Author Archives: fromareportersnotebook

About fromareportersnotebook

Former reporter and city editor at The Tribune, Welland, On. Active in various community groups and initiatives, married with two grown children, interested in roses specifically and gardening in general. A collection of previously-written columns was published in book form in the fall of 2013 and is available by contacting the writer at: fromareportersnotebook@gmail.com. It sells for $20.

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate To Address Niagara College’s Fall Graduates

Ontario’s first Poet Laureate Randell Adjei / Photo courtesy of Lady Mensah Studios

Niagara College is planning an epic virtual send-off for almost 1,000 new graduates this fall with a special guest who is well versed in the spoken and written word.

Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, will deliver the convocation address at NC’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies on October 29. The Scarborough native was appointed poet laureate in April – a position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. As poet laureate for a two-year term, Adjei is dedicated to writing and championing poetry, art and literacy, celebrating Ontario and its people, and raising the profile of poets in the province.

“The Niagara College community looks forward to welcoming Randell as our guest speaker and honorary diploma recipient for Fall Convocation. We are honoured that he will share his extraordinary talents with our Fall 2021 graduates,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “Randell’s mantra of resilience is sure to both inspire and resonate with our 2021 graduates, who have achieved their academic goals during an unprecedented time in history and are now poised to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives.”

Adjei is a celebrated spoken word artist who has performed around the world. He has won multiple awards for his dedication to helping youth express themselves creatively through performance arts as the founder of RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment.

NC will confer an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies upon Adjei in recognition of his contributions to the literary arts, which serve to unite and bring attention to social injustice.

“I am ecstatic to be addressing the Class of 2021 graduates at Niagara College because it is a pivotal time in their lives,” said Adjei. “Niagara has often been a place of getaway and rejuvenation for me. Also given Niagara’s approach to learning and education, I am really looking forward to being involved.”

About Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation

Two unique convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29: the 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate new graduates from NC’s schools of Business and Management, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Hospitality and Tourism, and Trades. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be dedicated to the schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Applied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; and Nursing and Personal Support Worker Studies.

The fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

Virtual convocation enables graduating students to celebrate their academic achievement in a safe and meaningful way during the COVID-19 pandemic before moving on to the next chapter of their lives. The upcoming ceremonies follow the resounding successes of the College’s previous virtual convocation ceremonies that drew tens of thousands of viewers from Niagara, Canada and around the world since they debuted in Spring 2020.

The College’s standout, interactive virtual convocation ceremonies feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates. The formal ceremonies conducted by Kennedy and vice president Academic Fiona Allan will take place at the Welland Campus and will be livestreamed to a virtual audience thanks to a team of faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program.

Graduates and their families may visit the convocation website to view their ceremony as it happens, live in real time, from anywhere in the world. The name of each graduate will be called out, one by one, and appear on screen.

Videos will be incorporated into the live broadcasts, featuring well-wishes from the College community and beyond. Graduates will be invited to connect with their classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties to be held during their ceremony. Select clips from program Zoom parties – showing graduates smiling and waving – will be featured during the ceremony livestreams.

Virtual convocation also includes an immersive social media experience. Photos, videos and text messages with the NC convocation hashtag #NCGrad2021 will also be incorporated into the ceremonies.

For the convenience of those unavailable to attend the virtual ceremonies in real time, ceremony broadcasts will be available for later viewing via the Convocation website.

For information about convocation or to access the virtual ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Welland Food Drive Announces ‘Hybrid Campaign’

WELLAND  –  In over 28 years, the Welland Food Drive has provided millions of pounds of groceries for local food banks to distribute to those in need in the Welland community. The Salvation Army, Open Arms Mission, and Hope Centre rely on the generosity of the community to ensure that those facing food insecurity are able to have access to healthy and nutritious emergency food. 

