Innovative teacher brings skateboarding into class

New program allows students to create their own skateboard brand and business for high school credit

Innovative teacher brings skateboarding into classUniversity of Alberta grad Kristian Basaraba, ’01 BEd, has been skateboarding for over 30 years. But the high school teacher never thought he’d be leaning so heavily on the sport in the classroom. In 2019, he started the Sk8trepreneur program at Salisbury Composite High School in Sherwood Park, Alta., challenging students to create their own…

Any violation of human rights is a crime against humanity

Doing a little isn’t good enough, especially when we ignore abuses

Any violation of human rights is a crime against humanityPrince George, B.C., officials recently decided to change the name of O’Grady Road, named after a former Catholic bishop of Prince George, to Dakelh Ti, meaning First Nation Road in the language of the Lheidli T’enneh. I knew Bishop Fergus O’Grady fairly well and I don’t think anything would have made him happier. The decisions…

Improve Indigenous lives by looking forward

Being stuck in the past won’t improve Indigenous lives. We need to focus on what’s next

Improve Indigenous lives by looking forwardThe overwhelming majority of Canadians regret the history of European contact with Indigenous peoples, and the injustices and hardships that followed over the hundreds of years since. At the same time, they celebrate Canada’s accomplishments, which have created a Canada that is the envy of the world. New Canadians are more than glad to be…

Earning a law degree fulfils grad’s lifelong dream

Assisting landmark Indigenous cases, Anita Cardinal-Stewart graduates with even stronger passion

Earning a law degree fulfils grad’s lifelong dreamThe caption on her junior-high yearbook photo reads, “Dreams of being a lawyer or an actress.” That was when Anita Cardinal-Stewart was full of hope, and anything seemed possible. But that hope evaporated through her teen years growing up in the Woodland Cree First Nation in northern Alberta. “I started to see how hard it…

Does the Pope’s apology really mean reconciliation is coming?

Catholic church doctrine was used to justify colonization, subjugation and exploitation worldwide

Does the Pope’s apology really mean reconciliation is coming?The papal apology to the Indigenous peoples of Canada on April 1 was an extraordinary moment for the individuals whom Pope Francis addressed directly. And it has the potential for much broader implications. In the days leading up to the apology, Francis listened intently and embraced the pain of the residential school survivors who spoke…

Indigenous Language Club fosters connections to culture and history

Indigenous students engage in the spirit of kinship, learn ancestral languages and enrich lives

Indigenous Language Club fosters connections to culture and historyDanni Okemaw remembers playing outside with her cousins when her mom asked her to stop and watch the television. It was 2008 and Stephen Harper, then prime minister of Canada, was publicly apologizing on behalf of the Canadian government for its role in Indian residential schools – the first step for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of…

Why is Canada’s chief archivist rewriting our history?

Has ordered a purge of documents that “may offend people”

Why is Canada’s chief archivist rewriting our history?Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov was not a nice man but, for a time, he was an important one. He was a favourite of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and was head of the NKVD, the Soviet Union’s secret police. He was responsible for the arrests, tortures and executions during his master’s Great Purge of 1936 to 1938.…

Note to Americans: Education is not genocide

The claims of thousands of “missing children” are false

Note to Americans: Education is not genocideThings have taken a strange turn in Canada on the genocide front. Genocide? Canada? Those are words that you would not normally see together. Words like “polite” or “peaceful” might come to mind. But “genocide,” not so much. In fact, the picture of placid Canadians as practitioners of genocide is downright disturbing. But that is…

Canada is not a half-mast nation

The price of Trudeau's empty gesture was nothing less than a cheapening of the Canadian idea

Canada is not a half-mast nationThe Trudeau government’s decision to keep the Canadian flag at half-mast for more than five months was never more than a half-baked idea. On May 30 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canadian flag would fly at half-mast on federal buildings in remembrance of the residential school students who did not return to their…

Jordan Abel’s memoir, Nishga, probes a dark history

A personal story of intergenerational trauma that was almost too painful to write

Jordan Abel’s memoir, Nishga, probes a dark historyThere were times Jordan Abel wished he’d never started Nishga, the memoir that earned him a nomination for Canada’s biggest non-fiction honour, the Hilary Weston Prize. Writing the book was just too painful, he said. It probes the darkest moments of his family’s history, particularly “the wake of violence that ripples outwards” from the Coqualeetza Industrial Institute,…

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them right

What can be said of those who deny the past and ignore the inherent human rights of their neighbours?

We must accept the mistakes of the past and make them rightIt’s a normal human reaction not only to acknowledge when we’ve done something wrong but to seek to make reparations and heal the relationship with the person we’ve harmed. This is also true on a societal level. As I complete teaching my unit on the residential school system in Canada, I ask students to reflect…

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand it

Governments will only do the right thing if we, as Canadians, demand it

Want justice for Indigenous children? Then demand itI try to be optimistic and embrace the truth that “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” When I examine how the Canadian government treats Indigenous children, however, it’s hard not to be cynical. I began teaching my Social Justice 12 unit on residential schools by watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology…

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the pain

And may make the situation worse

Burning churches, toppling statues won’t ease the painIn July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the arson and vandalism of Catholic churches across Canada in the wake of discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools. After more than 1,100 unmarked graves were discovered at the sites of schools previously run by the Catholic Church in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, protests erupted. Statues…

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocrite

Our surfer boy PM has been a national and international embarrassment since 2015

If you voted for Trudeau and you’re angry about Tofino, you’re a hypocriteWhen Justin Trudeau was first elected prime minister in 2015, there were political issues he said he wanted to tackle immediately. One of his earliest priorities was a desire to repair Canada's fractious relationship with the Indigenous community. "It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples," he told some Quebec-based First…

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliation

We must educate the many Canadians who don’t know what happened to our Indigenous neighbours

Only truth will put us on the path to reconciliationI’ve been teaching high school students about Canada’s residential schools for a number of years. Indigenous content has recently been given a more prominent place in the British Columbia curriculum, and this has had an impact. Students now come to my class with some understanding of this tragic chapter in our history, and we’re able…
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