Perspective is Everything

 

Rock Dove or Winged Rat?

March 30,2022 – Porto, Portugal 🇵🇹

Our suite during our Porto stay is up 66 steps – at the top of the building. The sunroom faces several other buildings that create an enclosed area. In that area – a pigeon nesting area. Cooing and thoughts of my Grandpa Derksen abound. This is a city of pigeons. Made me think if this post. Time to repost it!

*****

Friday morning, I saw a fleeting reference to pigeons as “winged rats” as I was scrolling through Twitter.  On the drive home, I finally paused to consider why I found this so irritating.  The common pigeon, which apparently, we don’t all know and love, is also known as a rock pigeon or rock dove.  The reference to being a dove evokes a completely different persona than that of a rat.  How could this respect worthy bird be reduced to the stature of a rat, spreader of the bubonic plague?

Pigeons have a special place in my childhood.  I liked the cooing sound they made.  I liked that they made their nests in places you might not expect.  I liked that they had better manners than seagulls or Canadian geese.  I always assumed when I heard the song, “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, it was the appropriate way to treat pigeons.  My Grandpa Derksen (my father’s stepfather) adored pigeons and kept them in the backyard along with the chickens, a rooster, and a peacock, long after they sold the farm and moved to an Abbotsford house.  He loved the pigeons and he loved me.  I loved him and it was my duty to love his pigeons.

I also grew up with stories from my paternal Grandmother, who kept her four kids together in the midst of WWII in Germany before making her way to Canada in 1948.  One of the stories that stood out in my mind was that of the rats.  In the large warehouses where they sometimes found shelter, she would stay awake at night to shoo away the rats that would move closer in the dark night to nibble on the exposed body parts of her huddled family.  My cousin, Kevin, who was never thrilled with his much younger cousin tagging along to the “forbidden without adult supervision” beach across the road on Sundays, added to my horror of rats.

His words have always stuck with me. “You better be careful.  If you fall between those rocks, the rats will bite your foot off.  They we’ll all be in trouble!”  I was very careful.

I went home and searched for the Twitter post.  It turns out, @BirdNoteRadio was just employing a good attention-grabbing introduction to their post.  Phew!  We could agree on the merits of the common rock pigeon.  I followed them on Twitter.  Common agreement makes relationships so easy.

When I was living in the suburbs, one of my fellow Amnesty International group members, first introduced me to the fact that some people love rats.  She had many at home and would bring her favourite rat to Amnesty meetings and let it run around a sling on her neck.  It shouldn’t have been such a leap for me to embrace this practice.  I had loved other rodents – my cousin’s white mouse, my childhood gerbils, rabbits at my grand-parents, and my classroom guinea pigs.  Yet, old biases die hard.  I didn’t embrace rats along with my other rodent friends.

One night someone set fire to one of the portables of the school I was teaching at in Clearbrook.  I arrived to find a sopping wet, rat sitting in a puddle of water in his cage.  Ethical dilemma.  This was not a spreader of the bubonic plague but a well-loved classroom pet.  Contrary to every instinct in my body to walk away, I didn’t.  I changed the bedding.  Dried the rat.  Put him in a warm spot.  I cringed the entire time.

It is hard to change a perspective.  Dismissing other ideas is the path of least resistance.  Most often the “eureka” moment does not wipe away our entrenched understandings to be replaced by inspiration after the instantaneous flash of understanding.  Our background experiences  are often hard-wire and impact our responses long after the dawning of emerging understanding.  To formulate a new perspective, we may need to challenge an emotional response or challenge ideas that we have accepted unconditionally many times over.  The change requires an effort to want to be open to other possibilities.  An unwillingness to consider options frequently results in justifications and entrenchment.   There is still a bristling or cringing, but it comes from being incensed by the  audacity of having our ideas and motives questioned.  The greater the emotional investment in our own perspective, the greater the angst at hearing another perspective presented.  The corollary is an absence of critical thought and the absence of personal growth.

At the end of the day, the conversations that are the most memorable come from diverse perspectives.  Not just disagreement for  the entertainment of playing the role of the devil’s advocate.  Not just to be entertained by the novel response of someone intent on changing your mind with any tools of derision or insult at hand.  But the disagreement that comes from a well thought-out and a well-intentioned perspective of trying to create understanding.  This is the type of conversation that precipitates thought and is considered long after the initial conversation.  It is also the willingness to emerge beyond the “Yeah, but” that proliferates many of our conversations.  The possibility is a greater capacity for empathy and understanding.

