City Bird poll winner to be revealed Monday evening

 

By Dave Tourchin

March 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON,

 

The Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington team will announce the winner of their recent online public poll to select a City Bird, at the monthly “Bird Studies Group” virtual event hosted by the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club on Monday evening.

Are these swans meant to be the bird that reflects what Burlington is all about?

A guest speaker from the Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington team, Barry Coombs, will give a presentation on the group’s efforts to get Burlington and Hamilton certified under Nature Canada’s “Bird Friendly City” Program:

“A Certification Story – Designating Hamilton and Burlington as Bird Friendly Cities”

March 21, 2022, 7:30 pm – 9 pm   A virtual event open to everyone

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86797267165

The announcement of the public’s choice of City Bird for Burlington, and also for Hamilton, will be made near the end of the presentation.

The Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington team was founded in December of 2020. Its primary goals are to help protect our wild birds, and to get Hamilton and Burlington certified under Nature Canada’s “Bird Friendly City” program, but the work won’t stop with certification. Learn about the status of certification and the many ongoing and future projects of this group that is dedicated to bird advocacy.

Related news stories:

Does the city need or wan an Official Bird

What are the options if there is going to be a city bird

 

 

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Will they have to be masked on Monday

By Pepper Parr

March 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The students will be back in school on Monday – masked?

Halton District School Board Chair Margo Shuttleworth

Nothing certain at this point

The trustees feel that the guidance they have to work within comes from the Regional Medical Office of Health.

Chair of the Halton District School Board Margo Shuttleworth said that without specific directions from the MoH the trustees are are saying that each household has to decide what it is comfortable doing.

If the family feels masks are not necessary then the student will not wear a mask. Some households have strong feelings and feel that masking is essential.

Public leadership is in one of those awkward situations where public sentiment is split – there is no crystal clear line

 

Earlier in the week the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition issued a statement saying: states: “Masks remain an important layer of protection as the pandemic continues and may be needed in communities with low vaccination rates and where there is a surge in cases. Masks also protect those most vulnerable, including high-risk, immunocompromised and fragile children.”

Former trustee Peggy Russell said trustees in the Province of Ontario have a definitive Role in which, “they must weigh what is in the best interests of the whole education system” which they are duly elected to represent.

“This will be the true test of elected Trustees relevancy; there is no hedging around this one.

Either they listen to the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition or, if they do not, they should be prepared for the potential legal ramifications, not just as a Board, but as individuals who could be named in Legal Actions for not following the advice of the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition.”

The experts the trustees in Burlington have to listen to are at the Region where the Medical Officer of Health calls the shots.

No word from Dr. Hamidah Meghanithem at this point.

 

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Former school board trustee official challenges current trustees to do what is right or follow a 'lame duck' Premier

By Peggy Russell

March 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Public School Board Trustees in the Province of Ontario have less than a week to make a very big decision regarding their responsibility to the students and staff and, by extension, the welfare of their communities, with the responsibility they were charged with when elected.

Peggy Russell

Do they follow the direction of the Premier of this Province or do they follow the advice of the experts represented through the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition’s Statement of March 9, 2022?

The Ontario Children’s Health Coalition states: “Masks remain an important layer of protection as the pandemic continues and may be needed in communities with low vaccination rates and where there is a surge in cases. Masks also protect those most vulnerable, including high-risk, immunocompromised and fragile children.”

Trustees in the Province of Ontario have a definitive Role in which, “they must weigh what is in the best interests of the whole education system” which they are duly elected to represent.
This will be the true test of elected Trustees relevancy; there is no hedging around this one.

Either they listen to the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition or, if they do not, they should be prepared for the potential legal ramifications, not just as a Board, but as individuals who could be named in Legal Actions for not following the advice of the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition.

Currently Trustees have been advised that legally, they must abide by Public Health Orders. My question is: Are those Orders in the best interest of our collective society or that of special interest groups and some sectors of industry?

Then there is the moral obligation to the children, families/guardians, of the students they serve: to ensure that each and every student, no matter their health status, is provided the same opportunity to learn in a safe classroom environment.

Do Trustees understand that this indeed is their Alamo?

Either they listen to the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition and do what is right or they follow a “lame duck” Premier who is seeking re-election and the Orders of Ontario Public Health Units who serve at the pleasure of the Premier and their government. Which will it be?

Trustees in Ontario must be prepared to legally challenge the Province, Ministry of Education and, where applicable, Ontario Public Health Units. Trustees need to understand what is truly at stake at this moment or they risk becoming irrelevant.

 

Peggy Russell is a past Vice-Chair of the Halton District School Board. and was a Director of the Ontario Public School Board Association for eight years.

 

 

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Significant changes to science, mathematics and technology curriculum become effective in September

By Staff

March 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The provincial Ministry of Education has seen the light and announced decisions to significantly revise the science and technology curriculums.

