Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Going Concern

oma and grandchild

My mother-in-law often referred to her grandchildren as ‘going concerns.’

When my sons were small they were active, curious, social little beings. They were interested in everything.  As my mother-in-law would watch one of them busy exploring their surroundings and interacting with people she would often say, “He’s a real going concern isn’t he.”  I was never quite sure what she meant by that.  Until I married into my husband Dave’s family I had never heard the phrase ‘going concern.’ 

Over the Christmas holidays I watched my one year old grandson have a fine time exploring every corner of our condo, doing puzzles, singing, interacting with family members, laughing, opening presents, learning new words at a rapid rate, and playing little games like peek a boo.   I almost said, “He’s a real going concern isn’t he.”

grandparents and grandkids

My mother-in-law thought her lively crew of grandkids were ‘going concerns’ -happy, healthy kids with lots of potential.

It made me decide that finally after all these years I was going to find out if ‘going concern’ was a recognized phrase and see if I could figure out what it meant. I learned it is actually a term used in the business world to refer to a company that is doing well.  It is healthy financially, can honor its commitments, and has good future prospects.

But I also discovered the phrase in a 1949 BBC broadcast script in which a psychologist refers to children who are happy and bright and developing well as a ‘going concern.’ He tries to reassure parents they shouldn’t get overly anxious about doing everything ‘exactly right’.  Most children are a ‘going concern’ and will develop in a healthy way if they are loved and their basic needs are met by caring parents.  

driedger grandchildren

Oma’s ‘going concerns’ pose for a photo with her and Opa on their 50th wedding anniversary

The 1949 date of the BBC broadcast made me realize that ‘a going concern’ was a term people of my mother-in-law’s generation would have used and also helped me understand she was actually paying my husband and me a compliment when she said our children were ‘going concerns.’ She thought our sons were happy, healthy, bright and developing well and we were doing our best to parent them.  

Thanks Mom!

Other posts……..

What’s the Best Way To Raise Children?


What Will Our Grandchildren Think?

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Filed under Family, Health

One Armed Once Again

holding baby

As a young mother I learned to do things with one hand.

Having my one arm in a cast has been bringing back memories of when my sons were babies.  During those years I learned to do lots of things with just one free hand since I was often carrying a child in the other arm.  I could cook, vacuum, talk on the phone, do laundry, put on lipstick, peel a banana and get dressed with one hand.  I once wrote a newspaper column about all the young parents I had seen doing things ‘one handed’ after observing my neighbour mow his lawn with one hand while carrying his son on his other arm.

eating perogies with baby

My father in-law serving up gravy for vereneki one-armed while holding our son.

I will be glad when I have full use of both my arms again, but the fact I learned as a young mother to do things with one arm is coming in kind of handy now. 

playing guitar with baby

My brother with his guitar under one arm and his nephew tucked into the other 

Other posts………..


Dorothy’s Room

The Beginning and End of Life

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Filed under New Experiences

A Riveting Read

I honestly couldn’t put the book Pachinko down.  I really admired the main character Sunja, a Korean woman living in Japan. I read for hours on end I was so eager to find out what was going to happen to Sunja and her family.

pachinkoI had no idea about the discrimination experienced by Koreans living in Japan, even those who have been there for generations.  In her book Pachinko author Min Jin Lee illustrates how that discrimination impacts four generations of Sunja’s family. I have visited both Korea and Japan. I had many Korean students when I was a teacher in Hong Kong.  I wished I had read this book prior to those experiences, but since it was just published last year that wouldn’t have been possible anyway. With Korea in the news so much today I appreciated the added insight the novel gave me into Korean history.  

statue of a family blue palace seoul

I photographed this statue of a family in Seoul

The only criticism I would have of the novel is that because I grew to really like and care for so many characters I might have chosen to resolve the conflicts in some of their lives in different and often less dramatic ways than the author did. If you are looking for a riveting read I can highly recommend Pachinko

Note: Pachinko is a recreational arcade game in Japan that can be used for gambling. 

Other posts……..