Sunday’s Child Reflects- Belonging to a Place – Memoir

Vancouver, British Columbia

I didn’t really understand to the notion of “place” in our lives until I immersed myself in teachings from our First Nations people.  I think that’s what all good teachers do.  Set out to learn what they don’t know.  They immerse themselves in the things they are required to teach.  If the curriculum requires you to teach something, and you don’t like the materials provided, you set out to find other sources of reference.  Perhaps even more so if you are a history major and have wrapped yourself in stories of the past.  The problem with the materials provided in textbooks when I first started teaching, was that they treated the subject as a long past piece of our history.  For me this was reinforced by a well-meaning Grandfather who helped his grandchildren to make bows and arrows in his workshop to stalk one another in the corn fields of Abbotsford.  And depending on where you lived, you may never meet someone who was First Nations, or who declared their First Nations heritage with pride.   It was in the First Nations legends that unfolded in beautifully illustrated picture books that allowed the significance of place in Indigenous culture to emerge.  As Kieran Egan so eloquently articulated, story was the most effective means engaging the imagination and help us to create meaning from history.  The teachings of our First Nations people for the past two thousand years show how the places we learn, and work, and play take root in the people we become.   

In my early years, the stories are of beaches, and parks and a vacant lot.   Place defined where I belonged and what consumed my attention.  Jericho Beach was a five minute walk from my house.  Fog horns, sand, waves and the plaintive call of seagulls were part of my days and nights.  Fish and chips were part of sunny weekends.   The Vacant Lot was just across the street, long before it was developed into Seniors’ Housing.  It taught me that first appearances are never reliable.  You need to lean in and take a closer look.  The Railroad Engine at Kits Beach was still there for free play and adventure to unknown lands.   Tatlow Park was my place.  It was where my Grandpa was the caretaker and my Nanny Keenan hosted Sunday dinners for her 4 kids, her 10 grandchildren, and anyone else we invited.  

I ran with a pack.  Our parents believed our safety was in numbers and our good health in regular outdoor play.  All of us were sent outside to play all the time.  My cousins.  The neighbours.  The other kids who moved into our spaces and places.  The call to come home for dinner came from the backdoor steps not a cell phone. And although we sometimes ventured too far beyond boundaries, we all survived.  Older kids were handed responsibility for younger kids.  We built forts.  We buried dead birds being careful not to touch them and had funeral services complete with prayers for God to watch over them.  We learned that tadpoles were best left in the ponds rather than dehydrated on the side of a forgotten bucket in the laundry room.  We learned that even with great perseverence, we could not dig a hole to China.  We figured out that no matter what kind of family turmoil rocked our lives, the calm waves would prevail and continue to go in and out and in and out. 

I have gravitated back to the places and spaces where I feel like I most belong.  And no matter what anyone says, you can in fact go home.  Warm memories from my childhood, intertwine with the memories my husband and those I have created with our family and friends.  The comfort zone that came from familiarity with beaches, parks, and vacant lots of unseen potential, extended out into other aspects of my life.  Give me a beach, a park and some wetlands, and I can tap into a sense of joy that comes with feeling a sense that this is a place that you belong.  These are my places, whether they are in California or Italy or the Southern Interior of British Columbia.  

Sunday’s Child – This is the memoir thread in my blog. Many of my “aha” moments of life emerge from my reflections of the past. This is my place to do just that.

WAV Wednesday – A Vancouver Conundrum

Look around and there are many signs that spring has in fact sprung. The sun is pushing away the gray days. Daffodils are peaking up in the grass by the seawall. Bouquets of crocuses are scattered in the gardens. Trees of pussy willows are showing their faces. New leaves and buds can be spotted every direction you turn. The snow on the mountains is heavy. There are line ups to hit a bucket of balls at the golf course. The number of walkers and joggers is burgeoning. All signs of spring.

And yet, there is ice on my deck.  Frost on the ground.  Walkers and joggers are bundled in toques and warm jackets.  Only the very committed bike enthusiasts fill the myriad of bike routes that snake through Vancouver.  Evenings in front of the television are still more appealing than evenings in the park, or on the seawall, or walking through the neighbourhood.  Netflix, Prime, Apple TV and Britbox subscription have been extended for yet another month.  All signs that winter is not quite over.