The Grade 9 science course will be de-streamed for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1 to 8: Science and Technology, 2022, and the planned changes to the new de-streamed Grade 9 science course, are part of the government’s plan to align curriculum changes with the province’s economic needs and place an emphasis on critical life and job skills, including the fast-growing skilled trades.

Ontario’s elementary science and technology curriculum was last updated in 2007 and the Grade 9 course was last updated in 2008.

Since then, significant scientific and technological innovations such as the advancement of smartphones, everyday use of 3D printing and genomic vaccines have emerged, and the global economy has changed. The updated curriculum responds to these changes with the goal of positioning Ontario as a leading jurisdiction in STEM, helping to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

The new curriculum will be implemented in September 2022, in time for the 2022-23 school year as part of the government’s plan to ensure that all students have the foundational, transferable and entrepreneurial skills they need to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“Ontario has transformed the curriculum to now emphasize STEM education across all grades, embedding life and job skills that will support the next generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “From finding new cures for cancer, to space robotics that reach new planets, and the development of artificial intelligence and technologies that are changing the economy, Ontario’s new science and technology curriculum is focused on giving young people the skills to think critically, dream boldly and chart new pathways forward for our economy.”

Writing code will become part of regular classroom assignments in September.

For the first time in Ontario history, the revised curriculum includes required learning on real-world connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics. New expectations include:

Basic computer coding will become a part of the daily classroom work.

Coding: mandatory learning on coding from Grades 1 to 9, consistent with the math curriculum, to further enshrine Ontario as a STEM leader. For example, in Grade 3, students can learn how to program a small robot.

  • Connecting STEM Learning: for the first time, Ontario has dedicated learning expectations from Grades 1 to 9 which explicitly connects science, technology, engineering and mathematics to real-world issues.
  • Emerging technology: students will learn about the rise and application of advanced research, robotics and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Students can learn about the impact and application of AI in their daily lives, including facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, drones and search engines.
  • Skilled trades: mandatory learning from Grades 4 to 9 on the relationship between how advancements in science and emerging technologies are enhancing the skilled trades and providing exciting career opportunities.
  • Food literacy: learning related to food literacy in every grade that empowers students to make decisions that affect physical and mental health, consider local food production, and the scientific processes involved in agriculture.

 

The previous curricula did not contain required learning related to the skilled trades. Students will now explore how science relates to careers in the skilled trades and how emerging and new technologies impact these careers. These new learning expectations within the curriculum will ensure Ontario’s students are at the forefront of emerging innovation, thought and able to compete in the global economy.

To support the continuum of learning in mathematics, the ministry is also issuing an addendum for each of the Grade 10 Academic and Applied Mathematics courses, to be implemented for the 2022-23 school year. The addenda outline additional learning expectations to support students in their learning as they transition from the new de-streamed Grade 9 Mathematics course to the current Grade 10 Mathematics courses.

 

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Current and Former Youth in Care Now Eligible for Tuition Bursary at Sheridan

By Staff

March 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sheridan College has announced a bursary program that will enable up to 20 eligible students to pursue post secondary studies this September.

The program is for youth currently or formerly in the care of child welfare, and is available to students of all ages pursuing their first post secondary credential and who meet the eligibility requirements.

This is a partnership with the Child Welfare Political Action Committee (PAC), and the Sheridan Bursary for Ontario Youth

“Post secondary education transforms lives and facilitating access to it is foundational to Sheridan’s mission as a leading educational institution and a responsible community partner,” said Dr. Janet Morrison, President and Vice Chancellor. “Sheridan is committed to delivering on this promise through an investment in thoughtful, long-term and systemic solutions, like this bursary.”

Sheridan has worked collaboratively for several years with local Peel and Halton Children’s Aid Societies and the Peel-Dufferin-Halton Ontario Education Championship Team to help youth currently or formerly in extended society care reach their post secondary and career goals.

Getting disadvantaged youth into a line like this becomes possible with the right financial support.

“This bursary is a significant milestone in Sheridan’s ongoing commitment to supporting vulnerable young community members by removing barriers to education,” added Sheldon Pereira, Vice Provost Student Experience and Enrolment Management. “We are delighted to join the Child Welfare PAC on their mission to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to work towards a bright and promising future.”

According to the Child Welfare PAC, there are approximately 12,000 young people currently in care in Ontario, and another 100,000 who have recently transitioned out of care. From age 18 to 21, those in care receive an allowance of approximately $875 a month. When this support ends, pursuing a post secondary education becomes more difficult.

Prospective students can learn more about Sheridan’s available scholarships and bursaries online HERE.

 

 

 

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Halton District School Board releases findings from Student and Staff Census

By Staff

March 6th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is releasing the findings of the Student and Staff Census conducted in the 2021-2022 school year in a phased approach between March – September 2022.

At this point we know how many students participated.

The release will begin with data on the identities of students and staff including language, ethnicity, race, Indigeneity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

At the March 2 Board meeting, a presentation of Phase 1 data of the Staff and Student Census was made to Trustees.

