centres of attention dr. kyle whitfield of extension to lead research on seniors’ centres in alberta As Alberta’s Health Minister Fred Horne prepared to take the podium at 9:30 a.m., patrons of the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE) were conversing enthusiastically over breakfast about why the large common room encompassing their cafeteria and reading room was quickly filling with people and cameras. “Today’s seniors are more active and engaged than a generation ago,” began the Minister, addressing the crowd assembled at the 21 January media conference. “They are healthier and staying in their homes and communities longer. It’s important we work alongside partners like SAGE and the University of Alberta to strengthen seniors’ centres.” To build this strength, the provincial health ministry has announced a dedicated grant of $70,800 that will endow research “to learn how seniors’ centres can better meet the changing needs of their members in sustainable ways.” Leading the research will be the Faculty of Extension’s Dr. Kyle Whitfield, chosen for her previous work and research in planning, health services, aging, and hospice care, plus an excellent relationship with SAGE and the Alberta Association of Seniors Centres (AASC). It also didn’t hurt that her position at Extension gave her access to the Faculty’s in-house Evaluation and Research Services. “I won’t bore you with the methodologies, but I’m very excited to be working with Dr. Jason Daniels of Extension’s Research Services in developing a program of methods that will allow us to look at these centres from a number of perspectives with a number of different tools,” said Kyle. “I’m very excited to be part of this project,” said Jason in an earlier interview. “If the population of Alberta continues to age rapidly, and it will, we can’t be reactive in developing seniors’ services and Page 1
programming. Plus, our population is becoming less homogenous in terms of culture and demographics, so it will be interesting and imperative to assess the role of Seniors Centres over the next several years.” According to a January 21 news release from the Government of Alberta, “seniors’ centres provide valuable programs and services for seniors across the province. Alberta has more than 400 seniors’ centres that offer a wide variety of programs, services, and supports that cater to diverse groups of seniors. As the population ages, some centres are facing challenges recruiting and retaining volunteers, low or declining memberships, and increasing operational costs.” Working with SAGE and the AASC, Kyle and Jason will be investigating seniors’ centres of varying size and capacity throughout the province over the next year to determine how the centres can best contribute to improved physical and emotional well-being. After this year, Kyle anticipates a greater priority for this topic throughout the country. “We hope that what we learn will create dialogue on the national scale and over the long term,” she said. “What was announced today is the first step in an incredibly important initiative.”
call it a TIE: extension graduates first cohort of the teaching in english citation program What began as a trend in the sciences has now become a reality in international study: that is, English has become the default lingua franca for many of the world’s students and researchers. And, according to Dr. Wang Danping of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, “Chinese will not replace English as another lingua franca and thus native Chinese teachers should develop an ELF [English as a Lingua Franca] pedagogy to meet the needs of multilingual international students in Chinese Institutions.” Thanks to our ties to many international institutes of higher learning, particularly in China, the Faculty of Extension had a significant advantage in developing a world-class Teaching in English (TIE) citation program, administered by our Teaching and Learning Programs area. The first TIE citation cohort, comprised of 19 academics representing 19 different universities in Shanghai, has recently graduated. Extension’s English Language Program has been instrumental in promoting the TIE program in various countries, and it provides high level English language courses that can be paired with the TIE program. According to Mimi Hui, Executive Director of the ELP, “graduates of this citation program will learn instructional practices for teaching in English, as well as becoming familiar with English words used to describe teaching practices. The result will be a greater knowledge of techniques for fostering learning among their students.” The TIE program is delivered over four to six weeks (or longer, if required), at the request of the learning institution. The first cohort of participants
