Tag Archives: lethbridge

New proposed federal boundaries released

A while ago I wrote a piece on the proposed federal boundaries, from the federal riding commission, for VUE weekly. The commission has released their most recent recommendations based on the town halls and public complaint period that was open in fall of 2012. These proposed boundaries will now go to parliamentary committee, and there are some significant changes from the original boundaries drawn that were presented to the public prior to open houses held across the country.

Noticeably, the Southern Alberta riding boundaries have shifted – keeping the proposed Lethbridge boundary to the city and the county, but grouping much of southern Alberta into the re-distributed Medicine Hat riding. This could be considered a win for the team of politically interested citizens and the Member of Parliament currently representing the Lethbridge riding who advocated for keeping Cardston and the Country of Warner in one riding to protect the cultural interets of that area, or “communities of interest”.

This scenario divides the region south of Lethbridge into separate ridings which I believe is not in our best interest.  It places both counties into remote, isolated corners of vast ridings, with which we have little in common and very few community ties. It also ignores the commission’s mandate to avoid splitting ‘communities of interest’ to the extent possible.

From Jim Hillyer’s website.

It certainly will make the nominations for the Conservative candidate in both the Medicine Hat and the now much geographically smaller Lethbridge ridings rather interesting, perhaps leading to some hotly contested candidate contests.

The rest of Alberta also sees some changes with the new boundaries, and as Daveberta points out in his analysis of the proposed boundaries:

Also interesting to watch will be Calgary-Centre, where last year’s hotly-contested federal by-election drew national attention. Was the close race in Calgary-Centre the beginning of a new trend for that city or was it simply a mid-term anomaly?

These proposed boundaries have already been filed with the Speaker, and will now go to a Parliamentary Committee. Once in committee MPs may file written objections within 30 days of the report’s submission to committee – objections must be signed by a minimum of 10 MPs. Once the 30 day objection period has passed, the committee issues a report to the commission and in June of this year the final report will be submitted to the Speaker of the House. Public consultation for the proposed boundaries are now over, though MPs continue to be able to request changes/file complaints.

For an excellent analysis of the ridings and the proposed changes when it comes to party wins in those ridings check out Daveberta’s recent post, Alberta’s new federal ridings released.

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The Sounds of Unification

Sled Island has developed into a full fledged cultural hot spot, drawing people from the farthest reaches of Alberta, across Canada and around the world. Acts such as Calgary/Toronto’s Feist and Japan’s the Boredoms on the same bill as Lethbridge’s Fist City, Vancouver’s Korean Gut and Edmonton’s Travis Bretzer shows the diversity of the program. This year, Sled Island is also featuring a full film lineup in the week leading up to the music festival and several visual art exhibitions that will run for the entirety of the festival.

Drew Marshall, the Marketing and Communications Director of the Sled Island administration, is also rather excited about the “green island” initiative that will see multiple bike racks placed at venue sites and a bike rental program.

Marshall initially become involved in 2007, Sled Island’s inaugural year. “Part of the reason I was attracted to it, it definitely was something that didn’t exist prior to Sled Island, ” he recalls. “There has always been a lot of great music out of Calgary and Alberta and overall in the region, but there wasn’t any big event that was bringing that whole community together.”

While Sled Island was initially the brain child of Zak Pashak who was inspired by the Pop Montreal festival and is still involved as the Creative Director; the festival now is organized with the help of over 400 volunteers and, in Marshall’s experience, “has always been a real collaborative effort to make this whole thing happen.”

“There is a community that exists in Calgary and surrounding the festival,” he explains. “It might be something where not everyone is connected, or not always represented. During Sled Island you have this flourish of activity with all these great bands, performing at all these venues—small, intimate unconventional venues, large outdoor ones—and it really becomes obvious that there is this incredibly vibrant music scene going on in Calgary, in Canada, in North America.”

In Marshall’s view, Sled Island changed things. “For the first time there were these big international acts that for the most part would never come to Calgary,” he says. “The first year we had the Boredoms from Japan play, and it was one of the most mind blowing shows for anyone that was in attendance. We had Cat Power in the first show she had played at in a church in Calgary—that was just a beautiful show. Sled Island represented all these things coming together.”

For people like Paul Lawton, a central member of the Lethbridge garage-rock scene and co-owner and founder of Mammoth Cave Records, Sled Island offers something different than SXSW or NXNE, which are “very industry centred.” Lawton believes Sled Island has created a new kind of multi-venue festival, that is very artist focused. The industry presence has been very small for the most part. It has engendered a very DIY spirit and community.”

For Lawton, Sled Island not only provides the opportunity to expose hundreds of people to the bands hosted on Mammoth Cave, the label he co-owns, but, as with many regional musicians, the impact of getting to meet promoters and booking agents and to play a showcase every night—especially being from a smaller city in Alberta—is worth a great deal.

“There was a long time where it was hard for Alberta bands to book outside of Alberta,” he explains. “It took a lot of time and work to get people from the bigger centres to care about music happening in other parts of the country. Sled Island I think is the key player in that.”

