History of ASPnet

In 1997, through a Manitoba-Germany student exchange, River East Collegiate made Contact with an ASPnet school in Hamburg.  Gareth Neufeld, a German teacher at REC, began a dialogue with the teachers at Helene Lange Gymnasium, Germany’s longest-standing “UNESCO-Schule”, to learn what he could about the ASPnet.  His goal was to involve REC in the Canadian chapter of the organization.  When he Contacted the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCU) in Ottawa, he discovered that Canada was not participating in this project, due to lack of resources.

In the following three years, much effort was made by Neufeld, as well as
Linda Mlodzinski (MECY Social Studies Consultant, and currently provincial ASPnet coordinator for Manitoba) to promote Canadian participation. These efforts included:

  • Ms. N. Fall, UNESCO (Paris) representative to Canada visited REC twice (1999)
  • Contact with the United Nations Association of Canada (Muriel Smith) and External Affairs (Lloyd Axworthy (2000)
  • Two meetings with David Walden, Secretary General of Canadian Commission UNESCO (January and December 2000)
  • A number of informal discussions with a succession of Ministers of Education in Manitoba

In the Spring of 2000, Mr. Walden attempted unsuccessfully to have ASPnet included in agenda of Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC). 

Momentum Builds

After the unsuccessful attempt to include CMEC in development, Mr. Walden suggested to Neufeld, that Manitoba’s Minister of Education be asked to present the project to CMEC.  Neufeld met twice with Mr. Harry Schellenberg, MLA for Rossmere, who agreed to set up a meeting with Mr. Drew Caldwell, then Minister of Education.  In January 2001, Neufeld, Dr. L. Cartwright (principal of REC) and Ms. C. Lintott (Assist. Superintendent of RESD*) met with Mr. Caldwell, Mr. Schellenberg and assistants, to discuss the ASP. At this meeting, Mr. Caldwell agreed to introduce the project to the CMEC at the April meeting.

At the April meeting, the CMEC supported the initiative, leaving it up to each province to decide the extent of their involvement.  With this green light from Canada’s Education Ministers, the CCU wasted no time in proceeding.  In late April, 2001, the CCU invited provincial representatives to Ottawa for an all-day consultation.  Present were delegates from Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.  Manitoba (the only province represented by a formal delegation, with a Department of Education staff member) was represented by Linda Mlodzinski (MECY), Gareth Neufeld (RESD*) and Darryl Toews (Teacher, Western School Division).  Comments by Mr. Walden at the meeting made clear that initiatives in Manitoba, and the efforts of Mr. Caldwell, were the deciding factors in reaching this point in the development.

An action plan was generated at this consultation, which included the following points:

  • Agreement to move forward
  • Upcoming months would be used to gather information from other national projects
  • CMEC agreed to appoint Contact persons in each province
  • Identification of partnerships was seen as a priority, to assist in meeting the funding needs.

Based on these discussions, the Manitoba contingent returned to Manitoba to move the project forward.  Initially, the following Manitoba divisions expressed interest:  River East*, Winnipeg, Western, Seven Oaks, Fort Garry*. 

Ms. Mlodzinski took responsibility to keep Mr. Caldwell up to date on developments.  She also assumed the role of ASPnet Provincial Coordinator, a critical leadership function she has continued, as the network has grown and matured.

Contact was also made with Ms. E. Hartmann, the ASPnet National Coordinator for Germany.  She agreed to be available as a consultant to the Canadian network, having considerable experience at the international level.  In this capacity, Ms. Hartmann participated in an all-day consultation in Winnipeg.  Based on this day’s work, the Canadian process for designating an ASPnet school was developed.

Canadian ASPnet is Launched in Manitoba

In January 2002, the Canadian ASP Network was launched in the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.  Present were David Walden (CCU Secretary General), Drew Caldwell (Minister of Education), as well a number of interested school division superintendents, principals, teachers and representatives of post-secondary institutions.  "The Canadian Commission for UNESCO is pleased the Province of Manitoba has taken the initiative and launched the first network of Associated Schools in Canada," said Walden.  "UNESCO has played an important role on the global stage for many years," said Caldwell. "By becoming involved in this program, Manitoba youth will have an excellent opportunity to develop a global perspective and enhance their understanding of world issues."

At that launch 10 Manitoba schools joined the pilot project, five of which have now attained status as National UNESCO ASPnet schools:

  • Brock Corydon School
  • Collège Jeanne Sauvé
  • John Pritchard School
  • River East Collegiate
  • Vincent Massey Collegiate

In September 2006, eight additional schools joined the Manitoba ASPnet as Candidate Schools:

  • Al Hijra Islamic School
  • Bairdmore Elementary School
  • Collège Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau
  • Collège Silver Heights Collegiate
  • École Régionale Saint-Jean Baptiste
  • St. Emile School
  • St. James Collegiate
  • Stevenson-Britannia Adult Literacy Program, Inc.