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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca Fall 2021

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Fall 2021

Seeing orange The power in the message that Every Child Matters

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CONTENTS

PHOTO: BRIAN TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY

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Will our kids be equipped for the workforce of the future?

DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note Perspective is a powerful thing

9 First bell The latest news on Halifax’s family-friendly events

12 A different rooute

20

Culture not costume

22 Trail tales Turn a walk in the woods into an adventure: Shaw Wilderness Park

25 Nutrition

Beyond orange shirts: Creating a conversation with your children about residential schools

30 Book reviews Highlighting local authors and illustrators, Trevor J. Adams recommends books for kids

PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE

Lunch Box Lessons: Pack in the life-skills

28 Parenting health & wellness

The growing need for STEM education

Career daze How working from home might have changed your kids’ view on what you do


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All this and much, much more is free and available 24/7 with your library card. All you need is wet suit and a sweater for an endless summer at the beach! White Point is a year-round natural playground complete with nightly bonfires, live entertainment, and unique activities for the entire family. The warmest surf of the year is here, now, and we’ll golf until we can’t! Book a fall or winter beach holiday, well-suited for clans of all sizes.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

The power of orange PHOTO: NORTHOVER PHOTOGRAPHY

Perspective is a powerful thing

Crystal Murray, Editor in Chief

Our Children Magazine

@OurChildrenMag www

ourchildrenmagazine.ca

crystalmurray@ advocateprinting.com

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Check in on what your children are learning about the history of their country... and take the time www

to have these conversations at www home

I

’ve been thinking about perspective a lot these last few months since learning about the discoveries of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children on the sites of former Canadian residential schools. I was driving home from the office on a Friday night, looking forward to an evening with my children, when I first heard the news of the mass graves at the Kamloops, B.C. school—ground zero for a search that the federal government has pledged to support as Indigenous communities continue to search other residential school sites across the country. The news instantly sickened me. My mood turned heavy, weighted with guilt I waded through that Friday night with my family. I had long known about the abuse of First Nations people and what I believed to be their experience to be at the residential schools. I listened, or thought I had listened, to stories told by survivors and their families. I read books by Indigenous authors and bought art from Indigenous craftspeople. I cried when Gord Downey performed the songs from his album The Secret Path (telling the story of the life and death of Chanie Wenjack), and donated money. But a three-minute news clip changed how I see Canadian history. All that I thought I knew became real for me when I visualized the horrors of that mass grave. Why did it take me so long? I realized that my perspective only mattered in the way that it needed to shift and while I could never fully understand the experience of the First Nations people in our country, I could start to reconsider what I knew about Canadian history from their perspective, to have these discussions with my own children, and to hope that as we learn and acknowledge the shameful mistakes of our ancestry as a settler nation, we could be a small part of the efforts of reconciliation. If you haven’t already embarked on this journey, I recommend you carve out time to take the free 12-lesson course offered through the University of Alberta to have a better understanding of Indigenous-settler relationships in our country. On Sept. 30, the students in your household will be asked to wear an orange T-shirt to school.

Your workplace might also make the same request. If you work from home, you might want to pull out your best piece of orange to wear that day, so you can also show you care. We wear orange on that day to remember a little girl from not that long ago who left her family to go to a place that stripped her of her orange t-shirt gifted to her by her grandmother, and tried to strip her of her culture, freedom, and dignity. We wear orange for the thousands of other little children who had the same experience. We wear orange for the children who returned from these schools with wounds that will take generations to heal, and we wear orange for the children who were silenced, yet never forgotten by the people who really loved them. Before Sept. 30, ask your schools what they intend to do to acknowledge this day of remembrance and the conversations they intend to have with your children. Check in on what your children are learning about the history of their country—not just on that day, but all through the school year—and take the time to have these conversations at home. There are some great teaching resources that are helping tell a more accurate Canadian history. These are scary stories and while we can’t ignore them, it’s important to share them with children in developmentally appropriate ways. We need to make certain that Indigenous children in these classrooms and their families have resources they need so they feel supported by both their First Nations communities and non-Indigenous people. While I will likely always carry a little of the shame of my European ancestry in relation to the treatment of Indigenous people and other races, I remember something that I was taught in school that I know to be true. Canada is an Indigenous word meaning settlement. We took our name from the people who were here first, the way we took a lot of things. But in that name Canada there is a relationship that needs to be mended. It’s beyond time that we say thank you for sharing this land as we gain a better perspective about what it means to be a settler nation and to live and to celebrate the ideals that all our children matter. n

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FIRST BELL

Our Children | Fall 2021

Halifax Mooseheads

HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS

After two pandemic-ravaged seasons, the hometown hockey heroes return to Scotiabank Centre for what players and fans alike hope will be a return to normal play. Highlights to put in your calendar include the home opener against Cape Breton on Oct. 2, the first visit in almost a year and a half by a non-Maritime opponent (Shawinigan) on Oct. 15, and Nov. 14’s match with Charlottetown—a rare Sunday matinee (the ideal choice for young fans with early bedtimes). halifaxmooseheads.ca

