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Alberta Home Education Association

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Step 2: Update to Public Health Measures

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA continues to work with the Alberta Department of Education, voicing concerns and sharing examples of issues faced in the home education community. They are the ones interacting directly with Alberta Health Services on behalf of students across the province. Please note the wording is 'home education co-ops' and/or 'supportive group learning environments.'   You may wish to review prior articles on this blog for helpful clarification and action items. AHEA's work continues unabated and your joint efforts and action assist us greatly. 

Here is the latest update from the Deputy Minister of Education for your review...

"Step 2 of Alberta's four-step framework to carefully ease COVID-19 restrictions took effect on March 1. The changes to public health measures included the authorization of low-intensity indoor fitness activities and the reopening of libraries with restrictions.

On March 8, 2021, CMOH Order 05-2021 was signed to amend CMOH Order 04-2021. Both orders provide further clarity for local facilities to support student learning, and eases a number of restrictions for activities permitted under Steps 1 and 2 on The Path Forward for Albertans. For education, the new Order does not change the ability for school authorities and home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments outside of homes to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) for physical education or performance/performance arts programs.

In addition, section 82.7 of CMOH Order 05-2021 provides home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments with the ability to meet in approved off-site facilities for an activity that is not curriculum based, but related to youth development.

As a reminder, in addition to monitoring hospitalizations, Alberta's government will also be monitoring other metrics, including case numbers, growth rate and the impacts of COVID-19 variants, to guide any decisions regarding the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Joint home education co-op activities/supportive group learning environments outside of their homes must continue to adhere to the following health measures that also apply to schools.

  • Parents and students engaging in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes must use the appropriate Alberta Health Daily Checklist and adhere to recommendations of the Zone Medical Officer of Health or designate, including having a responsible adult within each cohort to identify close contacts should there be a case of COVID-19 identified within the cohort.
  • Parents and students choosing to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes, (e.g., community hall or rental facility) will be considered a cohort and must follow the cohorting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students 10 years of age and older (Grades 4 and older) who choose to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their home must wear a non-medical face mask in accordance with the masking requirements in school (CMOH Order 33-2020).
  • Parents are required to develop procedures outlining hand hygiene requirements and follow enhanced cleaning, disinfecting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students must follow the physical distancing guidelines in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.

Please note that cohorts should be maintained for learning based on outdoor play, recess and outdoor learning activities. Indoor and outdoor learning activities must take place in facilities only and not in homes as the indoor and outdoor social gatherings and performance activities restrictions remain in place.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

REMINDER: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best.

Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.

Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.

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Freedom Does Not Come Cheap Or Easy

21.02.Freedom-Does-Not-Come-Cheap-Or-Easy Home education freedoms on solid ground

Home education history may not be well known today, but we should realize the rights that we have today did not come cheaply or easily. Understanding how some of our philosophy driven freedoms came about due to the fact that another pastor went to jail in the late 1980's is a timely consideration. Pastors are sometimes defenders of liberties for society when it comes to government overreach because of their bedrock beliefs being enacted in their leadership positions. Like events of today, the issue was whether or not the government's permission was needed in order to take the actions motivated by the dictates of faith.

Words are important to home educators. So important that sometimes we've said we are "word sensitive" when it comes to interacting with the government in addressing policy. This is because so much can ride on the interpretation of a single word or small clause being properly placed or understood. Home educators have a unique and rather specific bunch of terms that we utilize to bring awareness to a deeper meaning, many hard won. An example of this is the word notify...

Do you know why you "notify" the government, instead of "register," your intentions to educate your children? It is because of Pastor Larry Jones, who was a pastor of the Western Baptist Church in Calgary. He believed that it was wrong for the government to insist he have a license to educate his children at the church academy he started. Getting a license was the same as getting permission in his view. He felt permission couldn't be granted in good conscience by the government unless it was in a position to give it. Pastor Jones was steadfastly convinced that the permission was God's to give, not needing further endorsement to validate its legitimacy.

This created an impasse that worked its way through the courts. Jones was charged with aiding truancy but his case was won twice in the lower courts and lost on appeal. The case then went up to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and their 1986 ruling said that "the province, and indeed the nation, has a compelling interest in the 'efficient instruction' of the young" and that the requirement to get a license "constitutes a minimal, or as the trial judge put it, peripheral intrusion on religion." [1]Ted Byfield commented on the issue of parental rights being on trial in his Alberta Report, saying that "when Mr. Jones lost, all parents lost."[2]

It seemed to be the end of the matter, except to look for the silver lining. Dallas Miller, now an Alberta judge, believed that there was benefit as the SCC ended up addressing parental rights, creating some new parameters, resulting in a benefit for us all in a broad sense. He said that the "case does, however, set some guidelines for individual liberty and freedom in terms of educating one's own children and the extent of the 'compelling interest' of the state." [3] He referenced how the judgement clarified how those limits would be in play, as the SCC itself said that "if it can be established that the school authorities' action is exercised in an unfair or arbitrary manner, then the courts can intervene. It may also be that at some stage certain requirements, whether imposed directly by the School Act or by regulations or by official of the Department of Education or of local school boards, may have to give way to the liberty of the individual to educate his children as he pleases to the extent that such liberty is protected by the Charter."[4]

The government took another run at Pastor Jones' resolve and charged him with truancy again in 1987, as well as bringing a civil case to close the academy. He was convicted of truancy and the decision resulted in him being sentenced to a 30-day jail term, which he took instead of getting a license or paying the alternative $250 fine. He ended up serving 10 days. However, in the end, he didn't lose the war as the government's approach had resulted in a mounting public pressure that was becoming a political embarrassment. The Christian citizenry was making their voice heard over the issue. Somehow, the government found a way to come to an understanding and his position on educating his children, and other students at the academy, was respected without a license that violated his sincerely held beliefs.