from Shanghai took the program over three months while they were here in Edmonton. Students take three courses totalling 100 hours, learning practical techniques for teaching in an environment of intercultural differences. One of the courses is a practicum experience, through which students practice teaching in an English-only classroom setting. For the first month of their participation in the program, the participants also take an advanced course in English customized for them by the English Language Program. According to Walter Archer, Academic Director of Extension’s Teaching & Learning Programs, having the first cohort of TIE participants take the program face-to-face here in Edmonton was a great way to test-drive this new program: “We were able to see how well the program helps participants whose native language is not English to do a better job of teaching their courses in English for an international clientèle,” he said. ”Now that we have been through the program once, we are looking for more opportunities to deliver the program again either here in Edmonton or in locations abroad.” In November, the members of the first cohort delivered public presentations in a classroom in Enterprise Square, with topics ranging from “The Bullwhip Effect in Economics” to “An Overview of Sport in Edmonton, Canada.“ For Theresia Williams, the instructor who helped develop the curriculum and was deeply involved in the overall experience of the participants in this first cohort, these represented a triumphant crescendo after three months of hard work by all parties involved. continued next page Page 2
“I spent about 12 hours a week in the classroom with [the students] from August until November teaching on a number of different afternoons,” she said. “And we also spent several hours outside of the class with individual coaching and demonstrations of teaching. We covered everything from academic integrity, to motivating students, to adult development and multiple approaches to teaching in higher education.” For Theresia, the effort paid off, not only at the end, but also throughout the program; she cites one story as an example: “After one particularly intensive day of practice in the classroom, a small group of the students were busy in a back corner of the room while I worked with others in the front. The group in the back called me over and one of the visiting professors, who is an internationally-accomplished musician in Gu Qin (a traditional Chinese string instrument), had set up her instrument in the back of the room and began playing for me. It was absolutely beautiful and incredible, and an amazing experience—so incredibly touching.” Student reviews were very positive, and Theresia is currently writing an article with a number of the students for publication. She is certain there will be long term relationships developed from this experience as well. Theresia and her team were accoladed on the last day of the program by Extension’s Dean Katy Campbell: “Over the past few days, [the students] all tried out their language skills and newly practised pedagogies with public presentations, which were excellent! Great job Theresia, Walter [Archer], Carrie [Sawatsky, program assistant for the TIE program], Lorna [Allen] and co. in ELP, and many others who worked hard on this initiative. I think we’re on our way.”
scenes from a tavern: Extension parties like it’s 1912 at our staff centenary celebration
changing landscapes extension hosts health information, privacy and security summit in Banff by Jane Hu This October, the Faculty of Extension hosted a two-day summit on Health Information Privacy and Security at the beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Individuals attended from across Canada, representing various professional sectors: government, health & non-profit organizations, and law firms. Whether through keynotes, expert-led sessions, or plenary presentations, the 2012 HIPS Conference offered an engaging and informative experience for all. Participants gained a greater awareness for the privacy and security tools necessary to contemporary demands, all in a stunning environment no less. On the morning of October 18, Extension Dean Katy Campbell kicked off the summit with greetings from the University of Alberta. Dean Campbell emphasized her own positive position in introducing the contributions of HIPS: 21 expert speakers with ideas to improve the information rights profession. With Microsoft and Field Law—both leaders in health information and privacy rights—as sponsors for this event, the summit set off in the right direction. Greetings were immediately followed by Joan Roch’s keynote presentation, “E-health and Privacy: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going.” As the chief privacy strategist for Canada Health Infoway, Roch had much to say on how to accelerate the adoption of electronic health information systems across Canada. Bookending her keynote with David Bowie’s “Changes,” Roch made technological changes in the health world the theme of her presentation. The keynote made many strong points on how equipment such as Telehealth, iPods and iPhones, and electronic records are vital additions to the medical world, necessary in the process to save energy, time, and costs for doctors and patients alike. Next up was Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton’s plenary presentation “Electronic Health Records: Information and Stewardship.” As Alberta’s third Information and Privacy Commissioner, Clayton focused on questions related to information stewardship, governance, and ethics. Moreover, Clayton
