Inspiration from School Yard Art

Hugh John McDonald School is on my street.  Its outer walls are decorated with these beautiful mosaics. 

hoop dancer hugh john mcdonald school winnipeg

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak. – Hopi Indian saying

musician and dancer hugh john mcdonald schoolMusic is a rainbow. – Stephen Earl

hugh john mcdonald school mural piece

Always remember that you are absolutely unique.  Just like everyone else. – Margaret Meadbasketball player hugh john mcdonald

Your limits are up there somewhere waiting for you to reach beyond infinity. – Arnold Henry former NCAA basketball player

dancers hugh john mural winnipegWe should consider everyday lost on which we have not danced at least once. – Friedrich Nietzsche 

soceer player hugh john muralLife is like soccer.  You need goals. – Author unknown

Other posts…….

The Paper Garden

The Heidelberg Project

Inspiration at The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

 

 

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This is just to say….

wall in the hague william carlos williams creative commonsThis famous poem by William Carlos Williams is imprinted on a wall in The Hague. 

When I taught high school I used to ask my students to write their own poems using the Williams poem as inspiration. The Williams poem is said to be based on a note his wife left on the fridge for him. I asked my students to think of place where they might leave a note and what they would say. 

Here is a sample I wrote for my students about a note left by me on student work ………

This is just to say

the F

on your assignment

is for real

I’m sorry

you probably thought

I wouldn’t

figure it out

but you plagiarized

and I am

smarter

than you think

Other posts………

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Poetry

Dancing in Shangri-la

Poetry and Teenagers

 

 

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Photographed Just in Time

winnipeg strike mural 2On September 15, 2012 I took photos of this Winnipeg Strike Mural on the south wall of the Whiskey Dix night club on Main Street.   I captured the art work just in time because later that same month a wicked rain and wind storm ripped the vinyl mural from the wall and damaged it. winnipeg strike muralThe mural painted by Tom Andrich tells the story of perhaps the most memorable event in Winnipeg history, the strike of 1919. In May some 30,000 workers walked off the job because of poor working conditions and a lack of employment opportunities especially for World War I veterans. Union organizers wanted an eight-hour work day, collective bargaining and demanded employers pay a living wage.  men and women winnipeg strikeThese are the strike leaders who were imprisoned. The woman  is Helen Armstrong. Nicknamed Wild Woman of the West she was a union organizer who championed the cause of working women. Born in Toronto she moved to Winnipeg  in 1905 and became the leader of the Women’s Labor League. Her leadership helped bring a minimum wage to Manitoba. During the Winnipeg Strike Helen organized kitchens to feed female strikers and harassed strike breakers who were crossing the picket line. She encouraged women to boycott stores where the workers were on strike and challenged them to join the men on strike. She was arrested and jailed for inciting people to strike, disorderly conduct and encouraging the abuse of strike breakers.britons shall never be slaves

Winnipeg business owners organized a Citizen’s Committee of One Thousand to oppose the strikers. They blamed foreign immigrants for the strike and many were deported. The majority of the strikers however were British.toppled street car winnipeg strikeOn June 21, 1919, war veterans organized a parade to protest the arrest of labor leaders. They were also upset at the government edict that the labor movement newspaper could no longer be published. 6,000 people gathered in front of City Hall. When a streetcar, operated by strike breakers came by the protesters overturned it and set it on fire.north west mounted police winnipeg strikeThe federal government had sent out the Royal North West Mounted Police to help put an end to the strike. Carrying clubs and firearms the North West Police charged into the crowd after the street car was overturned. They began to fire their weapons.mike winnipeg strikeJune 21, 1919 became known as Bloody Saturday, because the North West Mounties killed two strikers, wounded thirty-four and made nearly a hundred arrests. The mural on Main Street has a portrait of one of the men who died. His name was Mike Sokolowski. After Bloody Saturday the strike organizers fearing more violence called the strike to a halt and the strikers went back to work on June 26th.

Other posts……..

1000 Nails A Musical Mural

David Bowie in My Neighbourhood

Discovering Sacagawea

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Filed under Art, History, Winnipeg

Teaching Kids About the Diversity of Families, Gender Identities and Sexual Orientations

Last week The Carillon, the southeastern Manitoba newspaper where I work as a columnist,  reported the Hanover School Board had said no to a request from a parent to include discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in younger grades. The parent voiced her concerns because her child was being bullied at school for having two mothers. She proposed that more open discussions in younger grades about things like families with same sex marriage partners, might help change the attitudes that led to the bullying. The school board decided to continue their policy of saving such discussions for high school classrooms where they are part of the mandated provincial curriculum.

This means parents in the school division who want their young children to be accepting of a diversity of family arrangements, gender identities and lifestyle choices, will need to teach their kids those values at home. Luckily there are plenty of great books that can act as helpful resources for parents.

The Pilgrims is a group of people in my church who meet regularly to explore how our faith community can respond supportively to the spiritual pilgrimage of LGBTQ people. Since I am our church librarian a group member approached me recently wondering if I might be open to having them donate some books for children to the church library. These were stories that introduced the idea that all people are unique and make different life style choices, and that all families are unique and some include two mothers or two fathers. I said I would be happy to have these books in our church library. The request sent me off on a search of my own and here are some good books I found that parents of young children might want to consider.

 morris and the tangerine dressMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino is about a little boy who loves to wear a dress from the classroom’s dress up box. His friends say he isn’t welcome in the space ship they are building because astronauts don’t wear dresses.

TangopenguinAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell is a true story about a pair of male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who adopt an unwanted baby penguin and provide a loving caring family for it.

donovan's big dayDonovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman captures the joy and excitement of a family wedding through the eyes of a boy who is acting as the ring bearer for his two mothers.

great big book of familiesThe Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman has colorful illustrations that depict every kind of family; single parent, two parent, blended, multi-cultural, multi-racial and families headed by same sex couples and grandparents.


annie's plaid shirtAnnie’s Plaid Shirt
by Stacy Davids and Rachael Balsaitis is about a girl who loves her plaid shirt and is upset when her mother says she can’t wear it to her uncle’s wedding and must wear a dress instead.

These are just a few of the books available for young children. There are also many well-written novels for upper elementary and junior high kids that address gender identity, life style choice and same -sex marriage in thoughtful ways.

In a Carillon editorial last week the Hanover School Division was characterized as “doing nothing to advance a more compassionate response to discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.” Parents however can help their children have just such a compassionate response by sharing with them some of the great books for kids that celebrate and explain diversity.

Other posts……

Perfect for Pre Schoolers

Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction

Can Spirituality and Sexuality Dance Together

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Filed under Books, Education, Family

Images from Ru

yoked merchant in vietnam

“The merchants stepped into the modern era still carrying the weight of the yoke on their shoulders.”

That’s a line from the book Ru by Kim Thuy.  I just finished reading her poetic and haunting novel about life in Vietnam and a family much like her own that immigrates to Canada.   The book was a beautiful reminder of my own visit to Vietnam. Kim Thuy’s non-sequential narrative moves from one scene to another each describing a different time or event in her protagonist An Tinh’s  life.  Certain sentences in Ru seemed almost to have been written as captions for some of the photos I took in Vietnam.  

Photo I took of a Vietnamese mother sending her son off to war in the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi.

“The women let the sadness grow in the chamber of their hearts. They were so weighed down by all their grief they couldn’t pull themselves up……bowed under the weight of their sorrow.”   

children on a boat in hailong bay vietnam “the little girl who was swallowed up by the sea after she lost her footing” 

artillery vietnam“I was born in the shadow of skies ………….. shot through with rockets and missles.”

man in garden saigon“I was lucky enough to have parents who were able to hold their gaze steady”

irrigation vietnam“people are too preoccupied by their day-to-day survival to take the time to write their collective history”

woman's face vietnam“Aside from his mother’s teeth laquered black he had forgotten the faces of his parents.”

cu chi“He had slept in underground tunnels.”

family eating supper“She mixed the pork with steaming rice in a blue and white bowl”

vietnamese street seller“The south had created words to express the feeling of Coca Cola bubbles on your tongue”

Other posts……..

Hearing the Red River Valley in Hanoi

Sliding on the Sand

Elegant Words

 

 

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Brenda and Annie

photo of annie moose and brenda longclawsMeet Annie Moose and Brenda Longclaws.  Their portrait is currently featured in the exhibit We Are On Treaty Land at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Annie was 113 when she died in 2007.  She was an educator and the mother of 15 children, grandmother of 63, great grandmother of 214 and great, great grandmother of 80.  

In this photo taken in 1996 by First Nations photographer Murray McKenzie, Annie poses with Brenda Longclaws, an assistant principal at Gordon Bell Collegiate.   

 Annie’s obituary in the Montreal Gazette quoted her as saying that she believed her longevity might have had something to do with her love for her family and her ability to take hardship in stride.  Brenda Longclaws says, ” I like to get people smiling and see them in a good light.” 

Annie and Brenda represent two very different generations of aboriginal women.

Other posts about We Are On Treaty Land………

What’s a Bandolier Bag? 

Bear Witness

Abstract and Frustrating

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Hong Kong Connection at a Winnipeg Church

all saints churchWhile visiting the All Saints Anglican Church at the corner of Osborne and Broadway here in Winnipeg I was surprised to find………hong kong veterans all saints church

this banner with Chinese style lettering saying Hong Kong Veterans hanging from the church’s ceiling. I knew  a regiment from Manitoba, The Winnipeg Grenadiers, had served in Hong Kong during World War II and that many Manitobans had been killed there when Japan attacked and captured Hong Kong. I also knew many more Winnipeg soldiers had died in Japanese prisoner of war camps.sai wan war cemetery hong kong

Many Manitoba soldiers are buried in the Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong and it was a place I visited frequently during the six years I lived in Hong Kongcanadian soldiers grave sai wan

I even wrote an article about the cemetery for the Winnipeg Free Press. winnipeg grenadiers veterans
This plaque  is on the wall at All Saints and pays tribute to individual members of the Winnipeg Grenadiers regiment that served in Hong Kong. I learned that for many decades after the war veterans of the Manitoba regiment got together for an annual memorial service and meal at All Saints Church.all saints church winnipeg 2It was intriguing to find evidence of a connection between a church in my home city of Winnipeg, and a cemetery in Hong Kong, the city that was my home before I moved here. 

Other posts…….

Matching Macau and St. Boniface

Hong Kong Inspiration

The Amazing Race Canada- Where They SHOULD Have Gone in Hong Kong

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