Climate Change Discussion Articles


Taken from the Associated Press

For those who often feel frustrated trying to articulate the reality of climate change and the scientific evidence, here are four articles that I think prove useful:

Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming


Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming


The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science

BBC News – Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study

I have found them useful in terms of engaging folks in meaningful conversations. They will not prove useful in Twitter fights. I really think the third piece from Nature is critical in terms of hope. The article suggests that the more we speak truth to power, the more the public gets onside with science.

The Secret Path

As many Canadians did on Sunday, October 23rd, I sat down and watched The Secret Path — a film telling the story of Chanie Wenjak, a young Ojibway boy who died at the age of nine fleeing from an Indian Residential School. As a white settler, with all my privilege and colonial baggage, unpacking this experience has been painful, confusing, and without resolution.

The following day, my kids and I travelled to our local bookstore to pick up a copy of the graphic novel version of The Secret Path and Joseph Boyden’s Wenjak, the novella which inspired The Secret Path project. Immediately, my children had critical questions about the Residential School experience which surfaced their tremendous ability to empathize. My youngest was devastated by Chanie Wenjak’s story, and forced me to pause and think as to how his story might heal deep wounds.

Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip who is dying of brain cancer, and artist Jeff Lemire, the creators of the soundtrack and graphic novel, have been knocked about this week for representing a story that isn’t theirs to tell, and for perpetuating a sort of neo-colonialism. In a conversation I had with an elder, there is a hesitation to fully accept Downie’s historical interpretation. I think I get this.

While I understand the critique, I struggle to see how The Secret Path can’t be a small piece in the puzzle toward reconciliation — at least in Winnipeg, Red River, and on Treaty One land.

Winnipeg’s history is a microcosm for the destruction of a treaty relationship, one initiated by Chief Peguis in 1817 when he made treaty with Lord Selkirk. Peguis’ understanding of treaty was one of intense relationship where we are all relations. Selkirk and the HBC, however, saw treaty as a transaction — a ceding of territory. A few decades later, Canada came rolling into Red River with liberalism and progress on its mind. Indians had to be pushed to the side to make way for rail. Residential Schools served as a powerful mechanism for removing people from the land.

While many tried to resist, notably in 1869, First Nations and Métis alike were pushed to the side and the former were incarcerated on reserve. The same railways, by the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, created a profound division within the city, creating a genuine divide between rich and poor. Now in 2016, these same rails and urban sprawl drive a wedge between those who control resources and those who had them taken away.

I am a white settler, but I am also a treaty person. I take seriously my relationship and responsibility with all people on Treaty One land. Treaty is, as Niigaan Sinclair would say, a covenant– it is spiritual.

With this in mind, Winnipeg’s diversity and how we have traditionally controlled it, need to be critically analyzed in these days of reconciliation.  A development tax, as Mayor Bowman has proposed, is a step toward reconciliation, calling into question the ghetto-ization of poor people in our city. The removal of the CPR line which divides our city and arguably draws a line in the sand between rich and poor, is one step closer to reconciliation.

The Secret Path and Wenjak, and their potential impact in schools and on Winnipeg itself, are tremendous efforts on the part of people who take reconciliation seriously. The history of Residential Schools should be traumatic for all Winnipeggers and Canadians, and we must provide space for indigenous and non-indigenous people to make sense of this history.

Reconciliation is about recognizing privilege, for those of us who won the lottery of birth, and taking meaningful steps to bring peoples together. Downie and Lemire have made an attempt to do this, fully acknowledging their privilege, in an attempt to bring this country together to some degree.

History, as  historian Desmond Morton suggests, is the shared human experience. The Secret Path is a challenge to all of us to honestly break down the barriers of privilege and to speak openly about how we can share our experiences and move on together. Chanie Wenjak’s sister Pearl and Gord Downie, at the end of The Secret Path, offer a powerful glimpse of what reconciliation might look like.

As a leader at a Big Picture Learning school, I am convinced that our responsibility is to nurture Peguis’ understanding of treaty within our learning community and beyond. Our school community has a complexity and diversity that I believe is our strength. Our indigenous learners should feel that their school is safe, fosters their passion, and honours their experience. As a leader and adult at this school, our first step towards reconciliation is to allow the stories of our learners to be heard and to fully welcome their families into this idea of education. Met schools, I believe, are uniquely designed to fully and democratically unpack the inequitable learning conditions of the past and to create opportunities to mend wounds and deepen critical relationships.

The Maples Met School will be screening The Secret Path on Monday, November 21st.

To Reform or Not to Reform; That is the Election Question!

Many of us at the Maples Met School have been learning about Parliamentary democracy and how Canadians and Manitobans govern themselves. We have learned that our democratic tradition comes from the Westminster model, or from Great Britain. We have a bicameral system federally, where we have the House of Commons (elected) and the Senate (appointed) as part of Parliament. Manitoba got rid of its upper house at the end of the 19th century.

Over the past few decades and certainly more recently, there has been a great deal of talk in Canada about electoral reform. As we discussed a few weeks ago, our electoral system is a First Past The Post system (FPTP). This means that within each riding or constituency, the person that wins simply needs to get the most votes.