The HDSB conducted the voluntary Student Census from January to June 2021, and Staff Census from April to June 2021, as required by the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan to gather and report identity-based data. The Student Census was completed by 78 per cent of elementary students and 84 per cent of secondary students. The Staff Census was completed by 75 per cent of staff.

 

Following the release of identity data, perceptual (how students perceive their school experiences) and disaggregated data showing trends and patterns in special education, academic achievement and student experiences, will be shared between now and September 2022.

“The findings of the Student and Staff Census are intended to support every community to ensure we are meeting the needs of all students and staff in the HDSB,” says David Boag, Associate Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

“This data provides us with new information about who our students and staff are to fully understand the needs of all staff, students and families. This will help support success and well-being, identify and eliminate discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and bias to provide equitable opportunities and outcomes, and allocate resources to support students and programs where the need is greatest.”

With the findings of the Student and Staff Census, the HDSB will continue to examine disparities and disproportionalities in opportunities and outcomes for students and staff, prepare action plans that align with the HDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024 and continue to engage with stakeholders.

 

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Statistics Canada researching our experiences with Covid19 testing

By Staff

February 24th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Below is an invitation from Statistics Canada to participate in a crowdsourcing initiative to collect data on Canadians’ access to and experiences with COVID-19 testing. Everyone is encouraged to share their insights, especially parents and people living with children.

In this new crowdsourcing initiative, we are seeking your experiences with testing for COVID-19, particularly with using rapid tests. This information will help assess the use of at-home COVID-19 testing, access to rapid testing kits in Canada and vaccination status.

Please take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire and feel free to forward this email to others—the more people that participate, the better the data.

Participating is easy and secure

Click HERE to participate:

This survey is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, which guarantees that the information you provide will be kept confidential, and used only for statistical and research purposes.

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City Council Workshop: A closer look at our relationship with the Indigenous community

By Pepper Parr

February 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Monday afternoon City Council held an Indigenous education workshop. It was, unfortunately not widely promoted by members of Council or the city’s communications department.  Unfortunate.

The name Joseph Brant is well recognized; his role in the development of the land that was territory the Indigenous people lived on is not that well understood.

They own precious little of that land today.  The workshop is about how that came to be.

The Mississauga of the Credit First Nation lay claim to a large area; the part known as the Haldimand Tract is tightly tied to Joseph Brant.

Over time land was taken from the Indigenous community through different treaties.

There were two main speakers who had a lot to say. You might want to listen to:

Darin Wybenga, Acting Director and Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Coordinator, Mississauga of the Credit First Nation, who  spoke on; “Mississauga of the Credit First Nation – We are Still Here.”

Indeed they are

There was a time when the majority of people living in what is Canada today believed what the Indian Act said.

Following Darin Wybenga is Bryant Peters, College Instructor at Fleming College and Executive Consultant from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, who spoke about the:  Indian Act – What Can We Do?

It looked at one point if Peters was going to read every section of the Indian Act – a very repressive piece of legislation that is still in place.

Both speakers made extensive use of visuals and maps.

It should be well worth your time to spend some time listening to what was said.  We will have more to tell you about this Workshop later in the week.

Burlington, like most local governments, now reads a land acknowledgement before each meeting.

If Darin Wybenga is correct, and he probably is, our reference to the Bowl with one spoon wampum is incorrect.  Look for Council to correct that error.

Wampum belts were used as signatories to commemorate and, to some degree, legitimize an event.

The biggest lesson this writer learned was the significant difference between what the Indigenous people thought when they were signing a land treaty and the view the British had.

The British believed they were acquiring land which they described and defined in the treaties; the Indigenous people believed they were agreeing to share the land.

They were either not able to or didn’t know how to get that language into the treaties.

As a result they are left with bits and pieces of the land they inhabited. The 4 million acres they started with was whittled down to 200 acres.

And we wonder why they are angry.

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Incredibly talented web site designer and graphic artist has released a new game - Zoot.

By Pepper Parr

February 10th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

My friend Joan Krygsman is once of these terribly creative people.

She has a web site – stripedardvark – (https://www.stripedaardvark.com/) which is the first hint that this one is different.

Energetic, plays the guitar, sings, shows up in the darnedest places with her partner.

Completes tax returns for people who need help and sells rain water barrels.

Are you getting a sense as to what you are about to be told.

The art is – well you decide.

She has invented a game.

I’m not a games person – but later this week I’ll do my best to tell you more about it.  If you want to get a head start follow the link.

 

The game will consist of a kit of coloured cards and will be on line as well in the very near future.

Joan is using a novel way of raising the money needed to get this game into production.  She has been working on it for a couple of years – when Wordle took the world by storm Joan knew she had to get into production and has chosen to use the Kickstarter model.

