canada of “Peace, Order and Good Governance”. Many in electoral reform circles like to focus on the method of electing officials instead of the first step being unity of the citizens. As ideological entrenchments begin to outstrip collective good, Americanized fear based media mongering creeping into the Canadian narrative, we are now seeing an entrenched Urban versus Rural mindset.

I have family that lives both sides of this developing divide. Those who are in Rural Alberta, and Urban, I am an urbanite that enjoys the pace and community of the smaller centre life. Some would say the provincial collapse of the PC Dynasty is to blame, but I would point out in that dynasty neither group got effective representation as they could have had. Currently some would point to the NDP-UCP fiasco and that perpetuating the divide, I would say there is plausibility to that theory.

What is hard is that in the current discourse of society we enjoy to out shout someone, to keep our argument to 240 characters (I don’t know whether to thank Twitter for the increase or not), never give ground acknowledging someone else’s point is valid, always seek the one solution for multiplicity could not be possible and that surely there is not shared concerns. I could easily pull a conservative rural troll argument on an Urban issue to prove a point, but I will invert- Jason Kenney, his politicking on the issue aside, tweeted an Okotoks RCMP crime watch picture of thieves…was the response some decent kudos and retweets—no it was the vitriol. We all share these from our area when the police issue them, we even share them from other jurisdictions, but we have become entrenched in the belief that our concerns can’t possibly be the others.

Instead of Rural Albertans and Urban Albertans—howzabout a simple statement, We are citizens of Canada, that live in Alberta (or Albertans). In fact, I would challenge the Alberta Government to look at creating exploratory committees on issues differently (and yes this is the party of the majority, the loyal opposition, and all other elected MLA’s).

Crime is something that is a province wide concern. Rurally you have a mixture of long-term settlers; reserves and colonies (colonies being of Hutterite, Mennonite and Dukhobor), plus persons with disabilities, an aging population. What are you seeing? Oh, an urban population just spread out over more land? Amazing when we talk about who are neighbours are in context what it means. It means though more spread out where someone coming home, as my wife did 3 years ago, will notice shattered glass and a robbery to call police right away, or someone in the yard is only feet away from the house and call the police right away…it means on a large farm it may be a call to the RCMP detachment that services a county of many farms/villages/colonies/etc. with a few constables. It may be reporting what has been stolen, but not right away as you were not in that building every day and just noticed it. It could be hunters poaching animals on your land during hunting season as one of our MLA’s has been found guilty of doing. We know drug use is rampant in both settings, but we know pipelines come through smaller centres (20 years ago it used to follow the old still lines via Water Valley) and then distributes through new city subdivisions down to the core. Same issues, different complexities.

Health Care. We know the idea of population based health care. Leveraging home care so individuals can stay in their homes longer. The need for mental health supports. All these things we do by population numbers (and trust me in urban settings like Calgary we do not have capacity). Yet rurally they have the same instances per capita, yet more spread out, and continually seeing closure of facilities. No, it is not just like travelling via transit or circle road to the next quadrant to access that care or relative who has moved. In some cases it becomes hours via highway to the next level of care or housing. Urban dwellers voice concerns when families are separated due to coding systems and stressors. When quantity of life, and the number a person is, is placed over quality of life. Rurally, it can be whole counties that separate spouses due to their “code” of care. It can even be moving from one town to another, coded to one home, then one physically needs higher physical care, and even in a lower use jurisdiction when there is a two bedroom available and all the experts sign off, the powers that grant housing say NO because the codes are different. No context taken in, not quality of life looked at.

Yet whether you live in a city or rurally, you watch your elders, your children, who are in need suffer. You watch as the need for access to mental or holistic care is denied because you either live in a city where wait lists are huge, or in a rural place where the population does not allow and must travel. Travel is not always a plausibility.

Education… many factors in, we complain about cold days this winter in Calgary, but what of the same weather that literally shuts down bus routes in some areas, how many days are lost? For that time is there some technological solution to ensure all Alberta students regardless of residence receive the best education possible?

Poverty reduction—better term: Improving the affordability of life.

Caring for our seniors so their golden years can be adventuresome not fighting for survival.

See…the political system wants you to view where someone builds a life as another way to create an us-them divide. BUT WE ARE ALL IN THIS.