Here is a great explanation of how FPTP works:

Here is a great application made through ArcGIS which illustrates the difference between the number of seats won and the popular vote in the last four elections:



Many Canadians feel that the FPTP system is not fair to smaller parties like the Green Party,the Bloc and even the NDP, as these parties get a lot of votes, but they don’t translate into seats. Some people are advocating for a system of proportional representation, where some representatives are elected based on the popular vote.

In Manitoba, there have been many people who have been advocating for a system of proportional representation. Here is a very interesting article from the CBC looking at how the last provincial election might have been more representative of the popular vote if PR was in place. (PEI is currently contemplating PR.)


Taken from CBC Manitoba

What do you think? Should Canada and Manitoba reform their respective electoral systems? Feel free to respond below or via social media using #DoNowReform.

MSSTA Diversity Panel 2016

main-qimg-c2776b7fe0b5c2d411ac68569ecde0edThis panel discussion scheduled for Friday, October 21st at 1:00 pm at the Manitoba Social Studies Teacher’s association PD Day will focus on including diverse perspectives in Canadian history classrooms in the 21st century.
Panelists include:

Matt Henderson (Moderator)
Matt will speak to the idea of Radical Experiences & Radical Diversity! Matt will highlight how understanding the unique experience of each learner may lead to a greater cognitive diversity within a learning community and a greater diversity in ideas, passions, and perspectives. Folks at this session will engage in a discussion about learning, power, privilege, and voice. Matt is the principal at the Maples Met School in the Seven Oaks School Division.

Daraius Bharucha
Daraius Bharucha was a Captain in the Merchant Marine before becoming an educator. He is currently the Department Head of History at Bill Crothers Secondary School in Unionville Ontario. Through the course of his academic and teaching career Daraius has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Governor Generals Silver Medal for Academic Excellence, The Governor Generals Award for Excellence in Teaching History, the George Hopton Award for History and has been recognised for his volunteer contributions to the community by the Government of Ontario. Daraius has been invited to speak and present at many local, national and international conventions and conferences and has authored publications and articles including curricula that have been widely used across North America.

Stefano Fornazzari San Martin
Stefano Fornazzari San Martin was the youngest of three brothers when he arrived to Vancouver as a political refugee with his parents who escaped the military dictatorship in Chile. He holds a Master’s in history from the University of Connecticut where he explored indigenous resistance to Spanish conquest. He is currently the Department Head of History at The Dr. GW Williams Secondary School in Aurora, Ontario.  He has two beautiful children he is raising in french with his wife Marie-Soleil, and enjoys vacationing in Quebec City at every opportunity. He has worked as an educational publishing consultant and reviewer, including being a part of the team that produced THE BIG SIX HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS and other textbooks and teacher resources. Stefano and Daraius. M. Bharucha were awarded the Governor General’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012 for their project entitled: MY PLACE IN CANADIAN HISTORY: DIGITAL STORYTELLING WITH HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS.

Darius and Stefanon Stefano  be talking about identity creation and the way in which young people from diverse backgrounds can locate themselves within the spectrum of Canadian history. The idea being that it is through this location that a critical portion of their Canadian identity is developed and how this generally plays out in terms of the evolving notion of a modern Canadian identity.

Greg Miyanaga
For 27 years, Greg has taught Grades 2-7 in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver.  In 2006, he received the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History from Michaelle Jean. The Big Idea will be what teaching diverse perspectives and controversial issues looks like in an elementary classroom. He will use examples from his previous GG work in teaching about Japanese Canadian internment during the 1940s, and with my new work in a similar project called Landscapes of Injustice.

If you would like to provide feedback on this session, please do so below!

DoNow: Should the Manitoba Legislative Assembly Accommodate Wheelchairs?


Photo by Paul Armstrong

A few weeks ago, Member of Legislative Assembly and former Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher received a ruling from the Speaker of the House that did not go in his favour.

In the spring session of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, Steven Fletcher argued that his Parliamentary privilege was compromised as he wasn’t able to access all areas of the chamber.  You can read about his initial point here from an article on the CBC website.

A few weeks ago, the Speaker of the House offered her ruling and suggested that his privilege was not being compromised. You can read about her ruling here from the Winnipeg Free Press website.

Finally, here is an interview with Steven Fletcher following the the Speaker’s decision that he did on CBC Radio’s Up to Speed:

Steven Fletcher also suggests that his concerns might be brought up with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Under the Manitoba Human Rights Code, people can make complaints if they have been discriminated against on the following grounds:

  • Ancestry
  • Nationality or national origin
  • Ethnic background or origin
  • Religion or creed, or religious belief, religious association or religious activity
  • Age
  • Sex, including sex-determined characteristics, such as pregnancy
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital or family status
  • Source of income
  • Political belief, political association or political activity
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Social disadvantage

Do you feel that the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and the Government of Manitoba should make the chamber accessible for all Manitoban’s. Answer below or via Twitter, Vine, Instagram and by using the hashtag #DoNowMBLeg