To order the game and learn more about Kickstarter click HERE

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School Board will rent part of the school they want to sell - 25 year lease

By Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was a lot of jabbering by the City of Burlington and the Halton District School Board about the sale of what used to be the Robert Bateman High school.

The School Board had announced that the property was surplus to its needs except for some pace they would use for the Gary Allen Learning Centre which is just up the road from the high school.

While this is just a concept a this point the Board of Education is in for a 25 year lease and Brock University is looking for a new home for one of their faculties. It could be a win win

Both the City and the School Board issued statements recently without adding anything new to a project that has been reported to have a $50 million price tag attached to it.

Some people have asked if there asbestos insulation in the building – no answers to that question yet.

There are significant benefits to the City if the project ever results in a sale that doesn’t kick the stuffing out of the budget and the various reserve accounts.

The plan at this point is to provide the HDSB with a 25-year lease to accommodate Gary Allan Learning Centre, which provides adult, alternative and continuing education programs, and language instruction programs for newcomers, among others.

It is a very large piece of land that the Board of education no longer needs and the city thinks it can be re-purposed.

The Board of Education will pocket a healthy sum – the question that hasn’t been asked – is what will happen to the Gary Allan Learning Centre property once its operations get moved over to the Bateman property.

And what will the name of this new landmark be?

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Everything you ever wanted to know about what makes owls incredibly interesting and majestic creatures.

By Staff

February 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington Green is inviting everyone to a fascinating webinar on February 23 from 6:30-7:30pm:  The Mystique of Owls: An Introduction to Owling in Ontario with guest speaker, Bob Bell!

Owls are incredibly interesting and majestic creatures

“Bob joined us back in September providing a superb Introduction to Birding in a  presentation so we are thrilled to have him join us again.”

Owls are incredibly interesting and majestic creatures. If you have ever wanted to learn more about owls and owling in Ontario, then you will want to tune in to this event!

Avid local birder and member of the Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington team, Bob Bell, introduces the mystical world of owling! You can expect to learn about: owls in culture, the “superpowers” of owls that make them unique, tips for owling, ethical owling, and more!

Are you interested but not able to attend? No problem, this event will be recorded. A link to the video recording will be sent to all registrants following the event. Closed captioning will be available on the recorded link.

Register to attend the webinar!

This event is supported by the Burlington Foundation and NUVO Network.

 

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Draft of school calendar for 2022-2-23 school year. Ministry has to approve

By Staff

February 4th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Subject to any changes made by the Ministry of Education – the following is the proposed school calendar for the 2022 school year.

Thursday, Sept​. 1, 2022 PA Day (Elementary & Secondary)
Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 Labour Day
Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 First day of instruction (Elem/Sec)
Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 PA Day (Elementary & Secondary)
Monday, Oct. 10, 2022 Thanksgiving Day
Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 PA Day (Elementary & Secondary)
Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022 * Last day of school before Winter Break
Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 –  Friday, Jan. 6, 2023 (inclusive) Winter Break
Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 School resumes (Elem/Sec)
Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2023 Exams (Secondary only)
Friday, Jan. 27, 2023 PA Day (Elementary only)
Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 PA Day (Secondary only)
Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 First day of instruction
(Semester 2 – Secondary only)
Friday, Feb. 17, 2023 PA Day (Elementary & Secondary)
Monday, Feb. 20, 2023 Family Day
March 13 – 17, 2023 Spring Break
Friday, April 7, 2023 Good Friday
Monday, April 10, 2023 Easter Monday
Monday, April 24, 2023 PA Day (Elementary & Secondary)
Monday, May 22, 2023 Victoria Day
Monday, June 5, 2023 PA Day (Elementary only)
June 22 – 28, 2023 Exams (Secondary only)
Thursday, June 29, 2023 Last day of instruction (Secondary)
Friday, June 30, 2023 * Last day of instruction for elementary
PA Day (Secondary only)

This assumes of course that the pandemic has become endemic and normal is something we begin to get used to.

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Black History Month begins today: this is not a single day event.

By Staff

February 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In recognition of Black History Month in February, schools in the Halton District School Board have planned initiatives to celebrate and honour the contributions of Black Canadians, past and present.

This year’s theme February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day reminds everyone that Black history is Canadian history and lives beyond a single month.

A large graphic that would say: Black Lives Matter

“Black History Month is a time to commemorate the important achievements, contributions and excellence of Black Canadians, ” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “This month provides our educators another opportunity to teach and discuss the strength, brilliance and achievements of the Black community, to acknowledge the diversity within, and the extensive role Black Canadians have played and continue to play in shaping this country.

It is also a reminder of our ongoing commitment as outlined in our 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan to identify and eliminate racism and discriminatory barriers that limit the inherent giftedness of Black students.

At the Halton District School Board, we will continue to educate about, empower students and staff with, and champion for equity and human rights.”

