An Open Letter to Premier Brad Wall Regarding Connaught School

As you are aware, dear Reader, the regina mom is not impressed with the Regina Public Schools Board of Education and their decision to tear down a 100 year-old school without benefit of a second opinion.  So, the regina mom, being who she is, sent a letter to the Premier and copied it far and wide.*

.

Here’s the letter:

An Open Letter to Premier Brad Wall Regarding Connaught School March 16, 2013

Dear Premier Wall:

I understand that your government has received a request from the Regina Board of Education (RBE) to replace Connaught School. For a variety of reasons, I request that you deny it.

Before you is the opportunity to make a reckless decision or to invest in an integral piece of our history as a city and a province, as housed in that building. As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.

As well, the RBE’s renovation options as presented to the Ministry of Education appear to be over-costed and under-researched. Some RBE documents contain basic arithmetic errors in the thousands of dollars! A recommended investigation of the building’s structure was, to my knowledge, not completed, except for a basic visual assessment. In discussions with the Heritage community, I learned that the RBE made absolutely no effort to obtain the advice of experts in the assessment and repair of older buildings. Nor has an embodied energy study been conducted. Neither has the RBE requested comparable estimates, despite the Chair’s recent statement that the consultant’s report is a second opinion to her staff’s. In effect, the RBE has one estimate, provided by a company that specializes in new construction. Hard facts, then, do not underly the cost estimates.

RBE has done a less than impressive job of assessing redevelopment. The community consultation process was seriously flawed, conducted by a private firm that will likely bid on the new build. The recommendations in no way serve the school community, my Cathedral community, the residents of Regina or the people of Saskatchewan. The community input we gave through the consultation process has been disregarded and disparaged. This is in direct contravention of our community’s right to appropriate development strategies and equitable participation in decisions affecting heritage, as guaranteed under the ICOMOS Stockholm Charter, signed by Canada.

To demolish Connaught is to miss an exceptional opportunity to preserve our history. It is a cornerstone of the Cathedral Village and holds significant cultural and aesthetic value, a source of pride to past and current students, to residents and to all who pass by or enter its halls. That it be sent to the landfill is a disgrace and should be the absolute last resort of any administration!

I therefore support the demands, as articulated by the Save Our Connaught Committee which came into being on the March 3, 2013, that your government agree to the following:

  • An independent second opinion by experts in the field on the renovation versus new build option for Connaught School, based on thorough research, recommended studies and detailed unit costs. ‘Best guesses’ are a slap to the face of our joint cultural heritage.
  • A full and independent consideration of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of redevelopment options which includes proper consideration of the relative value of a new building versus a refurbished historic school must inform the decision.
  • The Ministry of Education and the Province of Saskatchewan must apply a more fiscally responsible, community-sensitive approach to school renovation in our community.
  • The Province must understand, acknowledge and take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally recognized historic school, on behalf of citizens of Saskatchewan and Canada.

I trust you will do the right thing. Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Bernadette L. Wagner

Regina SK

cc: Ms. Katherine Gagne, Chair, Regina Public Schools Board of Education

Honourable Kevin Doherty, Minister Responsible for Parks, Culture & Sport

Honourable Russ Marchuk, Minister Responsible for Education

Mr. Cam Broten, Leader of the Opposition

Mr. David Forbes, NDP critic for Education

Ms. Danielle Chartiere, NDP critic for Culture

Hon. John Nilson, MLA for Regina Lakeview

Save Our Connaught

Real Renewal

Regina Leader-Post

Prairie Dog Magazine

Metro News

CKTV

Global News

CBC-TV

CBC Radio

Radio Canada

Rawlco Radio

MBN Radio

Accidental Deliberations

Saskboy’s Abandoned Stuff

.

* Email addresses should you care to follow suit:  citydesk@leaderpost.com, ckck@ctv.ca, globalnews.reg@globaltv.com, Jacob.Zehr@globalnews.ca, Jdedekker@leaderpost.com, direction@accesscomm.ca, mwood@rawlco.com, news@620ckrm.com, news@mbcradio.com, ponops@hotmail.com, regina@metronews.ca, saskboy@gmail.com, sasknews@cbc.ca, sheila.coles@cbc.ca, tjsask@radio-canada.ca, kdoherty@mla.legassembly.sk.ca, rmarchuk@mla.legassembly.sk.ca, cbroten.mla@sasktel.net, dforbesmla@sasktel.net, saskatoonriversdale@ndpcaucus.sk.ca, gagne@accesscomm.ca, saveourconnaught@gmail.com, realrenewal@gmail.com,<j.nilson.mla@sasktel.net>, greg@gregfingas.com, <carlabeck@sasktel.net>

Too much politics all at once

Really, the regina mom thinks she should take up juggling.  She’d be good at it, given her propensity to deal with many things at once.  Oh, sure, the kids have moved out and she’s not juggling their lives in with hers as much as she used to, but it seems that other things have moved into her life and she’s throwing them around, too.

