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Activist leaves spotlight, and other stuff

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Evan Wiens has decided he needs a break from the media spotlight.

He has, after all, just turned 17, and Grade 11 exams are fast approaching.

Last week Wiens organized a gay-straight alliance meeting at Steinbach Regional Secondary School, quite a sensitive topic in the area. He was willing to have us cover it, but Hanover School Division trustees said they wouldn’t grant media access to the school property.

To reiterate, some people in the Steinbach area believe that Education Minister Nancy Allan is violating their religious freedom through the imminent Bill 18, which would require any public school and any private school that receives public funding to accommodate any student wishing to form a GSA in the school.

"I’ve made a personal decision to not exploit myself on media anymore. It was amazing to get my story out and make people aware, but at this point I need to focus on my schoolwork that suffered from all the media attention," Wiens said in an email this week.

Moving right along....

Someone emailed me and told me I’m despicable. Not really the ideal way to start your morning, but I’ve been called worse. And when I do, I save the emails... but I digress.

So I emailed back, acknowledging the correspondence, and politely pointing out that the allegedly despicable published item was, in fact, not my work.

And I’m still waiting to hear further...


In other news...

Hate to quibble about Game of Thrones, but did anyone notice a chuckwagon accompanying Daenerys’s army? Don’t soldiers need to eat? And who grows the food, with seemingly everyone in all the kingdoms either in an army, or skulking about in the woods?

Back over to education....

People want me to get in touch, so they leave phone numbers with our city desk. And I call, get voice mail, leave my direct line, and wait to hear what it was about. And in both recent cases from last week, I’m still waiting. And in addition, Teacher B, you didn’t say what the interesting matter was in your call on my voice mail, but I returned your call twice, leaving voice mail messages.

Moving up to postsecondary in a jiffy....

Jiffy is old people talk for speed of light.

The Students Against Israeli Apartheid have yet to say anything further about any action they may take over their expulsion from any U of M property under Students Union control. And UMSU has yet to respond to interview requests.

One thing I’ll ask UMSU if the president of UMSU ever gets back to me: Is it true that UMSU council votes are secret ballots, not public show of hands? In a university, people don’t take personal responsibility for their actions?

And again with universities... since the person with whom I discussed revisions of history Saturday night is a retired professor.

We were talking about how history has been revised so that those of us who were around in the 1960s wouldn’t recognize it, and two days later comes an email from a publisher somewhere in Indiana, offering me a review copy of an autobiography of someone who was a gunner on a helicopter gunship in Vietnam.

Part of the pitch: "Flying the most dangerous gunship in the world over enemy territory, Spectre gunners played an invaluable role in the defense of the nation."

Defense of the nation, that’s the part that fit right into our discussion over dinner Saturday night about rewriting history. Some day I’ll rant and ramble about the Gulf of Tonkin, and B-52 bombers over Laos, and Agent Orange, about the bombing and mining of Haiphong harbour, and the Tet offensive, and about Kent State... or have all those events been expunged from the history books, and I’m just falling rapidly into senility, thinking that Joan Baez and Phil Ochs told more truth than Nixon and Kissinger?


And now for something completely different...

The end of term, university exams over, papers all submitted, means we’ll soon be seeing child the younger, and a bit after that, child the elder. For all the other empty nesters, cherish the moments.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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