ACTION: Stop the cuts to supports for people living with disabilities

The Preamble:

thereginamom is more than a little angry about the Wall government’s attack on people with disabilities by cutting the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program.  So, she wrote and sent a letter at the request of a friend.  You, dear Reader, are free to write your own or to copy-paste this one or parts of it into a message and send it.  Just please do something.

The Letter:

Mr. Premier, MLAs, and Editors:

I write because my friend, B., an elder in our community and the mother of an adult daughter who has lived her entire life with a disability, asked me to do so.  I worked alongside her daughter at a community agency a number of years ago.  That B. is concerned about the cuts to financial support for people with disabilities in the province, especially the Saskatchewan Assured Income Disability (SAID) program, does not surprise me.  She loves her daughter.  Many Saskatchewan residents rely on SAID in addition to what work, if any, they can find.  People with disabilities, as well as people without, have every right to expect to live and thrive as functioning members of our communities and we pay our taxes so that our governments see to that.

This impacts our friends and neighbours, family members and coworkers who already live every single day of their lives at a significant disadvantage.  They will most definitely suffer, in very real ways, as a result.  It’s a dangerous decision for the Province, one that’s on a slippery slope lending credence to the theory that this administration honestly does not care what happens to people with disabilities.

I can’t help but wonder if this government would rather see people with disabilities medicated and locked away in mental hospitals and prisons than see them live and work in their communities.  That would, I suppose, help this administration’s friends in the pharmaceutical and prison industries, wouldn’t it?  So, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this attack on vulnerable people, should we?

Yes, I can get cynical.  However, my elderly friend also suggested that we challenge our MLAs to cut their collective salaries enough to fill the gap.  Though I don’t believe it’s the correct solution, it is, in fact, a solution.  And so, until this administration comes up with a better solution, I join her call.

Will you support a motion to reduce the salaries of all Members in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly so that those who live with disabilities in Saskatchewan and rely on the SAID program need not see theirs reduced?

Sincerely,

Bernadette Wagner
Author, Editor, Community Organizer

The Request:

We challenge all elected members of the Legislature to vote to cut their own salaries in order to sufficiently fund the level of maintenance promised to persons with disabilities.

Premier Brad Wall: premier@gov.sk.ca
Donna Harpauer: humboldtmla@sasktel.net
Carla Beck: reginalakeview@ndpcaucus.sk.ca
Kevin Doherty: kevindohertymla@sasktel.net
Mark Docherty: markdochertymla@sasktel.net
Muhammad Fiaz: muhammad.fiaz@saskparty.com
Gene Makowsky: gmakowsky.mla@sasktel.net
Warren McCall: reginaelphinstonecentre@ndpcaucus.sk.ca
Tina Beaudry-Mellor: admin@ReginaUniversityMLA.ca
Laura Ross: laurarossmla@sasktel.net
Nicole Sarauer: reginadouglaspark@ndpcaucus.sk.ca
Warren Steinley: walshacresmla@sasktel.net
Christine Tell: christinetellmla@accesscomm.ca
Trent Wotherspoon: reginarosemont@ndpcaucus.sk.ca

To learn more about cuts to the SAID program, google “Sask party cuts to SAID program.”

The Addenda

To find more addresses for MLAs, go here.  Please act now.

The Wall government’s Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction wrote a letter to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

As community members of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction, we are concerned by the way Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer has represented changes to the housing supplement for SAID recipients.

Please act now.

Time travel: #LaLoche 2009

In 2009, The Sasquatch, a spin-off of the progressive, Briarpatch Magazine, published a piece the regina mom wrote about youth suicide in La Loche, Saskatchewan.  Yesterday’s tragedy in the remote northern Saskatchewan Dene community, La Loche, prompted trm to remember that story.  And then, she learned that Premier Wall’s SaskParty government and its LEAN-thinking business initiatives helped to kill programs set up by the community for the community and had to repost it here.  So much sadness here.

 

Youth suicide “epidemic” ravages northern Saskatchewan

By Bernadette Wagner

About 40 teens have attempted suicide in the past 18 months in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche. More than half have died.

