Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.

Christmas Spirit

I haven’t been able to wrap my head around that Christmas is almost here. We are a week out, and I have no decorations up, the tree hasn’t even made it to my home.

I have baked some Christmas goodies, and given them away, so I guess that counts. But my heart is still not embracing the spirit of the season.

And then I had a reminder from my daughter Kim this morning.

I pulled up the blinds and found a collection of window decorations she painted recently. I thought she had taken them to school, but she left them here for me to enjoy.



I love how my daughters do these little things that remind me to stop and enjoy the moment.

Thanks Kim.

A message for my daughter

Tomorrow marks the first day of your adult life. You will board the plane that takes you away from your hometown, and towards your new life as a University student.

You are my eldest, my first love, the reason I am a mother. You amaze me with your wit, your humour, your brilliant mind and your beautiful heart. You do not tolerate disrespect for others and have proven yourself to be a role model and a leader to your classmates, your peers and your sisters.

The adults around you have remarked on your poise and presence of self. Your friends know your loyalty and fairness; everyone knows where they stand with you.

You have taught me how to be a mom, and be a better mom. You hold me to high standards and let me know when you need me to be better.

I love you Carly. Thank you.


SS Jeremiah O’Brien

Brian, Kim, Michelle and I toured the SS Jeremiah O’Brien during our recent road trip to San Francisco.

The O’Brien is one of the over 2,700 Liberty Cargo ships that were manufactured during WWII to transport military and civilian goods. What is so unique about these ships is that one could be made in 60 days from the time the keel was laid to launch. Incredible! There is more information about the O’Brien at .

Chances are that you’ve already seen or heard a part of the O’Brien; the engine room was used for filming scenes in James Cameron’s movie Titanic and many of the sounds recorded for the movie came from cruising the ship around the Bay Area.

The ship is steeped in history, with many of its original fittings, and a full museum and display in one of the cargo holds.


PHSS Grad 2013 Speech

My eldest daughter graduated from Pender Harbour Secondary earlier today. As the local school board trustee, I spoke at her graduation.

Here is the transcript of my speech.


Friends, family, community members, staff. Graduates.

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greetings and congratulations.

This is a favourite time of year for our Board as we celebrate the accomplishments and successes of all of our students, especially our graduates. In public education, our students are our focus and from the moment they first set foot in one of our facilities either through one of our early learning programs such as StongStart(r) or SPARK!(r) or at some other point of the K to 12 hierarchy, our staff and our board work our hardest to help them to realize their full potential.

In Pender, the community rallies around its youth through their presence at this celebration and the presentations of the generous bursaries and scholarships that support these young men and women in their post-secondary education. Thank you for tremendous show of support for these graduates.

One thing I’ve always loved about the way Pender holds its grad is the entrance- the symbolism of the graduates walking through this room of well-wishers: the families, friends, staff and community members that have supported, loved and encouraged the students for years. How incredible to be surrounded by all this happiness, and as you depart at the end through those doors, you leave us behind, but know that we will always be behind you, supporting the next step of your journey.

The PHSS student community is no different; they are a family, with multi-grade sports teams, peer tutoring, mentoring and an acceptance of each other that transcends differences.

These graduates have been student leaders and a family of their own for many years. I have witnessed this first hand as I have a personal connection with this class. My eldest daughter is on this stage and so many of these young adults have been a part of our family for many years, starting with Serendipity Preschool, moving through the classrooms at Madeira Park before transitioning to these walls at Pender.
I have witnessed first hand the friendships, mentoring, the squabbles, teamwork, the unfriendships, refriendships, tolerance and acceptance within this group.

On behalf of us parents, I would like to say good luck, and for the most part, you’ve been good kids. You are now adults; and to paraphrase Erma Bombeck, to have a child is to forever have a piece of your heart outside your body. We are so proud and very happy for you and a piece of us is screaming “Hallelujah! My child has graduated!!”
We have loved you from birth to first steps, from the first day of school to now, the first day of your adult life.

As Broffenbrenner states;

Every child needs at least one person who is really crazy about him or her.

. I have been so honoured and truly blessed to have been one of these supporters, as ‘crazy’ as I am.

I will continue to be that person for each and every one of you. Keep in touch.

I love you all, and one of you, just a little bit more.


My Grandmother

My grandmother passed away just this past Thursday, June 14th, 2012. She and I were quite close, and she was a wonderful human being that always made you feel welcome when you came to visit, and her face and voice positively lit up when she greeted you.

I was lucky to have been one of her granchildren that lived quite close to her growing up, and as my mom was the oldest of her children, we spent quite a bit of time at her home. There were always beautiful flowers blooming – from peonies to poppies, so many colours; crabapple trees that we would climb and challenge our cousins to take a bite from the tart fruit; and the garden! Peas straight from the vine, and carrots from the warm soil.

There was always something baking, or about to baked, or hot from the oven. You could never leave hungry, and were often sent home with some type of goody wrapped in foil.

There was always so much love in her home. Grandma adored her family, and her husband. When my grandfather passed away after a short battle with cancer in 1991, Grandma was at a loss for a bit, but then quickly rallied as she always did, and set out on her new life alone. She earned her first driver’s license later that year, at the young age of 70.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with her the week before she passed. We sat for a while, and I held her hand. we talked a bit, and I fed her ice cream one day, her fish at lunchtime another day. I am so amazed that at age 91 that she was able to recount the story of how her four year old granddaughter walked across Red Deer thirty-three years before (yes, that was me); and then I heard for the first time in my life, the story of how she met Grandpa.

Her obituary is below; it is hard to sum up her life in a few black and white sentences when she was such a dynamic force in our lives. We will miss her greatly in our family.

Margaret Gudim

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Margaret Myrtle (Mitchell) Gudim on June 14, 2012 at the Sunset Manor in Innisfail, Alberta. Margaret was born Dec 24, 1920 in Monitor, Alberta. She was the youngest daughter of John and Jane Mitchell. She had six older siblings – Bill, Mary, Ethel, Jackie, Olive and Violet. She married Walter Gudim in 1942 and they moved their family to Rimbey in 1946 and later to Red Deer in 1963. They eventually had six children Carol (Art) Pratt of Rocky Mountain House, Terry Abrams and John Kendall of Calgary, Rosemary (Colin) Dent of Queensland, Australia, Robert (Heather) Gudim of Strathmore, Fae (Allan) Roberts of Calgary and Bruce (Diana) Gudim of Calgary. Their family grew to include 18 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren. Margaret’s family and friends were very important to her and much treasured. Her beloved husband Walter predeceased her in 1991. Funeral services will be held from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3002-47 Ave, Red Deer on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 12pm. Final resting place will be in Alto Rest Memorial Gardens Cemetery. If friends desire, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, #202 – 5913-50 Ave, Red Deer.