Eve of Tuesday 2017

This is the 11th annual Labour Day post.

Years ago I took a course with a professor by the name of Jerry Clarkson. While there are a few stories I could share related to that course, one of the most prominent memories is how he pushed students to question the definitions and rationales they associated with schooling, education, and curriculum. It was during this time I first encountered an outlook on preparation attributed to Richard Feynman:

First figure out why you want the students to learn the subject and what you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense.

At the time, and since, it seemed to mesh well with a values based approach to instruction that I had been introduced to in my teen-age years, and so the phrase has lingered in my reflections ever since.

As we begin a new September, there is little denying there is a great deal of uncertainty in a host of areas. This can seem troubling, and even overwhelming. Under pressure there can sometimes be a tendency to withdraw, and just focus on how to get by, how to tick the boxes, how to get to the finish line. After all, there is a lot of positive to say about well planned processes, and detailed procedures. However, it’s important to remember that reflections, discussions, and debates – yes, healthy constructive debates filled with listening – about the overarching purpose of our endeavours can make our choices about the details more straightforward. Spending quality time on the why can guide us when we are faced with questions and pressures from without and within regarding the how

As new sporting seasons start, as new semesters and terms get underway, as the summer gives way to autumn, as new adventures present themselves, as new curriculum and new jobs continue to take root, let us find value in taking the time to talk about the why and the what. It will lead to clear intentions, and thoughtful integrity. Then, through common sense of community, respect, and acceptance, the how should be clear.

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
À bientôt,

ps – for the first time since 2008 I’ll begin September without Angus as a teaching partner. I don’t doubt it will be a challenge – but, challenges are connected to opportunities. While he will be missed as a teaching partner, I truly and deeply wish him all the best. This year’s song is for him:

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)


Eve of Tuesday 2016

This is the 10th annual Labour Day post.

At this time of year I typically think about, and write about the year that lies ahead. This Labour Day I find myself looking back more. The past twelve months have been the most amazing of my life. There was a great deal of travel, to see family, friends, and new places. I had the opportunity to take on a new role professionally and grow like never before. Last month I married my best friend, teammate, and partner. In the spring we welcomed a child.

As a part of this reflection, I find that I am calmer on this Eve of Tuesday than I can ever remember being. I am still incredibly excited for the year ahead. There will be many new people to meet and work with. There are a number of sport and health goals I want to pursue. There remains 99% of fatherhood for me to figure out. I am anticipating that there will be challenges and setbacks, along with positive surprises and successes. My imagination is running wild with all the possibilities ahead. Yet, I am serene.

I attribute this year’s perspective to a few things. Firstly, the new role of parenthood – as was foretold by everyone – changes one’s outlook. Secondly, the challenges of the previous year have allowed me to take new confidence in vulnerability and risk taking. Finally and most importantly, my heart is full. This is thanks to family, friends, my daughter and my wife. Throughout the entire year I never felt alone. The most outstanding support crew has steadied me. There are no small parts from each friend and family member. It is truly the collective, the community and the partnership that have allowed me to rest easier this evening.

This feeling of calm in the face of new adventures, and new possibilities is what I hope to be able to give back. As a colleague, as a teacher, as a learner, as a friend, as a partner, as a father, it is my hope to help others have full hearts through the challenges and joys ahead. Often this is found through simple, yet deliberate gestures, words, and deeds – acting with intent. On the eve of a fresh year I encourage us all to reflect on what makes our hearts full, and then go out to help others feel the same.

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
À bientôt,

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

ps – as a bonus and tribute to other events of the past year, here’s a return to a former tradition of the Labour Day post, and a song to send us out on:

Eve of Tuesday 2015

This is the 9th annual Labour Day post.

New seasons are upon us on this Eve of Tuesday. Fall in the North, spring in the South, are almost here, and a new season of school starts up in many places around the world. More locally, hockey season cannot be far from many people’s minds – getting on the ice more is in my list of resolutions. Also forefront in the consciousness of Canada is election season.

While the other seasons turn with more regularity, the opportunity to influence the direction of our nation comes around more slowly. No matter how frustrated we may be with our own democracy’s level of efficiency and priorities at times, or how removed we may feel from the actual decision making processes – the importance of participating as an informed voter cannot be overstated. I am hoping particular election season allows me to continue building on three areas that I’ve been working on within myself lately, as an informed citizen, and a reflective professional: breadth of perspective, questioning, and Reconciliation.

Often we fill our social media feeds, our news feeds, and our daily conversations with writers, speakers, videos, friends, and colleagues that share similar perspectives to the ones we already hold. Seeking out opinions and information that one does not agree with can be challenging. Yet, attempting to understand other perspectives and the role they have in our communities and country is important to our future. This season I’ll continue trying to broaden the media, opinions, and beliefs I encounter.

Linked with breadth of perspective is the importance of asking questions. While it may be easier to direct difficult questions to people one disagrees with, it is just as important to make challenging inquiries of those that are like-minded. In turn, this can broaden perspectives, strengthen ideas, and help make communities stronger. Growth cannot occur without difficult questions.

