Wednesday, May 19, 2021

[celebrating Indigenous picture books]

I want to let you know about this amazing resource put out by International Board on Books for Young People (Canada) (IBBY) in 2018 - a catalogue of the 100 best of Indigenous picture books! 

Plus, issued in June 2021, an additional catalogue of the best new 25 books!

From board books to picture books for older readers, this collection is a selection of 100 of the best books by Indigenous authors, many illustrated by Indigenous artists, published in Canada and currently in print. The titles reflect the diverse First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, languages, perspectives, and experiences from sea to sea to sea. Attention was given to including picture books that promote and support Indigenous languages. All titles reflect authentic First Nations, Métis, and Inuit voices and offer insight into their distinct histories and current realities of these communities. (from IBBY website newsletter)

Page 42 of the "From sea to sea to sea" catalogue, featuring covers  of "Northern Lights The Soccer Trails" and "Honoring the Buffalo: A Plains Cree Legend", with book descriptions.

IBBY Introduction to the Catalogue

The Original "From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books" Catalogue (PDF)

The 2021 "From Sea to Sea to Sea (2021 edition)" Catalogue (PDF)

IBBY Canada Special Edition Newsletter: From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books

Monday, May 10, 2021

in memoriam: my dad, Richard Goetze

my dad, richard goetze, preaching at Presence in London Ontario, ca  2009. Photo by rob goetze (me)
In memory of Richard Goetze
December 16, 1938 - April 26, 2020

Like me, many people have been positively influenced by Richard's ministry as a pastor over the years, and have missed his good teaching and preaching.

Here's one more opportunity to learn and grow:

No, it's not a never heard before sermon, found tucked away in the back of a filing cabinet. It was a conversation...

But before that, some background, some remembering about my dad:

Richard wanted to know more about grace and mercy, about the love of God for us. He wasn’t into petty rules and gatekeeping and the many other things that keep people out of the church. He hoped everyone would end up with our heavenly father; he wanted to open wide the gates of heaven. He was not content to believe that a God of love would let millions of beloved children end up in eternal torment.

That was my dad. Hoping and believing that God is so much bigger than we are and better than our theology. Believing in a God who would find wonderful amazing ways to bring all their beautiful children home in the end, so that when we all find ourselves in heaven there will be far more people than we expect to see there.

This was my dad. This was Richard, believing in grace and love and mercy for everyone. Believing that God’s arms are open wider than the church imagines, wider than you and I can imagine.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

[LGBTQ2S artists from the north featured at Qaumajuq]

Photo of interior of sea can. Side walls have black and white mural of ice floes, caribou and polar bear. End wall has very large eyeball, with the iris and pupil area being a video screen showing a psychedelic pattern.
"A commitment to showcase diversity is at the heart of the Winnipeg Art Gallery's new addition, Qaumajuq, the world's largest public collection of Inuit art — and that includes highlighting a range of works by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit creators from the north."

Along with works of art by queer artists, two of the four Inuk co-curators of the inaugural exhibit are queer. You can read more and see pictures here.

What I'd like to focus on here, is some key quotes:

"I think it's a moment in time where we're ready for a push for the broader communities and every small town and everywhere to have more space and understanding for diversity and gender expression and peoples' sexual attractions." (Asinnijaq)

"The effects of colonialism and capitalism — of homophobic, anti-trans sentiments — still run deep in many communities, northern or not. It's important that we raise up these community members who are unafraid to be themselves, and I also understand that it's a privilege to be able to come out and live openly as queer." (Kablusiak)

"It's really important because I am thinking of all the young LGBTQ Inuit living all across the north, and throughout southern Canada and all around the world, and I want them to see this." (Heather Igloliorte). 

This is about representation -- seeing others like you in the world around you.
This is about returning to traditional values -- where everyone belonged and had a role in the community.

