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Entertainment expo a hit

Posted on November 27, 2013 by Lethbridge Sun Times

Being a first-year event, the focus was on providing a quality experience for those who did attend rather than just on how many people came through the doors.

And with an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, both at the event and on social media, Matthew Odland believes he achieved his goal for the inaugural Lethbridge Entertainment Expo, which wrapped up Sunday at Exhibition Park.

“It’s been such a great experience. People didn’t know what to expect, so it’s really worked to our benefit,” said Odland, the two-day Expo’s main organizer.

“I’d rather have 1,500 people through my door and have all of them walk away amazed, than have 3,000 people walk through my door and 20 per cent of those people being ‘I was really unhappy with this.’ The close-knit feel really led to the success of the show,” he said.

“People could walk up and talk to Marina (Sirtis) for 30 seconds to a minute, whereas at the big shows, you walk in and it’s ‘autograph, next.’ That what’s so great about small shows. Everybody cares. I think we’re onto something.”

Sirtis, from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Aaron Douglas, best known for “Battlestar Galactica,” and Ed Lukowich, author of “The Trillionist” under his pen name Sagan Jeffries, were the Lethbridge Entertainment Expo’s headline guests.

Also in attendance were Tracy Hickman, creator and author of “Dragonlance”, and his wife Laura Hickman, who told Odland it was one of the best first-year shows she had been to.

Group raising awareness

A new organization in the city wants to raise awareness about sexual assault in the city, partially in light of several not guilty verdicts in recent Lethbridge cases.

Women Against Sexual Assault (WASA) was officially set up just a week ago, but members already held their first rally Sunday afternoon as about a dozen women held up slogan signs to passing motorists along Mayor Magrath Drive South.

One of the organizers, who wished only to be recognized by her first name, Mallory, said 97 per cent of sexual offenders don’t serve jail time and only 67 per cent of offenders are even reported.

“It is an epidemic and nobody wants to talk about it. The judges don’t, the lawyers don’t – it’s just as simple as ‘I’m sorry, there wasn’t enough evidence.’ We’re going to start doing something,” she said.

“We’re just hoping to raise awareness so that other victims can come forward. Other victims can find solace through us and we’ll give them the courage and advocacy to go through the trial proceedings.”

A recent not guilty verdict, based on lack of evidence, involving an alleged sexual assault between a local massage therapist and a client was one of the reasons WASA has come together. They now plan to consult with victims, set up a phone line, launch a mobile outreach crisis worker and start fundraising during the holiday season.

U of L prof named research chair

One of the ways to know how youth are affected by war is to look at an organization like the Girl Guides.

They’ve been around for more than 100 years and survived two world wars. Girl Guides have gone from learning to bandage wounds to working on their anti-bullying badges.

Kristine Alexander, a history professor at the University of Lethbridge, studies how 20th century children and youth were affected by imperialism, war and globalization. Her research got a big boost Friday as she was named Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies, the first research chair in the humanities at the U of L.

Alexander is putting the finishing touches on a book based on her doctoral thesis about girlhood in the British Empire in the first half of the 20th century.

“(Girl Guides were) an early NGO (non-government organization) really that tried to help girls in different parts of the empire but also had quite specific and often conservatives ideas about what girls should be doing,” Alexander said.

In addition, Alexander has started a new project about the First World War.

“I was interested especially in how children were affected by that conflict and have decided to really delve into it by reading family letters to get a sense of how families were affected by the conflict,” she said.

Many family letters from that time have been preserved in self-published books, in museums and in Library and Archives Canada.

The research chair position comes with five years of funding totalling $500,000, with the possibility of renewal for another five years. The funds can be used to train graduate and post-doctoral fellow researchers.

Teacher receives national honour

As he sat in his high school social studies class, paying rapt attention to intertwined lessons on history, geography, economics and education, Craig Findlay realized he wanted to lead his own classroom one day.

Outstanding middle school and high school teachers put him on a path toward becoming an educator — a path that has earned him national recognition.

“They were sort of mentors of mine and inspired me to want to spend my life in the classroom as well and I’ve never regretted it, that’s for sure,” he said.

Now, after a 21-year career specializing in high school social studies, the Chinook High School teacher has been named one of the best in the province.

Findlay was announced last week as one of 60 teachers across Canada to receive a Prime Minister’s Award for excellence in teaching.

His willingness to embrace technology in the classroom — including setting up online discussion forums and providing students with digital MP3s to accompany lessons — as well as his dedication to organizing war memorial trips to Europe in honour of Canada’s military history prompted a group of his colleagues and former students to nominate Findlay for the award last spring.

“It’s a huge honour,” Findlay said Thursday. “I have lots of colleagues that are well deserving of a similar award, so it’s a bit humbling that they chose to select me.”

Now is an exciting and scary time to be an educator, Findlay said, as schools are poised on the cusp of some “really dramatic and much-needed changes in education.”

The Prime Minister’s regional certificate of achievement awards for teaching excellence include a $1,000 prize and certificates signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Industry Canada gives out the awards with support from various federal government departments.

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