You too can overcome Glossophobia (speech anxiety)

This is a book launch I participated in a month ago.

I overcame glossophobia and you can too. The most common of all social anxiety disorders, glossophobia, or speech anxiety, derives from the Greek, “glossa” meaning tongue, and “phobos” meaning fear or dread. For more than 75% of us it is a problem and for many, it is debilitating, career limiting, and causes great anxiety or even panic, from time to time as life inevitably challenges us to speak in front of other people. 

My glossophobia was severe, and I often forget how I’ve slowly worked to overcome it. I am here to tell you there is hope, and you can easily manage the fear and even come to enjoy speaking. In high school and when I returned as an adult to finish grade 12 and starting University, inevitably there would always be a time to introduce ourselves or worse, plan a class presentation! By the time my turn came to say my name, I’d be sweating, my voice would be shaking; if I got the course outline and it included a presentation, I would quit the course. By the time I joined the Police Service, at 27 years old, I’d been in several demanding professions, a soldier for five years, a Sheriff for five years, a department head in a major hotel, and had worked in a half-way house with federal inmates- all the jobs I did while finishing my first degree. Yet, in my police recruit class, when it came time to do a short five-minute presentation, it was tough for me and I stood there shaking and sweating, basically having a mild panic attack and certainly an uncomfortable experience. 

The anxiety feels like it is entirely beyond your control; you think about speaking in a group or public, and your palms sweat and your heart beats uncontrollably, sometimes more and sometimes less, but you cannot seem to manage it. That is because it is a physiological response to stimulus in your brain that you can’t control. But there is good news; you don’t have to master it. If you want to overcome the anxiety related to public speaking, you don’t have to master your body and control the responses, all you have to do is practice. Too many people think they can fix the problem and then go out and do a big speech. You have a best man or maiden of honour speech, or a presentation at work, and are freaked out about planning for it; many resort to drugs. For many of us these things come up and then we have a time crunch and we have no time to properly overcome the phobia before the event. You can get through these and do a fine job, but it may be extremely uncomfortable or downright terrifying, and you may lose sleep worrying about it for weeks leading up to the event; this pain is unnecessary. When this happens, the best thing you can do is know your stuff and plan the speech. But my advice is to start training now, and then when the big speech comes, and it will, you can do it comfortably and even enjoy the experience (seriously). Your body is sensing the public speech input as a threat and your autonomic nervous system is causing a fight or flight response to a perceived attack. You cannot control this, except to train your body to recognize that you are in fact not being attacked and do not need your heart-rate raised in order to fight/flee and survive. 

By starting small, very small, and often, you will condition your subconscious response to public speaking, so that your body will not respond to those events with anxiety. You don’t have to train your mind or body to stop the anxiety, all you have to do is practice. Start small, pipe up in the office or at home, say something and join the conversation in classes, ask a question at a public forum. Eventually, your body will stop responding as though it is under attack and allow you to speak without your heart-rate going up. I liken it to running. If you have a marathon coming up, you cannot train for it by thinking and worrying about it, learning tricks to run better or drugs to give you energy; the only way you can really train for running is to start off small, wherever you are physically, and increase your training slowly until you’re running the whole race. Similarly, with speaking, you have to start small and train so that you eventually have more to say and less anxiety about it. Once you start talking more, there are things that will help you a great deal. For one, know what you are talking about, so you feel confident in what you are saying. A second strategy to reduce anxiety is to be prepared. Bring some props and notes if they make you feel better. Thirdly, there are some tricks that you can naturally start to incorporate in your talks; you may notice that many people tell a joke at the start of their talks; this allows them to get going and loosen up, and also to relax the audience.  

I’ve been doing more and more speaking, public presentations, media interviews, teaching classes, and even planning whole courses, and have overcome much of the speech anxiety that I used to suffer. I say much because it is always there, and I am more nervous in front of some groups, but overall I can do it, and I’ve recently realized how far I’ve come. It is as simple as taking baby steps, and you can do it too; I urge you to get going on it now, and before you know it you will look forward to speaking rather than being terrified of it; get the most out of life, you can do anything you put your mind to. 


