Delay concerns school trustee

July 22, 2017

Anyone who thinks governing schools is a ‘piece of cake’ needs to think again. Times that by at least 3 (me thinks) when it comes to the Gulf Islands.

If you do not really understand what the following article is about, you are not alone. I wrote it and I do not understand what it is really about:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

May 3, 2000

Delay concerns school trustee

by Tanya Lester

School trustee Russ Searle has a problem and does not think the Gulf Islands School Board should have to solve it.

Pender Island School teachers voted to postpone the 2000-01 accreditation program. They were among 200 of 270 schools which decided to put accreditation “on hold” as recommended by the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

Searle’s problem with this is three-fold.

The first concern is governance. He points out that the accreditation program — in which teachers, parents and school trustees review a variety of the school’s educational aspects from strengths and deficiencies — is an educational regulation and, in his opinion, must be adhered to.

Searle has an April 4 letter from Charles Ugerleider, the Deputy Minister of Education, to back him up on this.

In the letter addressed to all school superintendents, Ungerleider writes that the “School Act, the School Accreditation Regulation and the Student Learning Assessment Order place a positive duty on school boards and teachers to actively participate in school accreditation and the foundation skills assessment.”

Searle believes the Ministry of Education,, for political reasons, is hesitant to force teachers to participate in the process, and wants school boards to do it for them.

On the other hand, teachers want to exercise more control by using a form of evaluation called STAR, said Searle. It, however, would be a more expensive process.

Secondly, Searle believes that teachers are opposed to the accreditation process because it might highlight teaching deficiencies. This can make teachers feel vulnerable, especially in a small school.

Teachers should be open to such an assessment, said Searle, because “the whole purpose of teaching students is to do the best for the students.”

The Pender trustee adds that it’s a bit of a moot point on Pender since there are “far more excellent that poor teachers” at the school.

Thirdly, he sees local teachers getting caught up in the provincial scene, having made the decision to do “what the union wants.”

On the first point, Pat Beitel, co-president of the Gulf Islands Teachers’ Association (GITA), said Searle “could be quite true” in his premise that the Ministry of Eing ducation is shifting responsibility onto the school boards.

If it is, the Gulf Islands School Board is not committed to shouldering it.

Board chairwoman May McKenzie said the board will first meet with GITA representatives to “begin dialogue” on the accreditation issue.

Concerning the STA process, Beitel said the BCTF took it to the provincial government and it has been rejected at that level.

Beitel said Minister of Education Penny Priddy has now agreed to set up a committee with the BCTF to “come to terms with better accreditation.”

The GITA co-president said teachers are opposed to the present accreditation system because it is cumbersome and often duplicates goals that the administration and teachers set for themselves each year.

Teachers see time spent with the students being eroded in this way.

She disagrees that teachers are afraid to have their deficiencies pinpointed. “You review and reflect on your practices all the time,” she said.

Beitel said teachers want the accreditation process to be more streamlined to individual schools. For example, an inner-city Vancouver school might have different challenges than a rural school does.

On the issue of the BCTF directing teachers as to what to do, Beitel said the idea to review accreditation came from the the membership’s grassroots.

Within the Gulf Islands district, Fernwood Elementary School on Salt Spring also voted to postpone the accreditation process.

–END–

 

An adventure at sea for engineering student

July 20, 2017

It has always been the dream of the young: to run off to sea or , at least, sign up for it.

Read on:

Gulf Islands Driftwood –Penders Edition

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

An adventure at sea for engineering student

by Tanya Lester

Escaping the confines of land and heading out over the boundless ocean is an adventure that has endured centuries.

To young people, sailing over the “big swells” of off-shore water has been a metaphor for the voyage into adulthood.

Early this summer, Ed Callendar will participate in this rite of passage when he joins the ranks of 500 Canadians, aged 15 to 25, selected for the Tall Ship Millennium Challenge.

The eight-day trip will begin June 25 in Baltimore and end at New York City, a part of North America that Callendar, who grew up on South Pender, is eager to explore for the first time. As the crow flies, he said, the two cities seem close together but the deep ocean water route is much longer.

Callendar said the water depth provides “big swells” that are not available around the Gulf Islands where he has gained most of his sailing experience. The ship, at an overall length of 170 feet, will be the largest he has ever helped sail.

