June 16th, 2024

It’s critical to take great care of our universities

By Lethbridge Herald on March 30, 2022.

When I was a kid my grandfather had a pocketknife that I thought was the greatest thing in the world.  It was a genuine Swiss Army Knife with all kinds of weird and wonderful tools that folded in and out of it.  He never had much money, and that knife must have been a pretty costly thing, but he took good care of it and it served him well for many years.  

He always had that knife in his pocket and he would take it out and show it to me.  It had obvious tools like a straight edge blade and a saw, but there were other tools that I didn’t understand.  He would explain what everything did:  “this is for opening beer bottles” and “this is for punching a new hole in your belt if you don’t exercise”. Those tools didn’t seem like they were good for much, to a ten year old.  When my grandfather died my grandmother passed that knife on to me and damned if I didn’t end up using every one of those tools more than once over the years.

Universities are like Swiss Army Knives for knowledge.  They are incredibly useful things made up of teachers and scholars who have spent a lifetime to become experts in all kinds of weird and wonderful topics. 

Those experts fold out of the university and teach something or discover something or create something and then they fold back in and maybe you don’t see them again for a while.  Sometimes it’s obvious that we need those experts, and sometimes it isn’t obvious at all.  It probably makes sense to most of us that Alberta needs people to teach doctors and nurses, geologists and mining engineers.  Surely we could use people to work on cures for diseases and solutions to climate change.  Maybe it’s less obvious that we need poets and art historians, researchers and philosophers – all working on weird and wonderful things that most of us don’t really think much about in our daily lives. 

 But if you fold one of those people out and ask, they will explain what they do and why it matters.  And it might seem like a good idea to just invest in the expertise you’re sure you need right now, but that misses the point of a really good pocketknife.  The whole thing fits together as one unit waiting there in your pocket, ready to fold out whatever tool you didn’t realize you would need until the moment came along.  And like any good pocketknife, you’ll probably find that those tools can be used to together solve all sorts of problems they weren’t even intended to solve.

Nobody knows what sorts of teachers and scholars a thriving, diverse Alberta economy is going to need in five years or 50 years.  That’s why it’s critical to take great care of the excellent comprehensive universities that previous generations handed down to us.  

Whatever the future holds, we should be sure we have those experts right here, ready for whatever job we need them to do.  That’s what a university is good for.

Dr. Matthew Tata, Professor

The University of Lethbridge

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Southern Albertan

Agreed, and, since money talks, smart countries/jurisdictions do not scrimp or do cutbacks on postsecondary education because they want top global expertise in all fields, and, they know, it’s good for their economies.
It’s proactive foresight in the big picture.


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Dennis Bremner

You suggest we must take care of our “Universities”. What about the University taking care of Lethbridge? Let me take one of Lethbridges BIGGEST Issues as an example.
The most confrontational issue in Lethbridge is what to do with the many Addicted we see on our streets. So far the hall of knowledge has promoted the treatment suggestions with vigor ignoring the term DO NO HARM to ALL of Lethbridge! Apparently the Bastions of Higher Knowledge does not know how to apply DO NO HARM to the rest of the community, as long as they appear to be Social Services Authorities and Promoters? This is the easy way out. Dictating Social Services from on high, but not actually trying to save the community is something I could do with oh, perhaps 12 seconds thought and I don’t need a long paper to do it!

I do not have a “Doctor” in front of my name, I have 73 years of life experiences around the world. I have built a DO NO HARM to ANYONE in Lethbridge Plan, that I have submitted to the City. The City at various levels, whether staff managers or elected officials appear to suggest that we are a long way from decisions. However, if you are in a powerless boat, incapable of hanging up on the shore, heading downriver and the next city on the river is X, saying you are not heading to X is irrelevant, because no matter what, you will eventually get there!
Here is my DO NO HARM CONTRIBUTION. http://lethccc.com . It has numerous flaws but I am sure with your higher education you will get the gist, which is and will always be DO NO HARM TO ANYONE in Lethbridge and the Blackfoot People!

I like working with the Blackfoot I feel at peace when talking to elders. I have always appreciated their wisdom ever since I was a kid who was exposed to Residential Schools and Reserves in the City where I was born. I have some support for my plan from elders now but ,not enough that I could say “We are winning” ! I find their are too many special interest groups (listed below) with an agenda and it is becoming an “et tu Brute” moment in my life!

So as the City staffers pursue the concept of a Community Care Campus that they insist has no physical location yet! Only one business case has surfaced and is on record which evolved from almost a year of SSIG meetings, and that business case suggests Stafford at Alphahouse, to 5th North and Stafford. (heading down river)

Silence from the Bastion, , why? Must you be summoned? Are appointments needed?

