Our Community: Retiring principal an ‘amazing teacher’

Kids at Braefoot Elementary School might remember their soon-to-retire principal, Tarj Mann, for the personal morning greetings and birthday candy bars.

But those adults who knew Mann when they were kids themselves remember a top-level educator.

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Dennis Howard was a Grade 5 student back in 1972 and recalls an “amazing” teacher, one who engaged with the class, always with just the right amount of discipline.

Howard was speaking in an interview this month when Mann, 65, was given a retirement send-off at Braefoot. It was an event that drew a wide variety of students, past and present.

Mann spent the last 16 years of his 45-year career with the Greater Victoria School District at Braefoot.

His time as principal was marked by a commitment to offering individual greetings to every student as they arrived each morning. Mann also called out students on their birthdays to give them their candy bar.

“It’s been a wonderful school and community to me to finish my career,’ said Mann.


Philanthropist drops by on cross-Canada tour

Geoff Giles believes two things about Canada: It’s the greatest country on Earth, and all its children can be fed properly.

Giles, 60, a resident of Canmore, Alta., is spending Canada’s 150th birthday year seeing all parts of the country that have ever raised his curiosity. He also plans to donate $150,000 to fight child hunger along the way.

“I love this country, I’m a proud Canadian and I’m a super patriot,” said Giles in a telephone interview.

“But this [child hunger] is a problem that we could fix if we put our minds to it.”

Calling his automobile trip the Journey to End Hunger, Giles was set to be in Victoria on Friday to drop off $10,000 to the Brown Bag Lunch Program.

The money he is donating is his own, and he encourages fellow citizens to follow his path, with money, help or any other form of assistance, whether it’s donating money, or volunteering at a food bank or seeking out some other way to help.

Employed in the agricultural industry, Giles is also a granddad of four, and began his journey in Newfoundland. He and his wife wanted to see the icebergs.

Other family and friends have also joined him for parts of his journey. From Victoria, he plans to journey north into the Arctic, and will be Ottawa for Canada Day.


Historians get awards for their work 

Two Victoria historians have been honoured with awards for their work in documenting and chronicling the past of British Columbia.

At a ceremony on May 27, the B.C. Historical Federation gave Sidney Allinson the Philip Yandle Best Article Award for a piece called A Petticoat Army that appeared in the winter 2016 issue of British Columbia History.

Allinson’s article offered details and photos of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the “C-WACs,” during the Second World War. Judges commended the piece for being well-researched, informative and enjoyable to read.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Historical Federation handed Victoria’s Robert D. Turner the Award of Merit, honouring his lifetime achievements as a historian.

Turner has made his mark documenting technology and transportation, especially in 19th and 20th century B.C. He has photographed and written extensively on railways, sternwheelers and steam tugs.

Nominating him, naval and military historian and author Barry Gough, also of Victoria, cited Turner for his abilities as a photographer, his expertise as a researcher and his generosity as a collaborator.


Tobacco not welcome at ball park 

The baseball pitcher, looking down to home plate with a steely eye and a cheek bulging with chewing tobacco, is a cliché whose time has come and gone, say the Victoria HarbourCats.

The club has announced a new partnership with Island Health to educate players, fans and especially youth about the dangers of tobacco, even smokeless tobacco.

“Chew” or “dip” (the moist snuff inserted as pinch between cheek and gum) has been tried by eight per cent of Canadians. But studies have shown people who use it regularly are 50 per cent more likely than non-users to get mouth cancer.

Chewing tobacco is banned in the West Coast League, and the HarbourCats have said it is not welcome on their field or in their dugouts.

So HarbourCats players who provide training camps for Victoria youth will get an Island Health education program beforehand about tobacco and the benefits of tobacco-free sport.

Island Health medical health officer Dr. Murray Fyfe called the team-up between the health authority and the baseball club a “guaranteed strikeout.”

“Tobacco has no place in a ball park,” said Fyfe.


