Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Interview with Charlie Clark

At the end of the day we got a few minutes with Saskatoon's Mayor, Charlie Clark! He gave a wonderful speech that included an inspiring story about Saskatoon neighborhoods coming together.

Thanks so much Mr. Mayor!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Observations of Afternoon Roundtables (Yekta and Lorena)

  • Unless tied to a specific curriculum, it doesn't get done
  • "Is it a done deal."
  • Cross-curricular connections 
  • Families need help bc worried about young people - crisis end
  • Code of ethics as social workers
  • Standards of care
  • How does healing come into play - ex. aftermath of student suicide
  • Go straight to addiction - stops learning
  • With education less crisis prevalent because they Have the tools to manage
  • Focused on disruption not impact
  • Teachers willing but don't have the means to help. Teachers worried about offending somebody 
  • Reduce stigma so more people feel comfortable to talk open mindedly 
  • Unclear logistics (how , time, where does it start)
  • Isolation - > sometimes isolated group doesn't reach out because they feel like there is no one to trust

Observations of Afternoon Roundtables (Aashana and Rekha)

At our table there was trouble trying to figure out the role that this book has in correlation with the curriculum. They came to a mutual understanding that the book is valuable but it what ways it could be used/roles. Eventually they thought it would be used to enhance the curriculum so that it is stays relevant. 

A few challenges that were mentioned were that this book were:
  • It challenges authority 
  • Taking into consideration cultural differences, when integrating this into curriculums. 
  • The separation between religion and customs

Observations of Afternoon Roundtables (Joe and Andrew)

What are questions, likes, dislikes, observations, what they might do.

The ideas put forward for educators is awesome, but troubled by the older generation. How can we have curriculum in the work place?
  • Post-secondary education
  • Lots of work head of it
  • They like it, seeing student’s engagement, responsibilities are key.
  • Have conversations with my kids every day, being open, welcoming people to ask me questions.
  • To be accessible to people approach you. Polite Canadian within us.
  • Having resources available.
  • Personalizing the curriculum.
  • Depends on the group as well, how can we advance the conversation, how can me not make people with other views threatened.
  • Make sure we don’t pull people to far out of their comfort zones.

  • Gives teachers big questions. For example they could have a math or science backround and not know how to implement.
  • Treaty education benefits this learning, it makes it easier to teach.

  • This will take along time to implement

  • How do you find balance from reasorces
  • How do you get people comfortable with it

  • Need opportunity to implement
  • Takes time to implement

Observations of Afternoon Roundtables (Frank and Aleena)

Helps to talk about citizenship
Time limitation
Wonderful thing => placed in a language of a dominant culture => see concepts in Indigenous language  (Patranomen - live life ina good way/Cree)
WHat other ways can we honor the languages from this land? More powerful if we saw indigenous languages represented in the document
Support to classroom
Require teachers to swift their thinking => inquiry => swift in teaching => to be effective, change mindset
Consist of amazing ideas
Words are hard to understand, not  accessible
Good start
Swift away from citizenship education
Wasn’t until provincial gov. Turned treaties into curriculum => set of concepts will only be accepted once it reaches the curriculum
Letting kids ask questions
Education priorities set => conservative effort to achieve specific goals => reading levels, math levels, graduation rates => advanced in strategic way => this document must become a part of curriculum


At the end of the panel, there was an open Q&A. Here's what we recorded:

Q. In this room we are like minded… how do u think we should engage with people who think we should not have conversations like today’s?

  • Engagement is exactly what it takes to change the conversation
  • People will say something that makes us think outside of our comfort zone; every conversation is an opportunity for change.

Q. As a current student, our education system is focused on empowering diversity. Yet, at the meantime I have also faced racism from teachers. It is contradictory that diversity is taught by teachers but not performed by teachers. How to we ensure teachers don't lose their quality in maintaining equity when ensuring diversity?

