School starts Tomorrow!!!! Something you may not be aware about some students….


So I know this weekend, there has been a lot of conversations around Syrian refugees. And it is an important conversation that hopefully opens eyes and challenges hearts.

Now, we are focused on #peegate.

However, I would like to make you aware of something else.
School starts tomorrow. It is an exciting time for many as they are going forward to pursue an education to get a job. To contribute to society in some way. To feel better about themselves. To be better people.

The problem is as school starts tomorrow, there will be many students that will not have a place to stay. At our orientation Friday, several hands went up when asked who needs a place.

I understand that there are many issues surrounding this topic. Here are a couple;

If you call a potential and say you are a student, there is hesitation. If you say you are working, there is more openness to rent.

The cost of coming up with in some provinces, not all, of coming up with one month’s rent plus one month’s damage deposit.

You say live in a Hotel? The Y on Beatty and Robson costs $900 a month. Which being a student, is above my own personal price range.

I find it odd that in a country where we say that we value education, that we would allow students to be homeless. An unsettled student is going to be an disorganized student. A disorganized student will be an unsuccessful student.

We are better off with successful people doing what they are good at.

So be aware and educate yourself on the issues in Syria. If you need too, have a good laugh at #peegate or whatever scandal that comes up today.

But, maybe we can be a bit more aware that there are some Post Secondary Students that will start school living on the streets.

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Agree or Disagree: Calgary Folk Festival should ban Pseudo Indigenous Headdresses.


Last Week, The Edmonton Folk Festival announced that they would ban Pseudo Indigenous Headdresses. This was met with much support from the community of Edmonton and around the province of Alberta.

For those who wonder why they would do this, here is a good read on the topic

Meanwhile, in the fine City of Calgary, we have a Folk Festival coming up this weekend. Which incidentally, tickets are down 10 to 15 percent and is NOT sold out. They have decided to not ban Pseudo Indigenous Headdresses.

This is an article from Metro News on why the Calgary Folk Festival should do this.

Do you Agree or Disagree that the Calgary Folk Festival should ban Pseudo Indigenous Headdresses?

Agree or Disagree: It’s time to remove the Catholic School System.


If you missed it Friday, Luke Fevin and I were on the Ryan Jespersen Show in Edmonton. It was Faith vs Atheism.

You can listen to it 

Now, some of you might have been expecting more of a battle…..and you would have been a bit disappointed. Because we didn’t “fight”. We had more of a discussion. Part of the reason for that is this was a unique opportunity. It’s very rare that a radio show goes into something like this. So, there was some unpacking to do. There still is.

However, there was a debate.Specifically around the issue of Catholic Schools. And the question around if there is a need for a Catholic School System. Here is where I see benefit for a Catholic School System.

-There are still over 800,000 Catholics in Alberta. There would be many families that do benefit from this. There is a sense of community and connection and shared values. It is an opportunity for families to have additional education and exposure to their religion other than the home.

That being said, there are some concerns. First, how they handled the GSA issue. Many Catholic parents and families were rightly angry on how this was handled. Which, quite frankly, was poorly. Second, the idea of a specific religious school for a religion for many seems outdated. They see religion as damaging to people.

So, while Luke and I did not unpack this as much, the topic is very important to many.  I would imagine and expect Luke and I will be involved in other dialogues like this.

But do you Agree or Disagree that it is time to remove the Catholic School System?

Please be respectful in your dialogue.

Agree or Disagree: Alberta’s New School Curriculum will have a negative impact on students


high-school

School.

Some love it.

Some hate it. .

However, we all know how important education is going forward.

There are many parents and educators that have been concerned about Alberta’s new school curriculum. They are concerned that the new discovery approach to school.

To help this conversation, I will add this link  from March 2014. It’s 10 questions about the new school curriculum. It discusses why there a need for change and why some are worried.

What do you think? Will Alberta’s New School Curriculum have a negative impact on students?

Agree or Disagree: Bill 10.


The last week, there was a big controversy and discussion about Bill 202.

If you are not sure what Bill 202 is, you can read it here.

Many people are actually quite supportive of the concepts of Gay-Straight Alliances. However, this bill is not universally supported. There were two major concerns of this specific Bill. One concern has been from religious schools. They feel that Gay-Straight Alliances are contradictory to their religious conviction. (I’m just sharing the facts, not giving a specific opinion here). The other was from some parents. Some parents felt that these alliances were infringing on how parents speak to their children.

Enter Bill 10.

Today, the PC Party tabled this Bill. You can read Bill 10 here.

Now, I can see from Social Media that this is going to go a particular way. However,let’s try to be constructive. With that, I’ll ask some questions.

What works with this Bill? (If you say  nothing, at least back it up)

What doesn’t work with this Bill? (I imagine this will be obvious)

However, perhaps this is the tougher question going forward

Is there an actual way to get religious schools, parents, and the LGBT community on the same page on this issue? I’m on record that I support Gay-Straight Alliances.It is very clear that these are supportive.  I think Bill 202 is the right step.I’m quite confused and perplexed as to why this can’t go forward. But obviously, we can’t . There are still concerns.

How can we actually deal with these issues?

