Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mortality. The Merriam Webster Dictionary reminds us that being mortal means that we are subject to death. Mortality, then, means the state or quality of being mortal. To face my mortality means that I face the fact that I am subject to death.

This fact of life has brutally forced its way into my consciousness these past ten days with the very sudden passing of one of my co-workers. One day he was alive. And now he's dead. There is virtually nothing left of him on this earth. Except the genetics that he has passed on to his daughter and the memories implanted into the brains of those that knew him.

And what of me? And my mortality? Oh, it's not that I haven't thought of it before. Like most people, I've contemplated my own life and death. A couple of years ago I had one of those "cancer scares". I had a couple of weeks to consider what it might be like to be dying. To consider what my mark on the world might be. What do I leave behind? The answers then, as now, remain somewhat bleak. Not that I'm feeling sorry for myself or anything, but aside from all of the wonderful memories people will have of me and the genetics that I pass on to my son, what have I left the world that is of any real value? And is it important to leave the world with something other than my memory?

When I go camping I often take younger children with me - nieces, nephews, etc. I try to teach these kids to leave the place we are staying in better condition than when we arrivrd. We try to pick up all of our own trash, plus that left behind by others. We try to ensure that the place is pristine for the next people to use our spot. If I were to die tonight, will I have left the world in a better place than when I arrived? Some might say yes, but it's difficult to nail down such a concept when one hasn't accomplished anything specific.

Yes, it's true that I touch the hearts of people whenever I can. I try to be kind and thoughtful and to do good deeds. I try to model compassion and kindness. I have been politically active but I haven't been successful in stopping the bodies that I've tried to stop. It's true that, as a child protection worker, I've rescued children from horrendous living situations.

The question causes me to contemplate what more I can do. I feel even more driven to complete my education so that I can have a greater impact on others that I'm working with. I feel even more driven to write the things that I need to say so that my words will outlast my body.

And it occurs to me that in this way I "cling" to life. In this way I attach myself to my desire to make a difference in the world. Ahhh, the trappings of being mortal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The following is the eulogy for my Grandfather, written and presented by my brother, Dennis Allen.

" Thomas William Allen, better known as "Slim" was born on July 13, 1917 at Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

In 1931, Grandpa left Indian Head and headed West. With a quick count of years, you'll realize that Grandpa was only 14 years old when he was ready to take on the world in the pains of the Depression.

Grandpa had many stories of that era of his life. Even as a young man, he could realize the stresses that the Depression put on people, but as a young man with no responsibilities, left him with many good memories. The story he liked was when he was riding the rails and fell asleep on top of the car. When the train stopped it was foggy and when he woke up he thought he had died and thought this must be Heaven. Then the train moved, he realized he was still on the car. he got off at the next station, went inside and curled up on a bench and went to sleep. When he woke up there was his brother. They visited for a bit and then both went their own ways.

After those years he took to cowboying in Southern Alberta. For a brief stint he teamed up with world champion Pete Knight on the rodeo circuit, but Pete convinced Grandpa he was too tall to be a rodeo cowboy and to find a different calling.

So, Grandpa took to working ranches in the South. It was then that he signed on at the Beaver Camp Ranch at Nanton where he met a beautiful lady named Violet Forsythe. It was February 9, 1939 that they married and began their 65 year partnership.

In September 1939 Grandpa enlisted in the army and it was during his service years that Norman, Bob, and Ernie came along. Grandpa served with the 4th Armored Division in England, France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. These are years that changed men forever. The things that they seen and did took the possibility of a normal life and world away from them forever.

I've had the pleasure of many hours of stories but the one picture that stuck in my head the most is that through all that hell, Grandpa did have the habit of dwelling mostly on the good times.

In September 1945 Grandpa came home, packed up his family, and headed to a farm near Berwyn. Once again the family grew with the arrival of Shirley and Mary.