expanded her questions on when and how medical information should be deployed not only to the private health sector, but to public ones as well. Emphasis was placed on cross-sectoral conversations to see the effects of information changes in health as branching out. Such attention to collaboration and branching was a recurrent motif throughout the summit and was in itself a nod to all the individuals gathered for HIPS. U of A IAPP program alumna Mary Marshall of Field Law gave her plenary presentation on “Health Law and Policy Initiatives Impacting Health Information Legislation Development.” After listing her personal top ten health-care ethical challenges facing the public, Marshall opened the floor for discussion. How do doctors accommodate a patient’s right to privacy, while still achieving objectives to provide the best care for them? If there doesn’t exist a legislative route to give protection to certain categories of health information, then we need to be able to think through and explain why this isn’t yet possible. Marshall’s talk not only made the benefits of discussion a part of her presentation—she also modeled it, citing prior speakers such as Jill Clayton. Her example was echoed throughout the summit, with others also incorporating prior talks into their own. Following Clayton was Frank Work and David Loukidelis, who joined in a panel presentation to speak from experience about “Privacy Issues that Will Keep you Awake at Night.” With a focus on the issues, challenges, and solutions to these privacy matters, Work and Loukidelis led an engaging discussion on the robust and appropriate legislative frameworks we must think about in order to secure the approaches to personal health information. The afternoon concluded Page 4
with a Commissioner and Ombudsman roundtable on the Priority Health Information Privacy and Security Issues facing Provincial and Territorial jurisdictions. With Global Calgary health anchor and reporter, Healther Yourex, leading as moderator, Jill Clayton, Gary Dickson, Elizabeth Denham, and Nancy Love spoke about the broad theme of HIPS this year: “Changing Landscapes.” The next morning, HIPS participants were eager to get back to health information privacy issues. Anne Côté, the Chair of the Field Law’s Privacy Practice Group, opened up discussions with greetings from the firm. She was followed by welcomes from the Government of Alberta by the Honourable Dave Rodney, Associate Minister for Alberta Health. John Weigelt of Microsoft provided the Keynote Presentation for day two, with a talk on “Innovation in Health IT,” with a focus on maintaining confidence and enabling improvements in healthcare delivery. As National Technology Officer for Microsoft Canada, Weigelt provided many ideas on how to integrate technology into health care, as well as on how technology might finally be brought into everyday life. From Tellme technology to making 3D glasses less clunky, Weigelt’s presentation introduced the possibilities of bringing computing technology more seamlessly into the living room. The morning’s panel presentation included CaraLynn Stelmack (Alberta, OIPC), Greg Lepp (Assistant Deputy Prime Minister, Criminal Justice Division), Murray Stooke (Deputy Chief, Calgary Police Service), and Jon Popowich (Covenant Health), on the challenges and barriers impacting law enforcement personnel engaged with the Health System. As evinced in the panel members, this discussion aimed
to clarify the scope and reach of health information and privacy. How could health care professionals and law enforcement personnel work together with respect to providing patients care? How do these divergent factors come together to give patients an environment that respected both health information privacy and the need for law enforcement to access this information? As always, the presentation allowed much room for discussion and real life examples. Jens Weber and Bev Heim-Meyers concluded the afternoon presentations. Weber, a Professor and the Director of Software Engineering at the University of Victoria, gave a plenary presentation on First Nations privacy and electronic health records and privacy in consumer health infomatics services. Combining engineering with extension work, Weber examined First Nations privacy concerns in the context of electronic health record initiatives. Highlighting the need for community and group interests, Weber focused on holistic approaches to health. Heim-Meyers, CEO of the Huntington Society of Canada, as well as chair of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, gave the final plenary presentation of the summit: “Health Information Privacy and Genetic Discrimination.” Canada, as the only G8 country that does not protect its citizens against genetic discrimination, must more vigorously confront the ongoing reality of such discrimination among businesses and industries. Such prevalent fear of discrimination discourages individuals from making informed decisions and choices that may be in their best interest. Putting a stop to genetic discrimination is a necessary movement that will be in the best interest of all Canadian citizens. With Heim-Meyers ending HIPS on such a strong and urgent note, David Loukidelis gave closing remarks, and participants left for their various homes across Canada, filled with new insights and vital information.