What is BDSM?- A perspective from someone who is in the BDSM Community.


A lot has been made since Sunday’s revelation that Jian Ghomeshi relationship ended with CBC. Shortly after CBC made the announcement, Ghomeshi posted an update on his Facebook. This included the following statement;

“Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life. “

This comment, along with other themes on his Facebook post, has led to many different themes of discussion. One of them was the topic of BDSM.

To be clear, and I think many would assume this, I do not know much about BDSM. I have had some conversations, but my opinions and perspective can be effectively denounced as uneducated. However, I do think in the midst of this discussion and debate of what exactly happened with Ghomeshi, it is important to get sone knowledge on what exactly BDSM is.

This is why I approached someone who I know is a member of the community to write a guest post tonight. But first, some clarity.

From my understanding and conversations, many in the BDSM have chosen to keep this a private manner. There are several different reasons for that. Family, confidentiality, fear of judgement. For these reasons, the person and I have agreed that the author be anonymous. I hope you can respect that. I also hope that you respect that this is a perspective, and as you will read, it is one perspective. This person give’s theirs.

So, I hope this gives you a perspective on what BDSM is.  My sense is this debate about Ghomeshi is long way from over. The topic of BDSM and what it is will continue. 

I also ask that you refrain from any judgemental and abusive remarks to the individual. 

Read below.

I never heard the name Jian Ghomeshi before this week and I still don’t really know anything about him. What I do know is that because of this man, it seems the whole country is abuzz. Now I’m not one to decide innocence or guilt, I’ll leave that up to our justice system but I do take issue with anyone being judged based on their sexual orientation or their lifestyle choices. As I said, I’m not one to decide innocence or guilt so I am not going to speculate what happened between Jian and his former lover. What I hope to do is spread an understanding of what BDSM is. I have always been of the belief that the more people understand the less judgmental they become.

I discovered BDSM and more specifically Domination and submission (D/s) nearly ten years ago when I was in my late 30’s. It was at times overwhelming to learn how very different people can be while still all being the same at the end of the day.

Every day of my life I hear some variation of “Oh I can’t do that, it wouldn’t be right” or “You must behave like XYZ, nothing else is acceptable” When I hear this I want to scream, WHY?? Why do we all have to conform? Why can’t we be expressive of what’s inside of us without fear of retribution for being different? Within my community there is a sub-community, a BDSM community, a community where people can be themselves without fear.. Few people in this community use their real name, some because they prefer a nickname but many others because they fear being found out, they fear their employer or family or their Pastor finding out that they enjoy associating with so called sexual deviants.

This fear is very real and it is very justified. People from all walks of life take part in some sort of BDSM activities, this includes Doctors and Lawyers as well as Celebrities, it also includes people who may be going through a divorce with a child custody battle. The fact is that simply associating with the BDSM community can be risky for people who want to protect their privacy. Someone might attend and event because they are fascinated with Shibari (decorative rope bondage considered to be an art form) and they want to learn more, or they may hope to meet a potential partner who is interested in it as well but as they are seen leaving the event the rumors begin to fly, suddenly, instead of being someone who is open minded and interested in an art form they become sexual deviants and are labeled abusers.

The reality of this community is really that of a family that is very protective of it’s members. I know with absolute certainty that if I went to members of the community and said that I need help then I would get help. If I went to members of the community and asked for information they would be sure to get me the information. And you know, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if I was getting that help from a guy who prefers to wear dresses or from a girl who gets completely turned on by Shibari or from someone with bruises on her backside because her partner was having so much fun with his new paddle the night before.

I digress, you don’t want to know about the BDSM community, you want to know about S&M, the juicy stuff.

S&M, Sadomasochism is only part of what BDSM is. I identify as a submissive who might have some masochistic tendencies.

The first thing you need to know is that if whatever is taking place is not 100% consensual then it is not BDSM, it is indeed abuse. But what about the term “consensual non consent”? This would be something that would be discussed at length between partners, they might discuss a scenario in very general terms with the sub or masochist consenting to whatever else might happen. This is not something to take lightly, it is very important that both partners have full trust in each other. Why do the girls in BDSM porn always look terrified and end up crying? Simple answer really, BECAUSE IT’S PORN, it’s not real!! No means no….except in BDSM? This is often true for a few reasons. Think of a small child being tickled and shouting “no” or “stop” so you stop tickling just for him to want you to start again. No and stop are words that we often say instinctively without thought and often without really meaning it. Many people who practice BDSM use safe words, a word that is not used in everyday language that means stop or no. If you were at a BDSM event and heard someone shouting “purple elephant” you could be pretty sure that is their safe word and whatever activity they are engaging in will stop immediately.

Safe words are used because both partners know ahead of time that activities they are engaging in can be risky, they are aware of the risks and they are also aware that sometimes things might go wrong therefore they need a quick easy way to communicate that the activity must stop immediately. S&M activities often stir up deep emotions, ones that we thought were long buried and gone. A safe word may be called because the physical pain has gotten to be more than they can handle (keep in mind we are talking bruises and welts, not broken bones) or a safe word might be called because an unpleasant memory or emotion had surfaced and that partner simply needs to stop play in order to deal with these feelings. But what about when the partner is gagged? Those partners have come up with a way to non verbally safe word, often the masochist will be holding an object in their hand and if they need things to stop they will simply drop the item.

