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             29 th Annual Christmas Letter 2006
             Gerald R. Brown
                          3403 - 55 Nassau Street North

                          Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L 2G8  CANADA

                          House Phone: 204-284-5620

                          Cell Phone:     204-510-5620

                                                                  FAX:    204-453-4732

                                                                  E mail: [log in to unmask]

   

   

                                                                                                                          2006.12.12



  Greetings relatives, friends and acquaintances around the world.  

  And a special greeting to the many friends in ENSIL.  It is great to be able to keep in touch electronically, and to remember the many people that I met in Portugal.   Keep up the fine work for school librarianship in Europe.

  It is also time for each of you to be giving consideration to whom you will nominate for Vice President from Europe for IASL.   We need your representation on the Board.  It is up to you to decide whom to nominate.  I will help in any way that I can.



  Christmas is a time of year for me to think back over this year's contacts and communications and to remember the richness of our time together.   Thanks to all of you for being such a wonderful support system to me.  Your caring and thoughtfulness is deeply appreciated.   I thank the Lord for each of you, and pray that this coming year you will be blessed each in a unique way.

   

  From the logo at the beginning of the letter, you may guess that this has not been the usual year for me.   As I reviewed my diary to write this note, it became clear to me that every day from the beginning of Nov 2005 (with my return from working in Asia) until the long weekend in August 2006 , my life was almost totally focused on the Islay (Vista) School Reunion.  Many 12 hour days were spent working on the details of the event, researching the book "Vista Tales", working with colleagues to prepare the materials for publication and exhibits, and searching for 'lost' colleagues.  My warmest thanks for the wonderful helpers on the Committee.  Each of you made special contributions according to your interests and abilities.  The reunion was a fantastic success and exceeded even my wildest speculations. People were stunned by the badges, the posters, the decorations, the silent auction, the food, the music, the tours, the golf tournament, the entertainment and the Sunday church services.    The 344 participants were overwhelmed by the detail of the organization ... everything ran smoothly.   Little would they ever know of the sleepless nights that went into the planning and organization.  Hopefully the last financial details will be worked out early in the New Year, and this project can finally be put to rest!

   

  The 550 p. book VISTA TALES . from Islay School District No. 733 in Vista, Manitoba  has brought rave reviews already.  It was a labour of love.  I know it has errors and omissions.  However, I am proud that it is a document to honour the pioneers that gave us our start from 'little old Islay School and the Vista community'.  Some of you have kids and grand kids to leave as your legacy.   This book is mine to the community. Going at this rate, it will be a sell out shortly.   The 15 post cards were selling like hotcakes.  Everyone loves the choice of pictures.  They will make great souvenirs.  They are available from Baker's Store in Vista or from the Town Office in Rossburn, along with the few pins that are still on hand.

   

  During this period of time, there were other things also happening in my life.  Most gratifying and rewarding is the volunteer swimming classes that I do Monday through Friday for two hours each evening, with adults at the YMCA.  It was so exciting to help men of all ages learn how to swim, to enjoy the water, and develop some basic survival skills.   Some of the guys have gone on to be really fine swimmers, and are helping me teach others.   I estimate that there are over 110 adults from around the world who have 'graduated' from this program.  The reward comes in seeing the happiness on their faces, the changes in their attitudes, and their success in the pool.   Of course the greatest satisfaction is seeing them and their friends and families come regularly to enjoy the water.   Some have become long time friends as well.

   

  Winnipeg is rich is The Arts.  With close friends I have enjoyed many of the instrumental groups, the fine choirs in performance, the drama at the Manitoba Theatre Centre (and related sites), and some sporting events too.   We have a wonderful group that gets together to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and any other occasion for a dinner party together.  Thanks to all of you.

   

  In March, I was pleased to be a part of the official opening of the Taste of Sri Lanka Restaurant here in Winnipeg.  It is a first of its kind in the city, and offers a wonderful selection of tasty and attractive dishes.

   

  In April, I escaped to Saskatoon for a few days with friends and colleagues at the Saskatchewan School Library Conference.  Great weather for travel; fine presentations; and excellent opportunity to catch up on family history (and also so some school reunion research too).

   

  July saw me rushing off to Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the IASL (International Association of School Librarianship) conference.   This was a fine event, with many friends from past years, and a lot of new acquaintances in the professional field.  The Auction for which I have some responsibility raised about $ 2000 to support potential leadership candidates to come to future conferences from some area of the developing world.  In July 2007 we will meet again in Taipei, Taiwan.  Hope to see you there!