motion seconded and thirded, and so on in that fashion as CUP celebrated 12 years in Motion A dozen years ago, a determined group of academics from the University of Alberta and their associates in several community organizations managed to get a department office dedicated to community-based research, collaboration and partnerships, and sharing knowledge. Last week, the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP) was joined at Edmonton City Hall by the Mayor, several City Councillors, and other influential community members to celebrate CUP’s impressive strides since inception. “CUP has done some great, practical work, and it’s really vital to keep doing what you’re doing in bringing about positive change in our communities,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel in welcoming nearly 200 guests to CUP’s Annual Celebration Event. “Our administration will continue to work closely with you to produce results; to give an example, the Families First model resulted in a motion by Councillor Bryan Anderson, who is here today, passed by City Council that would give discounted or free access packages to recreational facilities for low-income families, and that’s a direct result of the work that you do at CUP. So thank you.” Also present to extend well wishes were Martin Garber-Conrad (Executive Director of the Edmonton Community Foundation, longtime CUP Steering Committee Member, and emcee for the Celebration), as well as Dean Katy Campbell of the Faculty of Extension, who outlined some of the key successes the Faculty has enjoyed thanks to the contributions of CUP since joining Extension in 2008, including: • New certificate and citation programs in CBRE, a proposed Graduate degree in Community Engagement
researcher and tireless advocate/activist for the children of Canada’s First Nations. Dr. Blackstock delivered an impassioned, multimedia keynote entitled Children’s Voices Have Power: Children Standing in Solidarity with First Nations Children. In her presentation, Dr. Blackstock remarkably outlined the struggle in bringing to light injustices perpetrated by the Canadian Federal government towards First Nations people; though it has taken several years and immeasurable effort, however, some substantial progress has recently been achieved when the Federal Court ruled that “further scrutiny is needed to determine whether Ottawa is discriminating against First Nations children.” More on Dr. Blackstock’s advocacy efforts as Director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada can be found on the organization’s website at FNcaringsociety.ca. Extension would like to thank CUP and its many valued partners and friends in leading the charge for community engagement!
• Amazing tenure-track faculty members and students •
An increase in research funding over four years by a factor of seven For all the high-profile guests and speakers, however, the most memorable was likely Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Extension Page 6
the fine art of the pop-up gallery extension celebrates the full spectrum of arts at artsMASH 2012 It is 13 December 2012. It is Edmonton, Alberta, and it is well below zero outside. The sun sets at 4:14 in the afternoon. It is the end of the term, and it is definitely time to celebrate. The 2012 instalment of ArtsMash, Extension’s Liberal Studies open house event, brought together over 200 artists and art-lovers in the Faculty’s studio and classroom space to eat, drink, and immerse themselves in the fruits of the creative talent of this semester’s part-time art students.
Osborne, an international mixed-media artist based in Edmonton, who showed examples of her work and spoke about the life of a full-time fine artist. “I am expressing in my work images which are about timelessness and regeneration,” said Lyndal on her website. “In one sense it is a form of purification, but it is also a way to understand death and to celebrate life through our need to define and humanize our existence on this planet.” Post-event, ArtsMash organizer Megan Woodsmith was pleased with the event’s success: “The arts sometimes get short shrift in adult education, but tonight, we saw an impressive number of people in attendance who understand the value of creation and creativity. I’m encouraged that our students are inspired to grow their abilities and develop their talents.” We will see you at this event next Fall? Sign up and we’ll send you a reminder/invitation closer to the date (Nov ‘13): www.extension.ualberta.ca/about/events.
