Ontario’s apology for residential schools positive but “so much is broken”

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Broadcaster Jesse Wente discusses Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s apology, on 30 May, for the province’s residential schools system for First Nations children. (c) CBC

Yesterday, 30 May, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized for the treatment meted out to First Nations children in the province’s residential schools and for the racism that underpinned the schools system.

The apology felt anti-climactic following last year’s release of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but it should be welcomed as a sign that follow-up to the report continues. Continue reading

10 things not so successful people do before breakfast

Inspired by 12 things successful people do before breakfast

keep-calm-and-stumble-along

  1. Hit their snooze button one time too many, then wake with a start and realize they’re already 20 minutes behind schedule
  2. Sit down to meditate but give up after 10 minutes when ‘clear the mind’ becomes an obsessive thought about not thinking
  3. Try to wake their spouse with a gentle shake, and instead get the cold shoulder when s/he turns over and mumbles ‘go away’
  4. Hit the streets for a 5k run, then pull up limping after a calf muscle seizes up – remembering at that point that the last time they went running they pulled the same muscle , then vowed to launch an intensive stretching regime so it wouldn’t happen again
  5. Reach into their pocket for the to-do list they diligently prepared at the breakfast table – only to pull out the grocery list
  6. Log in to their favourite website to catch up on national and global affairs – then are unable to resist clicking on a video of the sports ‘play of the day’, and another, and another…
  7. Elicit an ‘I hate you!’ scream from their child by insisting that, yes, when it’s below zero she must wear a coat
  8. Vow to give up learning Mandarin when the employee at the local corner store laughs into her hand when they attempt to say ‘good morning, how are you today?’
  9. Get a flat tire on their bike and discover that they forgot to replace the patch kit and tools in their backpack the last time they used it as carry-on luggage
  10. Realize too late that they forget to turn the ringer on their phone back on, and miss the call from their boss telling them to stay at home – it’s a ‘snow day’.

Continue reading

(The new) Two Solitudes*

Peter Mansbridge asked an important question Monday night during a panel discussion about the Idle No More movement. ‘Why is it that such extreme views are voiced when indigenous issues are discussed?’ asked the host of CBC-TV’s The National.

The question is important because I see the gulf between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians growing instead of shrinking, and I don’t think that a wider divide is going to benefit any of us.

I see the gulf between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians growing instead of shrinking, and I don’t think that a wider divide is going to benefit any of us.

 Having grown up in a small town on Vancouver Island where many people had strong views on this issue, I think I can answer Mansbridge’s question, for the non-aboriginal side: fairness. Many non-native Canadians believe it is unfair that aboriginal people in this country receive benefits like free education and tax-exempt status.

 I don’t think it’s unfair that aboriginal people are treated differently. Continue reading

Red cross relief for northern Canada community

The Canadian Red Cross delivered aid to the aboriginal community of Attawapiskat on Tuesday. One month ago the community declared a state of emergency over housing conditions as winter approached.

(See my previous post).

According to AFP, the Red Cross delivered generators, heaters, winter clothing and insulated sleeping equipment.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed a finger at the community itself for not spending money provided by his government wisely. However, as the Canadian Press pointed out, the Auditor General previously warned Harper’s government that there was no proper oversight of money being provided for housing on First Nations and that the levels provided were based on dated information.

No doubt more will join the blame game in the glare of the current media spotlight. But are any of the politicians now flying in to show their concern prepared to make the long-term investment needed to tackle this situation, which is repeated in many other aboriginal communities across this country?

And if they’re not, what does that say about Canada?

Excavation of “mass grave” begins at former residential school in Canada

A group of Mohawk people from the Grand River First Nation have begun exhuming what they call a mass grave at a former residential school in Brantford, in the province of Ontario.

A message and video announcing the action is posted on the website of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State. It quotes a Mohawk elder saying the work is being done to “finally give [former students] a proper burial and bring to trial those who killed them”.

The Mohawk Institute was operated by the Anglican Church. It opened in 1828 and closed in 1970.

Is our education system 200+ years behind?

I don’t read much about education – and I started reading the following because I was interested in the style of the video, not the content. But the more Sir Ken Robinson said, the greater my interest grew. Consider:

  • Children’s ‘short’ attention spans should be no surprise given our stimulus-filled world – but medication, and dulling creativity, is not the answer;
  • Working in groups has proven to be the most productive form of organisation, so why are schools not set up this way?;
  • Why do we still organise schools by the ages of children, rather than by their individual strengths, weaknesses or interests?
  • Because, says Robinson, we’re using a model developed during the west’s industrial revolution.

    Watch the video.