The provincial NDP government is receiving lots of public support for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially that of spokesperson Dr. Bonnie Henry. I have no doubt that the Christian community is right in step with that view.
However, there are a couple of pockets of discontent, even apart from the polite minority voice of the Expand BC Worship Services group which is urging the government to loosen restrictions on church attendance.
Delta Hospice tussle
The board of the Delta Hospice Society is in the middle of a messy struggle with the provincial government – and in particular with Health Minister Adrian Dix, who shares the stage with Dr. Henry most days.
The B.C. Catholic reported June 15 that the Delta Hospice Society is considering appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision blocking its members from voting to change their constitution:
The Delta Hospice Society has been under fire after steadfastly refusing to permit medical aid in dying (MAID) in the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta. (The society oversees the 10-bed hospice as well as a charity thrift shop and various community programs for the very ill and dying and their families.)
[Delta Hospice Society president Angelina] Ireland and hospice founder Nancy Macey maintain assisted suicide is contrary to the aims of hospice care and the society’s constitution. The mail-in ballot scheduled June 15 would have asked the 1,500 members of the society if they were in favour of becoming a Christian society. Faith-based organizations are currently exempt from the mandate to allow assisted suicide on their premises.
Go here for the full story. The B.C. Catholic has done several stories on the subject, which has become quite complex.
The provincial government has been pressuring the Irene Thomas Hospice to allow assisted suicide since the federal government passed Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) legislation in 2016.
The hospice board has steadfastly argued that its purpose is to assist living, not dying, but the provincial government has maintained that the hospice is not exempt from provincial guidelines because it is not a religious institution. Dix announced February 26 that the government was terminating its contract with the hospice, and thus its funding.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports the Delta Hospice and has posted a petition – signed thus far by more than 26,000 people – arguing that “Hospice organizations must not be forced to do euthanasia.” Executive director Alex Schadenberg wrote a comment June 11.
IDL school funding cuts
Other Christians are upset by an out-of-the-blue decision by the provincial government to cut funding to Independent Distributed Learning (IDL) schools.
A May 9 Vancouver Sun article described the issue:
Families that choose to educate their kids at home say they’ve been “blindsided” by a $12 million funding cut that could jeopardize BC’s independent distributed learning system.
On Monday, the Ministry of Education told the province’s 16 IDL schools they will receive about $800 less per student effective July 1. . . .
Often mischaracterized as homeschooling, distributed learning schools – both public and independent – are overseen by a BC-certified teacher, follow the BC curriculum and award students a Dogwood Diploma when they complete provincial graduation requirements. While most learning take place at home with parental support, many schools run weekly community classes and provide online instruction and resources.
The funding cut reduces the amount for students in independent distributed learning schools from 63 percent to 50 percent of the amount for students in the public distributed learning system.
Go here for the full article.
The BC Liberal Caucus released a statement May 29:
“John Horgan assured the NDP would not cut IDL school budgets and he has broken that promise,” said [Opposition Critic for Education Dan] Davies. “This decision happened behind closed doors without any consultation with the IDL school boards and was sprung upon them after most budget and staffing decisions were already prepared.”
While many home learners of all backgrounds are affected, Christians are disproportionately involved. One school involved – Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS) – has a page devoted to Funding Cuts.
They encourage parents to write their MLAs, with these key messages:
- This decision is discriminatory as it assumes the same ability for distributed learning parents to pay tuition as campus school parents; however, in most distributed learning families, one parent is at home and not able to work. In addition, numerous out of pocket costs are incurred by families.
- Our school serves a very high number of vulnerable students. Over 40 percent of our students have diverse learning needs or come from bullying, crisis and other traumatic situations. Distributed learning is the only kind of learning that has worked for them. This cut targets some of the most vulnerable students in our province.
- The timing of this announcement comes at a time of economic hardship for many and will further reduce options for parents regarding educational choice for their children. It is also a time when online learning should be valued, celebrated and supported.