  • We have to speak objectively and openly 
  • We have to have a focus on inclusiveness
  • We need to challenge one another 
  • We have to learn from the past
  • We need to model in front of students

Q. How do we deal with the backlash when minorities stand up for their issues?

  • Be louder, push harder
  • By not responding, deoxygenate those negative ideas
  • Kill them with Kindness

Q. How has your early life affected your contributions to society now? Do you recall when you first became committed to challenging racism and other forms of oppression? What was the catalyst for you?

I saw my people drunk, and I was ashamed to be first nation. The point I saw it (First Nations exposing negative images within the society), I decided I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t know if I didn’t want to be First Nation or just that guy (the First Nation who got drunk) down the road. I think that really shaped me. When i became a teacher and educator I want positive change for the children (not just First Nations children but all with different ethnic groups) in that room. I believe that children can be anything they want to be. I didn’t know what that First Nation/ drunk guy meant at that time (that’s why I was ashamed of my identity). (After all the year) I learnt to be proud of who I am, and I hope the the children can be the bigger impact in the society. (paraphrased)

Q. Roles of the students in the current education system. (A question asked of us, the E-Journalism Students)

  • Won't be as effective if the culture in school isn't recepted as much
  • We actually are receptive
  • We validate what we learn
  • Subjects we implement in our education system, have to address inequality
  • We should create a culture within our schools that is inclusive
  • Addresses inequality that students take seriously
  • Taking the future into our own hands without a supervision 
  • Having discussions even adults aren't around
  • Fostering ideas on our own accord, responsibility on our own
  • Not falling silent 
  • We want to participate in this world.
  • School is about gaining citizenship at a young age.

Charting the Successes of Canada's School System

As per Dr. Joel Westheimer's talk:

Expectations Met
Hasn’t Met
not taught about just one vision of truth
attention to local people and context
Most citizens are being educated in demorcy country
schooling as more than job training
In our schools were taught about where we live a democracy but also informed of other types of power. We have more than one perspective being presented

being taught how to be a critical thinker (somewhat met?)

The “normal” education system that students faced( lack of creativity)
Still mostly a vision that is eurocentric
We accept people’s differing perspectives and opinions
accurate standardization (very narrow curriculum)

our curriculum includes more than strictly math & literacy
He talked about the one perspective, but we are assessed by one method and one perspective in school.
Professional citizen education( respect to others, review what you had learned,etc)
Deprofessionalization => standardize for basic skills

Standardized the curriculum
teaching us to engage as a citizenship at a participatory & personal responsibility level
teachers not being respected professionally; too much demand on testing
arm chair activists
Obsession with measurements => but Grade ‘inflation’ in some schools => how do we know these tests are accurate

start to only care about skills we can measure

Be creative and obsessed into the critical thinking

Involve more focus on arts

Provide food for students/gum chewing

teaching us to be social justice oriented citizens

Few programs that address social justice issues => root causes of problems => only study movements

A study of a link between a nation’s economy and how students do well

connect what you learn in school to the outside world

How much of your classroom learning encourages critical thinking? Memorization?

A student poll in response to Dr. Joel Westheimer's plenary speech:

  • In English I am able to Psychoanalyze Macbeth and look at parts of his mind, rather than memorize passages.

  • TOK ; encourages critical thinking, and makes you question what you know

  • Collective voice (social justice program offered at bowman in grade 9)

  • Getting to do a presentation on “positive” Asian stereotypes and the model minority myth as an English final

  • In English class when learning about future careers and the paths we can take, our English teacher asked us (in reference to the UN sustainability goals): “when considering what you want to do in the future, do not only focus on a career, instead as what world problem can you help solve?” 

  • Getting to write a piece on the implementation of a sex ed curriculum that isn't heteronormative and abstinence focused (in English)

  • In History, we have to understand the context the event is taking place in and create conclusions from that instead of mindlessly memorizing dates and exactly what happened during that time (ex: WWI: Inquiry Question: What factors allowed WWI to take place?  How can we prevent the same factors from recurring?)

