Guest Blog

An Open Letter from Shawna Yanke to Freedom “Sort of Like If You Take Things They Are Technically Free” Mobile

This week’s open letter is from Shawna Yanke to Freedom Mobile. Shawna is upset. Shawna did not write the title. I did. I think ‘Freedom Mobile’ is a silly name. So is Wind. You might as well have named it “Basically Bell Mobile”. At least the consonant repetition would have tickled my tongue.

An Open Letter to Freedom Mobile

I switched to your mobile service in early July 2016, despite being hesitant at all the reddit comments and online reviews saying your 3G-only service was slow and without great coverage of Calgary, but I was very optimistic about my bank account being less damaged by your prices. Coming off almost 10 years of having expensive plans with Telus, I thought I could put up with whatever you had in store for me if it meant not getting gouged every month.

I heartily went to the store to change my plan over, begrudgingly paid the $50 Telus demanded to unlock my device (because I would be given an additional $5 off my plan if I brought my own device). You let me keep my number, which was great, and I waited the 45 odd minutes for that to port through. The guy in the store set me up with an account that required I pay my monthly amount first to top up my ‘balance’ and then explained that Wind (as it was known by then) would deduct my bill amount after the pre-authorized payments were in my account.

Months went by without issue, and I even got an email from you guys excitedly saying you would be offering LTE speeds (albeit, at a higher price point) in my area in the summer or fall of 2017. I was very excited at this, naturally, and was a bit dismayed to find out I would not be eligible for that LTE speed unless I bought one of your two phones you offer. This seemed odd, as my current device worked just fine on Telus’ LTE network, but I looked online and decided the nicer of the two phones would be a nice update, as my current phone is over 3 years old and not the greatest anymore.

Now, bear in mind, at this point I am already making excuses/accommodations for you, because your prices are that good, but these are all things I didn’t have to deal with when I was through Telus.

But then the problems started that made me question how far I would stick by you guys.

I went to the store, current phone all backed up on my laptop and ready to wipe, as by trading in my current device, I would receive a credit towards my new one. The less money spent, the better, right? I wanted to get a device on a ‘MyTab’ boost option (discounted phone, you pay a certain amount towards the phone each month – basically a fancy financing plan for your device) because again, cheaper.

The guy there tells me I must be on a Pay After plan for the MyTab boost, an option I wasn’t even aware of or offered when I started up with this provider. Either way, I’m fine with being billed for my usage after the fact, so I tell him I’ll gladly switch to this plan. He says he must check my credit – fine, call your headquarters, I’ve been approved for a mortgage, car loan and my own phone plan every time, so fire away.

His face sinks, and tells me that unfortunately I didn’t meet the credit requirements for a Pay After plan.

Sorry, what?

He says I still have the option to buy out the device flat out – um, no thanks. I came in expecting to spend maybe $500/$600, not over $1000. I go home, and start composing emails.

None of your ‘customer service experts’ were able to help me, just say that this is how it is, you must be on a Pay After plan (which I already know, as stated in my email) and that if the guy says I’m not eligible for this, I’m not eligible.

I wrote back that I might as well buy that device outright elsewhere, as it may be cheaper, and then I could at least qualify for the $5 off per month for bringing my own device again. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

“Regrettably, we are no longer offering credits for bring a phone from another provider or company to Freedom Mobile.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Basically, I’m boned either way. I will not be able to take advantage of Freedom’s LTE speeds because I cannot afford this phone. I tell you this, Customer Service agent, and your response has simply been “I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause”. Insert bottled response here.

In conclusion, I am forced to say that I don’t believe the MyTab boost option is actually available to anyone with anything less than stellar credit, and this means that your LTE service is not only more expensive than your other plans, but also not available to anyone who cannot buy your phone flat out (cheapest option is $600 outright, the only other phone is $1000).

If switching to another provider were financially viable, I would be leaving you in a heartbeat, but for the time being, you have me and my cell phone held captive in your service, not entirely unlike financial blackmail.

So thanks for that.