- This decision targets one type of student: independent distributed learning students. No other funding has been cut.
Go here for the full HCOS presentation.
David Kalamen, founder of Heritage Christian Schools and pastor of Kelowna Christian Centre, wrote a June 6 article for The Light Magazine. He said:
At this point, our schools are honoured to be an educational solution to close to 6,000 students within BC, through our campus, homeschool and Distributed Learning (DL) venues. . . .
In a time of a historic health pandemic, where economies and employment are clearly compromised, and online education has been found to be a viable solution, heartless funding cuts have occurred. BC has been renowned for its support of one of the most integrated and diverse educational regions of the world. That is now under significant threat and may not recover.
Go here for the full article.
A change.org petition to “Restore or increase funding” now has more than 14,000 signatures.
Street preachers hustled off
A recent story raises the issue of the limits of freedom of expression.
CTV News reported June !3:
A small group of self-proclaimed street preachers prompted a backlash from residents of Vancouver’s West End Thursday after a series of homophobic, fundamentalist sermons over a loudspeaker in the heart of the city’s gay village.
Dozens of Vancouver police arrived as outraged passersby and neighbours demanded the men leave for what they denounced as hateful comments.
“Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven,” proclaimed the leader of the group, who identified himself as Dorre Love and offered women who confronted him his business card. His Twitter account has his location listed as Toronto [Love also said was born in Vancouver]. . . .
Love complained to Vancouver police who arrived at the West End conflict that they weren’t protecting him from a hostile crowd, while the crowd complained that the police weren’t ousting people making offensive remarks.
“The purpose of police on scene is to make sure things don’t get criminal,” said Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin when asked whether VPD believed freedom of expression or freedom of religion to supersede gay rights. “That is the case in all protests.”
Ultimately, as residents shouted “pack it up,” several Vancouver police officers encouraged the preachers to do so and they took their placards and walked away from the intersection of Davie and Thurlow to the applause and jeers of the crowd.
Go here for the full story.
Supporting stuck sailors
Sailors can’t visit the Mission to Seafarers during the pandemic – in fact they can’t do much of anything right now.
Chaplain Peter Smyth can’t visit them on board either, but he is doing his best to offer help nonetheless. He and his fellow chaplains can now only go as far as the gangway of visiting ships. (Smyth is Anglican; fellow chaplains Gary Roosma and Dileep Athaide are Christian Reformed and Roman Catholic respectively.)
A recent article in The Vancouver Sun told some of the story:
The 25 to 30 crew members on each of the 3,500 ships that dock each year in Vancouver, carrying grain, coal, potash and electronics, auto parts and other goods, no longer disembark during the two or three days it takes to unload and load cargo. . . .
Since COVID-19 disrupted global commerce in March, the crews – from the Philippines, China, India, Myanmar and other parts of Asia and from Eastern Europe – are facing indefinite extensions of their months-long contracts.
With the cancellations of air travel and the logistics of transferring seafarers under COVID restrictions, crew exchanges are now rare.
“They can’t have shore leave and they can’t go home,” said Smyth. “It’s a bit like being in prison.”
It’s a global problem for the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 crew members on ships across the world, said Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping, which represents ship owners. . . .
“It’s very stressful for them. . . . It’s important that we continue to visit them,” [Smyth] said, even if only as far as the gangway. “It lets them know somebody cares, that somebody’s there.”
Advocating for albinism
June 13 was International Albinism Awareness Day, and Global News recognized it by interviewing local advocate Peter Ash.
An article by Jeremy Hunka in The Light Magazine did the same; here is an excerpt:
A Langley man and his Metro Vancouver charity are grappling with new and deadly challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and offering hope to hundreds of students who are at increased risk of attacks, kidnapping, maiming and murder.
Peter Ash is founder of Under the Same Sun, a BC charity that protects and advocates for people with albinism – a hereditary condition characterized by a lack of pigment (colour) in the skin, hair and eyes. Because of their pale appearance, people with albinism in Africa face severe discrimination and violence.
