Resolution: Gender Neutral Language

Tonight I gave my first notice of motion to council on an issue that’s very close to me and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. My motion is simple, ensure that all of our documents stop using gendered language such as “he” and “she” to ensure that people who identify differently aren’t unintentionally excluded.

As someone who has many friends in this position I’ve always been bothered by seeing gendered language in our documentation. Upon expressing this, I know staff have worked hard to try and avoid this in new policies however it’s difficult to eliminate something so ingrained. And so, with the support of some of my colleagues I’ve put forward a motion with the hopes that Maple Ridge can set a positive example for other municipalities to follow on how to be more inclusive of all residents in our communities.

As I said I’m very excited about this and would love your feedback.

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Council wears Purple for PEDAW

It`s hard to express how happy I am to have my colleagues standing with me in support of PEDAW, Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness Week, with the “Love Our Bodies Love Ourselves“ wristbands. This is a cause I became a part of shortly after working with the Looking Glass Camp for youth with eating disorders where I learned not only how complex and misunderstood eating disorders are, but how little funding is in place to support people facing this mental illness as well as many others.

The PEDAW Campagin is a way of bringing awareness to the issue and spreading the word about supports available throughout the province. For more information or to get involved, please click on the hashtags below. Special thanks to the Maple Ridge Times for helping us spread awareness with their article “The ACT in Maple Ridge turns purple for cause“.

#PEDAW

#Hunt2LoveOurBodies

#Purple4PEDAW

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Kiersten Duncan’s Campaign Kickoff!

Hello everyone,


I would like to invite you to my campaign kick off event on Saturday the 27th at Thornhill Hall. If you would like to come please sign up here or message me as there are a limited number of tickets available. We have had many dances at the hall in the past and they have all been a tremendous success so I hope you can join us. Please feel free to bring a friend and share the event as I know not everyone will check online for details. I look forward to seeing you all soon! More details are below.

 

Come meet Maple Ridge Council Candidate Kiersten Duncan and help kick off her campaign with a fun evening of square dancing at Thornhill Hall on Saturday September 27th. Tickets are only $15 and space is limited so please reserve your tickets in advance.

Not a dancer or don’t have a partner? No problem! Our Caller Ken will be teaching the basics, everyone is welcome and no partners are required. 

This is a non-alcoholic event for all ages. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks will be served.
Everyone is encouraged to bring an appetizer to share
Please bring your own plates, cups, and cutlery to reduce waste.

Tickets: Are only $15.00 and may be purchased in advance or at the doors. However, space is limited so please reserve your tickets in advance. E-mail Verity at verity@telus.net or call 604-467-3448 for more details. You may also contact Kiersten Duncan at kierstenduncan@live.ca or 604-722-1707.

Date: Saturday September 27th 

Time: Doors open at 6:30, meet and greet at 7pm, and dancing begins at 7:30

Where: Thornhill Hall Maple Ridge. 26007 – 98th Avenue (off 256th Street) in Thornhill Park

Kiersten Duncan's Campaign Kickoff

 

Teacher’s Strike

Click here to see my speech from Tri-Cities Leadnow Youth Connections Defend Our PublicEducation Defend Our Future Rally. 

duncan at rally

Letter to the Editor

                                                                                                                                              September 14th/2014

          In seventh grade I was asked to purchase paper towels and tissue boxes on my school supplies list, items that were no longer covered due to budget cuts. As I moved into high school this trend continued.  I found wobbly, graffitied desks, worn outdated textbooks that students were forced to share, frustratingly slow computers, locker fees, handicapped buttons that didn’t open doors, and so much more. My favourite, of course, were the portables. Instead of investing in proper infrastructure, students and teachers were (and still are today) commonly housed in portables whose cramped environments often smell of mildew and that house rats beneath their steps.

Most students will agree that the heating and air conditioning never work. In the winter you’re distracted by the sight of your breath in the air and in the hot summer months your focus is on trying to breathe in stiflingly hot conditions.

I watched my teachers struggle through these budget cuts. How they made do without and yet continued to supply the incredible support I relied on before classes, during breaks, and after school. I will never know how they managed this.

Flash forward to the present.  I’m working as a lifeguard and swim instructor. It was while writing my first report card that it struck me that I myself had become a teacher. And yet, my situation is vastly different from those on the picket lines today.  I have the proper tools, equipment and support in place to teach my classes. I don’t have to fear that if something breaks it will never be replaced, or that it will fall to me to replace it out of pocket, or that I will be forced to spend class time repairing it. I have set class sizes that are strictly adhered to and support staff available to me at all times, especially for students with special needs. These differences alleviate a great deal of stress from my job and allow me to focus on teaching my students

My profession has taught me that teaching is not only a career, but a way of life. Teachers not only educate but act as role models and inspiration for students. Right now teachers are taking a stand for proper funding, class size, class composition, and fair wages for their work. Not once but twice,  our teachers have taken our government to court and have been proven right. This strike is hard on our children who want to be in school, parents who want to see their children learning, and the educators who have been forced to do more with less every day. I am proud of them for standing up for what they feel is right and for asking our government to provide the necessary tools and funding so they can do their jobs.

Thank you,

Kiersten Duncan

Jail & Bail at Country Fest!

jail and bail

 

I am very excited to announce that this weekend I will be participating in the “Jail & Bail” Fundraiser at the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest to raise funds for Cops for Cancer BC.  All proceeds to Cops for Cancer will help  send children who have or have had cancer to Camp Goodtimes, an amazing week long summer camp run at Loon Lake in Maple Ridge that gives children and their families fighting cancer a safe place to relax and play. As an employee at Pinnacle Pursuits who helps run many of the activities at Camp Goodtimes I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the difference this camp makes first hand.

 

On Saturday and Sunday, this weekend, from 2 – 2:30pm I will be locked in a jail cell and you can use your donation to either free me or keep me in jail longer! It’s all up to you. My goal is to raise enough money, $1500, to send a child to camp. I will be accepting cash, cheques, and even credit cards on site. You may also contact me in advance to donate by either phone at 604 – 722 – 1707 or by e-mail at KierstenDuncan@live.ca

Remember that anything helps and tax receipts will be available. Please share this with your family and friends and let’s help send some kids to camp!

Safety in our community

The article Golden Ears Park Needs Cell Signals coincides with an issue I’m currently meeting with District Staff about. Sadly, two weeks ago a young woman drowned in Golden Ears Park marking the 5th person in the past four years. Last year a 21 year old man drowned at Alouette Lake as well. In both these cases the same issues have been brought to light yet little seems to have changed.

In these popular swimming locations, favourite spots for Ridge residents and tourists, there are no clear signs marking where cell reception is available, who to contact in an emergency, and no aquatic rescue equipment. As a lifeguard and first aid instructor in training I understand the importance of ensuring we have the proper measures in place to keep people safe when using these often remote areas.

ring buoyWhile aquatic rescue equipment sounds fancy and complicated it can be as simple as having a ring buoy or “lifesaving ring”, as it is sometimes called, handy and available for anyone to use should they see a swimmer in distress. The image on the left is an example of a bright orange ring buoy commonly seen on boats, at pools, and some beaches. You do not need to be trained to use a ring buoy making it some of the best equipment to have available.

I have been researching solutions to this issue for a few months now and am currently contacting first response groups such as search and rescue to add to my knowledge before hopefully presenting to Maple Ride Council in the Fall. If you or someone you know is interesting in helping me or has any suggestions please contact me.

I’m hopeful that our municipality will begin looking into measures to address this issue soon to prevent future tragedies.

“No Sound Science in Whale Decision”

Whale

Dear Editor,

Contrary to Randy Kamp’s response [Whales’ redesignation conservation victory, May 1 Letters, TIMES] to your editorial [Whale status about tankers, April 24 Our View, TIMES], I feel you have correctly suggested the truth.

The humpback whale’s redesignation under the Species at Risk Act, from “threatened” to “species of special concern,” coincides with a court case against the federal government over its track record of dismantling environmental protection laws while trying to force the much-protested Enbridge pipeline.

The David Suzuki Foundation, one of five major environmental groups involved in the court case, is challenging your government’s “…continued failure to meet its legal responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act to protect endangered wildlife threatened by a number of projects, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.”

It would appear that the Conservative government is changing the laws so it is no longer breaking them.

As for decisions based on “sound science,” the Conservative government has clearly demonstrated with its continued muzzling of Canadian scientists that it has no intent to listen to scientific evidence.

This was reinforced to me when a professor at my university told me how her fellow professors have had to publish their work under different names, for fear they’ll face threats and lose their jobs.

While I agree we should celebrate the resurgence of our once-endangered North Pacific humpbacks, I do not believe we should do so by scrapping the very laws that protected them, allowing them to recuperate just enough that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada felt they could change the whale’s status to “Special Concern.”

COSEWIC’s website even states that “although this recovering population is no longer considered to be ‘Threatened’, it is not yet secure.” They go on to list several threats still facing the whales, including “noise disturbance, habitat degradation (especially on the breeding grounds), entanglement in fishing gear or debris, and ship strikes.”

While Maple Ridge Council recently stepped up to uphold our hard-fought environmental laws by supporting our current Streamside Protection Regulations, our federal government is taking yet another step back.

If you compare the COSEWIC’s definitions of “Threatened” and “Special Concern” you will see there is little difference, except wording and the loss of legislative protection.

By referencing his government’s work to “ensure an increase in tanker traffic can be safely accommodated,” it would seem Mr. Kamp is admitting the redesignation of the Humpback Whale’s is without a doubt linked to the continued push by the Conservative government to see Enbridge passed.

If his government is indeed “committed to protecting Canada’s wildlife and biodiversity,” I wonder why his constituents felt the need to protest outside his office for the second time this year?

COSEWICDefinitions from the COSEWIC Website

Threatened (T): A wildlife species that is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.

Special Concern (SC): A wildlife species that may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Kiersten Duncan, Maple Ridge

© Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times

Youth Vision Film Festival 2014

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I’m very excited to announce that I’ve officially entered a video in the 2014 Youth Vision Film Festival hosted by Cinema Politica Ridge Meadows & the Golden Ears Transition Initiative (GETI). My brother Kyle and my boyfriend Alex and I collaborated together to submit a stop motion Lego video with an environmental theme.

The theme for the festival is “Ridge Meadows 2034” and the contest was open to anyone 25 years or younger living in Ridge Meadows.  Participants were asked to show…

“how our community will have overcome present challenges and be an area that is the envy of others.”

It’s an open theme that has given youth in our community an opportunity to express their thoughts on what direction they would like to see Maple Ridge go in the next 20 years. Finalists’ films will be screened and prizes awarded at the festival this Thursday, May 8th, at the Maple Ridge Municipal Hall (Council Chambers). So please spread the word and come out to support all of the participants. I cannot wait to see the other submissions as I know we have a number of very talented young film makers living in Ridge Meadows.

YouthVisionFilm

 

 

Earth Day Maple Ridge!

This years Earth Day Festival was once again a tremendous success thanks to all the hard work from all of our volunteers and coordinators which included students throughout School District 42, Immigrant Service Society (ISS), the Ridge Meadows RCMP SPURS, and of course the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society to name a few.

I learned a lot as my third year coordinating volunteers for Earth Day and even more in my new role as Safety Coordinator for the festival. It feels good to be able to apply my background as a lifeguard and first aid instructor in new ways.

From Freecycle (where you could donate unwanted clothes, toys, and other items and take home anything you needed for free) to our many environmentally friendly activities and entertainers we had a phenomenal event. I look forward to seeing everyone again next April!

earth day pic Amber Light Photography and Design