Monday, September 28, 2020

Ready for takeoff October 1st, 2020: Elsie MacGill Heritage Minute

Happy to share the news that on October 1st, 2020, just in time for the start of Women's History Month in Canada the Elsie MacGill Heritage Minute developed by Historica Canada will launch! As soon the link for the actual minute is ready, I will post it here.

It has been hard to keep the excitement of this project under wraps during the development phase. So many times I wanted to share the news that it was in the works, as I was one of the consultants on the project. But, now the waiting is coming to an end, the project is sitting on the runway and ready for takeoff - just waiting for air traffic control to provide clearance!

Stay tuned!!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

École Elsie Gregory MacGill Public School: A tribute worthy of the name

On Tuesday, September 8, 2020, École Elsie Gregory MacGill Public School in Thunder Bay, ON welcomed its first students. This school is a new addition to the Lakehead Public School Board of Education and replaces previously existing schools in the area. 

As a former resident of Thunder Bay who attended its public schools, I was extremely pleased to hear about the selection of this name when it was announced, and seeing the doors open this week to the 2020-2021 school year is truly special. I wish all the teachers and students the best possible educational start and hope that you will all seek to follow your dreams and not be limited by any barrier you encounter. It used to be said that the sky's the limit, but today, we can reach so much farther into outer space, down into inner space below the waves and engaging with the emerging knowledge society in which we live. 

Elsie Gregory MacGill was a strong proponent of education for both boys and girls and that it had the power to evoke positive social change in society. Today our world has been and continues to be rocked by COVID-19 and issues of racial discrimination. In both instances education and action are paramount to effective change and a solid education basis will help develop the future leaders our society will need in the ongoing years of the 21st century.

As MacGill noted to a graduating class at the St. Lawrence College of Arts and Applied Science in Kingston, ON in 1975:

"I take for granted that you will advance your particular discipline, and I hope that you see it as more than something that gains you a livelihood. I think that with your training you are well placed to free people from the stultifying attitudes and practices that hamper their development.

     All of us, be we nine years old or fifty-five, have stake in the future because we live in it. You who are young have the greatest stake for you have the longest time there: HOW WILL YOU USE YOUR EXTRA TIME?" (Sissons 218-9, Queen of the Hurricanes) 

MacGill also advocated the importance of ensuring equal opportunity for all, as she knew that if society could discriminate against one section of its population, it could just as easily discriminate against another. Furthermore, she supported actions of women of colour and Indigenous women during her lifetime even when some of her colleagues chose to avoid or even work against such actions.    

Moreover, she supported the use of both official languages and did her best to engage with the French language when her professional activities called for it. Thus it is an added bonus to see that École Elsie MacGill Public School offers French immersion.

Each year with the start of the new school year there is excitement of the new learning journeys ahead. Thus, to all the students and staff of École Elsie MacGill Public School may you always have unlimited horizons as your explorations commence!

Crystal Sissons