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Alberta Home Education Association

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

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.

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Living Within A Lockdown

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]

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

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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!

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Being Brought Low Brings Out Our Strength

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"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

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.