CONTEXT FOR CHRISTIANS
As someone familiar with the intolerance of so-called Christians, I’d like to respond to the recent letters in which Christians portray themselves as victims singled out for abuse in prairie dog.
As a gay rights activist since 1971 and as first the chair and then the executive director of AIDS Regina for eight years, I can say that by far the most vitriolic hatred that I received over that time has come from people professing to be Christians. No other group comes close.
While I believe churches have the right to decide who can be a member — even the Universal Church is, after all, a private club — I see no justification for people, in the name of Christ, gleefully holding up signs proclaiming GOD HATES FAGS outside churches and funeral homes while a service for someone who has died of AIDS takes place inside. Can you imagine Christ joining these hateful demonstrators?
While I was with AIDS Regina I frequently got phone calls both at work and at home from self-styled Christians condemning me and attacking the agency’s effort to educate the public and save lives. The hatred was often personal: an especially zealous ‘Christian’ phoned me at home one evening to tell me how happy it made her to know that I would burn for eternity in the flames that her God had lovingly prepared for me.
In the late 1990s, when the Gay and Lesbian Pride Committee had applied to the City for a proclamation for Pride Week, Christians were front and centre trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to stop us from receiving what we were, as citizens of Regina, entitled to. When same-sex marriage was being debated in Canada, the strongest opposition came from Christians.
In nearly 40 years I do not recall ever hearing a hateful word from “Jews, Greeks, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, obese people, Asians, or Seventh-Day Adventists,” to quote from one letter writer’s list of groups prairie dog allegedly “has never printed a negative word about.”
Yes, AIDS Regina did receive support from individual Roman Catholic priests and United Church ministers, but their reasonable and compassionate voices were drowned out by Bible-quoting bigots who used the AIDS epidemic to fuel the fires of intolerance and hatred.
SASK ON SIAST
In response to the September 23, 2010 article in prairie dog on the SIAST photography program, I want to address questions regarding this decision and provide an update on Saskatchewan’s post-secondary education and investments in SIAST.
As one of the pre-eminent post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan, we see that SIAST’s emphasis on providing students with real-life learning contributes to the academic and career success of our students. By ensuring training and employment programs are demand based to best meet the needs of students and employers, SIAST helps lead students to long-term sustainable employment.
Consistent with past practices, SIAST’s academic and skills training programs undergo regular review, renewal, removal or adjustment. Our government supports SIAST examining the effectiveness of its current array of programs and evaluating achievements and outcomes. We are confident that the SIAST board considered the outcomes and implications regarding the program changes. That said, the administration continues to meet with stakeholders regarding specific programming priorities.
Further, the provincial government has made post-secondary education a key priority. In the past three years, Premier Wall’s government has invested over $2 billion into the post-secondary sector and exceeded our campaign commitment of a $125 million increase in operating funding over four years — providing an additional $176.3 million over three.
Since taking office, our government has increased SIAST operating funding by 15 per cent. In 2010-11, the Institute received $136.9 million, well above anything offered by the NDP.
As well, Knowledge Infrastructure Program funding through key partnerships translated to over $118 million in 21 projects across the province, some directly benefiting the SIAST system.
We will continue supporting SIAST, thereby ensuring that it remains in a strong position to address the needs of employers and gives Saskatchewan students real opportunities to stay and succeed in the province.
Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration
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