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Red Deer Public teacher receives provincial award for infusing Indigenous culture into the classroom

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With a commitment to advancing Indigenous education in Red Deer Public Schools and across the province, and a passion for teaching students First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture, one local teacher has been recognized with a prestigious provincial award.

Terry Lakey, a teacher with Red Deer Public’s Learning Services, has been awarded the Outstanding Indigenous Educator Award from the Alberta Teachers’ Association – Indigenous Education Council.

“It was very exciting and I feel honoured to receive this award,” said Terry, who added his inspiration comes from his mom. “I remember the day I told my mom I was going to be a teacher. She was over the moon, because mom, being an Indian Residential School survivor, was looking forward to me making the educational experience for children way better than what she experienced. I owe everything to her and her dedication to us as her six children that she raised.”

Terry, who is in his 25th year of teaching, has been in his current role at Red Deer Public Schools for the last five years. He develops First Nations, Métis and Inuit classroom resources for Red Deer Public Schools. He is also sought after outside the Division to provide in-services and help develop resources in other school divisions across the province.

“We help develop curriculum, form relationships with elders and partners in our community, find resources for staff so they feel they are supported when it comes to presenting authentic and accurate information as it relates to their programs of studies at the grade levels they teach,” he said. “It’s all connected to what is taught in the classroom.”

Terry said there are many aspects about his job that he loves. “My role allows me to exercise my creativity and to be able to provide staff or a student with resources I have developed or found through talking to an elder or knowledge keeper is really great. To have the permission to pass things on is a highlight of my job.”

Relationships also play an important role in Terry’s work.

“In order to put a curriculum out there that we feel is authentic and genuine, it always comes down to building relationships with individuals whose cultures are represented in our programs of studies. Part of our job is to connect with those individuals,” he said. “Sometimes we can find elders or knowledge keepers or people with experience right in our own community, and if we can’t because our curriculum is so vast, our job is to find people across the country or world who can help us offer information or perspective through the lens of those we are trying to represent.”

In reflecting on his career success, Terry said he’s had the honour of working with a great team of staff.

“I need to thank the many strong allies I’ve had in the past, whether it’s an administrator, or a fellow colleague. I greatly appreciate every educational assistant I’ve had in my classroom, they are absolutely amazing. To make learning fun, dynamic and add variety, it’s a shared vision and I am grateful for every person who I’ve had the privilege to work alongside,” he said. “It takes a village.”

Hayley Christen, Learning Services Coordinator, said Terry is passionate and dedicated to making learning hands on, fun and engaging to every student he teaches.

“He works extremely hard to ensure the lessons, resources and projects he brings to life connect authentic Indigenous voice to the identified outcome in the programs of study. He is well respected by Elders, knowledge keepers and others in the Indigneous community,” she said. “I am inspired by his passion for his work and for the students and staff he serves.  It is my honour and privilege to get to work and learn alongside Terry each day.”

Della Ruston, Associate Superintendent of Learning Services, said Terry is an enthusiastic and effective Indigenous educator who goes above and beyond in everything he does.

“Terry builds strong relationships with students, colleagues, and his community by helping to increase their understanding of Indigenous culture and traditions,” she said. “Terry exemplifies the four Rs of Indigenous education; respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility.”

Terry Lakey accepting his award. On Terry’s right is Della Ruston, Associate Superintendent Learning Services, and on Terry’s left is Hayley Christen, Learning Services Coordinator.

Chad Erickson, Superintendent, said Terry’s recognition is very deserving.

“We are very proud of the work Terry does in our schools,” he said. “He is a passionate educator that ensures our students are engaged in high quality, authentic learning opportunities.”

Education

40 Canadian professors urge Trudeau government to abolish DEI mandates

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

“Many agree with us – including senior, tenured faculty – but will not speak publicly for fear of repercussions”

Dozens of Canadian professors have joined together to call for an end to the pro-LGBT diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mandates in universities. 