Read more about the INUA exhibit here.
Read more about Qaumaju, the amazing new gallery, here.
Read more articles and see many photos of artwork, at the Inuit Art Quarterly website.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

[Qaumajuq - "it is bright, it is lit"]

Qaumajuq "is an innovative new museum, home of the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. This first-of-its-kind centre connects to the Winnipeg Art Gallery on all levels, creating a 185,000-square-foot cultural campus in the heart of downtown Winnipeg."

The new Qaumajuq (on the left) connects to the existing Winnipeg Art Gallery building (in the right). Image and new gallery design by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

The two Virtual Opening events include a tour of Qaumajuq and its art, interviews with curators, performances and more:
Relive the two-part virtual celebration of Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the WAG.

On a personal note, I grew up in Winnipeg and loved going to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The building has a solid timeless feel to it, without the showiness of more recent museums being built around the world. I particularly remember visiting the exhibit of works by Jacques Lipchitz which included some of his Mother and Child sculptures. Gorgeous stuff!

Now, having just watched the virtual opening of Qaumajuq, going there again in person to revisit the old and discover the new is definitely on my bucket list!
For pictures of the interior and exterior of the space, scroll down to the "From Old Space to New" section on the Inuit Art Foundation website.

Thursday, January 07, 2021


Edmonton has recreated its electoral ward boundaries, and at the same time, named the new wards based on names gifted by the Committee of Indigenous Matriarchs. 

I’d like to highlight one new ward in particular:

tastawiyiniwak - ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ

You may have heard of the term “Two Spirit”, used to refer to Indigenous people who do not fit a Western gender binary and who had specific roles and responsibilities in their nations. The term is a cross-nation umbrella term for use only by Indigenous peoples, coined in contrast to Western labels and because many original Indigenous words have been lost due to the impact of colonization. 

Tastawiyiniwak – pronounced TASS-TAW-WIN-EE-WOK – is the Cree-specific word for those who are Two Spirit. It means “the in-between people”, and “was only used when referring to all of the iskwêhkânak ekwah nâpêhkânak. Each was free to move between gender roles”. 

To clarify, iskwêhkânak is the Cree word for “fake woman” (but without the negative connotations) and nâpêhkânak is the Cree word for “fake man”. Depending on the Cree nations, there were up to five additional words for gender beyond the “traditional Western” words male and female. Tastawiyiniwak is a word that refers to all Cree people whose gender roles are other than male or female. 

Image showing map of Edmonton with Ward 3: Tastawiyiniwak highlighted. Text says "Tastawiyiniwak means the In-between People. This name was chosen for Ward 3 to honour those who have transitioned as well as the LGBTQ2S+ community."

So why was this name gifted to that particular new ward?

Terri Suntjens, Director of Indigenous Initiatives at MacEwan University, explains:

“We have grandmothers within our spiritual realm, within our ceremonies, that sit in different directions. We have the east, the west, the south, the north, the southeast. They each have different responsibilities. They look after different people and have different … responsibilities. And so, the grandmother that sits in the north direction, when the pipe is gifted and held up to the north, is the grandmother that takes care of our LGBTQ2S+ community” (shared at Edmonton Council meeting, Sept. 21, 2020)

For more information:

Introduction to Two Spirit People

Edmonton's Ward Naming

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

not "two sides of the same coin"

 A little rant:

A common saying that I hear in organizations and companies is, "Diversity and Inclusion are two sides of the same coin". 

Here's an example, from an article at the Alberta CPA website (but they aren't the only ones saying this):

Diversity and Inclusion quote from CPA Alberta article. " What is diversity and inclusion? Diversity and inclusion are essentially two sides of the same coin. Diversity is about the mixture of differences and similarities, while inclusion is about recognizing the needs of these diverse individuals or groups."


It is true that a coin has two sides and it's not possible to have one side of a coin without the other, but it is certainly possible to have diversity without inclusion. 

Think of pre-apartheid South Africa -- there were white people and Black people (= diversity), but the Blacks were not included and the whites, though in the minority, held all the power (no inclusion).