Sincerely,

A begrudgingly loyal customer,

Shawna Yanke

An Open Letter to the BC Teachers’ Federation – A Reflection on Military “Propaganda”

Note: The following letter was forwarded to me and is reprinted here with the author’s permission. The individual has asked that they remain anonymous to prevent any internal backlash. As today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, I felt obligated to reprint it today more than ever. 

Dear Sir or Madam,

It is regrettably with a heavy heart that I find myself writing to you today, and I wish to direct these words to whomever is responsible for the approval and creation of the poster found in the link included below:

http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/SocialJustice/Programs/GlobalEd/Military_Recruitement_Web.pdf

This poster was brought to my attention today by a colleague, and it is my understanding that it owes it’s creation to the Social Justice department of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation. I must admit that my initial feelings upon seeing this poster were that of outrage. Tempted as I was to call your organization and lodge a complaint, I decided instead to think about what I had seen and why someone might have thought that the creation and distribution of such nonsense might have been a good idea in the first place. As the afternoon wore on, I cooled off enough to get my thoughts in order and came to the conclusion that perhaps the individual or individuals, whatever the case may be, that generated this work may just be ignorant as to the function of the Canadian Armed Forces. Perhaps it was a case of best intentions gone horribly wrong, or maybe the heart was in the right place but the head was firmly stuck up the arse?

Whatever the case may be, this issue still needs to be addressed as I think the author of this work failed to take a number of things into consideration. But I must start with disclosing the fact that I am currently an active serving member of the CAF with 17 years of service, with multiple tours of duty, and many numerous operations both domestic and international. So perhaps my opinions on this subject does contain a certain amount of bias. That being said, when it comes to social issues facing Canadians today you won’t find a stronger supporter than me. I truly believe that the level of social development this country has achieved is what has made us a truly wonderful society. And although there is always room for improvement, you would be hard pressed finding a more diverse or inclusive land to live in. Values like these are what makes us unique in many regards, and many across the globe hold us in high esteem and as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world to emulate. It is values like these that make me proud to call myself a Canadian, and it is values like these and the people that hold them dear that I would do anything to protect. Which, as it happens, is why I do what I do. So that is why it breaks my heart to see those who claim to fight for social justice slander those of us who actively fight to protect it.

So lets look at the poster. Your poster is divided into two parts, or at least it is laid out that way on your website. The top half as I am looking at it asks “Are You Thinking About The Military?” in an uneven and gritty font seen often in numerous anti-drug posters from the 80’s, no doubt this was done to really jump out and grab the attention of the youth you are so worried about losing to the brainwashing of Canada’s mighty and fearsome military juggernaut. The rest of the first page goes on to encourage prospective recruits to ask questions to themselves, their family, and their recruiter. Now this portion I can totally get behind 100%, as these are all very good and important questions that should be asked before making a decision. Pursuing any career requires plenty of foresight and careful consideration, and the military is no different. What irks me is not the first page, which is good food for thought for anyone toying with the idea of a career in defense, but the second page.

Here, the gears get switched here as the author(s) attempt to build a case against the defense of their own country. The first point on the poster encourages the readers to raise awareness with teachers that military recruiting is a social justice issue. That is false. Military recruiting is no more a social justice issue than picking up after your dog is an environmental issue, or losing a loonie in the couch cushions is an economic issue.

The next two bullets instructs teachers to report the sightings of recruiters to their unions, and for students to report the same to their teachers. In this case it feels like the creator is somehow drawing comparisons that men and women in uniform should be treated no differently than some stranger in a dirty trench coat skulking down the halls of a public school. Not to mention missing the fact that recruiters do not show up unannounced and uninvited to places of learning. When they do show up, it  is arranged ahead of time and usually coincides with a career day or a job fair. Military recruiters do not, I repeat do not hide outside in the bushes ready to grab the first kid they see and throw them in the back of a cargo truck to be shipped off to war. Really the whole tone of this second page is rather alarmist while being short on actual facts.

Bullet number four encourages educators to teach all sides of the story to the students, as well as the sobering facts and figures that come with it. This I actually do respect and encourage as well. However if the teachers who are supposedly teaching all sides of the story from an unbiased perspective are the same ones who can’t tell the difference between recruiters and pedophiles lurking in the halls, then I think that any hope on encouraging fair and thoughtful discussions in our classrooms is probably lost.

