A Momentous Event in Edmonton

Truth and Reconciliation Commission:  Alberta National Event

Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre March 27-30, 2014

A momentous event is taking place in Edmonton. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is holding the seventh and final national gathering to hear from and honour survivors of Indian Residential Schools.

This gathering will take place at the Shaw Conference Centre from Thursday of this week right through Sunday. There is no formal registration and the event is free. You can find all the details at:

http://www.trc.ca/websites/alberta/index.php?p=766

The descriptions, times and places of all of the activities (sharing circles, panels, films, traditional ceremonies, discussions and dialogues, expressions of reconciliation) can be found in a downloadable program on the main website.

Until very recently most Canadians did not know the truth of the Indian Residential Schools. They did not know that over a period of 116 years about 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken, forcibly if necessary, from their homes, from loving parents, grandparents, extended families and communities to schools far away from their homes. That would have been bad enough but, in fact, the purpose of the schools was to break the connection of the children to their cultures, languages, traditions and spiritual beliefs, to “take the Indian out of them”. And there was more. The children were abused physically, psychologically and sometimes sexually. They were malnourished and lived in crowded, ill-kept schools. They died of TB, flu, and other illnesses, as well as from accidents.

This is a dark part of our history that we did not know until recently. I think it is hard for us to admit that in Canada such horrifying things were done to young children. Some people wish to deny that it happened. That is understandable, but it is not right. Now we can listen to the survivors, we can honour their suffering, we can work together to heal and reconcile our communities. In the final gathering this week (Mar 27-30), there will be sharing circles at different times every day, over the four-day period.

By attending we also honour the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities’ incredible strength, fortitude and ability to survive.

More information about the TRC can be found at the links below:

What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3

Truth and Reconciliation Commission FAQ http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=10

 

The First Day of Spring – In Alberta

I sat for a while trying to decide what to write for this blog. Many of the topics I thought I might discuss have been done in the last few weeks, so what to do? Then I looked out the window and inspiration struck! I would do a blog on… wait for it…. SNOW!

It really makes sense that a blog posted on the first day of spring should be about snow. Not just any snow – cold, swirling, biting snow – at least at my house. My dogs are shivering outside, trying to understand what has happened to them after such a wonderful, teasing taste of spring, as I’m sure we all are.

Let’s be honest though. Do we really expect anything else living in Alberta? Where at some point we have had snow in every month of the year? Why would we be surprised? In fact, I laughed as one of my team members, who moved here from Ontario in the fall, naively asked if the snow would be gone by Easter.

So what to do? Well, I say lets embrace our unpredictable – but not unexpected – weather and do something fun!

Why not mix food colouring in water and put it in a spray bottle. Take it outside and write or draw, or play a game of tic-tac-toe in the snow. You can talk about colours and what happens when they mix, why the snow melts a little when it gets sprayed, and what patterns you see.

Capture a snowflake and preserve it forever in super glue. This neat little experiment lets you see snowflakes up close (but definitely requires adult help): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OVUzKcLUjQ

Go have a snow or snowball fight. Make your fight into a game – tell the kids to play snow tag and see what that means to them. I always love the games my kids come up with – at least for their creativity if not for all the rules that tend to accompany it.

You know this weather isn’t going to last forever. We have seen the signs of spring around us and can gain strength and hope that it won’t be here much longer. Do not despair!

If you are one who doesn’t want to even look outside, let alone go and play in this crazy white stuff, then curl up and read a good book with your kids. Read one about spring like Spring is Here, by Taro Gomi. Just remember to add the word “almost” to the title and you’ll be fine.

Happy first day of spring everyone!

Who Doesn’t Love Playing with Bubble Wrap?

There is something satisfying about popping bubble after bubble of bubble wrap. Maybe it is the loud pop sound or the feel of the air being forced out; maybe even the gratification we feel as each bubble explodes from the pressure of us crushing it like a bug. Whatever it is, it is fair to say that most people enjoy popping bubble wrap.

So why stop at using bubble wrap only to protect articles while shipping? Why not make bubble wrap shoes, dip your feet in paint and run all over a canvas? I found this exciting idea “Bubble Paint Stomp Painting” on the Mess for Less website. With such simple, clear ideas and endless possibilities, it got me thinking about other fun ways we could upcycle bubble wrap.

The first thing to remember is that Pinterest is our friend! For those of you who are not familiar with Pinterest, Wikipedia describes it as a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. People can create and share collections (called “boards”) of visual bookmarks (called “Pins”) that they use to do things like plan trips and projects, organize events or save articles and recipes. So all I did was type “bubble wrap” into the search feature and tons of ideas appeared!

Some of my favourite ideas are listed below!

1.  Bubble Wrap Learning
by Meaningful Mama

I love this idea because it is so simple and yet can be tailored to any age group or interest!  All you need are some small round stickers and a sharpie and you can make practicing reading or numeracy so much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Advents All Wrapped Up
by Chambersmades

I am always looking for ways to take the candy features out of the holidays and I love this bubble wrap advent idea! The kids can even make the stickers that go on the bubbles and each child can have their own.

 

3.  Bubble Wrap Run
by Play Create Explore

This one is SO simple! Nothing complicated about it. Lay down some bubble wrap and just do what you do! Looks like hours of fun to me!

Oh, the endless possibilities of bubble wrap. I love that you can take as little as 2 seconds to prep the fun or 20 minutes to prep stickers or paint. Whatever your time frame you are surely able to find something fun to do with bubble wrap!

 

 

Art as a Fundamental of Learning

Creating art is a fundamental part of how we connect to each other and how we learn. Art offers us the opportunity to communicate in sophisticated ways long before we have the control and fine motor function to write. Small children will squish finger paint or clay between their hands while they create colourful designs. On impulse, they might string buttons and beads and flowers together to create a necklace for a loved one. Give the most active or the shyest child a handful of crayons, chalk, or scissors and paper, and they will surprise you with their creativity.

The skills used to create art relate directly to the development of literacy skills we use as adults. We learn to communicate visually with others. We learn how to share what we experience while at the same time developing spatial awareness, problem solving skills and originality. These skills then aid us in reading, writing, technology use, numeracy, and communicating and working with others. Art involves seeing, interpreting, and discovering suitable mediums that will communicate our surroundings and what is important to us, and it helps us develop life skills at the same time. Creating art connects us through fundamental questions like “Does this look like me?” or “Does this look like what I saw?” or “Is this how I feel?”

Most people recognize the Mona Lisa, a famous painting by Leonardo Di Vinci and can tell you how the image makes them feel or what they think when they see it. If you do an internet image search for the Mona Lisa, you will find hundreds of interpretations of the image that Da Vinci created over 500 years ago. The Mona Lisa can be used as a tool to explain how an adult is feeling or what they are thinking. When you and I look at the same painting, we have an opening to compare and understand each other’s reactions, feelings and experiences.

What was your favourite art as a child? What is your child’s favourite? Is there an image in art or popular culture that you have strong feelings about? Please feel free to share!