In honour of Black History Month, schools and classes across the HDSB will be highlighting the contributions of Black Canadians and the African diaspora. Some of the events taking place to celebrate are:

Canadian author Yolanda Marshall will take students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 on a literary adventure through storytelling every Wednesday throughout the month (Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23)

Renowned Canadian author Lawrence Hill will visit the Milton Public Library on Feb. 10 to discuss his newest children’s novel Beatrice and Croc Harry. Board schools will join the conversation virtually.

Sizzlin’ Halton will turn up the heat for secondary students with Chefs Wayne General and Delvon Greene as they explore the secrets and spices of Caribbean cooking on Feb. 15, 17, 22; this event is sponsored by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton

International Spoken Word artist Dwayne Morgan returns this year, addressing students in Grade 6-12 about ‘Black Excellence’ through spoken word on Feb. 24

“Black History Month affirms Black identity in educational lessons and resources, as well as our collective duty to continue the learning and conversation beyond this month into everyday teaching moments within our schools and broader HDSB community,” says Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education, with a focus on Human Rights, Equity & Inclusive Education for the Halton District School Board.

Celebrating Black History Month aligns with the Equity and Well-Being goals outlined in the Halton District School Board’s Multi-Year Plan. The goal is to champion supportive and inclusive practices to ensure equitable access to positive opportunities and outcomes for all.

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HDSB Director of Education Curtis Ennis launches his public participation event

By Staff

January 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the Region of Halton it has become the practice for the Director of Education to create a program that is their reaching out to the community to involve the public ia a public education event with a focus they chose.

Former Director of Education Stewart Miller worked with Stephen Lewis and Jesse Wente and brought them to the community. Covid19 limited what Stephen Lewis was able to do.

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

The new Director of Education, Curtis Ennis has put together a series of public participation event, the first being a Panel on , Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred and will take place on February 7th at 6 p.m. virtually at www.hdsb.ca

HDSB families, staff and community members are invited to the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to raise awareness on historical and contemporary issues of identity, inclusion and human rights. The first session in the panel series will be:

Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred
Monday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.
This will be a virtual event, with the livestream linked on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca).
Registration is not required.
Panel speakers include:

● Dr. Karen R. Mock, Human Rights Advocate and Educator
● Bernie Farber, Chair, Canadian Anti-Hate Network
● Rabbi Stephen Wise, Spiritual Leader of Shaarei-Beth El Congregation of Oakville
● Sharon Khavkine-Binstock, McMaster University student and former HDSB student
● Eszter Reti, Grade 12 HDSB student
● A representative from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

Those interested in attending the event can submit a question to the panel before or during the presentation through this Google Form: https://forms.gle/L5AxQvpErhR9wpkG9

“Each session in the series will explore how issues of identity and inclusion intersect with education,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

“This provides an opportunity to create awareness of multiple perspectives of insight and analysis on how individual identities can be reflected and engaged in the broader HDSB community. This panel series aligns with the Board’s commitment to raise awareness of diverse community perspectives and the need to broaden resources to support inclusion and student achievement, as reflected in the HDSB’s Multi-Year Plan 2020-2024 and the Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan – The Way Forward.”

Future sessions in the series include Black Excellence, Transgender Awareness, Indigenous Perspectives on Decolonizing Education and Land and Perspectives on Islam. These sessions will take place in the coming months, with specific dates to be confirmed soon.

Related news story:

HDSB appoints new Director of Education; hails from Toronto Board

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Catholic school board reverses its decision and will now fly the Pride flag

By Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After hours of rancorous debate the Halton District Catholic School Board voted 5-3 to allow the flying of a Pride flag outside schools in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills during the month of June – Pride month.

The inability of many of those taking part in the debate to follow rules of procedure and the attempt to revise the agenda was a sad example of how adults resolve their differences.

Those opposed to the flying of the Pride flag were argumentative, petty, and disruptive but failed in their effort to keep the flag off the flag poles.

The students were very good in making their point.

It was not a debate for the board to be proud of – the beliefs might have been strongly held but that does not excuse the behaviour seen last night.  It was most unfortunate.

The 5-3 vote in favour of flying the Pride flag was necessary.

Voting for the motion: Trustees Brenda Agnew, Patrick Murphy, Nancy Guzzo, Peter DeRosa and Janet O’Hearn-Czarnota.  Trustees Tim O’Brien, Helena Karabela and Vincent Iantomasi voted against.

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Open Letter from the Halton Members of Parliament to Catholic Trustees

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The four Members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton wrote an Open Letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.  The contents of that letter are set out below.

Dear Trustees,

On January 18th you will have an opportunity to vote on whether you will allow your schools to raise the Pride Flag this June.  From a group of one elected officials to another we understand the seriousness in which you take this vote and the role that your convictions play in determining how you will side.

Next week, you can act to show the 37,000 students that you teach that the Halton Catholic District School Board embraces diversity, celebrates love, and recognizes the community’s desire to officially embrace the 25LGBTQ+ members of your schools.