We need to note that the issue largely centred on the battle for control by government efforts to supplant parental rights. The questions of who is ultimately responsible for the children and to whom they belong needed to be clear to both parents and the government for there to be a resolution about their education. Jones' lawyer, Philip Carr, had made the following statement. "God owns the children. He loans them to their parents. As such, children are a gift from God to parents. They are not a gift from God to the government, nor from government to the parents. The government has no role in the raising of children except in the case of imminent peril where children's lives are in danger."[5]

Jones himself made this astute observation. "The state is not primarily concerned about the quality of the education as much as they [sic] are about being in control… Quality education is not the issue. The state wants control of our children, the [sic] want us to submit to Caesar in every area of our lives. We will not give to the [sic] Caesar the things that belong to God."[6] A more detailed account can be found here[7], but it seems apparent that even the state knows when it has met its match in resolve and in the past has shown respect, even grudgingly, to the unmoving nature of a spiritually held position.

There are numerous examples of this throughout history that are not limited to the Christian faith, for people like Gandhi come to mind, or the famous American, "Give me liberty or give me death" quotation attributed to Patrick Henry. Another example, oft forgotten in its significance because we only know the resulting work so well, is John Bunyan. The author of the famous book, Pilgrim's Progress, wrote it from jail, as he had declined to comply with government regulations surrounding religious gatherings. He stayed, out of principle, for 12 years, and is known to have said, "If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow." Sometimes your principles will cost you something, and the more they cost the dearer you hold them. These costs are what have produced the freedoms that we enjoy, often unthinkingly, today.

Home educators should know that our very ability to home educate is based on hard won freedoms. Men have given their lives so that Canada could be a free country. We live in a constitutional democracy, which means that the Charter protects the freedom to hold a minority position, instead of a pure democracy in which the majority position dictates outcomes, like mob rule. What an important thing for us to understand, since we are a minority group!

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms describes fundamental freedoms in Section 2, guaranteeing:

a.  freedom of conscience and religion;
b.  freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression;
c.  freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d.  freedom of association.

If home education were to be considered a bicycle, our wheels are (a) and (b) of Section 2. This is where we would go to defend ourselves in court. And ultimately, win or lose there, we must know why and how it is necessary to take a principled stand on issues. Being able to teach our children, acting on the trust God has put in us when we were given these gifts, has been a life altering decision for every home educator. If you want to continue to enjoy this freedom, take heart and take a stand when you see our tricycle getting a flat tire. Your voice and actions in defending these legal protections is not something to take for granted. I implore you to connect the dots before any direct impact is felt on your home education freedoms or your larger freedoms as Canadians. Infringement on one person's enjoyment of them is actually an infringement on all of us. We must stand, together, or we will fall, apart. Check out 1 John 3:18 and Philippians 1:27 for some biblical encouragement.

Nothing can make us so aware of a loss as watching a society become desensitized to what is happening around them. Closing quotes are from a speech that was given by Jason Kenney December 1, 2014 that he titled Conscience Versus the Spirit of the Age.[8] I'd recommend that you read it in full.

"Representative democracy, our heritage of liberty and the rule of law—all this depends upon a correct understanding of the proper spheres of authority and the limited competencies of state authority."

"One does not need to be a Christian or a person of faith to recognize that trampling on the rights of conscience can open a path to the abuse of power. We Canadians have been blessed to have been spared those consequences because our tradition of the limited State recognizes that the rights of conscience must be respected. Indeed, the first liberty listed in our Charter is found in section 2(a), freedom of conscience and religion, which is an echo of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…"

"In the totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, the principle that force predominates over reason was carried to the extreme. Man was compelled to submit to a conception of reality imposed on him by coercion, and not reached by virtue of his own reason and the exercise of his own freedom. This principle must be overturned and total recognition must be given to the rights of the human conscience, which is bound only to the truth, both natural and revealed."

"A Canadian premier said she found the very idea of conscience rights—rights enshrined in the Charter, rights written into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, rights broadly regarded as foundational to liberal democracy—to be "frightening."

"Here allow me to make another point. Robustly defending the rights of conscience is not something that is good for legislators alone; much less is it special pleading for people of faith in the public square. It is something that is essential for the health of the entire political system."