Volunteers honoured for years of service

Gov. Gen. David Johnston was scheduled to be in Victoria last week honouring 55 British Columbians, seven of them Islanders, for their selfless commitments to helping others.

Johnston was to present those honoured with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers at a ceremony at Government House in Victoria.

The medal is awarded to citizens, individuals only, who have demonstrated an exemplary dedication to volunteerism. Non-Canadians can be eligible if their contributions helped or honoured Canada or Canadians.

Contributions must be significant, sustained and unpaid.

Islanders to receive awards were:

• Irwin Axness, Nanaimo, for his work with the RCMP Central Island Veterans and with the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow society, as a stem-cell courier;

• Mavis Gillie, Victoria, for her more than 40 years work to achieve justice for native peoples;

• Jeff Hampton, Courtenay, for his 32 years volunteering with the Comox Valley Food Bank,

• Jill Justice, Pender Island, for her 12 years, promoting, assisting and enriching the arts scene of her home island;

• Wolfgang Paul Loofs, Victoria, for his work with humanitarian groups such as Medical Ministry International Canada and the Canadian Red Cross;

• Dean Piller, Victoria, for raising money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis of Canada;

• James Webb, Victoria, for his work with various naval and maritime associations, including the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and the Navy League of Canada.


10 years of fundraising builds playground

École Marigold Elementary is opening its gates to the community on Thursday to celebrate its new playground.

It took 10 years of fundraising by Marigold families and a $15,000 contribution from the B.C. Ministry of Transport, but the new playground is set to become a permanent feature serving kids from the school and the neighbourhood.

Designed with input from students, teachers, parents and neighbours, the playground will feature climbers, balance beams and track riders. It has also been built to suit varying levels of accessibility needs.

Night to Play will be 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, at École Marigold Elementary, 3751 Grange Rd.


Margaret Jenkins finishes Wild Schools Program 

Kids from École Margaret Jenkins School will enjoy an outdoor learning event in celebration of the school’s completion of the Wild Schools Program.

The event on Tuesday will also celebrate the school’s commitment to restoring the Garry oak meadow habitat at Trafalgar Park, a project supported by the Friends of Uplands Park and the District of Oak Bay.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen will provide a welcome talk to the school in the morning. Afterward, children will attend events in the community.


Your bottles can help Our Place

Bottle Depot is teaming up with Our Place to help the downtown community centre with its mission of providing transitory housing, hot meals and assistance to Victoria’s destitute.

For the month of June, recyclable beverage containers donated to the charity bins at Bottle Depot’s three main locations, 655 Queens Ave., 4261 Glanford Ave. and 3961 Quadra St., will go directly to Our Place.

If you have at least two bags of empties and you wish to donate, you are encouraged to call Bottle Depot, 250-727-7480, for a pickup.

Our Place reports the cool, wet beginning to summer has seen an unexpectedly high demand for hot meals.

Our Place, 919 Pandora Ave., is an inner-city community centre that offers 200 units of transitional housing, hot showers, free clothing, counselling and 1,600 meals per day. People and businesses provide the majority of the financial support.


Parkinson’s team is Shakin’ the Rock

For Alf Todd, even 10 years with Parkinson’s disease has not robbed him of the pleasure of riding his bicycle.

So on Monday, he and 14 others, six of them with Parkinson’s, will depart from Port Hardy to cycle to Victoria. Calling themselves Parky’s Pedallers and their journey Shakin’ the Rock, the group hopes to raise money for Parkinson’s research.

Todd said one of the mysteries of Parkinson’s is it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the ability to ride a bicycle. Tremors and jerky motions seem to disappear on two wheels.

“There is many a time, at the end of the day I can hardly walk,” he said. “But I can still get on my bicycle and ride 20 miles.

“It’s a good thing because the two best treatments for Parkinson’s are physical activity and a good attitude,” said Todd.

It you wish to donate, congratulate riders or welcome them back, you are invited to a free barbecue picnic from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Centennial Park, 7450 Wallace Dr., Saanichton.

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