On display in the corridors of 102 Street Centre were works produced in Extension’s various visual arts courses (design, drafting, drawing, mixed media, portraits, watercolour, and more), and, beginning at 5:00 p.m., a series of lectures and presentations took place back-to-back. Included was a presentation by Residential Interiors instructor, Johanne Yakula, author of Historical Interiors of Alberta, a new reference for restoring and decorating a heritage home. Johanne also spoke on the importance of restoring historical interiors, pointing out that while exterior restoration is more of a crowd-pleaser, the interior is the true home where we spend time with family and friends. More on this book and where to get a copy can be found on Johanne’s website. Also featured were readings of the winning “postcard stories” from a contest held during the 2012 Women’s Words Summer Writing Week, poetry readings from students of the Spanish Language Program, and, at the evening’s end, a guest lecture by Lyndal Page 7
lifelong learners lauded Extension has been at the forefront of lifelong learning for over 100 years, but up to 2005, the Faculty was afforded few opportunities to acknowledge the heavyweights of continuing education (i.e. the educators, innovators, students, and researchers who uplift their communities through championing the values and virtues of selfimprovement over one’s lifetime). Eight years ago, Dean Katy Campbell set out to remedy this issue, and the result was the first Lifelong Learning Awards gala; appropriate, then, that Dean Campbell was on-hand at the University’s Faculty Club the evening of Thursday, March 14 to present awards personally to the 2013 winners. “We are all in a great mood, and we are all here because of our fierce allegiance to accessible, relevant, and flexible life-wide learning opportunities no matter one’s culture, geographic location, politics, citizenship, age, beliefs, prior experiences, or circumstances,” said Katy, addressing a crowd of nominators, nominees, friends, and family. Special guest Dr.Debra Pozega Osburn, U of A VicePresident External Relations, brought greetings on behalf of President Indira Samarasekera and told the crowd “the mission of Extension has never been so important; now more than ever is a time that requires all of us to be lifelong learners.” The first award of the evening, for Outstanding Contributions to the Learning Environment by a staff member, was awarded to Michelle Zolner of Extension’s Government Studies (GS) programming area. Selected after much deliberation by the adjudication committee, Michelle beat out a number of strong competitors by stuffing the last five years with coordinating two popular educational programs, setting up a system to deal with copyright issues, establishing GS on social media, and running ambitious annual United Way campaigns (to name a few of her accomplishments). The award for Outstanding Contributions by an instructor was presented (with considerably more fanfare than is typical of these awards galas) to Don Mason of the English for Academic Purposes program. As Academic
Team Lead for the program, Don has created over the past four years a work environment built on mutual respect and support, as evidenced by the fanfare coming from the tables closest to him as he rose to accept his award (prompting the Dean to implore the merrymakers to “settle down over there”). Though the award for Innovation and Design can be awarded to a person, group, or program, this year’s nominees were all programs, including Professional Programs’ popular Knowledge at Noon sessions, the annual Access and Privacy conference, and the English Language Program’s Plagiarism Procedures and Online Learning Module. Counter to form, plagiarism won the day, with project team Helen Madill, Don Mason, Stephen Kuntz, and Glenda Baker accepting the award. Taking the eponymous Lifelong Learning Award was the learner who “best exemplifies the ideals of lifelong learning,” personified in Jessica Moffatt, who this year earned the distinction of being the Faculty of Extension’s first interdisciplinary PhD student. Her PhD aimed to provide a platform to discuss and document one First Nations community’s experiences with tuberculosis and also to understand the social context occurring with the community that may promote continual disease transmission. In addition to the award, Jessica was given $500 toward Extension Learning programs for her impressive efforts. The penultimate award for the evening was presented to the full-time, continuing faculty member “who is viewed by his or her peers as having been the most outstanding and effective in helping the Faculty realize its vision of research and scholarship. Taking home the award and a $3,500 research stipend was newly-minted Associate Professor (with tenure), Dr. Page 8
Lifelong Learning Awards (continued from p. 8): Martin Guardado. An applied linguist with a focus on heritage language maintenance, Martin’s work in fasttracking the English Language Program’s Enhanced Bridging Program prompted one of the awards referees to state for the record: “Putting aside the usual contributions to teaching, scholarly research and service within his faculty and discipline, Dr. Guardado’s work with the English Language Program and more specifically with the enhanced Bridging Program has arguably contributed more the academic priorities of the University as a whole in the brief period he has been with us than many (nonetheless respectable) faculty members make during their entire careers.” Accepting his award, Martin smirkingly acknowledged that this had been “a great week for Hispanic people; first an Argentinian is elected Pope, and now an El Salvadoran is awarded a Lifelong Learning Award.” Dr. Thomas Barker, newly of Extension’s graduate program in Communications and Technology, took the podium to present the final award of the night to Lisa Prins for Excellence in Graduate Studies. While deciding on a final project in the MACT program, Lisa worked closely with Gordon Gow, Director of the program, to develop a low-cost, efficient, and anonymous communications networks for prostituted individuals to reduce potential for harm by sharing information via text messaging. By the end of her studies, Lisa’s work is being transformed into a fulltime program to be managed by local agency CEASE (Edmonton’s Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) and affiliate organizations. Always a popular, lighthearted, and successful event to date, the success of the 2013 edition of the Lifelong Learning Awards was made possible thanks to the contributions of event planner Brianne Thomas of Extension marketing, Mistress of Ceremonies par excellence Christie Schultz (who moonlights as Executive Director of the faculty’s Learning Engagement Office), and a cadre of superlative volunteers who were too polite to strongarm the author into including their names in full. Congratulations to all our winners in 2013! Page 9
Social Media Launch 2013: Extension gets Pro-Social!