New book chapter: Raising Voices….

Laura Forsythe & Contributors — Book Launch

Saturday May 04 2019 7:00 pm – Grant Park in the Atrium, Winnipeg

Laura Forsythe & Contributors -- Book Launch

Launch of Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing (DIO Press) hosted by Niigaan Sinclair and featuring guests Dr. Robert Chrismas, Iloradanon Efimoff, Naithan Lagace, and Belinda Wandering Spirit Nicholson 

This book is an interdisciplinary collection of Indigenous research and scholarship that pushes boundaries of expectation and experience. While the topics are diverse there are many points of affinity across the issues including themes of identity, advocacy, community, rights, respect, and resistance. The authors present counter-narratives that disrupt colonial authority towards multiple ways of knowing.

Laura Forsythe, co-editor of this interdisciplinary and collaborative project, is a Métis Ph.D. student at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Native Studies working in Métis Educational Sovereignty with a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. Forsythe works as the Métis Inclusion Coordinator for the University of Manitoba.

Iloradanon Efimoff is a Haida and European Settler from the North West Coast of BC and a 2018 Vanier Scholar. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Psychology Efimoff focuses on creating anti-racist educational interventions to reduce racism directed towards Indigenous people on campus

Naithan Lagace is a Métis Masters of Arts in the Department of Native Studies whose research focuses on the complexities of Indigenous Peoples and their representations in video games. Currently, Naithan is teaching Indigenous focused courses at the University of Winnipeg as well as the University of Manitoba and will continue their academic career in a Ph.D. program in September 2020.

Belinda Wandering Spirit Nicholson is an Indigenous Ally and Master student in the Department of Native Studies whose research focuses on deconstructing the coded messages of whiteness found in missionary’s texts used with Indigenous children in the Great Lakes area. Wandering Spirit Nicholson is a mother of five and a long-standing teaching assistant at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Bob Chrismas completed a Doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at the University of Manitoba focused on interrupting sex trafficking and exploitation of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Chrismas was awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award. With over thirty-five years of law enforcement experience in Manitoba, Chrismas started his career during Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry and has published widely on Justice issues in Canada.

Host Dr. Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe (St. Peter’s/Little Peguis), a Winnipeg Free Press Columnist, and associate professor in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.

Thank-you Jennifer and Laura, for adding my chapter on violence the Canada’s strong Indigenous women have contended with.

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Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing is an interdisciplinary collection of Indigenous research and scholarship that pushes boundaries of expectation and experience. While the topics are diverse, there are many points of affinity across the issues including themes of identity, advocacy, community, rights, respect, and resistance. The authors present counter-narratives that disrupt colonial authority towards multiple ways of knowing.

Regardless of worldview or specialization, the chapters in this book have something to offer. Like the whorl of a spiral, the curve can be observed as traveling inward or outward. At different points in the conversations, the assertions may be congruent or disparate from the reader’s perspective. The discussions may resonate on individual or societal levels. While tensions may arise, the push and pull of competing constructs demonstrates that the ideas are connected and held in relationship to one another—negotiating alterity is a space of reconciliation. Together the pieces contrast, blend, and broaden the landscape of Indigenous research and decolonizing discourse.

“I hope you enjoy the critical and creative gifts here and witness and participate in the vibrancy, dynamism, and beauty of Indigenous scholarship.” – Niigaan Sinclair, Associate Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba, from the Foreword of Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing.

Cover art by: Jonathan Chin. The spiral image was drawn to represent the seven sacred teachings and honours the artwork of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert. The art piece was created in winter 2016, as part of a final assignment in the EDUC 530 – Indigenous Education course, within the undergraduate teacher education program in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.

2 Contents

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Do you have an academic side hustle?

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“Side hustle?”, I asked, as a younger work colleague mentioned hers. I learned it’s a new-age term, common among millennials. Times are tough, cost of living is high, and everyone has an extra job, a “side hustle” for extra income and, I presume, for experience and networking. I realized I’ve had multiple side hustles throughout my career, most recently volunteering on non-profit boards, and my graduate studies which have now morphed into a writing career.