“It’s an epidemic,” says Laura Petschulat, a high school teacher at La Loche Community School. “They’ve lost hope.”

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) cites suicide as the leading cause of death among First Nations people between the ages of 10 and 24.

“When young people lose hope, suicide becomes a reality,” says Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Vice-Chief Glen Pratt. “Too many of our children experience tragedy in their lives and that injures the spirit.”

Pratt says the current system is set up to make First Nations fail. “Our traditional First Nations health system has been oppressed,” he says. “Western medicine is very tokenized toward First Nations. We need to find a way to give them strength and not label them as sick.”

“It’s tragic,” says Warren McCall, NDP critic for First Nations and Métis Affairs, referring to the high rate of suicide among Aboriginal youth. “It’s the cutting edge of what the province is doing wrong.”

Minister Responsible for First Nations and Métis Affairs June Draude declined to comment on this story. Draude is also the minister responsible for Northern Affairs.

On the Clearwater River Dene Nation just a mile outside La Loche, 70 per cent of the 1,400 band members living on the reserve are under the age of 18. In the village of La Loche, about 50 per cent of the residents are under 18. In both communities, many families live 10 or more to a house, some of which are substandard. Alcohol and drug abuse, physical and sexual violence and teen pregnancy rates are high. The welfare rate sits around 70 per cent.

It’s hard to find positive role models in a community that’s still coping with the legacy of residential schools and colonialism,” says McCall. “The community lacks the resources for positive change. There are hugely limited resources in the north.”

Vice-Chief Pratt says there are role models in every community but sometimes kids choose the wrong ones. Young people and elders don’t always connect the way they should.

There has got to be a revival of First Nations medicine,” he added.

Pratt says the FSIN is encouraging that revival. This past winter, it brought together 300 youth from across the province for a suicide prevention conference in Saskatoon. Survivors of suicide spoke about their “second chance at life.” Youth had opportunities to learn about the traditional ways from Elders and to share their own stories.

According to Pratt, the suicide prevention strategy in Saskatchewan lacks a co-ordinated approach. His organization is calling for a youth forum on the matter. “We need a strategy built by youth themselves and supported by partnerships with youth, First Nations elders, schools and the health system. We need to invite youth to circles,” he says.

Some suggest that northern development, including a road connecting La Loche to Fort MacLeod, Alberta, is the key to fixing the problems in northern communities, but Petschulat disagrees. “A lot of people here think that will only bring drugs and prostitution,” she says. “There are already too many problems here.”

Residents also wonder how development in the future will help the youth now.

“It’s hard for these kids to avoid gangs and drugs, alcoholism and abuse,” says one resident who asked not to be named. “They live with abuse, alcoholism, poverty and can’t escape it. Despite how bad it is, this is where the people they love live.”

NDP Health Critic Judy Junor wants to know what the Sask Party government is doing about the situation in La Loche. “What immediate programs are they putting in place to stop this cycle of hopelessness?” she asks.

Health Minister Don McMorris did not respond to requests for comment.

On World Suicide Prevention Day in September 2008, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine called for a doubling of the number of suicide prevention projects taking place in First Nations communities. One hundred and forty projects are ongoing at the present time. La Loche is not currently a site for one of those projects.

In the meantime, Petschulat says that the only hope some troubled youth have is that someone will post a video featuring images of the youth and a favourite song or two on YouTube after their death.

“Still,” says Vice-Chief Pratt, “many young people are thriving despite the injustices their people face – poverty, racism, oppression. The stronger the spirit, the stronger the nation, the stronger the youth.”

c. 2009 Bernadette Wagner

Sidebar: Holistic health & suicide prevention

A federal government publication, Acting On What We Know: Preventing Youth Suicide in First Nations, suggests that prevention programs are most successful when they bring together health, school and community.

In First Nations communities where cultural traditions have been lost, “the development of programs to transmit traditional knowledge and values, usually by respected elders, is also a crucial component of any suicide prevention program,” the report suggests.

At their recent conference on health issues, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations held sessions on Shiatsu Therapy and the Bowen Method – two methods of healing which are more holistic than western medicine. Both are based in the belief that the human body has an innate ability to heal itself.