On February 14, 2013, the Faculty of Extension officially debuted our profiles and presences on such popular online networks as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. For the uninitiated: social media are a number of online communities, open to everyone, through which people share news, thoughts, various forms of multimedia, and more. For our Faculty, each network is an opportunity to communicate and build awareness for our brand promise, and also to invite others on these networks to reach out to us. Our Faculty’s social media team welcomes the help and participation of the entire Faculty (academic and non-academic staff, instructors, students, and others) in sharing through these networks everything that makes us who we are. Search for the user name “uaextension” (and please follow us!) on: • Facebook • Twitter • YouTube • LinkedIn • Tumblr • Instagram Also, please send us your news: Sharing quality content is one of the best ways to contribute to social media communities. Extension is a wellspring of great information, and there’s always something happening; to help us communicate that to interested parties, we’d like to ask YOU to send us any information you’d like to share. Send a brief summary (i.e. a couple sentences) about your news to Matt Steringa (email@example.com). Remember, in social media, time is of the essence, so let us know as soon and often as you can!
from the guardian uk (March 11, 2013) by dr. jack stilgoe (university college ondon):
making sense of nanotechnology in northern canada a visiting scholar’s perspective on crsc’s nanotechnology workshop On the flight to Edmonton, I sat next to Ted, a friendly giant with a pronounced Dutch/Irish accent. He told me how, unable to find work in Ireland, he was flying to Canada with the promise of a job. He and thousands of others will work for the summer, cleaning up oil refineries before moving on to the next opportunity. This story happens to be true. But fans of Thomas “world is flat” Friedman will recognise its type from his New York Times OpEds. Friedman is fond of such globalisation parables, often snatched from receptionists or taxi drivers. As Richard Florida (pdf) and others have pointed out, we should not overlook the world’s spikiness. Geography matters, even, or perhaps especially, when it comes to science and innovation. This is why we are so fascinated by Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley could be anywhere, and yet the businesses and universities that populate it show no signs of upping sticks. While most of the rich world’s cities stagnate, Edmonton is a notable boomtown. But it faces an identity crisis. It is North America’s northernmost big city and the gateway to North Alberta’s oil sands, at the upstream end of the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. The oil is the source of the city’s explosive growth. High oil prices have made the extraction of unconventional, dirty oil economically viable. This requires major capital investment and construction, dragging engineering and various service industries to the region. The city is acutely aware that it is sitting on a problem. Not only is it an ecological disaster zone, if we follow the arguments of the anti-Keystone activists, it is heavily dependent on oil, with its capricious price fluctuations, and desperate to diversify. The city’s new strategic plan reflects its fossil fuel ambivalence: “Edmonton is an energy city: Energy drawn from the ground and from above; from the sun and wind. But the true power of Edmonton is the democratic spark in its people. Edmonton is a city of design - urban design,
architectural design, and environmental design. The city has grown up; now we’re building smarter.” I was in Alberta to help out with a workshop on nanotechnology and the future of the city, run by colleagues from the University of Alberta’s CityRegion Studies Center. Academics at the University recognise the love-hate relationship with oil as well as anyone. Their funding waxes and wanes with the price of oil. Our task was to see whether and how nanotechnology (the city is also home to Canada’s National Institute for Nanotechnology) might play a role in the city’s future. We spoke for one and a half days with 35 local businesspeople, architects, scientists, artists, civil servants, planners and others about the various tensions that would shape Edmonton’s future. There was plenty of scepticism, familiar from European discussions, about the novelty of nanotechnology: Was it one thing or many? Does it, as philosopher Alfred Nordmann has put it, “promise everything and nothing in particular”? Could