Since finishing my dissertation, well actually long before, I’ve stewed about how to maximize my impact with this PhD; what social good can I do? Still in public service, now in my 30thyear of policing, I find myself fully engaged in a side career of writing and teaching, with guest lectures and courses, and a continuous cycle of research, writing, peer review, revision, and publication- all in my spare time. I guess it is the work ethic, curiosity and work habits I gained through years of grad studies, while maintaining my policing profession and doing my part at home, raising four kids. The drive has not been a problem; having quit school early and returning later in life to further my education, I’ve cherished the opportunity to work and learn, but I’ve often reflected on how much the education and publishing work helps or hinders my day job. The other bigger question is where I can get the best impact with my PhD credential and academic work. Should I move into academe or stay in the front line? I’ve come to realize that I have an academic career, as a side hustle. Should I continue my grassroots and frontline work, in policing or elsewhere, and continue pursuing academics on the side? Or should I seek a full-time professor role?

As a pracademic, a frontline practitioner with some academic skills- seeking praxis of my work- it feels fulfilling to publish and raise awareness about issues in my profession and community. My first book and all of my articles have influenced decision makers and practitioners in the far corners of the world- I know because they cite my work, and occasionally they tell me; those interactions are highly rewarding and inspiring. At the same time, I wonder where I can get the best bang for my efforts; for example, I’ve put a lot of effort into publishing in scholarly journals, but I’ve come to prefer open access journals that allow me to freely share the work and spread the word farther. Sometimes professional magazines and news pieces get much broader distribution, so they do a lot more to further my personal goals, of affecting some good by moving the public discourse on social issues; sometimes they inform decisions by difference makers in the community. So, I wonder what more I can do with this potential power of writing.

Of course, as a closet academic- I did some research on the question of whether my PhD serves the community and my work better inside or outside of academe. One of the volunteers in my office calls me “Doctor Bob Cop”, which highlights that in some people’s eyes I’ve become somewhat of a goyim (Yiddish for someone outside the community), a label I’m happy to bare because it also connotes, in my mind, breaking away from the pack with some unique accomplishments. But where best to use these new skills? My cursory research on the academic vs. practitioner role finds that the vast majority of published articles on the topic quickly move to the question of where the better jobs are. This is likely the question foremost on most people’s minds; analyzing whether pursuing the PhD or master’s degree is worth the effort- for job getting. I was in the opposite, and fortunate position of having my career already set, and doing graduate and post-graduate studies mainly for self fulfilment. But it still leaves the question of where to get the better bang for my efforts- (1) in the workforce and publishing as a side hustle, or (2) seeking to go head and heals into academic career. Some have written about the potentially stifling university bureaucracy that comes with professor jobs. The opposite side of that problem is the limited time available for research and writing while maintaining a 40 hours per week non-academic job. Some even argue that working in academe leaves little time for many, for research and writing, as teaching is highly labour and time demanding.

The other question about pursuing higher education is whether it’s worth the effort in relation to career advancement or rewards. In some professions higher education results in almost automatic advancement, or at least meets requirements for advancement. In other professions, not so much. In those cases, one must dig deep for motivation, because they are not likely to find it in the job. Some professions, like policing, are in a period of change over recent decades- so higher education is appreciated more by some than others, and achieving an advanced degree may or may not help one’s career. I’ve often said that the moment people ask me how the education helped my career- that I knew they don’t really understand it. The prospect of a promotion could not motivate me to do what I put myself through to complete the PhD. At the same time, I have to say, my education has improved my job skills on every level. More importantly it has enriched my life far beyond anything I could conceive of before I began. So, wherever my career takes me, regardless of what I am doing, I will always have my academic side hustle. How about you?

“All the Flowers May Die, But the Thistles Will Live”: Sex Trafficking Through the Eyes of a Police Officer-Researcher

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Click HERE for the full article

Thank-you as well to Professor Donna Hughes, University of Rhode Island, for your guidance with this article.