Aaron Levin, founder of Weird/Wyrd Canada and a former music director for Edmonton’s campus-community radio station CJSR, believes Sled Island’s success has everything to do with the way the festival was initially set up.

“Sled Island is a very interesting case of a festival with a very large mandate and goal,” says Levin. “It has both embraced the fringe DIY while managing to attract a huge massive audience. This is what separates from some of the festivals, say, I do, and some of the festivals where this doesn’t happen—like the Edmonton Folk Festival, for example.”

For Levin, what is truly special about Sled Island is how it embraced the DIY culture of the local music scenes in Alberta right away. “SXSW (a festival Sled Island is oft compared to), for example, has definitely embraced that, but they didn’t start embracing that. When all the showcases started there was actually a negative reaction from the leadership of SXSW. Being bold, and embracing the indie local music scene was very important for their success.”

Levin, like Lawton, recognizes the avenues Sled Island has created to connect bands to promoters to booking agents to bands. “The opportunity for having a large part of the west coast music community under one roof and talking to each other is something that doesn’t happen,” Levin points out. “Sled Island has really provided for that by embracing all this fringe DIY music.”

Levin’s own music site, Weird Canada—named by CBC Radio 3 as the “Best Indie Music Website in Canada” and his travelling Wyrd festival benefited from Sled Island simply because “they were so open armed when it came to working together. (They were) incredibly encouraging for any sort of creative idea I had. That helped Weird Canada get a larger voice out of the city I was working in.”

Lawton and Levin, as festival attendees and programmers, clearly see Sled Island’s biggest strength in its commitment to the local and regional acts. One thing they do very right in Lawton’s eyes is that “every year after they do Sled Island, they send out a questionnaire to all the bands and it is very clear they have listened to the local and regional musicians who have given input. Every year gets a little better.”

For Marshall, that community building is what Sled Island is all about: “Bring together all these people for these four days and really create all this momentum and placing spotlights on the incredible music community that exists here. Really, in Calgary and Edmonton we are removed from so many parts of the world or even North America that sometimes we are off the radar when it comes to live music and touring bands and that kind of thing.

“The resource of talent in Alberta is so vast and there is so much potential that Sled Island is essentially a small group of people that work in this office doing our best to connect these communities that already exist.”

Originally published in VUE Weekly, June 14th 2012, issue #869.

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Lethbridge PC leadership forum (on education)

I did some tweeting about last night’s Progressive Conservative leadership forum last night, which you can check out on my Twitter page, @JProssa, or by looking through the #pcldr hashtag currently employed for all things PC leadership race related.

I have many, many thoughts on the things said last night but they will have to spread out among a few posts.

I will start though with my take on their responses to a question on investing/funding Post-Secondary Ed, and primary/secondary education.

My tweets on this:

Q: budget cutbacks on PSE and secondary Ed. Redford: need to honor teachers contract, reverse decision to cuts to Ed. #pcldr

Redford uses the life long learning slogan, and knowledge based economy. (So many things to say, so little characters here.) #pcldr
Redford using the PSE Horner playbook here. Just saying. #pcdebate #pcldr

Morton : PSE tax credit, invest in yourself, tax credit up to 20 000.00 #pcdebate #pcldr

Mar: need more resources in education, need to honor contracts, work on completion rates. #pcdebate #pcldr

Horner: puts Ed as no. 1 priority in his platform. Invest earlier, put resources into the classroom, budget for outcomes not %. #pcldr

Orman: calls govt on cutting budgets, and cutting Ed funds. Need stable and long term funding. #pcdebate #pcldr
.@GriffMLA: long term plans to train teachers and keep teachers, don’t depend on oil price rise and fall. #pcldr
Morton: focus yech on ag, forestry And oil and gas. #pcldr
Starting with Morton’s desire to create a tax credit. While that would be a nice kick back at the end of a five-year degree it does not address the very fundamental problem of access. For students who attend school with loans, and full or part-time jobs, the after part is not their biggest stress. It is the month to month living that they worry about. It is keeping a roof over their head and textbooks on their desks.
When it costs an average of $7000.00 a year to attend an Albertan University, it is the sticker shock that deters future students. Which Morton, and others at the table, didn’t address the access issue. It is the middle-income earners, and those who are very poor who cannot attend school because of the start-up costs.
Later on the in the forum, there was discussion of technology in Alberta and how to increase that economic sector. Candidates expressed interest in supporting new businesses and entrepreneurs, but it was Redford and Horner who explicitly said strong education in those sectors is the key. Support students in Alberta and they will stay to give back, and create new and diverse industry in this province.
Too often, politicians, including some of those candidates on the stage last night tell student leaders (full disclosure, I was one, at some distant point in my past and I have sat in meeting with a few of those candidates who DID NOT support additional funding to PSE), that students need to invest in themselves, and the tax payer shouldn’t bear the burden of education.
Yet, an educated province will place less burden on the health care system, diversify the economy, employee more people, and create a stronger future for Alberta. One could call our PSE graduates the “Alberta Advantage”…
These candidates missed these points. Which is understandable, it is one 60 seconds to encompass a platform on the entire education system of the province. So, I encourage all to do some digging on their sites to see what it is they have to say in full: Doug Horner, Alison Redford, Gary Mar, Rick Orman, Ted Morton, Doug Griffiths.
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Building communities, rebuilding Haiti