Shiatsu is hands-on, finger-pressure therapy, which has evolved from aspects of Japanese massage traditions, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western anatomy and physiology and works to release blocked energy in the body.

The Bowen Method stimulates a sense of deep relaxation, which acts on the nervous system to create metabolic equilibrium at the cellular level. This resets the autonomic nervous system and frees the body to find its own natural balance. By embracing not only the psychological or the physical, the treatments can work on the whole individual.

First Nations medicine is similar in that it also works on the whole individual by looking at the physical, the psycho-emotional, the cultural and the spiritual. According to FSIN Vice-Chief Glen Pratt, “The spiritual is the foundation for the other three. Once we become strong in spirit . . . we become very balanced in a healthy way.”

c. 2009 Bernadette Wagner

To work, to work!

the regina mom is checking in to say that she’s in Regina Beach for a month, working as Writer-in-Residence for the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre.  She thinks it’s a great gig!  If you want to follow her meanderings there, check out her other blog.

 

SWG’s Funding From #YQR Almost All Restored

the regina mom has been on retreat with a bunch of writers at her favourite monastery.  Yes, she knows it’s rather odd for a feminist to be hanging out with Catholic monks, but she finds their worship of the Virgin Mother to be very interesting…

 

Anywho, she has learned that the Saskatchewan Writers Guild has been granted special ‘transition funding’ amounting to 90 percent of what the City of Regina had provided before.  (Apparently, there are some readers on Council.)  Regardless what happens in the next go-round of grants, according to trm‘s source, the City of Regina Writing Award will be funded and may even be increased.   It’s been separated out from the ginormous pool of money being shared around amongst a bajillion cultural and social justice groups.

 

Well done, writers!  We can breathe a sigh of relief.  For now.

 

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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.*

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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>

A Bad Law and A Bold Woman

An excerpt from an essay-in-progress.

A Bad Law and A Bold Woman

1985. I’ve always called it the worst year of my life.  A series of unfortunate events tripped me up the summer I turned 23.  In no particular order: sex, a really bad boss, unemployment, and a 1968 Buick.

The sex: great! One of my first orgasms.

The job:  itself, not bad.  Great pay for typing and answering phones.  But when I lost my only pair of glasses I couldn’t work. The boss I had considered to be nice convinced me to quit.  She suggested that missing a week of work while I waited for new specs to arrive would “let down the team.”  Fine, I thought. I didn’t really love the job.  I’d had great student placements there in the past; this one wasn’t one of them.  Earlier that year another boss aka The Dragon Lady had hauled me into her office and tried to guilt-trip me into taking fulltime hours during the summer months.  I told her I couldn’t.  She shouted.  I cried and insisted I was taking summer classes.  Had I known then what I now know about collective agreements and workers’ rights, that meeting would have gone differently!

So, when the nice boss started in on me, I quit.  Unemployment meant spare time.  On my way to my dad’s for coffee one summery day, a teenager failed to yield as posted.  His hot red car smashed into the rear driver’s side door of my blue Buick. My car spun counter-clockwise through the intersection, up onto the sidewalk, and stopped abruptly when the passenger side door hit the solid steel light post.  Police eventually arrived to take my shaky statement.  An ambulance hauled me to the hospital where my dad met me. I was diagnosed with sprains and whiplash and sent on my way with a back brace and painkillers.  Flexoril, a painkiller, became my friend.

In Canada in 1985 Madame Justice Bertha Wilson had not yet played her role in striking down Canada’s abortion law, the law that created regulations so strict it was nigh on impossible for women to access the procedure.  It required women to secure the approval of a doctor and the local hospital’s Therapeutic Abortion Committee (TAC) if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy.  In Saskatchewan, only two hospitals performed abortions, Regina General and Saskatoon City.  Few women received the necessary approval in Regina.  Some sought services elsewhere.  My friend traveled nine hours to a private clinic in North Dakota and experienced severe complications afterward.  Wealthy women and those who could find the money to do so, flew to Toronto where the Morgentaler clinic operated.  Still others tried to induce their own abortions by various means.  Knitting needles, coat hangers, and onions were a few of the methods I’d read about.

