Recent Court Ruling Validates Two Public School Systems in Saskatchewan

While COVID-19 is dominating the news cycle, there are other stories out there. On March 25, for example, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in a case involving a dispute between the public and separate school systems in Saskatchewan.

I’ve written on the case before in our print publication. It involves complex constitutional and practical issues that are beyond the scope of a simple blog post, but here’s a breakdown.

In 2003, a public school in Theodore was slated for closure by the local school board because of a declining student population. To avoid that happening, the town applied to join the separate system. That was subsequently done, and the school continues to operate today.

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Theory Of Obscurity

If you like a bit of subversive political disruption with your documentary film viewing, the RPL Film Theatre has a great double-bill for you this weekend.

Theory of Obscurity is the first film in the queue. Its a 2016 doc by Don Hardy that examines the 40-year career of the anonymous sound and video collective called The Residents. Known for their avant garde music and innovative multi-media works, The Residents have released  well over 100 albums, music videos and short films during their four decades together.

The second film is directed by Joh Nealon and Jenny Raskin, and is called Here Come The Videofreex. It’s focal point is a counterculture project created on the sly by Don West at CBS in 1969. To provide content, he hired a group of young videographers/journalists who went by the name Videofreex. They subsequently travelled the U.S. interviewing counterculture figures such as Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther member Fred Hampton. Any hope West had of bringing their material to air on CBS was quashed by higher-ups, although Videofreex did go on to set up a pirate TV station in 1972.

Theory of Obscurity screens at the RPL Friday June 10 at 7 p.m., Saturday June 11 at 9 p.m., and Sunday June 12 at 2:30 p.m. Here Come The Videofreex screens on the same days at 9 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Here’s the trailer for Theory of Obscurity:


The Man Who Knew Infinity

Once you get beyond the basics of addition and subtraction and multiplication and division, mathematics quickly becomes a pretty esoteric discipline that not a lot of people have a lot of understanding of or interest in. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its share of compelling stories and characters.

Based on a book by Robert Kanigel, this bio-pic commemorates the life and career of one such individual. Born into poverty in India in 1887, Srinivasa Ramanujan became a self-taught expert in math with a special focus on number theory, infinite series and continuous fractions.

During the height of World War I he journeyed to England to study at Cambridge under British mathematician G.H. Hardy where he encountered resistance based both on his ethnicity and his revolutionary ideas.

The Man Who Knew Infinity, with Dev Patel as Ramanujan and Jeremy Irons as Hardy, screens at the RPL Theatre Friday June 3 at 7 p.m., Saturday June 4 at 9 p.m., and Sunday June 5 at 2:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

More Prayer In The Legislature Stuff

The Centre For Inquiry Canada has started a national petition campaign calling on the Saskatchewan government to end the practice of opening each session of the legislature with a Christian prayer as has been done since 1905. The Centre is also calling on Premier Brad Wall specifically to cease issuing an official Christian-themed Christmas message in his capacity as premier of Saskatchewan.

Both the prayer, and the Christian-themed message, go against the grain of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in April 2015 that held that the state and its various agencies and representatives owe a duty of neutrality to all citizens in matters of religious belief or non-belief.

You can find out about the petition here.

Jane’s Walk Regina

The eighth annual Jane’s Walk Regina is being held from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8. There are eight walks on this year’s schedule among them:

Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District (Led by Bernie Flaman): A look at the buildings and structures surrounding Victoria Park which provide a complete chronology of architectural styles of the 20th century.

Far Away Place, Not So Far Away (Led by Jim Elliott): An exploration of various features of Upper Wascana Lake including the history of the Saskatchewan Science Centre, Pelican Island, Far Away Place and the Habitat Conservation Area.

Design Lessons from the Cathedral Area Neighbourhood (Led by Bill Neher): A walking discussion about the components that make for a great walkable neighbourhood and what lessons we can apply in new neighbourhoods.

Walk for Peace and Justice (Led PeaceQuest Regina): An examination of the horror of wars, past and present, as well as past and present injustices in our society, and the need to work for peace and justice.