It is obvious that when disaster strikes, communities are formed, but when these communities are formed hundreds of thousands of miles away from the disaster, the true power of an old motto, “service above self,” comes to the surface. Canadians have poured out hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief agencies through donations, both large and small. One of these agencies is a relief effort known as ShelterBox. Simply put, Shelterbox is the basic necessities of life provided in a quantity that will house and provide for ten individuals. An amazing way to provide immediate relief, individuals and companies around the world have chosen this as their contribution to the people who have to pick up the pieces and begin anew in Haiti.

The University of Lethbridge Rotaract Club chose to raise funds for ShelterBox as a way to give aid to Haiti. Alix Blackshaw, Rotaract President for the University of Lethbridge commented “We have seen how effective it is and how much it can help. Our district has been a strong supporter for years, and I think that was just a chance thing because somebody knew someone.”

Rebuilding this country is not as simple as hiring the crews and drafting plans. It will take months, even years of intense financial and developmental aid, of providing expertise on proper building methods and ensuring that a government is in place who will lift up the poorest Haitians to a level of basic survival. Yes, this disaster was a magnificent force of nature, and no one could have prevented it from creating havoc. However, when homes are built nearly entirely of mud and tin, and millions live in abject poverty, there is more needed than a simple re-building plan. The entire country needs to be restructured and rebuilt from the ground up.

For this reason immediate aid, and suitable, even if only temporary, shelter, is so absolutely necessary. The basic concept of shelter, of a home, and the psychological desire to have a safe space for yourself and your family is universal. The pictures of the makeshift tent cities, and hundreds thousands of people camped in squalid conditions is enough to provide solid evidence that what Haitians needs right now is a place to sleep at night.

International aid organizations are in the process of setting up three sites that would be safe for the creation of the tent cities that will serve as homes and communities for the people of Haiti during the time it takes to build proper infrastructure. Conditions are bad right now, and as the dead lay decomposing in the street and sanitation systems have been all but eliminated, the basic services a community needs to thrive are stripped away.

Aid organizations are doing everything they can, and the outpour internationally has been immense. For a country whose people have toiled in obscurity for too long, this incredible disaster has finally woken others up to their desperate cries for help.

In Haiti itself, it is the sense of community that constantly astounds those who crowd around their radios, televisions and computer screens to witness what some are calling “disaster porn.” Regular worship is still occurring, whether it is inside the church ruins or outside. Families continue to beg disaster workers to not stop searching for their loved ones, and despite rising tensions and increasing desperation Haiti is not devolving into the violence many were predicting would occur. That is not to say that the worst is over; there is a lack of government presence, a ruthless sense of law and order, and an increasing need for sanitation services, clean drinking water and food. Still, despite this, the Haitian community is still present.

Art continues to reflect the current circumstances, and photos depict children laughing and smiling as their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents wash clothes and cook small, inadequate meals. Here in Canada, that sense of community is not lost on those reaching out to help another country in during these desperate times. Rotary was founded close to the time of our own country and has reached out to its members and its community to raise funds and awareness to help the Haitian people in this current catastrophe. The ShelterBox initiative was started with a Rotarian, Tom Henderson, who had the very simple idea of a kit equipped with everything a family would need to survive for a temporary period of time. From that conception, ShelterBox has gone on to provide basic needs such as blankets, a ten person tent, dishes, tools, water purification tablets and more to families in disaster-affected areas. This kit has been used successfully worldwide to provide basic shelter to families in need. In Haiti, nearly 4,000 Shelter box have been dispatched already, providing hope and security, albeit temporary, to nearly 40 000 people.

Though, helping people is what Rotarians do; their motto, “service above self” is inspiring for anyone. Speaking to Alix Blackshaw, President of the University of Lethbridge Rotaract club, her passion for community service is evident in the way her eyes light up when she speaks about Rotaract’s achievements and activism through volunteer work and the people she has met and the organizations she has served. “First off it just shows you how to be a member of your community,” Blackshaw says, “I’ve volunteered with every non-profit in Lethbridge. It teaches you how to be an international citizen, just the fact that even the smallest things really do help. Even the smallest fundraisers we do can help, in the big picture.”

The personal connection to the organization is shown through the dedication Alix and other club members have for the work they do and the volunteer efforts they undertake. Theirs is a community dedicated to both local and international efforts, teaching students how to be stronger citizens while creating a strong community at home. It is this community that allows Rotaract members to help people in Haiti. It is the Rotarian spirit that gives incentive to those involved in postsecondary education to increase their community visibility and to give back to the community their institutions are situated in. One of the ways Rotaract works in their local community is the annual bowl-a-thon that raises money for the Lethbridge hospital’s “Books for Babies” which provides educational resources to low income families in Lethbridge.