My injury had me back-and-forth to the doctor’s office. I’d been thinking that having unprotected sex with a friend was probably not wise.  So, on one of those trips I told my doctor I wanted to try The Pill.  During his process of figuring out which one would work, I learned I was pregnant.  I immediately knew I’d have the pregnancy terminated.  I did not want, and was not ready for, parenthood.  Adoption was out of the question, along with traveling to Toronto or anywhere out of province for that matter.

The friend who’d had post-abortion complications told me about an underground network she had learned about.  It led to my first visit to the Regina Women’s Community Centre, an organization to which I would give volunteer time in the future.  The woman who offered counsel, Abby, counselled many women like me over the years.  She shared the options available to me.  I took a chance on the one doctor in Regina who occasionally supported a woman through the TAC’s hoops.

His office was an ordinary one for older buildings in the downtown core.  The lobby, lined with rows of black vinyl and chome chairs, had white walls and dark-stained wood trim.  Three of us, in various stages of pregnancy waited.  A faint quiver ran through my body.  My face felt flushed.  He made me nervous.  After the physical exam he confirmed my pregnancy. I then explained why I needed an abortion. I told him it had been the first time this man and I had had intercourse, that I was studying to be a teacher and wanted to finish my degree, that I couldn’t afford parenthood. Before I could finish the doctor turned and walked away from me shouting, “I will not be a welfare doctor!”  What the hell that meant, I did not know.  I can suppose, now, that he meant he wouldn’t terminate a pregnancy in order to keep a young woman off welfare.  I’ll never know for sure.  I didn’t stick around to quiz him; I left, in tears, more determined than ever to put an end to the pregnancy.

The TACs operated under a residency restriction regarding which hospital could treat which woman.  Davidson divided the province.  Women living to the north were to use Saskatoon; south, Regina.  I lived in Regina and the underground network informed me that Dr. John Bury, sympathetic to women’s rights, would perform abortions on women who could provide a Saskatoon address.  My meeting with a woman from the underground network informed me of another option, one that didn’t sit too well with me, one I’d rather have avoided.  But I knew beyond a doubt that this road would be the only one available to me.  It meant I’d have to tell more people about my pregnancy.  I could live with that.  But could I live with lying to officials to secure the procedure?

I pulled Lesley, my former room-mate and friend living in Saskatoon, in on my plan, made an appointment and traveled to Saskatoon.  My official identification had me living at my dad’s house in Regina, but I offered up Lesley’s Saskatoon address to the intake worker at Dr. Bury’s clinic.  She did not ask about the address discrepancy.  Per the advice I’d received, I added that my studies at the University of Saskatchewan brought me to live here in Saskatoon.  Until then, I’d believed my capacity as a liar lacked a certain strength of conviction, but in that moment I surely could have convinced anyone of the veracity of my statement.  That said, I held my quivering nerves in check from the time I arrived through until I left.  My resolve was firm.

I thought she’d bought my story, along with my very real concerns about the consumption of pain medication during my early pregnancy.  She informed me that the doctor’s office would call the first week in September.  I had a long, sweaty month ahead of me.  What if they discovered I’d lied?  What if the TAC denied my request?

never again

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!

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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

 

“Fifty Shades of Green”

Earlier this week the regina mom and her friend, Cherie Westmoreland, had a conversation about the prairie grasslands in anticipation of tonight’s talk, Grasslands in Peril, by Candace Savage*.  Cherie said that for her, the grasslands are “a quantity of grief that’s difficult to hold.”  And tonight, after having spent almost two hours listening to Candace’s presentation, “Fifty Shades of Green,” the regina mom has a deeper understanding of that grief.

Candace opened her lecture with a reference to her friend, Lille, who lives on a First Nations reserve south of Maple Creek.  Lille once told her that in order to get to know someone you ought to ask, “Who is your grandmother?” and “Who is your grandfather?”

When we talk about land on the prairies we are talking about the people… When we talk about people on the prairies we are talking about the land… The prairie land and people are part of the same thing.