[1] https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/165/index.do pg. 19 para 28

[2] Byfield, T. "Jones lost, parents lost, but dear old P-BOG wins again." Alberta Report Oct. 1986 pg. 52

[3] Miller, D. "1999 Legal Memorandum on Home Education in the Province of Alberta" Court Report and Communiqué. Jan/Feb 2000 pg. 10-13

[4] https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/165/index.do pg. 28 para 47

[5] Carr, P.E. "Christian Education in Canada" Biblical Baptist Fundamentalist December, 1987, pg. 7

[6] Jones, L. "Larry Jones' Position on Education." Biblical Baptist Fundamentalist January, 1987, pg. 11

[7] Wagner, M. "Refusing to be Licensed" Embrace the Spirit Winter, 1999

[8] https://www.convivium.ca/articles/conscience-versus-the-spirit-of-the-age/?fbclid=IwAR04Qz9SsL88MRf6wf8x8HKrOsbpbI0HcWRokNp5vatnZt7Zh1YhqHxdrKM#.YDC-fqLGWPA.facebook 

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Home Educators Accessing Off-Site Facilities

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA was notified today of further changes to freedoms that home educating families have under the current guidelines. We continue to work with the Department of Education on your behalf. We are all functioning under the Department of Health's oversight in this matter.

The health orders can be difficult to follow and context is critical. I am pleased to note that the previous definition of 'school' in CMOH Order 42-2020 Sec. 33 (c) (i), which specifically excluded home education, has been amended. Today's CMOH Order 02-2021 Sec. 55 (b) and (c) corrects the misconception that home education and the children are 'social gatherings,' not learning environments and students as well. While AHEA prefers to see home education noted as being a unique educational model in most circumstances, it is being broadly associated with other educational models for clarity here. This is significant because we can now ensure that you are able to read the Orders as they apply to 'schools' as distinct from 'the public' and know that they apply to you. Items covered in our last advisory remain in place (like cohorting for recess) unless specifically changed.

The Key is Cohorting Groups

When we are interacting as a cohort group, like a classroom that exceeds 10 students, we are able to take certain actions that are not permissible for the general public. This means that if you are able to maintain your learning bubble, not intermingling with the public, you can be in the places that are prohibited under Appendix A Sections 1-3 for the purposes of your educational learning/activities. Some discretion will be required of course, but a business that is closed to the public that has space you could utilize may be open to your creative educational use. As long as you are able to maintain your cohorting group and not be mingling with the public, you are allowed to book and use facilities. If you note a school can be in a facility, you may as well.

The Deputy Minister helpfully advised of the changes to public health measures for education relate to indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance activities, and provides additional clarity on their application to home education. You may quote this in your interactions with facilities/businesses or AHS staff as needed:

"School authorities and home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments outside of homes will now have the flexibility to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) where access is limited to home students and parents from home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments. Activities are split into two distinct categories:

Home education or course-based activities

Physical education or performance/performance arts programs that are taking place in off-site facilities (e.g. curling rinks, skating rinks, community halls, auditoriums, community theatres, museums and galleries) where students remain in their cohort. These activities must follow all health protocols in place since the beginning of the school year.

Non-home education or course-based group physical activities including athletics

Extra-curricular activities where students are mixing with other students who are not part of their regular cohort. Restrictions on these activities are:

  • A maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants, can participate.
  • All participants must maintain physical distancing from each other at all times.
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in the physical activity.
  • Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
  • There must be limited access to change rooms, including for accelerated and strictly distanced arrival and departure, for emergencies and for washroom use.

The complete list of approved off-site facilities is provided in sections 1, 2 and 3 of Appendix A of CMOH Order 02-2021 CMOH Order 02-2021 .

Additional information on these changes can be found within the new CMOH Order 02-2021. Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Please note that the health measures for joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes previously articulated must continue to be adhered to.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

AHEA NOTES: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best. 

Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.
Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.

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The Improvements, The Hard Reality And The Work We Have To Do

21.01.24.The-Improvements-The-Hard-Reality-and-The-Work-We-Have-To-Do Children are not meant to be locked up or locked down....

 January 22nd, 2021 the Department of Education announced the new details of what home educators can and cannot do under the current lockdown orders given by Dr. Hinshaw, which will go into effect Monday, January 25th. The home education community must note that the Ministry is limited in its response by the current State of Emergency in Alberta. That said, the clarity is welcomed as it gives AHEA the opportunity to reiterate that home education is not the same educational model as what occurs in a brick-and-mortar school, and attempts to make us fit that mold will always sit, and fit, wrong. There is obviously more work to do in ensuring that our educational model is not seen in the light of 'social gatherings' in the eyes of AHS and that the Dept. of Education is well equipped to rebuff that type of qualification from the outset. AHEA will continue to respectfully work with all parties to ensure that the interests and understanding of home education increase.

As a home education community, we need to ensure we are paying attention, focusing our collective efforts and are prepared to work. So carefully review what we have gained and what is challenging. Then, let's address what is really required to solve the issue we face – that our children, all children, are really suffering. The main source document that you need to cross-reference to is found here, being the Guidance for Schools on Re-Entry – Scenario 1.

