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Letters March 1: Police in schools; social glue; Doukhobor apology

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST.

Police chief’s advice to SD61 board

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak’s advice to the Greater Victoria School Board to reinstate the police liaison program is very good advice. It is shocking to me that this board made the decision to cut this program out of concern that some Black and Indigenous students might be uncomfortable with police presence in their schools. The only students, of whatever ethnic group, who might be uncomfortable are those who are doing illegal or unethical actions.

I’m writing from the perspective of a retired teacher who taught for decades in Vancouver secondary schools, including alternative schools where some students did have uncomfortable relations with the police. These were students who were law breakers. But most secondary students are law abiding and appreciate knowing that there is someone around who will have their backs if they get cornered by such people as recruiters for gangs of street-drug dealers.

Most teachers also feel safer knowing that there are trained police officers nearby who know the culture of the school and who have made relationships with many of the students, especially the vulnerable. From my years of teaching in secondary schools, I know that there are some teenagers of every ethnic group who are attracted to walking “on the edge” and need intervention.

I support Manak’s appeal to School District 61’s board, and commend the parents who have organized their appeal as well. I believe that this board has good leadership and will respond to these appeals.

Starla Anderson, Ed.D.


Our social ‘glue’ has softened

I just read the news piece about street gang recruitment in and around Victoria schools. Victoria’s extraordinary police chief, Del Manak, figured conspicuously in the article, warning about risks and urging appropriate action, including greater police visibility around schools.

A line jumped out at me: The board voted unanimously last year to cut the liaison program, citing concern for Black and Indigenous students who might not feel comfortable with a police presence.

I’ll resist the temptation to say something snide and critical about the board. I will take for granted that their concerns were well-intentioned and, for all I know, informed or bolstered by facts.

Still, there is Manak, the man we pay (along with the police force he leads) to stand, as much as possible, between us and the darkness. I’m at a loss to explain why or exactly how the social environment has changed, but without painting a rosy picture of an innocent world gone by, this is not the world of 20 or 40 years ago. The glue — the state of social connection — has softened. Bad things creep in, and this condition may worsen.

I don’t know if a civic populace — our civic populace — can re-learn the practices of community, resulting in a local society so mindful and coherent that evil and social damage could barely enter. But I know that until that social task is undertaken, we should be grateful for Chief Manak and an effective force.

If certain student groups might feel uncomfortable with a police presence, deal with that constructively in student/parent/police/teacher sit-downs.

Everyone needs to be on the same side on this one.

Gene Miller


People who care are the heroes

Re: “Shelter head blames young worker’s death on gaps in Nanaimo health care,” Feb. 24

Regarding the loss of a very special person who volunteered at the Nanaimo Unitarian Shelter, Paul Manly emphasized what has been lost. People who have compassion and who are willing to care where care is needed most are the heroes we should not dismiss. People who care about the systems that allow neglect must first look at the levels of power that create “entertainment” speakers criticizing the poor while celebrating the famous.

Fame and greed will not help us in the end.

Janet Vickers

Gabriola Island

‘Woke’ seems to mean ‘having empathy’

Re: “The runaway cost of government construction projects,” comment, Feb. 28.

When I suggested to a young man who had approached me from behind on one of those stealth scooters to “Get off the sidewalk,” he referred to me as “Grampa.”

First time for that, and now upon reading Gwyn Morgan’s commentary, I guess I am part of the woke culture, too.

Oh well, if the shoe fits …

When preparing a lesson, it is often a good idea to start with your end in sight, and Morgan certainly does that. He asserts in his closing sentence that Canadians need to wake up to the values our country was built on.

Our country?

The preceding text is all dog whistles about governments out of control and “woke culture.”

Morgan shares a story from his sources about a DND project that suffered “woke costs.” First, he points a finger and then blames his targets: women, ethnic minorities, the disabled and, of course, the Trudeau government. He even manages to get in a wisecrack about the blind and disabled. Oh no, not a crack from Morgan, but rather from his “sources.”

In the end, it seems, being woke means having empathy for anyone who is not a “retired business leader.”

Mark R. Fetterly


Gwyn Morgan missed this one

Re: “The runaway cost of government construction projects,” comment, Feb. 28.

I find it interesting that Mr. Oil Man, Gwyn Morgan, made no mention of one of the greatest government boondoggles of all-time: the twinning of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. From $4.5 billion to $31 billion and still climbing.


Dave Secco


Doukhobor apology doesn’t measure up

So 71 years later, the B.C. government finally gets around to making an apology to the surviving members of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors. And offering a nominal $10-million compensation package, which includes mental health support.

The politicians of that time, the bureaucrats and justice people, along with the police, who implemented the policy of children being removed from their families and sent to a former tuberculosis sanatorium in New Denver, I ask, what about those people? Were they ever held to account for their misguided actions? Where are they now? All long gone.

Better late than never, still doesn’t measure up to the pain experienced.

John Vanden Heuvel



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