So why do people do this you are probably wondering. Well, if you ask 100 different people you will probably get 100 different answers so I will give you my reasons.

I do it because it’s fun….well it is, and sometimes that’s really the only reason.

The first conclusion I came to to explain why I enjoy this type of play is that I love a challenge and enduring physical pain is an incredible challenge. Fight or flight wants to kick in, but no, I have to win, I have to hold on as long as I can. In the end it is so satisfying, and I have an incredible feeling of accomplishment.

After having done some serious self reflection I did discover another reason why I engage in this type of play. Life is hard, life beats you down sometimes and when it does the world will look at you and wait to see if you can manage to get back up on your own. I have realized that it is less the actual S&M play that I crave but then end of the play session, the time when my partner wraps a soft blanket around me and holds the glass of water for me while he strokes my hair and tells me how amazing I am. You see, life won’t pick you up and make it all better but my partner will.

BDSM is not abuse, it is not about a submissive being weak or about conforming to what anyone else feel they should. BDSM is about being true to yourself, it’s about discovering your own flaws and weaknesses and embracing them so that you can overcome them. It’s about growth and sharing yourself with someone else completely, it’s about being completely honest with yourself and with your partner even if you don’t want the neighbors to know.

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Agree or Disagree: It is time to eliminate the Separate School System.


As usual, there was lots of interesting conversation on Facebook.

Today, the topic was education. And the discussion of the need of the Catholic School System.

There was a comment on Facebook that made the rounds. I thought we can use this as our framework tonight.

It is from a contributor named Luke Fevin. Or, for now Duke Luke Fevin. Here it is.

PM Wilfred Laurier did a deal in 1905 just prior to Alberta coming into Confederation to secure the Catholic vote in the upcoming election. His end of the deal was to promise the option of “Separate” schools for the Catholics in Alberta, in areas where they were the minority and there was an existing Public (Protestant) school.

These schools were intended to be “secular” (yes, that’s the word they used to describe them) during the day with the exception of the option of opening the school day with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and RESTRICTS the option of 30 minutes of religious instruction to the end of the day.

The fact that there was so little difference (they were identical in every way during the day) meant that Separate schools weren’t generally expected to survive. That given the only difference between Public & Separate school was the last 30 minutes of the day, it was expected that the taxpayers would say it wasn’t worth the expense.

From 1905, we have in my opinion gone backward. The Catholic system has completely ignored, flouted and abused laws & the Rights of others.

Although to be fair, it’s not just the Catholic system that has ignored these laws. We have a number of Evangelical Christian Public schools, as well Christian programs such as LOGOS, as well as a couple of other Public Faith schools that all demand and enjoy the privileges and protections of law, but completely ignore it when it suits them.

It is time to dis-establish the Separate school system.

It is it blatantly unfair for the government to favor one religion with infrastructure and tax dollars and the “constitutional” argument is redundant. Firstly, other provinces have done it already. No biggie.

And let me ask you. If women not having the vote was constitutionally protected, would anyone care? No. It’s a bad idea, irrelevant to today and so we’d change it. The Separate school system is no different.

In fact, t is so unfair, that the United Nations Human Rights Committee actually cited Canada for religious discrimination!

A family with 3 kids in another denominational Private school is worse off by $150,000 tax dollars than the same Catholic family in a Catholic school . How is that fair?

And for those that say their property taxes get directed to their local Catholic board. No it doesn’t. The money goes in a big pot and then follows the child. On top of which, if you’re paying $3,000 a year in property taxes and have 3 kids in school – even if 50% of your taxes go to education you are still only contributing $500 of a $10,000 tab. The Province is picking up the other 95%.

And as for what we get in return for the approx. $200 MILLION we waste EVERY year in the operating inefficiences of running two competing duplicate systems? What is the educational advantage?

Nothing. We get a cross over the door of one in 5 of our schools and get to act like a farm team for the Catholic church. In the meantime (many of) the Catholic schools and boards get / choose to;

#1 Deny Canadian families their Charter Rights.
#2 Turn away non-Catholic families (including forcing them on lengthy bus rides).
#3 Discriminate in hiring non-Catholics teachers.
#4 Coerce young graduating teachers to become Catholic.
#5 Deny students the ability to form GSA’s.
#6 Force teachers / students to sign Christian lifestyle pledges.
#7 Teach abstinence focused sex ed.
#8 Fire gender-reassigning teachers.
#9 Coerce gay teachers in / remain in closet.
#10 Choose to deny schoolchildren the choice of easy access to medicine / vaccinations based on inaccurate religious beliefs.

Madness. You have to have grown up here to think that this is OK or normal. We actually operate a school system where we bus kids past schools they could walk to! For why?

Personally I’d rather spend the $200 MILLION dollars EVERY year from the EDUCATION budget on more teachers & schools – and I think it’s time we let our elected officials know that.

What do you think of this statement? Do you Agree or Disagree with it?