Communities can be created over mediums other than the traditional lunchtime Rotary template, and no one understands that quite like Elsa Cade, a Lethbridge Rotarian. Cade is a member of an American based, Democrat oriented forum/blog, and until the disaster in Haiti used it primarily as a forum to discuss science education and to voice her disapproval of George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” education programme.

“I don’t write a lot, I like to read but then once this Haiti thing came out, and I had an opportunity to say look at this, this is a good thing to donate too,” Cade explains. “It’s really desperate in Haiti, and desperation is because they don’t have any place to stay, and I put this thing out there, and before you know it, I was getting all these donations and in my mailbox I’m hearing from the Executive Director of ShelterBox USA, and heard from several ShelterBox rescue teams.”

The thing she is referring too is the ShelterBox initiative, and through her appeal Cade has raised over $122,000.00 for ShelterBox, primarily through American donations. This on-line community has surprised Cade, and she expresses the momentum an on-line community can generate, “It says something about the Internet, that you can connect with people like that. It is such a powerful tool in terms of disseminating information.”

The message most prominent through these examples of humanitarianism is that community both empowers us and can serve others. Whether it be in a traditional format like Rotary, through a University club, or an on-line forum, there is are individuals at the beginning and end of each these connections, and it is people who are making the effort and have the desire to help others.

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Celebrating this decade: ten momentous occasions in University of Lethbridge history

This decade has seen some incredible and historic moments. The Y2K bug/anti climax of 2000, the threat to North American security on September 11th, 2001, the rise of the China’s international political and economic power, the fall of the American economic system, climate change as a ever growing concern, Canada’s lowest voter turnout in 2008, and the political polarization that has occurred in European and South American states.

Living through the events in this past decade, and reflecting on the effect these events have had causes me to pause and marvel at our ability to adapt to new and different surroundings. The world looks very different today than it did in 2000. Old threats have diminished and new ones have emerged. Technology has boldly re-invented itself, and the age of social communication through sites such as Twitter, and Facebook have allowed our personal and professional relationships to draw new boundaries and consider greater fluidity.

The fall of capitalism, the major natural disasters we have witnessed, and the changes in our political and societal landscape are no small thing. This decade has changed the way everyone views the world. When everything can be taken from you in an instance, through no control of your own, suddenly baubles mean less. It is the intangible values, and the moments of happiness that we remember when looking retrospectively, not shiny presents of things.

The University of Lethbridge has undergone some major changes, both physical and psychological. We have grown in prestige and strength as a suburb undergraduate institution, and have expanded our physical presence in the Southern Alberta community tremendously. UofL have expanded their graduate studies programs, more students are enrolling and graduating than ever before from both graduate and undergraduate programs, and UofL is attracting world renowned talent to bestow their knowledge to UofL students, who will one day go on to surpass even the greatest.

In honour of the passing of this glorious decade, a harking back to the years before when “Jenn’s Top Tens” graced these pages; I present a top ten of the most momentous occasions in University of Lethbridge history:

On-Campus Daycare Center (2005 – 2010)

After a long and arduous process of constantly lobbying the administration, the University of Lethbridge reinstated the on-campus day care, promising to have it built as soon as possible. Luckily, this coincided nicely with a boom in our provinces’ resources, and soon the day care plans were under way and a committee was struck to deal with the detailed execution of the building.

This would not have been possible without the persistence of many people, some who are still here to see the fruits of their labours, and some who have since moved on but are no doubt celebrating in spirit. 2005, a rally was held to show support for on-campus day care and those who spoke and attended remember it well. Dr. Harold Jansen of the Political Science department extols as a “Great example of solidarity between undergrad, grad students and faculty.” Together, the entire university came together to show the need for this service on-campus, and the will of the community to make it so.

Fortunate to be able to attend the ground breaking last March, a feeling of overwhelming pride in the community I belong to rose up in me. I am proud of the incredible individuals who attended countless board of governors meetings, who presented solid arguments and who proved to the whole community that there was a need and support for an on-campus childcare center. I am proud to attend a school with lead by members of administration who continue to work to see this plan executed and deliver the tangible outcome of so many people’s hard work.

The day care is set to open officially in January 2010.

Womens Rugby CIS Wins (2007, 2008, 2009)

Our womens rugby team took the CIS National Championships three consecutive years this decade with a lot of hard work and effort. They expended their top notch training with ease and grace and secured this national honour three consecutive years running, the 2nd team in history to earn that title; proving that the pronghorns are indeed the fastest and toughest animal in North America and the University of Lethbridge truly has an athletics programs to shout about. Two time CIS Champion Allie Laurent remembers it is a shining moment in her UofL career, “Winning the universities second CIS national championship since men’s hockey won in 1993 and after only having a women’s rugby team for 7 years…then winning the next two years in a row to start a pronghorn’s rugby dynasty”. This is a feeling every UofL member can hold dear, off and on the field.