  • At conferences like this! (Which we were given the opportunity through school)

Interview with Panelists

Interview with Brenda Green
Conducted by Emma and Emilia

Interview with Heather Fenyes
Conducted by Yekta and Kimia

Interview with Dr. Fern Stockdale Winder
Conducted by Frank and Aleena

Interview with Dr. Joel Westheimer
Conducted by Kimia

Videos We Recorded to Share with the Conference

This is a candid question reel we prepared, where students answer questions from the heart.

And this is the video we shared with the conference, our own thoughts about citizenship:

Power Quotes from our Panelists

Doug Cuthand, Journalist:
  • “There is definitely change coming. And it is coming right now.”
  • “You have to look back generations, and look forward generations.” 
  • “Have a province that values multiculturalism.”
  • "Indigenous peoples’ pipeline protests remind us that land is spiritual, not just commercial; First Nations have a deep connection to their land as a source of cultural identity and play an important role as environmentalists." (paraphrase)

Rob Currie, Ministry of Education:

  • “We need them to be global thinkers. We need them to think outside the borders of SK. We need them to be problem solvers.”
  • “Given our world, and given our past…. We have to be inclusive thinkers… be welcoming to thoughts different from ours”
  • We must have the will to resist the status quo and an ever changing world to realize change”
  • “Regardless of the path you choose you will be required to be a problem solver, so think critically, analyze, and ask questions”
  • “We need to have a curriculum that responds to changes”

Heather Fenyes, Co-Founder of Think Good, Do Good:

  • “Our province experienced a staggering shift in demographics . We haven’t scaffolded the ability to truly understand “the other.”
  • “We can’t let Canadian political correctness mask racism.”
  • “Citizenship education is the key to structural integrity.”
  • “Watching social media i am afraid….. Only education has the ability to change it”
  • “We all require cultural sensitivity to understand racism”
  • “Only education has the power to change racist, misogynistic lexicon”

Gordon Martel, Educator:
  • “How do we address, not only apology, but redemption? … Fix what’s broken together… start to undo the tangled web of bias and racism”
  • “We need to pay attention to social and economic egalitarianism.” 
  • “We need a more deliberate education mandate and a greater articulation of the proposition for interracial harmony.”
Chief Clive Weighill, Saskatoon Police Service:
  • “We have to admit that there is racism and issues in our society"
  • “Sometimes change doesn't come fast. But we have to keep speaking about it”
  • “(Aboriginal girls/ women are) accepting, maybe subconsciously, that it’s okay to be victimized… this is how insidious marginalization is.”
  • “The anonymity of social media is killing us”

Brenda Green, Educator:
  • “When we think about that future space… we have to understand that everyone is coded.”
  • ”I think we do have the opportunity to have it right”
  • “Education was and still can be, a tool of assimilation.”
  • “What I would like as an indigenous person is equity- in the sense of access, to do what one wants to do without barriers”

Dr. Fern Stockdale Winder, Clinical Psychologist:

  • “We really need to get to know each other better.Through relationships we can understand each other better”
  • “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way and on a quiet day I can hear her breathing”
  • “‘You are so lucky to be a white girl.’ I didn’t understand that as a little girl”
  • “That color of my skin should not leave me lucky or unlucky, but with equal opportunities”
  • “Recognizing co healing is already present”

Corey O'Soup, Advocate for Children and Youth:

  • “Our children will be the ones teaching us in the future how should we live together”
  • “We all know that education is truly the key”
  • “I envision a future where a First Nation or Metis Prime Minister is leading our country”
  • “Someone has to educate our leaders, they have certain biases as well”
  • “Talk to a young person and ask them about their future and the future of Saskatchewan.  They may some weird things, but don't disregard those. Listen to them and think about the context they are coming from.”

Round Tables and Our Thoughts

We all joined Round Table discussions to hear the thoughts of attendees at the Courageous Conversations Conference.