Yet, with the sun comes the promise of better things to come.  It brings smiles.  It brings hope.  This year, it carries a double dose of hope.  The hope that the decreasing numbers of COVID will continue to diminish and become less a central focus in our lives.  That kindness and contentment will outshine angry outbursts and fear.  Also the hope that comes with the emergence of new life in the world around us.  There is a special joy that comes with watching a hydrangea bush emerge into full bloom from seemingly dead branches.  Witnessing a weeping willow morph from swaying bare branches to a full feathery curtain to run through.  

Spanish Banks

This time in between seasons is the very best time to pause and notice.  Then ask WHY? And HOW?  And set off on a quest to answer your questions.  To have conversations about them.  To open books and do online research.  New discoveries spark joy whether you are 5 years old or 55 years old.  The goal of formal education is to fuel the desire to learn and tools to make discoveries throughout a lifetime.  The outdoors is the most inspiring stimulus and natural place for this to happen.  

A Wild About Vancouver (WAV) Wednesday post.

Sunday’s Child Reflects – Ode to Joy – Memoir

Whistler, BC

My little brother was a good sleeper. His nap time was one of my favourite times I experienced with my father when I made the trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles to see him for summer holidays. When my little brother would go down for his nap, my father would blast his tunes on his amazing sound system which would reverberate through the house. This was not quiet pastoral background music. It was how classical music was meant to be played. Big and booming to command rapt attention to even the subtle changes in the music. My Dad would sit on the couch, lean back, and cross one leg over his knee. I’d curl up beside him with his arm around me.

He would blast his favourites, which also became my favourites. This is when I learned to listen to classical music and learned the stories of the composers and the time. Beethoven’s 5th, 9th, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture became etched in my mind. Some tunes I recognize instantly but can’t name. The Russian defence from Napoleon’s invading army became associated not with victory but with warm contentment. Stories of Beethoven the man losing his hearing became intertwined with the music and a lesson in possibilities. My Dad would lift his arm to conduct the music and I would follow suit. This would be the music I didn’t mind practicing for piano lessons.

I never had the opportunity to ski with my father. He did have a great opportunity to invest in a cabin at Whistler but it was not to be. However, my favourite place to ski on Whistler Mountain is the Symphony chair, just beyond Harmony chair. The Ode to Joy, Adagio, Glissando, and Symphony Express. All these runs allow you to establish a rhythm as you cruise down through the trees. Turn right by the giant wooden flutes at the top of the chair, overlooking the Flute Bowls, and you can cruise over to Rhapsody Bowl with its big open spaces and panoramic views. You add some sunshine and some warm memories, and it is just one big ode to joy.

Sunday’s Child – This is the memoir thread in my blog. Many of my “aha” moments of life emerge from my reflections of the past. This is my place to do just that.

Triggering Joy in Vancouver Life Outdoors

A conversation with a Vancouverite will lead you to one conclusion about Vancouver, British Columbia.   It is either the most brilliant place in the world to live or a drab haven of rain to be tolerated or simply abandoned.  Just before any of my travel adventures when I was young, my maternal grandmother who was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba, would look at me with disgust and utter,

“Girl, why are you going any place else?  God’s already put you in the best place in the world to be!”

Traveling in Venice when our children were tiny, we were caught in a torrential and quite unexpected rainstorm.  The citizens and tourists of Venice ran for shelter.  Our little family did not.  We looked up and relished the break from the heat.  Our youngest looked up with a smile of delight, giggled and said,

“Oh, Mummy!  It smells like home!”

Obviously, we embrace the brilliance of Vancouver.  Growing up by Jericho Beach as a very little girl and spending Sunday’s at Tatlow Park where my grandparents were caretakers, meant I spent a lot of time outdoors.  I have happy spaces and places all over the city.  I love to curl up to read, but reading on reading triggers joy and contentment.  I met my husband out dancing wildly into the night with my friends as we celebrated graduating from university, but it was the fact that I was out jogging the next morning when he called, that triggered long term relationship interest.  We are a family of bikers, hikers, swimmers, skiers, snowboarders, joggers, golfers, and lovers of nature.  We not only love to be outdoors, but most of our favourite family memories that elicit uncontrollable laughter, took place outdoors.  We carry the outdoors in our heart.  

