MEDIA RELEASE: “Christy’s Classroom” to open on Legislature lawn on Tuesday if dispute with teachers not settled


Thursday, August 28, 2014

VICTORIA—The Legislature Lawn is slated to be transformed into an outdoor “peoples’ classroom” by students, parents, teachers and community members on Tuesday Sept 2nd if the BC government does not reach a settlement with the teachers first.

“Christy’s Classroom” will open with the ringing of a school bell at 9AM on Tuesday, the day classes are scheduled to start in BC’s public school system.

The classroom will include a morning assembly; classes in civics, history, environmental education, music and art; physical exercise and recess; the convening of students’ council and parents’ council meetings; and activity areas for younger children. All parents, students and community members are encouraged to participate.

“I believe it is important for the whole community to come out to Christy’s Classroom,” says Victoria parent Renay Maurice, who is helping organize the event. “Moms, dads, caregivers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, little kids and babies too are encouaged to attend. We owe it to our teachers, to the students, and to each other.”

“By showing up on September 2nd ready to learn on the first day of school, we are demonstrating our concern for education in BC and holding the government accountable,” says Maurice.

A wide array of community organizations and individuals have joined together for Christy’s Classroom, including School District 61 trustees Diane McNally and Deborah Nohr, parent organizations Protect Public Education Now and Support BC Teachers, and the advocacy groups Raging Grannies and Social Environmental Alliance. Jim Sinclair, President of the BC Federation of Labour, is scheduled to address the morning assembly at Christy’s Classroom, along with children and youth enrolled in public schools in the Greater Victoria area.

Deborah Nohr, trustee on the School District 61 Board of Education, points to the record of the Premier and her government as contributing to the current impasse with the teachers, and other deficiencies in BC’s public education system.

“This government has removed over $300M from public education every year since 2002,” Nohr says. “That funding had been lawfully negotiated through many years of teacher bargaining to target and support students’ needs. This has resulted in many students experiencing the frustration of inadequate instruction and other essential learning supports.”

All are welcome at Christy’s Classroom, Tuesday September 2nd at 9AM at the BC Legislature.



“Christy’s Classroom”: Teach-In for Public Education

Christy's Classroom - BC Legislature - Sept 2nd

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“Christy’s Classroom”: Teach-In for Public Education



(in front of the Premier’s Wing)

Wondering what to do during the teachers’ strike? Want to join students, parents & teachers in a Peoples’ School at Premier Christy Clark’s doorstep on the Legislature Grounds?

ALL OUT at Christy’s Classroom Teach-In

Classes start on TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 2nd!


(1) A Fair Settlement and Respect for the Teachers!

(2) Class Size Limits to Support Diverse Learners!

(3) Increase Funding for Public Education, Reduce Subsidies to Private Schools!

(4) Equal Opportunities for Students & Parents to Participate in Shaping Our Education System!

Curriculum and Class Schedule to be Announced…

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Doomed Systems and Broken Politics


Due to requests made to see the presentations put online, here are the two presentations from Pamela Schreiner and Mark McInnes. The first is the Big Picture View of Systems and Structures, from Pamela. This presentation, that delves into how systems hold our cultural beliefs, and reflect our human nature in attempts to become too rigid, inevitably fail, and that only a self-organizing system, open to change and trust, can better reflect a more sustainable, humane society.

The second presentation, by Mark McInnes, gets into the systemic issues facing democracy and politics in BC and Canada. The Powerpoint presentation, Broken Politics, ties into the lecture. Campaign financing, partisanship, low-voter turnout, and incestuous revolving-door practices, all affect the quality of our society, and our ability to tackle issues facing our communities.

The text of the speech is available here.

Public Education, Private Subsidies, and Social Mobility

Concerning the recent and ongoing strike of teachers and the battle between them and the BC Government, it is interesting to note how much subsidizing private schools get from the BC Liberal government.

Crawford Kilian, writing for The Tyee in March 2014, found that provincial funding has risen at a much higher rate for private schools than for public education, “In the current proposed education budget, funding for public school instruction is frozen at approximately $4.49 billion. Money for private schools is set to rise to $280.7 million. Other education-related spending will total about $610 million.”

While advocating a more inclusive system, what was interesting in Kilian’s article is this:

“But in North America and many other countries, parents see education as what will give their kids an edge — a cutthroat edge if need be — over their fellow-students.