The engineering student responded to a newspaper article about the opportunity to enter the race by writing a 250-word essay. In it he outlined his reasons for wanting to participate. These included having sailed all his life (he was first out on a boat at one or two years old), his goal to continue sailing in new places and his intention to teach sailing lessons to young people.

Having taken sailing classes as a child in North Vancouver, Callendar toyed with the idea of becoming a nautical engineer until he discovered there are few job openings in that field.

He is currently studying at the University of Victoria to be an electrical engineer, and the sailing challenge will interrupt his program.

The experience will be worth it for Callendar, with the added bonus of meeting crews from some of the 150 tall ships involved from around the world.

Race winners will be determined by time keeping while each crew is out on the water. At the end of the summer, time totals will be compared to come up with the top positions.

Following the 10-day excursion, the 21-year-old will visit relatives in Nova Scotia and sailing will remain on his personal itinerary. Among those he visits will be his cousin, Andrew Childs, who is among the top-10-ranked laser sailors trying out for the single spot to represent Canada in the next Summer Olympics.

Previously, Callendar took a five-day sailing trip in high school.

He also has a trip to Baja, Mexico under his belt which he undertook with family friends, John and Cody Ross.

Another young man from the Gulf Islands, Orin Brosseau, has already participated in the Tall Ship Millennium Challenge. Brosseau, from Salt Spring, sailed around the English Channel and the North Sea for a couple of weeks beginning on March 31.

Like Brosseau, Callendar needs to raise $2,500 to pay for expenses, including transportation, shore-based activities, support services and a uniform. He has only $200 so far. Writing university examinations temporarily interrupted his fundraising…

—END–

To read more posts in this blog of an eclectic range of stories and other writing, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (both available for purchase on amazon or from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes. All of these books are available in some public libraries.

Tanya works as a psychic, specializing in tea leaf readings and tarot, and also is a reiki master and instills this energy into her readings. She also does house sitting fulltime. For more on her interesting and eclectic career, go to her web site at teareading.wordpress.com and to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.

 

 

Easy listening at library’s Speakeasy V

July 18, 2017

If you have never gone to an author’s reading at a public library or into another venue, then, isn’t it time?

Maybe the following article will inspire you to go to one or –if you have gone to one or several already– encourage you to go back for more:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Easy listening at library’s Speakeasy V

by Tanya Lester

It is always so inspiring to see how a few candles, a nice backdrop, a congenial host and free-flowing creativity can transform the most utilitarian of places into a venue where spirits soar.

Such was the atmosphere at Speakeasy V held last Saturday in the Pender Library’s multi-purpose room with about 35 people in attendance.

The evening began surprisingly with well-known children’s author Andrea Spalding reading first.

Having attended at least 100 poetry/author readings over the years and often being among the readers, this confused me because the literati, to my knowledge, has still not transcended beyond the pecking order syndrome which dictates that “the best shall read last.”

Not until I had heard the second reader did I catch on. They were all so terrific that ordering waons not needed.

Spalding’s piece was a “first airing” of a story inspired by one of Victor Reece’s mask-making workshops. Named Soloman’s Tree, it is piece as finely crafted as a master carver’s work.

The plot kept “bubbling up,” Spalding said, until she had to interrupt work on a novel to get it down on paper. In the story, a boy is close friends with a tree and talks with it on a daily basis. A storm fells the tree yet its spirit rises in the form of a mask.

In the end, a new tree buds, making Spalding’s final sentence — “A new cycle is beginning”– redundant.

The amazing nine-year-old Naomi van Ginkel Wilde was up next. She has got to be one of the Indigo children my New Age friends are raving about. Her poems concerning nature are truly with lines like “the wind getting the world ready for spring.”

“It’s a really proud thing when your daughter is that hard of an act to follow,” said Lily van Ginkel Wilde when it was her turn in front of the audience.

Van Ginkel Wilde quickly proved she is her daughter’s mother with a suite of powerful, imagery-packed poems about visitors.

he nade a small brown bird “beat drums and dance about” and a human pregnancy turn into a “winking ruby light” in which “I wait, breath held, for the hatching.”

