Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — December 2007

Vermont Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker

One of my great pleasures of the last couple of months has been watching my eight-year-old daughter participate in the Vermont Ballet Theater‘s production of The Nutcracker. This year she’s playing the part of an Angel. It’s been a long process of rehearsals which culminates in two performances in at the Dibden Center for the Arts at Johnson State College on Dec. 8 and three shows at the gorgeous, historic Flynn Theater in Burlington this coming weekend. (Here’s a link for tickets if you’re interested.)

Although I helped out backstage at last year’s performances, I’ve been watching the whole process a lot more closely this year. In fact, I’m actually part of this season’s production.

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December 16, 2007   1 Comment

It’s time for Canada to step up

I’m one of many, many Canadians who is tired of hearing this rhetoric from the Canadian government about how they won’t sign on to any climate treaty without the US doing the same. Canada could play a leading role in this fight and we’re looked at around the world right now as a country that’s not only not doing enough but is hindering the possibility of any significant step beyond Kyoto.

It’s not an accident that Al Gore chose to use hockey as a metaphor today in his speech at the meetings in Bali:

But at that key moment of his speech, Gore talked about hockey, referred to two of the greatest Canadian players ever to play the game and threw a bodycheck at the stance Canada has taken at the UN summit.

Gore heaped scorn on the idea that the world can only have a climate treaty if the United States signs on – the exact position articulated by Canada.

That’s when he used the example of Bobby Hull and Wayne Gretzky. It’s a reference that may have been lost on delegates from such non-hockey-playing countries as Tuvalu, Togo and Trinidad – but not Canadians.

Gore said the world has two choices: feel anger at the United States or move ahead knowing that it will almost surely follow.

“One of the most famous ice-hockey players in history was asked the secret of why he was so good,” Gore said. “He was the best passer in the history of the game, Bobby Hull. Others might disagree (and say) Wayne Gretzky.

“And he said in response to the question: ‘I don’t pass the puck to where they are – I pass the puck to where they’re going to be’.”

“Over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. You must anticipate that.”

As much as I admire Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, one can’t help but hear Al Gore and wish he were running again. One can only imagine how different this country would have been with him at the helm. On the other hand, what a gift to the world his defeat was in that it gave him time to devote himself solely to making the world think more about the threat of global warming.

December 13, 2007   1 Comment

18 years ago today

Every year on December 6, I mark the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre by taking a moment of silence in class after reading the names of the murdered women. Talking to my students, the vast majority of whom have never heard of the events of eighteen years ago even though it happened only about 90 minutes from here, I cannot help but compare their lives with those of the women murdered at the École Polytechnique.

People across Canada today, and especially on university and college campuses, will be marking this anniversary with speeches, candlelight vigils, and moments of silence. I hope we can all find some time in our classes, homes, or offices to remember the following young women who lost their lives eighteen years ago today.

Victims of the Montreal Massacre at l’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte

In Canada, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day coincides with the sad anniversary of the death of fourteen young women who were tragically killed on December 6, 1989 at l’École Polytechnique in Montréal because of their gender.

December 6, 2007   No Comments

Spring teaching

It’s going to be a busy Spring semester for me, teaching three classes, plus a one-credit winter session course on Margaret Atwood which runs for the two weeks prior to the start of the new semester on Jan 14. I’m teaching two sections of English 182: Colonial/Postcolonial World literatures in English and a senior seminar on The Canadian Postmodern. My syllabus for English 182, which this year will focus solely on recent fiction by native writers in Canada is now available here.

December 1, 2007   1 Comment