After 40 years of middle-class income stagnation, social mobility is a fantasy in Canada, like winning the lottery. And getting your kids through university, at whatever cost, is the ticket in that lottery. Even if they don’t end up richer than you, maybe they won’t actually end up back in your basement suite while building a career at Starbucks.”

The connection to social mobility, which is the single largest reason people undertake their education, especially after K-12, is what is important here. In Katie Hyslop’s recent article, also for The Tyee, she analyzes the effects of the teacher’s strike on the impoverished. Warm breakfast, free lunches, access to healthcare through nurses’ office, are what could be at stake if the strike continues into September. Considering BC’s rate of child poverty being the highest in Canada, this affects many, many families.

Bottom line: education is split by class division, with the rich sending their kids to private schools and the rest to public schools.But public education is the sort of “lowest common denominator”, and if you wish to live in a society filled with smart individuals, who are responsible citizens, and understand the economic forces they are caught in enough to assert themselves, you need to raise that LCD a bit, and that means confronting contradictions and disparities and the unacknowledged problems our education system faces.

Society deserves this.

The question many have asked, is why is the government, who is ostensibly responsible to all citizens in ensuring a better, fairer, safer society, freezing funding and getting into spats with teachers, devaluing their work, and then giving more and more funding to private schools?

Are we better off this way? Or do we create more inequality?  Does society become more stable, or less safe when public education is devalued, and those that can pay get to close themselves off in enclaves of both higher education and living? And are we failing to address social mobility in an age of globalization, stagnating wages, and rising costs of living?

We’ve heard so often that education is the answer, but education is looking more and more like a messy question: how expensive? How certain its payoff? For who?


Media Release: Peoples’ paddle through Southern Gulf Islands aims to “turn the tide” on tankers and tarsands

Turning the Tide poster
Victoria, BC — Residents of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Lower Mainland are joining together the last weekend in July in a human-powered, multi-day flotilla through the Salish Sea and Southern Gulf Islands to demonstrate their passion for the coast and their commitment to protect it from the threat posed by oil tankers, pipelines and tarsands.

“Since the federal government approved the Northern Gateway pipeline, it is more important than ever to raise our voices in defence of the coast,” says Sasha Kvakic, a spokesperson for Turning the Tide.

“The peoples’ paddle for the Salish Sea is our way of showing how far we are willing to go in protecting ecosystems from a catastrophic oil spill. We want to show regular British Columbians who care about the environment that they are not alone, and that there are meaningful actions they can take to challenge the Harper government’s tarsands agenda.”

Turning the Tide: A Peoples’ Paddle for the Salish Sea takes place from Friday July 25 to Monday July 28, proceeding from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island to Port Browning Marina on Pender Island, to Ruckle Provincial Park on Saltspring Island, and then back to Swartz Bay. Island residents are hosting community gatherings on July 26 (Pender) and July 27 (Saltspring) featuring music, speakers and food to coincide with the group’s journey along the coast.

Turning the Tide is an initiative spearheaded by the advocacy group Social Environmental Alliance (SEA), in partnership with local First Nations and organizations including the Wilderness Committee and Raincoast Conservation Society.

“For me, Turning the Tide is about sharing an appreciation for these beautiful west coast waters,” says organizer David Monk. “But it is also about sending a message. British Columbians are united in opposition to the tar sands, pipelines and tankers that will wreak havoc on our coast. There is a strong message being sent to our political leaders, and I want to be part of it. I’m paddling because I love this coast, I love this land and I can’t stand to see it destroyed.”

Turning the Tide is open to all members of the public who are experienced open-water paddlers, as well as members of all skill levels who wish to travel to Pender and Saltspring by ferry to rendezvous with the flotilla. Registration is open at


For further information, contact:

Sasha Kvakic, 250-818-5565
David Monk, 250-580-7716

Grace Islet Chronology – Provincial Archaeological Site Record Information

Flotilla to Grace Islet, June 21st 2014

Flotilla to Grace Islet, June 21st 2014

Grace Islet Chronology – Provincial Archaeological Site Record Information

From time immemorial –Coast Salish village known in Hul’qumi’num as “Shiyahwt,” or “SYOWT” in Sencoten, at the site of present-day Ganges. In the Hul’qumi’num language the islet is “shmukw’elu”, roughly “a place to have funerals and containers (for bodies).”

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