Supporters of Wild About Vancouver and its signature Tidal WAV Outdoor Festival have this love of being outdoors in common.  We have first-hand knowledge of the benefits of being outdoors.  For some it is the physical activity and challenge of taking on challenges outdoors that leave you with a sense of accomplishment.  That accomplishment can be through competitive sport or something more deeply personal.  My son relished the euphoria of bouncing on top of cars and doing death defying jumps while trials riding as a kid.  My husband loved the rush of trail riding and continues to throw himself into the challenge of biking uphill.  We all celebrated like it was an Olympics win, the first time my daughter was not DQ’d (disqualified) for her butterfly stroke in a swim competition.  My greatest claim to fame was when some woman shouted “Good form!  You can do this!” when I thought I was going to die approaching the finish line of my very first Terry Fox 10 K Run.  The echo of that woman’s voice has gotten me over many finish lines.  

For some supporters of Wild About Vancouver, the biggest merit of the outdoors is the fascination of watching new leaves unfold, the first pussy willows emerge in spring, or the recognition of personalities and characteristics of the birds in gardens, on city streets, or at the beach.  Many of our WAV supporters capture the wonder on cameras with fancy lenses or iPhones.   As an educator, taking students outside has been the way for me to spark interest and questions to ignite inquiry studies and student learning that goes deep. Nature stimulates learning that continues to bubble at home and directs the way to libraries, bookstores, online learning and stimulating conversations.

The mental health aspects of being outdoors has been magnified by COVID.  The people really struggling to cope with the pandemic are those people terrified to venture outside.  Yet, it is the outdoors that offers the glimmer of what is good in the world.  Fresh air for one and the wonder of the mountains and creation.  The fact that no matter what, the tide will go out and it will come back in.  We will exist beyond whatever is thrown at us.

Wild About Vancouveris a grassroots movement that was born in 2015 as a as the brainchild of Dr. Hart Banack, now Assistant Professor at The University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.  He brought passionate people together to form a Steering Committee that bubbled over with stories of the merits of spending time outdoors.  The Tidal WAV Outdoor Festival came about so that people living in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver could be exposed to the many ways to engage in outdoor activities not just for physical health, mental health, experiential learning, and to trigger a love in nature and interest in preserving our environment – BUT FOR ALL OF IT.  We are delighted that we have a perfect partnership with The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreations and have secured Second Beach and adjacent areas in Stanley Park for the venue for the Tidal WAV Outdoor Festival in 2022.  We are also delighted that the shroud of COVID is beginning to life and that we are confident the event will go ahead on Friday, June 3, 2022.  We anticipate that educators will bring students and student volunteers will al contribute to making the day amazing.  That and the fact that it is International Donut Day and International Donut Day.  The possibilities are endless!

Join the WILD OF VANCOUVER Steering committee of volunteers to make the TIDAL WAV Outdoor Festivalin Stanley Park a success on June 3, 2022.  We need people to:

  • host events,
  • donate financial support (tax deductible receipts are issued) for honoraria/ expenses for sound and staging, 
  • people to share their stories about engaging outdoors via social media (tag us @wildaboutvan #getoutdoors)
  • and to attend.  

Go to the Wild About Vancouver website for information about what you can do to Get INvolved OUTdoors!

Garden Librarians in Our Midst – Education

Megan Zeni and Sarah Regan – Garden Librarians Extraordinaire!

It was a breath of very fresh and very cool air on my visit to Homma Elementary School in Richmond, British Columbia.  I was welcomed to the School Garden and teaching space by the garden librarians, Megan Zeni and Sarah Regan, and two Grade 3 / 4 classes of students.   All of the kindergarten to Grade 7 students at Homma Elementary spend two hours a week in the Garden Classroom each week while their classroom teachers have their teaching preparation time.  During this time, the dynamic Garden Librarians, provide a number of provocations to encourage inquiry, provide opportunities to explore through play, and stimulate creative play.  

Today student attention was focussed of the sleepy butterfly garden and what will be needed to bring it to life.  There were several stations to facilitate individual thought, collaboration and exploration:

  1. A butterfly puzzle station
  2. A seed catalogue station to consider the school order for seeds to attract butterflies
  3. The small loose parts station
  4. The observation of the butterfly garden station
  5. The butterfly book station

There were no complaints about the cold.  There were lots of examples of engaged, purposeful learning.  One group of students explained how the Squirrel Obstacle Course worked and how it came into being.  