In a May 24 letter to Parliament, 40 Canadian university professors appealed to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to abandon DEI initiatives in universities, arguing they are both ineffective and harmful to Canadians.  

“While some may view this as a weakness, we hope most will see it simply as an act of conscience from academics no longer able to remain silent,” the professors began.  

“These policies disproportionately punish small institutions, are not supported by evidence, employ flawed metrics with no end goal, and are unpopular with the public who funds the research,” the letter explained.  

“Many agree with us – including senior, tenured faculty – but will not speak publicly for fear of repercussions,” the letter revealed. “Specifically, they are scared even to question Tri-Council policies relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).” 

Currently, DEI quotas are mandated across Canada through the Canada Research Chairs program. Under the program, universities must meet specific hiring requirements, skewed in favor of racial minorities and those who identify as “LGBT.”

The letter cited various studies which revealed that the DEI mandates not only harm universities but lead to more discrimination.   

The professors referenced a case at Laurier University in Ontario where the institution sought to hire six black and six indigenous faculty. 

“During the process, an informal outside inquiry made on behalf of a promising black candidate had to be rebuffed because black people were ineligible,” the letter explained. “This open racial discrimination in the name of fighting systemic racism is one concrete example of negative impacts of EDI.” 

Similarly, a February research report from Wilfrid Laurier University social scientist David Millard Haskell, a signatory of the letter, found that there is “no evidence that EDI reduces bias or alters behavior.” 

“In fact, DEI interventions have been shown to do harm by increasing prejudice and activating bigotry,” the letter declared. 

The professor’s recommendation comes as Trudeau recently pledged $110 million of taxpayer money to hire DEI consultants tasked with looking into a supposed problem of “racism” in Canada. 

Indeed, the Trudeau government has spent over $30 million on DEI-affiliated contracts among many federal ministries since January 2019. 

This has led to an increase in woke ideology creeping into all parts of society. As LifeSiteNews reported recently, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver campus posted an opening for a research chair position that essentially barred non-homosexual white men from applying for the job. 

Signatories:

Geoff Horsman, PhD
Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Wilfrid Laurier University

David Haskell, PhD
Associate Professor of Digital Media & Journalism, and Religion & Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University

Zachary Patterson, PhD
Professor, Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Concordia University

Stephen Lupker, PhD
Professor of Psychology, Western University

Lawrence M. Krauss, PhD
President, The Origins Project Foundation
Foundation Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, retired

Kirsten Kramar, PhD
Mount Royal University

Stephen Quilley, PhD
Associate Professor of Social and Environmental Innovation, University of Waterloo

Scott Davies, PhD
Professor of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, University of Toronto

Edward Vrscay, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Martin Drapeau, PhD
Professor of Counselling Psychology and Psychiatry, McGill University

Frances Widdowson, PhD
Political Science professor

Brian F. Smith, PhD
Professor of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University

Christopher Dummitt, PhD
Professor of Canadian Studies, Trent University

Altay Coskun, PhD
Professor of Classical Studies, University of Waterloo

Ron Thomson, PhD
Professor and Chair of Applied Linguistics, Brock University

Chet Robie, PhD
Professor of Organizational Behaviour & Human Resource Management, Wilfrid Laurier University

Mark Collard, PhD
Canada Research Chair in Human Evolutionary Studies and Professor of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University

Janice Fiamengo, PhD
Professor of English, University of Ottawa, retired

Philip Carl Salzman, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, McGill University

Laurence Klotz, CM, MD, FRCSC
Professor of Surgery, University of Toronto
Sunnybrook Chair of Prostate Cancer Research
Chair, Council for Academic Freedom at University of Toronto (CAFUT)
Member, Order of Canada
Division of Urology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Brad Fedy, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo

Scott Smith, PhD
Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Wilfrid Laurier University

Henry Wolkowicz, PhD
Professor of Combinatorics and Optimization, University of Waterloo

Gail S. K. Wolkowicz, PhD
Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University

François Charbonneau, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Rima Azar, PhD
Associate Professor of Health Psychology, Mount Allison University