I propose, and it is out there now as open source policy for any party that wants to think outside the ideological box:

Committees of research and reconciliation be struck to explore these topics in real time. They need to be all party committees. But I challenge some points to really get into the flow (for the action research projects you can use a TRC model or World Café, as they allow the story up to now to be told, but then the impetus becomes on the solution moving forward as one):

  • The chair needs to live in a riding not in the setting (Rural chair needs to be from one of the 7 cities; Urban chair needs to be from rural ridings)-if a government MLA chairs one, the official opposition MLA needs to chair the other.
  • Membership needs to be made up of leading community leaders of the area; but also of some experts on the topic, and MLA’s from the various parties with no majority given to any party.
  • The reports need to grow policy recommendations for a new system that serves all Albertans (if taken federally, all Canadians, because let us be honest it is time to look at the Constitutional Division of powers and what reality of 35-40 million people need to be supported in a globalized world).
  • The role of the legislature with the tabled reports is to work with this as the premise to grow from, not to create partisan hot potatoes.

Other points to improve our democracy:

  • If the premier comes from a rural riding, deputy premier needs to be named from an urban riding, if the opposite does not exist in the governing party they must name from another sitting MLA.
  • Learn from the Yukon, if Premier is non-indigenous, Lieutenant Governor should be named from Treaty or Metis Nations or one of the Colonies as noted above in the article that make up our mosaic.
  • Amend laws for all electoral districts that one must live in the riding they are seeking to be an elected official in. Paper/parachute/write-in candidates cost our system money through vetting and printing of ballots. If a party cannot locate someone to run under their banner in said area they do not run a candidate, running a full slate is not a given.
  • Eliminate PAC donations (I would propose eliminating all donations and just provide free radio air time for the direct candidates’ campaign not the party, and have a certain number of debates set up that the person must attend unless they can document why not (i.e. Sickness).
  • Create a mechanism to encourage more independents to run by allowing Elections Alberta to issue tax receipts for their reported donations lists (if donations continue).
  • All donors’ lists must be ratified by a trained accountant and publicly posted no more than 1 week before vote time (so no fundraising last week of election-that is if donations can persist).
  • Sidebar, the federal idea of bailing out local newspapers has merit in renewing democracy if as part of the money they must carry 50% local content by local writers/photographers, and at least 1/5th of content must be to be looking at politics providing editorial space to a range of voices. Y’know what newspapers were like before conglomeration.

These are my ideas. I am what one would call “post-partisan”. I have always looked at the local candidate to conclude on my vote. Yes, I ran in 2006 for the Federal NDP, but I have also worked with the Federal PC Party and Federal Liberals, so meanderings with Greens and Communists and many other smaller parties and independent candidates. Remember parties are a functionality of our system, not how our system is designed to work so these things and others, are possible to create reform that bring us back together, united in our diversity.

A true Canadian Mosaic.

First we must see them as us, and us as them, or better yet, as neighbour, as citizen building a better future together.

The following is an e-mail that was sent out to parents of students in the Calgary Board of Education. It is there response to Bill 1- A Reduction in School Fees. Please note my pithy, yet thought out response will follow in bold italics. Also note that it is an organization using tried and true status quo methods of deflection in Alberta—when in doubt blame another level of governance for you inability to actually serve those you are charged to serve. As many have noted government is neither business nor non (not) for profit but a hybrid with a dash of exceptional. For far too long in Alberta we have settled for mediocre, and as the School Board Trustee elections approach in October 2017 I implore all Calgarians to vote for anyone but the incumbents for the future of our kids.

Now without further ado, their status quo deflection:

Update on Fees and Transportation for 2017-18


Dear Parents/Guardians

On Thursday March 2, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 1 – An Act to Reduce School Fees. This legislation will impact transportation service levels and fees for CBE families beginning this fall.

As directed by Alberta Education, on March 3, 2017 the CBE forwarded a letter from the Minister outlining some details about changes to transportation. At that time he wrote:

“Bill 1, if passed, will also remove bus fees for eligible students traveling to their designated school. That means that if your child attends his or her designated school and that school is more than 2.4 kilometres away from your home, you will not be charged transportation fees. In some circumstances – for example, if parents choose to enrol their child in a school other than their designated school – fees may still be incurred.”