Food Drive chair Monique Finley. She makes a moving, heartfelt plea for support of the annual initiative in a YouTube video, from where this photo was taken.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 version of the Welland Food Drive was moved entirely online, raising just over $80,000 to support the three local food banks. Monique Finley, chair of the Welland Food Drive, said the committee considered different models for 2021, and opted for a hybrid model.

“The Welland Food Drive is crucial to the local food banks. Recognizing the ongoing state of the pandemic, we have decided to keep the online donation option open again this year. Additionally, we will be holding a one-day ‘pop up’ Food Drive at Auberge Richelieu on November 6, the traditional date of the community-wide food drive.”

Marty Misener, executive director of Open Arms Mission, emphasized how important this annual drive is for the local food banks.

 “More people than ever are coming to food banks to get the food they need for their families. The compounding issues of rising food prices at the grocery stores and various hardships brought on by the pandemic have left many families with less in their fridges. The Welland Food Dive is a key annual event so that our shelves can be refilled for the coming winter months and so we can continue to provide food to those who need it.” 

Over the past 12 months, the local food banks (Open Arms Mission, Salvation Army and Hope Centre) have seen over 20,000 visits to their food banks, with over 25 percent of the visits supporting children. Since September 1, 2020 more than 325,000 pounds of food has been distributed by the local food banks to those in Welland facing food insecurity.

While the Welland Food Drive hasn’t set a goal for the amount of funds raised or food donated, Finley emphasized the anticipated growth in need.

 “Many of the federal COVID support benefits, which have helped so many local families weather the pandemic, will be discontinued by the end of October”, said Finley. “Our partner food banks have expressed concern about the rising level of need in Welland, and anticipate further growth of 25-40 percent over the course of the next year. The annual Welland Food Drive is a huge boost to their efforts to feed those in our community in need.”

About the Welland Food Drive:

Financial Donation – Visit http://www.wellandfooddrive.com between October 1 and November 8 to make a financial gift, or drop off your cheque at one of the local agencies. All cheques are to be made out to the local Charity of your choosing

Food Donation – Pop Up Food Drive, Saturday, November 6,  9 am-4 pm., Club Richelieu, 565 River Road or drop off your food donation at one of the local agencies.

20,759 – total number of visits to partner food banks in past 12 months

5151 – total number of children 

326,231 pounds – Amount of food distributed by the 3 partner food banks over the past 12 months

100,000 pounds – Amount of food donated at Welland Food Drive annually.

(Source: Welland Food Drive release)

She’s Back!

City Heeds Call To Action On Truth And Reconciliation; Meetings To Begin With New Land Acknowledgement

WELLAND – This week’s City of Welland council meeting, Tuesday evening, began with a new land acknowledgement.

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement and act of reconciliation involving the recognition of the traditional territory of the Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

“When we talk about Truth and Reconciliation, we have to do more than just talk; we have to act,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “On September 30, we saw the outpouring of acknowledgement to Truth and Reconciliation, and with it a necessary call to action. As the City of Welland acts, we begin with instituting a new land acknowledgement before each Council meeting.”

Updating the land acknowledgement improves local understanding and relationships with First Nations communities and those living off-reserve in Welland. It is enacted based on consultation, led by the Niagara Region, with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council, and leaders from the Niagara Indigenous Community Executives.

The new land acknowledgement read before council meetings is as follows:

Welland is situated on treaty land. This land is steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. There are many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people from across Turtle Island that live and work in Welland today. Welland stands with all Indigenous people, past and present, in promoting the wise stewardship of the lands on which we live.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

‘The Residential School Is A Clear Example Of The Social Sin Of The Church’: Mulligan

How did we get here? Homily for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30, 2021, 10 a.m. Mass, Parish Community of St. Kevin

Sunday evening, October 3: About 60 people participated in the Every Child Matters walk along East Main Street, to Cross Street and then to Merritt Island where a short program of speeches was scheduled to be held./Photos by Joe Barkovich.