Listen to our thoughts here: https://clyp.it/k5oj5nkz

We also took plenty of pictures:

Opening Remarks @ Courageous Conversations Conference

Written by Aleena, Lorena
Edited by Vaidehee

Pictured: David Arnot

David Arnot, the Chief Commissioner of SHRC, came into the Courageous Conversations to talk about issues that limit Canada faces from from becoming a more welcoming country for everyone. He praised Canada as it has had the most success in developing multiculturalism but recognized, despite this lead, there are prevalent points that if aren’t immediately addressed, can drag our province, and overall, our country backwards. “Western states are worried. Make sure that multiculturalism stays alive,” stated David Arnot, emphasizing the importance of diverse ideology and how although, multiculturalism is embedded into our very own constitution, there is still danger in losing grip on our situation if action isn’t taken. He proposed the course of action was through education, “We must invest in our education to keep multiculturalism alive,“ He highlighted that in our education we must unite and acknowledge the 5 main issues: racism, gender discrimination, mental and health addiction, and disability issues before they get out of hand. Racism is currently the no.1 issue in Saskatchewan. And most of the stereotypes we hold are based on fear and ignorance, this is one of the strongest barriers that prevents us from from reaching harmony and unity for all peoples.

Pictured: Cathy Mills and Patricia Prowse

For so long, the sense of inclusion and exclusion have divided us as a nation. It is now time for a different kind of change. The recent election in “The Land of the Free” has proven their freedom is false, and that their country, like ours, needs to create a conversation. In conclusion, Justice David Arnot acknowledged in order to solve this crisis of the issues above, education is the key. Our education system has to be able to create citizens after graduating that are enlightened, ethical, empowered, empathic, and engaged. This can be the student citizenship we need and then students will lead the revolution that brings our nation to a better place. “The status quote for this province is not acceptable nor sustainable.” We as Saskatchewan citizens have the power to counter racism against indigenous people and newcomers, only then can prosperity and equality in both Saskatchewan and Canada is possible.

Getting Things Started

In our little corner of the conference, the E-Journalism team gets technology and resources ready to roll for the Opening Remarks and Round Tables that will take up the morning.

Our table near the window (and the snacks!):

We got right to work setting up an action plan and getting everyone organized:

And we even have our own interview space tucked away!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Reporting Team

We are a group of students from Aden Bowman Collegiate in Saskatoon. As part of our e Journalism class we are reporting on the Courageous Conversations, November 15th, 2016 in Saskatoon at TCU Place.

Allow us to introduce our team: 

My name is Kimia Bayattork and I am from Iran. It has been 4 years since my family and I moved to Canada. I, a young adult full of hopes and dreams, am proud to call Canada my home for the opportunities and challenges upon my feet in these years. It is my honour to serve here and educate the next generations.

My name is Rekha Whittaker. I was born in Jamaica. I moved to Canada in the year 2010 and have been living here for approximately 6 years and in Saskatchewan for around 5 years. I would consider Jamaica and Canada to both be my home, having family and a sentimental connection, to each place. One thing that I find interesting and amazing about this universe, is its magnitude and how little we know about it. 

Aashana Patel ☺

My family immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2001 while I lived in India. We united after 9 years and moved to Saskatchewan in 2010. I consider Saskatoon, Canada and Ahmedabad, India my home therefore I can fluently speak Gujrati, English and Hindi. Taking all this and my religion into consideration I believe is what makes my voice unique, having different views some representing the minorities.

My name is Andrew Batycki. I've lived in Saskatchewan my whole life and that gives me great insight into here and now. My favourite thing about the universe is how unique it is. However my one concern is that this uniqueness is getting buried by hate and fear.

My name is Frank Sun. I was born is Mainland China, and have been living in Saskatoon about 4 years. I believe that I am unique because I am a bilingual speaker( Mandarin and English), which means I can look things through different cultural perspectives. By speaking these lovely languages, I can build a bridge to let more people understand east and west. One thing that I love about the universe is that we can know how small we are, the only way to be stronger is to work together.

