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Ottawa School Cancels Remembrance Day Event

Haggis

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Although I am tempted to throw this into the "WTF!!" category, I'm sure, as with all media reports, not all angles have been reported here.  Shared with the usual disclaimers:

OTTAWA - The 20th anniversary of an educational Remembrance Day event is being cancelled at a west Ottawa Catholic high school after the teacher organizing it was told “no tanks or guns” are allowed in the school.

Notre Dame High School history teacher Gene Michaud sent an e-mail to friends last Friday, sadly announcing the end of the Remembrance Day Symposium — shocking many in the military community.

“There’s a huge difference between some kid with a grudge bringing a weapon that’s loaded into a school, and veterans putting on a Remembrance display with non-functioning historical replicas,” said Wayne Mac Culloch, a retired major who spent more than 40 years in the Canadian Forces, including five missions overseas.

“What we’ve got going on here is a warped perspective of no weapons in schools.”

Mac Culloch often speaks at the annual Veterans Week event, which was set for Nov. 10 this year, and says he’s astounded by the new rule.

“We’re not talking tanks — we’re talking a cargo truck, Jeep, things you or I could actually own,” he said. 
 

“If I can drive this thing on a city street, what is the objection of the school board?”

Replicas from museums are usually brought in, “but certainly, there’s nothing that you can operate,” said Mac Culloch.

Grade 11 student Carrington Pilon said he’s “shocked to find out it’s being cancelled because it’s such a great thing that our school does to get everyone involved to remember them. Just being in the same room as them is such an honour,” said Pilon.

Kiara Cullum, 16, first took part in the event four years ago.

“They did have one station where there’s replicas of guns and different things,” said Cullum.

“They had the uniforms that they wore and we were actually allowed to try them on, so it was really cool.”

Cullum said students will be “disappointed” because they love interacting with veterans.

This year’s event would’ve included those who served in Afghanistan.

An Ottawa Catholic School Board spokeswoman downplayed the cancellation, chalking it up to a decision made by an internal committee.

“The committee decided they wanted to change direction of the symposium,” said Lauren Rocque.

“The co-ordinator, he didn’t like the way that it was going, so he resigned.”

Rocque said she doesn’t know the man’s name or when he stepped down.

Michaud tried taking the event to a public school but also got rejected.

“We do not allow weapons in our schools for any reason,” said Ottawa Carleton District School Board spokeswoman Sharlene Hunter.

Ministry of education spokesman Gary Wheeler says schools are obligated to hold Remembrance Day services, but “decisions relating to what type of items are to be brought onto school property fall within the discretion of the school board.”

Mac Culloch isn’t impressed with either board.

“If those in our education system can’t make the distinction, I personally would have to question their professionalism,” he said.

“If we’re going to misrepresent our history, what lessons are we really going to learn?”

OTTAWA CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD WEAPONS POLICY

1. The Board shall not tolerate the use, threat of use, or possession of weapons or replicas thereof by any unauthorized person on its property or in buildings or at Board-sponsored activities. The Board shall not tolerate the presence of weapons or replicas thereof in lockers, schoolbags, handbags, vehicles,or in any other place on its property. The Board adopts the following definitions of weapon:

1. Anything used, designed to be used, or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person;

2. Anything used, designed to be used, or intended for use for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person;

3. Any knife;

4. Anything that is declared to be a prohibited or restricted weapon by the Criminal Code of Canada (e.g., knives with blades that open automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife; pepper spray or any noxious substance, tear gas, tazer stun guns, nanchaku, brass knuckles, spiked wristbands, finger rings with sharp or raised projections, etc.);

5. Any barreled weapon from which any shot, bullet, or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, and includes any frame or receiver of such a barreled weapon and anything that can be adopted for use as a firearm;

6. Any device which can propel a projectile, i.e., slingshot, compound bow, crossbow, paintball gun, etc.;

7. Any explosive device or the materials used for making an explosive device.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca
 

The Bread Guy

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Agreed there's got to be more than we see, but it appears to be zero tolerance being applied with zero judgement.  After all, a "barrack room lawyer" read of the following ....
.... The Board shall not tolerate the use, threat of use, or possession of weapons or replicas thereof by any unauthorized person on its property or in buildings or at Board-sponsored activities ....
.... suggests someone (the Board?  Director of Education?) may be in the position to authorize something.  Or is this to cover, say, cops coming into the school with their sidearms?