Acknowledgements:

I am grateful to the many participants who agree to take the time to be interviewed for this research. I thank the survivors for opening their hearts and exposing their compelling stories for the greater good of preventing people from being exploited and assisting others to escape the sex industry. I also acknowledge and appreciate the professionals, researchers, police, social workers, and NGO staff who work tirelessly for social justice. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and not the Winnipeg Police Service. Dignity thanks the following people for their time and expertise to review this article: Robert Jensen, professor emeritus, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin; and Joan Reid, associate professor criminology, University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. Dignity also thanks Jody Raphael, DePaul College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, for her time editing this article.

 

Research from the Mauro Centre

Chapter 1. Sharing Circles: The Benefits and Limitations in Peacebuilding Initiatives
Dr. Cathy Rocke

Chapter 2. Applying the Conflict Transformation Lens to Understand Why Indigenous Canadians Drop Out of School
Dr. Laura Reimer

Chapter 3. Peacebuilding Projects as a Conflict Transformation Tool: A Meso-level Perspective from Winnipeg
Dr. Kawser Ahmed

Chapter 4. Stories From Survivors of Canada’s Sex Industry
Dr. Bob Chrismas

Chapter 5. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Understandings of Canadian Soldiers’ Experiences in Peace Support Operations
Dr. Patlee Creary

Chapter 6. Racialized and Gendered Peacebuilding in the U.S.-Mexico Border Justice Movement
Dr. Jodi Dueck-Read

Chapter 7. The Role of Transitional Justice in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in Kenya
Dr. Peter Karari

Chapter 8. Living with Others: Learning for Peace and Global Citizenship
Dr. Lloyd Kornelsen

Chapter 9. Players or Pawns? Protest, Participation, and Principled Nonviolence at the 1968 Summer Olympics
Dr. Chris Hrynkow

Chapter 10. Towards an Integrated Framework of Conflict Resolution and Transformation in Environmental Policymaking: Case Study of the North American Great Lakes Area
Dr. Olga Skarloto

Chapter 11. “You’re sitting in my desk!” Researching the ‘Past in the Present’ in Israel
Dr. Katerina Standish

Chapter 12. The Challenge of Local Ownership of Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: Dependency, Biased Coordination, and Scant Timelines
Dr. Chuck Thiessen

Reviews

This book stands as a testimonial to the profound impact of the Mauro Centre and its Ph.D. program on the field of Peace and Conflict Studies. The range of topics covered by these authors, all relatively new scholars who share insights from their doctoral dissertations completed at the Mauro Centre, demonstrates the breadth and vitality of this young and growing discipline. The chapters of the book move smoothly from research based within the local Winnipeg, Manitoba, scene to inquiries spanning national, international, and global contexts. The collection is a must-read for anyone interested in the current questions and the new directions explored through the academic study of conflict and peace.
Neil Funk-Unrau, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution and Associate Dean of Menno Simons College, a College of Canadian Mennonite University
***
Stories define our identities. And they define our “Others” be they antagonistic or friendly. This book is about stories—who tells them, for what reason, to whom, in which context. In doing so it nudges the field of peace and conflict studies (PACS) in the direction of narrative. A dozen doctoral graduates of the Arthur Mauro integrate a range of methodologies—ethnographic, phenomenological, qualitative, historical—to take us into the lives of conflict stricken individuals and groups, showing how stories, and research on stories, can be used for healing transformation. Though conscious of starting in Winnipeg, their work takes us outward to immigrants crossing into the United States, to confronting racism at the ’68 Olympics, to Afghanistan, and the contested narratives of Israelis and Palestinians in five universities in Israel. It should be required reading for those taking PACS related degrees.
Vern Redekop, professor emeritus, Saint Paul University
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The practice of peacebuilding and the transformation of conflict take shape within this book. This new and rapidly developing field tackles the complexity of transformative change. Here the application takes shape through the work of the 12 authors. In writing the story of their research, the authors move from theory to practice. There are treasures here that highlight the use of conflict transformation and peacebuilding in multiple contexts and at many levels from the personal to the interpersonal to the communal. Gems exist in each chapter with exemplars at multiple levels–intergroup and intragroup, organizational, and community. Complex issues of conflict are addressed from the local to the national and from immediate to intractable. Systemic issues of oppression are tackled across multiple dimensions. At each level the centering of local control and practices are highlighted.
Cathryne L. Schmitz, University of North Carolina

Blue collar doctor: a short story about crossroads and life long learning

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I quit school to join the workforce when I was 16 years old, but always knew I would return to complete my education someway, somehow. I was always working; in fact being tired all the time may have resulted in my not finishing high school. At 16, I was delivering pizza every night for Gondola, slopping horses at the race track at six each morning, and doing odd construction jobs on weekends, so I was pretty much independent from a young age.

