Monday, December 9, 2013

My dad died this morning

My dad died this morning. He was 96, unable to eat or drink. He was eager and ready to go. Our family has been blessed by the man he was, by the way he lived and by the way he died. His two children (and my wife Vicki) were there at his side as he crossed over to be with the person who meant most to him. Our mom came for him almost two years to the day that she died. Dad was one of our many blessings. For this and for all my blessings, I am thankful.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Home for the holidays

Winnipeg, Niagara on the Lake, Edmonton, Fort McMurray and now, for the first time in three weeks, home.

I was on the road when winter hit. I wondered whether or not I should take my parka and gloves. I did, thank God.

I brought winter to Winnipeg...then to Niagara on the Lake and...winter was waiting for me in northern Alberta. Yet, I'm from the Prairie so I had no problem with the cold or the snow.

And today, I'm home. I have come home to see my dad off. He is 96 and has lived a blessed life. Our mom died two years ago December 10th and that is very possibly the date she will come for dad. My only sister Diane and I have learned so much from these two beautiful people. Their final teaching is possibly their most lasting and most important. They have taught us how to die. Dad can't talk, eat or drink. Yet when, for a short period of time, he opens his eyes...he reaches out to us and pulls us toward him for a kiss. My wish for every one of you this Christmas is that you have this kind of love in your lives.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Family trumps everything...

Happy Birthday Dad

My Dad's 96th birthday falls in the middle of my busiest season. At this time of the year, I am always on the road sharing the gift of reading and culture. Conferences, schools, PAC meeting - I'm almost everywhere but home. This week however, my friend/agent Chris booked me at home to be near my dad.

In 1917, my dad, Wilbrod Bouchard, was born in Beauchamp, Sask. Beauchamp was a small Metis community in Northeastern Saskatchewan. The Catholic Church did as it so often did...they built a church in St. Front allowing our French speaking Metis families to move into a new situation that would allow them to think of themselves as French and not Metis. For a time, it worked but as with all things...life moves in circles. I found out. Others found out. The Metis of Willow Bunch figured it out. Communities across our Prairie are coming to see themselves for what they are; Metis.

Dad grew up in St. Front. He farmed and joined the army at 24. He was a military policeman for the Royal 22 Regiment. He met mom after the war. They were married...then gave birth to Diane in 1949 and me in 1952.

Dad and mom sold the farm in 1954 because of flooding. They took what they had, moved to Swift Current to learn how to cut hair. They were hair dressers in Gravelbourg, Sask. from 1955 to 1967, allowing me to study at College Mathieu. They moved to Regina in 1967 where dad bought Western Patrol Security.

When I moved to West Vancouver in 1969, Diane and Ken followed with mom and dad in tow. My family settled in Sidney while I worked as a school administrator in West Van. Vicki and I moved to Victoria in 2000 when I began writing and touring full time.

Mom passed in 2011. Dad moved into the beautiful facility at Broadmead Lodge and on Wednesda, we celebrated his 96th birthday.

My sister and I have been blessed with two wonderful human beings for all these long, wonderful years.

Pictured here: Diane, her husband Ken...our Dad...me and my wife Vicki

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Geoff Johnson: First Nations education plan falls short

...This is an article from this morning's Times Colonist. The problem remains the lack of respect. Each and every carrot dangled includes "FN education meeting provincial standards". How does this speak to respect or autonomy? Like many, I am disappointed and growing tired of never ending posturing. The time has long come and gone for governments to turn education over to FN people. My FN cousins have it right in their movement Idle no More! 