Polaris Prize (2009)

They call Dr. Bruce McNaughton the “20 million dollar man” and his decisions to join the University of Lethbridge Neuroscience program, bringing his excellent expertise and experience was very much a win for this university. Of course, the experience and first class facility he gets here was a rather large incentive for him. The Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience welcomed Dr. McNaughton officially in 2008, and celebrated the achievement of securing the AHFMR Polaris Award, a research grant worth $10 million over 10 years, matched by Alberta’s iCORE research grant, giving an addition $10 million over ten years. Dr. McNaughton will be working with University of Lethbridge students on brain behavior, incorporating UofL knowledge into this innovative and groundbreaking research.

WTF?!/First Choice Savings Center – 2006

Yes, not the most glorifying moment in history for either the University of Lethbridge or the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union. After the students passed a referendum to partially, but substantially, fund the new sports and recreation center, the university thought it was fit to allow them to name the building.

Then came the infamous title “Witness the Fitness” or, WTF. Thankfully, the university axed that in favour of naming it after the second largest donor, a bank. Yes, this was the best anyone could come up with, naming the new world-class fitness center either after a bank, or a colloquial term primarily used by 12-17 year olds.

Notwithstanding the naming fiasco, the fitness center has had a major flooding incident, and was partially shut down for a period.

However, overall, with the steam rooms, the rock climbing center and that very sexy track, our First Choice Savings Center – or as it is more commonly know, the PE building, is something to be inspired by. It has aided in attracting many community members from around Southern Alberta to use the facility and interact with the university.

Uleth goes to space (2004 – 2009)

Dr. David Naylor, an astronomy professor has lead a team of both graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Lethbridge to provide a major contribution in the form of the SPIRE instrument, which was used in the Herschel mission, launched May 14th 2009. The Herschel mission is a mission designed to gather information about the universe, the deepest and darkest parts of the universe.

The SPIRE instrument is an infrared camera and spectrometer that can simultaneously look at an entire region in the sky. The UofL delivered the test model and technology to the missions’ headquarters in the UK, and was used for the first time in 2004 to qualify the early version of SPIRE.

Take that NASA, we do not just blow up parts of satellites to see what is going on.

The (new) Library Building (2003)

The building of the new library building was a huge achievement for the University of Lethbridge and allowed not only our holdings to increase, but also future technological changes to be implemented and installed with greater ease. Our library building is fantastic for a school of our size and the decisions to place it in the center of campus completes the student hub between the Students’ Union building, the PE building, and the library.

A 6% increase for Alberta’s post-secondary institutions base operating grants (2004)

The Advanced Education and Technology ministry of the Alberta Government made an incredibly forward and progressive decision in the mid 2000’s. They boosted the yearly increase to post-secondary institutions to 6%, from the traditional increase of 4%. With Alberta rapidly growing economy, and increase in expenses 4% a year was below the Alberta price index inflation adjustments.

Without this extra grant, it is unlikely that the University of Lethbridge would have been able to provide the $600,000.00 in Quality Initiative Program funding, invest financially in the plethora of new buildings, or attract the talent and knowledgeable faculty  members was have taken in over the past 5 years. While the Alberta government has told Albertans that PSE is not a budgeting priority in the fiscal crisis, it is important o remind them of all the good that was done and the benefit it has to Alberta’s students and Alberta’s knowledge economy.

Former ULSU President, Kelly Kennedy comment on this, “When the province started to give post-secondary institutions a 6% increase to base operating grant funding. They normally were given 4% increases yearly, which was generally below API. I doubt QIP and other construction would have happened if it wasn’t for this increase.”

Markin Hall, Stadium, Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience center (CCBN), Water Building, and Turcotte Hall (2000 – 2010)

This decade the UofL built, with assistance from the student population, the provincial, and the federal government, six new buildings and substantially upgraded Turcotte Hall to enlarge and increase the modernity of our campus. This is an incredible feat in ten years, and has no doubt added to the quality of education for every student at the UofL.

Notably, the student body has shouldered a significant amount of the cost of these new buildings.

Poo Day (2008)

Who could forget this incredible day? November 4th, 2008, I know where I was. Sitting in my VP Academics office, hearing commotion outside and then learning that sewage line broke and level one of the Students’ Union building, a building that deals with high foot traffic everyday, is flooded with…well, poo. As this was clearly a health hazard, and the sewage and water system for the entire university had to be turned off to fix the broken line, every single person got the day off from all classes and mid-terms. Hence the affectionate given to this day by at Uleth’er: “Poo Day”.

Dr. Bill Cade, our illustrious leader for this decade.