As a child, I thought of myself as a philsophical person, somewhat of a poet, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in high school. One teacher, who I liked and respected, took me aside one day and even encouraged me to leave school; I’ve always felt he let me down at that time. When my buddy Duane suggested we quit and go down West, I said OK. I finally found some work as a logger in BC, but got laid off within a few months before I came back to Winnipeg to do a variety of construction and factory jobs. Concrete work was hard. I still thank my lucky stars that I don’t do that for a living, every time I drive by a construction crew. Landscaping was OK, it is outdoors and not too dangerous, but I still recall the time my workmate got taken away by ambulance because he inhaled too much dry dirt.

One moment of truth came when I was 19 years old, working at the old Five Roses Flour Mill in Winnipeg. It was a dirty, tough job and I saw something that made me think. I saw a man, a machine tender talking to the shop stuart, it was a union shop, and he was upset. He said a young manager told him to dump a 100-pound bag of flour down a chute. I’m a machine tender, its not my job, and I have a bad back- he said. The manager said do it or go home. This man had worked there for maybe 20 years, and would have a hard time finding other work. I said to myself right then and there, I better get back to school, otherwise I’ll still be doing this dirty job when I am 50.

Looking for options, I started checking adult education and high schools for ways for me to go back. One day, I stopped in at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. It was a different kind of place, as it was part of the University. I met a kind principal named Vanderstoel. I had a poor school record, but I felt I could possibly finish high school and who knows where that might lead. In about five minutes, Mr. Vanderstoel set me up to do my high school courses and a course in first year university as well. This sent my life on a whole new trajectory for the next seven years, finishing high school and then my bachelor’s degree. I told the management at Five Roses Flour I was quitting to go back to school and an interesting thing happened. By the end of that day they came to me and said they had talked it over and they’d created a job for me; I was to watch for fires. So, for the next year I worked two 16 hour shifts at the flour mill each weekend, studying for high school, and walking through the mill once per hour to watch for fires. In hindsight, I realized later how nice that was of them; but, they needed that fire watch as the place eventually burnt down, not on my watch, but long after I had moved on.

I took courses at the University of Winnipeg, year around while working four jobs, finishing high school. For many years I worked out at the YMCA, bodybuilding and strength training, when I wasn’t training in the martial arts. The YMCA was the only weight room in the City. From the age of 13 I used to meet my Dad there; he would go after work and I would bus down there after school and then catch a ride home. I still went there when I was 19, and one guy at the gym was a senior supervisor in the Sheriff’s Office; he hired me as a Sheriff. It was a good job for studying and great experience in the courts and prisons. I also worked other jobs, supervising federal prison inmates in a halfway house owned by the Native Clan Organization. For about a year, at one time, I was working fulltime as a Sheriff during the week, then I would report to Regina house and work from Friday evening, around the clock, to Sunday night, 40 hours, every weekend. Then in the evenings during the week I was the night manager of the Holiday Inn downtown; that was a job that evolved from when I was the bouncer in the nightclub and an opening came up to take over the security department. My wife Barb and I both worked there, and that is where we met. I was always taking courses and always studying ever chance I got.

I was a Sheriff’s Officer for five years and achieved the coveted permanent provincial appointment, which means you have benefits and cannot be laid off. However, I reached a point in 1987 where I could complete my BA if I went fulltime to school, so I made a leap and did it, giving up my provincial job; another crossroad. I was also a part-time soldier for years, with the Fort Gary Horse, and I eventually gave that up when I went into policing. I started in 1989 with the Winnipeg Police Service, after graduating with my BA. I moved up the ranks to my current position of Staff Sergeant, 29 years later. On the job training is a whole other story, after all the specializations I pursued, I had a resume 20 pages long.

