Legend of the Walking Stick

Legend of the Walking Stick

Some of you know this legend… some used to know it but have forgotten…and others still are learning it for the very first time here today… this is the legend of the walking stick… as ancient as the ASSC itself.

The legend revolves around a woman, who, as a student, experienced the best and the worst of student services.  As she grew older, she reflected on her experiences and decided to travel the land to share her wisdom with service professionals.

In 2011, the walking stick spent time in the company of a very wise (and very old) man named Russ Guthrie…  and she left his land infused with as much wisdom as she left behind.  She was also broken hearted when leaving Olds… for Dr. Guthrie retired and she knew that students there would feel that loss. Over the year she has heard of other losses from our community…  and she knew she would need some help to recover.

Her grief was large… and she craved to find the medicine that would allow her to carry on with her journey.  This is what brought her to Medicine Hat, where she has been following our “prescription for excellence”.  Here she has learned to take time to enjoy the land around south-eastern Alberta, where giant tepees and chess boards abound, and where Tigers battle with sticks to make the citizens proud.

Our student has also reconnected with professionals old and new… to curb her addiction to paper and to become more environmentally sustainable.  She has discovered the meaning of resourcefulness in a time of economic uncertainty. She has learned to relax a bit more – but she has also been schooled on the fundamentals of time management, organization and efficiency.  She has become a bit lighter as a result – more efficient, portable and accessible.  She leaves the Hat being more techno-savvy too… and will start this upcoming year with a heart that is refreshed and infused with hope. There has been much loss – this is true – but there have also been many gains.  She is ready to return to the big city of Calgary to be hosted for the first time by her colleagues at SAIT.  She is hopeful and enthusiastic about what lies ahead.  For this truly will be a new era in student services.

With the memory and strength of past colleagues and friends still warm in her heart the woman starts her journey to Calgary. There are songs and rejoicing as she drives up highway #1 when she sees a cow standing on the side of the road. The cow is holding a sign that says “seeking skyscrapers” and holding out its hoof.

Curious, the woman stops and asks the cow “where are you headed friend?” The cow replies “why cow town of course, I hear they have futures there as tall as skyscrapers” The woman looks at the cow with a smile on her face and says “I am on my way to SAIT to meet other dedicated and caring people from all over Alberta to help create blueprints for student success and as you know all strong skyscrapers start with a great blue print. These blueprints will help students build futures reaching the sky and beyond. Would you like to join me?” Happily the cow jumped in knowing that among these amazing friends he would find the success he sought.

Over the days they laughed and played, always awaiting the morning ASSC Kicker for either bragging or taunting rights. On pins and needles they waited to see who would win the soon to be coveted SAIT cup and to discover what academic super powers their friends held under their mild-mannered alter egos. And then, inundated with talk of the 100 years of au de bovine wafting from the Calgary Stampede the woman heard about another 100 year milestone and the next step in her journey. With a blueprint of her own and success on the horizon she sends her friend’s home, some with cows and bulls of their own, and heads for the Centennial celebration of Lakeland College.

With her treasured walking stick in hand the woman departs from cowtown to return to the originator of the walking stick, Lakeland College, knowing she will be reunited with colleagues in the near future. During her journey she finds herself reminiscing about the events of the past 29 conferences while anticipating the up and coming 30th annual conference in Canada’s only border city, Lloydminster.

As she passes through the various cities along the way, she scouts out potential hosts for next years’ conference. Will it be Olds, or maybe Red Deer College? She contemplates leaving the busy highway 2 by turning onto highway 13 leading to Camrose to see if Augustana might be interested in hosting again, but abandons the idea when she realizes there may be more opportunities in a bigger centre. She continues on into Edmonton stopping at the U of A, Norquest and NAIT; then she realizes that she must hurry as the future is coming quickly.

At last she arrives at Lakeland College where she enjoyed the beating of the drums that began it all this year. Once again, four fun and informative days were had by all and eventually it came to an end.

With memories of the past intact, thanks to the costumes displayed at this year’s theme party, and a clear mind set of her future, and after she learned of new directions from her conference sessions, she bids her colleagues farewell once more.

This time though her journey will be different. She knows that her tired feet will have a break from walking as she climbs into the recently restored silver DeLorean parked outside.

“Where would you like to go?” Doc Emmett Brown asks of her.

“Why back to the future of course!” she says. “Can you take me on the road that leads there?”

“Roads … where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Doc responded, and with that they headed to the Lloydminster airport landing strip to safely accelerate to the required 88 miles per hour.

“But how will we arrive at our destination?” the lady asked Doc.

“Not to worry my dear for there is another airport close by that we can use. When we land at the municipal airport we will only be steps away from next year’s host, NAIT!”

The legend continues….

The next year is spent in the company of so many kind hearted people and the lady enjoys her new home. However, the year is fraught with hardships. She hears words like cutbacks and redundancy and knows fear. It is a time of uncertainty but still she sees people around her working hard and advocating for what is important to them. She sees the dedication and commitment, and the power of the working being done in the face of adversity, and she is humbled.

Her own future holds much uncertainty as well. Knowing that her time in Edmonton is coming to an end she looks expectantly for her new home but fears she is lost. The people around her show bravery and heart and rally together to ensure she has a new destination on her journey of knowledge and learning. With a touch as sadness as she leaves her home in Edmonton, but lots of excitement as she continues on her path, NAIT sends her into good hands as she travels to south to Bow Valley College!

The legend continues…

One day she was in the high tech universe of NAIT when she was handed over to a freaky group of wildly dressed Flower Children and time warped back to the 60’s. She heard:

Slow down, you move to fast

You got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobblestones

Looking for fun and Fueling groovy  la dad da da da da fueling groovy

She learned that the 60’s were a time of both growth and reflection [teaching us to look past the surface and drill down to the core of being]. There was a push for love and acceptance in a time of nuclear testing, war racism and halls blue with smoke.

BUT…1965 had the birth of the Alberta Vocational Centre, the 1st spacewalk and the walk on Selma, Canada’s new flag, and the first health warnings on cigarettes. The Beatles sang “Help, I need somebody” [I think they could have used Student Services!] and the Rolling Stones yelled “Hey you get off of my cloud!” [iCloud?]

50 years later there is still war but the spirit of the 60’s continues to thrive. From a vocational centre AVC became Bow Valley College, grew and diversified to now have students from 120 nations speaking 150 languages [hippie], expanded from one enclosed building to 3 downtown campuses with atriums, open lounges and outside patios to watch the flowers grow. There are 350,000 graduates celebrating success despite construction, floods and cutbacks.

What hippie could imagine Calgary with a Muslim mayor, female college and university presidents, clean air policies, recycling, a multifaith room, LGBTQ+ clubs, LRT at our door, on line registration, flexible course delivery and training I ASIST and MHFA for staff, students and outside agencies? We also house two colleges and two universities under 1 roof.                     What a Love In!

Her journey is not yet done. Storm clouds are on the horizon from a lack of bread but BVC has shown her how far we have come and what is possible to accomplish with a 20/20 vision for a brighter future coupled with hard working and groovy staff. If there is rain on our parade we will use it to make things grow for we have the Spirit of the Flower Children and …

We are fueling groovy!

So now, “Come in Shawnna (flipping open an old flip phone) we are going to… Grande Prairie Regional College!!!!

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