Last week, this ridiculous idea of a Public-Private Partnership (P3) that the HarperCons have set up to help their friends make more money municipalities deal with infrastructure issues, in this case Regina’s wastewater issues came to the fore.  In an email conversation with City Councillor Wade Murray, the regina mom learned that Councillor Murray doesn’t much like public involvement in such issues.  From that conversation:

I am open to dialog and learning of the alternatives, for until the moment the question is called, I reserve my decision. It’s unfortunate that people only get involved just before the decision is to be made. We have been discussing this for 2 years, it was a topic through the election, but no one really seemed to care at that time, all of a sudden it’s time to get involved.

the regina mom really doesn’t remember a single Councillor making an issue of this during the campaign, do you, dear Reader?  And now, at tonight’s Council meeting, they approved going ahead with it. Unanimously.

At close of business on Friday the Regina Board of Education announced via its Agenda for the Tuesday, February 26 meeting that it’s considering the wrecking ball for Ecole Connaught Community School, the oldest school in Regina that’s still used as a school.  the regina mom‘s kids attended there, as did her 86 year-old mother-in-law! The irony is that at tonight’s City Council meeting, the Connaught Centennial Committee and the kids who put on a spectacular array of events to celebrate the school’s 100th anniversary last year, received a Municipal Heritage Award.

Real Renewal, the group that came together a few years ago when school closures were all the rage has come forward to speak out against this ridiculous plan.  The group has raised questions in 13 different areas and, being the helpful political activist she is, the regina mom started a petition on Avaaz which you are welcome to sign.  At last look, there were 661 signatories on the petition requesting

That the Regina Board of Education delay the decision to demolish or retrofit Ecole Connaught Community School until the recommended studies and thorough and proper community consultation can be carried out.

It’s a long shot but here’s hoping that one of the oldest buildings in the city stands for many years to come.

And then there’s the Saskatchewan NDP Leadership contest, heading into the homestretch.  We on the Ryan Meili/Erin Weir team are working hard to GOTV, contacting hundreds of voters who have not yet cast their ballots.  It’s going to be close and thus, interesting, come the March 9 convention in Saskatoon.  We’ll either have the same-old New Democratic Party or we’ll have a New Democratic Party that will change the conversation in Saskatchewan politics.

On top of the political work the regina mom does, there’s her volunteer work with the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival.  Oh, and her writing career!

Save the date! #SWF13

the regina mom is so very excited! As you regulars are aware, she attended the Women’s Forum des Femmes in Ottawa in October and had a fantastic time.  So, she brought the idea home and is happy to invite you to save the date!

—–

Saskatchewan Women’s Forum 2013

 

If you are interested in women’s rights, in connecting with individuals and organizations who have been working on women’s issues recently and through the decades, and in spending a weekend learning, having fun, and moving a women’s agenda forward in our province, then:

 

Please set aside Friday, January 18 (evening) and Saturday, January 19, 2013!

 

We are a coalition of women and organizations who have come together to plan a Saskatchewan Women’s Forum taking place at the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon. For too long, we have been having conversations in isolation from each other about the current context that women and women’s organizations find themselves in. So we are creating this opportunity to collectively develop how we can move forward on the issues that we care about.

 

We are currently finalizing our program, which will be centered on women’s stories and respectful of intergenerational, intercultural and diverse experiences. If you are interested in attending, please respond back to us (at michelle.beveridge@oxfam.ca, 306.242.4097)) and we will ensure you receive the program and registration package by mid-December.

 

In the meantime, please save the date! And get in touch with us if you would like to be part of the planning, to volunteer at the forum in any number of capacities, or have other ideas for us.

 

Registration is $50/person. (Please let us know if you are in a situation where you would only be able to attend with a reduced rate, or conversely, if you are able and willing to donate  money to assist in covering a portion of registration for others.)

 

Sincerely,

Michelle Beveridge and Katelyn Jones, Oxfam Canada, Saskatoon

Sue Delanoy, Elizabeth Fry Society, Saskatoon

Diane Fletcher, Vadis Group, Saskatoon

Lori Hanson, U of S, Community Health and Epidemiology, Saskatoon

Laura Hopkins, Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition

Lori Johb, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Regina

Audra Krueger, U of S, Centre for the Study of Co-ops, Saskatoon

Darla Leard, Canadian Labour Congress, Saskatoon

Barb Macpherson, YWCA Saskatoon

Adriane Paavo, Prairie Lily Feminist Society, Regina

Priscilla Settee, U of S, Native Studies, Saskatoon

Lenore Swystun and Samantha Mark, Prairie Wild Consulting, Saskatoon

Laura Westman, Saskatoon

Bernadette Wagner, Regina

 

thereginamom dot com

the regina mom feels wealthy these days. She was fortunate enough to be a recipient of an Emerging Artists Award from the Canada Council for the Arts last spring.  There’s no scramble for contract work and there’s a bit of extra money around her house.  So she got her hubby to blow twenty bucks on the thereginamom.com domain name.  And when the rewrite of the children’s literature manuscript is completed — which had better be soon because the end of the grant period is fast approaching — thereginamom.com will get a makeover.

the regina mom has spent some time over the past few months writing and contemplating her writing life.  Blogging is one place where various pieces of her life weave together.  So she’s looking forward to again crafting blogposts.

Be forewarned, dear Reader, the regina mom likes Niki Ashton.

Later today, Niki Ashton, the Member of Parliament for Churchill, will announce her candidacy for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada!  It’d be great to have a woman from one of the Prairie provinces as Leader of the NDP — as the next Prime Minister of Canada!

Niki’s from northern Manitoba.  Take a Northern woman from a Prairie province to the House of Commons and you’ll see more than a little bit of Amazing!   Niki has demonstrated that time and again and could do it in one of four or five languages.  Unafraid of standing up to speak Truth to Power, Niki Ashton has risen in the House to challenge the Harper regime on important issues such as healthcare and housing, infrastructure and transportation, education and economic development, support for residential school survivors and the North and its People.  American film-maker, Michael Moore, noticed her work.  As did The Huffington Post.

So, ya.  A Northern woman from a Prairie province!  Niki Ashton is sure to make the NDP Leadership race an interesting one!  the regina mom is watching.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Oh, the regina mom‘s been a busy woman this past year! Marketing a book takes time and energy in the planning and carrying out. Needless to say, this blog has fallen by the wayside.

However, I could not miss the opportunity to wish my readers a happy International Women’s Day and to share a piece I was asked to write for the Equity Issue the Prairie Dog published last week. The editor contacted me, requesting a rant and, of course, I could not say no. But, later that day, when I attended my meditation class and we talked about “wise speech” and were invited to practice it over the upcoming week I realized that I could not write this rant in my usual way.

It was a challenge, indeed, to say what needed to be said in a wise way. And so, I’m curious what you, dear reader, think.

And here’s the rant, as published in The Dog:

Beyond Despair

Women survive, against all odds.

Even though we women make up 52 per cent of the global population and we own only one per cent of the land, we survive.

Even though climate change impacts women around the world more harshly (try gathering wood, food, water in a drought zone or flood zone every day), we survive.

Even though we earn 73 per cent the wages of men and are over-represented in part-time, low-pay jobs, and even though the world economies once counted us as chattel and told us our work was not work, we survive.

Even though cooking, cleaning and caregiving, the three Cs of women’s work, are worth between $234 and $374 billion in labour that remains unpaid, and even though we never received the national childcare program we were promised and yet we still find time to fill the gaps when governments offload services onto communities and families, we survive.

Even though, right here in Saskatchewan, one child in five – a full 20 per cent – live without adequate food, shelter and clothing, and even though more than 43,000 of our children live in poverty and 60 per cent of children living in households headed by a lone woman live in poverty, and children around the world continue to live in deep poverty, we survive.

Even though governments dismally fail to acknowledge our inequality, respect our issues – or even hear our voices – and instead, privatize economic decision-making, grant corporations more rights and less taxes, doctor documents, cut funding to programs, close doors to our organizations, oppose same sex marriages, peel back our reproductive rights, ignore our human rights, spurn and deride us, tell us to “go slowly,” that we’re “too radical” and dismiss us as “dumb bitches” or “Feminazis,” we survive.

Even though violence against us is epidemic the world over – we are assaulted emotionally, psychologically, physically, sexually – even though 50 per cent of us will experience violence to our person in our lifetime and we have sisters, daughters, grand-daughters who are treated as illegal goods to be trafficked and sold into sexual slavery, and even though we are stoned to death, gunned down, disappeared or murdered, we survive.

Even though we live our lives in the global war waged against us right here and right now, as it has for centuries – even though we die daily, we survive.

We survive because we are strong.

We are strong because we are one community. We are one community with a diverse population: women of colour, Indigenous, Métis women, who have immigrated, emigrated, who are refugees, who are urban, rural, peasant, homeless women, are mothers, grandmothers, child-free, who are sex workers, waged workers, volunteer workers, who are lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, are religious, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, women with disabilities, healing powers, visions, who are older, younger, middle-aged…

We survive because we are coming to know the power of diversity, to know our power as women. And we know that our time to wield power is at hand.

c. 2011 Bernadette L. Wagner

Happy IWD!

WANTED! Young musicians: NessGeneration

The Ness Creek Music Festival is one of the most family-friendly events in the province. Located in the boreal forest where the air is still clear and on a site that is spectacular, it is a festival to take in! And, the folks organizing it are providing excellent opportunity for young Saskatchewan musicians, aged 13 to 18, to showcase their musical and/or spoken word abilities.

NessGeneration Poster

NessGeneration Auditions

WANTED! Young musicians to play the youth stage at the Ness Creek Music Festival

Apr 18 Regina (UofR campus, Riddell Centre)

Apr 19 Saskatoon (Cosmo Senior Centre)

Apr 25 La Ronge (Churchill High)

Apr 26 Prince Albert (Union Centre)

Email ness_generation@hotmail.com to sign up. All ages welcome!! Doors open at 7pm – $3 cover

I’m wishing I was more than just a few years younger! Have fun, kids!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,988 other followers