The Improvements
  • Home education students can participate in joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes. Note that this applies to either situation. (You must adhere to the health measures that also apply to schools.)
  • Supportive learning environments are what works for your learning and are self-determined.
  • Home educators can be in cohort groups. Caveats are:
    o   They must follow the cohort guidance (see cross-reference document on cohorting).
            - Note: A responsible adult is required within each group that can identify close contacts in the event of a case.
    o   Use the appropriate Alberta Health Daily Checklist.
  • You determine your size or number. There are no defined parameters for either from the Ministry, and home educators appreciate the flexibility.
  • Recess with cohorts is allowed. Outdoor play-based learning or other learning activities are allowed in cohorts. (50 maximum for sports, phys ed, and recreation cohorting. See details here.)
  • Being in multiple cohorts is allowed for those in multiple classes (see cross-reference document section on cohorting). In schools, this situation would normally be limited to high school, but home education is different and students of all ages are in multiple learning environments as required.

The Hard Reality
  • Meeting inside a home remains prohibited. - You may meet outside. You may meet in a facility. The indoor and outdoor social gathering restrictions remain in place.
  • Mandated masking - Parents and students 10 years of age and older (Grades 4 and older) choosing to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside their home must wear a non-medical face mask in accordance with the masking requirements in school (CMOH Order 33-2020 (see cross-reference document section on non-medical face masks)).
    o   NOT applicable to those under 10 years old
    o   "Exceptions to the mask requirement include:
          -    "Persons engaged in physical exercise"
          -   "Persons seated at a desk or table in a place where instruction is taking place and where the desks/tables/chairs are arranged in a manner to prevent persons who are seated from facing each other, and to allow the greatest possible distance between seated persons."
  • Parents and students must follow the physical distancing guidelines.
    o   Please see cross-reference document section on physical distancing guidance on when 2 metres is not possible between desks or in a classroom.
  • Parents are required to develop procedures outlining hand hygiene requirements and follow enhanced cleaning, disinfecting guidance (see cross-reference document).

The Work Left To Do

ALL parents in the province of Alberta, or in Canada for that matter, have little need of further scientific confirmation about the negative effects of lockdowns on their children. The truth of the matter is right before their eyes, looking back at them in the familiar faces of their beloved children. After ten months parents know that there is a distinct difference between teaching them how to endure, to be careful and considerate, to learn and adjust and to put the needs of others before themselves and what is being required. This is not like a short time out, or learning to give up a toy to a younger sibling, although I'm sure plenty of those lessons are being taught while in lockdown. Parents are prepared to parent, but we are not okay with being the enforcers of what is equaling a government mandated action that would be seen as abuse in any other situation. Children are not meant to be locked up and deprived of stimulation – physical/sensory, emotional, social, religious or communal.

AHEA parents believe in rights and freedoms, individual liberty and doing what is best for our children, for these rights come with responsibilities. Cause and effect are true in any life being lived, as it was for those whose lives have been lost. Death is a reality we all face, and we cannot and do not accept that we must live like we are 'dead' in order to survive. Our children should not be forced to give up their childhoods, friendships, normalcy, social skills or aspirations. We need to get back to dealing in reality so it needs to be said – what is happening is wrong and causing harm day in and day out.


What You CAN Do 

  1. Pray. This is the first and most effective response of God's people. Pray against fear and apathy.

  2. You can continue to help AHEA advocate on your behalf by continuing to protest the status quo. One or more emails a day would be impactful, so keep emailing or writing about your concerns. If you only want to do one email a day, draft one and CC everyone else – easy! Parents have been advised that they should contact Dr. Hinshaw directly instead of their elected official by the officials. That is advice with interesting implications that parents should think about as well, since our elected officials are responsible.

a.   Dr. Hinshaw needs to hear from you. Perhaps you want to send a daily health update on your family to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Talk about the real impacts on your families.
b.   Copy one or more government officials on your daily letter. You can look up all the email addresses in the right-hand column on AHEA website here. (You may wish to subscribe to the Political Updates to keep up to date – button just above the list.)

3. You can help change the direction of government by being seen and heard in the two places important places that politicians watch carefully – print media and social media.

#SaveOurYouth This is a social media campaign spearheaded by mothers to raise awareness of the consequences of these restrictions on our youth. Post with this hashtag stories and comments that will change the media narrative and the dialogue around it. Children of all ages are suffering under this lockdown and the harms are real. You can join the Alberta Chapter here.

TYPES OF POSTS TO SHARE:

      • News Needing a Response – Jump onto media articles and use the hashtag #SaveOurYouth. Share personal stories. Share data.
      • Data, Studies and Stories – Post data for others to use, share studies and heartfelt stories.

Read this article in full when you have time.

"Young Canadians have reached out to Kids Help Phone more than 4 million times in 2020, signalling a sharp uptick in calls for help compared to previous years and a growing chorus of youth who continue to struggle under the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Still, the volume of calls is unlike anything Kids Help Phone has experienced since its inception in 1989. Calls have been pouring in from children as young as five to young adults as old as 28, mainly to seek help for their mental and emotional health."
[1]

4. It is time the parents of the province united their efforts and demand that the cost of the current actions be weighed against the assumed benefits. There is a legal obligation on the government to prove that their actions, which impact our Charter freedoms, are justifiable. The following are references that you may find helpful in your own considerations and in putting forward your concerns.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Section 2 – Fundamental Freedoms
a.   freedom of conscience and religion;
b.   freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c.   freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d.   freedom of association.