I was quite surprised to learn how community minded my Grandpa was through those years. He was one of the founding members of the North Peace Stampede Association. He was on the Agriculture Service Board. He was instrumental in the start of the 4-H in the area. He was a founding member of the North Peace Feeder Association and served as a supervisor. Every cattle industry needs a place to market their product, so he became a shareholder in the Berwyn Auction Mart. He also in those early days, had the pound for stray livestock. He was a very active member in the Legion in those years. this is very understandable for many vets found comfort with their peers because they understood the world each other had served. Grandpa was also an avid volunteer. I remember hearing stories as I was growing up of him "cleaning out" the Lac Cardinal Hall...

In 1971 Grandpa and Grandma sold the farm to my parents, Bob and Lois. The ranch lands of the south called them again. With his knowledge of horses and cattle, and his military training this gave him the ability to give men directions. He took jobs as ranch foreman at Pincher Creek, Claresholm, and Turner Valley.

Both him and Grandma had a love for the south and many good friends that kept in touch through the years. My sisters and I had the privilege of staying down there during the summer holidays. Many stories and adventures came out of those years but one he could never quite live down was a night of socializing when in the wee hours of the morning it was decided that the skunk that wandered in the garage should be shot. Well, through blurry eyes, Grandpa shot himself a deep freeze. The skunk perfumed the garage and everything in the deep freeze was ruined. We're not too sure of the outcome of the skunk, though.

In 1980 they returned to the Grande Prairie area where his love for horses continued. He was instrumental in the foundation of PARDS and continued with them for the next 12 years.

A horse sale wasn't really a horse sale unless slim was wandering around somewhere, whether he was buying, selling or just passing judgment on a crop of colts. His opinion was valued by all. He trained horses until he was 80 years young and then decided the ground was too darned hard. Grandpa could get a horse to go just about anywhere. He rode through the Sutherland Inn on one occasion. When he broke his shoulder he was riding a gree horse and he had roped a calf. Well that horse let into bucking and it bucked right into the box of a pick-up truck when they went their separate directions. I could just imagine the doctor's face when he heard that old cowboy who thought he was riding a bucking horse in the back of a pick-up, let alone one that was green.

1992 Grandpa was honored with the title of Wagon Master for the Grande Prairie Stompede. In his 86th summer I had the privilege of going riding with him for his last time. It was a very good day.

Grandpa was predeceased by one grandson, also by the name of Thomas, four brothers, ken, Percy, cliff, and Jack and four sisters, Bell, Bea, Elva, and Emma. In 2004 he lost his partner in life, Violet. His five kids are here. He has 16 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

All men die, but very few really live and that's what we need to celebrate today - a life well lived."

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This is an essay I wrote about community for one of my classes.

We gather together. Perhaps it's around a table, or in a circle on the floor. We might bring food to share a pot luck and to feed each other. We gather to discuss serious business, or to offer healing and support to one another. We gather to organize ourselves for political reasons. We gather to celebrate ritual. We gather. And in the gathering we begin to coalesce into community. Community. A powerful word evoking so many images and thoughts.
As a displaced farm girl, I came to desire a clearly defined community. I grew up in a Northern rural community alongside the children of the people my parents grew up with. It was not an unusual experience to hear stories of my own childhood from people who could just as easily tell stories about my parents' growing up years. In this community there were events that drew the farmers and townspeople together on a regular basis: the Farmers' Day Picnic, the Boxing Day Dance, the Berwyn Fiesta, the North Peace Stampede. All were events that had been happening since before I was born. They were a steady part of community activities and they allowed a place for people to gather outside of the normal day to day activities to celebrate themselves, their friends, and their history.
Is a community where we live? Is it where we grew up? Can it be intentional? Perhaps it is all of these things. In this paper I will explore more thoroughly the meaning of community. I hope to more closely examine what it means to call oneself a member of a community. I will use my own experiences within a variety of communities to more closely examine my beliefs about community.