Moving on, point five encourages us to support counter-recruitment programs in schools. Well we certainly don’t want our kids to find jobs, do we? No, better to get an arts degree and live in your parents basement suite until you’re 38. Point six, pretty much just an extension of point five. The materials used I imagine are probably construction paper, glue sticks, and lies.

Point seven provides a link to another webpage, one that at first I couldn’t tell if it was actually being serious or not. At times, Operation Objection seems to depart from reality altogether and devolve into some sort of self parody that had me scratching my head in confusion. If these are the kinds of resources your department is using as a tool for developing social justice policies, then I think you may need to pump the brakes and take two steps back from the whole campaign while you give your head a shake. At the very least try to reach out to other groups and get some educated opinions on defense policy, and try not to rely solely on a website that claims that the cadet program is Canada’s effort to raise an army of child soldiers. Really, I can’t even be upset with them because the nonsense being spewed is so surreal.

The next point encourages the public to do what they can to counter “military propaganda”. Now, I’m not sure what you consider military propaganda to be, and quite frankly I’m a little bit confused by this one. With a budget of only 0.9% of the country’s GDP, we can’t even afford to keep our aging aircraft flying, let alone run some sort of slick propaganda machine to brain wash the masses. What exactly do you consider propaganda to be in this case anyway? Would that be recruitment posters? Cause that’s not actually propaganda, those are the equivalent to “Help Wanted” adds. I’m sure you don’t open the news paper in the morning, flip to the classifieds, and say to yourself “Aha! There’s a job opening at Sears, this is a prime example of Retail Propaganda!”. Of course you don’t, that would be very silly. The rest of the points on the poster I’m not going to bother touching, it’s late here and if you haven’t figured it out yet then a few more lines probably won’t help any.

I’ll finish this off by saying that despite your best intentions, I found this poster to be grossly offensive and I consider it a personal slap to the face after spending the last 17 years serving my country and people the best way I knew how. If there is anything you can take away from this letter, let it be this. We’re not monsters, murderers, political party hacks, or shills for the military industrial complex. We are public servants, nothing more nothing less. And we take great pride in serving the public, even when at times the public doesn’t seem to reciprocate those feelings. We do our jobs the best we can, despite the fact that we are short on equipment, funding, and people. Somehow we still manage to get the job done, despite all these challenges. And despite the great cost that all to often comes with the job. The hardships, the injuries, the fractured families, the lives lost, all to serve the public.

To serve Canada, the people, and all they stand for, that’s what they do. And for your department to spit in the face of all we have accomplished, all we have sacrificed, and have the audacity to call that “social justice”? Well, I guess some people just don’t get it. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, and I will go to the ceremony and pay my respects to those who have fallen. Those who decided to give instead of take. Then I will go home, pour myself a drink, and think long and hard about the friends I’ve seen come and go through the years. Those who gave and were injured in such ways that they couldn’t give any more, those who became frustrated at the bureaucratic red tape and the disrespect from misguided campaigns such as this and left the service frustrated and broken, and those who gave their lives because at the end of the day there was nothing left to give. I will think of them all for a long time, about who they were, what they did, and what they stood for. I shall reflect on them for a long time. Then I will think about your department, this campaign of yours, and all the good it has achieved.

I won’t have to think about that for very long.
Regards,

[Redacted]

 

Note: Because today is Remembrance Day, and in light of the above message being spread by the BC Teacher’s Federation, it seems appropriate to end this post with In Flanders Field by John McCrae, composed on the battlefield on May 3rd, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Guest Blog – Burn the Bra Week 2

It has been a hellish two weeks at work and I completely forgot to post this. I am so, so sorry Shawna! Forgive meeeeeee!

 

Hello to all of you Kathleen followers, I’m back!

I’ve just finished week 2 of Project #FreeTheNips and I have to say, I’m becoming more and more disenchanted in many ways, but oddly enough… I don’t know if I want to go back…

If you’re 100% confused and have no clue what I’m talking about, I encourage you to read my first post from week 1 of my month of no bra challenge, which can be found here.