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Museum of Natural History Gus, the museum’s much-loved tortoise, turned 99 this year, and still enjoys his daily walk around the grounds, where he nibbles on grass and dandelions, and meets young visitors. Join him at 3 p.m. naturalhistory.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/daily-events

CHRISTIAN LAFORCE

While the pandemic has curtailed programming and events, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street continues to host a variety of exhibitions. From the permanent collection, Folk/Funk is just the thing to inspire emerging talents: a whimsical collection of clay pieces offering “fun, satirical takes on contemporary life.” artgalleryofnovascotia.ca

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FIRST BELL

Our Children | Fall 2021

Discovery Centre With visiting exhibitions, permanent installations, and (COVID-safe) hands-on experiences aplenty, the Discovery Centre is a perfect rainyday destination for inquiring young minds. With hours of engaging entertainment, it’s a great spot to burn off some energy while learning about the world around us— scientific education disguised as fun! thediscoverycentre.ca n

KidSport gets kids in the game.

Apply today: kidsport.ca


®

MYC has been online since the beginning of the pandemic and continues to offer fun and interactive classes. Now classes are being offered both online, in person or hybrid in accordance with regional health guidelines. At Music for Young Children®, we encourage your child to be more creative, inventive, imaginative and expressive through our keyboard-based music education program. We provide children with a unique set of skills that will carry with them throughout their lives.

Spaces are limited. Find a teacher near you. For more information, please contact: Stephanie Allen, MYC Atlantic Coordinator s.allen@myc.com 1.800.561.1692

Teaching opportunities available!

Whether you’re local or come from away,you’ll find it all

at home.

Northern Nova Scotia’s premier magazine for local lifestyle, inspiration and insights at the heart of our communities. To subscribe, visit athomeonthenorthshore.ca/subscribe or phone 1-833-600-2870


A DIFFERENT ROOUTE

Our Children | Fall 2021

Culture not costume Dress-up do’s and dont’s for Halloween

By Fawn Logan-Young

GETTY IMAGES/KANYAKITS

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C

ultural appropriation. You may have heard the term before, but have you thought about your own complacency? In our homes, it is easy for some to maneuver around social politics. However, there is one time of year during which we should all be hyper-aware of cultural appropriation: Halloween. In brief, cultural appropriation is largely about power dynamics. Formally, it is often interpreted as a dominant culture taking identity characteristics and other portions of another culture as its own. Often, these characteristics are capitalized and commodified without crediting their origins. Sometimes it may even be used to dehumanize or ostracize such groups. Here is an example—the use of “blackface.” That’s when someone who is not Black, paints their face darker to depict a Black person or in some cases, a person of colour. Historically, blackface has been used to demean and dehumanize those of African heritage throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s in North America. The use of blackface decades ago still has real world consequences to Black populations today because degrading and humiliating stereotypes of such communities still linger. It can be found within our popular culture like movies and TV shows. It can

also be found in our own personal biases, regardless of how much work we may do to rewire our thinking towards others. So, why is cultural appropriation so important to have on our minds this Halloween? Because Halloween costumes too often embody the pitfalls of cultural appropriation. In my experience growing up in the ’90s, it was not uncommon to see people dressing up as geishas and wearing traditional headdresses, such as those associated with Indigenous Chiefs. If we refer to my example of blackface, you may see that what may be interpreted as a harmless gesture to some has real-life negative consequences to those who are being performed. As a Black woman, I have perpetrated cultural appropriation during Halloween. I decided I would dress up as Aunt Jemima, the “mascot” of pancakes and table syrup. From afar, it seemed harmless; a Black woman, dressing up as another Black woman. Nevertheless, this costume is problematic. The story of Aunt Jemima could be an article in and of itself, but to provide some brief context here, she has often been a symbol of the myth that Black servants and slaves were content, meek, and ready to please. In reality, she was an emancipated slave who did not live


the joyous existence marketed on the bottle of her syrup and in associated advertisements. The act of dressing up as Aunt Jemima further perpetuated negative social constructs that have often hidden the dark realities that Black people in North America have faced regarding systemic oppression and slavery. If you are reflecting on your own Halloween experiences and realize you may have been performing acts of cultural appropriation, don’t panic. What should bring you concern, however, is not taking the time to figure out how you can prevent this performance in the future and how you can educate your family on performativity. This idea may be new to you. So, know that social science is complicated. There are always exceptions to the rules and sometimes there is no right or wrong answer. Nevertheless, as humans, we can understand ultimately that we all want respect from one another. From my perspective, this respect would encompass heightening our compassion, knowledge and understanding of one another. As a rule of thumb this Halloween, when picking family costumes, refrain from dressing up as other cultures and characters that disadvantage the group or individual in thought. Take the time this Halloween to think about the symbolism behind certain costumes and have these discussions with your children. It is the thought and your actions that count. n