You can find out more information on the other four walks, along with the times and gathering spots here.


SavetheDate2016FlyerThis event is being hosted by the Regina chapter of Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers. As the organization’s name indicates, it’s a group of local grandmothers and those with a similar life perspective who conduct periodic fundraisers in the city to help support grandmothers in Africa who find themselves caring for young children who have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic that has hit many countries on the continent extremely hard.

The support is channelled through the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and the guest-speaker at this fundraising dinner is Lewis’s daughter Ilana Landsberg-Lewis who is the executive director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

As you can see from the accompanying poster (click to enlarge), Jabula is being held at Queensbury Centre on Saturday April 30. In addition to the dinner and guest-speaker, there will be a performance by the Campbell Collegiate Choir and a silent auction.

More information on Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers Regina can be found on the G4G website.

Shift To Reason Conference

Shift To ReasonBilled as Saskatchewan’s first secular conference, this event is being held at the DoubleTree Hilton in downtown Regina on Saturday April 30.

You can find out more on the Shift to Reason Conference website, but the goal of organizers is to promote secular thought and scientific rationalism over other “viewpoints” such as pseudo-science, superstition and whatnot that humans have long relied on in puzzling out the nature of our existence in the cosmos.

The conference runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and will consist of a mix of speakers and panel discussions exploring issues of interest to the secular community. Line-up information, and a schedule of events, can be found on the above-linked website.

YWCA Women Of Distinction Awards

A Google search reveals that there are a number of YWCAs across Canada that host Women of Distinction events each year. In Regina, the gala awards ceremony has been held since 1981.

The awards represent various categories, from Science, Technology & the Environment to Entrepreneurship & Innovation to Community Leadership & Enhancement to the Arts and Wellness, Recreation & Healthy Living.

The Regina YWCA’s 2016 Women of Distinction Awards are being held on Thursday April 28 at Conexus Arts Centre starting with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $125, and proceeds from the event are used to held fund YWCA programming for women and children.

You can find out more about the gala and the 2016 nominees on the YWCA website.

Saskatchewan Fossil Election Enters Final Week

20151128_155129We’ve written and blogged about this election that’s been underway since last fall to select from seven prehistoric candidates a fossil to be an official emblem of Saskatchewan.

If you want a refresher course on what seven fossils are in the running to be our official fossil you can find that here. Similarly, if you’d like to find out which candidate I favour you can discover that here.

For most of the election period, voting has been done in person at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum where sample specimens from each of the seven candidates are on display. Now that the contest is in its final days, though, it’s possible to vote on-line at the RSM website.

Voting closes on April 25, so if you haven’t cast a ballot yet you have a few more days.

Law Day Luncheon

thomas-albert-cromwellLaw Day has been held in Canada every year since 1983, and is designed to commemorate the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was done by Queen Elizabeth II with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau looking on on a breezy day in Ottawa on April 17, 1982.

To celebrate Law Day this year, the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and The Canadian Bar Association, Saskatchewan Branch are hosting a luncheon on Wednesday April 6. The guest speaker is Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell (pictured). Cromwell was appointed to the court by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, and is the lone Atlantic Canada representative on the nine-member bench.

The title of the talk Cromwell will deliver is “Legal Services & Access to Justice” which will doubtlessly touch on the ever-increasing cost of lawyers’ services and the negative implications for ordinary Canadians when they find themselves in a legal pickle of some sort or another.

The Wednesday luncheon is being held at the DoubleTree Hilton at 11:30 a.m., and tickets, which are $40, must be purchased in advance. You can find more information here.

Native Prairie Speakers Series & The Bat Man Of Mexico

The Native Prairie Speakers Series event goes tonight at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Guest-speaker is Rebecca Magnus from Nature Saskatchewan. In our March 17 issue we had an interview with her tied to her work in habitat conservation and endangered species. She’ll be elaborating on those issues in this talk, which is formally titled “Stewards of Saskatchewan: Habitat Conservation for Species at Risk”.

The talk is at 7:30 p.m., and admission is free.