Eighteen years into my policing career I started looking to further my university education. Looking at law school and various graduate programs, on the advice of one of our deputy police chiefs, I ended up in the Politics Department, at the University of Winnipeg. The chair of the Masters program (joint between the U. of Manitoba and U. of Winnipeg) in Public Administration said I might be a candidate, but why not try one course and see how it goes? She said the core theory course starts next week. I was nervous and unsure, but I made a snap decision and got re-admitted to the University of Winnipeg, and got permission to take the one course. Making that decision sent my life in an entirely different direction. I was unsure if I belonged, or if I could do it, but in the end, I loved it and did well. I took course after course and eventually was admitted to the program, finally completing it, with distinction, in 2009. Throughout my grad studies I always chose paper topics that I might apply in my policing career. They became the core of the first book I published, Canadian Policing in the 21stCentury: A frontline officer on challenges and changes (McGill-Queens University Press, 2013).

Grad studies in addition to my public service career was so rewarding and enriching that I wanted to continue it. Dr. Byrne, chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Program, in the Arthur V. Mauro Center for Peace and justice, was kind and advised that I may be a candidate, so why not put in an application. The PACS program is one of the few PhD programs of its kind, and is unique in Canada. After I applied, they advised that I had no background in Peace Studies, but why not join the new PACS Masters degree that was started in 2010. I already had a master’s degree, but I just wanted my learning to continue, so I jumped into it.

One of the highlights of that program was travelling across South Africa, studying truth and reconciliation. Another highlight was rolling out my book on policing, presenting on it as far away as Hong Kong. Barb and I loved doing book signings for years; and I was always taking courses. At one point, in 2012, I suggested to the University of Manitoba that I have almost completed a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, and therefore now have a pretty good grounding in the field, maybe my studies should be applied towards a PhD? They agreed, and I embarked on completing my PhD. My dissertation, titled Modern Day Slavery and the Sex Industry, was on a topic that I became passionate about through my police work. It was just awarded the distinguished dissertation award by the University of Manitoba. I was proud to achieve this, because even now, I often feel insecure, like I don’t belong in the University, like I tricked the system somehow and just have not been found out yet.

People often ask me how I found time to finish a PhD while working full time and IMG_7718being father to four children. I most often say, half-joking, but actually not joking at all, at three in the morning, in the off times, when the kids were sleeping and when I was not required to do anything else. I always had a brief case with my coursework with me, always grabbing a minute here and there- and it all adds up. I had a lawn chair in the trunk of the car and always volunteered to drive the kids to their soccer games, basketball games, karate, swimming; a soccer game is good for two hours of reading. Of course, it was also a sacrifice for Barb, and Crystal, Chelsea, Brandi and Bobby; but my hope is that the example I tried to set, as a life-long learner, has made an impression and rubbed off on them. I believe it has, and I am proud of them all.

University is a special place for me, it has been the institution that stood behind a young man with hopes and dreams of a higher education, and all the doors it has opened for me. It changed the trajectory for a kid who quit school to work as a laborer. As a life-long learner I have always, throughout my whole adult life, felt proud and thankful for the important role that education has played for me, and the role it plays for thousands of people each year in achieving a better more fulfilling life. Now, as I have 20 academic papers, books and book chapters in various stages of publication, I can’t help but think back to the crossroads that send people here rather than there in life.

My hope is to use my story to encourage and inspire others, not so much to seek formal education, but to remain curious about the world, and keep learning. “Lifelong Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it” (Physicist & Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955). Of course, my life’s journey of learning and unexpected lessons was directed in part by the strange experiences that came with 40 years in peace keeping professions, and a life dedicated to my wife and four loving children who in turn inspired and supported my educational journey.