the word “technology” just be substituted for “nanotechnology”? Even if nanotechnology is little more than symbolic, its introduction into a familiar conversation about place, planning and a city’s future prompts new thinking. Rather than fixating on “growth” as a quantity, people began to talk about directions. Alberta is clear about its problems, and they aren’t going away any time soon, but they could be a spur for innovation. Nanotech could be a way to diversify the economy, but first it could be a way for big oil to clean up its act. The workshop inevitably struggled to nail down the wispy global promise of new technologies to this particular city, to find a place in Edmonton for nanotechnology and to find a place in nanotechnology for Edmonton. These sorts of exercises typically generate more questions than answers, but there was some indication of a way forward. Edmontonians talked about making theirs “an experimental city”. They had an idea for a first step along this road: a “pothole X-prize”. You heard it here first. Page 10
water, water everywhere: extension gallery flooded with fabric for january’s waterworks exhibit The plaque on a main supporting beam on the main floor of Enterprise Square in downtown Edmonton reads, in part: “Water is full of contradictions and yet it is consistent. It is open to endless interpretations.” Though the interpretations on display for the Fibre Art Network’s Waterworks exhibit may not be endless, the 42 pieces festooning the walls and floor of the Extension gallery are each remarkable in their unique perspectives on dihydrogen monoxide.
Among the installations, 3D vessels, and wall pieces (each incorporating various fibres as an art medium) are works by Extension Liberal Studies Director Virginia Stephen. Virginia, who began working with felt just a few years ago, has realized the potential for loose wool as a vessel for creativity. “Felt came into my life just a few years ago when a friend took a course and shared her enthusiasm and learning. We worked together developing our techniques and some products. Life took her back to quilting and I continued exploring feltmaking,” said Virginia during the Artists’ Reception the afternoon of January 12, 2013. “It seems to hold a lot of appeal for people, especially when they realize that the work begins as a handful of wool fibres and does not involve machinery or sewing to process it into a solid fabric and shapes;
it’s a combination of physics, chemistry and imagination!” Other pieces included elaborate quilts, embroidery, crochet, and beadwork. The exhibit had already been on display in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, but was hauled out to Edmonton by Debbie Tyson, a member of the University of Alberta Senate and coordinator for the Fibre Art Network (FAN).
The FAN cooperative, founded in British Columbia in 1997, counts members throughout all Western Canadian provinces, as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories. According to their website (www.fibreartnetwork.com), the group is “a long distance meeting of minds that spans artistic challenges as well as geographic ones.”
taken to task extension’s cindy blackstock stands on guard for first nations children at historic human rights tribunal hearing The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was established by Parliament in 1977 with a mandate “to legally decide whether a person or organization has engaged in a discriminatory practice under the [Canadian Human Rights] Act”; it was not until 2008, however, that people affected by the Indian Act (i.e. Canada’s First Nations peoples) were able to access the tribunal. Since that year, First Nations groups have registered 150 complaints against the Federal government, the most prominent among them involving child welfare on reserves. The strength of the rally around this key issue in terms of both credence and volume is based in no small part on the efforts of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Extension. Dr. Blackstock has worked in the field of child and family services for over 20 years and has authored over 50 publications, many of which involve exploring the causes of disadvantage for Aboriginal children and families. For the past fours years, she has repeatedly lobbied the Federal government to provide equitable funding and treatment for children on reserves who, she asserts, receive a full 22 per cent less funding for child welfare than children living off reserves. “We have never had more First Nations children in child welfare care than we do at this moment,” she said in a recent interview with CBC.