By James T. Mulligan, CSC

A couple of months ago we all cheered and felt wonderful when the Canadian women soccer team won the gold medal at the Olympics. Eleven women on the pitch won it …. but we all won it because we are all Canadians. We were all very, very proud.

Today is the First National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today we remember and honour the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families and communities still affected by the legacy of the residential schools system. These residential schools were Canadian as we are all Canadian; these Canadian residential schools were painful and death-dealing to children; these Canadian residential schools were sinful and as Canadians we are all ashamed and we are sorry. As Canadians this is a day for us to recognize the sin of these schools; this is a day for us to learn the truth and to be sorry and to seek pardon and reconciliation. 

What were the residential schools?

More than 150,00 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend church-run, government-funded schools between 1870 and 1997. The Canadian government was concerned that these children were not well cared for in their homes. Poor education and health. The government wanted to assimilate the children into white Canadian culture and language and the ways we did things. Children were removed from their families and culture and forced to learn English, embrace Christianity and adopt the customs and ways of the white majority. Many of the children at residential schools were physically, sexually or psychologically abused. The schools became the instrument for cultural genocide part of the effort to eradicate indigenous language and culture. More than 4,000 (likely twice that number) died while attending these schools, most due to malnourishment or disease.

The residential school was EVIL.

How did the Catholic Church become involved in these residential schools?

How could the church participate in such evil? The government asked the churches to administer the schools. Sixty percent of the schools were Catholic. Leadership in the church thought that this would be the way to have these children become Catholic and learn our language and become part of our culture.

Bishop Vital Grandin was the Bishop most responsible for shaping Catholic residential schools. He was in Edmonton / St Albert. He had come from France. He was impressed by the reforms of the French prison system. In 1875 this is what he said about the Indigenous children in the schools: We instill in them a pronounced hatred for native life so that they will be humiliated when reminded of their indigenous origin. When they graduate from our institutions the children have lost everything native except their blood.

The church participated in the residential schools because those who made the decisions were deaf to the gospel. They failed to say no to the racist policy of the government. They proceeded with much arrogance and pride. Many of the religious sisters and priests were good people but they failed to realize that what they were about was evil and sinful. Ignorance was their sin. The residential school is a clear example of the social sin of the church. 

Sure we are a church of saints. We are a holy people. But we are also a church of sinners. Personally we sin. But socially we sinned when no one even questioned the existence of these schools and the church’s participation in them. My church did this! Your church did this. This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is the moment for us to recognize the hurt and the pain our church has inflicted. This is a moment for us to ask for forgiveness. Today is also “orange shirt day”. The orange shirt day honours the residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad who had her orange shirt taken away from her on the first day of school.

THE WORD OF GOD helps us:

From the Old Testament – the book of Wisdom: the sacred writer is speaking to government leaders reminding them that their authority comes from God. And the writer is very direct: You did not rule rightly or keep God’s law or walk according to God’s purpose. Severe judgement falls on those in high places. This is a very strong critique of government leaders and the church leaders who fail to discern God’s purpose.

And from the New Testament – the Book of Revelation: there is a vision of joy and harmony. There is hope and the possibility of living together: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth / the home of God is among women and men and girls and boys / God will dwell with us and we will be his people / God will wipe away every tear from their eyes / death will be no more. 

From the Gospel we must make Jesus’ words into a prayer of healing for the First Nations, the Metis and the Inuit … for all who continue to bear the pain of the residential schools: Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation touches all of us. We are Canadians. We are immensely proud and happy for a gold medal won by our women on the soccer pitch. We cheer. We laugh. We are joyful. 

And as Canadians on this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation we are subdued. We go deeper into “the truth” of racism of the past and of the present; we learn that “history” is still very much alive – that the horrendous actions of many years ago continue to speak to us in our time; and that remembering the sinful tragedy of residential schools we might work toward healing and justice for our First Nations and Metis and Inuit brothers and sisters.  Amen.