Candace then offered us stories about her grandparents and the lands they “settled,” some of which, she said, should never have been turned. She cited Vernon Fowke and his assessment of the Dominion Lands Act, that being “a colossal failure of public policy.”

From there, she launched into details about the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), established in 1935, in the midst of the Dirty Thirties, and given five years to address emergency water issues.  In 1937, the Act which established PFRA was amended to allow for the permanent management of lands.  The community pastures program, 85 federal pastures consisting of 2.3 million acres of lands  were set up across the prairie provinces as means to arrest soil drifting on the prairies.

Of these pastures, or public ranches, 60 exist in Saskatchewan.  That’s 1.8 million acres, 2,800 sections of land, an area larger than Prince Edward Island.  The vast majority of this land is ancient land which has never been tilled. It comprises part of the less than 20% of the original grasslands that once existed in North America.

The community pastures were established for management of local economies, i.e. to assist farmers and communities, as well as for conservation management, “to manage a productive, biodiverse rangeland.” The practices in the pastures are state-of-the-art and include considerations for “all the creatures that make a living prairie.”  But with the federal government pulling out its commitment, the living laboratories may be lost.  Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said that the job of PFRA is done, the community pastures have achieved their goal.

Candace Savage disagrees. She noted that for an eight million dollar investment the pasture program created $58 million in benefits to local rural communities, “a darn good deal.”  She also noted that despite all the community pasture program has achieved, the prairie ecosystem is dying all around us — plants, animals and birds special to our piece of the northern grasslands are dying off.  31 endangered and threatened species live on the community pastures.

Citing a national report, The State of Canada’s Birds, which draws on 40 years of research, Candace said that no one knows why these insectivore birds are dying off.  It could be because of climate change or the loss of grassland habitat.  She spoke of the whooping cranes that used to nest at Shallow Lake, near Luseland in RM 351 and RM 350, in what is now a community pasture.  The community wants to bring the cranes back but if the land is sold, “the whooping crane will not be re-introduced to the Luseland/Kerrobert area.”  The community needs the expertise of PFRA to do it.

Candace also noted some positive developments since the federal government’s announcement.  Communities of interest are coming together.  Protect the Prairie began a petition campaign which more than 8,500 individuals from Saskatchewan and beyond have signed. The provincial government has vowed to place conservation easements on the pastures if they are sold. A ranchers/stewards alliance has formed to create a new management team for the pastures in southwestern Saskatchewan.  The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) passed a resolution calling on the province to “retain ownership” of the pasture lands.

Still, it all seems too little to hold the grief.  As Candace concluded, “There is wonderful life all around us, and we are its last best hope.” the regina mom hopes we are up to the task.

Tomorrow, communities of interest are gathering at the Orr Centre, 4400 4th Ave in Regina from 8:30 to 4:30 pm to assess the situation and develop a plan of action. The event will be recorded and placed online. the regina mom will provide that link when it is available.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations also released an excellent backgrounder on the community pasture lands.

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Candace Savage is the best-selling author of Prairie: A Natural History and  the 2012 recipient of the Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her latest book, A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory in a Prairie Landscape.

With thanks to John Klein for his live-tweeting of the event which helped trm with this post.

Let us send you Ryan’s book!

As the regina mom‘s readers already know, she endorsed Dr. Ryan Meili in his bid for leadership of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.  The idea-sharing, hard work and comaraderie among the folks on the campaign team has instilled in her a renewed sense of commitment to building a better world.  Our creative campaign team came up with this great idea, just in time for holiday gift-giving! the regina mom invites you to be part of this historic time by supporting Ryan’s campaign. Check out the 50/50/7 deal:

Ryan Meili Leadership Campaign

Dear friends:

50 years ago, the Saskatchewan NDP took the bold step of introducing universal healthcare.

50 years ago, the Saskatoon Community Clinic, where Ryan works, was established to provide that care and defend the single-payer, publicly-funded system.

Today, Ryan’s campaign is building on that legacy of big ideas and shared struggle.

And we need your help.

