Eduvation Blog

Between FoCo and Turkey Day…

Good morning (OK, for some of you), and happy hump day, whether you’re celebrating Beer, Badgers, or Random Acts of Poetry. (Also, happy belated World Teacher’s Day.)

Let nobody say that CdnPSE doesn’t have a competitive attitude… I knew I was in trouble as soon as I started a list of NDTR observations last week, that the collection could start to look encyclopedic. Naturally, I heard from many institutions whose ceremonies didn’t make it into my summary, for one reason or another. (Blame the English-language bias of my AI search engines, human error, or merely time limitations and the time zones in which announcements get published.)

But apparently I also shouldn’t have suggested in Monday’s edition that CNC (with a service area of 117,500 sq kms) could be a CdnPSE record. Loyal reader Pierre Riopel was quick to set me straight, that of course Collège Boréal serves most of the province of Ontario, from Timmins and Sudbury through Toronto and Windsor. My apologies! (And no doubt now I’ll hear from other institutions with large service areas too…)

Funny, somehow I expected more readers to challenge me on designating October “one of the most ‘woke’ months of the year” – both for the loaded terminology and the claim… (I haven’t noticed so many claims of “awareness” for a single month before, but I did not undertake a thorough survey to be sure.)

Today, some catch-ups as we head into Canadian Thanksgiving…



NDTR Postscript

Last week, I tried my best to round up the hundreds of NDTR ceremonies, observations and events in CdnPSE – and while I apologized in advance for the many I would doubtless overlook, I feel I need to address a few omissions…


Orange Shirt Cards

Olds College asked its community to add “messages of hope, encouragement, self-reflection and reconciliation” to Orange Shirt cards in its Tipi on Oct 1, for distribution to elders across Treaty 7 territory in Alberta. In fact, it looks like Olds has been collecting such messages for months, as a “sincere and practical way to show support to Indigenous community members during this time of grief and healing.” The result was a visually impressive display (see above), and I fully intended to describe it with my other examples of “interactive messaging” on CdnPSE campuses. Somehow, in the flood of hundreds of items I was trying to organize, I dropped the ball on that. Mea culpa!


Quebec Observances

You may have wondered that my hundreds of examples didn’t include any in Quebec. (Admittedly, premier François Legault is stubbornly insistent that his province will not recognize NDTR because the province needs more “productivity,” not another holiday.)  Since my Sep 29 roundup, I’ve heard from UQAM about the “chaque enfant compte” projections on the façade of the Président-Kennedy building, which carry “a message of gratitude and hope.” Concordia U encouraged the campus community to recognize Orange Shirt Day and NDTR, shared stories and resources, lit campus buildings orange, and hosted a panel discussion. McGillmarked NDTR with its annual “We Will Walk Together” event, several ceremonies, panels and speakers. And no doubt there were many other examples I should have captured in my too-short survey. (Although some would argue it was already too long…)


First Nations U

Likewise, one reader wrote me last week, to ask whether First Nations U (in Regina) was silent about the NDTR. I admit, I was surprised, but scouring the institution’s website Sep 29 turned up only a calendar notation that FNUniv would be closed for NDTR. There was nothing on Twitter or YouTube. But on Sep 30 itself, FNUniv released 2 heartfelt video messages on Vimeo, one from Jason Bird (Indigenous Business & Public Admin) and a second from president Jacqueline Ottmann, and published a page with statements from 2 residential school survivors.  FNUniv


Tons of NDTR Vids

I mentioned last week that I assembled a playlist of 22 videos released by CdnPSEs for Orange Shirt Day 2020, and that I had started a 2021 Truth & Reconciliation Day playlist. (I didn’t have much chance to watch them, at the time.) It’s a sure sign that public awareness and institutional attention to NDTR has increased significantly, that I’ve added almost 100 videos this year. These range from simple presidential messages (from Loyalist College, Okanagan College, SFU, UBC, Centennial College, Brock, Royal Roads, Sault College, Brescia UC, and many others), to performances of hoop dances (VCC), jingle dances (Fleming College), smudging ceremonies (Brock), sunrise ceremonies (Portage College), or drumming circles (Heritage College). Many longer vids feature Indigenous elders and residential school survivors sharing their testimony, or quick intercepts with students and staff sharing their own thoughts on reconciliation. uVictoria released a series of one-hour speakers and panel discussions about the Past, Present, and Future of Orange Shirt Day. Queen’s U chancellor Murray Sinclair (who chaired the TRC commission), shared his thoughts on reconciliation in an 11-min vid. uLethbridge shared a profile of the artist behind their NDTR t-shirt design. Algoma U shared a virtual tour of Shingwauk Hall, site of the former Shingwauk Residential School. uSaskatchewan shared its campus lighting ceremony, and a 30-sec clip of the 94 TRC calls to action projected on campus buildings.


Check out the still-growing 2021 playlist here.