Hopeful Families in Korea

A Manitoba Boy Learn to Brew Beer in Korea

Kim’s Convenience

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Filed under Books, Japan

She Started To Cry

Hustle & Bustle /Downriver House by Bruno Canadien is one of the pieces currently on display in the Insurgence Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Bruno Canadien lives in Alberta and is a member of a northern Dene First Nation in the Deh Gah Got’ı́é Kǫ́ę́, Deh Cho Region. His artwork contains images of his northern home.  There are flowers, forests, caribou, fishermen, oil wells and smoke stacks. 

hustle bustle Downriver House by Bruno CanadienOne of the activities we do with gallery visitors after we look at Bruno’s artwork is have them make a similar collage about their home.  They choose objects from trays we provide and place them on a colored paper in ways that represent home to them. 

Last week I did the activity with group of international students that included a young woman from China. One item she chose for her collage was a picture of a phone.  She told us in China she had wanted to be independent from her parents and resented having to still live in the same house with them.  But now that she is far away in Canada she starts to cry whenever she talks to her parents on the phone because she misses them so much. As she told us this she started to cry and I had to reach out and give her a comforting hug. 

I loved the way a young woman from Beijing was inspired to share her personal feelings, thanks to a painting by a Canadian indigenous artist. Art is truly a universal language.

Other posts……….. 

Mennonite Floor Art

A Very Personal Story

Are You Confused Yet?

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Filed under Art, China, Family, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Abortion and Summer Jobs

Will faith- based camps lose funding for summer student workers?

Member of Parliament Ted Falk and other social conservatives are actively fighting  a new government regulation regarding funding for Canada’s summer jobs program. Justin Trudeau says they are creating an unnecessary “kerfluffle”. A new requirement means organizations requesting money must agree to respect all human rights including reproductive rights. Faith groups who oppose abortion are actively protesting the regulation. They believe they will lose the financial support they have received in the past. The prime minister describes their reaction as alarmist. He suggests program applicants whose primary mandate isn’t denial of abortion access will still receive grants. The new directive will just target organizations that actively and openly lobby against reproductive rights.

I will follow the story of how the new regulation is applied with interest because I agree with our prime minister that  reproductive rights are human rights. I believe giving women full control of their bodies is fundamental to them having an equal place in society. The television series based on Margaret Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale imagines the frightening possibilities when we fail to defend a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions.

Research shows that protests like this one at the University of Toronto are not effective in reducing abortion rates

That being said it would be ideal if no woman ever felt she needed to have an abortion. But we will not reduce abortion rates by criminalizing abortion or denying women access to it. Equally ineffective in reducing abortion rates are attempts to make people feel guilty with graphic billboard pictures or 100,000 memorial flags for aborted fetuses planted in a public park. Research by the World Health organization and other groups tells us exactly what things will effectively reduce abortion rates.

  1. Provide comprehensive sex education in schools. Teens that receive medically sound sex education and learn about many forms of birth control, not just abstinence, are 60% less likely to become pregnant. Since 30% of women who have abortions in Canada say the reason for their choice is they are too young and not ready for the responsibility of a child, it makes sense that as teen pregnancy rates are lowered, abortion rates will go down. In Canada sex education is different in every province and even varies between school districts. Is it time to create national standards for comprehensive sex education?
  2. Provide free contraception whether birth control pills, condoms or intrauterine devices. When Norway provided free birth control their abortion rate was cut in half. Irene Mathyssen an NDP Member of Parliament has been lobbying the government to make birth control free in Canada. Politicians who are serious about reducing the number of abortions in our country should give her their unstinting support.

    Photo of Canadian child living in poverty from the website of Member of Parliament Ted Falk who is one of the politicians most harshly criticizing the new regulation for summer job grants

  3. Reduce poverty. According to the Abortion in Canada website, financial concerns are the number one reason women in Canada have abortions. If we reduce poverty, we will reduce the number of abortions. Manitoba has the highest child poverty rate in Canada. We obviously need to search for more creative and effective strategies to address this disgrace.
  4. Better childcare. Many women choose to have abortions because they can’t balance child rearing with pursuing higher education or a successful career. Logically if families had assured access to quality affordable childcare they would be less likely to choose to have abortions. In 2005 Prime Minister Paul Martin negotiated just such a national childcare program. When Mr. Harper’s Conservatives came into power the following year they scrapped it. Nothing as comprehensive has been proposed since. Could all political parties work together to create universal, affordable childcare for our country?