The concept of community is not a new one. People have been gathering together for thousands of years for various purposes, and have been doing so in a very “natural” kind of way. Communities seem to serve some benefit for the people that belong to them. Even if individuals do not necessarily recognize the immediate benefit of belonging, usually some benefit is gained.
Increasingly, along with geographical communities, people have been joining together in intentional kinds of communities. We see this particularly in religious communities. My sister and her family belong to an Evangelical Christian community. The people in this community have a strong bond. Many of the members of the community are involved in church activities two or three evenings per week in addition to Sunday attendance in the church. Members form friendships outside of church activities and children begin to play together. Relationship development is strongly encouraged within the community through formalized family groupings. Eventually, community members even marry within the church. This type of community is well structured, with many planned activities led by community leaders.
When my son was young, he attended an alternate school program called “Caraway School”. This was another intentional community. Within the Caraway program, parents became very active participants of the school curriculum. They co-facilitated learning with teachers. They led study groups and field trips. In so doing, the children developed relationships with other parents within the community. Some parents did naturally form friendships with each other, however relationship activities seemed to function primarily within the regular school hours. There were not a lot of planned extra-curricular activities that encouraged relationship development outside of the school. Nor was this seen necessarily as an important function.


Communities can be described and defined in a number of different ways. The Funk and Wagnalls Canadian College Dictionary (1989) defines community in the following manner:
“1. A group of people living together or in one locality and subject to the same laws, having common interests, characteristics, etc: a rural community; religious community. 2. The district or area in which they live. 3. The public; society in general. 4. Common ownership or participation. 5. Identity or likeness: community of interests.” (pg 274).
To talk effectively about community, it would seem to be necessary to try to know exactly what one was trying to say. However, the definitions, themselves, can be problematic and restrictive just by the nature of definitions. In Rhetoric and Cultures: Contextualizing Discourse Communities, communities are described as “a group of people who are socially interdependent” (prgph 1); “people who have been able to accept and transcend their differences” (prgph 2); and “group of people lined by a communications structure supporting discussion and collective action” (prgrph 4). They seem to suggest that a community must be one thing or another.
Ife (2002), in his text on community development for social workers, suggests that it's less the definition of what community is and more the mysterious promise of what a community might be that helps us understand its importance in our society (pg 14). He discusses a nation wide study completed in Australia in 1990 that demonstrated that many citizens seemed to be experiencing a loss of what they believed to have been “community” in the past, but that no longer existed. The study seems to suggest that the general population believed that “rebuilding community structures was one of their highest priorities for their future” (pg 14).
Defining a community is less important to me than actually talking about what the function of a community is. As I moved through a couple of different crises in my own life, I found that those people who surrounded me were the ones that I considered to be part of my Spiritual Community. These were the people who brought food and fellowship to my door, and who took me in when I needed comforting. These day to day “duties” of friendship are, perhaps, the substance of a community.
A community is a group of people. It is the individuals that make the community stronger. I was fortunate enough to be present and participant to the formation of my own spiritual community in Edmonton. At that time there were loose affiliations of people doing similar things, but we called ourselves together for a meeting to begin to formally structure a community. In that room, at that time, we allowed ourselves to dream about what we hoped to create – for ourselves, for each other, and for the broader community in both the city and the province.
Over the years of our development, the concept of community has shifted and been recreated in different ways. The lofty goals and dreams have not yet been produced. Some members of the community have withdrawn; conflicts have arisen and been both appropriately and inappropriately dealt with. Those of us that were present at the beginning and continue to be present today are beginning to define our community differently from where we had initially started. Our idealism has been tempered to some degree. This doesn't appear to have been a negative result; instead it's allowed us to view ourselves, and our capabilities with more realism.
What is more evident to me now, however, is that our loose use of the term “community” made room for misinterpretations and misunderstandings. This, in turn, created false expectations for some people. Their needs weren't met, therefore they became disillusioned, frustrated, or angry. Perhaps, if we had recognized this earlier in our formation, we might have lost fewer members.
It is in this realization that I return to the value and importance of a working definition of community. Not one that restricts, but instead, one that allows a group to grow into itself. Perhaps the definition becomes a container; and the container, itself, something that is malleable. The definition grows into the community instead of the community growing into the definition.