Another group of students talked about their favourite parts of the large, loose parts station.  The Richmond School District has been very progressive in their acknowledgement that small logs, stump seats, skids, tires and other found objects capture student imagination and help students to develop the skills to navigate life safely beyond a playground.  Clearly this is one of the favourite play spaces.

Playing with found materials also know as “Loose Parts”

The Mud Kitchen is a well entrenched part of the playground.  It is open at recess and lunch and remains stocked with items for play after the school day ends.  Community members appreciate this and frequently contribute items.  

The Mud Kitchen

The medical community has recently been allowed B.C. doctors to prescribe “nature time” to support the mental health of patients.  Educators have long been aware of the power of a physical outlet and time out in nature for students.  We are just learning about all of the additional benefits of ensuring this happens on a regular basis.  Homma Elementary is a good example of how schools can support time outdoors, not only with playgrounds but with interactive gardens, mud kitchens and gazebos that facilitate outdoor time.  

Check out Megan Zeni and follow her @Roomtoplay on Twitter and Instagram for more ideas.

Megan will also be doing an online session to support the upcoming Tidal WAV event at Second Beach on June 3, 2022.  Stay tuned!

This is another Wild About Vancouver Wednesday post.  Happy hump day!

From Your President: BCLCILA

Happy 2022 from The British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association – January 28, 2022

So pleased we had a window to meet in person: back- Kelly, Larkyn, Carrie, Garth, Kathryn
Front/ Karen and Linda
Mike Bowden online / regrets Chelsea Miller

I hope very much that you are well.  Unfortunately we are not yet able to say Good Riddance to COVID.  Linda Klassen, leading the charge in membership, recently attended an online meeting with close to 40 Chapter leaders from the United States, Canada and Australia.  There was lots of commiserating over the teacher fatigue and the challenges of engaging people via online professional development sessions.  Educators love nothing better than getting together to talk about literacy, their students, and plan events.  Fortunately, the International Literacy Association has been able to pivot and embrace online professional development opportunities with inspiring educators and authors.  The $99.00 institutes give you access to many inspirational and well known speakers.  I highly recommend it.  

Yet, there is much to celebrate in the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association (BCLCILA).  We have long been trying to recruit new members on our executive council.  It is a challenge to let go of the positions that become part of our identities over consecutive appointments and step back to mentor new members, while still giving them the freedom to put their own person stamp on the position.  Fortunately, we have a welcoming executive council with an open mind to new ways of being.   Of course, COVID has heaped truck loads of stress onto our educators, leaving scant energy reserves to take on new projects.  We are so appreciative of our new members taxed with responsibility and still willing to do the work.  

We are fortunate that our council now has a diverse range of focus, skills, experiences and background.  We now have representation from elementary, middle and secondary classroom teachers, resource teachers, librarians, vice principals, principals, Orton Gillingham tutors, representation from the public and private system, and educators in various stages of their career.  The common denominator is the enthusiasm for literacy and supporting literacy learners.  Check out the About Us tab to learn more about our executive members on our website.

The positive impact of learning outdoors on physical health, mental health, and intellectual development through STEAM learning has garnered a lot of attention during COVID.  This year we are joining with the Wild About Vancouver Committee to support teacher’s in teaching and learning in the outdoor classroom.  The annual Tidal WAV event will be taking place on Friday, June 3rd and hosting a number of free activities to support participation in physical activity, place based, experiential learning, STEAM learning and discovery of Indigenous ways of knowing.  BCLCILA will be setting up a literacy booth to provide information about our provincial council and professional developing opportunities through the International Literacy Association as well as doing draws for online memberships and International Literacy Association professional development.  Our vice president, Larkyn Froese, is developing a place-based scavenger hunt.   Our membership person, Linda Klassen is ordering support materials and working with Larkyn to purchase outdoor learning books to put into the hands of students once they have finished the scavenger hunt.   Our former treasurer, now member at large, Garth Brooks, is approaching publishers about donating non-fiction teaching materials for teachers to support outdoor learning.  It is an outdoor event and in June so we are confident that it will be going ahead and have a wide reach.  