In 2016, the Pride Flag was flown for the first time on Parliament Hill. Some of us were there that day to celebrate this important milestone for Canada and the 25LGBTQ+ community. The simple act of raising the rainbow flag made an enormous difference in the lives of the advocates who fought for this ceremony to take place. It told them that their country supports them, that their country loves them, and that their country needs their voice at the highest levels of political leadership. You can send the same message to the students, their parents, and your staff, that the HCDSB supports them, loves them and that they are called to shape the future of their community.

To quote your colleague Trustee Agnew, “(you) have a chance to be leaders, champions if you will, of the future, of amazing things to come.”

On January 18th you have a chance to stand up for change. As the federally elected representatives for Halton, we express our unwavering support in favour of raising the flag.

Thank you for taking time to consider our request.

 

Honourable Anita Anand, MP Oakville     Honourable Karina Gould, MP, Burlington

Pam Damoff, MP, Oakville-North Burlington          Adam VanKoeverden, MP, Milton

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Letter from Halton MPs to Catholic Trustees was inappropriate

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Opinion

Last Friday, the four members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton sent an open letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.

Cabinet Ministers Karina Gould (Burlington); Anita Anand, (Oakville) along with Pam Damoff (Oakville North Burlington) and Adam VanKoeverden, MP, (Milton) wrote about a matter that is not something in which the federal government is involved.

Education is a provincial matter with trustees elected at the local level to represent parents with children in the school system.

The Gazette wonders if it is appropriate for Members of Parliament to meddle in a provincial matter that is being fiercely debated at the local level.

Emotions are running high; views are strongly held. What value does the opinion of someone from a senior level of government add?

The concerns of the four Members of Parliament are legitimate enough but one has to wonder what the upside is for the MPs. Have they brought any clarity to the issue?

Do any of them have children in Catholic schools?

Karina Gould has a mandate as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development but that mandate does not reach into issues that are local.

The differences between the Catholic communities are philosophical and political and they will be resolved politically.

The parents who are opposed to the flying of the Pride flag in front of schools support their children; love their country and believe they are serving at their level of political leadership.

If the federal Liberals had anything of value to add perhaps a comment would be appropriate.

They add nothing other than their opinions.

The Gazette feels the letter was inappropriate and that the members of the Catholic community have to work this out on their own.

Related content:

Letter to the trustees

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Opposing views on Pride Flag will be heard by Catholic Trustees on Tuesday

By Pepper Parr

January 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON,, ON

 

The debate on flying the Pride flag at Catholic schools in the Halton Region will be heard by the Halton District Catholic \school Board on Tuesday.

The Gazette has chosen two delegations that reflect strongly held position on the issues.

Both should be heard.

The Rainer Noack and Veronica Touhey delegations follow.

Chairperson of the board, board members, delegates, families – it is an honour to have been asked to
support this evening’s delegation. My name is Rainer Noack and I worked for the Halton Catholic District School Board from 1989 to 2006 where I taught both Dramatic Arts for Grades 10 to OAC, and English for Grades 9 and 10. I was a passionate, popular, and distinctive educator in my field. I spearheaded the entry of the Halton Catholic District school Board into the Ontario Drama Festival (formerly known as the Sears Drama Festival).

Rainer Noack

I am here to support Lauren MacDonald and her team in their efforts to ensure that the Halton Catholic District School Board will raise the Pride Flag in the future, as a demonstration of equality and solidarity for all human beings. The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected by a healing community and can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.

Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life, and to those things required for our human
dignity. I believe that in order to set students up for success and to become healthy contributing members of society, they need to have models. As educators, we are on the front line of helping children every day, and it is indeed some of those teachers and forward thinking leaders that have allowed many Catholic schools to become safe spaces, and recognize that there are many forms of diversity that need respect.Refusal to raise the flag is a blatant signal to further marginalized people demonstrating fear and xenophobia. The parliament of Canada on July 20, 2005 enacted the Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Canada; fourth country to do so. 2005 was the year I married my husband, thus for the first time, acknowledging my sexuality societally. In June 2006, my husband and I, along with many others, including members of the Toronto police force, carried the Pride Flag down Yonge street. A portion of this flag is now displayed in the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.

During my tenure with the school board, I was there for students who were struggling to accept their
identity. I was there to witness students driven to suicide through a lack of acceptance. Statistics have shown that those attending a Catholic school have a substantial increase in the odds of attempting suicide or suicide risk by the age of 15 and self-harm by the age of 19.
The Supreme Court does not try to hide the fact that it will shed no tears if Catholic schools vanish from the scene while they continue to receive public funding and continue to enforce outdated rules of the Bible and continue to believe in supremacy of the Papacy. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a set of human rights enforced by judicial review of legislation. Many Catholic school boards have begun to reconsider the conflict between Catholic beliefs and Human Rights.