So let’s pick up where we left off, yes?

Last Friday, we were just returning home from a meeting with our new landlord to get the keys to our new apartment. We have now moved, and I must say that moving sans bra was a blessing and a curse. A curse because it was somewhat frustrating to not have a ‘shelf’ of sorts to rest things on. I use my boobs (when they provide the help) to store things on, and mostly hold things, not unlike a hand without fingers. Trying to get your keys out of your purse and unlock your apartment door while holding a piping hot to-go cup of tea? Eh, just squeeze your tea between your tatas and free up some hand space. It’s convenient. Every girl does it, and some of us even admit to doing it.

Needless to say, I can’t do this now. If I was carrying boxes out to the car and I had something precariously perched on top (say, Kathleen’s book, for example), my boobs were not available to catch said item and it would fall sadly to the ground. This happened a lot. I am terribly uncoordinated, and whoever thought that giving me big boxes with loose items in/on them deserves to have their stuff dropped.

Speaking of stuff in boxes, I have no idea where 90% of my wardrobe is. In week 1, I was able to choose only the least exposing tops I own to wear to work. When everything is packed away, and you don’t have the foresight to go through the boxes or pick your outfit for the next day, your choices are somewhat (read: extremely) limited and therefore scary. That emotion brings me to my next point about the negative side of this; the anxiety. As I mentioned in my last post, I honestly don’t know how society is viewing this whole experiment. I’m very aware of the fact that my boobs, being the modest B cup they are, are pointy. Not just when I’m cold or aroused, but they are very Madonna-bra-esque. To me, this makes it seem a lot more obvious when I’m not wearing a bra. So I tried asking people.

I told coworkers and friends that I’m doing this, and they ask if I’m wearing one now. I respond honestly and they are shocked that they can’t tell. They then ask about the results (so far) and I tell them what I’ll tell you all now: so far, it’s made many things a lot more difficult, but I can’t decide if it’s worth it or not.

I can’t decide if I want to put it back on and never speak of this time again (because let’s face it, the girls look decidedly more even and therefore better with a bra), or continue on and go bra-less the majority of the time. I mentioned before that moving without a bra was a blessing in some ways. I found that my spacial awareness is somehow better without the bra. The bras I buy are, well, comfortable, that’s why I buy them. They are also push-up bras. (Side note: Again, I can admit it – I’m not well endowed, and they look rounder and better defined with a push-up.

Despite being as comfortable as possible, they tend to throw me off. The girls are being pulled upwards and supported by straps reaching over my shoulders and latching onto another tie about mid-upper back level. They say that bras are terrible for posture, and so it makes sense that it’s easier to throw yourself off if your posture isn’t good. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but whether it’s the posture or the lack of skin-stifling fabric being pulled against my chest, I feel a lot less out of place.

One last thing I have to tell you guys about, mostly because it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for at least a decade, and I’m surprised by its appearance in this matter.

I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes severe but most times manageable. I had been reading about these blankets that you can buy that are weighted throughout the blanket, and for some reason (primal nature, perhaps?) these weighted blankets can help reduce or eliminate anxiety attacks when you put them on. I haven’t done a lot of research on it, but I have been thinking on it, and I feel that not having the bra on during the day has led to slightly more stress for me. This could be due to the fact that I think people know I’m not wearing a bra (which is not widely accepted, socially speaking) or because the compression is actually keeping me from going into my anxiety-driven downward spiral. It’s probably a touch of both, but at this point, I don’t think I will continue to wear nothing underneath my shirts.

That’s about it for this week, I will be sure to keep you guys updated next Friday. The next hurdle for the #FreeTheNips movement (it’s a thing with a hashtag now – tell your friends!) is going to the gym. I’ll talk again next Friday! In the meantime, go buy Kathleen’s book, Between Fire and Pines!

 

Shawna

Guest Blog: Burn the Bra, Week 1

I am deep in the middle of finishing book 2 and haven’t had a chance to do a proper blog in a long while. Fortunately my Backpack Bestie, Shawna, has begun a glorious social experiment and I was more than willing to let her use this space to document her experiences! Take it away, Shawna! 

-Kathleen

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