GETTY IMAGES/KANYAKITS

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g n i ee S at

e th g a s es m e h t ters n t i a r owe Child M p e y Th Ever

By Ameeta Vohra


COVER STORY

Our Children | Fall 2021

PHOTO: BRIAN TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY

O

n Sept. 30, there will be a sea of orange at schools within Halifax Regional Municipality and Nova Scotia. Once again, Orange Shirt Day will take place all across the country. Also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, this annual occurrence honours Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools. It was observed in May 2013 and serves as a way to learn more about the history of the schools and promote awareness of the impact felt in Indigenous communities. There is significance for the orange shirt. Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad was given an orange shirt from her grandmother for her first day of residential school in British Columbia. The shirt symbolizes her experience, including having her new clothes, such as her shirt, stripped away from her and never given back. Webstad created Orange Shirt Day to educate people about residential schools, combating bullying and discrimination, to show that every child matters in a powerful way. The provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has been at the forefront of supporting schools participating in Orange Shirt Day. “Beginning in 2017, The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has encouraged schools to observe Orange Shirt Day and has provided teachers with resources to support age-appropriate discussions about residential schools with their students,” says the provincial department in a statement. “Elders and knowledge holders have been and continue to be an integral part of resource creation and treaty-education professional learning for regional leadership teams and teachers.” This event has never been more relevant and essential than this year. With the discovery of the remains of hundreds of children at residential schools across Canada in recent weeks, the department is encouraging all schools to take time to reflect on the events while supporting those who feel a sense of mourning. “It is important we support Mi’kmaw/Indigenous students and staff in their journey of healing during this time, as many will turn to traditional ways to strengthen their wellbeing,” the department says. “We do this by walking together and supporting one another on this journey of healing and reconciliation.” Schools provide additional supports to help students in trying to understand events or need avenues of healing. “Each Regional Centre for Education has a coordinator of Mi’kmaq Services and a number of Mi’kmaq/Indigenous Student Support Workers who are valuable resources as we create a safe space for students to practise culturally-based healing. In addition, school counsellors, other support specialists and Elders are available if students require further support.” Children are finding ways to acknowledge events. Landyn Toney is a 12-year-old Mi’kmaw boy whose Journey of Awareness captured the attention of many people nationally and internationally. Toney walked 195.5 kilometres over six days from Bible Hill to Annapolis Valley First Nation (where he was born), intending to spread awareness for survivors and children who never did make it home while safely supporting people. He raised close to $30,000. “I’m not the kind of person that just wants to let my anger go,” he said to CBC Nova Scotia. “I wanted to show my anger by doing something good.”

Many expressed their sorrow over residential school revelations with makeshift memorials like this one in Cole Harbour.

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COVER STORY

Our Children | Fall 2021

The Halifax Public Library staff have put together a reading list for children and families to learn more about residential schools. The following titles are available at halifaxpubliclibraries.ca or your local library branch:

PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE

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Local libraries have many resources to help young readers understand the residential schools’ legacy.

Aside from wearing an orange shirt to show support, children can find other ways to acknowledge the day with their families. Some of those include reading The Orange Book Story by Phyllis Webstad, sharing Webstad’s story via YouTube, doing artwork including tracing a hand to write something that represents your part in helping others feel that they matter, host a viewing of an event being hosted by National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, finding avenues to fundraise or raise awareness and creating a memorial to honour the victims of residential schools (cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/what-is-orange-shirt-day) Furthermore, children and their families can collectively educate themselves by reading books about residential schools by Indigenous authors. Halifax Public Libraries is the place to go for that and so much more. “When seeking to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day, your public library will have programming and resources to help you and your kids learn—and unlearn—about the stories of survivors and their families and to remember those who didn’t make it,” says communications officer Kasia Morrison on behalf of her team at the Halifax Library who are working on the programming for Orange Shirt Day this fall.“In 2020, the library worked with Indigenous partners and opened an online portal full of resources that build understanding of the indigenous experience. This year, Halifax Public Libraries is continuing to work with community partners to hear where the library can amplify grassroots and community-led initiatives, leaders, and movements. Reading stories together can help children understand what they’re hearing and focus on empathy, love and learning.” Halifax Public Libraries has books available for all reading levels to build age-appropriate knowledge of Canada’s residential schools. You can find titles and more at halifaxpubliclibraries.ca or your local library branch. n

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• These Are My Words. The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack • Ga’s/The Train by Jodie Callaghan • The Boy Who Walked Backwards by Ben Sures • I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis • Orange Shirt Day by Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley • Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad • When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton • I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe • I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas


FEATURE

Our Children | Fall 2021

The growing need for STEM education

By Heidi Tattrie Rushton

Will our kids be equipped for the workforce of the future?

