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LGBTQ students allege mistreatment, want change at Saskatchewan Bible college

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REGINA — Jordan McGillicky says she was devoted to sports and her studies at a private Saskatchewan college but eventually felt driven away from the school because of her sexuality.

She enrolled two years ago at Briercrest College and Seminary, an evangelical Bible college in Caronport, an hour east of her hometown of Regina. The college grew in prominence in 2013 after former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, who has spoken at the school’s chapel, gave it the right to grant university degrees, helping it attract students from across the country.

McGillicky didn’t grow up in a religious home, but Briercrest was running sports programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was not expecting what happened to me next, because it’s advertised as such an open place,” she said, noting the school’s student code of conduct asks students to show respect for homosexuals.

“It’s not.”

McGillicky was hired as a resident adviser at the school, but said she was fired earlier this year after peers dug up photos of her and her then-girlfriend on social media and outed McGillicky as bisexual.

McGillicky said she has no documents showing why she was fired and the school did not respond to a question about the reason she lost the job.

“I was told either choose between $500 a semester (as a resident adviser) or … your potential soulmate, your potential wife,” said McGillicky.

“I said no, because I didn’t see it as fair.”

The Canadian Press interviewed eight former LGBTQ students from across Canada who attended the college over the last two decades. They said they experienced homophobia, abuse and discrimination that left them fearful and vulnerable.

They said they are speaking out because they’re concerned for current students at the college and want changes or the school defunded. Briercrest receives funding from the province and was given $250,000 for this school year.

One student said she was struggling with her sexuality and feeling suicidal and that a counsellor told her to pray it away. Another said a professor wrote a derogatory word on a white board in class to describe homosexuals. Others said speakers were brought in to teach them how to deny their sexuality, and they were encouraged to marry a person of their opposite sex.

Details of the allegations were put to Michael Pawelke, president of Briercrest. He declined to address thembecause of privacy reasons and because The Canadian Press did not provide in advance the names of the former students interviewed.

Pawelke also did not respond to a question about a 2019 school address in which he compared sex outside of heterosexual marriage to intercourse with animals, robots and corpses.

“It’s a departure of the ideal. It’s the truth we need to embrace,” Pawelke said in a video of the address posted on the school’s YouTube channel.

Pawelke said in an email to The Canadian Press that the school has clear statements on its stance on sexuality and does not promote sexual activities outside monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

The student conduct code also references a Bible verse saying those who practise homosexuality will never inherit the kingdom of God.

“By law, we have the freedom of religion. We are transparent about who we are and what we believe. Students attend voluntarily,” Pawelke said in the email.

Like McGillicky, several students said they were outed after peers or faculty disclosed their sexual orientation to others without permission, resulting in bullying and alienation from their religion, family and friends.

Some students said they were invited to professors’ homes for dinner, where the conversation topic was their sexuality. Others said they experienced or witnessed conversion therapy under the description of “counselling.”

Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Pawelke said Briercrest offers voluntary counselling anddoes not practice conversion therapy.

Ben Ross, who attended Briercrest between 2006 and 2010, said he was outed as gay at the town’s post office, then assigned a paper at school.

“I had to write an essay on why I don’t believe being gay is right, how I denounce all of it. And basically if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t (be able to) graduate,” Ross said from his home in Nova Scotia. He said he threw out the essay years ago, but his account was corroborated by a friend.

Some of the former students, including Ross, said they are now getting therapyfor religious trauma.

Lauren Jordan, who attended the school between 2013 and 2015, came out to one of her professors. She was told she couldn’t graduate if she was gay and was encouraged to seek therapy, she said.

Jordan left the college instead.

“The fear still stays with me. The loss of relationships really stays with me. That trauma is not going to go away, but I certainly have come to terms with who I am and I am proud of who I am,” Jordan said from her home in Barrie, Ont.

Documents and emails obtained by The Canadian Press show the Saskatchewan Party government was aware of alleged discrimination at the school after former student Jodi Hartung of Saskatoon raised concerns in 2015 with Pawelke and other officials.

In a letter to the government, Hartung said she was concerned and that some LGBTQ students were self-harming and had tried to commit suicide. She said she sent the letter after she was contacted “at an alarming rate” by students who felt unsafe on campus.

“I didn’t have an inkling that I was gay until I was 20 years old,” Hartung said in an interview. “And at that point, I’m already halfway through my degree, heavily involved in the community and loved it there.

“You can’t just say, ‘Hey, if you’re queer, don’t go there.’ Because you’re undermining the experience of figuring out your sexuality and the journey that a lot of queer people are going on.”

Her complaints landed on the desk of Premier Scott Moe, who was advanced education minister at the time. He asked an independent provincial college oversight board to investigate.