   

  Other reunion events were also highlights this year.  The Brandon University School of Music centennial celebration brought together many friends in the music field.  It was a very exciting time.     Later in September, as part of the annual Home Coming event, we celebrated our 50 th anniversary of graduation from Brandon College Teacher Training Program in 1956.   I was pleased with the turn out, the story telling, and the re-convocation certificates that were presented at the banquet.   Thanks to my committee who did such a great job here too.

   

  We are happy to report that my friend Ivan's bout with cancer seems to have been successful.  As of yesterday the Doctors have given him a clean bill of health.  Radiation and chemotherapy have been successful over the past three months.  We are thankful to have the stress from these activities removed. Thanks be to God that the good health will continue.

  In September, I travelled to Regina to work with the Public School Board, for the third consecutive year.   They are making fine progress in their library development activities.

  It gave me time to visit both friends and relatives, as well as touring the RCMP Museum. What a find!

   

  October brought another treasure.  About twenty young people from the Ukraine came to Ottawa and Toronto for one month as part of the Canada Parliamentary Internship Program.  My translator/interpreter/ tour guide friend Max Klyuchar from Evpatoria was in the group.   It was challenging and stimulating to be with these dynamic young people, to help them examine 'what they were seeing', to interpret the events around them, and to help them produce their newsletters during this time.  We had wonderful experiences shopping and night entertainments too.

   

  Now November was a different experience.  My travel feet were at it again.  First came the wedding of Warren James Brown to Debbie Duggan at the Bahai Principe All-inclusive resort hotel in San Juan, Dominican Republic.   31 relatives and friends attended the ceremony and helped them celebrate for full week.   What a party!  It was great to see everyone, and to enjoy the climate, the food, the jeep tour, and the visiting.

   

  From 17 Nov - 02 Dec, I worked and played in The Philippines.  It was a fantastic week at the UNEP (University of Northeastern Philippines) in Iriga City working with teachers, students and colleagues from the region on Information Literacy.  I loved sharing books and ideas with these new friends.   The climate was fantastic; the food slimming; the events exhausting; and the cordiality quite remarkable.   A special treat was connecting with their wonderful UNEP Chorale which one fourth place at the China Chorale Olympics this spring.   They were fine singers and great friends too.  We toured in the Bicol and Albay areas, including Mt. Mayon that had just erupted in July.  We saw local paddy fields, pineapple farms, banana and coconut plantations, and many crowded villages.   This was the area that devastated by the 18 th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year on 30 Nov.   The Red Cross indicates that about 1000 people lost their lives in the region, where homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure were damaged by the huge mud slides from the ash on the cone of the volcanic mountain.  Hydro and telephone were knocked out completely.  Drinking water is still in danger for many people.  Thanks be to God for letting me see this area before the devastation.

   

  The second week was spent in Manila.  Now that is population density, heavy traffic, fine shopping opportunities, and great dining.   My friends helped me see several schools, to meet with educational leaders, and to lay the ground work for future projects.  I really enjoyed my time with these warm and friendly people.   I hope to return early in 2007.

   

   

  To the friends and relatives of many friends who passed away this year, my deepest sympathy.  The list is quite long, and I feel saddened to lose these gems.   However, we must also welcome the newly weds, and the new arrivals.  Welcome friends.

   

  I want to take a moment to thank Patricia (Stitt) Cooper from Athens Georgia for the fine document she has produced on the Stitt family tree.   Also to Lorraine (Matheson/Cope) Davey for the history of The Pages family that she has shared.   These will be significant additions to the Brown/Cope/Cormack/Stitt history files that line my office walls.  I wont mention the book that we are all expecting to happen soon!!

   

  I also want to mention my friends the Amiri family who have been an important part of my life this year.    They immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan almost two years ago.  We have had a wonderful time exploring the education system, the social and cultural backgrounds, and their fine personalities.  It has been an enriching experience.

   

  And now to look to the future

   

  January            Complete the Islay Reunion documentation

  February          OLA Superconference in Toronto, with side trips in the Golden Horseshoe

  March              To the Philippines again?  and South East Asia ?

  May                 CLA conference in Newfoundland

  July                  IASL conference in Taipei, Taiwan

                          Killarney / Ninga reunions and centennial celebrations

  Fall                  MB Opera research documents and indexing

                          IASL Archives indexing

                          Writing .. 

   

   

  I hope to see many of you again this year.  It will be a pleasure to hear from you at this special time of year.  Thanks for your memories and your kind words.  Each of you gives me a special strength and inspiration.

   

  May the Lord bless you richly according to your needs this coming year.

   

   

  Gerald Brown