By Cameron and Janet Merrill
The need to “tighten our belts” is heard so often in the public sector, it is pretty much accepted without question. This is certainly the case for Canadian universities: actions such as raising tuition fees, cutting programs, increasing class sizes and workloads, closing defined benefit pension plans, cutting salaries, discontinuing library subscriptions, and replacing tenure track positions with casual academic staff are seen as regrettable but necessary when claims of challenging fiscal times are repeated over and over. Continue reading
Larry Morrissette on Culture and Oppression video
By Elizabeth Comack and Jim Silver
First published in the Winnipeg Free Press Sept 28, 2016
The recent death of Larry Morrissette (April 16, 1957 – Sept 20, 2016) is a major loss, not only to his family and friends but also to the many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that he has worked closely with in recent decades in efforts to re-build Winnipeg’s inner city and revitalize Indigenous cultures.
Larry was the founder and Executive Director of Ogijiita Pimatiswin Kinamatwin (OPK), a grassroots organization that works closely with Indigenous people in trouble with or at risk of being in trouble with the law. Larry was loved by the many whose lives he changed. He was a co-founder—as part of the Thunder Eagle Society—of the highly successful Children of the Earth High School. He was a founder of the original Bear Clan Patrol and played a key role in its recent revitalization. He was a skilled researcher, involved in a wide range of inner-city studies, perhaps most significantly as co-author of the award-winning book, Indians Wear Red: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs (Fernwood Publishing, 2013). And he was, for many years, a university teacher, bringing a rare combination of street-level experience and academic training to the classroom. Students loved the authenticity and quiet passion that he brought to their learning experience. Continue reading
By Brianne Goertzen and Michael Barkman
Lazy, entitled, apathetic, disengaged, these are just some of the words that are used to mis-categorize and label post-secondary students. The reality of the average Manitoban student strings together a series of part-time jobs, incurs large amounts of student debt to pay for tuition and figuring out how to make their food budget stretch until another pay day. Continue reading
By Mark Hudson
Manitobans recognize that universities play a variety of important social roles, well beyond preparing people for successful careers. University research plays a foundational role in advancing our understanding of the world, helps develop solutions to critical social problems, and contributes from the ground up in innovating new processes, materials, and technologies. Universities teach students to address complex issues and think critically. They prepare people to be competent, effective, and informed citizens. Universities are places of free debate, in which ideas are tested, challenged, made to see if they stand under the burden of scrutiny. These contributions do not show up easily in a simple cost-benefit calculation. They are social, not individual returns to the investment made in universities. Yet university funding in Canada and Manitoba does not reflect these crucial roles. Continue reading
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba new publication release:
Low levels of adult literacy in Manitoba are a barrier to full participation in our society. Easily accessible supports, located in low-income communities are needed to address this challenge, a new study finds.
In 2013 one in six Manitobans had literacy levels so low that they could not participate fully in life. Literacy costs our society. Low literacy rates impact people’s ability to access health care. People with low literacy are more likely to be on social assistance or incarcerated. Women with low literacy who are primary care givers of children, struggle to read to their children, making it difficult to break intergenerational cycle of poverty. Aboriginal people are more likely to leave school before grade twelve and require literacy supports as adults. Refugees may arrive from countries where basic education was not possible, requiring access to literacy programming.
The Next Step: Literacy Programming in Manitoba, by Jim Silver finds that the national policy framework established to support adult literacy was dismantled in the mid 2000s, cutting core funding to national literacy organizations and redirecting money to training and job readiness. But if people do not have basic literacy skills, they cannot participate in job training programs. Literacy for family, social or political participation is no longer the focus. Continue reading
The Catholic Church ran more than half of Canada’s residential schools. In these schools they immersed Indigenous children and youth in Catholic culture. The effect on these children and youth and their families has been so great that on the first page of its Final Report the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has said that what the residential schools did “can best be described as cultural genocide.” The TRC has called upon the Pope to apologize “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”
Now this same Church wants to establish yet another Catholic school in a largely Indigenous community — Winnipeg’s North End. The principal and executive director of the proposed Gonzaga Middle School acknowledges that the culture of the school will be Catholic, and goes so far as to say that the school “will immerse students in Catholic culture.” The principal will personally interview potential students and their families, hand-picking the 60 students he considers to be the most suitable candidates. They will then spend their middle school years being immersed in Catholic culture, and when they are finished middle school they will be steered into one of Winnipeg’s private Catholic high schools, where their tuition will be paid for. Continue reading