SelfDesign recognizes that life can throw challenges at our learners and their families. Events and situations can each make learners feel unsafe and uncertain and can affect their ability to learn and families’ ability to support that learning.

SelfDesign Family Services provides resources and supports to help learners and families when events or situations interfere with learning. Within Family Services, members of the Contact Assistance Team – referred to as CAT – are experienced in working with learners in kindergarten to grade 12, including learners who receive Support Education services.

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Fu-Go: "windship weapon." Photo, via

Seventy years ago, Sunday school teacher Elyse Mitchell and five of her adolescent charges died when they disturbed a Japanese bomb they found in a mountain forest near Bly, Oregon. More »

A Royal Canadian Air Force Boeing C-17 cargo plane recently flew a special payload from Comox to northeastern France. The plane’s cargo bay contained six First World War replica biplanes.

The biplanes had a rendez-vous with time. They are flying in formation over Vimy Ridge today, as part of the ceremonies taking place there. The ceremonies mark the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

On April 9, 1917, at 5:30 A.M., France time, the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force launched a meticulously and long-planned attack on German fortifications along the ridge. It was the first time the four divisions had fought together.

By day’s end, all but one of the divisions had secured their objectives. The entire ridge came under Canadian control three days later. More »

Carolling. Photo © Dwight Sipler, via flickr and creative commons

“This qualifies as a barbaric cultural practice,” Nature Boy said the other day when we were grocery shopping. “I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels deep and lasting psychological distress at being subjected to holiday carols non-stop from November 1 through December.”

He paused to survey the candy-cane display. “Wasn’t there supposed to be a hotline I could report this to?”

Neurologists have already determined that music primes our reactions. That the Academy of Motion Pictures of America awards Oscars to best original scores and sound editing underscores the role music plays in playing on our emotions. More »

Elephant. Photo © Jim Bowen, via flickr and Creative Commons

The killing of Cecil the Lion by big-game hunters in June outraged the world.

Thirteen-year-old Cecil lived in Hwanga National Park, Zimbabwe, where he was a major attraction for wildlife tourists. He may have been lured out of the park prior to being killed.

Yet this is one animal, albeit a charismatic, celebrity critter. Thousands of wildlife crimes occur every year. The World Wildlife Fund estimates, for example, that customs officials intercept ivory from only about 11 per cent of the 50,000 African elephants poached every year.

Here in B.C., officials have helped uncover some wildlife crimes recently. More »

I recently visited the Jimmy Choo and Christian Laboutin footwear displays in a much-trumpeted Lower Mainland department store.

When a staff person approached me, I expected the usual “Can I help you?” Instead, the young man gestured at the poppy on my lapel. “This is the earliest I’ve ever seen anyone wear one of those,” he said. More »

Social media have democratized publishing. Now, anybody can spontaneously share their thoughts, opinions, photos, witticisms and criticisms, as well as what they ate for breakfast, with the world.

This accessibility has permitted new voices to emerge, quiet voices to be heard, and the previously unspoken to be said. More »

Walking to school. Photo © Elizabeth, via flickr and Creative Commons;

Most of the kids walking down my street to the nearby high school this past week travelled in groups of two, three or four, with occasional outliers making their way solo. Of the elementary-school kids passing by, most walked with adults or were delivered to the school door in the family minivan.

Recently, in the U.S., young kids playing or walking outdoors without attending adults have prompted calls to police and child services.

The incidents have sparked discussion around the world about parenting styles. Is granting kids a measure of trust and responsibility a form of neglect? Does coddling kids lead to maladjusted adults? More »