Could it be, because its not in the Bastions Backyard? If the Community Care Campus was scheduled to be on Lethbridge Universities Empty Land, would you be drafting paper after paper now? After all, as authorities on Social Services, there is good argument that the Community Care Campus should be as close to the “Authorities on Providing those services as possible”?

When the City Social Services Managers state over and over again that our “Community Care Campus will serve “wider regions”, in every correspondence thus far, which suggests a Southern Alberta Rehab Facility and NOT a “Community” Care Campus, where is the Bastion of knowledge? Has the term “Community” been redefined?

When discussing addicts downtown and people suggest “30 day Suboxone” as if everyone including Lethbridge will be saved do you believe it? Has the Bastion of Superior Mathematics offered up any numbers for those that decide Rehab is just to bothersome to do? Is it because this forward thinking Bastion cannot think that far ahead? Is Math not their forte’ unless its part of a strike?

When the City Managers state they want to spend $100,000 of Taxpayer money (Tabling 5 April at City Council) to develop Conceptual Design on Imaginary Buildings to Create an Imaginary “Non-Community” Care Campus and then Consult with the Residents as to how pretty these Buildings look, where is the Bastion ‘s Wise Guidance, prior, or is it only selective parts of Architectural Engineering projects you get involved with?

I have tried to stop this $100,000 boondoggle but apparently you cannot oppose twice so am being blocked from speaking on the 5th? I opposed it at the Cultural and Social Standing Committee Meeting and want to oppose at Council but apparently that’s not allowed. Every piece of Architectural Conceptual Design I have read state a CHOSEN SITE is imperative FIRST. I maybe wrong (then so are the many articles) but where are the sage comments from the bastion? $100,000 of our money on conceptual buildings with no size, no physical position in Lethbridge, you live here, right? But bonus, they intend on consulting with Residents so that when the question is asked, where are these buildings going….the Architect can say I do not know! When asked are they as big as a dollhouse or the size of a the Agri-Center the Architect can say “not sure or “depends”? When asked why we are being consulted, the Architect can say “cuz its part of the $100K contract? Then suddenly someone will scale it to the Broadview District (19 Acres Downtown)…Surprise Surprise it FITS!!!!

When the term “Wider Regions” is used as code for “Southern Alberta Rehab Facility” and the only business case developed is Downtown, where is the Bastion…where is the wisdom and forecast of destruction or must you be formally invited to protect your community? When “Wider Regions” goes undefined, one can suggest Pinscher Creek to Nanton to Mill River to Medicine Hat. Where is the “Bastion of higher Mathematics” to determine flow of Addicts through DOWNTOWN LETHBRIDGE? Or, does the sacrifice of Business, and Communities make it all worth it, when calculating ZERO impact for the Bastion Itself?

I see no support for the Blackfoot Confederacy in their pursuit of bringing their people home targeted directly at Lethbridge, why? I see no papers authored for treating the addicted indigenous in anything but the concrete jungle of downtown. I see no in depth analysis of what the Blackfoot who see their children pulled or pushed from the Reserve, pushed through the Lethbridge system of housing with no “fork in the road” that would see the indigenous youth have a choice, a room/house/housing in Lethbridge, OR, a room/house/housing on the Reserve? Without a fork we remove the Blackfoot future! So how is that best solved? I am sure if I were to read 30 papers I could glean things from them, but where is your paper on Lethbridge and how we improve our cooperation and provide real programs with targets of getting the youth who are not wasted back to the Reserve to improve it?

As we enter the times of Reconciliation I see no published paper of wisdom indicating that Lethbridge Contributes to the exit of Indigenous Entrepreneurial Youth by not offering them “this fork in the road”! Where are the papers offering guidance of growth in the Blackfoot Territory and Lethbridge? Interconnected funding etc? Where are the truth’s in changing the internal structure of Lethbridge and create the Bridge needed for Blackfoot and Lethbridge Housing Solution to progress this fork? Maybe you missed that part?

So, when we do not return the Blackfoot’s Future entrepreneurs with assistance, we contribute to the death of the reserve, that is a given! Then we wonder why the reserves of Canada continue to degrade? What can we do with the Blackfoot that would change Lethbridge’s and the Blackfoot’s future? So we see no real guidance on how to correct our own Lethbridge System of removing the Blackfoot’s future Entrepreneur’s and swallowing them into the support of Lethbridge or the Oilsands. Perhaps the Bastion spreads all its wisdom elsewhere in Alberta?

So far I have seen little wisdom of anything but driving Tipi stakes into the Concrete Downtown of Lethbridge so we once again pay lip service to what the Blackfoot suggest they really want!

Why do I say that, because I have found while submitting what is now perceived as a viable alternative that will support the Blackfoot youth returning home and helping their own reserve, that there are about 9 different agendas by special interest groups impeding that movement. It is no wonder we cannot problem solve!