The federal government is proposing a sweeping education overhaul on First Nations reserves to bring aboriginal schools up to provincial standards.
Predictably, aboriginal groups and education advocates, suspecting political rather than educational purpose, have warned that the Harper government risks repeating the top-down paternalistic mistakes of the past in its proposals for increasing the success rate for aboriginal children.
Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee in B.C., expressed his disappointment.
“The Harper government says this new legislation will give greater control to First Nations,” he said. “That is bogus … if anything, the minister becomes superintendent of First Nations schools.”
While at first glance it seems that the proposed First Nations Education Act is intended to raise the standards of on-reserve schools, there is no question that the graduation failure rate among aboriginal kids, both in reserve schools and off-reserve public schools, is a bigger problem than the proposed legislation addresses.
Under the legislation, aboriginal councils would remain responsible for schools on their reserves, with the option to contract out work to provincial school boards or private educators.
In 2009, B.C. agreed to fund First Nations schools for students eligible to receive a provincially funded education.
This program is called reciprocal tuition because First Nations remain responsible for the tuition of students who live on reserve but who choose to attend public schools.
In an ideal world, that funding would be passed to the school district.
Statistically, on-reserve schools seem to be even less successful than public schools in guiding children to provincial graduation standards.
The proposed bill also allows native councils to form First Nations education authorities that control all aspects of the running of the aboriginal on-reserve schools.
Those authorities hire teachers and principals, manage budgets and develop curricula that meet provincial standards while focusing on aboriginal culture and language.
Where the proposed legislation seriously misses the mark is the absence of any change in funding support for the majority of aboriginal children in public schools.
In B.C., there are about 54,000 aboriginal children living off-reserve and fewer than 10,000 living on-reserve. For on-reserve children attending public schools, their education remains a provincial matter and is governed by provincial legislation.
In B.C., students of aboriginal ancestry attend 1,400 public schools and generate significant additional funding of $1,160 per student.
This additional Aboriginal Education Funding must be allocated only to the provision of culturally oriented aboriginal education programs.
If aboriginal children, for whatever reason, are falling behind academically, the money cannot be used to provide extra academic support.
In a few cases, the additional funding is administered by the local aboriginal community and the money is used to employ tribal elders and others to teach aboriginal culture in the school the children are attending.
In other cases, the school district employs a First Nations language and culture teacher to deliver or supervise cultural aspects of the curriculum.
Either way, while there is no argument about the value of cultural support for aboriginal kids, many teachers think there is a more compelling argument that any additional funding should be directed first toward academic support that might improve those poor graduation rates.
As many educators who work with aboriginal communities within school districts will tell you, there is a poor fit between the organizational expectations of public schools (daily attendance, being in class on time, completing homework projects) and the expectations held by aboriginal communities for their children.
The newly proposed First Nations Education Act does not address these core issues.
That causes many educators, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to wonder if this is just a political initiative that falls well short of grappling with the issues that must be resolved before graduation rates for aboriginal children begin to match those of their non-aboriginal counterparts.

Geoff Johnson is a retired superintendent of schools.
© Copyright 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thanksgiving and I'm home

Today is Thanksgiving. I arrived home  late yesterday after being on the road for three weeks.  I leave tomorrow for Winnipeg. It seems like a  lot and  it  is. And  I am thankful. I am thankful for the good health of my family and me. I am thankful for family and friends and for all the opportunities that abound in my life. I am thankful for the kindness I find in hotels and car rental agents...for smiles at Tim Horton's and in all those restaurants I frequent. And I am grateful for the willingness of so many to open their minds and hearts to me on a daily basis. Last week alone, I spoke to thousands of students and educators. As a bonus, I presented to a wonderful group of Toronto Office Administrators and Head Caretakers (pictured  here).

In every situation, I try to quote Maya Angelou: parents who know better, do better. I believe this holds true of students and teachers alike and of OA's and bus drivers and Caretakers. To each of you, I give Thanks on this Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Almost October and where have I been???

Vicki, Victoria and I spent the summer moving - making our new home perfect. And it IS perfect. Vicki's office is...I'll have to post a picture. My shack (the more fortunate would refer to my space as a Man Cave...but I'm not hip enough and just too Prairie) is the place writers dream of.

The house is a MacLure Classic Heritage masterpiece and we are blessed to own it...to live in it for whatever time we are alloted. The pets are happy. Vicki and Victoria are happy. I'm ecstatic.

And as we dot the i's and cross the t's, I am back on the road. Chatham. North York. Swam River (Swan Valley School Division). An amazing two weeks. Home for three sleeps then...Flin Flon/Creighton, Scarborough, North York... I am blessed to work with some out Canada's most outstanding educators. I am thrilled to be able to get to parents with the importance of my message/life's learnings. I am honoured to be
able to work with our future/our youth.

And as an aside, Dreamcatcher and the Seven Deceivers has arrived. The sequel to The Seven Sacred Teachings is as appealing and as useful to educators and Aboriginal leaders. If you've not seen it, please check it out on my site.

Enough. Good luck to all...have a great fall...Christmas will soon be upon us!

Monday, August 5, 2013


After eleven years in our stone manor house in Oak Bay, we've moved. Victoria, Vicki and I now live in Rockland, in a charming 100 year old Samuel Maclure house. Every evening, we walk to Government house to enjoy the grounds and gardens. 

Our days have been filled with unpacking, organizing, working with tradesmen and women... We're tired but feeling blessed and fortunate. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My website gets a face lift...

A shout out to my friend and webmaster Michael Moore (http://www.ladybirdcommunications.com/) who has given my website a face lift. www.davidbouchard.com

I'm home for our big move. Vicki, Victoria and I have lived in Oak Bay (in Victoria) for the past eleven years. We are moving to Rockland (still in Victoria but closer to downtown). We are going from 6700 sq. ft. to 2700 sq. ft. ...downsizing into another wonderful Samuel Maclure classic heritage home.

Now comes the challenge of dealing with..."stuff". There is nothing like a spring cleaning. This move will be great!

Monday, May 27, 2013

...the end of May and me done!

The world moves too quickly. I realize this when I look at my BLOG and FB pages only to realize that I haven't had a chance to reflect or to share the magic in my life.