Section 7 – Life, liberty and security of person

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

"
Section 7 also protects a sphere of personal autonomy involving "inherently private choices" that go to the "core of what it means to enjoy individual dignity and independence" (Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844 at paragraph 66; Association of Justice Counsel v. Canada (Attorney General), 2017 SCC 55 at paragraph 49). Where state compulsions or prohibitions affect such choices, s. 7 may be engaged (A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services), 2009 SCC 30, at paragraphs 100-102; Blencoe, supra at paragraphs 49-54; Siemens v. Manitoba (Attorney General), [2003] 1 S.C.R. 6 at paragraph 45) This aspect of liberty includes the right to refuse medical treatment (A.C., supra, at paragraphs 100-102, 136) and the right to make "reasonable medical choices" without threat of criminal prosecution: R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34 at paragraph 18. It may also include the ability to choose where one intends to live (Godbout, supra), as well as a protected sphere of parental decision-making for parents to ensure their children's well-being, e.g., a right to make decisions concerning a child's education and health (B.(R.), supra, at paragraph 80)."[2]

Flying Blind – A Report by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms

"This paper argues that: 1) Canadian governments at all three levels did not properly and adequately consider the specific nature and the full extent of lockdown harms that would result from the Charter infringements that governments initiated. Governments assumed, based on speculation and predictions, not on evidence, that the Charter violations would prevent large numbers of deaths; they assumed that the number of people who would otherwise have died was huge; they did not think much (or at all) about lockdown harms, nor whether these harms would be greater than the benefits."[3]


Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.
Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.


[1] https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/12/13/4-million-cries-for-help-calls-to-kids-help-phone-soar-amid-pandemic.html?fbclid=IwAR3lvFUg-z2NYuCfiWPr5LanV1kXhGshnTLj-YA32WWKVd7nh_UVmD5LqNg

[2] https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check/art7.html

[3] https://www.jccf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020-12-03-Flying-Blind.pdf

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Living Within A Lockdown

21.01.Living-Within-A-Lockdown Children are struggling with isolation, and parents are worried.

Parents have not only been processing the demands of the lockdown personally but assessing how it has been affecting their family – and more specifically, their children. The costs have been real in a multitude of ways throughout our society. And there is a very specific concern about the effects of the drawn-out lockdown on children that we need to address.

"According to pediatric disease specialist Dr. Ari Joffe, children living through the COVID-19 lockdowns are often facing family financial stress, family violence, loneliness, hunger, inactivity, and disrupted educational opportunities. This will result in "permanent profound impacts on their future quality of life, educational achievement, earning potential, lifespan, and health care utilization.""[i]

No one is living a 'normal' life – including home educators. Although we all are generally used to being together more than most families, and have likely coped better because of it, my son quipped that all the worry about home educated students not getting socialized has now become a government enforced mandate. A lack of socialization is hardly something that any home educating parent ever intends to be true, and in fact, it has been proven to be false for decades, even though the question is often still something we get asked. Studies have shown that the civic participation of adults that were home educated are higher than the comparable population.[ii] These activities do not suddenly start after they graduate, but are instilled in our children as they are brought up, covering participation areas that include political, sports, cultural, religious and community, service and more.

The lockdown mandates have been very stressful for some home educating families from the beginning due to various circumstances, but concern has been growing as the health orders have been extended from the initial two-week request. A parent's patience and desire to be a good citizen has been challenged by the isolation effects they are seeing in their children. AHEA parents are used to being able to make wise decisions about the welfare of their children. Having their ability to help them thrive curtailed, and in a way that lacked the civic process we are proud to regularly participate in, has been chaffing. Always an active population, this has now resulted in calls to their MLA's and various government offices in increasing numbers.

AHEA has been in communication with the Education Department and the Education Minister's office to highlight the concerns we have for our home education community's children. Our efforts have focused on a realistic, specific and healthy solution to this problem of isolation. Home education is a different model than the public-school model, and we require clear direction that applies to us. Interestingly, we are joined in this grey zone by another group that is being forced to experience this – public school distance learners. Therefore, we feel that there should be language that allows for different supportive learning situations. This includes more than 'a co-op,' as the current exceptions for those going to the school buildings or in school co-ops are not unquestioningly applicable to other scenarios.

AHEA has also stated that we would be unwilling to have home education families required to agree to further regulations or oversight for their children to have the freedom to interact with other children. Some families have been concerned that this is the cost that may be required to regain their ability to interact. AHEA believes in the individual, God-given responsibility of parents to do what is in the best interests of our children, and appreciate our Section 2 Charter Rights to our freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. Home education children are used to going to extra-curricular activities, music lessons, sports, clubs, and things as simple as the playground. Children of all ages need to interact, not only those in some models on a school playground.