The University of Lethbridge has been lead admirably by this President for the past decade; and under his leadership the University has lead the field in water and neuroscience research, expanded Liberal Education programming, increased the visibility of the Edmonton and Calgary campus’, and continued to display itself as a strong undergraduate university focused on graduating insightful and critical thinkers. As Dr. Cade is stepping down from the Presidency after this academic year, our institution owes a great deal of gratitude to the passion he has exhibited for the UofL. His Texas drawl, his office Chameleon, his obsession with crickets all give him the personality I think we will miss.

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Art, with the lovely Jane Edmundson

Jane Edmundson is a Lethbian through and through. Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, a graduate of the UofL with a BFA in Studio Art, and currently working at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, she is a staple in the Lethbridge music and arts scene as well as a supporter of local artistry and artist community groups. Nourishing a serious crush for typefaces, shiny dance pants and shoes, she knows good looking when she sees it. Just ask Lethbridge based musician Paul Lawton.

I spoke to Jane in mid October about what “art” means to Lethbridge, how funding cuts have affected the University of Lethbridge gallery and why we are truly much more cultured than the rest of Alberta.

JE: Well, in my 3rd year, I started as a student employee at the Gallery which ended up parlaying into a full time position working on the database and while I was doing that, I was also helping out the Preparator with exhibition installation so when he went on leave, I ended up filling in for him and I’ve been doing a mixture of the prep job and curatorial assistant duties for two years. I suppose I stayed because I couldn’t turn down such an amazing experience in my field getting work in the museum/gallery field right out of school is pretty amazing.

JP: Is this fairly typical of Lethbridge? Hiring gallery staff from the bottom up?

JE: Since the University Gallery encourages student volunteerism, often those volunteer positions can parlay into paid positions. The SAAG also has employed many University [of Lethbridge] graduates. It is a good pool to hire from.

JP: Many people view Lethbridge/Southern Alberta as fairly uncultured, yet those who know, know that Lethbridge boasts a tremendous art collection and devoted art scene. In your experience here, do you feel there is a thriving art culture?

JE: I think it is definitely thriving. Having a university here really facilitates the community by providing young artists and museum studies students that are interested in creating work and mounting exhibitions. Also the University promotes cultural education, which means there are lots of professors and staff that are interested in supporting local artists and exhibitions.

The University of Lethbridge Art Society (ULAS) maintains various displays of student art all over the city that Lethbridge residents can encounter in non-traditional venues, The Penny Coffee House, for example.

The SAAG brings critically acclaimed up and coming, and established artists to town for exhibitions because the community is smaller than those in Vancouver or Toronto. Students and Lethbridge citizens can interact directly with the artists when they come to town to install their exhibitions or when they are visiting as lecturers for the Art NOW course at the University.

There are also various independent artists studios all around downtown giving professional artists living in town a framework of support and the Bowman Arts Centre and Trianon Gallery provide even more opportunities for exhibitions and cultural experiences.

Really, the opportunities for artists and art supporters just keep growing.

Oh! And Trap\door artist run centre; they are a great support network for local artists, and they bring international up and coming artists to town for exhibitions and residencies.

JP: You mention Art NOW, which brings in a variety of artists to educate the UofL student community. Does this do a lot to benefit the UofL art gallery as well?

JE: I think the two go hand in hand very well. Visiting artists are drawn to the University because of its great reputation as a cultural institution, which comes from having a strong Fine Arts Faculty and the extensive art collection and any artists that are hosted by the Gallery to install contemporary exhibitions (such as Allyson Mitchell, who was recently here to install her Ladies Sasquatch exhibition) are also featured in Art NOW, which helps bring students that are enrolled in the class to visit the Gallery.

JP: What does the UofL gallery have to offer to the Lethbridge community that is unique? Why the need for an on-campus gallery when we have 5 or 6 others in a small city with a variable population?

JE: The students and staff/faculty on campus can have easy, direct access to art and research materials, and even those in the campus community who wouldn’t normally search out those cultural experiences can easily wander into the Gallery (or walk through the Helen Christou Gallery).

The Uni Gallery programming features both exhibitions from the collection, as well as contemporary exhibitions. The Gallery has also developed an online database of all the works in the collection. So, students, faculty, Lethbridge citizens, artists and researchers can learn from the collection first hand, or through the database, or through the contemporary art that the Gallery brings to Lethbridge

The integration with visiting artist lectures and the Uni Gallery gives students and community members an opportunity to learn in the lectures, and then go and view the art directly.

The Gallery and art collection allows Museum Studies/Art History students to learn directly from the collection and exhibition programming/installation techniques directly from Gallery staff. Having this type of hands-on education is extremely rare in an undergrad setting.

The 3000 level Museum Studies students are now curating one exhibition a year for the Helen Christou Gallery, which is an amazing opportunity for undergrad students who are hoping to go on to graduate school in the field

Basically, education.

JP: Helen Christou Gallery. What is, where is it, and what purpose does it fulfill?