As well, there’s a second science/nature event happening in Regina tonight. It goes at the Saskatchewan Science Centre at 7 p.m., and is titled The Bat Man of Mexico. It involves a screening of a BBC documentary about world-renown bat researcher Rodrigo Medellin, along with a Q & A with him afterwards. The event is free, but seating is limited in the Imax Theatre so you’re advised to reserve tickets in advance. Donations will also be accepted at the door.

Here’s a trailer on the BBC documentary

Weekly Reckoning: Things That Happened Edition

weekly-reckoningEvery week things happen: things: events and people colliding off each other into ever-more complex concatenations of what ends up being just more things happening. And every week, we sit quietly in a corner and wonder whether the ever-expanding cloud of happenstance points to some design, or whether, once again, it’s nothing but a random whirlwind of flux and death and sadness with the occasional ice cream cone thrown in to keep us around for another week. Then we take a nap.

1 IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD (BY DESIGN) In news that shouldn’t surprise anyone, everything from seatbelts to medicine is designed by men – to the detriment of women. If ever there were an argument for more women in STEM fields, here it is.

2 MILLENNIALS AREN’T RUINING HOTELS Hotels are ruining hotels.

3 GOODBYE TO MISS DAVIS Nancy Reagan died at 94, reminding us that the Reagan presidency actually happened. But what did she do before she and Ronald entered a life of politics? She was a Hollywood actress from 1948 to 1962. Yes, I’m sure you knew this already.

4 “THEY PREFER NAMES LIKE RUTH, PETE, BOBBY, CHARLOTTE AND PEARL” Two professors of language and literature ran computational tests to determine the differences between contemporary novels by authors with an MFA and those without. The results were… well, let’s just say that you can take your tuition money and spend it on a writing studio somewhere.

5 SOMEONE TELL THE SASK PARTY THAT CHILDRENS’ FACES ARE FULL OF OIL Do you like language schools in Saskatchewan? Well, sucks to be you then.

The Ethics Of Bitcoin

I did a short post on Bitcoin back in April 2013. It’s a digital currency that’s been around since 2008. Supporters of the concept regard it as akin to the second coming (in a currency context) paving the way for an expanded digital economy and freeing people from the tyranny of the existing monetary and banking system.

Skeptics outnumber believers by a huge margin, though, with many people questioning the legitimacy of Bitcoin and the wisdom of having a currency that exists outside the boundaries of normal commerce.

Plenty of roadblocks have slowed Bitcoins acceptance in our society from wild swings in value to allegations of money laundering, to lack of merchants willing to accept it in payment for goods and services, to security of the coin itself. But Bitcoin continues to exist and circulate, so it’s not like it’s dead as a concept.

Tonight, as part of the ongoing public lecture series Philosophy Cafe, University of Regina academic Roger Petry will give a talk on Bitcoin. The full title is “The Ethics of Bitcoin: Lessons For Developing Money As A Social Contract”. The talk is at the Artesian on 13th with a start time of 7:30 p.m.

Woodrow Lloyd & Nash Lectures

The Woodrow Lloyd and Nash Memorial Lectures are staples of the University of Regina calendar. Typically, they’re held at different points in the year. In 2016, though, they’re being held back-to-back. Part of the reasoning for that, perhaps, is that two lectures are thematically related.

The Nash Memorial Lecture is being held on Tuesday Feb. 23. The speaker is Queen’s University (Belfast) professor Kieran McElvoy who will draw on the troubled sectarian history of his homeland in a talk titled “Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation: Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland”. The Nash Lecture is being held at Campion College Auditorium on the university campus with a 7 p.m. start time. You can find more information on the U of R website.

The Woodrow Lloyd Memorial Lecture is on Wednesday Feb. 24. The guest speaker is Murray Sinclair, who was the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada that examined the tragic legacy of the residential school system in Canada. His talk will be held at the Education Auditorium on the university campus at 7 p.m. You can find more information on the U of R website.

Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story

BD-122300February is Black History Month in Canada. At Regina Public Library there are two events that I’m aware of that are being held to commemorate the month.