If you have other ideas or would like to get involved in serving on the executive or volunteering at the British Columbia Literacy Council Booth during the Tidal WAV, please email us at bcliteracyila@gmail.com

Also find us on – 

Twitter @BCLitCoun1 

Instagram @bcliteracy

www.readingbc.ca

Say My Name

The Twittersphere is rife with opinions about the Holocaust and Indian Residential Schools, largely with little reference to fact. I was recently reading the post of my Facebook friend, Kit Krieger. He has made a list of the names of his family members that did not survive the Holocaust. To state that 25 members of his family died in the Holocaust or at least 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust has an impact, but nothing like the impact of naming names. A name opens the path to acknowledging the humanity of the person. Of recognizing that this was somebody’s baby who loved and who was loved. That this person had hopes and dreams that they could never realize.

One pair of shoes for each child found in Kamloops residential school mass grave

Long before the Holocaust, the deliberate policy of eradicating the language and culture of our First Nations people began.  It was not specific to one leader, but something that was strategically utilized throughout the world as a strategy to deal with “a problem”.  Indigenous people who had lived for thousands of years were defined as “the problem.” Historical readings pointed to the savagery and primitive cultures that would not assimilate to the detriment of their children.  In hindsight, the politics playing out to appropriate land and resources is abundantly clear.  

I learned about the Holocaust in school.  I read Ann Frank and cried.  I visited her house and cried.  I majored in history and learned facts.  I joined Amnesty International to champion human rights. I couldn’t bear to watch Schindler’s List when it was first released in the movie theatres.  I became a teacher and taught my students to value and celebrate diversity.  I carried with me the belief that it we remembered this travesty in history, it would not be repeated.  I believed that the United Nations would change the trajectory of history.  Time has shown it has been repeated.  The eradication strategy as a tool to consolidate political power will not easily be displaced.

The reality of residential schools and forced attendance by Indigenous students has been well documented and available for general consumption for quite some time.  To the credit of Canada, we had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and it is now more widely known, albeit without implementation of the recommendations.  The people who know people who were forced to attend residential schools, and those who listened to stories from survivors during the work of the Truth and Reconciliation have been impacted.  For me it was when my colleague, Latash Nahanee, organized an Indigenous Youth Exchange with students in the Coquitlam School District where we worked and a Friendship House in Ottawa.  I was honoured when he asked me to be the teacher sponsor.  I was also completely oblivious to how much of Canadian history that I didn’t know and how large the fissure was with our Indigenous people.  Family stories had an impact far beyond statistics in textbooks. 

In our culture, you can walk into any cemetery and identify the socio-economic status and presumed value of the person in that space.  My brother, from my neurosurgeon father and his second wife, according to the size and location of his grave marker, is very important.  My mother, apparently less so, based on her place in the modest family plot purchased by her parents.  Rosa May, the town prostitute in the gold rush town of Bodie, California, with her crudely marked grave far outside of the town limits, even less so.  Those disposed of in pit graves, with no markings at all, apparently no value at all.  And yet we know these constructs we place on our dead reveal nothing about the worth of these people.  It is the memories evoked by the mention of that person’s name that has power.  Christopher Peter Dyck and Barbara Ann Dyck (nee Keenan) evoke a rush of warm memories, laughter and hugs, along with an intense sense of loss.  Although the final resting in a cemetery no longer fills a need for me, it is a source of comfort and an important religious rite to many.  At very least, we need to pause, hold a person’s name in our heart, and consider their value.  The display of shoes outside the Vancouver Art Gallery screams the need for acknowledgement.  Mass graves with unnamed children have no place in Canadian society.

As a country, we have shone the light on the human rights abuses of our Indigenous people.  However, that represents the first baby step.  The discoveries of mass graves at residential schools makes it clear that the children being buried at residential schools were somehow considered less than human.  Somehow different enough for them to be treated as less than human.  Our precious children and our fellow human beings who loved them deserved to be treated with the respect afforded to any Canadian citizen.  As a culture, we need to acknowledge and to grieve our lost children.   It is an embarrassment, but it is not to be hidden.  It is hard to stare down the reality that in the very formative years of our young country, we followed misguided practices.  Only when we stare down the truth, do we start to move down the path towards a civilized society that values human rights and does the right thing in the face of injustices.  Perhaps if this work had been done hundreds of years ago across the world, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.  Secrecy has been a weapon.  It has allowed history to be repeated over and over again.  The image of the candle shining a light on human rights is no longer enough.  We need a torchlight where the cockroaches have nowhere to hid.   Then we need to act and treat our fellow Canadians how we would want to be treated if we found ourselves in the same situation.  We need a toolkit of new strategies to deal with conflict.