Baba Yaga and her marvelous bones also made a guest appearance among van Ginkel Wilde’s intricately woven poems.

Leslie McBain, despite enduring a week of overexposure in the Penders Edition, is another poet who presented clearly woven lines last Saturday. Her narrative poems took the listeners to Greece, to Mount Tuam and even to the moon.

In Cycle Sanity, McBain told the tale of “frantic woman/delirious with moon flood” while experiencing PMS.

Her piece about The Linen Waltz, referring to women working to put the laundry away, provided a nicely selected ending to her set when she read about “who gives her side to the other” in “the final fold.”

Amy McCaughran was a teen representative in the line-up. She and her friends added a zany feel to the evening lest we should start to take ourselves just a little bit too seriously.

They contributed things like the “booga, booga, tut, tut” song complete with hand movements. My guess is these pieces were picked up at summer campfire circles.

Interspersed with the poets were musicians Patrick White and Allen Neil, who rounded out the evening with some fine Canadian folk songs. Could any self-respecting Speakeasy be without at least a couple of acoustic guitar players?

Thrown in for good measure were some participants from the audience.

Pamela Brooks did a great job as host and organizer.

If you were one of the unfortunate who missed the evening, you do have at leas one other opportunity to enjoy these writers’ work.

They will be among those featured in the Poetry on Pender Anthology 2000 to be released in July….

–END–s

Tanya Lester works passionately as a psychic doing tea leaf readings, tarot, mediumship, psychic channeling and gypsy readings. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more information go to her web: teareading.wordpress.com and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. Her email is tealeaf.56@gmail.com and to text/call 250-538-0086

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew (both can be ordered from amazon.com and/or purchased from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.

To read more posts on this blog of articles and other writing on a wide range of topics, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A F.Y.S.T. full of feminism

July 16, 2017

I seem to recall that when the idea to start a young feminist group came up among Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women members in the mid-1980s, this group for young women was lauded as an alternative to the Girl Guides in which baking and sewing and things of a domestic bent earn badges.

I do not see my byline on it but I believe I wrote it. (I have to admit that I have had so many articles published that I did not remember doing quite a few of them but my name in the byline proved I had.)

The following article delves into other important (maybe more important) reasons for young women to bond:

HERizons

August 1985

A F.Y.S.T. full of feminism

Young feminists realize that pressure to conform in a sexist society often begins in school. Because they often  feel isolated in school and in their personal lives, two feminist support groups have emerged in the province — GAP (Girls are People) in Brandon and FYST (Feminist Youth Studying Together) in Winnipeg — to provide support for young women’s rights advocates.

“At school, you get the academic education and the sexist education,” said Rain(bow) Springer, a GAP member.

Rain recalls taking a classroom spelling test.

“Bunnies,” the teacher announced the word for his students to spell. “Playboy bunnies are fun to look at.”

The next word was “diving”. Rain said her chance. “You’re diving into a controversial issue,” she warned her teacher. He caught on, went back to “bunnies” and said, “Bunnies have pink eyes.”

Cindy Brazer, a member of Feminist Youth Studying Together (FYST) in Winnipeg,  ran into teacher opposition when she decided to take shops. “Why don’t you take cooking? It’s what you should be doing,” she was told.

Cindy knew better. She failed cooking and sewing but ended up with top marks in her metals class. But her woman guidance counsellor still suggests that Cindy’s only career alternatives should be in nursing  and secretarial areas.

These young women often have to tackle the sexist education system alone. Both GAP and FYSTT group members say there is seldom a teacher or even another student to whom they can turn for help. All of them agree that the support they get in the young women’s groups help hem feel stronger when fighting discrimination back in the schools.

Both young women’s groups are study groups of the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women (MACSW). The GAP members, between the ages of nine and 12, were organized by Brandon staff member Bev Peters. Daphne Nordal brought the Winnipeg group, aged 14 to 19, together a year and a half ago.

–END–

To read other posts in this blog of articles and other pieces of writing on a broad number of topics, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com or to tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes.Tanya is a psychic, whose specialties include tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, mediumship and gypsy card reading. To book an appointment for a reading or for more information on her readings as well as her housesitting, go to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google or to her website at teareading.wordpress.com  She can also be reached by text/phone at 250-538-0086 or by email at tealeaf.56@gmail.com

Bedwell Harbour fundraiser in the swim of things

June 26, 2017

Why would an island community name a boat after a second-hand store?

