We believe all of SelfDesign’s learners are special, but at the Virtual Commencement Ceremony held on June 13, SelfDesign recognized the Class of 2020 for an achievement unique to them.

The SelfDesign learners moving on to the next stage of their lifelong learning journeys this year with newly minted Certificates of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma), School Completion (Evergreen) Certificates, or the Adult Graduation Diplomas (Adult Dogwood) are the first learners to have gone through SelfDesign® Learning Community’s newly designed high school program from Grade 10.

“They have been key to the success of our entire grade 10–12 program from its launch in 2017,” says SelfDesign Principal of Educational Programs Nikki Kenyon. “They have helped us pilot and refine our offerings every step of the way as they learned, grew, matured, and progressed. In the process, we have learned as much from their insights about the program as they learned experiencing it – and the result is an even better program for learners following in their footsteps.”

So amid the congratulations, speeches, performances and presentations were our thanks to this group of remarkable young people.

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Patricia Collins, SelfDesign Indigenous Education Facilitator, Learning Specialist and former learning consultant, didn’t start out with any thoughts of working in education.

Years ago, when a long-time family friend ­suggested to a very young Patricia that teaching might be the path she was meant to take, Patricia scoffed: “What do you mean I was born to be a teacher? Puh-lease!”

Instead, Patricia went on to choose a career in geosciences – a field that combines ecology and geology for the purpose of determining the status of landscapes before and after reclamation, assessing the potential of an area’s geology for mineral resource extraction, and undertaking related plant and animal surveys. For five years, she worked on projects around B.C.

Then it happened.

She was working near Nimpo Lake, in the Chilcotin (Tsilhqot’in) region of north-central B.C., when she witnessed a young person from the local Carrier First Nation risk their own life to save the life of another person.

“It was an act of such bravery, such complete selflessness and courage that, right then and there, I realized I wanted to work with young people,” Patricia says.

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British Columbia is a leader in developing education policies that make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI). The Province added gender identity and expression to the B.C. Human Rights Code in 2016 and, shortly after, the BC Ministry of Education adopted the SOGI principles and directed all B.C. school districts and independent schools to protect and support youth who might identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited, or other, or who might be exploring their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Complying with the directive was not a big leap for SelfDesign Learning Foundation. The foundation and our two learning programs – the independent, online learning school SelfDesign Learning Community and the SelfDesign HomeLearners’ Network – are guided by a core philosophy that assumes that every single learner is a person with their own intrinsic value, talents and abilities.

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When families apply to enrol their children in SelfDesign Learning Community, two SelfDesign representatives they’re very likely to talk to – possibly more than once – are Michelle Quesnel-Tosney and Paul Tosney. Together, the duo, who are married, are SelfDesign Enrolment Team’s frontline. They receive, review and process enrolment and re-enrolment applications for more than 2,000 learners every year. They help guide families through SelfDesign’s enrolment process, answer their questions, and make enrolling in SelfDesign Learning Community as easy as possible for B.C. families.

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Fu-Go: "windship weapon." Photo, via public.resource.org

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 »

Vinca minor, or common periwinkle. Photo © Daniel Jolivet, via flickr and Creative Commons

Vinca minor, or common periwinkle. Photo © Daniel Jolivet, via flickr and Creative Commons

She had moved to the area only the year before, lured by the climate, the year-round greenery, and Victoria’s reputation as a city of flowers. Her new home included a garden, with one rocky section that saw little sun. Moss would thrive there, but she wanted something more dramatic. More »