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Mom and Dad

My Dad was an educated man, a tradesman who could build anything with his hands, but he had very little formal education. Mom dedicated herself to our family. Life and learning is not about formal education; it is about being curious about the world and always asking questions. Now in my 29thyear of policing I still literally wear a blue collar at work. I am proud of it, coming from a blue-collar background, and from a blue-collar family, and so proud of my Dad for always encouraging me to do what I feel passionate about in life. On his death bed, he said “life is short, don’t take things for granted and don’t take yourself too seriously.” Words that stuck with me. My message to you is to keep learning and engaging with life, it is the journey that is most meaningful, not the destination.

My PhD Thesis

Click here for full dissertation

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Very proud today to receive the U of Manitoba, DISTINGUISHED DISSERTATION AWARD; this only happens because of the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Sean Byrne, and the fantastic learning environment established in the Mauro Centre and University of Manitoba, but really could not have happened without my wonderful wife Barb by my side, and the sacrifices my family made for me to continue in this educational journey; what a wonderful acknowledgement though, for someone who returned to complete high school as an adult, and entered grad studies late in life. It’s never too late to pursue your passions…

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Thrilled, honoured and humbled to be nominated and selected for the:
UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA DISTINGUISHED THESIS AWARD, to be presented this fall, and to have my thesis selected among all faculties to be nominated by the University of Manitoba for the CANADIAN DISTINGUISHED DISSERTATION AWARD by the Canadian Graduate Studies Association.

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Love, public service, and the unvarnished truth

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I wonder how many people know the life of a first responder, the things they are exposed to and the reality that they live with. A student in a university class on violence and conflict recently asked me, how do police officers deal with the stress of the job. I pointed out that medical staff, nurses and doctors, paramedics, fire fighters and police officers deal with people at their maddest, baddest and saddest, routinely exposed to things that are beyond the normal human experience. They see things that they don’t want to burden their family or friends with, so who do they talk to, and when do they unburden themselves?

First responders are the tip of the public service spear, first to arrive at some of society’s nastiest problems, dealing with humanity at it’s worst, they exemplify some of humankind’s best. Police and firefighters, like soldiers, must come to terms early in their career with the sacrifice they may be called upon to make at any given moment. And make no mistake, when they sign up, their spouses and families are signed up along with them. But it is important to point out that all public servants, in all their varied roles, sacrifice for their work, whether it be in public office, clerical or administrative roles, dealing with some of society’s worst problems. To me, and I think most civil servants, public service means committing to serve, putting community well-being first. First responders represent the epitome of service, literally knowing they could be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. But, most of their work is more of a slow burn, dealing daily with conflict, victimization and administration, two minutes of terror followed by eight hours of paperwork- as the saying goes.

They have to be stoic and professional at scenes of violence, the calm voice and steady hand for people during the worst crisis of their life––over and over again in any given tour of duty, and then never really having a chance to scream themselves; Public speaking when they are afraid, humble and uncomfortable, but the message is so important to say; Taking shit, “I pay your salary” and just smiling when people tell you their speeding ticket story; Being called a racist when you’ve dedicated your life to fighting racism; Tedious investigations and endless paperwork, so court cases don’t fail; Leaving family, no matter if it’s Christmas, an anniversary or birthday, to help other people with their crisis, managing a threat to public safety, or making sure a crime is investigated; Working and guarding the community while everyone else in the City sleeps except for criminals, drunks and cabbies; Safeguarding someone’s dignity when they are attacking yours, protecting them while they are assaulting you; Taking an eyeful of pepper spray, being tazered, and practicing self defense tactics on each other, so they you know what it would feel like if you ever have to use it on a criminal; Going into a dark building to search for intruders, knowing that a colleague recently caught a two-by-four in the face in the same scenario; Intervening in a fight when a terrified person has called for help, with the memory that you recently did the same thing and while you were putting the cuffs on him, she changed her mind and attacked you from behind; Facing a crowd in protest, allowing them to spit on you, swear at and berate you, hoping you see it coming if someone throws a rock or chemicals or a malotov cocktail from the crowd, knowing you are there for their protection; The proverbial, running towards danger when everyone else is running away.

The unsung support roles are just as stressful, the nurse’s aide who cleans up all the blood and medical supplies in the emergency room, getting ready for the next emergency while a grieving family from the previous one is still in the other room, the dispatcher who listens helplessly to the high-speed pursuit, desperate citizens calling for help, the officer voicing for backup while they are being attacked, or the firefighter down in a smoke-filled building, and the list goes on.