English 521. (Spring 2002). Rhetoric and Cultures: Contextualizing Discourse Communities. Retrieved October 27, 2007 from
(1989) Funk & Wagnalls Canadian College Dictionary. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited.
Ife, J. (2002). Community Development: Community-Based Alternatives in an Age of Globalisation, 2nd edition. New South Wales, Australia: Pearson Education Australia Pty Limited.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Women's Experience of Men

“Linked with women's subordinate position vis-a-vis men, women's survival strategies include observing men's behaviour because it affects what women have to do to avoid male violence. (In contrast, states William Goode, men do not often observe women's lives because their behaviour is not affected by them”. Women, for example, monitor footsteps behind them or sexualised comments or glances directed from men because they must devise strategies in case the encounter moves in a direction not of their own choice. Certainly, in many instances, but unpredictably so, the footsteps or the glances could be characterised by women to be men's perfectly 'innocent' behaviour. This characterization, however, only arises after there has been 'no trouble'. As long as women do not feel coerced by men's behaviour, then women feel safe, or feel that at least this time they are not immediately threatened.

Being on guard for women, though, is not paranoia; it is reasonable caution. Many women have encountered men's threatening, intimidating or violent behaviour at first hand. As children, many women have had experiences of sexual abuse, either from male relatives or from male strangers. Quite likely, female children are even taught to be on guard for male strangers who wish to offer them candy or money to do somethin unspeakable (unsepakable, because, of course, few of us were ever told why male strangers might wish to offer us goodies). Female adolescence too is a time of learning what it means to be on guard. As soon as women begin pubescent development, they actually begin to see men's behaviour toward them change. Adolescent women are met with comments, glances, whistles, admiration for the visible development of their sexuality. At the same time within their peer group, sexual experimentation starts. Fending off male sexuality, much of which is initially welcomed, the young woman learns that she cannot always control sexual encounters she engages in. She also learns that if anything 'happens', she is to blame. As adults, then women have acquired, as part of their maturation, an idea of how men respond to them as sexual beings. They are also aware that they are less physically powerful than men, that much of their surrounding world rewards them for their feminine appearance, and that men – young and old – make sexual advances toward them. It is not uncommon that, by the time women are adults, they have experienced some form of coercive, threatening, intimidating or violent behaviour from men. It is no wonder that, as adults, women are on guard.

Elizabeth A. Stanko

Intimate Intrusions Women's Experience of Male Violence

1985, New York, N.Y: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Inc

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

World View

I recently wrote this following paper for a class in school. As it's the first time I've received 100% on a paper, I thought I might post it here:

I grew up in Northern Alberta on the same farm that my dad grew up on. Both of my parents were raised in this rural community and met when they were in their late teens. I have four siblings, and am the second born. In what was a “normal” rural upbringing in Northern Alberta at the time, my dad “farmed” and my mom worked off the farm to support the very low income of the farm. We were chronically on the financial edge, as was/is often true for the small family farm. My dad went away to work on the oil rigs in the winter, leaving my mom to look after the kids, her job, and the 100 or so head of cattle that they continually had. My dad had a problem with alcohol until I was in my mid-20's. In my family, the men worked the land and looked after the cattle. The women cooked, cleaned, and looked after the men – in all manner of speaking. We were raised to believe that males were not really capable of managing their emotions, therefore we didn't share our problems with them.

It was in this environment that my Worldview was shaped. My parents worked very hard – in fact, they continue to work very hard. My siblings and I often joke that, even with the age difference, we neither want to, nor can we, keep up to our parents' level of work. In some ways, this work ethic was reminiscent of the “Protestant Work Ethic” that they were both raised in. And in other ways it was about the survival of their family and their farm. And now, I believe they are attached to the habit of working so hard; that is, they don't quite know what to do with themselves if they aren't working. This attachment to working is one that is well ingrained within me. I, too, work hard and value and admire a strong work ethic.

In the community where I grew up, with a First Nations community only a couple of miles away, there was overt racism. As I look back, there was no sense of “political correctness” in the language and actions of the white community. When my uncle married a woman from Jamaica, she was one of the first “black” people in the community. There were Chinese immigrants in the area who did what they could to “fit in” in, but they, too, faced overt racism. As I grew into my early adult years, I started to become aware of my own racism. When I studied Social Work I became very aware of it, and began the long road of healing the racism. A close friend of mine says that, like recovering alcoholics, those of us from British descent are “recovering racists”.