The first goes Monday Feb. 1 at Central Library, and involves a dramatic reading by Peterborough playwright/musician/actor Beau Dixon (pictured) of his one-man play Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story.

Without giving to much away, it is set during the Springhill Nova Scotia mining disaster in October 1958. Coal mines in the Springhill area had spawned previous disasters in 1891 and 1956. The 1958 incident involved a mine collapse over 1000 m below ground. Of the 174 miners in the shaft at the time, 75 died and 99 were rescued.

The title character in Dixon’s play was a miner at the time, and was later recognized for his heroism in aiding other miners. The reading goes tonight at Central Library from 7-9 p.m., and you’re asked to register on the RPL website.

The second event goes at Central Library on Monday Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. It’s titled An Evening Under African Skies and it features traditional storytelling with Mary Chipanshi and Chimuka Simasiku. Again, you’re asked to register on the RPL website.  

The Galapagos

Charles_Darwin_seatedLater tonight at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Nature Regina is hosting an illustrated talk by Ed Rodger and Laurie Koepke on the small group of islands off the coast of Peru that British naturalist Charles Darwin (pictured) visited during a survey expedition by the HMS Beagle. The voyage began shortly after Christmas in 1831, and concluded in October 1836.

Darwin was 22 at the time, and during his nearly five years at sea as a self-funded guest, he conducted wide-ranging surveys of geology and zoology in numerous locations in South America, Australia, Africa and many islands in between. In addition to observing living wildlife, Darwin also discovered fossils of prehistoric creatures.

The Beagle’s visit to the Galapagos Islands occurred in September 1835. While travelling from island to island, Darwin noted slight physiological differences between species of finches, giant tortoises, iguanas and other fauna and flora that he ultimately theorized were due to their having evolved on isolated island habitats over thousands of years.

That insight formed the crux of the theory of natural selection which he went on to develop and ultimately publish in 1859 in a 502 page book titled On the Origin of Species. The Nature Regina talk by Rodger and Koepke goes at the RSM tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Exploring Utopianism In Saskatchwan

UtopiaIn 2001, MacKenzie Art Gallery curator Timothy Long put together an exhibition called A Better Place that looked at the concept utopianism in the modern world. One source of inspiration for the show was a famous quote by Saskatchewan CCF premier Tommy Douglas which read: “Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.”

Humanity’s utopian spirit, over the centuries, has been expressed in many different ways, from political movements and revolutionary communal settlements to fictional scenarios in novels and movies and even, in the case of the MacKenzie exhibition, visual art.

On Wednesday Jan. 20, Alex MacDonald will be giving a talk called Exploring Utopianism In Saskatchewan at the Prince of Wales branch library. MacDonald is the author of a 2007 book published by the Plains Research Centre Cloud-Capped Towers: The Utopian Theme in Saskatchewan History and Culture (cover image above).

The talk goes at the Prince of Wales library at 7 p.m. You’re asked to register on the RPL website.

Stanford Prison Experiment

As originally planned, the experiment was supposed to last for two weeks. But the results were so troubling that it was ended after six days.

It occurred in 1971, and involved Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo and a team of graduate students who recruited middle class college students and divided them into squads of guards and prisoners to examine how the power dynamics of authority and imprisonment impacted on people.

Stanford Prison Experiment is a psychological thriller inspired by the famous experiment with Billy Crudup in the role of Dr. Zimbardo. The film screens at the RPL Theatre on Thursday Jan. 21 and Saturday Jan. 23 at 9:30 p.m., Friday Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Jan. 24 at 2:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

Awesome Aussie PSAs

A trio of hilariously surreal public service announcements have surfaced courtesy the Australian state of New South Wales that are supposed to be aimed at warning young people about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

Apparently, indulging in the demon weed will cause you to grow fur all over your body, develop long sharp claws and be rendered mute outside of emitting the odd morose bellow like a constipated conservative.

Truly frightening, they are. And I’m sure they’re going to be massively effective in scaring Aussie youth away from cannabis. If you haven’t seen them yet, here they are in all their glory: