A Very Personal Story of Truth and Reconciliation
On August 11th Cecelia Reekie visited our club to provide an overview of Canada’s residential school system, followed by an account of her Dad's experiences within that system.  
The Indian residential school system became law in 1886 and over the next 100+ years, more than 150,000 children of First Nation, Métis and Inuit descent attended residential schools, which were mostly run by various religious orders.  The system was based on the government's policy mandate that, by separating children from their parents, they could be educated and thereby “acquire the habits and tastes of civilized people.”  
Cecelia’s Dad was 11 years old when he was taken from his parents along with his little sister.  He was known at the Alberni residential school as #126 and was assigned the anglicized name Cecil Paul.  During the morning, he was taught to read, write and speak English (students were severely punished for speaking their native language).  The afternoon was for chores and the evening was spent on religious studies.  Despite not seeing his parents over the next four years and enduring multiple forms of abuse, he left the residential school at the age of 14 as a survivor with a grade 5 education.  
The Government of Canada established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2007 to facilitate the reconciliation among former students of the Indian Residential Schools system, their families and all Canadians.  Reconciliation is about how we, as Canadians, can work together with Indigenous people.  
While some efforts have been made to address certain of the TRC's recommendations for change, this summer's revelations are a start reminder that the real process of reconciliation is just beginning - starting with a genuine acknowledgement and understanding of the truths recounted by survivors and their families.  Heartfelt thanks to Celelia for sharing her family's painful truths with us for that purpose.
Although Cecelia’s Dad passed away on December 3, 2020, his story is not lost.  A recent Vancouver Sun article containing an excerpt from her Dad's biography, the contents of which were based on recorded interviews and journal entries, can be found and shared at: https://vancouversun.com/opinion/cecil-paul-and-briony-penn-alberni-the-journey-of-hell-begins  

An Inspiring Presidential Update

Strathcona Interact President Eva Yeung was our guest speaker at our August 18th meeting, bringing us an account of the many activities and accomplishments of the club. 
Strathcona is a community-based, as opposed to a school-based interact club.  All members have a connection to the community and wanted to give back. While some attend Britannia Secondary, others grew up there and live or attend school elsewhere.  
They are a small but mighty young team whose first-year accomplishments reflect the power of a few creative and dedicated people to make a big difference. In 2020-21, they: 
  • Partnered with Vancouver Chinatown Foundation to create Covid-19 Experience stories for the Chinatown story-telling centre.
  • Organized a Holiday Craft event where they taught local day camp kids the importance of giving during the season. They were able to deliver this event successfully following Covid-19 restrictions (pictured above).
  • Raised funds to produce 48 wellness packages to local seniors at the May Wah Hotel that houses low-income residents and seniors. Each package involved supplies such as dental hygiene, socks, masks, and hand-written cards from the Interact members. 
  • Hosted a Financial Literacy workshop for members and other youth on basic banking.
Their goals for the 2021-22 year include increasing the membership and diversity of the club and working on several projects, including a sustainability project to educate local youth on invasive plants and an international project to build and deliver 100 kits with school supplies to kids in need. 
Currently, the Strathcona Interactors are working on two fundraisers: a Bottle Drive and an Art Auction. President Ed and our (new) fundraising team will be following up to explore how we could support or partner with their members on these two initiatives and possibly other service projects.
For more inspiration and information, check out the Strathcona Interactors on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/strathconainteractclub/?hl=en
A Ted Talk on Tax Planning 
Former club member and fellow Rotarian Ted MacCormac joined us on August 4th to share his advice and experience on tax and estate planning.  
Ted walked through the most popular topics (FAQs) and services sought by his accounting clients which include the  capital gains inclusion rate, taxation of investments, taxation of different types of investments, estate planning, tax treatment of foreign property, and more general business tips. 
Ted's top tips for estate planning include:
  • Keep it simple
  • Be aware of the BC Wills Variation Act
  • Donation bequests can be carried back from the Estate to the final personal income tax return
  • Assets at the date of death go to a testamentary trust until they are distributed
  • The testamentary trust does not have exemptions like the personal income tax return has, but it does have marginal rates for three years
Thanks very much to Ted for making this special guest appearance and for walking through these scenarios with us.  It was a great reminder not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today!