These Challenging Times

Dear class,

Cullum wrote the poem,

The robin sang and sang, but teacher you went right on.

The last bell sounded the end of the day, but teacher you went right on.

The geranium on the windowsill just died, but teacher you went right on. (Cullum, 1971, p. 58).

In the spirit of Cullum, I have been compelled to write given the tragedy in Canada. I know many of you are reaching out to your own students this week about painful events in the US and Quebec City. We cannot hear accents, see physical limitations, or know that you might wear a headscarf in this online place. In some respects, online education might be akin to a borderless classroom. I cherish the fact that we can and are able to participate in this environment.  But I recognize too that we must work to maintain an inclusive environment that honors the diversity of our community and society at large. This we can do with our welcoming words that communicate the value of such diversity with our students and colleagues. Our actions with our children, such as introducing a science project that began in a country from “the list,” might also go a long way too– and you will have other classroom ideas. I would also like to share with you a book about how institutions and organizations can respond to challenges in these times in society written by my colleague, a sociologist, Dr. Robert VanWynsberghe

Attached is a link to a statement from our Canadian Society for the Study of Education on the US and Canada sent today and below are resources for UBC students in these challenging times and responsive panel events being held at UBC.
Thank you for allowing me to share here, Samia
Sent on behalf of Diana Jung, Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects Coordinator-Wellbeing
Good morning Everyone,
In light of events in the U.S. and Quebec, we wanted to reach out to share some of the key supports that are available to the campus community.  As Wellbeing Liaisons, it is helpful to be aware of these resources and supports and to share them with your colleagues. Many of the following Vancouver campus resources were highlighted in a recent update/message to the campus community from President Ono ( (Links to an external site.)):
If you have immediate safety concerns for yourself or others, call 911.
Information about hate crimes:
The non-emergency phone number for the RCMP on Campus is 604 224 1322

Equity & Inclusion Office (Links to an external site.)
For anyone experiencing racism, harassment or discrimination, the best resource on campus is the Equity and Inclusion Office, in Brock Hall, 604 822 6353 or (Links to an external site.).
International students who would like to speak with an advisor about immigration questions or travel advice or questions about their student visa can contact International Student Development at 604 822 5021 or (Links to an external site.). After hours, you can contact Campus Security (Links to an external site.) and you will be directed to an on-call advisor.
Counselling Services (Links to an external site.)
Students seeking mental health support can contact Counselling Services (Links to an external site.).  Faculty & staff wishing to talk to a counsellor can call Shepell (Links to an external site.) Care Access Centre at 1 800 387 4765.
After hours community resources:
Vancouver Crisis Line – 1 800 SUICIDE (784 2433)
Crisis Centre BC (Links to an external site.)
Emergency Financial Support
Provides 24/7 security services, including safety planning, and can be reached at 604 822 2222
Chaplains at UBC (Links to an external site.)
Chaplains of several different faiths offer support to UBC students, faculty and staff.
Additionally – these events may be of interest to our community:
Students, faculty and staff wishing to express their solidarity can attend a vigil on Saturday, February 4 at the Al Masjid Al Jamia mosque: (Links to an external site.)
Ban the Ban: A Learn-in for UBC Students, Faculty, and Staff
This panel is an immediate and urgent response to President Trump’s Executive Order which imposes a 90 day suspension of visas and other travel documents on nationals from 7 countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.  Join UBC Students and Faculty for a discussion that connects the ‘Muslim Ban,’ the Keystone XL/ Dakota Pipelines, and Standing Rock; historical precedents to the Order; and how the ban will affect Muslims in the identified countries and beyond.
St. John’s College, Social Lounge
Friday February 3rd, 2017
University of British Columbia
Unceded Musqueam Territory
Within the Vice President Students portfolio, we are working in collaboration with campus partners to address the needs of all students. If you have specific student concerns that are not addressed with the resources listed above, please let us know and we can work together to address these concerns.
Diana & Patty


  1. Hi Samia,
    Thank you for this post. I have found the MET experience to be a very valuable global education. In my previous nine courses, I have collaborated with people all over the world. The insights I have gained from this is invaluable. Watching the video cases reminded me of the diversity of education in Canada, let alone the world. I currently work in a very homogenous community with few minorities present. Students in our community do not see the wonder that is diversity, rather they associate it with the stereotypes they see in the media. This is a very challenging time but also an excellent teachable moment. Thank you for the book reference, I will add it to reading my list.

  2. These are really challenging times. How lucky are some of us to be living in a country that is so isolated from the World’s most horrible situations. Not to minimize what has happened in Quebec, but what has happened in Quebec is part of some regions’ every day life. That just blows me away. In general, walls are going up, faster than human rights advocates can take them down. Samia, I really appreciate the suggestion of focusing projects on countries that are being targeted unfairly. The more we can use a lens that focuses on our similarities, respects our differences, and dispels our fears, the faster that these walls can come down. I am certain that we could compile a list of other ideas that serve this purpose. Movies or documentaries that we have seen, other project ideas, etc. Even suggesting students watch films like The Man Who Knew Infinity, lets kids realize that math and science advancements weren’t just done by white Europeans. I haven’t seen Hidden Figures, but I am told that it is pretty good. Anything else?

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on “pedagogy in these perilous times” (credited title of a recent talk on Canada’s tragedy, the US, and the UBC teacher education office offered today by my colleague Dr. Annette Henry and graduate student Neila Miled). Please do not hesitate to consider teachable moments that Catherine has suggested have arisen and Dana invites us to share here.
    Thank you,

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