My name is Meagan Hong. I am very passionate in the arts which makes my voice take on the perspective of an artist. My ancestors come from Vietnam and my parents have lived in Saskatchewan, Canada for about 35 years. My home is in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and I speak Cantonese, English and French fluently. Buddhism influences my values and views on the world. However, art, especially the visual arts is the foundation of my life and my deep concern is that systems create a drift away from creativity.

Good day and नमस्ते. My name is Vaidehee Lanke. I am a 16-year attempting to use my citizenship skills and powers to bring our communities together. My family and I have called Saskatoon home for the 11 years. Before arriving here, I lived in the United States, New Zealand and India. Home to me is where my family is and today, I am proud to call Saskatoon, Wellington, Madison and Mumbai home. A deep concern of mine is, "How can we, in an increasingly divided society, can come together to tackle 21st century challenges?"

My name is Aleena Khawaja. I am a Canadian-born citizen with an ethnically Pakistani background. I have seen many countries within the world. I would like to contribute my insights to make our nation a better place through the point of view of a minority and youth. Our curriculum is made by people much older than us. As a result, my fellow classmates and I feel that it does not accurately meet the requirement for the development in skills that youth may need to make to a change in the future. 

My name is Emma Zuck; I am half Chinese and half Ukrainian and I was born in Saskatoon. I have a lot to say (which I'm sure the pink hair gave away!) I discovered intersectional feminism at age 14 and have been an advocate for social justice ever since. My activism is shaped by my own experiences, my biracial identity, and, most of all, those who inspire me. I believe in my fellow millennials. Despite the humourless snapchat addicts were made out to be, we're really just out here trying to change the world.

My name is Lorena Yeung. As a Hong Kong born Canadian, I am raised under the influence of both Asian and Western cultures. It is like wearing a yellow shirt in a mostly white world, I have experienced cultural stereotypes throughout my life. Yet, these beliefs didn't limit me and my family's sense in feeling proud of our own identities. I hope that through this conference, our nation will strive for a much more compassionate atmosphere where all citizens regardless of theri race, belief, gender, disabilities etc, will be respected, and be seen as equal.

Hello, I am Joe Zuck, half Chinese half Ukrainian. I've lived in Saskatoon my entire life. I got into the enviroment scene in elementary school and have been hooked since. I am very intrigued by the sciences and global warming,  I want to see Saskatoon evolve into a cleaner and more sustainable city. The team that has been created continues to amaze me, we have a great mind set, and together we can get anything done! And yes, Emma Zuck and I are twins.

My name is Yekta Eslambolchi, and I was born in Iran. I've lived in Canada for nearly 10 years, and in Saskatchewan for one.  My experiences and worldview have allowed me to see the limitations of our society, and I'm proud to be a voice of change, now and in the future.

Hello, my name is Emilia Elliott. I'm originally from Jasper, Alberta but moved to Saskatoon in 2002 so I consider it my home. My grandfather immigrated to Canada from Greece and my Grandmother from Holland, so I feel very strong connection to those places as well. I'm every interested in environmental issues and politics, which one day I hope can go hand in hand. I hope to continue exercising my citizenship today and in the future.

Hi, I'm Amandri Dahanayake! I was born in Sri Lanka and I've lived in England, but Canada has been my favourite place to call home so far. I'm fluent in English and Sinhalese, but I can speak a little bit of a lot of other languages! I'm a Buddhist, and I believe my faith plays a huge part in my passion for fighting for social justice issues. In the simplest words, my wish for the universe is for everyone to find happiness.

MY name is Hao Luong. My family immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada in 2008 from Hochiminh city Vietnam. I am currently 16-year, as a young teen with a lot to say, I want to bring about a sense of community within Canada. Influence by my peers and teachers I became an activist for social justice issues and empowered to make a difference within Canada a place I call home.