Vax Mandates

CdnPSE institutions have been updating, refining, and beginning to enforce their campus vaccine mandates over the past few weeks, and there are far too many to document here. (For a summary of my coverage of vaccine mandates since March, see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies.) But here are a couple of the more interesting recent developments…


Portage College (AB) implemented a COVID19 vax mandate last week, effective Nov 30. (Staff and students have the option to provide negative rapid test results until the end of this semester.) “With low rural vaccination rates and COVID-19 cases steadily increasing, the College felt it necessary to do its part to protect community members.”  Portage


11 MRU Students Deregistered

Calgary’s Mount Royal U deregistered 22 students last month for refusing to declare their COVID19 vaccination status or participate in rapid testing, “with an opportunity to comply.” Half must have complied, as only 11 were ultimately deregistered (with refunds). One student taking only online courses at MRU claims she was threatened with deregistration too, in error.  Global  |  CBC


McMaster FoCo Fallout

I mentioned already that Dalhousie U directed students who attended rowdy street parties in Halifax to stay away from class for a week and get tested for COVID19. McMaster U is taking a rather different approach, reassuring the campus community that its multiple layers of mitigation measures (vax mandate, asymptomatic testing, daily health screening, masking and distancing) “means teaching and work at the university can continue as normal,” despite the large unsanctioned homecoming gathering on Saturday. Still, anyone who attended the street party is asked to be tested for COVID19 at Mac’s asymptomatic testing centre.  McMaster


OnTech Looks to Fall 2022

I’m not 100% sure it is the first CdnPSE to do so (perhaps someone can set me straight?), but Ontario Tech announced Monday that it is extending its COVID19 vax mandate to “at least Fall 2022.” All students, “in person or online,” are required to be double-vaxxed by Oct 17, to access on-campus services, activities or resources.  ONtech


Legal & Ethical Implications

McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy convened a panel last month of legal, medical and medical ethics professors, specifically to discuss the implications of CdnPSE vax mandates. (Notably, McGill has not imposed a policy.) Socially, 70-80% of Canadians favour vax mandates. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled vax mandates “generally permissible,” and legally universities can impose mandates “as long as they have the requisite exemptions.” (Religious accommodations must not be based on misinformation about supposed fetal cells in mRNA vaccines.) McGill, claimed an SSMU VP, “is prioritizing optics” rather than protecting health and safety. The panel concluded that institutions have a moral and ethical obligation to impose the “minimal burden” of vaccination, to prevent unnecessary suffering and death.  McGill Daily  Panel Recording


“Students know that their health and their safety and their wellbeing are not a priority and the unwillingness of the University to implement a vaccination requirement is really emblematic of that.”Claire Downie, VP, Student Society of McGill U



“Vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of colour hit hard by the disease.” – American Civil Liberties Union





On Monday it was Red Deer Polytechnic’s new brand (RDP), and now it’s RRC…


Red River goes Polytech

Red River College rebranded its website yesterday as RRC Polytechnic, announcing its new brand with a 2-min video (and a new 2022-26 Strategic Plan) titled “Staying in front of what’s ahead.” Manitoba’s only polytechnic institution will focus on applied research and certificate, diploma and degree programs that meet the emerging needs of industry. RRC’s new status will improve student pathways, and “create reciprocal value that drives Manitoba forward economically, environmentally, socially and culturally.”  Winnipeg Sun  |  RRC PolyTech  |  Vimeo



Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow I’ll be spending time (virtually) once more with the campus community at the College of New Caledonia, and then we’re heading into Canadian Thanksgiving for the weekend. Most of you likely won’t have time (or the emotional bandwidth) to read another “Pandemic Précis” Friday or Monday, so…


Be Careful Out There…

Suffice it to say that, with COVID19 cases overwhelming hospitals in many regions of the country, I’m with the health experts in Alberta and Saskatchewan who advise caution for indoor gatherings over turkey this weekend. In AB, indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 fully vaxxed people from 2 households. (If you’re not going to ask for proof of vaccination, don’t invite people.) Household gatherings remain “the primary source of transmission of COVID19 in Saskatchewan,” yet the SK government refuses to limit gathering sizes. (Last year, active cases in SK rose 7x in the month following Thanksgiving.) At least Manitoba has imposed new restrictions on the unvaxxed for Thanksgiving, and New Brunswick has triggered circuit breaker lockdowns in high risk regions for the next 2 weeks.

With hospitalizations and ICUs flooded, a Thanksgiving gathering is only wise if you and your entire family are fully vaccinated. (A gathering of 6-8 vaxxed people might be a safe, calculated risk for some.) Gather outdoors, if you’re lucky enough to have pleasant weather, or consider donating a Thanksgiving care package to frontline ICU personnel.





As always, thanks for reading!  

However you decide to celebrate it, I hope you enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving weekend of gratitude and rest with your friends and family — virtually, outdoors, or otherwise!



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