We still have many questions about this legislation. We are working with the government to seek clarification and work through the details.

Until we better understand the impacts on fees and service levels for our families, transportation pre-registration for the 2017-18 school year cannot begin. We had planned to begin in late April. However, with the introduction of Bill 1 this process will be delayed. Early registration helps us plan our routes more efficiently resulting in fewer changes in the fall. It also allows us to share more accurate route information with our families sooner.

We know this timing may be challenging for our families. During our engagement last year families clearly stated they wanted information on transportation – including service levels, stop locations and timing – as early as possible to begin planning for the next school year. We will do our best to provide information on routes as quickly as possible.

We are also seeking clarification on instructional supplies or materials (ISM) fees. We need to understand if this includes bulk purchase of schools supplies for students in grades K-6.

We will continue to update you once we have more specific details about Bill 1 and what it will mean for CBE families.


My Response from my FB status April 7, 2017:

So CBE multi-million dollar organization is told to start doing their work within the grounds of the constitution, and they e-mail parents pleading poverty essentially, and that services may be cut to the kids—- hmmm… or do what responsible service providers do and look where cuts can actually happen– that is between budget disbursement and kids, look at the bureaucracy, the pay of CBE trustees, and quit threatening the educational mechanism on the front lines. Do not tell us you cannot start taking registration for busing, plan routes, or are unclear on being able to purchase supplies for our kids. Oh and did you remember this year to collect all tax money from the city? Bill 1 is not the enemy, Bill 1-an act to reduce school fees– is actually making life affordable for families, now do what you were elected to do and provide quality education, safe transportation for our kids.

P.S. The Bus Fee controversy is the CBE finally being called out on the smoke & mirrors they did a few years back to punish Special Needs kids and families. We never have a say in where our kids go to school, the CBE designates based on support structures (which makes sense). For this we paid a reduced rate. Parents of typically developing kids got uppity, but instead of working towards what the government has now imposed, short-sighted “fairness” un-advocates accepted raising bus rates for special needs kids, to the typically developing kids rates.

Now if you send your child to an non-designated school that is your choice, and yes you should pay for buses. But if the school, regardless of child, is designated and requires to be bused, I agree with the Ministry of Education, there should be no charge.

-30- for now.

This is a picture of the "Heart Building/...

This is a picture of the “Heart Building/Heritage Hall” at the main campus of Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sonrise Pre-School

Centennial Presbyterian Vacation Bible School

Cecil Swanson Elementary
Dr. Gordon Higgins Jr. High
Lester B. Pearson High School
Junior Achievement of Western Canada
American Society for Quality Control
Future Entrepreneurs of Canada
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
World Wide Robin Hood Society
Mount Royal College (now University)
University of Calgary
Athabasca University
Alberta Bible College
Canadian Theological Seminary, now Ambrose
Northwestern Theological Seminary, Alexandra Writer’s Centre Society,
Alberta Theatre Projects, Writerific, Banff Centre, Dale Carnegie Course

Spiritual Directions, FCJ Centre, ASIST, St. John’s Ambulance, Medic First AID, Non-Violent Peace Force, Calgary Roman Catholic Diocese Pastoral Care Centre

College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, St. Andrews College

Eisner Institute for Professional Studies


Cover of "Bone to Pick: Of Forgiveness, R...

Cover via Amazon

Truth & Reconciliation Commissions are quite en vogue to aid in the mass healing of country. Recently thanks to the discount rack at Mount Royal Uniersity Bookstore, my hunny gifted me with Ellis Cose’s Bone to Pick which tracks these movements.

The intriguing part was when I reached the story of Timor and moving through their process for they dubbed their process: Reception, Truth & Reconciliation.

Why was reception chosen?

For this deeply Catholic Nation, it was reflecting on Luke 15 and asking who would act as the Father in reconciliation process of the Prodigal Son. Which then led them to realize that first each person must receive the other, allow space for the truth to be spoken before reconciliation could be possible.

I have recently had the opportunity to spend 22 weeks doing a distance online course through the ULC Seminary on Biblical Egytpology, it is interesting, would not be as academically challenging as I would have liked, but provided good food for thought, and direction if one wished to continue to dig deeply on the topic, this is my last three page paper.

Who is the Moses of the Exodus?