JE: The HCG is our satellite space, it is on Level 9 of the LINC building, right beside the Security Offices. Essentially, it is a corridor space which we have adopted for exhibitions and the space is programmed along with our Main Gallery space so sometimes the two shows relate to each other, and other times they are independent of each other. We utilize the space as another way to reach students and staff/faculty who may not normally visit the Main Gallery space

Generally the shows featured in the HCG are eye catching, and accessible to people of a variety of cultural and art appreciation backgrounds.

JP: You have done some curating for the UofL galleries, what has been your favorite exhibit been to put together?

JE: My first exhibition, Tasty Treats, which was in the HCG, featured works from the collection that depict various food. It was really fun and I had a great opportunity to make awesome posters and a great brochure with my curatorial text.

JP: I have buttons from that show! They are adorable.

JE: This past summer I got to curate my first Main Gallery exhibition, and I chose to display some of the large scale, photographic pieces from the collection that examine depictions of the human body, which I thought ended up being really understated and lovely, and the Gallery felt really peaceful. It was nice to get to do something more serious after the first, more carefree show. (The Main Gallery show was called “The Body Multiple”)

JP: Has there been any affect on the UofL Gallery with arts funding cuts? Also, do you anticipate any impact from upcoming University wide budget cuts?

JE: We were affected most by Harper’s decision to cut the Exhibition Transport Service, a national shipping network for artwork and art exhibitions. It was subsidized by the government, which meant artworks and full travelling exhibitions could be shipped between galleries and museums for an affordable price.

Most of the public galleries in Canada are not-for-profit, so they can’t afford astronomical costs of shipping. When the Conservatives [government] cancelled the program, it had the University of Lethbridge Gallery and galleries all across Canada scrambling to meet shipping costs for planned exhibitions. We had to adjust some of our planning for an artist’s project coming up this November when the shipping costs proved to be prohibitive.

However, we are luckier than a lot of other galleries in Canada that don’t have the other sources of funding we have. We are supported by both the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. We are lucky to have a great Director/Curator that earns us grant funding also because we have the support of the University, and the forethought of the people that first began the art collection, the Gallery also has funding via an endowment so we are doing better than a lot of places.

JP: Is it a curator’s primary role to secure funding now, in a [sic] economically frustrated world?

JE: It is a huge part of their role, yes

JP: Lastly… Which Lethbridge gallery is your favourite, and why?

JE: (laughs) I can’t answer that! (more charming laughter) I am biased, the University Gallery has given me so many opportunities; I am indebted

JP: Fine, which Gallery in the WORLD is your favourite?

JE: The time I spent in the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal was absolutely fantastic

If you want to see a sample of Jane Edmundson’s curating skills, Head Shots is the featured exhibit at the Helen Christou Gallery until October 23rd, 2009.

Article first published in The Meliorist, Volume 43, Issue 7 on Ovtober 8th, 2009.

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“Dark sarcasm in the classroom”

At 3pm today a group of students gathered in a public space at the University of Lethbridge to discuss the recent comments Stephen Harper made at the G 20 summit in Pittsburgh on September 29th, 2009.

Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal students spoke about the affect the comments had on their communities and their person. Eloquently, expressions of disappointment and confusion were made by many of those who spoke out. The audience listened, relating to the personal opinions of these individuals. Personally, I felt proud to be a member of the STUDENT community that came together to openly discuss the comments of our Prime Ministers, the individual elected to represent the country of Canada on the world stage.

As I looked around at the attendee’s, I felt a notable absence. There was not one faculty member present.

Professors lambaste undergraduate students for not being an active members in the academic community. Student apathy, they cry out is a shame and a disappointment to them. Students just don’t care anymore.

Blatantly untrue. Student do care. They care enough to form clubs and go through the rigmarole of dealing with the bureaucracy that comes form both the Administration of this community and the Students’ Union (…I should know). They care enough to create an OPEN forum on comments made by Canada’s Prime Minister. Comments which effect every Canadian. Students care, but do Professors?

Where was our academic faculty at this discussion? It was hardly difficult to get to, being held in the largest and most visible building on campus. It went on for over any hour so I can’t see any reason why five minutes would have been so disruptive to their office hours and most importantly, it was THEIR students who came together to discuss. It was not partisan, no one was crying out to bring down the government. In fact, there was almost no political element to it all. It was merely a way for the University of Lethbridge to come together, and promote dialogue about our country.

I have had an enduring internal battle with my disappointment in faculty involvement in our campus community and an understanding of the need to distance oneself from controversial topics. However, when a forum of this nature is held, it genuinely blows my mind that not a single faculty member could be bothered to show. Not even to support the students who were not afraid to put an opinion to their face, not even to support open dialogue within out academic community.

To me this speaks of the quality of support that many academic faculty members offer towards the UofL community.

I have been an active member of this community since coming to the UofL. My experience here is notable because of my professors yes, but also because of CKXU, the Students’ Union, our independent media, clubs, and the academic-social gatherings such as the one today.