The board recommended institutions have policies and practices to ensure they meet obligations under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and the Saskatchewan Employment Act. It also recommended institutions be required to ensure students are informed of their rights and responsibilities.

In 2019, several advanced education ministers after Moe, the government rejected those recommendations.

“It wasn’t felt at the time we needed to do anything, given (post-secondary schools’) requirement to comply with provincial legislation, particularly the human rights code,” Minister of Advanced Education Gord Wyant saidin an interview.

The government said it did adopt a recommendation that it write a letter to Briercrest and the complainant outlining the board’s investigation.

Moe was not made available for an interview.

Pawelkesaid Briercrest has policies that address harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault and complaints.

“We have been following our policies and keeping them current … we have and will continue to co-operate with our accreditors and external partners.”

Hartung said she tried to get help years ago from the college, but no changes were made.

She is still hoping that can happen.

“You either have to hate yourself or know that everybody around you hates you,” Hartung said. “Often it’s a combination of both. That’s obviously horrific to your formation as a human.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2022.

 

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

Business

Show Employers You Can Hit the Ground Running

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Employers are increasingly stating: “We want someone who can hit the ground running.”

Essentially, the message is, “Don’t expect us to explain the basics. We expect you to know your sh*t.” Employers understand you’ll need time to learn their business, applications, software, infrastructure, etc. However, they expect that you’re proficient in Microsoft Office Suite software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), understand file management (creating, saving, and organizing files), and know how to troubleshoot common computer problems, and won’t be learning these basic computer skills as part of your learning curve on their dime.

Employers aren’t in the business of training people. You’re responsible for your career; therefore, you’re responsible for acquiring the skillset you need.

For an employee’s compensation to be justified, an ROI (return on investment) is required. When referring to employment, ROI refers to the value an employee brings to the company relative to their compensation. Employers pay their employees, and employees work for their wages. Employee work value is created when their work directly or indirectly results in profitably selling the company’s goods and services. Your best chance of job security (no guarantee) is to be an employee who undeniably contributes measurable value to your employer’s profitability.

(Employee’s measurable value to the company) – (Employer’s investment in compensation) = (ROI)

Understandably, employers are looking for candidates who can make an immediate impact, individuals who can jump right in, learn and adapt quickly, and start delivering results as soon as possible. Hence, you want to distinguish yourself as being capable and willing to “hit the ground running.”

Here are some tips to help you present yourself as a fast-starting, high-potential hire:

Emphasize relevant experience

Presenting irrelevant information will be perceived as lacking the ability to communicate succinctly, a highly valued skill in the business world. Only share experiences and quantified results (key), results that are pertinent to the position you’re applying for.

When crafting your resume and cover letter, identify the skills, knowledge, and previous responsibilities/quantified results that align with the job you’re aiming for. By demonstrating that you’ve “been there, done that” and brought measurable value to previous employers in a similar scenario, employers will feel confident that you can immediately deliver value.

Showcase transferable skills

Consider the universal soft skills that employers universally value.

  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Time management

Tell STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories—describing a specific situation, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results of your actions—that showcase your soft skills and explain how you can leverage them to succeed in the role you’re applying for. This’ll assure your interviewer you have the fundamental skills to achieve successful outcomes.

“While working at Norback, Jenkins, & St. Clair, I led a team of five architects to redesign a historic downtown Winnipeg landmark according to strict deadlines and complex stakeholder demands. I conducted Monday morning team meetings and used Slack to provide tailored updates to keep the team aligned. As a result of my communication skills, the project was completed on time and under the $7.5 million dollars budget.”

Discuss onboarding insights

A great way to position yourself as someone eager to hit the ground running is to show that you’ve considered what it’ll take to start delivering value.

“Based on my understanding of the typical onboarding timeline for this type of position, I anticipate completing all training and ramp-up activities within my first two weeks, enabling me to begin tackling projects by my first quarter.”

Assuming you’ve researched the company and studied current industry trends, which you should have done, mention the extra steps you’ve taken to prepare for the role. This’ll show your willingness to learn and will require minimal handholding.

Emphasize quick adaptability

Employers value the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges. During your interviews, share examples of your flexibility and agility.

At some point in your career, you’ve likely had to learn something new (e.g., software, operating system) on the fly. Also likely, you’ve had to navigate a major change or disruption. Using STAR stories, explain how you approached these scenarios, your strategies, and the positive outcomes.

By showing resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability, you demonstrate that you can thrive in ambiguous or rapidly evolving environments.

Propose a transition plan.

Presenting a transition plan is a strategy that wows employers, primarily because it is rare for a candidate to do this. This shows you’re ready to take ownership of your onboarding and deliver results.

Include specifics like:

  • Milestones you aim to accomplish in your first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Training activities or learning opportunities you’ll pursue.
  • Initial projects or tasks you’d tackle to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Ways you’ll quickly build relationships with your new colleagues.