Trying to change attitudes is brave and progressive, and I am grateful to be able to share my views here today. As teachers, we promote healthy lifestyles and attitudes and our daily business is prevention intervention. Our experience has taught us that it takes a lesson repeated over and over to truly change an attitude. The best way to teach is by example, and therefore it is the responsibility of adults to model the kind of beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes that will make a better world.

The world needs to examine its conscience. Now, more than ever, is the time to give hope to disenchanted youth. The media advertises that research funding is being designated for youth to reduce violence and mental health issues. This work is as well as wasted if a definite message is not sent by our school boards.

We must be more progressive.

Today’s children will become tomorrow’s patrons, employees, and entrepreneurs. We owe it to them to
help them to feel that we each have a fundamental right to freedom.

Thank you

LIFT HIGH THE CROSS, RAISE NOT THE ‘PRIDE’ FLAG
My name is Veronica Touhey and I address this board as a parent who sends my children to
Catholic schools with the good faith and understanding that they will be taught the magisterial
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

I know that flying the “pride” flag over Catholic schools and administrative buildings violates
these teachings.

It would deeply sadden me to see that flag raised by schools of the HCDSB.

Some believe that the raising of the “pride” flag is necessary to stop bullying and discrimination,
and while these are always good intentions in themselves, the act of raising that flag over
Catholic schools will undermine the mission of Catholic education and the mission of the Halton
Catholic District School Board.

The mission statement of the HCDSB states that the Board is “…dedicated to providing
excellence in Catholic education by developing Christ-centred individuals enabled to transform
society.”

Flying the “pride” flag will not help the board to achieve these crucial objectives. It will, in fact, betray this mission.

Many who advocate for the raising of the flag assert that it will make the schools it flies over
more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive of people.

That only proves that our hearts, and our wishful thinking, can deceive us.

The “pride” flag is a lie.

The flag isn’t about inclusion, diversity, and acceptance, but about conformity, exclusion and
intolerance. The “pride” flag is in fact a giant red flag of warning for anyone concerned about
traditional values and the freedom to live by them.

The “pride” flag is a symbol of mortal sin. It’s no coincidence that “pride” is both the name of
that flag, and the name of one of the seven deadly sins. In fact, pride was the cause of the
Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve, and it is considered the source of all the other deadly
sins.

The Catholic Church can never condone mortal sin, and the “pride” flag is a symbol of mortal
sin.

There are those who will say that secular institutions fly that flag, and so our Catholic schools
should follow along and do the same. But it has never been the mandate of the Catholic Church
to follow the fashions of the world.

Quite the opposite is true.

The Catholic Church is charged to lead the world to Christ.

We should be leading the world by doing what the HCDSB mission statement claims it is here to
do, by “developing Christ-centred individuals enabled to transform society”.

To transform society away from sinful ways and toward Jesus Christ.
Secular institutions that fly the “pride” flag have no mandate to defend the teachings of the
Catholic, or of any other Faith. But this board does!

The Faith we express is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus
Christ, not to condemn the world, but to save it. We know that God is love, and that He
demonstrated this love by dying on the Cross.

The “pride” flag is a mere worldly symbol. The Cross represents the very heart of the Church
and its values, which transcend all symbols.

We do not need any flag, for we have the Cross!

The Cross demonstrates and reminds us of the love God has for all people, no matter who they
are. It tells us that God desires to gather us all to Himself as one family in Christ.

The Cross is our sign of true love and of mercy, of eternal life. It is a bold declaration of hope in
a world full of sorrows. That is the hope we must nurture, a hope in the Lord as our strength.
Symbols such as that “pride” flag will come and go, but as St. Paul tells us, “Jesus Christ is the
same yesterday today and forever.”

We teach our children the marks of the Church, which we recite each time we say the Creed.
The marks of the Church remind us that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church must
speak with a single voice and reject all that is not in keeping with it.

That “pride” flag is not in keeping with our Faith.

Our children are watching us. What will we teach them now?

Thank you for your time and for allowing me to address the Board.

r

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Pride flag issues bedevil the Catholic School Board - federal MP's write an Open Letter

By Pepper Parr

January 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tuesday of this week the Halton District Catholic School (HDCSB) Board will hear delegations related to raising a Pride flag and a Student Senate survey.

The Catholic school board has consistently resisted requests for a Pride flag outside any of their schools whereas the public school boar raises the Pride flag outside every school.  City Hall also raises the Pride flag outside city hall on appropriate occasions.

Burlington city council has allocated up to $10,000 per instantiation for Rainbow Crosswalks in every ward of the city.

The Catholic Student Senate is made up of three or four students from each high school plus the three student Trustees.

In their delegation the student senate asks that:

Our vision has been particularly informed by a desire to fight for equity and inclusion of all students in our schools. In times of increasing isolation, we recognize the importance of ensuring that all students feel welcome in our schools.

Our vision is to ensure that through the affirmation of the human dignity that our schools become a place where all students feel like they can achieve, believe, and belong.