It is the greatest honour to have such meaningful work protecting community, the opportunity to practice pure compassion for people, even if it puts you in harms way; but folks should know it is a privilege that comes with a cost. It is a calling that cannot be described well without the term love, love of humanity, love of community and gratitude for the opportunity to serve a pure purpose in life. That is the unvarnished truth for most first responders.

Are you a University of Manitoba graduate? 

I’ve been nominated to represent alumni on the University of Manitoba Board of Governors. I would love the opportunity, and hope you will vote for me.

Please take a minute to vote; make sure your interests are represented, and give me a voice on the Board to represent you.

Click here to see the candidates and Vote.

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“Rising up” conference, University of Manitoba. 9-10 March 2018

Twenty panels and eighty-four presenters from twenty-nine institutions from all over the world!

 Screening of More than a Word at 7 pm in partnership with Decolonizing lens.

Complimentary  dinner March 10th at 5:45 pm at the Hub Social Club

Link to Conference webpage

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Rising Up: A Graduate Students Conference on Indigenous Knowledge and Research Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, 2018 Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba

Rising Up is an academic gathering giving graduate students the spotlight to present their work while connecting with other researchers. The conference is interdisciplinary, and attracts students and researchers who are working on a wide range of topics in the Indigenous/Native Studies field.

This is a free event, open to all.

 

Canadian Policing in the 21st Century

 

Obtain your copy and more information at McGill-Queen’s University Press, many libraries, online, and all major bookstores:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

McNally Robinson Books

Indigo

Honouring Our Sisters.

A panel discussion on social justice.

Great panel discussion today on social decolonization, reconciliation and a better shared future in Canada.

Join us for a panel discussion on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-spirit (MMIWG2). The event aims to bring awareness and continue dialogue around the topic.

On Saturday, March 30
At Eckhardt Grammatté Hall
(3rd Floor Centennial Hall at The University of Winnipeg)
From 10.30 AM – 2 PM

Free to attend | Child Minding Available | Lunch provided

Panelists include:

Bernadette Smith
Bernadette Smith is the NDP MLA for Point Douglas Constituency in the Province of Manitoba. Bernadette spearheads the No Stone Unturned Annual Awareness Concert for Missing and Murdered Persons, and the Drag the Red Initiative. Bernadette is proud to have co-founded the Manitoba Coalition of Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba, served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and served as Co-Chairperson of Manitoba Moon Voices. Bernadette is Anishinaabe from Duck Lake and Pine Creek.

Nahanni Fontaine
Nahanni Fontaine is the MLA for the St. Johns constituency in the Province of Manitoba. She serves as the NDP critic for Justice, Status of Women, MMIWG and House Leader. Nahanni is Status Ojibway from the Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation in southern Manitoba and is the proud mother of Jonah and Niinichaanis.

Lisa Forbes
Lisa Forbes is from Winnipeg and is a Cree/Metis/Scottish member of Peguis First Nation. She has worked for over 15 years in community development as a facilitator, writer, researcher, program developer, and advocate. Lisa is part of a team that implements the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations at her workplace.

Bob Chrismas, PhD
Dr. Chrismas is an author, scholar, consultant, passionate speaker and social justice advocate. He is a police professional with expertise in sex trafficking and exploitation, community engagement and crime prevention. His PhD dissertation was on Modern Day Slavery and the Sex Industry (2017).

Facilitated by Tammy Wolfe, Masters of Arts in Indigenous Governance.

Welcome speech by Meagan Malcolm, Indigenous Students’ Association Co-President.

Due to the triggering content discussed, the option to smudge will be available for attendees. Elders will also be present to speak with people in need of healing or guidance. A list of UWinnipeg support services will also be available.

Poster artwork by Cody Wolf | Cree and Ojibwe translations by Cameron Adams and Aandeg Muldrew

Please email accessibility requests like ASL interpreters, alternate formats, accessible seating information etc. to events@theuwsa.ca