Showing this level of forethought and initiative shows you’re a strategic thinker, able to organize your thoughts, and, most importantly, eager to get started.

By touting your relevant experience, showcasing your transferable skills, discussing your onboarding insights, emphasizing your quick adaptability, and proposing a detailed transition plan, you’ll position yourself as a self-driven professional capable of driving results from the start, differentiating you from your competition.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Karen Read back in court after murder case of Boston police officer boyfriend ended in mistrial

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BOSTON (AP) — Karen Read returns to court Monday for the first time since her murder case involving her Boston police officer boyfriend ended in a mistrial.

Read is accused of ramming into John O’Keefe with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowstorm in January 2022. Her two-month trial ended when jurors declared they were hopelessly deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial on the fifth day of deliberations.

Jury deliberations during the trial are among the issues likely to be addressed.

In several motions, the defense contends four jurors have said the jury unanimously reached a not-guilty verdict on those two charges. The jurors reported being deadlocked only on the charge of manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and trying her again for murder would be unconstitutional double jeopardy, they said.

The defense also argues Judge Beverly Cannone abruptly announced the mistrial without questioning the jurors about where they stood on each of the three charges Read faced and without giving lawyers for either side a chance to comment.

Prosecutors described the defense request to drop charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a deadly accident an “unsubstantiated but sensational post-trial claim” based on “hearsay, conjecture and legally inappropriate reliance as to the substance of jury deliberations.”

As they push against a retrial, the defense also wants the judge to hold a “post-verdict inquiry” and question all 12 jurors if necessary to establish the record they say should have been created before the mistrial was declared, showing jurors “unanimously acquitted the defendant of two of the three charges against her.”

After the mistrial, Cannone ordered the names of the jurors to not be released for 10 days. She extended that order indefinitely Thursday after one of the jurors filed a motion saying they feared for their own and their family’s safety if the names are made public. The order does not preclude a juror from coming forward and identifying themselves, but so far none have done so.

Prosecutors argued the defense was given a chance to respond and, after one note from the jury indicating it was deadlocked, told the court there had been sufficient time and advocated for the jury to be declared deadlocked. Prosecutors wanted deliberations to continue, which they did before a mistrial was declared the following day.

“Contrary to the representation made in the defendant’s motion and supporting affidavits, the defendant advocated for and consented to a mistrial, as she had adequate opportunities to object and instead remained silent which removes any double jeopardy bar to retrial,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.

Read, a former adjunct professor at Bentley College, had been out drinking with O’Keefe, a 16-year member of the Boston police who was found outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer. An autopsy found O’Keefe died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

The defense contended O’Keefe was killed inside the home after Read dropped him off and that those involved chose to frame her because she was a “convenient outsider.”

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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From Mansion to Moat: Drake’s Million Dollar Home Gets Soaked

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Toronto residents woke up to a soggy Wednesday morning after the city was pummeled by record-breaking rainfall on Tuesday. The downpour caused widespread flooding across the city, and even the opulent mansion of rap superstar Drake wasn’t spared.

 

Drake’s “Embassy” Flooded

Drake shared a video on his Instagram story showing the extent of the water damage at his Toronto mansion, nicknamed “The Embassy.” The sprawling 50,000-square-foot estate boasts an NBA-regulation basketball court and an art-deco theme, but on Tuesday, it was battling ankle-deep murky water flooding its halls.

The video shows Drake himself, clad in shorts and holding a broom, wading through the water. Someone else can be seen desperately trying to hold a large glass door shut as water surges in, presumably from a flooded patio or balcony.  Drake captioned the video with a touch of humor: “This better be espresso martini.”

The extent of the damage to the mansion remains unclear at this time.

 

Historic Rainfall Causes Citywide Flooding

The flooding at Drake’s mansion was just one symptom of the unprecedented rainfall that lashed Toronto on Tuesday. The city saw over 100 millimeters of rain in a single day, easily surpassing the average rainfall for the entire month of July (71.6 mm). This deluge makes it the fifth-wettest day ever recorded in Toronto’s history.

The heavy downpour overwhelmed the city’s drainage systems, leading to widespread flooding across neighborhoods. Emergency services were inundated with over 700 calls reporting flooded basements.  A major artery, the Don Valley Parkway, became an impassable waterway, with cars submerged almost entirely and some drivers forced to wait for rescue on the roofs of their vehicles.

 

Toronto Cleans Up After the Storm

As of Wednesday morning, the city is in cleanup mode.  Emergency crews are working to clear debris and assess the damage caused by the floods.  The extent of the financial losses incurred by homeowners and businesses is still being determined.

While Drake’s mansion may have gotten an unwelcome soaking, the true story of this weather event lies in the impact it had on ordinary citizens across Toronto. The city is now focused on recovery efforts and ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents.

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