Douglas W. Allen, PhD
Burnaby Mountain Professor, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University

Rachel Altman, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University

Alexandra Lysova, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University

Richard Frank, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University

John Craig, PhD
Professor, Department of History, Simon Fraser University

Dennis Sandgathe, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University

Mike Hart, PhD
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University

William McNally, PhD
Professor of Finance, Wilfrid Laurier University

Yannick Lacroix, PhD
Professor of Philosophy, Collège de Maisonneuve

Julie Guyot, PhD
Professor of History, Cégep Édouard-Montpetit

Leigh Revers, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences, Institute of Management for Innovation, University of Toronto

Rob Whitley, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, McGill University

François Caron
Professor of Chemistry, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston
Emeritus Professor, Laurentian University

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Alberta

Alberta government’s new smartphone restrictions won’t eliminate digital distraction in classrooms

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From the Fraser Institute

By Paige MacPherson and Tegan Hill

Research has shown that simply having a smartphone nearby is enough to distract students from completing a task, and that it takes students 20 minutes to regain focus on learning after being distracted. And when schools removed smartphones from the classroom in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Spain, learning outcomes improved, especially for underperforming kids.

According to a new directive from the Smith government, beginning next September there will be restrictions on smartphones in Alberta schools. While the directive is light on details, one thing is clear—given mounting evidence that smartphone distraction can hinder academic performance, unless the province (or individual school authorities) ban smartphones in the classroom, students will continue to suffer the consequences.

Indeed, research has shown that simply having a smartphone nearby is enough to distract students from completing a task, and that it takes students 20 minutes to regain focus on learning after being distracted. And when schools removed smartphones from the classroom in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Spain, learning outcomes improved, especially for underperforming kids.

Moreover, the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report found a clear connection between smartphone distraction and declining student achievement, particularly in math. Specifically, 80 per cent of Canadian students report being distracted by the devices of other students in math class—and students who were distracted by smartphones in math class scored 15 points lower on PISA math tests than those who were not distracted. (PISA equates a 20-point drop in student test scores with one year of lost learning.)

Again, this is not just students distracted by their own devices, which are obvious attention-zappers for kids and teens. This is students distracted by the devices of other students. The research on digital distraction and its impact on student achievement makes clear that only a smartphone ban—with very few exceptions—will save kids from digital distraction.

And notably, Alberta’s PISA math scores have fallen 45 points in the last two decades, from 2003 to 2022, which PISA equates with more than two years of lost learning, with the decline predating COVID school closures.

The empirical evidence against smartphones in schools is mounting. But it’s also common sense, and people understand. The Alberta government’s own survey revealed that 90 per cent of more than 68,000 respondents—including parents, teachers, students and principals—had concerns about phone use in schools. This is consistent with other public opinion research in Canada. One survey showed 80 per cent of Canadians support banning phones in public schools. Another found that 51 per cent of Albertans said that phones should be banned in K-12 classrooms, and another 40 per cent said they should not be allowed unless directed by a teacher.

In 2019, the Ontario government issued a similar directive restricting smartphones in K-12 schools, which was nearly pointless because the government left the specifics up to school boards (just like the Smith government is now leaving the specifics up to school authorities in Alberta). Without being able to point to an overarching policy, Ontario teachers said they spent too much time surveilling and nagging in class, and many stopped trying altogether.

In its directive, the Smith government indicated there will be exceptions not only for reasonable health and medical needs (e.g. blood sugar monitoring) but also for “learning needs, and for educational purposes.” To actually eliminate digital distraction in the classroom, the provincial education ministry must support school authorities, who must support principals, who must support teachers to help enforce an actual ban.

While we should be skeptical of reflexive government “bans” in general, smartphones clearly impede student learning and socialization in schools. Banning smartphones in K-12 public government schools is the right move. But a patchwork approach, which accommodates endless exemptions, won’t free Alberta classrooms from the negative effects of digital distraction.

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