T

he fields that make up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are growing quickly, however, multiple studies are predicting that by the time this cohort of elementary and junior-high school students graduate high school, there may be a significant gap between what they’re learning and what they need to know in order to succeed in future STEM-based careers. Sarah Ryan is program director for Brilliant Labs in Nova Scotia. This organization is a not-for-profit, hands-

on technology and experiential learning platform that “supports the integration of creativity, innovation, coding, and an entrepreneurial spirit within classrooms and educational curricula.” Ryan says the projected labour shortage is an issue locally and globally. It affects most of the current STEM fields including artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, cyber security, and aerospace, plus emerging fields like quantum computing. She’s already seeing change

happening in public-school curricula through an increased emphasis on digital skills and computational thinking, which is the core mindset needed for success in computer programming. “Computational thinking begins with pattern recognition and logical reasoning, no devices or screens required,” she explains. “Digital skills are being recognized as invaluable and are being supported through projectbased and hands-on (lessons) to better engage students in developing these skills

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FEATURE and preparing them for the future. As youth develop and hone their skills, it is necessary that our educational system continues to equip, guide, and support innovative educational practices.” Focusing only on computational thinking and digital skills, however, won’t usher this generation into successful careers. Educators will also need to integrate the learning of coding languages with traditional skills (such as sewing and sculpting) to develop the unique skillsets that will meet future industry needs. “We want our students to graduate from our public education system and contribute to the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector in positive ways and bring creativity, innovation, and leadership to these industries,” Ryan says. “One key element is the need to ensure that our teacher training programs are in line with the current classroom realities and future skill demands.” Perhaps the biggest challenge will be sparking interest in students who are not naturally drawn to the field and removing barriers for groups that have been traditionally underrepresented. Women, who hold only about 30% of the roles in STEM and ICT, as well as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) and other minorities, who hold even fewer roles in those fields, will need role models and opportunities to see their way to success.

Our Children | Fall 2021

THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP

Mentorship, as well as providing targeted learning experiences are key to encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue a future in STEM. “Young girls need to see more visible representations of women in ICT fields so that they too can believe that they can follow the path,” Ryan says. “Young women and BIPOC youth need to realize their potential for creativity, innovation, and ability to become prepared leaders in the 21st century.” Dr. Angela Siegel is assistant dean in the Faculty of Computer Science Department and the Institutional Lead at the Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at Dalhousie University. Part of Siegel’s role includes working with the public-school system. Last year she launched a pilot dualenrollment opportunity for students taking NS Computer Programming through the Nova Scotia Virtual Schools program. In addition to earning their CP12 high-school credit, the course allowed students the option of taking a few final assessments to earn a university credit while in high school. “The hope is that this, and future programs of its kind, will create a learner pathway between high

schools and post-secondary education, especially for underrepresented, rural, or first-in-family learners,” she explains. “It was exciting to work with students from around the province and help them understand how computer science is shaping the world before us.” The program launched February 2021 and 32 high-school students, located in all but one of the school regions in Nova Scotia, were able to earn the credit to put towards their first year of university. One of the students even received a $10,000 Women in Tech scholarship from Dalhousie University. “Maybe this exposure and boost of confidence will be enough to broaden their set of options going forward,” Seigel says. “As a faculty, FCS has been striving to increase the diversity of both our faculty and learners. Not only do we try to encourage more femaleidentifying students through Women in Tech Scholarships, but we also welcome over 100 female-identifying students from across the province onto campus for Women in Tech Day.”

ADAPTABILITY IS KEY

Siegel believes another key to success in the future workplace lies in the adaptability of the younger generation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), where we are seeing the fusion of technologies like AI, robotics and quantum computing, the

PHOTOS: IRENE LEE/BRILLIANT LABS

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PHOTO: IRENE LEE/BRILLIANT LABS

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effects of COVID, are making planning for the future more unpredictable than ever. Students need to be taught how to adapt to unexpected changes. “We must prepare learners to be agile and adaptive, to problem-solve and make connections between fields and topics in ways that they have not yet had to,” says Siegel, adding that the danger that the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings is the potential for greater and growing inequalities. “As access to information and lifelong learning become more important, it is imperative that we consider access to education in new and different ways,” she says. As a parent, Siegel is seeing these changes implemented in the school curriculum, especially after experiencing online learning during the past two years. “I’ve seen the effects of this in my own kids … As students become more aware of the changing world around them, through social media, their parents, etc., they will be driving new expectations from us,” she says. “COVID has changed the way we educate and has changed the expectations for access to education. Hopefully, we’ll be able to leverage some of that learning as we move forward and offer access to learning in ways that we hadn’t thought possible.”

A PLACE IN STEM FOR ALL INTERESTS

It’s also important to consider the extra letters that many add to the STEM acronym. These include A (Artistic) and a second E (Entrepreneurship), creating STEEAM.

Sarah Ryan is program director for Brilliant Labs, working to bring science into the classroom.

An increased focus on these areas might encourage children who aren’t initially drawn to subjects such as coding, science, or math, understand how their talents are still important in these fields. Industries such as wearable tech require an eye for design, many modern art installations include a technical component, virtual reality requires an artistic flair to create worlds, and

many of these fields will benefit from entrepreneurial talent. Continued collaborative efforts amongst schools, professionals in the fields, and external programs will help all children in this cohort prepare for whatever the future holds and ignite enthusiasm about the rapidly changing opportunities in STEM. “If we ourselves are excited about careers in STEM, that passion and excitement can be contagious,” says Ryan. “These wonderful young minds absorb so much information and if we are mindful of this, we can work together to inspire them to pursue careers in the STEM fields.” n

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FEATURE

Our Children | Fall 2021

PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE

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Career Daze How working from home might have changed your kids’ view on what you do By Heidi Tattrie Rushton

Bankers count money, nurses heal people, and carpenters build things. Children often sum up their parents’ jobs with a single sentence, if they have any idea at all about what they do all day. But when all our lives converged on the dining room table during the pandemic, many children got a front row seat into their parents’ work life, a view that may change how they think about their own futures. Dr. Christine Chambers is a professor at Dalhousie University and scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. Pre-pandemic, her work had her travelling extensively, presenting at events, and meeting many people. “My entire job changed with the pandemic … all these meetings and travel got broken up into what has seemed like endless back-to-back virtual meetings,” Chambers says. “Before the pandemic I used to feel my children were so proud of my work, even though I was often on the road and away from them. Now I worry they don’t think my job is nearly as exciting as it used to be.”

Chambers has four children ranging from 10 to 15. Justin and Lauren are both 10 and say that they knew their mom helped kids in pain but mostly knew about the “fun” side of her job. “She was going on important trips and sometimes we could come along,” Justin says. Lauren adds: “She used to work in her lab, and we used to visit and play with her toys.” Since the pandemic started, they have new appreciation for the complexity of her work. “She has a lot of meetings … it looks hard,” says Lauren, adding that she’s learned that she doesn’t want a virtually-based job. “I would have to be on Zoom calls all the time and I didn’t like Zoom calls when I was in virtual school.” Justin says there were some advantages to his mom working from home. “I got to see her more and I got to meet some of her colleagues (on the computer),” he says, but agrees with his sister that he wouldn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day.


21 Chambers says this opinion is a theme with all four of her children, and she echoes it herself. “I’m very much a person who gets her energy from people and places, and so it’s been really hard for me to be at home all the time, and my kids can tell,” she says. “They really disliked virtual school so I’m pretty sure they will choose a career that has them interacting with real people in the real world.” Melissa Mancini Burbridge is the CEO and founder of Alisiei Creative Solutions, a digital media firm. She started growing her business at the same time the global pandemic started, adding a host of challenges she wasn’t planning on tackling, including having two children in the front row of her business meetings. “It was a tough balance at first, trying to explain to the kids what I was doing so they would understand all the Zoom calls and computer time. They just assumed I was always scrolling social media,” she says. “Now they understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes and how my work is helping small businesses get noticed and stay open.” Her 11-year-old daughter, Danika says seeing her mom work at home has opened her eyes. It’s made her consider her own career goals and start thinking about finding something she loves as much as her mom loves her job. “I didn’t really know what she did, just that she looked at pictures all day and wrote about them,” she says. “I learned that she does a lot of hard work that helps small businesses … I’m not sure what I want to do in the future yet, but I do know it doesn’t have to be something I hate.” Seth is 13 years old and says that he knew his mom was a social-media specialist but didn’t really know what that meant. Now this aspiring space engineer understands her work more and has even found a way he can be part of her business.

The lockdown gave Seth Burbridge a chance to discover there’s more to his mom’s social-media specialist job than he realized.

“She has a lot of meetings (and) there is a lot more to her work than just writing social media posts,” he explains. “She does research and strategic planning. My favourite part is all the analytics that I help her with. I’m a math guy.” Mancini Burbridge says despite the challenges of everyone at home together, it’s had one major advantage. “This experience has allowed me to grow close to both my children again in a way I can’t describe,” she says. “It was something I wanted for so long that I couldn’t have in my old traditional job.” n