As I have grown and developed both personally and professionally, I have come to see the assets that my upbringing has provided to me. My mother's strength of character was the basis for my own feminist ideals. Both of my parents always believed that their children could do and be anything they wanted to be, however they never pushed us in any particular direction. In this way, we were allowed to find our own selves and follow our own paths. My mother developed a career for herself and became a highly admired community leader – not necessarily for her business acumen, but for her compassion and understanding as well as her assertiveness in problem solving. These are values and personality characteristics that I have integrated within myself.

My dad had/has a love of, and respect for, the land that he modeled for his children. The land really became my dad's religion. When he needs to re-connect with himself and with his version of Divinity, my dad gets on his horse and rides the hills. Where my mom was/is community minded and relational, my dad was/is a loner and found his own answers within himself, trusting himself. These are also values that I have integrated within myself – the belief that I have the answers within me and that if I spend some time reflecting, I am likely able to come to some resolution. I adopted my dad's love for the land and his connection to it.

In my family, we considered ourselves “Presbyterian”. We attended church only sporadically, however. My dad often called himself an Atheist, my mom called herself a Christian. As children, we were neither discouraged from nor encouraged to follow any particular religious path. My siblings and I have all become deeply spiritual individuals associating with very diverse traditions. My own love of the land and feminist perspectives have evolved into the goddess traditions and Witchcraft.
My worldview has grown and changed as I have aged. As a very young woman I became a single parent. This created its own particular joys and struggles. But from this I developed a stronger sense of independence and belief in the power of self. I learned to value my own ability to look after myself and my child; I learned to value my ability to do things on my own. I became more stubborn about seeking out help, sometimes seeing asking for help as a weakness of character. Not for others, but for my own self.

In the struggles that I faced as a single parent, I began to develop a sense of Social Justice. I became increasingly aware of the inequities within society. I became increasingly politically active, learning to advocate for myself, my son, and then the broader community. These values and personality characteristics developed as I studied social work. The values within the profession of social work were woven into the fabrics of my own values. That is, the values of equality, of compassion, of empathy, and of action were honed and polished. I became more challenging of systems and less accepting of the status quo.

Social Work, as a career choice, became indelibly ingrained not only as a job, but as a lifestyle for me. I saw my ability to advocate for people, to influence decision makers, and to organize resistance as key personality characteristics that I honored and nurtured within myself. I became involved in union activism and then in larger international social justice issues. I continue this activism now. In this way, it's my world view that these systems are interconnected. Corey (2005) describes liberal, cultural, radical, and socialist feminists amongst some definitions (pg 343 and 344). I would situate myself with all four of these as well as with the global international feminists (pg 345) that Corey describes.

As described above, however, it is also one of my personality characteristics to resist the status quo. Although I openly call myself “feminist” and “witch” I am also fully conscious of the implications of using these very loaded words. And so I choose to use them with discernment. In this way, my use of these and other “loaded” terms is generally conscious and used as a means of impacting and/or affecting those around me. I like to push normative boundaries, so to speak. I recognize that there is a line that I have drawn around this practice, however. As a professional, I have found that I do not push these boundaries so overtly with clients as I do with my co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. I believe that this is a reflection of my understanding of the power differential between client and social worker. It is my strong belief that when I meet a client in a professional capacity, it is my role to meet their needs, not my own. I also recognize and believe that I cannot go untouched, so my client's needs and my own are not mutually exclusive (see Corey, 2005, pg 17 and 81).

In my family of origin, formal education was not valued. Neither of my parents graduated high school. We never discussed secondary education as a possible path for me or any of my siblings. I learned, however, as a young woman, that education was a way out of poverty for myself. When I first attended school, I also learned that actually I was quite smart and appreciated as an adult learner. There developed, for me, a love of education for its own sake. In this way, one of my values is that of a model of life long learning. I see the ability to continue to educate myself is a privilege within my society and culture, as well as the broader international communities. I recognize that by the grace of being born in this country, education is made available to me. Given my own experience it seems logical that I would believe that education is an important way out of poverty for others, as well.