Home education has received no covid related supports yet that AHEA is aware of. While we have been patiently waiting are response on our outstanding request for support due to the unprecedented growth, we feel that this reasonable request to address our children's social interactions is critical to see movement on shortly. We have further asked that the government speak in terms of a number of families, not a specific number of people, to accommodate different family sizes. Each family is unique and we support a range from those with a single child to those with larger families. We note that the government's guidelines in the school re-entry documents define a cohort as, "A COVID-19 cohort, also referred to as a bubble, circle, or safe squad, is a small group whose members are always the same people, and who do not always keep two meters apart. Cohorts in schools will generally be the size of one class."[iii] We need similar flexibility for our children so we can fulfill education plans made in the fall.

AHEA has been informed that the Minister and her staff at the Alberta Education department are currently working out the details to address this. They have said that they have received polite and respectful, yet firm and persistent, calls from parents. You are making a difference by reaching out to them, as well as calling your MLA's to lay the groundwork of support that is needed to ensure this is actionable.

AHEA is determined and expectant, and will be informed of a decision in short order. We are all working together to address the issue, and where there is a will there is a way. Stay tuned for the next turn in what has become our 'corporate life story,' and please continue to push for changes that will let us get back to our individual ones. It was ever so much more interesting when there was not a common narrator!


HELP US HELP YOU – SUPPORT AHEA TODAY!


[i] https://tnc.news/2021/01/17/just-the-facts-the-harms-of-the-lockdown/?fbclid=IwAR2lXGlj3BXapPxLFQKn6Eq8lHjhErtkKByXXfS8GMFufNG1jiEQPrYy9DQ

[ii] https://cche.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2009StudyPrint-1.pdf, pg. 4

[iii] https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/41e1a5ec-7069-45cc-a3a5-6ff0b26a98a6/resource/ecf3c2c9-b3f5-4c8a-b076-0237cf95d720/download/edc-resource-guide-covid-19-cases-school-settings-2021-01.pdf pg. 5.

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AHEA’s First Executive Director – An Investment in Our Future

21.01.18.AHEAs-First-Executive-Director---An-Investment-in-Our-Future

Today the AHEA Board is pleased and excited to announce it has put into place its first Executive Director. This completes the multi-year work of previous Boards started in 2018 to address the demands on the organizational structure due to its high level of activity on behalf of the home education community. The forward momentum that we have been building will continue with our inviting Shawna Sundal to accept the position of our new Executive Director.

Shawna's giftings and Board experience, coupled with a passion for all things AHEA and a tireless drive to serve, make her well suited for the position. We are confident that she will be able to continue aiding AHEA in capably advocating for the interests of the home educators in Alberta. Please join us in supporting Shawna as our new Executive Director, as AHEA continues the work that we have been doing for 35 years!

"It is great to hear that AHEA has taken the step to hire an Executive Director to execute the goals and purpose of the Association as determined by the Board of Directors. In my 2 years on the Board it was my strong encouragement to the Board of the day to consider hiring for such a position. To expect volunteer board members from all across the province to provide good governance, while providing management oversight in day-to-day operations is too much to expect of parents already working hard to home educate their children. I wish the Board the very best and believe the hiring of Shawna Sundal to fill this position will be successful for the cause of our Association."
– Brent Feyter, Previous AHEA Board Member, Exec. Director Committee Member

"Alberta has a long and proud history of school choice, including home education. Congratulations to AHEA for appointing their first Executive Director, and for serving Alberta's home schooling community for 35 years."
– Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

"The hiring of an Executive Director is a great step forward for AHEA. The number of home educating families has doubled this school year, and AHEA is offering real leadership by committing the resources needed to support our growing movement. HSLDA is privileged to partner with AHEA as the Association serves Alberta families."
– Peter Stock, President, HSLDA Canada

"As a fellow provincial homeschool organization, we would like to congratulate AHEA in Alberta for taking the step of having a full time executive director. We have known Shawna to be dedicated to the Christian homeschool movement and feel certain she will fulfill this role admirably."
– Jake and Heather Zwart, Exec. Director and Admin. Asst. for OCHEC

"In her work on AHEA's board, Shawna has demonstrated a peerless work ethic and a deep-seated concern for the well-being of Alberta's home education community. Never fearful of tackling difficult issues or "speaking truth to power," she will undoubtedly manifest these same qualities as AHEA's Executive Director."
– Michael Wagner, PhD

"Congratulations Shawna. Your attention to detail and big picture issues will be a big asset to AHEA and it's home education community."
– Judy Arnall, President, Alberta Homeschooling Association

AHEA appreciates the sentiments expressed and looks forward to fruitful work in the years ahead. The grassroots home educating community is who we work for, and we keep them the focus of our efforts. As a not-for-profit organization, we are supported by donations and via events we put on in order to maintain an independent voice representing the interest of home education families.

Help us help you, and support AHEA today.

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Being Brought Low Brings Out Our Strength

Being-Brought-Low-Brings-Out-Our-Strengt_20201212-075507_1

"Coming together is a beginning,

Staying together is progress,

And working together is success."