2022 Tidal WAV at Stanley Park

In 1886 the Vancouver City Council leased the park for $1.00 a year from the province to protect it for public use.  Lord Stanley, a Conservative Party politician then Governor General, opened the park officially in September of 1888.  We are please to announce that Stanley Park  is the amazing venue for the 2022 Tidal WAV Event on Friday, June 3, 2022 thanks to the support of The Vancouver Parks Board. All events will be free for students and community members participating in the wide range of outdoor activities on Second Beach, in the park, by the Ranger’s booth, on the playground and in the park from 9 am to 7 pm. 

Wild About Vancouver is a grassroots movement dedicated to improving the lives of children and community members through outdoor activity and learning.  Check out the WAV website (wildaboutvancouver.com)  for ideas and lesson plans from educators and other community members passionate about spending times outdoors and supporting all aspects of experiential learning outdoors – physical development, STEAM learning, and mental health.

Your friendly Stanley Park Ranger

If you live in Vancouver or are visiting the city, there is a good chance that you will gravitate to Stanley Park.  It is easily accessible by bus, skytrain, seabus, and has ample pay parking.  Over 8 million people visit these 100 acres (400 hectares) of urban park each year.   The Vancouver Aquarium, the horse drawn tours, the heated outdoor swimming pool, The Tea House, Prospect Point Bar and Grill, The Stanley Park Brewpub, and the many concession stands are busy havens of activity for people with money in their pocket.  

The best thing about Stanley Park is that you don’t need to spend money to nurture your mental health, get some exercise and learn about the history, culture and engage in meaningful learning and experience nature.  This is particularly important, given that Vancouver has the highest percentage (16.5) of residents living in Canada of low-income households, according to analysis by Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program (2016 census data).  It Stanley Park is accessible and open to all to enjoy.

Stanley Park is comprised of forest, wetland and seashore shared by over 1,665 species.  You can take in scenic views of ocean, lakes, mountains, sky and natural West Coast trees and birds.   Public beaches are open for swimming and staffed with lifeguards from 11:30 am – 8:00 pm during the summer months, carrying on the long established tradition of Joe Fortes.  You can walk, jog, bike in the infrastructure of trails in the park and not spend a dime.  You can walk the 9 km of the seawall around the park in 2-3 hours, or bike or rollerblade in one hour.  If you’re lucky, you can have a conversation with one of the park rangers or Junior Park Rangers.  You can even participate in caring for the ecological health of this local treasure. 

Stanley Park was home to the Squamish Nation for thousands of years and provided resources for the Musqueam Nation.  Latash Nahanee of the Squamish Nation tells stories of his relations giving birth in this park and enjoying the plentiful food sources from the ocean and the forest.  Certainly, the excess of Canadian Geese was not a problem they pondered and I’m certain they were not addling the eggs.  Clay was plentiful at Second Beach.  Large cedar trees were used for dugout canoes, and clothing.  There is much we can learn about the stories, practices, beliefs and how place played an integral part in daily life of the Coast Salish people, and how they managed to meet their needs without leaving a path of death and destruction of species and habitats.  

The British colonized British Columbia during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.  They quickly discovered that Stanley Park had a treasure trove of trees.  The Park was selectively logged from 1860 – 1880 by six different companies.  The infrastructure of trails through the forested areas were old skid roads from these days.  Brockton Point was selected as the ideal spot for a lumber mill in 1865 and close to 40 hectares (100 acres) were cleared for this purpose.  Coal Peninsula was then set aside for military fortifications to guard the entrance to Vancouver Harbour.  This saved Stanley Park from further development.  Today there are roughly half a million trees, some as high as 76 metres and some that are hundreds of years old.  For the past 100 years, trees have come down only due to three significant windstorms and the massive clean-up afterwards.  The cleared area from days gone by became Brockton Oval, a sports field that has been well used since that time.  

Wild About Vancouver is a grassroots group that is always working to engage community participation. The success of events offered, the planning, the promoting, the coordination and the fundraising is determined by community involvement.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 from 7 – 8:30 pm. Please consider joining us.