Implications for the Practice of Pastoral Counselling
Currently I work in the field of Child Protection as a social worker. I have been able to observe my own self as a professional within my practice. My values of deep compassion and willingness to witness people's life situations are present. I believe that as I begin a practice as pastoral counsellor, that I will continue with these values. I think that they are strengths within my personality; they allow me the patience to support people through the telling of their stories to the degree that they think they need to tell them. It is my belief that the telling of our stories begins the journey to healing the wounds accumulated along the path of our lives. It is in this way that I find myself situated on a continuum that supports longer therapy. I realize that this is not something that's available to everyone.

As I answered the prechapter self-inventories in the Corey Student Manual (2005) I found myself reflecting on my counselling biases with the following types of questions: “The key to understanding human behaviour is understanding the unconscious” (pg 37); “Although we are not determined by our past, we are significantly influenced by our perceptions and interpretations of these past events” (pg 51); “We are not victims of circumstance, but we are what we choose to become” (69); “The primary responsibility for the direction of therapy rest not with the therapist, but with the client” (pg 82) and “It is important that clients tell their stories and give voice to what they are experiencing in the present” (pg 161). These statements are revelatory to me in that I recognize a distinct theme within myself about the role and goals of therapy.

Consistent with my feminist belief system, I believe that we are deeply influenced by our childhood and our relationships with our families of origin, as well as with the culture that we grow up in. I believe that early childhood experiences imprint themselves on our unconscious. In this way, we begin to move unconsciously in the world, reacting to our shadow selves and our projections, (Sharp, 1998 pgs 45 and 59). I believe that it is my role, as therapist, to assist with making the unconscious conscious. Another of my biases became evident to me through the Corey Student Handbook (2005) and that was that I believe strongly that the relationship with the therapist plays the primary role in the therapeutic process. I believe that this is part of my personality characteristics – I build relationships with people quite effectively as I am compassionate, caring, kind, and interested in them.

I believe that people absolutely have the capacity to change, however I think that (in true social work fashion) they have to want to change, first. It is my sense that once someone makes a decision to change, the role of therapist becomes one of guide as opposed to expert. In this way, and consistent with my spiritual beliefs, the individual is their own authority and expert on their own life.1 It is my very strong belief that people do not have to be victims in their lives. My upbringing instilled the value of self-sufficiency in me, and so I believe that it's valuable work to support people to become self-sufficient.

Through my life experiences I have developed a deep spiritual connection to and love for life – my own and the lives of others. This has evolved into a powerful sense of optimism and hope in and for the world and humankind. I consistently receive feedback that I radiate this optimism and hope. Along with being a value and worldview, my optimism and hope are also in tune with my spiritual beliefs. I was delighted to be trained in Solution Focused Counselling and Motivational Interviewing techniques through my employment; this model and technique both fit well within my practice and values.

Hoffman, Kolevzon, and Sowers-Hoag (1989) wrote about the apparent evidence that an individual's personality characteristics determine whether a certain counselling model or techniques will be a good fit for that person. This perspective makes logical sense to me; it seems like it is a bit like meeting a new person when I learn a new theory. I play a bit, and learn a bit, and eventually decide whether that person can fit into my life. A theory offers information and techniques; I can try them for a bit, play with them, and eventually will find what is most comfortable based upon my personal characteristics and values. One of the risks I see for myself, in this process, is becoming too comfortable in a certain style (contrary to my belief in challenging the status quo) and not trying other theories or techniques as they evolve and develop.

Corey (2009) says:
“The person and the professional are intertwined facets that cannot be separated in reality. We know, clinically and scientifically, that the person of the therapist and the therapeutic relationship contribute to therapy outcome at least as much as the particular treatment methods used” (pg 17).

This is my lived experience. The person I am is the social worker I am is the therapist I will be. My experience is that the most important part of this discussion is my own self-awareness about these values, beliefs, and personality characteristics. So long as I know where I stand on these parts of myself, I am able to be better aware of the impact I have on the client. And ultimately, what I hope for is the best therapeutic outcomes for my clients.