Think of Canada - there is great diversity, but many minoritized people are excluded, some even from basic human needs like clean drinking water. 

Think of your company or organization. There is probably much diversity among the employees overall, but most likely, the higher in the organizational structure you go, the more white, male and cisgender it gets. So clearly, there is not inclusion at those levels.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

[electoral wards in Edmonton given new names by Committee of Indigenous Matriarchs]

Edmonton has revised its electoral boundaries, and at the same time, renamed all the wards with Indigenous names selected by the Committee of Indigenous Matriarchs. 

My new ward is #5, named O-day'min, meaning strawberry or heart berry

Edmonton Ward map, focusing on Ward 5: O-day'min. Text says "O-day'min means Strawberry or Heart-berry in Anishinabee. This name was chosen for Ward 5 because Edmonton  is the symbolic heart through which the North Saskatchewan River runs, a historical hub for trading."

The city's page about the new wards includes explanations of the new names, pronunciation guides, and information about how the name was chosen for that ward.

If you live in Edmonton, check out your new ward using the links at the bottom of this post.

How did this come about?

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

creating a diversity and inclusion icon

Recently I had the opportunity to be involved in the design of a logo to be used for internal, diversity and inclusion-related events where I work. 

Now, here are some of the constraints. The design will be of an icon - size 550 x 330 pixels - that will appear in a webpage and in an email newsletter. We don't have masses of space nor the option of fine detail and lines of text that would be available on a poster design or a billboard. This clearly will influence the design.

Now, a common rule when designing logos is that you first design in black and white, so that the design's effectiveness is not dependent on colour. This is because often, things created in colour get photocopied in black and white and you don't want to end up with a meaningless or unreadable image. However, in this case, as the design will only appear on computer screens and almost never printed black and white, this rule is not particularly applicable.

My first idea was the provincial outline turned into a six-piece puzzle, with each piece a different pattern or shading. Here's my sketch:

I kind of liked this, though it is rather impersonal, as it shows interconnectedness and can indicate diversity abstractly. This is one of the difficulties of a logo or icon for diversity and inclusion in general. It would be much easier to design something for one specific group, such as for disability-related events or Indigenous events. In this case, we either need to show D&I abstractly or in a way that includes a wide variety of specific diversities.

So realizing that the above was too detailed for the size requirement, I contemplated a four piece puzzle but that seemed to lose too much.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

[explore the many worlds of contemporary Indigenous music]

Screenshot of page for their Reclaim show featuring contemporary Indigenous music. Includes picture of host Jarrett Martineau

Looking to broaden your musical horizons and increase your cultural exposure? Here's just the thing for you:

Reclaimed is a weekly series on CBC Radio that explores the many worlds of contemporary Indigenous music from traditional songs and acoustic sounds to Native hip-hop, R&B, and the dancefloor-filling beats of electric powwow.

Listen free online at:

Featuring over 80 episodes, each 53 minutes in length.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

introduction to two spirit people

screen shot of article, just to provide a graphic for this blog post

In the fall of 2018, my colleague and I met with Jeff Chalifoux, then one of the co-chairs of the 
Edmonton 2 Spirit Society. Our conversation led to two "Two Spirit Ceremony and Workshop" days being held at my place of work. 

I attended both sessions and they were amazing and enlightening. Over the months that followed, I read many, many articles about Two Spirit people, mostly by Indigenous academics, of whom many were themselves Two Spirit. I also attended another Two Spirit ceremony at MacEwan University in March 2020, led by Elder Leonard Saddleback.

One of the outcomes of this learning focus is that I wrote a crisp, two page article titled "Introduction to Two Spirit People", which I'd like to share with you. I'd also like to thank Jeff for giving the final draft a helpful once-over!

I welcome your thoughts and feedback using the Comments section below.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

[illustrations and photos of people from minoritized groups]

Graphic of group of black men and women in office, from Black

Minoritized groups are often under-represented in images, whether advertising, magazine articles, or generic images used in reports and brochures. is one site that offers illustrations of Black people in different contexts, including office, medical, STEM, education and more. Some sets are free; others have a cost.