 Henry Ford

There is no shortage of challenges for families and organizations in the world today. We are all experiencing a weariness that comes with a long battle. Although we are not fighting a physical war, we are fighting a psychological, emotional and yes perhaps even a pointedly spiritual battle. This should make us sit up and take notice. What is at risk and what are we to do about it?

AHEA has 35 years of history to look back at, with lessons learned – and many more lessons in the future I'm sure – along with many notable successes along the way as well. There is no doubt that there are particular issues that the AHEA community are dealing with. We are refocusing on our identity, common faith perspective and our financial structure, so that we can work to fight for your freedoms today and tomorrow.

Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." How this rings true for us! The efforts of AHEA have been focused on this very notion. If we do not have clarity about who we are, we cannot be effective at what we do. Clarity protects us externally and internally from both mission and identity drift.

So, let us consider Henry Ford's advice. Home educators came together and created AHEA. This was done with the best intentions in mind and was effective at the time. We gained acceptance as a viable educational model, which was a huge step, and achieved other game changing accomplishments you'll have to read up on! If you would like help remembering those who fought for home education freedoms in Alberta, consider buying a copy of the following booklet from AHEA: Striving for Educational Freedom in Alberta: AHEA and the Vital Effort to Defend Parental Rights available on our website store.

Staying together means that we have to remain committed to who we are so our progress is not impeded. Times change and so does the culture around us. Our 'togetherness' was started by the families of the Home School Christian Fellowship. In a changing world, a recommitment to the clarity of what brings our families together is very important.

The AHEA Board looks forward to a confirmation of their unanimous work in bringing forward a Special Resolution at the next AGM to ensure that we all remain on the same page and stay strongly committed to the common perspective we have on the work we do. Our philosophy drives our proposals and decision making. This is where our being on the same page and working together will help ensure our success. A good general will take stock of his resources and the target before committing to a battle plan. Our ongoing battle to defend, educate and advance home education, offensively and sometimes defensively, demands that we have unity in spirit.

We have not come to this point without there being a cost - some are wounded and some seek to ally themselves with others who may better represent their point of view. When I was thinking about writing this, I was doing some research and came across a devotional that I've found quite touching. It was called Learn How to Be Brought Low. I love the point they make about how God works wonders in the low places, for we have seen God at work among us, refining, directing, and blessing our group in new and special ways. "Those who know how to be brought low do not play the stoic, as if these lessons could shield us from the stabs of our sorrows. Instead, we move forward in faith, learning to let joy and sorrow mingle together in the same heart, learning what it means to feel, and speak, and act in a way that is "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10)."[i]

I believe that AHEA is in the middle of a process that is going to make us better, stronger and more prepared for the future. Our struggle, like that of a butterfly fighting its way out of a cocoon, has been necessary for us to move from one stage to another. I am excited, maybe a little nervous, but really mostly excited by what the future holds. God already knows what will happen, and I can't wait to see what and how He will be working for and through AHEA for you and your family!

"Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong."

2 Corinthians 12:10

"Know this my beloved brothers:
Let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the wrath of man does not produce
the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

[i] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/learn-how-to-be-brought-low

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Observing and Remembering Are Different

Lest-We-Forget

The lens through which we look at the world informs our decisions/actions. This year's Remembrance Day was especially poignant for that reason. As our last surviving war veterans leave us, what they risked their lives for may be leaving us too. It is said that every generation has to defend the freedoms they have inherited or fight for the freedom they want. Failure means loss. And who in our land knows what they would risk their lives for today? Our country? Our beliefs?

Observation is mostly passive. Watching a ceremony can become part of a routine that slowly, but surely, loses its meaning. The importance that something has can be underestimated when it is not on a individual level. Passivity, in either a personal or cultural sense, means a lack of resistance that may result in submissiveness, reliance and a retreat into inaction.

Remembering in itself is a personal action. It means that we have internalized something, whether we have participated directly or not. We develop a deep appreciation for the reasoning, action and the resulting cost. Our understanding means that we are willing to pay a price for something that we value.

God asked the Israelites to remember constantly. It was a multi-generational action that was to enable them to translate history into their current situation, imbibing them with the ability to react correctly on a personal level. The beauty of the Christian faith is that it inherently challenges us to think. Questions are welcomed because there are answers. And because there are answers, we can take heart.

Today we are at a serious point in history. And because we are living history, it is vital that we take the time to remember – very carefully remember – before we take action or respond in a way that is reflexive. Though each of us have our own personal history and memories to draw from, we also have our biblical and world-wide shared history to examine and recall. We should be able to read, watch, and consider information in order to come to a conclusion for ourselves and our families, and to influence what happens in our cities, province and country. We are also starting to sense, even more critically, that our action or inaction have the ability to affect things on a world-wide scale.

Censorship is a real threat today. The Government of Canada is actively seeking ways to control what you are able to see and read, in order to affect your response to politics. This censorship will deprive you of important information – information you are entitled to as a citizen in a free country. Only in a country that is in the process of losing its freedoms, or in one that is no longer free, does the government decide what you get to base your decisions on. The next step, of course, is that you will not have to consider your position at all, for it will be provided to you.