(James T. Mulligan is a member of  the English Canadian Holy Cross Fathers and Pastor Emeritus of the Parish Community of St. Kevin, Welland. His homily is presented here in its entirety.)

Gadabout Gardener: End Of Season

It’s end of season for Gadabout Gardener, an annual spring through fall feature on the blog. This selection was photographed late this morning, Sunday, October 3, during a steady drizzle from above. If the weather stays mild as forecast, this gardener is expecting to have blooms into November. The rose at bottom right is the floribunda Singin’ In The Rain, an appropriate capture for a day like today! Until next spring, let’s be thankful for our gardens and the good things found therein./ Photos by Joe Barkovich.

Hickey Family Donates First Fire Chief’s Horn To Central Fire Station Project

Donna Hickey, left, and Carol Neumann hold a fire horn owned by Welland Fire Chief Charles Stapf, in front of Central Fire Station. Stapf was the first fire chief at the Station when it opened in 1920. The Hickey family donated the horn on behalf of their father Jack Hickey, Charles Stapf’s nephew./Photos by Wayne Campbell.

By WAYNE CAMPBELL

A fire horn, owned by the first fire chief in the 1920 Central Fire Station, has returned home.

The family of Welland Fire Charles Stapf donated the fire horn to the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI) on behalf of their father Jack Hickey, Charles Stapf’s nephew.

For the moment, it is unclear if the metal horn was actually used by Fire Chief Stapf to direct firefighters at a fire scene or if it was a ceremonial retirement gift, said Hickey family members, Carol (Hickey) Neumann and Donna Hickey.

 Charles F. Stapf served as Welland’s first paid Fire Chief from 1921 to 1932. For the 27 years before the firehall opened, he was Welland’s volunteer fire chief.

Donna Hickey, left, and Carol Neumann hold the fire horn owned by Welland Fire Chief Charles Stapf, first fire chief in the Central Fire Station. They stand in front of a Welland map painted on a wall inside Central Fire Station. For firefighters, it was a visual reminder of locations throughout the city.

The five Hickey sisters — Jaye Bryan, Libby Scobie, Donna Hickey, Louise Hickey, and Carol (Hickey) Neumann — donated the horn on behalf of their father Jack Hickey, Charles Stapf’s nephew. 

The Hickey family has local and international firefighting connections through CE Hickey and Sons Ltd.

It began with William John Hickey (1856-1940) who was a contractor and builder in Welland and possibly involved in the building of Central Fire Station, writes Carol Neumann in an email. 

His son, Charles E. Hickey, was in the fire equipment business known throughout Ontario as CE Hickey and Sons Ltd. It was his son, Jack Hickey (1923-2004), for whom his daughters donated the fire horn.

“My father J.J. Hickey was president of CE Hickey and Sons Fire Equipment after my grandfather, Charles E. Hickey retired,” said Carol Neumann.  “Although the company was started in Welland it moved to Hamilton and was a very successful international fire equipment business.” 

Central Station Education Initiative, a not-for-profit volunteer group, leases the city-owned Central Fire Station at Hellems Avenue and Division Street. It is currently busy renovating the 100-year-old fire hall. 

CSEI is turning the three-storey, heritage building into a community centre with a historical display area on the first floor reflecting local firefighting in the 20th Century.

The two upper floors will be rented out to sustain the ongoing project. Second floor contains fire department offices, locker room and sleeping quarters. The third floor has a firefighters meeting and recreation hall.

CSEI recently received a $500,000 over-three-years Canadian Heritage Legacy grant from the federal government as well as a matching over- two-years $100,000 one from the City of Welland. 

Currently, CSEI is employing local companies to upgrade the exterior of the fire hall as summer and fall weather conditions allow.

Contour Architectural Coatings Inc. is painting doors, windows, trim and parts of the 70-foot clock tower using a high-level boom.  Watertite Roofing is upgrading and repairing flat roofing areas over the first, second and third floors. Willowbank School of Restoration Arts, which offers heritage restoration services as well as heritage skills training, will examine and strengthen the firehall’s century-old brick work, garage doors, wooden doors, eves, and other heritage features. 