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TRAIL TALES

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Our Children | Fall 2021

l a e t s l i ra

in the woods in a walk to a n r na Tu dv en tu re :S h aw

k Par ss ne er ild W By Trish Joudrey


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hike into a wilderness area not only stimulates imagination and sharpens our attention, it elevates our appreciation for the natural ecosystems of our region. Making a walk in the wild fun and engaging for children when there are no beach treasures to discover or park benches to rest on is sometimes a hard sell for parents. But this Halifax family knows how rewarding a walk into the wild can be for parents and the kids—especially when a walk turns into an adventure. “We call it adventure because every outing is much more than a walk,” explains Nivose Chaulk, mother of Sarah, 8, and Naomi,10. I was intrigued. What made a family walk an adventure? I tagged along on their next outing to find out. We met at Shaw’s Wilderness Park, a new hiking trail in HRM with old growth forest, brooks and views, enough variation in landscape and terrain to keep things fun. Bounding from the car, the children race to park’s entrance. “Look at the sign, girls,” says their father, Mike, reading sections aloud. “The 379 acres (153 hectares) will be maintained as wilderness to conserve the Acadian Forest, wetlands and barrens ecosystems found here.” “I’ve heard there’s a spot where you can see all of Halifax,” adds Nivose. “We’ll eat our snacks there, girls. It’ll be our adventure to find it.” The goal kept Sarah and Naomi motivated to find the spot. This simple goal also prepared the children for a climb uphill, a possible challenge for some children. “We always have some sort of goal,” explains Nivose. “It can be as simple as trying a new place or reaching a magical lake. Sometimes we need to adjust it, depending on how tired the kids are that day. It helps us feel we are all in this adventure together.” Shaw Wilderness Park, a peaceful wilderness area hosting over 40 species of breeding birds and other wildlife and flora, easily feeds a child’s curiosity. Sarah stops to watch a squirrel’s behavior. Curious, she asks

“why does it dart into the log?” Naomi is equally puzzled why foam accumulates on the bank of Williams Lake. The red ribbons tied to trees to guide hikers along the trail provided the children a chance to be leaders. Each one takes turns locating the next ribbon while the others follow. At a split in the path, Naomi has a decision to make. “Two paths? Which way do we go?” Her father provides clues, “One path goes downhill, and one goes up. What do you think?” Naomi puts her decision-making skills to work. “Up? So, we can have our snack at the view spot, right Dad?” Naomi beams as she sees her father’s thumbs-up. Ascending, the children discover unexpected hidden treasures: red lichen growing under a fallen tree, an alarmed army of ants racing along a dead log, a frog hiding under brush, and a handmade crotched dog with a letter on a tree, reminding hikers to pick up after their dogs. Hearing her father’s shouts of a beaver dam sighting at the edge of the lake, Sarah takes the binoculars to get a closer view. “I see it. I see it!” Her first beaver dam. But Naomi, with her scientific mind, needs more proof. “There’s one way to find out,” says her mother, taking this opportunity to educate. “If you see a tree that is chewed like a pencil top, you’ll know it’s a beaver dam.” Searching off the path, Naomi’s interest is heightened when she finds a perfectly gnawed tree stump. “But where are the beavers?” asks Sarah, searching the lake with the binoculars. Concerned that she can’t find them, she commits to uncovering the reason why. “When I get home, I am going to look up to see if beavers are nocturnal. Maybe that’s why they’re not here.” It was the perfect learning playground, stimulating the brain while having fun. I was seeing proof of positive effects of nature walking in action. The girls’ concentration had sharpened: spotting the camouflaged frog and seeking out red ribbons in the distance. Their initial exuberant energy had calmed:

5 TIPS TO INSPIRE CHILDREN ON THE SHAW WILDERNESS PARK TRAIL 1. Venture slightly off the path to add adventure. Visit William’s Lake shoreline to spot lily pads or walk to the stream to watch it flow over the rocks. 2. Follow the red ribbons. Make a game to spot the correct path, because some paths are without markers. 3. Collect and identify samples of various leaves, jack pines, pinecones, photographs of animal tracks, or special scenes from the trail. When returning home, design a nature collage, draw a scene, or write a story. 4. Bring a compass and enjoy following it together. It can be disorienting being in the woods without a landmark. A compass adds to the feeling of adventure. 5. Pack a bathing suit if it is a warm day. Williams Lake has an accessible shoreline.


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TRAIL TALES

Our Children | Fall 2021

listening to bird songs or standing still to examine ant behavior. Fortified after a few unscheduled crackers, we eventually reach the spot, a jack pine-crowberry barren, nationally unique to Nova Scotia, on a glacial deposit of granite boulders. Mike seizes the opportunity to share the story of how jack pines need the heat of fires to open their cones, thus revegetating the land soon after a forest fire. The children stand admiring the view over the jack pines. The panorama from Bayer’s Lake to Point Pleasant Park stretched out to the ocean. “This is so cool,” says Naomi, as Sarah claims her picnic rock, “We found the spot,” she says, “Now we can eat.” n