Again, big caveat re:  "who knows what's not in the story" rule.
 

Strike

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milnews - That's exactly the thought I had when I read the article.  Who is an 'authorized' person?  It seems that there is some discretion allowed here, but no one wants to step up to the plate.  It's just easier to say, "No weapons, at all, ever, no matter the circumstances," than to say, "We will authorize you to bring in a decommisioned weapon as a teaching tool."

The unfortunate result is the students missing out on a great educational experience (speaking with veterans) and the bad press.
 

OldSolduer

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Strike said:
milnews - That's exactly the thought I had when I read the article.  Who is an 'authorized' person?  It seems that there is some discretion allowed here, but no one wants to step up to the plate.  It's just easier to say, "No weapons, at all, ever, no matter the circumstances," than to say, "We will authorize you to bring in a decommisioned weapon as a teaching tool."

The unfortunate result is the students missing out on a great educational experience (speaking with veterans) and the bad press.

I'm going to quietly observe this. I am sure that there will be some "Copycat" schools who's exuberance  to get on the "anti war" band wagon will overcome all reason and common sense.
 

Jimmy_D

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IMO: If they are that worried. Make the Vets use decommissioned weapons, and have an officer of the law (city police, RCMP) there to clarify to the school board, that these weapons are inoperable and safe. Or maybe its just someone does not agree with the conservatives dropping the long gun registry and this is just for something to gain media attention to help dispute that conflict.
 
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If this school is like the local Catholic school, the board members can be very hard set in their ways.

OTTAWA - The 20th anniversary of an educational Remembrance Day event is being cancelled at a west Ottawa Catholic high school after the teacher organizing it was told “no tanks or guns” are allowed in the school.

Me thinks that if someone is bringing a tank to your school, they probably wont care if it is allowed or not.
 

Halifax Tar

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I opted out of a conversation with a close family member 2 days when I was informed the school that they teach at will have a Remembrance Day ceremony that will include a tribute to the schools name sake (a saint) and special attention paid to environmental issues. I was told they felt Remembrance Day glorifies war and young children don't need to see tanks and guns.

Needless to say I could only question how they figured young children didn't need to see tanks and guns, yet after school mommy and daddy plop their kids in front of an XBOX 360 with Call of Duty to play all night. I had to back away from the conversation at this point.
 

Edward Campbell

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Jimmy_D said:
IMO: If they are that worried. Make the Vets use decommissioned weapons, and have an officer of the law (city police, RCMP) there to clarify to the school board, that these weapons are inoperable and safe. Or maybe its just someone does not agree with the conservatives dropping the long gun registry and this is just for something to gain media attention to help dispute that conflict.


That's not the problem.

The problem is a mindset that says that war is bad.

Now war is terrible, bloody, destructive and, and, and ... and sometimes some wars are just plain bad. But there are and were "good" wars, too; wars that needed to be fought and won no matter how many innocents were killed, no matter how many monasteries were bombed to pieces, no matter what prices had to be paid - but the people who run that school board and, doubtless, dozens hundreds more will not, maybe cannot grasp that simple fact.

In any event the big wars are fast fading from memory - we, the broad military family, remember; society at large does not.
 

Rheostatic

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I think they can manage Remembrance Day without the displays. If we argue that Remembrance Day is not about glorifying war, it is about remembering those killed, which side of the argument is supported by having some cool Jeeps on display? Ottawa has an excellent war museum where they can take a field trip any day of the year.

A speech from a veteran can have a more powerful and lasting effect than a show of military equipment.
 

Edward Campbell

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Rheostatic said:
I think they can manage Remembrance Day without the displays. If we argue that Remembrance Day is not about glorifying war, it is about remembering those killed, which side of the argument is supported by having some cool Jeeps on display? Ottawa has an excellent war museum where they can take a field trip any day of the year.


:goodpost:

I agree with you.
 

Robert0288

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Exactly what Rheostatic said and quoted by Campbell.  Yes it would be 'cool' to have some kind of hands on the help engage with young people , but those same displays can easily been seen at the war museum.  I know that other area high schools do have great ceremonies for remembrance day without the hands on portion, including a full band setup.  So not having the hands on is not a valid excuse.
 