Today, I'm off for the last week of my busiest and best year since I began touring in 2000. This past year has been the most successful of my thirteen years on the road. Everything seems to be coming together and for that I say miigwetch/marcee Kokum.

Highest among the highlights of my year is the opportunity presented to me in form of a school. I have a school to dream about and a school to dream with. I have wonderful children, a great staff and
loving parents with whom I can work to make the world a safer and better place for our kids.

Pictured here are three students from the David Bouchard Public School in Oshawa. They are wearing the new tee-shirts with our Raven logo, (taken from one of my books). For me and Vicki...and for my entire family, this is an honour. It's also a responsibility and a challenge that will overshadow my next ten years. I am blessed and I am stoked!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I love Paris in the springtime...

...even if it is cold.

Spring break 2013 saw Victoria, Vicki and me in Paris (and Yorkshire and London). Seven years ago, they invited us to the "Salon du Livre", the largest book fair in the French world. We were so well received that they invited us back...and back...and back... This was our seventh consecutive year and we are already anticipating next year.

We left a few days early as Victoria's spring break had kicked in. We spent these days with cousin Garry, the Duke of Yorkshire. Garry and his boys guided us through and around their Dales and quaint villages (I don't think we missed a single pub). Yorkshire is experiencing record breaking cold. Their lambs are dying in the fields. We witnessed this hardship yet we loved being there.

Then, over to our regular hotel in the Quartier Latin...and a week in Paris. My French publisher is Winnipeg's Les Edition des Plaines, amazing people who know every in and out of the industry and make sure that my books are highlighted at every turn.

Our new release Dreamcatcher and the Seven Deceivers will be coming out in French as well as in Chinese and Spanish. We are slated to travel to China's book fair in the summer of 2014. I'd like to say it gets better but it really doesn't get any better nor are people any nicer than my publisher Joanne and my senior editor Hugette shown here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The calm before the storm

I was home for Valentine's Day. Vicki and I were able to get into Brasserie l'Ecole (Victoria's most charming French bistro) for steak et frites!

The next morning (the 15th), I spoke to CUPE in Langford. What a perfect audience! CUPE members were ready to relax, laugh, and hear stories about the potential for their own families and for the families of those they serve. As Grapes would say, I just love those people.

Now to get my head together... January and February have been very full months. I don't think I have had this kind of year since Chris and I began our journey 13 years ago.

Today, I'm back to planning and packing...Slave Lake, Rocky Mountain House, Standoff, Edmonton and Enoch...and then Paris for our annual trip to the Paris Book Festival. This tour will last over a month with a couple short stops at home so that I can see my dad.

Thank you to all of you who have hosted me and helped me achieve my dream of giving students the tool they need to succeed and thrive. Showing here is my good friend Dr.Phyllis Cardinal with whom I have been blessed to work on several important educational initiatives. Without committed professionals like Dr. Cardinal, I couldn't do what I do.

Miigwetch all of you.

Group hug from Victoria, B.C...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter from coast to coast...

We prairie people are well aware of how cold it gets on the prairie in the winter. Yet we choose to live in that cold for what the weather offers and for what it shelters us from. We are only too happy to suffer through -45 degree January's to avoid Vancouver's bridges and Toronto's 401, 407, 404, 427...Don Valley Parkway... So when, last week, I found myself on Toronto's motorways in -20 degree weather, I wondered...

Thank you trustee Jerry Chadwick for allowing me to access so many of your aboriginal parents, staff and students. Thank you for letting me tell some your many minorities that the world is accessible to them.

I don't mind if our students choose not to read but it troubles me to no end to think that they were never shown or told that through reading, they can achieve their goals and access their dreams.

2012/2013 will have been my busiest year ever. Things are happening in our big country. Idle No More is waking Canada to the reality that we can be...no, that we have to be better than we have been. We are Canadians and if we are told the truth, we will do better than we have done. If we've done wrong, it is usually because of poor communication, either intentional or not.

I am traveling to cities, towns and reserves from coast to coast to coast and I am seeing change.

Whoever wrote Don't sweat the Small Things and They are all Small Things hasn't lived in the world I have lived in. It is the little things in life that matters. God is in the detail. Life is about little things and they are happening.

To be a part of these historical times is an honour and a responsibility I do not take lightly. When Education Today writer John Schofield offered to help me spread the good word, I was more than grateful. I was honoured and I was humbled.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Idle No More, Chief Spence forces Harper to meet with her, Metis and Non-status Natives are now said to be "Indians"...As 2013 unfolds, things are happening in Canada. If I have learned from the previous decade, it is to expect the unexpected.

Social Media matters. Global changes are happening in a way that wasn't thought possible a decade ago.

As I fly out for Northern Alberta, I wonder. Will northern schools finally get access to books, libraries and perhaps even librarians? Will Aboriginal students become the readers it will take for them to graduate on par with their non-Aboriginal counterparts? Will government recognize the needs and the dreams of all children?

There is much to hope for and it is all possible.

2013 will be an interesting year.