3 Viewpoints


Moses, a name revered in five Monotheistic Faith traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, and Mormonism), yet still shrouded in mystery.  This short paper will explore three viewpoints about this man of faith and mystery, rage and justice, killer and activist.  The three view points are: (a) Paleo-Seti, (b) Biblical Literalism, and (c) Biblical Egyptology.  By travelling through these three distinct viewpoints, what can emerge for the reader is the simple fact that the historical accuracy of the Moses’ story is not what is important, rather the message and themes that continue to inspire change in our world are.


            Paleo-Seti (Ancient Astronaut Theory) is the view point espoused by such theorists as Erich Von Danikan and Zecharia Sitchin.In Chariot of the Gods (1968) Von Danikan postulates that such structures as the pyramids in Egypt were built with the guidance of visitors from outerspace. Sitchin clearly states that Mount Sinai could be a mistranslation with Sinai (Elohim) being a landing spot for the messengers (aliens) and (p.136-137). This couples with the other concepts around the Exodus story familiar to theorists and the Raeliens (a religion arising around this belief) that aliens guided Moses to create the Ark of the Covenant as a communication device.

            Does this idea differ much from the following Biblical Literalist account, or is it simply another reading of the words on a page?

Biblical Literalism

            Biblical Literalism is the simplest form in understanding who Moses is.  Simply stated, he is the author of the first Five Books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) up to and including his own death scene. He is exactly what is says within the Biblical text, a Hebrew child saved from the massacre by his mother, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, who grew up, murdered a mad, fled to the wilderness and returned to free the people.  The epic adventure is remembered for Jewish people in the event of the Passover, and renewed in the Christian Church in the Easter Holy Week.

            Within the confines of the literalist story what emerges is the story of G-d working in the life of one that may seem lost or irredeemable, one that took time to argue with G-d, yet in the end took a chosen people onwards to become a nation.

Biblical Egyptology

            Biblical Egyptology raises the question of extra-biblical evidence for the Exodus narrative, and more importantly the historicity of this man called, Moses. The first decision to be reached is whether or not one believes the evidence that there was actually a historic exodus, if you side on the affirmative, then the question arises as to when the Exodus happened, and which Pharaoh’s son was Moses and this is decided dependent on which Dynasty you believe the Exodus to have happened in (circa 1500-1200 BCE approximately).

            Biblical Egyptology is as much an art form, as Paleo-Seti, and Biblical Literalism following in the steps of archaeology, theology, and social science.  The key is to understand that the truth proven is only a truth by the facts you have gathered to prove it.


            As a writer, theologian and practitioner of faith there has always been an interest into the history of the events of the sacred stories.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) as my faith journey has progressed, it is easy to look at each of the three viewpoints (and the litany of others) and see statements of value.  What it truly comes down to as one studies, grows, and expands their understanding is bringing the new information alongside the more familiar and going, is this something that aids my understanding and grows my faith or not.  In the case of the study of Biblical Egyptology, in regards to the identity of Moses, it was interesting, gave a new perspective on the story, but has not done anything to grow my faith understanding beyond where it already stood.


“Ancient Alien Theory” retrieved from 10 May 2011.

Sitchin, Zechariah (2007). The Earth Chronicles Expeditions. Rochester: Bear & Company publishing.

Von Danikan, Erich (1968). Chariots of the Gods. New York: Bantam Books.

Veith, WJ, “Egypt and the Bible” retrieved from on 9 May 2011.

So the public school system has decided the easiest way to balance their budget is to cut support staff.  This is more than just janitors and secretaries, it is also the staff that support the differently abled in Calgary and provincial schools.

But wait, what if we rethought how schools function.  Let’s take a step back and think.  Local community associations are struggling for funds, and are struggling to well build community in their areas.  So instead of cutting support staff and teachers, what if: fine arts and sports were moved to the community association purview.

This would mean that several schools in an area would feed into one program which would build bridges, sense of belonging, and community among members of the community (families), it would also free up much needed funds for supports to ensure academic success for all in the schools.

Also, when schools are lagging in numbers what about sectioning off parts of the schools for a local seniors centre, after school drop in, or public day care depending on what the demographics of the area can support?

Thoughts, it is time for us to move beyond the idea of funding as a zero-sum game and to innovate in the way we educate, care for and build community within our province.