Education Pack promo image, from, showing Black people in a variety of educational contexts and activities

(Above: some education-related images from

Picture of seated Black man holding his child, and holding a children's book. Photo from is a site that has excellent photos of Black and Brown people, free, for commercial and personal use. 

Collections include Tiny Humans, "Breathe, Stretch, Shake, All Hands, Black in Green Spaces, Food for the Soul, Women at Work, The Perfect Holiday, All Black Lives Matter, I's Married Now, and Good Hair.

The Gender Spectrum Collection

A non-binary femme with blue hair, on the phone, in a gender neutral bathroom with blue tiles and a sign indicating Gender Neutral Washroom. From Vice Gender Spectrum Collection. CC BY-NC-ND4.0
Vice Gender Photos Collection

"The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives."

Queer in Tech free stock photos

CC-BY-Mapbox-Uncharted-ERG_Mapbox-b024. Group of people in business casual, with their laptops, around a conference table. Group includes mix of genders, races and LGBTQ people.

Mapbox is "releasing “Queer in Tech,” a free collection of stock photos created by our employee resources program. We created this photo set to promote the visibility of queer and gender-nonconforming (GNC) people in technology, who are often under-represented as workers powering the creative, technical, and business leadership of groundbreaking tech companies and products."


Actual collection:

Other Image Resources

The Better Allies website has a resource page which includes links to other such websites, including some with images of people of differing abilities, trans and non-binary people, etc.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

[a kids book about racism]

 A Kids Book About is a company creating a new kind of kids' books -- ones that focus on the content and ideas. Here's what they say about their approach:

The first thing you’ll notice about our books is that they’re different. We wanted to create books that treated kids like they were smart and spoke to them straightforwardly and honestly. Our books emphasize color, layout, and type to help kids apply the stories to their lives instead of only thinking of the characters in the book. Our books are twice as long as most children books, enabling a deeper dive on each subject. Our books are honest and don’t shy away from the most difficult aspects of each topic.

We bought a copy of "a kids book about racism" and love it! It is very well written and laid out, and I recommend it.

They have similar books on about 20 topics, including bullying, empathy, failure, belonging, and cancer. If you buy one on a different topic, I'd love to hear how you like it -- use Comments below.

Check them out and order directly from them at:

Friday, August 28, 2020

[bibi - film]

Bibi film - image from website

Learning for Justice’s new streaming classroom film, Bibi, tells the story of a Latinx father and son who can talk about anything—but only in writing, in the letters they pass back and forth when conversation seems too much. 

And after Ben, affectionately called “Bibi” by his father, hands his father a letter that reads “I’m gay,” the two don’t talk at all.

Based on the experiences of the filmmakers behind the project, the 18-minute film explores intersectionality in a powerful way, illustrating the beauty and conflict that can arise as we move between languages, places and societal expectations.

Ultimately, however, it’s not just the story Bibi tells that makes the film a strong addition to any classroom library. It’s also the questions it poses: How do we come to be who we are? How do we communicate that to others? How do we respond when others share themselves with us?

For those who work to help young people honor their own and others’ complex and unique identities, Bibi and the lessons for grades 6-12 that accompany it are remarkable resources. The story sparks critical conversations about identity, culture, family and belonging.

A film by Victor Dueñas, Bibi stars J.M. Longoria, Omar Leyva and Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza.    (source)

Find out more:

This page includes lessons for grades 6 - 12 for this film and a link to watch the film for free.

Friday, August 14, 2020

[beck on the gospel & COVID]

"Basically, in the Bible and throughout most of church history, the Christian ethic of love has been one of approach and contact, even in the face of disease and plague. Jesus touches lepers, Christians rush toward plague victims. Love embraces. That's how Christians are taught and morally formed, we love by moving toward each other."

From Richard Beck's post "The Gospel & COVID-19: Part 3, Love as Distance" at