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Never seen together?

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Like Clark Kent and Superman, have Jamie Wilson and Kevin Chief ever been seen together?

The two men are friends, and both were keynote speakers this weekend at the Manitoba School Boards Association, Wilson on Friday, Chief on Saturday.

Wilson is Manitoba’s treaty relations commissioner, and is the former education director for Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Chief is a provincial political candidate in Point Douglas for the NDP, executive director of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sports Achievement Centre, and among other things, runs the Eco Kids program for U of W.

Wilson told the trustees he and Chief get taken for each other. "I’m not Kevin Chief," he pointed out in opening his keynote address.

"People come up to me and say, ‘Good job, Kevin,’," laughed Wilson.

Then Wilson told the trustees, "Somebody go up to Kevin tomorrow and say, ‘Good job, Jamie."

Moving right along...

I got one of those emails from a public relations firm beseeching me to promote an upcoming event, this time the David Suzuki Foundation. Suzuki is turning 75, and 200 Canadian schools will take part next Tuesday in an on-line virtual happy birthday celebration, in which Suzuki will talk to the kids and answer questions.

With me so far?

The public relations type assured me that Leila North in Seven Oaks School Division, Beautiful Saviour Lutheran School in Winnipeg, and Winnipeg’s Casa Montessori — which is for kids aged three to six — will take part.

Keen observers will note that next Tuesday is March 30, which falls within school break week, a true fact which I pointed out to the p.r. person in Ottawa. Yup, she said, this time of year one province or another is on school break, so it’s an issue, but she assured me that all of the schools are good to go.

Which means that those schools would have kids and teachers coming to school during school break.

Seven Oaks superintendent Brian O’Leary told me it’s news to him, and he can’t see Leila North coming to school next week. Beautiful Saviour Lutheran principal Gerry Thiessen told me it’s the first she’s heard about this event, she’s not aware of it, and the school will be closed next week. Casa Montessori is also closed next week, but one of the parents is hosting the on-line event at her home for any of the kids who can make it.

And so I relay that information back up the line.

And, finally, the p.r. type gets back to me again today from Ottawa, and blames someone in the schools for registering even though the schools can’t take part, and takes a shot at the schools for taking away someone else’s chance to participate.

Anyone at the schools want to counter that?

On to another topic...

I’m refereeing knockout soccer playoff matches, and a parent who’s a professional in the public school system comes up to me prior to the kickoff, someone who looks vaguely familiar, and tells me we recently had professional dealings. "My son is on the (colour of jersey) team.....Favour us."


I went to the Manitoba School Boards Association awards night Thursday, at which outstanding students get recognized for their volunteer and community work, and school divisions are also up for innovation awards.

Great evening, terrific kids.

But I’m thinking, if someone asked me to be one of the hosts for such an evening, I’d go over the names ahead of time and learn to pronounce them properly. And if I wasn’t sure, I would ask someone who knows, and then write it out phonetically. You get honoured with an award from wonderful work, and then someone can’t pronounce your name or the name of your school. We live in a province with names reflecting Cree or Ojibway or Ukrainian or Icelandic and umpteen other heritages, and surely people have the right to expect that people from other cultures can learn to pronounce their names properly.

One of many examples, school trustee ‘Ritta Highdell’ gets called up to present an award, and I’m wondering who on earth that is and why I’ve never heard of her, and up comes Winnipeg School Division trustee Rita Hildahl, and the person butchering her name is another school trustee with whom she’s dealt provincially.....Hildahl told me later that it’s not the first time.

Change of topic....

Quite the impressive advertising campaign on the U of M website. The home page touts various research projects, along with an ‘I am a visionary... a trailblazer... a conqueror’ messages, each showing a different young girl who presumably will go to U of M in a few years and change the world.

And now for something completely different, and a chance for selfrighteous indignation...

I’ve ended up on my personal email on a mailing list from Amazon, after buying DVDs of some of my favourite 50s scifi flicks — Invaders from Mars, Target Earth, Them, The Thing, etc — and get a promo or two a week.

So last week, I get an offer of a newly-made DVD of the extremely obscure and ultra-low-budget Kathryn Grant 1957 film, The Night the World Exploded, which I remember seeing on Buffalo WKBW’s fright night early in high school. It’s about scientists developing an earthquake predicting machine, and trying to warn the governor of California of impending disaster, and I’m looking at this ad and trying to figure out, what part of beyond tasteless and insensitive did Amazon not understand? They could have held this for a few weeks and replaced it with another old film to feature.

Another segue...

I’m in Safeway last week, refereed two soccer games the night before, came from a two-hour workout to shop, and the checkout person asks if I want 10 times the Air Miles or 10 per cent off. I choose, everything gets processed, and I mention i don’t see a sign for the promo. "Oh," says the cashier, "it’s seniors day."


At least, old and decrepit though I obviously appeared, the cashier didn’t push it when I insisted I could get my own groceries out to the car.

One more topic?

I’m reminded again why I have no future in marketing and management. It would never have occurred to me that doubling parking rates and extending parking charges to Saturdays and well into the evening would attract people to downtown.

So, let me try to follow this, we’ll be more apt to go downtown and park if it costs more to do so? I’ll have to pay on Saturdays when I go to Mountain Equipment Co-op, and we’ll have to feed a meter when we go to the MTC or Warehouse on Saturday nights, or to evening Moose or Goldeyes games, and parking on the street will no longer be an option when we go to the Globe.

BTW, Sam, loathe though you are to bleed people for user fees and revenue from parking fines, how about dispatching your forces to issue tickets to those selfish people who take up two spots in the theatre district on frigid winter nights? The nights we have to walk five or six blocks, and then when we reach those great on-street parking spots around the Warehouse, here are people eating up two spots.


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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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