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NUTRITION

Our Children | Fall 2021

Lunch Box Lessons Pack in the life-skills

By Karen Kerr, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire

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appy Back to School to all of you tired and frazzled parents. Summer is a glorious time of year, but it can often be hectic with planning activities, extra laundry and kids being off their normal schedules. I look forward to the beginning of a new school year like it’s my favourite holiday. But one area I dreaded was the “Packing of the Lunch”. Sure, I start the year off with Instagram worthy planned out lunches, but even with my passion for nutrition I can get the urge to throw in the towel by mid-October and hand over the lunch money to my middle school aged daughter with the message “don’t spend it all on candy, or just don’t tell me.” I couldn’t imagine trying to plan lunch boxes for more than my one child. Whether you have one hungry student or half a dozen something that I have learned in my nutrition business

and in conversations with parents is that we tend to over pack the lunch box than not enough. In lieu of giving you a long grocery list and a multitude of recipes that you can easily find on Pinterest, I’d like to share my philosophy. Boiled down it’s this. The quicker they can fend for themselves the better! It’s the teach them to fish principle. It all starts by helping nurture your child’s healthy relationship with food in the early years. As a parent it’s your job to make healthy choices their job as they go through the many development stages of growing up and becoming independent. They will not have you for their personal chef forever! I think as parents we focus too much on the micro and not enough on the macro. Meaning we stress when Johnny only eats meat and hates vegetable or Sally won’t eat anything that

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NUTRITION touched something else on their plate. My daughter is a selective eater, I’ve learned that is not a hill I want to die on. In my opinion teaching them how to feed themselves is more important than what to eat. This means that they need to be involved. Food is personal and we want to encourage a curiosity and not strict rules around it. They will learn what foods make them feel better and expand their tastes naturally. I can’t say that I know any adults that only eat pop tarts and pizza pockets.

Our Children | Fall 2021

This fall when you and your children look at the fresh new year ahead and set your sites on their growth and achievement don’t forget to add life skills to that personal curriculum development. If your child is performing the same life skills at the end of the school year as they were at the beginning then you should look at your own parenting lesson plans and find the opportunities to keep your children engaged, involved and excited about good food—it’s an education that will last a lifetime.

Kate Kerr grabs a bite. Having healthy snacks ready makes the decision easier.

LUNCH PACKING 101 • Even children in pre-school and kindergarten can pack their own lunches. • Make a game by placing several fun and healthy foods from different food groups on the counter and table and ask them to pick from those options. It gives children control and you piece of mind that you know they have some nutrition in that lunch bag to fuel them through the day. • As your child develops it’s easy for them to go to the cupboard to grab what they want but if they have a foundation at an early age, they will make their own healthy choices, most of the time. • When a child chooses what to put in their lunch bag, it also cuts down on food waste. You don’t want that banana or apple coming back battered

and bruised at the end of the day. (If bruised fruit does come home, it’s great to use in muffins for the next day!) • Keep healthy snacks accessible. Start with putting snack options in a low cupboard or bottom drawer of the fridge and let them choose their snacks. You buy the groceries, so the options are your choice, but the selection is theirs. • Each child is different and only you can gauge how much responsibility is appropriate for their age and stage of Development. But I’m sure you will find that having them involved in the process will be a game changer and set you up for a year of lunchbox lessons.


27 STRAWBERRY CINNAMON VEGAN MUFFINS

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(makes 12 muffins)

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1 cup fresh strawberries (or defrosted) 1 banana 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk alternative) 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp real vanilla extract 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce 1⁄3 cup maple syrup 1⁄3 cup light olive oil 1/2 cup ground flaxseed 1 cup oat flour 1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour 1/2 tsp sea salt 1 tbsp baking powder TOPPING: 1/4 cup coconut sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease 12 muffin pan with vegetable oil 1. Add apple cider vinegar to milk to make buttermilk 2. Mash strawberries and banana 3. Add apple sauce, maple syrup, oil, lemon juice, milk, vanilla, and flax to the mash and mix until combined 4. Sprinkle flours, salt and baking powder over mash and mix until just combined 5. Scoop into tins and top generously with the cinnamon sugar 6. Bake 20 minutes *Vegan muffins won’t be as puffy as non-vegan, but they are very moist n

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PARENTING HEALTH & WELLNESS

Our Children | Fall 2021

Beyond orange shirts Creating a conversation with your children about residential schools

By Jill Chappell

The Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24/7. Call 1-866-925-4419 for mental health support.

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n Sept. 30, elementary students will come together in a sea of orange shirts in the spirit of reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day is a time to acknowledge the trauma facing Indigenous communities due to residential schools, while promoting truth and reconciliation. Remembering the Indigenous children who died, and the actions that led to these atrocities, is more pressing than ever as the number of confirmed unmarked graves climbs into the thousands. “It is most important that parents engage in learning more about residential

schools and their legacy, acknowledging that many families are still dealing and living with the trauma from attending or having a family member attend one of these schools,” says Katie Gloade, Mi’kmaq educator and PhD health student at Dalhousie University. “There are so many resources available online, in print, and in person that individuals can access. The more a parent understands, the better ability they will have to answer tough questions.” Gloade, who grew up in Millbrook First Nation, works with the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt & Healing (ACHH) Initiative at the IWK Health Centre. She specializes in the impact of intergenerational trauma and actively works to promote the health and healing of Indigenous communities.