I had a professor last year who wrote – on the return of my final academic paper in his class- that involvement in student government will only lead to a future of working in wine stores or selling used cars. Firstly, the elitism dripping from this comment conveyed his opinion that both those jobs are second class and below him, leading me to wonder just what he thinks of himself. Secondly, discouraging students from actively participating in the betterment of their academic community sickens me. This is a respected member of the academic community and the only time I see him outside of a classroom is walking in the hallway, head down, not even saying hello to his students.

This is not an individual case.

I hardly expect members of the academic community to read this blog, nor do I expect them to recognize the value of my plea but I offer it all the same.

Care. Please.

Students do, and all we’re asking for from our mentors, our guides into critical thinking, and in many cases the people we admire most is to support us in our efforts to ameliorate this community.

Is that just too much?

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Down for the cause.

Moving.

Moving on?

I recently left my lovely and very comfortable niche in Lethbridge Alberta. My home for the past five years. Where I have done very well for myself. Where I have formed my own little family, a family that supports me and criticizes’ me  as much as my natural family. Where I have attempted scholastically,with  mixed results. Where I have discovered those parts of me I quite like and learned to live with those parts I care less for.

Home to Red Dog, Blueprint, CKXU, Coulee’s, the river bottom, illegal fires, dry summer days and amazing summer nights.

I don’t miss it at all.

I will return to LA in a not very long time from now, and that is only further impenitence to discover every gem here in Edmonton that I can. While my days are filled with as much post-secondary research as I can wrap my greedy nerd brain around, my nights are these endless opportunities stretched in front of me.

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Bill 19 presentation:Coaldale, Friday April 24th.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Rimbey AB) Bill 19, if and when passed, eliminates the public’s right to enforce environmental protection laws upheld under Sec 5 of the Government Organizational Act, when the government engages in the acquisition of land for major projects.

Bill 19 no longer requires that a project shall only be undertaken if it is deemed the project is “Necessary in the public’s interest”. The words “necessary in the public’s interest” do not exist anywhere in Bill 19, and the new test for approving a project is based solely on “in the Minister’s opinion”.

In comparing Bill 19 to the Government Organization Act, the Government Organization Act defers to the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act, and the Public Lands Act. Bill 19 if and when passed, does not defer to any Act and will actually supersede and overrule all previous Acts.

While individual property owners can argue against the infringement of their limited property rights, the general public’s rights are jeopardized even more, when access to public lands is left wide open to industrial development. And just to ensure there is no confusion surrounding the authorities granted to a Minister, Bill 19 specifically gives the Minister sole authority over “Water Management” [Sec: 2(2)(c)] and the authority to “Dump any Substance” [Sec: 3(1)(e)] on any lands accumulated under Bill 19.

Accumulated land is not a reference to purchasing or expropriation. Accumulating land under Bill 19 is the reclassification of land from its existing (zoning) use, to a new classification (zoning) called the “Project Area”.

Once re-classified as a project area “Notwithstanding any other Act or Regulation” [Sec: 3(1)] Ministers can do whatever they so chose, and issue orders as if they were judgments of the Queen’s Bench [Sec: 7(6)].

While some urban occupants may think the proposed Bill 19 only affects rural property owners, they should read Bill 19 and compare it to the existing Government Organization Act. A careful review of Bill 19 reveals that unbridled power to govern the “management of water” and the inapplicability of existing environmental laws directly and adversely affects us all.

The press and public is invited to attend an open public presentation and discussion of Bill 19

Thursday April 16 @7:30 PM Rockyford Community Centre Rockyford, AB

Friday April 24th @ 7:00 PM Coaldale Community Centre 1217 20 Ave Coaldale, AB

-30-

For more information contact:

Joe Anglin

Alberta Green Party Leader

(403) 843-3279

Of anyone is interested in going to this from Lethbridge, and is wanting to car pool please contact me at jenn.prosser@gmail.com.

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My one night for Homeless

Tonight I will be snuggling in tight with the five students who are sleeping outside for a week to raise awareness about homelessness and money for Wood’s Homes here in Lethbridge.

As much as I would love to have a hot meal and cups of tea all evening brought to me, I am fortunate enough to have access to those things every night. Tonight, please come by the shelter set up outside the ULSU building and bring me nothing but your change. Every little helps, truly it does and the goal this year is $10 000 for Lethbridge and I am really hoping that we as a community can come together to surpass that.

All donations over $20.00 are tax deductable and you can make donations online as well at the 5days.ca website. Myself and my three co-workers will post a blog on the ULSU blog site tomorrow morning about our experince (check it out at ulsu.wordpress.com) and I will hopefully be live tweeting our evening and my morning tomorrow. You can follow the twitter feed at twitter.com/JProssa.

By no means are we in a position to genuinely be able to understand what someone who is truly homeless has to go through as it is not just the physical discomfort but also the emotional and physiological discomfort and torment that goes along with having no place to live and no security. The societal problems overshadow the physical ones and this week is also about combating the stigma that homelessness carries as well as raising funds.

Please give, even if its just a little. The five students will be collecting donations and living outside until 5pm Friday so come by thier shelter with some change and some encouraging words and fight homelessnes.

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