Letters – Our readers write: Summer 2011

Letters published in the SUMMER 2011 edition of In The Hills magazine.

June 16, 2011 | | Back Issues | Departments | Letters, Our Readers Write | Summer 2011

High School Moms

I love this story (Textbooks and Toddlers, spring ’11). I had a child at 16 and if it weren’t for a few teachers who made it easy for me to bring my child to class when I needed to and a few friends who would watch him on their spares, I don’t think it would have been so easy to complete my grade 12. Please keep up the great work, these young moms need to know they are doing a great job as moms, but that they can still reach all the goals they had before their lives took a (very important) detour.

Becky Fabi, web comment


Wow, what a great article! I can’t imagine having to raise a child, go to school and work half/part time. I wish these hardworking girls all the best. They are benefitting themselves, and their children. Very inspiring!

Sara Ambrose, web comment


I am one of the Registered Early Childhood Educators who gets to work with these amazing students and their children. I feel so blessed to be a part of something so wonderful and they’ve become such an important part of my daily life. It’s a great program!

Jennie Hilts, web comment


Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed for the story on the Young Parents Education Program at ODSS. It was honestly so much fun for the kids and me. I appreciate everything everyone has done to keep this program going.

Another very well-deserved thank you goes to Peekaboo daycare centre, which my children attend. It is seriously an amazing group of people who work there.

Also, a huge thank-you goes out to Gillian Gauthier of Gigi Photography for those amazing photos, and to all the amazing parents who are in this program alongside me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Rae Hiltz, Orangeville


I was both shocked and concerned when I read the article “Textbooks and Toddlers,” by Laura LaRocca. As a parent, I am very worried about the youth of Orangeville.

I see far too many teenage mothers and high-school drop-outs in this area. While I commend the compassion and commitment of teacher Susie Chamberlain at ODSS for helping these young women, I cannot believe the article states “thanks to this program, the halls are full of strollers.” Does any parent want to see strollers in their child’s high school?

The writer comments on the previous “party” lifestyles of these young mothers. Shouldn’t high schools be spending time and money on programs that will educate, motivate and encourage young people to stay in school and develop goals for rewarding careers and successful futures? Shouldn’t there be counselling programs and courses aimed at teaching young people about the importance of education and healthy living (abstaining from sexual intercourse/drug abuse)?

This article quoted both students as saying they did not understand the importance of education/responsibility until after they had a baby. In my opinion this is backwards. This article appears to be condoning this lifestyle choice: “It’s okay to get pregnant between 14-19 years because the Board of Education will take care of your children and let you finish school.” Really?

Ms. LaRocca quotes the head of the program as saying, “It’s not about how they got here.” Well educators need to look at how students got there. I think prevention is the key and the priority of the Ministry of Education should be to focus on educating students to make responsible choices and understand consequences.

One young mother admitted an education should definitely come before children and that hopefully she can prevent her daughter from becoming a teen parent. There is the answer. How about writing an article about the importance of high schools implementing programs that help students “avoid becoming teenage parents.” I think that story would be much more effective.

Karen Vehkavaara, Adult Continuing Education Instructor

Editor’s response:

There is a broad spectrum of opinion among Canadians about when, how and under what circumstances women, young or old, should bear, or not bear, children. There is also controversy about school programs on reproductive health, although the fact that the teen pregnancy rates in Canada have fallen steadily for the past decade suggests such programs have had some effect.

However, there does seem to be strong social consensus in this country around the notion that once a child is born, we assume some collective responsibility for that child’s health, education and well-being.

Taxpayer-funded maternity leave, public education and subsidized daycare are three pillars of that social commitment. Unfortunately, teenaged mothers (some of whom are still legally protected as “children” themselves) and their children are often excluded by circumstance from those benefits. We would argue that the Young Parents Program at ODSS admirably fills that gap. It does that not only by ameliorating the drop-out rates that concern Ms. Vhekavaara, but also by helping, as she wishes, “to educate, motivate and encourage young people to stay in school and develop goals for rewarding careers and successful futures” in both this generation and the next.

Happy Cycling

Just read your fabulous write-up on Le Tour de Terra Cotta (spring ’11). You’ve covered all the bases and we are grateful you have given cycling in Caledon a boost. Please remember to join us on August 1st for the race. Happy cycling!

Ted Webb, Le Tour de Terra Cotta

In the early 1990s Ted Webb and I rode our bikes from Vancouver to San Francisco. Even though I’m nine years younger, he left me gasping trying to keep up. More than the typical sports pro who quits in mid-life and spends his retirement exercising little more than his ‘glory day’ memories, Ted is a true hero of sports. He exemplifies its greatest ideal, to ‘never give up’. He’s still racing at age 78. Thanks for your story on Ted (and his Tour de Terra Cotta); he’s a credit and inspiration to his community and the sport of cycling.

Dave Steen, Thetis Island, BC
(Journalist and athlete Dave Steen won the gold medal for shot put at the
1966 Commonwealth Games )

Sincere thanks for Nicola Ross’s wonderful article on Le Tour de Terra Cotta. What was most amazing to me was the unexpected rush of excitement and thrill of anticipation that the article evoked in me. As someone who knows the event intimately it caught me by surprise.