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Medicare, we’re asking 50 people to make a donation of $50 to help us build this movement. And as a gesture of our gratitude, we’ll send you something important in return — read on for details.

We have been very encouraged by the generous support you’ve shown since Ryan launched his bid for the Sask NDP leadership. Your support has given our campaign huge momentum going into the holiday season.

But you know that campaigns cost money, and the bills don’t stop just because the holiday season is approaching. So instead of just asking for another donation, we wanted to offer something meaningful back to you.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, for the next week we’ll send a signed copy of Ryan’s book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy, to everyone who donates $50 or more in response to this appeal.A Healthy Society book cover

If you’re able to give $100, $150 or $500, you’ll be helping us cover the cost of sending books to people around the province and beyond, while still ensuring that we have the resources we need to run a winning campaign.

To meet upcoming campaign expenses, we need to reach at least 50 donors in the next 7 days. We hope you’ll sign on so we can send you Ryan’s book.

A Healthy Society proposes a new approach to politics, one that can help us put progressive ideas front-and-centre in addressing our shared challenges.

As Former Premier Lorne Calvert has said, “For those who seek the renewal of politics and public health in Canada, Dr. Meili has a vision for both. This work makes an important contribution to progressive dialogue in Canada.”

Lots of people have contacted us to say they want to learn more about Ryan’s vision for a healthy society. His book is the perfect resource for inspiring us all to work together to make it possible.

Help us celebrate the past 50 years, and shape the next 50 years, of progressive innovations in this province.

Please take a moment to make a donation today, either online through our secure server or by calling (306) 361-5755, so we can send you a copy of Ryan’s book.
With hope and gratitude,

Nicole, Jason, Rachel, Gavin, Erica, Dave, and the rest of the Meili campaign team

p.s. Remember: we need to reach at least 50 donors in the next week — please take a moment right now to respond, and then please pass the message on to your networks.

Opening a space for women

the regina mom posted this on Ryan Meili’s ideas page, in response to a call for ideas about building gender equity in SK.  Ryan is the candidate trm is supporting in the SK NDP Leadership race.  She is overwhelmed by and grateful for the positive support the idea is receiving.

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OPENING A SPACE FOR WOMEN

 

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the Saskatchewan women’s movement was a force to be reckoned with. Feminist organizations within the province had built a solid base from which to act and continue to build.

The Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda* was the result of an intense, two-year, participatory process that brought more than 50 Saskatchewan women’s organizations together to determine what women needed to live full and equitable lives in this province. The Agenda addressed a broad range of issues, established goals and directed our work and the work we hoped to see a new government take on.

But then came the feminist backlash. As a result, debt reduction gave way to creating a better world for women. Most feminist organizations faced slashed budgets from federal and provincial sources. Some groups folded. Others managed to hold onto shoestring funding and find other sources and stay alive.

Feminists in Saskatchewan have not come together in a real and meaningful way since the mid 1990’s. Key organizers within the women’s movement have left the province or worse, passed on. Generational change is afoot in the organizations that managed to stay afloat and a key piece of our Saskatchewan women’s history, the Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda, is difficult to find, let alone study and pass on.

In mid-October, Niki Ashton, Member of Parliament for Churchill and Opposition Critic for Women, hosted the Women’s Forum des Femmes which brought together a diverse community of women from across the country. Ms Ashton created a “space for women to share experiences, ideas, and shape collective plans for re-igniting the women’s movement in Canada.” Women who hadn’t connected since the 90’s were able to share their stories, many heart-breaking and anger-making, to reconnect with sisters in the struggle, to re-invigorate each other and younger feminists taking leadership in the movement and yes, to re-ignite the Canadian women’s movement grounded in wisdom, a passion for change and a commitment to make a better world.

This is what the Saskatchewan women’s movement needs. Ms Ashton’s model can be easily adapted to the provincial level. The new Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP can make it happen. He can make it happen because he knows we are better together.

Respectfully submitted,

23OCT2012
Bernadette Wagner
@thereginamom
http://thereginamom.com 

*Note that I will upload the Saskatchewan Women’s Agenda as soon as a scanned copy is available.

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