“I grew up being bullied in Canada because of the differences in my appearance,” says Ash, who is himself a person with albinism. “But the discrimination in other parts of the world is terrifying and we are needed to protect the vulnerable.”
However, the pandemic is making matters worse. In a unique collision of COVID-19 and skin-based discrimination – two issues currently shaking the world – Ash says people with albinism are now being unfairly targeted and threatened by even more violence and discrimination.
Go here for the full story. I have written about Ash’s work a couple of times, including this report on National Geographic’s June, 2017 article, ‘The Perils of Pale,’ which featured Under the Same Sun.
June 18, 2020Alpha Webinar: Renewal and Unity in a Season of Separation: Shaila Visser & Stephen Foster – June 18, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Cancelled: Sacred Texts: Where Judaism, Christianity and Islam Meet – June 18, 2020 - June 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Postponed: Space for God Retreat – June 18, 2020 - June 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm
June 20, 2020Journey Home Refugee Support: Volunteer Training – June 20, 2020 at 8:45 am - 3:00 pm
World Refugee Day 2020: Distant but Together – June 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
June 21, 2020World Refugee Sunday – June 21, 2020 at All Day
June 22, 2020Livestream: Susan Phillips: Talking Our Walk – Cultivating Sacred Consciousness – June 22, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
June 23, 2020Forge Canada: Seek the Peace – June 23, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Book Launch: Barry Morris – A Faithful Public-Prophetic Witness – June 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Kairos Online Western Canada (Tuesday evenings) – June 23, 2020 at 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
WEA Webinar: What Authentic Discipleship is About – June 23, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
June 24, 2020Radius Missiology Conference (Free) – June 24, 2020 - June 25, 2020 at All Day
ELO Webinar: N.T. Wright on Racism, Christians & Leadership – June 24, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
DTES Lament Gathering – June 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Livestream: Jeff Greenman – Living Faithfully in a Fearful World: Ethics, Leadership & Society – June 24, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
June 25, 2020Virtual Event: Business as Calling: Speaker Bernie Willock – June 25, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
June 27, 2020The Art of Paying Attention: Learning to Love Creation (Online) – June 27, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
June 29, 2020Webinar: Reopening Churches 2 – June 29, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Livestream: Mary McCampbell: Guns, Grit and Grace – Flannery O'Connor & the Sin of Sentimentality – June 29, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
June 30, 2020A Rocha Talks: The Story of Plastic – June 30, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
July 1, 2020Livestream: Ross Hastings – A Theology of Depression: A Personal Narrative on the Economy of Divine Strength Through Weakness – July 1, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
July 5, 2020Christ & COVID: A Series on Health, Home, Race & History (Sundays, morning & evening) – July 5, 2020 - July 26, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
July 6, 2020Animals’ Homes & Habitats – Summer Day Camp – July 6, 2020 - July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Kickers Preschool Soccer and Arts Camp (Ages 3-5) – July 6, 2020 - July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Kickers Soccer Camp (Ages 6-14) – July 6, 2020 - July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
FLO Summer Soccer Camp – July 6, 2020 - July 10, 2020 at 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Livestream: Cindy Aalders – The Shape of Family: Love, Belonging & COVID-19 – July 6, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
July 7, 2020Missional Commons Webinar: Exploring Practices – July 7, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Flavours of Hope's Conversation Series: Food & Race Part 2 – July 7, 2020 at 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
A Just Renewal and Green New Deal for Canada: Earthkeepers Panel & Discussion – July 7, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
July 8, 2020Livestream: Grace Hui Liang – Reading the Bible in Late Qing China, 1807 - 1911 – July 8, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
July 11, 2020The Fundamentals of Moral Decision-Making: Teaching Controversial Topics in the Classroom – July 11, 2020 at 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Cancelled: The Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge, UK – July 11, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
July 14, 2020Missional Commons Webinar: Exploring Postures – July 14, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Shared Life Exchange: Community Cafe 2 – July 14, 2020 at 7:30 pm