Wild About Vancouver Steering Committee Meeting

Agenda

  1. Status update on planning and fundraising efforts 
  2. Future directions and tasks
  3. Working groups will meet in breakout room.
  4. Participants will choose the breakout room that they want to join
  5. Reporting back to the group 
  6. Adjournment

Please email WAV at wildaboutvancouver@gmail.com for more information and to access the ZOOM link for the January 25, 2022 planning meeting at 7 pm.

Reflections of Writing 8 – Shakespeare’s 1st Folio in Vancouver

Shakespeare’ s 1st Folio

“Now is the winter of our discontent.”

Richard III

Shakespeare’s words ring just as clear in this time of COVID, floods, and climate change as they did 400 years ago.  The crisis changes.  The characters change.in appearance but not in character. The plot and the theme remain surprisingly the same.  The beauty and authenticity of the written word is what endures in documenting the human experience.

As a little girl, on trips down to see my father in California, The Gutenberg Bible and the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales at The Huntington Library were annual parts of the trip.  My most special gifts from my father are the two books he bought me on our last visit together to The Huntington Library in 2015.  The staging of the displays in The Huntington Library provided part of the awe.  The dim lights.  The quiet.  The illuminated letters.  The artwork in the text.  An actual printing press.  The special focus on the books created a sense of magic.  That sense of awe would only increase as I aged.  

The Canterbury Tales and The Gutenberg Bible at The Huntington Library

The Gutenberg bible helped me to understand the impact that the written word could have on culture and spirituality.  Stories that had been passed down through the oral tradition, all the sudden had the power to change lives for the better, or for the worse.  The words could impact human thought on a massive scale.  Those words could be used to build community, teach empathy and spread love.  Or those same words could be used to consolidate power, judge, assume superiority over others and propagate hate.   And all this power is possible from the telling of a story.  In elementary school, I did decide it would be important to read the bible.  The lists of who beget who quickly lost me.  It was the parables and the psalms that held my attention.  And story and poetry has held my attention ever since.

The Canterbury Tales was fascinating because although it was written over 500 years ago in medieval times and was never finished, yet the characterization of the pilgrims on the road to Canterbury grabbed and consolidated appreciation of Chaucer as one of the most influential writers in history.  Chaucer not only brought to life people living in medieval times but created sketches of people we can identify in our lives.  The Physician who loves gold, the unscrupulous friar, and the merchant who is known for business yet is deeply in debt are just a few examples of characters that we love to hate.  I would not get to know these characters until high school because I found it impossible to decipher the old English.  Yet, that experience in itself, gave me a healthy appreciation that language changes over time and the importance of it being accessible. 

The First Folio of William Shakespeare has garnered the enthusiasm of Vancouverites.  I arrive at 9 am for the early viewing event for members at the Vancouver Art Gallery.   A maximum of 20 people in the fourth-floor display resulted in a very long, socially distanced line.  The recent acquisition by the University of British Columbia, the First Folio was on display along with the other three of Shakespeare’s seventeenth century Folios.   The excitement in the room was mostly due to the people choosing to gather to view the exhibit.  There were the photographers, people drinking in the quotes and information on the walls, and the people with earbuds using the QR codes to hear the moderated presentations and relishing in the familiarity of Christopher Gaze’s voice.  And then there were the groups of friends.  

As an aspiring writer, I am well versed in eavesdropping.  The friend groups were the people most wanting to share their own Shakespeare experiences with each other.  They would congregate in front of a book and then talk about Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, the Strafford Festival in Ontario, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London or the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  At the time, I was a bit annoyed that they were blocking the text needlessly.  However, I could appreciate that if my Bard Buddy had been feeling better, we would have been doing the same thing.  My friend John is masterful at remembering when we saw each Bard on the Beach production since started buying season’s tickets many years ago.  

As a literacy person, my main focus was in the enduring quality of the written word.  These plays that were written 400 years ago, capture all the basics of the books we flock to read today.  Love, sex, jealousy or perhaps envy according to Brene Brown, and a quest for power and prestige, weave in and out of all our most popular books.  When I sit down to write, I’m possessed with creating something original, and yet over the course of the last 500 years, we are simply writing redoes of the great themes in The Bible, The Canterbury Tales and the works of Shakespeare.  The context changes and challenges change but they look remarkably similar in comparing texts.  Perhaps all we can bring to our work is our authentic voice in writing our stories and poetry.  

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