The finely crafted words, the carefully chosen visuals – the final result an enduring testament to Ted, the race and the community. The response has been heart-warming and the process a pleasure.

Donna Cragg, Terra Cotta

I want to compliment Nicola Ross on her article on our biking together. What fun! I have had so much positive feedback. Big eye-opener as to how many people read In The Hills. Thank you for mentioning Creek Side Clothing – many customers have come in because of the article. Happy pedalling

Karen Gillies, Orangeville

I read with great interest Nicola Ross’s article about biking and particularly noted her statement that “Mountain biking is all about athleticism and quick response.”

I have often thought the same during the Humber Valley Heritage Trail Association’s long experience with Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s attempts to convert part of our trail from pedestrian use to shared use with bikers. While we hikers do not need “guts” like bikers to do what we do, we do cherish “quiet enjoyment” and the uninterrupted experiences of nature. The biking and hiking experiences are quite different and they do not mix well. Shared-use trails tend to degrade both experiences.

Bill Wilson, President, Hike Ontario

Nicola Ross responds:

Many mountain bikers are fine, but some are real speedsters and can come up on a hiker way too fast. I’m not sure what the solution is, but respect would go a long way to solving problems.

Stop the Mega Quarry

I am honoured to be asked by the farmers of Melancthon/Mulmur Townships to join them in their struggle to protect their water and farmland from the proposed mega quarry by the Highland Company, privately backed by a Boston multi-billion-dollar hedge fund. As a native/indigenous man of the Turtle Clan Mohawk Nation, I have had a chance to listen to many community citizens of Dufferin County to learn of the concerns to the threat to farmland and clean water supply…

When the people look into the sacred treaties of the Great Iroquois and Ojibwa Nations they will see that we were promised fresh water and game as long as the grass grows and the sun shines. The quarry will be an attack on our relations and our way of life. We should not make the land unreal. Limestone will not feed our unborn, limestone will not produce a rich food supply for our families in the future, and this mining will be a form of eco-genocide!

These are my thoughts, my prayer is for life, we belong to Mother Earth and Mother Earth is terribly wounded. Our old elders, chiefs and Clan Mothers are saying over and over we must protect her! My uncle taught me a great lesson in life: “If you are awake you cannot deny the truth, everything is alive and everything has a Spirit, our Relatives and Relations are our allies.”

For Mother Earth and My Ancestors.

Danny Beaton,Turtle Clan Mohawk
(See the full text of this letter at www.inthehills.ca, under Current Issue: The Birth of a Protest)


Missing the Sketchbook

The first thing we turned to in each issue of In the Hills was the Headwaters Sketchbook. It is with more than a little disappointment that we learned from your Editor’s Desk column (spring ’11) that Linda McLaren has retired from the Sketchbook. Linda’s detailed line drawings and clear, concise annotations made for a focal point of your magazine, contributing to a balance in the texture of its layout, and were a welcome insight into the natural world around us. Headwaters Sketchbook has been appreciated in our household and will be missed. We encourage Linda to consider publishing her Sketchbook collection.

Roger and Patricia Kenyon, Caledon East

The pleasure was ours!

Normally, I savour reading In the Hills from cover to cover on a day when there is a bit of down time. (That sometimes means weeks or even months after it comes out… life is just too busy).

Today, instead of sitting down at my computer, I read the spring edition.
One word: green.

I don’t mean in the big political sense, but in the wholehearted-embrace-the-concept of living lightly, locally and sustainably, not only for our good but for those who come after us. A green volcano, who knew!

For the pieces on revitalizing Mill Creek in Orangeville, solar panels in Mulmur, and artists at the Alton Mill, as well as for Karen Gillies’ and Nicola Ross’s beautiful, healthy, inspiring faces on their bikes… thank you.

Bernadette Hardaker,Orangeville

Your spring issue is amazing. I loved reading the article on the different gardens and the photos were stunning (Secret Gardens). Mr Nephew has done an incredible job on his yard. John and I volunteer together for the Mono/Nordic Ski Club and seeing his yard, wow, I need to get him to invite me over to take it all in.

Thank you for helping us get out the word on our Mill Creek Restoration Project (Must Do, spring ’11). We appreciate your support.

Karen Morrison, Orangeville Coldwater Conservation Challenge

Thank you for such a wonderful article on Stitches Across Time by Michele Green (spring ’11). The article will go a long way to helping me and other textile artists bring awareness to what we do.

Pat Burns-Wendland, Mulmur

Wow! The article Closing The Divide about our farm market (Homegrown in the Hills, fall ’10) has been a godsend to us.

It took us quite by surprise, but we were even more taken aback by the people who came through the door once the magazine came out. Again, wow!

Writer Nicola Ross was terrific at gently gathering information, and photographer Pete Paterson had us in stitches the entire time he was here. It was a great experience for the whole Heatherlea crew. Thank you for letting us be part of your great magazine.

Gord & Pat McArthur, Heatherlea Farm Market, Caledon

Online In The Hills

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