Group 1 are the Non Profits which people assume are NO PROFIT, which they are not. They insist they are here doing gods work and to treat and house those in the concrete jungle of downtown, and have amassed $77,000,000 of tax free (PAID) real estate being a Non Profit and are a larger business than 90% of Lethbridge businesses!

Group 2 is the Religious who pursue Do No Harm with the assistance of the Self Righteous as long as it means Do No Harm to those they serve! Doing Harm to the Business and community, well that’s a sidebar of doing Gods work, and both should suck it up, buttercup!

Group 3 are City Managers who seem to have their own agenda but deny it emphatically

Group 4 are those that say they speak for the Reserve and do not live there and are looking to install as much as possible in Downtown Lethbridge so they do not have to commute for their new high paying job.

Group 5 are those that speak for the Grass Roots people of the Reserve and actually live on the Reserve.

Group 6 are those that speak for the Grass Roots people of the Reserve and do not live on the Reserve and have the best interests of these people at heart.

Group 7 are those that speak for the “other half of the politics on the Reserve and send conflicted messages, may live here, or on the Reserve.

Group 8 is the Bastion of Knowledge itself. It sits upon high, spewing social services like a flame thrower and as a sidebar refers to pending death among those in the near proximity as if that’s the only choice?

Group 9 are those that see the Addict as a $100,000 ticket and attempt to get their slice of the pie. They pop up periodically pretending they care and when they find that the pie is divided by the “strongest” including the medical community they fall away only to be replaced by another who searches for the same slice.

Out of those 9 only about 3-4 have the best interest of the Addicted as their priority, the remainder have agendas. I will allow you to assume whatever 3-4 you wish.

You can be assured whatever the solution to the issues might be, the Bastion will ensure they remain untouched and if they offer up suggestions that kill a few businesses or residential areas with their suggestions they wrap the narrative with heart string pullers, to ensure above all, they remain untouched by what I see as an approaching disaster!

So as long as the Bastions of knowledge protect themselves and promote their own interest, the knowledge is bias by politics and self interest. That is what I see “this” universities contribution to Lethbridge, thus far” albeit I have only been here 10 years! Perhaps they see themselves as a Global Contributor and not local, I do not know. All I know is, we are slowly watching Group/Groups planning for the destruction of Lethbridge with a whole bunch of elephants being hidden in any room available and not a word from the Bastion? So do we call it Lethbridge University because its in Lethbridge?

I see no signs of the Swiss Army knife you speak of Doctor Tata! Perhaps its because you are inside the Bastion looking out?
My next submission to this paper will be “How to win friends and influence people by speaking your truths!”

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner
Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

Turbine-whine, if I were still teaching I would use this entry as a teaching resource. Would you, or anyone else, like me to elaborate?


Yes,Doctor you are right about a number of things.
Your Grandfather bought the knife perhaps, while making 34 and three quarter cents an hour, he bought the pants with pockets to house the knife and the shelter to house him, his pockets and family. It was probably, mostly self generated, this wisdom and wealth. The difference may be to that he directly shared these attributes with his family and local community in a boots on the ground manner.
Over 80% of the grads leave Lethbridge. Many to other countries.
Doctors and students could share their expertise on local matters and subjects with the residents . We never hear from any except when there is a strike or the very occasional comments in the paper about provincial or federal matters.
Yes ,directly and indirectly Lethbridge gains by the university’s presence in many regards. The city taxpayers have also contributed to the university millions of dollars for housing etc.. Are some Doctors and students afraid to be accused of biting the hand that in part feeds them, with this expertise/knowledge?

Elohssa Gib

You write”Over 80% of the grads leave Lethbridge. Many to other countries”. Please explain where this “fact” comes from. You also write that “The city taxpayers have also contributed to the university millions of dollars for housing etc” — Again, please explain where this number can be found.


Chris Spearman- exactly where he got this,ask him.
During Tarleck- $35 mil for student housing.
If you care to do some homework you will no doubt find more.

Elohssa Gib

Just following up.

With respect to your first point, and leaving aside the percentage figures, so what? First, most of the students who attend the UofL. and the College, don’t come from Lethbridge, so it’s no surprise that a majority don’t settle in the city after they graduate, Second, the whole point of post-secondary education is to prepare young people for life beyond their schooling, and to step out into the world, and that world is a lot larger than Lethbridge.

With respect to your second point, I did some “homework” and learned that the only two projects at the UofL to which the City contributed to the capital cost are the pool and the Community Stadium. Moreover, the UofL pays property taxes to the City on their student residences. It might also interest you to learn that the residence halls in University Hall, which were built way back in the ’70s, were financed through CMHC.

Last edited 2 years ago by Elohssa Gib

Someone asks you for the basis of your comments and you provide no real detail, instead telling that person to “do some homework”; sorry, but the ball was kicked into your court and you didn’t answer the call. That’s not the way things work in the real world, where a person is expected to stand behind their statements. At least that’s what my parent’s taught me.