Corey, Gerald. (2005). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 8th Edition. Belmont, California: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Corey, Gerald. (2005). Student Manual for Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 8th Edition. Belmont, California: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Crook, Kenneth H. and Truscott, Derek. (2004). Ethics for the Practice of Psychology in Canada. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press.
Doherty, William J. (1995). Soul Searching Why Psychotherapy Must Promote Moral Responsibility. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books.
Hoffman, Cheryl, Michael S. Kolevzon, Karen Sowers-Hoag. (1989). Selecting a Family Therapy Model: The Role of Personality Attributes in Eclectic Practice. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Vol. 15, No. 3, 249-257.
Sharp, Daryl. (1998). Jungian Psychology Unplugged My Life as an Elephant. Toronto, Ontario: Inner City Books.
Starhawk. (1990). The Spiral Dance A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A copy of a letter I've sent to the New Democrats. I've also phoned and left messages stating my point of view.

Mr. Jack Layton
Leader - New Democrat Party

Dear Mr. Layton

I've been following the discussion about the upcoming televised Leader's Debate. Imagine my surprise when the media announced that my beloved N.D. party has said that they would not back Elizabeth May and the Green Party's participation in the debate.

I have voted New Democrat in every federal election since I turned 18 (over 20 years ago!). I always believed in the ideal of grass roots democracy. I even ran as a candidate for the party in 1997. Never have I been so disappointed in this party as I am at this point. I thought that my party believed in grass roots organizing and democracy. I thought we supported election reform. And yet this decision flies completely in the face of those principles.

I can assure you that I will not vote New Democrat in this election based solely upon this issue. I believe that I have a rather wide circle of influence amongst friends and relatives who have also been New Democrat supporters. I will do what I can to influence them to not vote N.D. this election as well, given this stance of the party against democratic values. This was a bad bad decision on the part of the party and ill thought out. I don't think the hierarchy of the party has realized the impact that the Green Party can have on this nation.

I'm sorely disappointed and want to suggest that you should be ashamed of yourself!

Most respectfully
Shakti Roberta Allen
Edmonton, Alberta

Monday, September 8, 2008

The National Election

Our Prime Minister announced yesterday that we're going to have another election. Not because our country wants one or asked for one or even needs one. But because he decided he could.

One of the many "traditional" activities of a federal election in Canada is that the media get together and host a televised "Leader's Debate". There is usually only one, and it's a chance for the public to witness the leaders going toe to toe on the important issues. Often it becomes a childish yelling match, but it really is an opportunity for leaders to make their points known and for Canadians to see how the leaders manage under pressure.

In Canada, we have three major parties: the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the New Democrats. We also have the Bloc Quebecois who is a party that serves only the province of Quebec and holds virtually no interest to the rest of the country, except in how it relates to Quebec's sovereignty. In the recent past few years the Green Party has also become a significant force across the country. They achieve a sufficient amount of votes to receive additional funding from the government. They're outspoken and often recognized by the media.

But a "consortium of media" has come together and decided that the Green Party will not be allowed to participate. The leader of the Green Party had predicted the impending election and had been lobbying the media to ensure her inclusion in the debate. But instead she's been excluded. The media consortium indicates that this decision was made under pressure of "three of four of the parties". Apparently only the Liberals were in support of the Greens participating in the debate.

What I'm curious about is what are they so afraid of? I'm not a member of the Green Party (I'm not a member of any party)but it seems to me that their ideas have been acknowledged and accepted by each of the parties at different times. But the Conservatives, the Bloc, and the N.D.s obviously believe that they will lose votes to the Greens.

Whatever their reasoning, I'm outraged at the decision. It seems to me that Canadians have a right to make up their own minds. And to do so, the information shouldn't be controlled by the media and by the other parties. I say "shame on them". I've written a couple of letters already. Tomorrow I'll make some phone calls. I wish that anyone who was even slightly uncomfortable with this decision would do the same.

Shame on Them!!!