Scoobs

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Turns out that indeed, there is more to this story.  Here is the link to the National Post version of the story:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/03/no-tanks-guns-or-remembrance-day-symposium-for-ottawa-school/

So, to summarize:

1. The Catholic School Board (note that I am Catholic), knows nothing about miitary kit.  This is obvious when saying that "tanks" were on the front lawn.  This is the same type of uneducated, read ignorant, comment that we often see in the press when a reporter calls an Iltis a tank.

2.  Children who have recently immigrated to Canada have complained to the school about feeling "scared" because weapons, etc. were in the school.  I have some opinions about this:

-is it better to isolate children from their fears or help them to overcome them?  I am a parent myself and if I just allowed my daughter to live life in a bubble, she would have been terrified of everything.  Educate the children by exposing them to Canadian vets and let them see that we are honourable and would never harm innocent civilians.  This could help to alleviate their fears and help them to gain confidence that their new country's military is there to protect them, not harm them.
-I have family that live in England/Scotland and before the following is read, take careful note that I am a first generation born Canadian as my mother (rest her soul) was born in Scotland.  Thus, my family is a family of immigrants.  My family informs me that at some places in England the Union Jack is no longer allowed to be flown because of complaints from people new to the UK.  To me, this is totally unacceptable.  Immigrants are attracted to Canada because of the economy, way of life, and values that we hold so dearly.  I firmly believe that if we start down this slippery slope, we will erode our values and way of life.  Where does it stop?  While I respect people's opinion (including those new to Canada), I do not agree that we should modify our values and customs to satisfy the few.

Another point, it really bothers me that there are educators within Canada that have not yet educated themselves prior to offering their opinion or making informed decisions.  While I agree that Remembrance Day ceremonies can be held without the level of displays that were previously shown the 19 previous years, I agree with the retired Major, what better way to educate the kids (and apparently the teachers/principal/school board themselves)?  Shame on the school and school board.
 

Swingline1984

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Scoobs said:
Turns out that indeed, there is more to this story.  Here is the link to the National Post version of the story:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/03/no-tanks-guns-or-remembrance-day-symposium-for-ottawa-school/

So, to summarize:

1. The Catholic School Board (note that I am Catholic), knows nothing about miitary kit.  This is obvious when saying that "tanks" were on the front lawn.  This is the same type of uneducated, read ignorant, comment that we often see in the press when a reporter calls an Iltis a tank.

2.  Children who have recently immigrated to Canada have complained to the school about feeling "scared" because weapons, etc. were in the school.  I have some opinions about this:

-is it better to isolate children from their fears or help them to overcome them?  I am a parent myself and if I just allowed my daughter to live life in a bubble, she would have been terrified of everything.  Educate the children by exposing them to Canadian vets and let them see that we are honourable and would never harm innocent civilians.  This could help to alleviate their fears and help them to gain confidence that their new country's military is there to protect them, not harm them.
-I have family that live in England/Scotland and before the following is read, take careful note that I am a first generation born Canadian as my mother (rest her soul) was born in Scotland.  Thus, my family is a family of immigrants.  My family informs me that at some places in England the Union Jack is no longer allowed to be flown because of complaints from people new to the UK.  To me, this is totally unacceptable.  Immigrants are attracted to Canada because of the economy, way of life, and values that we hold so dearly.  I firmly believe that if we start down this slippery slope, we will erode our values and way of life.  Where does it stop?  While I respect people's opinion (including those new to Canada), I do not agree that we should modify our values and customs to satisfy the few.

Another point, it really bothers me that there are educators within Canada that have not yet educated themselves prior to offering their opinion or making informed decisions.  While I agree that Remembrance Day ceremonies can be held without the level of displays that were previously shown the 19 previous years, I agree with the retired Major, what better way to educate the kids (and apparently the teachers/principal/school board themselves)?  Shame on the school and school board.