Through the winter months interior upgrades will be carried out involving heating, electrical, water, sewer, pumping, ceiling, cleaning and so forth. 

CSEI is about half way to its $1.2 million fundraising goal. A major project ahead is construction of an addition, for an elevator, stairs and accessible washrooms, to serve the upper floors.

Welland Fire and Emergency Services used the Central Fire Station until 2006. Today it contains firefighting materials stretching over the 80 years of the station’s history.

 CSEI will use those items, including the fire horn donated by the Hickey family, to tell the story of Welland’s firefighting history, to honour emergency workers and to support current fire safety efforts. 

(Wayne Campbell is a retired journalist and a member of the Central Station Education Initiative board of directors.)

Niagara College Marks National Day For Truth And Reconciliation

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of Niagara College, addresses a group gathered in front of a fire during an Honouring the Children event. The event was held in the Indigenous Garden (Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake) on the morning of September 30. /Niagara College photo.

It was a day to mourn losses, honour survivors and learn about the truth of residential schools.

On September 30, students, faculty and staff at Niagara College joined residents across Canada in commemorating the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“Our priority at Niagara College is to commemorate the day in a meaningful way,” said College President Sean Kennedy. “Our goal is to amplify Indigenous voices, and encourage our College community to learn the truth of residential schools, and to engage with truth and reconciliation initiatives at our College and in the community.”

Indigenous Education at NC hosted two events for the College community on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – one in-person and one virtual. The day kicked off with a morning Honouring the Children event held in the Indigenous Garden at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The College community was invited to drop in, pay their respects and reflect on the children who were forced from their communities to attend residential schools.

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of NC (Electronic Engineering Technology, 1971) lit a fire, offered medicines, and guided the College community through the time of reflection.

“Be the vanguard. The world is watching what Canada does right now,” he said.

A Virtual Circle Discussion: Truth Before Reconciliation event drew participants from the College community via Zoom during the afternoon to listen to stories told from survivors and those impacted by residential schools. Attendees heard from guest speaker Sharon Slippery, who is a third-generation residential school attendee, as well as Elder Gary Parker of the Seneca Nation.

The event focused on the importance of understanding the truth of the profound effects that residential schools had and continue to have on Indigenous communities. It addressed the forced assimilation of Indigenous children, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and it honoured the strength of survivors.

“Niagara College’s September 30 events are intended to be a starting point for an ongoing discussion around Truth and Reconciliation and as initial steps in the important work that our College will be undertaking related to Truth and Reconciliation,” said Rick Anderson, Vice President, Student Success, who became NC’s first Indigenous vice president when he was appointed to the role in January 2021.

Lianne Gagnon, Director of Student Services, which includes Indigenous Education at NC, noted that while this was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the College, it follows in the footsteps of its annual Orange Shirt Day initiatives. Hosted by Indigenous Education, Orange Shirt Day events have served as a reminder of the devastating history of Indigenous residential schools; their impacts on Indigenous children, families, and communities; and to reinforce that every child matters.

“Now that it is officially known as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we are focusing on the truth first. Before non-Indigenous people can do reconciliation work, it is important to first learn about Indigenous culture and the effects colonization had on them,” said Gagnon.

“We can’t start rectifying the wrongs if we don’t know what they are. We felt that the Virtual Circle would be a valuable way to share information with our staff and students, and to give them a better understanding of why reconciliation is important, while we remember and honour residential school survivors.”

In addition to the events on September 30, some areas of the College also hosted initiatives leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On September 27, NC’s Centre for Academic Excellence hosted a session for faculty and staff members grounded in the book Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit by Marie Battiste. NC’s schools of Business and Management; Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; and Environment and Horticulture held a virtual session on Sept. 27 to help its faculty and staff learn about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and about how to support Indigenous students.

(Source: Niagara College release)