Finally, as a new school year starts, and with an election only weeks away, Reconciliation is also at the front of my mind. While it does not appear as often as the economy, jobs, or foreign affairs in election coverage, I feel Reconciliation is a crucial topic, and have been trying to be more aware of it in my professional work. Hopefully I can continue to build on this in the months to come. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its closing events in Ottawa this year, May 31-June 3. Many years of hearings and testimony around Canada’s residential school system resulted in 94 recommendations. For more information on the Commission’s work you may want to visit the TRC website, or read, listen and watch media reports on the Closing Event (I recommend this one, both article and sound files, from As It Happens).

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is almost upon us, but October 19 will be forty days away – plenty of time to broaden perspectives, ask questions, and consider Reconciliation. Wherever you find yourself on Tuesday, or in the weeks and months ahead I hope you are able to try new things, and build on areas you also feel are important. All the best in the seasons ahead – be sure to vote!

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
À bientôt,

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Eve of Tuesday 2014

This is the 8th annual post for this time of year, and the most direct.

To begin, I am incredibly thankful for a wonderful summer. It was filled with a momentous birthday, an engagement, nuptials, new babies, and plenty of adventure. There is a great deal of caring in our world and I was fortunate to be connected to a lot of it this summer.

The Tuesday after Labour Day is often a time of new beginnings, and fresh starts. This will not be the case for many people in British Columbia tomorrow. There are important issues being discussed, debated, and questioned with regards to the education system in our province. Thus, my message in this year’s annual post is simple, and direct: ask questions, and critique responses.

Please ask those in power to detail their vision of public education. Ask them to also explain their intentions and decisions. Do not accept responses that are lacking in meaning and substance.

Please ask yourself what type of education system is important for an inspiring, responsible, respectful and caring community. Share your thoughts with others, and let’s find our common ground to move forward, together. Let this be our new beginning.

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
à bientôt,

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

My Grandmother: 100 Years

On Friday June 26 1914, my grandmother, Margaret Thomson Barr (née McGowan) was born. In the hundred years that have gone by, she has brought alive core values that have inspired and led those around her. I am so incredibly fortunate to share her as a grandmother, and as she becomes a centenarian tomorrow, I am overjoyed to be celebrating her.

My grandmother lives in Kimberley B.C., her home for most of her 100 years, and I always look forward to each opportunity I have to visit, speak with her on the phone or see her via FaceTime. Our conversations usually focus on politics, hockey, family, and to affirm the Canadian nature of it all – the weather. We compare precipitation levels, we discuss the state of goaltending around the NHL – usually that of the Canucks – and she explains with vigour what provincial and federal politicians have been up to lately and how they should be held more accountable. Having been alive longer than the NHL has existed, and having lived out the terms of 15 different prime minsters it is well within her expertise to appraise positions on the ice and in the parliament. That being said the greatest joys in our conversations are when she relates stories of her incredible experiences and when we talk of our family, which owes so much to her values and her leadership.

 Commitment, determination and work ethic are strong characteristics of my grandmother. There are numerous stories from her time as a nurse, beginning in the 1930s, that have her meeting challenges, and serving others. From overcoming a very valid fear of bears lurking on the trail while walking to the hospital, to fighting for rights at work, to nursing in Bermuda during the war – she has never been one to back away from a challenge. When she has a goal or task in mind, she is tireless in its completion.

As the second oldest among seven siblings, she grew up helping to take care of others. Caring for others, expression of kindness, being selfless, and prioritizing family are the values she has lived, passed on, and continues to focus on to this day. From my very first summer, to those in to my teenage years, I spent my formative Julys and Augusts on her Lake Windermere property and witnessed how she was incredibly welcoming to all visitors and so selfless in everything she did. As I grew older and took in more and more stories of everything she had done for her siblings, for her own children – my mother and aunt – and how she has continually watched over her four grandchildren, and now two great-grandchildren I am continually astounded with her kindness. She worries – for others and never for herself. She goes out of her way to think of others’ needs and experiences.

Out of my teens, into my twenties, and now beyond, I cherish everything I have learned, and continue to learn from the most amazing woman I have ever known. She laid the foundation for a strong and loving family that takes care of each other. She inspired me to experience a full life. Some of my happiest moments are sharing my experiences and photos from adventures with my grandmother. Her keenness, encouragement, and unwavering support of every risk I have taken and every challenge I have accepted – has given and still gives me strength on a daily basis. As someone who knows the effort needed to take on goals, and to overcome fears, it is incredibly powerful to have her unwavering support and love.

My grandmother turns 100, and I simply do not have the words to express how much I love her, and how much her love means to me, and how much I know it means to our entire family. I am such a better person because of her love.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Grandma and John Calgary 1914



Scrapbook Page 15 1930s_2


Lake - Grandma, Ian, Megan 1983 1