If people who consider themselves anti-abortion advocates are serious about reducing the number of abortions in Canada there are plenty of effective things to do. Fighting a government grant regulation that requires respect for women’s reproductive rights is not among them.

Other posts…….

Should Young Women With Children Be Politicians?

Thank Goodness For The Battle of the Sexes



Filed under Canada, Health, Religion


advanced comp class

With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong-2011

Teenagers are extremely smart.  -Ransom Riggs

With teenage girls at a highschool in Cambodia-2011

 Being a teenager is an amazing time and a hard time. – Sophia Bush

teens by a fountain in lviv (1)

Teenagers in Lviv Ukraine- 2011

Teenagers are kinda the same wherever you find them. -Tom Cotton

high school students and teacher in spain

With my students in Madrid Spain-2008

Teenagers are some of the most passionate, dynamic and creative people I know.- Malorie Blackman

teen in jerusalem

Girl in Jerusalem-2009

I think all teenagers feel they are alone. – Nicholas Hoult

dancing with teenagers borneo

Teenagers teaching me to dance in Borneo-2010

Teenagers come to things fresh and can teach us an awful lot. – Jane Goldman

Visiting two of my teenage students at Parsons School of Design in New York-2012

Teenagers learn best by doing things- Geoff Mulgan

school girls vietnam

Teenage school girls in Vietnam-2008

Teenagers today are more free to be themselves and to accept themselves.- John Knowles

sc eye- school newspaper

As a teenage high school student I was the editor of my school newspaper The SCEye. Here I am pictured with my newspaper staff. -1969

 I liked being a teenager but I would not go back. – Rob Lowe

My mother with her best friend around 1943

As a teenager, you’re still discovering who you are, what your life is about, and who you want to be as a person. -Kaya Scodelario

Other posts………..




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Filed under Childhood, People

The Break

There’s a whole world just down the street from me I know so little about.  Much of the action in Katherena Vermette’s book The Break takes place in Winnipeg’s north end in a neighborhood  just a few blocks from where I live, on streets where I walk regularly.  Selkirk Avenue is mentioned frequently.  I walk down Selkirk every time I go and volunteer at the MCC Thrift Store.  I’ve had lunch at the Windmill Restaurant where one of the characters takes refugee for a few hours. Although it isn’t named I think I work as a faculty supervisor at the high school some of the characters in the book attend. One of the young narrators in the novel is a patient at the Health Sciences Centre. I walk past it en route to a couple of other schools I visit regularly. 

There is a whole world in and around those streets where I walk and work and volunteer that I know little about- a world where gangs wield control and people live in fear of their retaliation, where some young adults are hardened and vicious, where a sentence can’t be uttered without throwing in the ‘f’ word a couple of times, where abuse and violence are everyday occurrences, where drugs are sold, and almost everyone smokes, a world where kids are neglected and hungry.

It’s a place where families are torn apart…. by sudden death, the child welfare system, a transitory life that shifts between Winnipeg and the reserve, by the criminal justice system, a century of discrimination, a desire for a different life but a strong emotional attachment to the old one, and by drug and alcohol dependencies.

It is also a world where there is love and family connectedness, hope, strong women, innocence, loyal friendships, sweetness,  a longing for roots, a nostalgia for tradition, a sense of community, artistic gifts, and a respect for elders.  

In Katherena Vermette’s book The Break the fact that world is brought to life by an author who has lived in it makes it all the more poignant.  The Break is not an easy read. But I am so glad I read it.  I will walk the streets brought alive by Katherena’s novel with both my mind and heart opened just a little wider now.

Other posts…………….

A Blast From The Past

The Palace Theater

Katherena Vermette on the Wall

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Filed under Books, Winnipeg