Read on:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Pender Islands Edition

August 9, 2000

Bedwell Harbour fundraiser in the swim of things

by Tanya Lester

The Bedwell Harbour community fundraiser made quite a splash over the holiday weekend with Auntie Kate belting out the blues, pool races, draws, a silent auction, kids’ fboard games and prizes.

Some of the more interesting games included paper airplane, cannon ball and belly flop races as well as a dunk tank.

On Monday by noon, office manager Laska Freeman had counted $500 and was still tallying up the donations.

The fundraising will benefit all islanders as proceeds will be divided between the Pender Island Swim Team and the Gulf Island Marine Rescue e Society.

The rescue society is raising a total of $80,000 for all new 24-foot rigid hull inflatable boat, which will replace the whaler now being used.

According to the society’s Ian Mott, the whaler is not intended to operate in extreme conditions. This means a rescue team might have to turn back in adverse weather conditions.

Mott explained that the marine rescue team is part of an overlapping support system that includes both the Canadian and American coast guard, the RCMP and firefighters.

The new boat will ensure that the team can do its part in rescue situations.

Penderites will get to see the boat in its preparatory state on the back of a trailer at the Fall Fair parade…..

The boat will be christened the Nu-To-Yu II after the second-hand store operated by the Pender Island Community eServices Society, which has been the society’s largest financial supporter.

The whaler now I use is called Nu-To-Yu.

Other grants have come from the Capital Regional District, South Pender Fire Department and North Pender Land Search and Rescue. Mott said they are applying to the provincial government for a lottery grant as well.

Bedwell Harbor Resort was booked solid during the long weekend festivities. Freeman said the marina’s 110 bays were filled as was every hotel room.

RCMP Corporal Don Smawley estimated that the Penders’ population swelled to 10,000-12,000 people over the weekend. He said the harbours were all packed with boats. There were several mechanical problems that led to breakdowns as well as reports of dragging anchors.

–END-

Tanya is an intuitive reader and counsellor who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling and mediumship. She is also a reiki master and instills this energy into her readings as well as into her housesits which she does fulltime. To make an appointment for a reading or to arrange for her housesitting services, contact her by email at tealeaf.56@gmail.com or text/call her at 250-538-0086 cell. Her web site is teareading.wordpress.com and she has pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.

Tanya’s book are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew that you can order from amazon.ca or buy directly from the author. She also wrote Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. All four books are available in some library systems.

To read more posts in this blog of stories on a wide range of topics, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Friends I Never Knew

June 22, 2017

Friends I Never Knew is my only book, so far, that is a novel, but that would be loosely speaking. It is also the only one of my four books that was published by a publishing house.

The others were not based on a sort of protest on my part: book do not necessarily reach a larger audience or make more money for the author than a self-published book does.

Here is what one reviewer wrote about my only novel and that of another author’s:

Prairie Fire

Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer 1993

Friends I Never Knew by Tanya Lester, Charlottetown: Gynergy Books, 1992, 160 pp., $10.95 paper.

The Guest House by Kristjana Gunnars, Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1992, 144 pp., $17.95 paper.

by Ralph Kiropatwa

Both Kristjana Gunnars and Tanya Lester are women of Canada’s great plains and of contemporary sensibility. It would be a mistake to assume that their respective works therefore have much in common. The differences far exceed any similarities.

Tanya Lester is an activist who has written her first novel about an activist. Tanya the writer tells of Tara the activist in the women’s movement. Tanya writes of Tara who writes of the lives of the women with whom the movement brings her into contact.

Tare is on the Greek half of the island of Cyprus. A long way from Winnipeg and the daily challenge of practical struggle on behalf of women in Manitoba, Tara is there to rest, restore her energies, comtemplate the lessons of her experiences, and write about the friends she had made back in Canada. Not all her friends. Her work in the community connected her with four special women, special friends: Juanita, Lou, Miriam and Rita. They are of different social origins, even generations. They have told Tara the stories of their lives, the shaping events.