She says to focus on creating a comfortable environment and supporting your child through their emotional response. “When children start asking those tough questions the key is to provide a positive, patient, and ongoing conversation,” says Gloade. “This topic may cause a range of emotions in children and it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and support your child through them. Parents shouldn’t shy away from bringing up the conversation at home, so that children know their parents are aware of the topic. Once the invitation is there, allow the child to direct the conversation at their own pace.” Support your children to take the lead in the learning process through the pages of a book. Families can immerse


29 themselves in personal stories of survivors and explore Mi’kmaq culture and language to enhance their knowledge and appreciation. A wide selection of stories focusing on the Indigenous experience are available at your local libraries including books from Mi’kmaw authors like Rita Joe, Alan Sylliboy, and Rebecca Thomas. “Reading stories together can help children understand what they’re hearing and focus on empathy, love and learning,” says Laurel Taylor, integrated communications and fund development manager at Halifax Public Libraries. “Halifax Public Libraries has books available for all reading levels to build age-appropriate knowledge of Canada’s residential schools.”

Parents shouldn’t shy away from bringing up the conversation at home,

The legacy of the Indian Residential Schools has a profound impact on the health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples. The trauma experienced by those who attended the schools has since been passed on to their families, and respective communities. “Everyone needs to understand there were policies put in place by the government that hurt Indigenous people,” says Nevin. “Children need to understand that this is not ancient history. These policies may have been still implemented in their parents’ or their grandparents’ generation. It is their responsibility to learn this history so that they understand the true history of the country they live in and why this country has a responsibility to repair the damage it caused.” The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is proud to fund several mental health projects in Indigenous communities across the province. “We know the demand for mental health programming will continue to

grow as we learn more about the horrors of residential schools,” says president and CEO Starr Cunningham. “It’s time for all of us, young and old, to step-up and take action.” To learn more, sign up for University of Alberta’s free Indigenous Canada online course or read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and TRC’s Calls to Action and the Calls for Justice from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Together, we can create a better future for our children by learning about our past. n

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so that children know their parents are aware of the topic Alongside education and conversation, there needs to be empathy and understanding. Vanessa Nevin is the granddaughter of a residential school survivor and director of health at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Secretariat. She encourages parents to approach the subject with empathy and have their children imagine themselves in the position of Indigenous children being forced to leave their family, home, and culture behind. “How would you feel if someone hurt you because of the language you speak, the culture you practice, the food you eat, and your beliefs?” asks Vanessa Nevin, granddaughter of a residential school survivor. “Then, they lied and said that they did not do it or that it was a long time ago, so they were not responsible? Then, they went around telling you that you were a liar … for saying they hurt you? It would be pretty hard to heal your wounds, too.“

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BOOK REVIEWS

Our Children | Fall 2021

By Trevor J. Adams

Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland By Charis Cotter Art by Genevieve Simms Nimbus Publishing Ages 8 to 12 If you come from a Newfoundland family with strong storytelling traditions (and is there any other kind?), the tales in this collection will have a familiar ring. With spooky stories like “A Visit from the Old Hag,” “The Blueberry Ghost,” and “Alone on the Barrens,” author Charis Cotter reimagines the Rock’s traditional tales, introducing a new generation of readers to centuries-old lore. Genevieve Simms’s moody black and white illustrations complete the supernatural vibe. The book even includes an overview of Newfoundland’s storytelling tradition, and tips for new storytellers—an ideal pre-Halloween read.

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World So Wide

A Great Big Night

Parent's Pick: Life After COVID-19

By Alison McGhee Art by Kate Alizadeh Two Lions Ages 4 to 8

By Kate Inglis Art by Josée Bisaillon Nimbus Publishing Ages 4 to 8

By Bob Gordon Banovallum Books

Kate Inglis always writes with a healthy dollop of whimsy, a tradition she continues with A Great Big Night, the tale of three travelling frog musicians, rolling on their painted bicycles. She crafts a timeless fable about friendship, compassion, and empathy. As much as the elegantly sparse verse, Josée Bisaillon’s lavish illustrations tell the story with warmth, humour, and colourful vibrancy. A fun, easy read and a visual feast— this book is sure to enchant young readers.

For parents pondering what a post-COVID world will look like for their children, this book is a useful primer. Author Bob Gordon looks at our past—from the Black Death to 20th-century scourges like the Spanish flu and Ebola— to paint a picture of what awaits us in our post-pandemic world. With meticulous research, he considers the likely long-term impacts on education, travel, entertainment, retailers, and even the global balance of power. It’s not a light read (and given the subject, really couldn’t be), but it is a timely and richly informative one. n

“Somewhere in the world, the world so far, the world so wide / Someone is the youngest person alive.” With that moment of Zen, New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize nominee Alisa McGhee opens this touching exploration of nascent life, parental love, and the boundless potential of the world that awaits. Kate Alizadeh tenderly and evocatively illustrates the lyrical writing, the two talents combining on a story that will spark little imaginations while hitting parents right in the feels.


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