Home educators should be aware of this tendency towards censorship, as we have fought it on a provincial level in recent years. Do you recall the efforts to have the Human Rights Code instilled in the Education Act? This would have resulted in creating an expectation about what you could teach that may have conflicted with what you explained on a personal belief level to your children. Do you recall the efforts to dictate to the independent Christian schools that they could not use biblical language in their policies? Many home educating families, who notified with these schools that had to go to court to defend their right to hold and/or teach from a religious perspective, will remember this significant battle. Yes, the threat to freedom is real in our own province.

Anyone, including home educators, who thinks that they need not concern themselves with life outside their home is committing a grave error in judgement. "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you," said Pericles. Edward R. Murrow was blunter, "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." We do ourselves, and our community, a disservice by disengaging. This is true in the normal day-to-day, and even more so in a time of unease, strain, change and crisis. Now is when we must do our best work to affect governmental responses and to see that our interests are preserved and protected.

AHEA has long stood as an independent voice for home educating families in the province of Alberta. Within the education community, we have a 35-year history of speaking up for families that are affected by government action. This has allowed us to advocate for positive change and to resist the negative. We must never forget that ongoing actions are constantly required in both circumstances. And we must constantly be preparing for next steps, because there are always other groups preparing theirs.

Your direct connection with AHEA is critical to our ability to protect and speak up for your interests. The home educating family that supports AHEA's work through donations enables us to provide a voice for their interests. You can observe the work being done, or you can remember what is being done by internalizing and seeing how you are directly affected by this work… And remembering will lead to action. We need your direct financial support today, so that we can continue to support the work you do each and every day in your home. Please see our website for information on work being done on your behalf and to make a donation to keep our voice loud and strong. We need you just as much as you need us!

God gave you the rights that we are all endowed with, and men died for the freedoms you have enjoyed. Let us ensure that we work hard to have an informed, nuanced, biblical and educated perspective in order to take appropriate actions today. We need to remember and take action, instead of just being observers. 

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It's Time - Funding Home Education Children with Special Needs

Its-Time---Children-with-Special-Needs-Funding

Our current government promotes Choice in Education. Funding for children with special needs whose families have chosen Home Education requires examination. Currently, there is no funding for diagnosis and supports for children with diverse learning needs under The Home Education Regulations, The Guide to Education, and the Funding Manual.

AHEA (Alberta Home Education Assoc.), PCE (Parents for Choice in Education) and AHA (Alberta Homeschooling Assoc.) are pleased to work together to survey our supporters. This survey will help us to collaboratively advocate for change in this growing area of home education. If you are a home educating family that has children with special needs, please answer the questions carefully. Thank you in advance for your time.

The survey will be open from November 6th to November 27th – Please ensure that your voice is heard! 

You can complete the survey here.

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Home Education Accessibility Needs To Be Addressed

20.10.Home-Education-Accessibility

AHEA knows that becoming a home educator is supposed to be accessible all year round. We started discussing the fact that the volume of people looking at home education was going to create a bottle neck at our July meeting with Minister LaGrange. We observed that covid was creating waves in the education world. There had already been an influx of interest by families who liked their child learning at home with them, now followed by those who are nervous, and potentially more who are unwilling or unable to work within the new school context for many reasons. The normal trickle of 'rescue' families by boards that are not eligible for funding may be a steady flow during this unusual year. We asked the Minister to have a plan in place to adjust funding after Sept. 30th.

Now that the September 30th Count Date has passed it has clearly become more difficult for families to access home education. AHEA has seen messages going up each day, looking for groups that are willing to accept families. It concerns us greatly that there has not been an official and public answer that addresses this disparity in access. The need for access was brought up early in order to head off the problem which is now being experienced by potential home education families. We are seeing 'registration closed' or acceptances with a fee or donation required, if a home can be found at all. This is certainly far from providing equal access or access to ideologically aligned supervision if it is desired. Notification only, no funding is but one of the choices that Alberta Education offers. We'd like to see parents continue to have ALL their choices in educational matters for their children.

Parents should know that the home education model is a valid, accessible, year-round choice. AHEA is counting on AB Education and the Minister working together with the home education community to ensure that this is the message being sent or perceived, publicly or within our community. The current logjam must be resolved quickly so as to not dishearten those who wish to become home educators this year. That is why AHEA is making this exceptional request regarding funding and has given a proposal for their consideration. Stay tuned.

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Did you know... that you do not have to talk to the school or previous place you had your children with? 

NOTIFYING WITH SOMEONE NEW IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO!

Many parents get talked out of their decision when they advise someone that they are leaving. This results in an attempt to retain their 'business.' When your notification is entered into the PASI system, the old place you were with will no longer be able to count you - the files will be transferred automatically.  Spread the word! 

*This year it was a courtesy to advise any home education associate board if you were making a change as they have been flooded with inquiries. Public schools had been making personal calls to ask families what they are choosing. Remember, the choice is totally yours - there is no requirement to disclose your choice to anyone except as required by your new notification recipient.


AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community. Donations to AHEA can be made here.

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