The Human Rights tribunal has set dates for full hearings on the First Nations child welfare case. Beginning February 2013, nine hearings will take place over 14 weeks. According to the website of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada: “The hearings are open to the public and will be broadcast on APTN. We invite you to join us in witnessing this historic case! It is at time for all Canadians to hear the evidence of both sides and to make an informed decision about the kind of Canada they want to see for all children now and into the future.” The Faculty of Extension excitedly anticipates watching a member of our Professoriate see her vision come to fruition in this landmark event in Canadian history. Needless to say, we will be watching these hearings closely and reporting on their progress as they play out.
“In provinces like Alberta, 65% of the kids in that province are First Nations who are in child welfare care, even though they represent well under 10% of the population. In B.C. 53%. So if you take those two provinces alone, we’re talking about 11,000 First Nations children living in foster care.” Now, finally, Dr. Blackstock and the hundreds of thousands of children she represents will have their day to be heard. Page 12
from the edmonton journal (NOVEMBER 24, 2012)
by gordon kent
fate of internet voting in edmonton rests with citizen jury An 18-member citizen jury will decide this weekend if Edmonton should go ahead with a controversial proposal to allow Internet voting next fall.
“I think it would be a good thing, but there’s also the cost … and security would be one of the biggest things. How can you trust someone not to hack into it?”
The jurors will hear presentations on security, software, and other issues from almost a dozen expert witnesses before reaching a verdict in what organizers say is the first time this form of public involvement has been tried in Canada.
Retired electrician Ken Purcell, who worked on federal election campaigns for the Reform party, admitted he doesn’t know much about electronic voting, but he’s interested in learning more.
“I think this process is groundbreaking,” city clerk Alayne Sinclair said Friday. “As a municipality, we have to think about how we can engage citizens better, how we can actually get them to be involved.” Edmonton is looking at allowing residents who need a special ballot because they’re disabled or can’t make it to the polls for the Oct. 21 election to make their choice online. While online ballots have been cast in more than 60 municipalities in Ontario and Nova Scotia, potential concerns include fraud, privacy, the ability to do recounts, voter authentication and access for people without computers. Edmonton’s proposed system was tested last month in a mock “jelly bean” vote, but Sinclair wants more public comment before she advises city councillors in January on what they should do. “I wouldn’t introduce any technology if I didn’t think it was sound, but if people aren’t ready for it why would I go ahead with it?”
“They asked me if I would be interested in being a juror. I asked ‘What crime am I involved in?’ (The interviewer) laughed and said ‘No, this isn’t a crime, this is a jury of citizens to discuss voting on the Internet.’ ” The project is being organized by the Centre for Public Involvement, a joint program of the city and the University of Alberta, which put together groups that looked at the 2009 civic budget and an urban food and agricultural policy. Centre co-chairman Marco Adria said jurors were selected to represent local demographics, providing a “mini-population” of Edmonton that should reflect what most people would think given the same information. Update: A 17-member citizens’ jury in Edmonton gave a unanimous thumbs-up to Internet voting Sunday, November 25, 2012. However, in February 2013, Edmonton city council turned down a proposal to allow online ballots as part of October’s civic election.
If the jury turns thumbs-down on the idea Sunday after three days of hearings, Sinclair won’t recommend council go ahead. If the jury supports it, she’ll give council options on how to proceed.
Said Kalina Kamenova of the CPI, “It is surprising that councillors went against the verdict of the citizen jury and overlooked Edmontonians’ overwhelming support for this innovative voting option,” she wrote, emphasizing this is her opinion.
Juror Radhika Sharma, like her colleagues picked from a pool of hundreds of possible participants, said she wanted to take part to see how decisions are made.
“It makes you wonder why so much money is being spent by the city for public involvement when citizens’ input doesn’t really have any impact on decision-making.”
She described herself as being in the middle of the debate on Internet voting.