The press release I’ve reproduced below just arrived at the Sun Media bureau in Vancouver from a teacher employed by the Vancouver School Board. She is leading her students in a protest of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The students are adults looking for high school credits and, as the teacher notes, many of them many not speak English as a first language. But, by golly, they’re going to learn that pipelines are bad!
Now surely, even opponents of the Northern Gateway Pipeline must agree that, as a pedagogical exercise, this is a bit over the top for a public school class. By all means, use the pipeline debate as a teaching moment. But taking a bunch of students who may have only a working knowledge of English and ask them to get high school equivalency credits if they produce work that agrees with a teacher’s particular policy or political bent bent seems to me to be a wee bit over the line.
July 26, 2012
My name is Amie Wolf.I teach art at South Hill Education Center, Vancouver School Board, Adult Education. South Hill is located on Fraser Street at 45th Avenue in Vancouver, BC.
The center serves adults returning for high school credits, many of whom are immigrants and international students from all over the world.
On Wednesday, August 1st and Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, from 1-3pm, about twenty of my adult art students will create and then present a large outdoor graffiti moss mural on the North wall of the Sunset Community Center (6810 Main Street, Vancouver).
This imaginative mural will be in protest of the proposed Enbridge Pipeline. Juliana Bedoya, professional artist and founding member of Something Collective, has developed, secured funding for and executed this community building arts initiative.
Thank you for your consideration and we hope to see you!
[Address and phone withheld]
UPDATE: Bedoya, the “professional artist and founding member of Something Collective” was, to put it mildly, surprised to see this press release from Wolf. You can read her e-mail to me below. Wolf subsequently sent a letter to Bedoya “terminating” the project and Bedoya’s participation in the project.
I am Juliana Bedoya, the professional artist member of Something Collective (somethingcollective.ca
) that is working with the students from the South Hill Education Centre on this mural proposal using moss graffiti as a medium.
Today I have been dealing all day with the teacher herself, the principal at South Hill and all the parties involved from the city, with fact that the teacher Amie Wolf added the “protest against the Enbridge pipeline” as an item from her own personal agenda to the process I’ve been having with the students. She even sent this press release without consultation and previous authorization from my side. I strongly disagree with her attitude towards this community engagement process acting on behalf of the students and me.
During this process I’ve been facilitating at South Hill, the students reflected on different environmental issues, but they didn’t even mention the pipeline was an issue of their concern to be added as a theme for their mural proposal. The teacher added this component as an external environmental issue that wasn’t addressed during the facilitated sessions.
I would like you to take this press release back and make sure the project is tied to the We Are Here, A Community Mapping Project and not to an initiative derived from a collective reaction against the Enbridge pipeline.
Thank you for all your help.