Greetings from Regina, Saskatchewan! As CAPSLE’s 29th President, I am delighted to share the President’s Message with you for inclusion in this edition of CAPSLE Comments.
It is an honour and privilege to serve in this role alongside CAPSLE’s long-serving and distinguished secretary, Lori Pollock, and its dedicated and hard-working Board of Directors. The volunteer work we do on your behalf is important because we all believe in the raison d’être of CAPSLE. We provide a unique national forum to promote applied education law in Canada and we engage a diverse group of stakeholders: educators, school leaders, teacher unions/federations/associations, lawyers, Ministry of Education personnel, academics, trustees, students, and others.
First, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Saskatchewan Organizing Committee for planning and hosting our 2017 Conference in Saskatoon entitled, In the Land of Living Skies: Expanding Horizons in Education and the Law. The Committee did an excellent job and worked extremely hard over an extended period of time to put on a first-rate Conference. Committee members included: Al Boutin, Nora Findlay, Geraldine Knudsen, Krista Lenius, Lori Pollock, Kevin Schmidt, Trevor Smith, Linda Stanviloff (co-chair), Terry Stanviloff, Jaime Valentine, and myself (co-chair). With our focus on inclusion, diversity, human rights, and partnerships, we offered engaging and relevant concurrent sessions, three dynamic and interactive panels, and two outstanding keynotes from Judge David Arnot (Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission) and Chief Darcy Bear (Whitecap Dakota First Nation).
A common thread running through the Conference highlighted the continuing need for innovative structures, caring partnerships, and vibrant practices, which create inclusive classrooms and school communities. As our speakers reminded us, these spaces must remain open to all our students, and especially those on the margins such as Indigenous and Métis students, immigrants and newcomers to Canada, transgender students, and those struggling with mental health challenges. The Sheraton Cavalier did a wonderful job hosting our Conference and our beautiful venue on the banks of the South Saskatchewan provided easy access to the river and its kilometers of attractive trails, various restaurants, and the downtown. Our Sunday and Monday evening socials at The Top of the Inn showcased delightful music from local high school students (jazz) and the Chickadees. A good time was had by all in attendance!
Nous étions très fiers d’accueillir nos délégués à Saskatoon. Au niveau du développement professionnel, le programme fut très riche, intéressant et des plus pertinents. Les sujets portaient, entre autres, sur l’inclusion, la diversité, les droits de la personne et le partenariat. Nous espérons que vous avez profité de l’occasion pour faire du réseautage, revoir vos collègues et vos amis et établir de nouveaux liens personnels et professionnels. Je tiens à remercier le comité d’organisation qui a fait un travail spectaculaire pour vous recevoir. L’hôtel Sheraton Cavalier a également fait sa part pour un accueil des plus chaleureux. Bravo!
I must thank our Past President, Stefanie Tuff, who recently completed nine years of dedicated and indefatigable service on the CAPSLE Board. Her contributions to the Board will be sorely missed. Stefanie’s leadership embarked us on the renewal journey in challenging times. Stefanie’s commitment to CAPSLE has never wavered. Her positive energy, ability to rally those around her to a common cause, and her sense of humour have all had an important impact on the Board and all those associated with our organization. Thanks Stefanie for being such a great advocate for CAPSLE!
I would also like to highlight the exemplary leadership of our outgoing President, Ian Pickard. Taking the torch from Stefanie, Ian has led us through difficult times by focusing our time and energies on two critical areas: conference attendance and membership/awareness. In 2015, Ian received the Martha Mackinnon Lifetime Membership Award for his lifelong commitment to CAPSLE. This award speaks volumes to the kind of person and leader Ian is. Ian’s determination to reinvigorate and reenergize CAPSLE is unshakeable. In addition to his new role as Past President, Ian is serving as co-chair (along with board member Gail Gatchalian) for the upcoming 2018 Halifax CAPSLE Conference to be held during the Spring of 2018. For all you have done, and continue to do, for CAPSLE Ian, we remain eternally grateful. In simple terms, Ian is a hard act to follow!
At our recent Annual General Meeting in Saskatoon, the Board proposed a name change based on a previous survey of CAPSLE members expressing support for a simpler and clearer name. The motion proposed a change from CAPSLE to CELA, the Canadian Education and Law Association. The rationale for the change was for clearer brand recognition. The motion for the name change was narrowly defeated with 65.7% of those voting in favour of it. We fell just three votes short of the 2/3 support of voting members required under our by-laws to change our name. We came so close but we will not be changing our name. We will direct our energies to more pressing matters.
We readily acknowledge that there is more competition from a growing array of conference choices, fewer PD dollars available to potential attendees, and more information about education law on line. Notwithstanding these challenges, CAPLSE continues to offer a fantastic annual conference with an average attendance of 250 plus people these past three years. We have outstanding keynotes, panelists, and excellent concurrent sessions on the most relevant topics in education law. We believe that the annual conference represents significant professional development value for those who attend CAPSLE’s annual signature event and those who have yet to attend. Drawing on the renewal and revitalization efforts of our two recent presidents, Stefanie and Ian, the Board will continue to look for innovative, cost-efficient, and strategic ways to ensure our base remains solid and engaged, while reaching out to new audiences in different and creative ways.
While serving as your president, the Board will engage in the following work:
- Webinar development – If costs and technology allow, we will offer practical education law PD on current and pressing issues through webcasting means to targeted audiences throughout Canada. Our goal is to build digital learning communities and to network with relevant stakeholders to take CAPSLE’s message to diverse communities as a complementary offering to our national conference.
- Conference attendance – We will continue to examine appropriate measures to attract new attendees to our conference.
- Membership/Awareness – Work in this area remains outstanding. We will update our web site to make it more attractive and interactive and embrace better communication strategies through social media to get the word out about who we are and what we have to offer. Our ultimate goal is increase conference attendance, membership, and offer on line PD opportunities to targeted stakeholder communities throughout the country.
The Board exists to serve its members and to promote applied education law, which we believe must ultimately serve the public interest. What we do is important because we provide a forum to discuss, and to act upon, matters which relate to how we treat and should treat one another in educational and societal contexts. We care about what we do because questions of fairness, justice, and equity are always at stake.
If you have any thoughts about the President’s Message and how we might better serve our members, conference attendees and how we might reach out to those who have yet to engage with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to remaining a vibrant, exciting, and professionally relevant organization.
I thank those who came to Saskatoon. I am delighted that Halifax will host our 2018 conference, A Bridge over Troubled Waters. It will be wonderful to see you there. Spread the word and attend our signature event with a friend, colleague, and lots of enthusiasm!
A la prochaine . . .