We wish to not only highlight the voices of students that have historically been marginalized in our communities but ensure that we model Christlike leadership in our efforts to create an environment of compassion, kindness, humility, and faith at the HCDSB.

In a survey done by the Student Senate 70% of students responding want the Pride flag to be raised;

How strongly do you support the flying of pride flag in schools? (1 being strongly opposed, 5 being strongly in favour)

Approx. 6% of students responded strongly opposed

Approx. 8% of students responded opposed

Approx.
4% of students responded neither opposed nor in favour
Approx. 15% of students responded in
favour
Approx. 70% of students responded strongly in
favour

As for the motion to raise the Pride flag – 11 delegations – 9 in favour.

This is an issue that is not going to go away.

Adding to what is a school board issue is the releasing of an Open Letter on Friday from the four area Members of Parliament (all Liberals) asking the Trustees to consider supporting the motion from the students.

In part, the four Members of Parliament wrote:

Next week, you can act to show the 37,000 students that you teach that the Halton Catholic District School Board embraces diversity, celebrates love, and recognizes the community’s desire to officially embrace the 2SLGBTQ+ members of your schools.

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Sweetgrass to be the name of the former Ryerson Park

By Pepper Parr

January 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Ryerson Park was to be renamed.

Egerton Ryerson was no longer in fashion and the Mayor saw merit in renaming the park, which was adjacent to the elementary school of the same name.

Based on a Motion brought to the Standing committee, the recommendation was to approve Sweetgrass Park as the new name for the park formally called Ryerson.

In July of 2021 council supported a Motion Memorandum from the Mayor which included the following staff direction:

Direct the Director of Recreation, Community and Culture to initiate the renaming process for Ryerson Park in keeping with our naming policies, ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion is reflected in the new name, and report back to committee with a recommendation for a new name by November 2021.

Staff completed a three-phase engagement process with the Community and worked with a small group comprised of the Chair of the Inclusivity Committee,

Stephen Paquette

Stephen Paquette, resident and Indigenous elder, ward Councillor Shawna Stolte, and Denise Beard, Manager of Community Development were named to the committee to review community suggestions.  The Trustee for the ward also attended the meeting to observe the process.

Using the Naming of Corporate Assets Policy, the small group reviewed the policy to determine which criteria would be weighted higher than other items. For example, the group felt that a name that reflected a sense of place and supports diversity and inclusivity, was more significant than honoring a person, persons, a family group living or deceased who have made a significant contribution to the community.

A field of sweetgrass

After coming to consensus of the evaluation matrix, and streamlining the list of names to remove duplications, or names that violated the policy, each member of the small team completed an individual rating and ranking of the suggested names.

At a consensus meeting the small group supported the following themes

Head of the Lake Park

Unity Park

Truth and Reconciliation Park

It was through that discussion that Stephen suggested a pause to consult with an Indigenous linguist to see if there was an appropriate Indigenous word that might best reflect the theme.  Also, during the same discussion, Paquette educated the group on “Sweetgrass”, one of the sacred medicines to many First Nations. It is used as a purification medicine in ceremony to purify ourselves and to heal.

Single strands are not very strong but when woven together the grass is very strong.

Many indigenous communities weave baskets out of sweetgrass

The planting and use of sweetgrass is widespread by most Indigenous cultures in this area. This transcendence and the use of sweetgrass resonated with the group.

After the meeting Stephen sought the advice of an Indigenous linguist to find the right word.  Sweetgrass was added to the list of names.

Community voting took place through the Get Involved page on the city web site. Over 1,600 votes were cast by Burlington residents.

The results are:

Heat map showing where the cotes for the new park name came from.

Name Percentage of Votes

Head of the Lake Park 16.1%

Unity Park 39%

Truth and Reconciliation Park 5%

Sweetgrass Park 40%

Committee had many options to consider:

  1. Use the most voted name by the community which supports the community engagement process.
  2. Combine the most popular names for example – Sweetgrass Unity Park.
  3. Give the park the same as the recently announced re-named school

Ryerson Public school has been renamed Makwendam Public School.

Makwendam Public School. Pronounced muck-kwen-dum, the Indigenous word for “to remember” in the Anishinaabemowin language.” This would provide consistency between the two properties but did not honour the public engagement process.

Replacement signage reflective of the truth and reconciliation – speaking about the past and why the name change and the City’s aspirations for Truth and Reconciliation by re-naming the park – would cost about $5,000.

Despite creating the system of publication education in Ontario Egerton Ryerson has been set aside to make room for a much needed change in the public acceptance to the damage done at residential schools operated for the most part by Christian churches

Staff are also looking at the installation of a medicine wheel or healing circle in the park as well as sweetgrass plantings. Staff have had some preliminary discussions with a potential donor to support the capital investment for the medicine wheel or healing circle. The donor would look for their donation to be matched by the City.

More than 500 suggestions were submitted; once whittled down to four names, the community cast over 1,600 votes

 

 

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