Well thought out and very well articulated response.  Milpoints in the mail.  :salute:
 

observor 69

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Just as an aside, yesterday I forced myself to approach our local librarian and suggest very politely that it would seem appropriate to add some books on our military in Afghanistan to her Remembrance Day book display. At that point it was entirely WWII and WWI titles. I handed her FOB DOC, one by Christie Blotched and another one in the same vain.
I was actually surprised when she said that was a good idea and told me to add the books to the display.
But later on reflection I remembered I went through the same performance with her last year.  :(
 

The Bread Guy

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As of this post, the comments so far on the Globe & Mail story on this are all supportive of continuing the practice.
.... The truth is that school administrators wish that this whole remembrance thing just went away. They don't want any form of military symbolism in the classroom. They don't want anything that smacks of glorification. They don't want anything that interferes with their regularly scheduled point of view. The belief amongst board staff is that the military has no place in the Canadian educational system. I'm of a centre-leftish mindset but this appalls me.

(....)

Michaud and the other veterans are correct. Being a very recent graduate of Ottawa's catholic board, I can agree that students of that board (and high school students in general) live pampered lives and do not even acknowledge the sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation and indeed all of those who have served our country. I wonder, if we found ourselves in need of young men and women to defend our country from certain danger, how many would volunteer? If conscription was enacted, how many would dodge the draft? Thank you, veterans. The cancelling of this event is shameful.

(....)

How pathetic, yet typical of Catholic School Boards and also the Public Board who turned it down too. The more I see of what is and is not tolerated in schools, the more I know there is something very very wrong with these morons at the school boards, as well as the principals and teachers who accept it all so easily.

Why can't they ever just use common sense and judgement and stop relying on their Big Book of Rules which must be 45,634 pages long.

My son's school tried to have a large food drive for the Salvation Army. The principal wanted to use our school as the drop-off place for the food. You would not believe the roadblocks the board put up to try to stop him. Every conceivable reason (and many inconceivable reasons) were given for why he couldn't do this, from potentially damaging the gym floor, to traffic concerns because of people dropping off food, to permit issues, you name it. He blew a gasket and they finally allowed it. We expect the big-wig at the board will be there smiling for the local newspaper picture, while our principal will be holding two fingers over his head. But most principals don't fight this nonsense from the boards.

(....)
An interesting change from what one expects from comments these days....
 

The Bread Guy

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E.R. Campbell said:
The problem is a mindset that says that war is bad.

Now war is terrible, bloody, destructive and, and, and ... and sometimes some wars are just plain bad. But there are and were "good" wars, too; wars that needed to be fought and won no matter how many innocents were killed, no matter how many monasteries were bombed to pieces, no matter what prices had to be paid - but the people who run that school board and, doubtless, dozens hundreds more will not, maybe cannot grasp that simple fact.
Along those lines, an editorial from the Toronto Sun:
In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.

In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”.

In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable.

That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace.

It’s a disgrace to the memory of the 284 Canadians who died in the Boer War, the 68,000 who died in the First World War, the 47,000 who died in the Second World War, the 516 who died in the Korean War and the 116 who died on UN peacekeeping missions ....
 

M Feetham

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Here is my two cents worth. Both of my kids are in junior high school and my oldest told me that last year the remebrance day ceremony they held was close to 2 hours long. They had several speakers and the usual reading of "In Flander's Field". My oldest girl told me on the evening of the 10th that the ceremony this year was barely 20 minutes long. I think there is something decidedly wrong. There were no letters coming from the school asking for any parents who might be in the military or who were vets if they were interested in participating either. I agree with one of the earlier posts that stated that we in the wide military family remember while the public at large is slowly forgetting.

Marc :cdn:
 

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I went to Colonel By in Ottawa and their history department had a decommissioned Lee Enfield rifle they used when we learned about the First World War. Great teaching aid, got kids in the class to pay attention and ask questions.
 

Rifleman62

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Whoever organized this event needs to be congratulated. The kids are great. Saw my unit flash/Div patch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v77coTchYgk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf9ZcsLkhXY&feature=related
 

mariomike

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Perhaps interactive animations at the household level would be of interest to students. It would certainly give them something to think about on their walk home from school.

World War One
"Riverdale's First World War dead":
http://thestar.blogs.com/maps/2009/11/nov11-draft.html


World War Two
"Toronto's grief unfolds":
http://www.globalnews.ca/topics/canadaremembers2011/toronto_deaths_wwII/index.html

 
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