Tara listens, records, but tells us on tales of her own. Juanita, Loi, Miriam and Rita made Tara a gift of their life stories. The value of their gift is clearly appreciated by Tara at one level.. It is only dimly comprehended at another. It is this pernumbra of unclear meaning that contributes to Tara’s need to get away. In the solitude of the Mediterranean island’s otherness, Tara can write her friends’ tales.

Holocaust resistance stories are, at once, infinitely sad and intensely hopeful. The tales of Juanita, Lou, Miriam and Rita are similarly celebrations of what might yet be redeemed  from the wreckage and dump of oppression. These women have overcome evil. Their lives are juxtaposed with Tara’s recurring, shifting dream and the silence around her own history.

There is a painting of Matisse in which women form a circle of fluid, dancing bodies. It is a haunting picture. Simultaneously optimistic, defensive, and accepting of human frailty, it is virtually a visual cast of Tanya Lester’s novel. Tara and her friends are connected in a circle of friendship, fluid lives that are the more potent for being connected. The circle also helps keep out the evils that have faced, victimized and been overcome by each woman. It is a healing circle, itself a remedy and a prophylactic against the pains and penetrations that life inflicts.

In the end, Tara remembers her own tale. The memory wrenches as might the uprooting of a tenacious parasite. It is time for her to go home. In looking into the lives of her friends she has found a mirror and reflections of herself in them, of them in her.

Tanya Lester writes in an almost deceptively simple style.  In fact she has taken great pains over the novel’s structure, voices and pace. Her book is disturbing because one is left convinced that there are many things in it that one has, somehow, missed. Part of that is the result of her introduction of occult themes into a texture that is assertively realistic and political. Part of it is the gift of understatement.

Kristjana Gunnars’s book is a collection of short stories. Each story has the strength of particulars that vault into insights. In the title story, “The Guest House,” her character is shown travelling light, “… his only possession a backpack. He was even freed from the burden of family. He did not need to account for himself to anyone.”

In “Mass and a Dance”, her alienated character wanders the winter streets of St. Norbert and muses, “Snow is a story that breaks off from heaven and falls down at random.”

In “Insomnia,” the sleepless protagonist reaches for a book to read, thinking “it was good to divert the mind by visiting someone else’s.”

As lapidary of the polished phrase, the poet peeps out in her telling the tales of ordinary people in ordinary settings. There is, after all, little that is extraordinary about family reunions, or rainy days, or buying a dress, or the rambling wisdoms in a drunk tank. What gives these settings, and the actors within them, heft and sparkle is Kristjana Gunnars’s command of the language — the talent of the poet applied to prose narrative — and the truthfulness of the dynamic that crackles between the natural world, memory, and familiar humans in utterly plausible circumstances.

The author does not turn her eyes away from the weary, common unhappiness that settles like a light dust on many lives. Gunnars is not satisfied, however, merely to reflect the goosebumps of shivering through another day. The prairies, ocean, mountains, sun and snow of western Canada are vital to the tales. More than background, they often come close to being protagonists themselves, characters like Wessex or Casterbridge in Thomas Hardy’s writing.

The stories achieve further depth through the interplay of moment and memory. This is a collection of truthful fictions that are profoundly accepting of the world with all its pains and glories. It makes the point, repeatedly, that what is is natural. And as long as life can be beautifully described, the hope endures that lives can be beautifully lived.

Tanya Lester and Kristjana Gunnars have presented us with quite different gifts, each of different value to readers with different interests. Tanya Lester opens a contemporary window to our comprehension of women and their struggles. She does so with a novel that disturbs as it informs, unsettles as it captivates. The stories of Kristjana Gunnars combine beauty of language with precision of thought. She has crafted a necklace of tales, a talisman for a world whose trolls might yet prove lovely.

–END–

To read other posts in this blog of eclectic writing on many different topics, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya has been an intuitive councellor/psychic doing tea leaf reading, tarot, mediumship, psychic channeling and mediumship for over two decades. She also is a reiki master and instills this energy into her readings. She also does this when house sitting.To contact her about her services, go to her web: teareading.wordpress.com or text/call 250-538-0086 or email: tealeaf.56@gmail.com   She also has pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google.

Tanya Lester’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew can be purchased on amazon.com or from the author. She also wrote Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes. These books are available in some libraries.

This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.