Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - Satur­day, Au­gust 11, 2012 Break­ing news at calgaryher­

Alo­cal re­searcher known for his dis­cov­ery of sev­eral ce­les­tial bod­ies is set­ting his sights on a goal closer to home: im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion for Canada’s abo­rig­i­nal youth.

Rob Car­di­nal, a re­search as­so­ciate at the Univer­sity of Cal­gary, has launched a project to in­stall tele­scopes in First Nations com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince.

He hopes The First Light Ini­tia­tive will get kids in­ter­ested in learn­ing about sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

At the same time, the tele­scopes will help kids con­nect to the stars, the sky and the nat­u­ral world — all of which fig­ure promi­nently in the cul­tural tra­di­tions and le­gends of Canada’s First Nations com­mu­ni­ties.

“This is a time when we talk a lot about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. If we can use these tele­scopes to get kids in­ter­ested in their own ed­u­ca­tion — well, for me, that’s a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with my own past.”

If any­one could con­vince kids that stay­ing in school is worth­while, it’s Car­di­nal. His own story is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

He was adopted off the Sik­sika Na­tion re­serve as an in­fant and raised by a sin­gle white mother in Ed­mon­ton and Rocky Moun­tain House. As a teen, he strug­gled with de­pres­sion, racism, rage and, even­tu­ally, drug and al­co­hol abuse.

By Grade 12, he had dropped out of high school and was liv­ing on the streets. “I hit rock bot­tom when I was 19. I’d been drink­ing and do­ing drugs for a cou­ple of years and I woke up on a side­walk some­where. I was get­ting sick and I had nowhere to go and no money.”

He called his mother and she told him to go to an ad­dic­tion treat­ment cen­tre.

And that’s what he did. It was a turn­ing point for Car­di­nal. Over the next few years, he cleaned him­self up, and found work and a steady girl­friend (who is now his wife of 23 years). He fin­ished his high school ed­u­ca­tion, earn­ing ter­rific grades. His marks were so good he de­cided to go to univer­sity and spe­cial­ize in as­tro­physics.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing his de­gree, Car­di­nal de­vel­oped spe­cial soft­ware that de­tects mov­ing ob­jects in the sky, such as as­ter­oids. Us­ing this soft­ware, Car­di­nal dis­cov­ered two comets, both named af­ter him, and one near-Earth as­ter­oid.

His first comet dis­cov­ery in 2008 sparked the idea for the First Light Ini­tia­tive.

“I re­al­ized then that this recog­ni­tion wasn’t just an hon­our — it was a re­spon­si­bil­ity. I would be looked up to as a role model, par­tic­u­larly among the abo­rig­i­nal community, and I could not shirk that.”

He ini­tially wanted to in­stall a tele­scope on his home re­serve at the Sik­sika Na­tion. But he re­ceived so much sup­port for the project early on that he de­cided to aim big­ger and put tele­scopes in First Nations com­mu­ni­ties throughout Al­berta and, then, the rest of Canada.

This sum­mer, Carl­son and the board of di­rec­tors of­fi­cially launched The First Light Ini­tia­tive and are now in the process of in­cor­po­rat­ing. They’ve al­ready re­ceived one tele­scope by do­na­tion, which will likely be in­stalled at the First Nations re­serve in Eden Val­ley, near Longview.

The next ma­jor steps for the project are to se­cure fund­ing and community sup­port. The lat­ter will be the big­ger is­sue, says Car­di­nal. “Putting in the tele­scopes, buy­ing the tele­scopes is the easy part. It’s the ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram that goes along with it, the sup­port and net­work­ing that is much more sig­nif­i­cant.”

Car­di­nal is reach­ing out to First Nations elders who much month left at the end of the money? It’s good to be pru­dent be­cause then you’ll have money for your good­ies.

This week: You are still very in­volved with home, fam­ily and your do­mes­tic scene. Re­la­tions with sib­lings are warm ex­cept there could be a lit­tle ex­plo­sion mid-week. (It’s tough to keep your shirt on when you have to get some­thing off your chest.)

Gemini (May 21 -June 20) To­day: To­day you feel that God’s in Her heaven and all’s right with the world. You feel so happy, en­er­getic and gen­er­ous you’re ready to give ev­ery­one a hug. (Well, al­most ev­ery­one.) Ac­tu­ally, this is the kind of day where you will get back what­ever you give so you might want to think about that.

Sun­day: You’re as­sertive to­day, which is why peo­ple will look to you for lead­er­ship. You might be ea­ger to start some­thing but you won’t be rash. You’ll do your home­work and think things through care­fully be­cause you want a pre­dictable out­come. (Good luck.)

This week: With Jupiter in your sign now for the first time since 2001, you are re­ceiv­ing all kinds of for­tu­nate lit­tle good­ies, favours from the uni­verse and op­por­tu­ni­ties. Un­ex­pected job of­fers might come your way this week. Can­cer (June 21 -July 22) To­day: You feel a deeper con­cern for the ba­sics in life to­day. You will wel­come dis­cus­sions that are meta­phys­i­cal or spir­i­tu­ally in­sight­ful, some­thing be­yond Capt. Mar­vel comic books. (Al­though “Holy Amaz­ing!” Spi­der-Man and Bat­man comics do have their share of wis­dom.

Sun­day: This is an ex­cel­lent day to do re­search, or back­ground checks, or seek out so­lu­tions and an­swers to old prob­lems. For one thing, you have the men­tal en­ergy to fol­low through on your ef­forts. Plus you won’t mind do­ing rou­tine work.

This week: Easy to be gra­cious and charm­ing with oth­ers be­cause fair Venus is in your sign right now. (Plus you look great.) How­ever, mid-week a lit­tle cat­tle prod can pass onto kids some of the tra­di­tional sto­ries about the night sky.

Marie Delorme, CEO of The Imag­i­na­tion Group, a pri­vate con­sult­ing firm spe­cial­iz­ing in abo­rig­i­nal eco­nomic and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, agrees.

“Be­fore mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, peo­ple nav­i­gated not only by the phys­i­cal world on earth but also the stars, and all sto­ries em­pha­size our con­nec­tion to all things, on land or in the sky.”

She says the tele­scopes will help en­gage kids with the world around them, which will trans­late into more in­ter­est in ed­u­ca­tion and their community.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally ig­nite an in­ter­est in in­dige­nous chil­dren.”

Canada’s First Nations youth have dropout rates far over other Cana­di­ans. In 2006, 40 per cent of abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple aged 20 to 24 did not have a high-school diploma, com­pared to 13 per cent among non-abo­rig­i­nal Cana­di­ans. The dropout rate was even higher for First Nations liv­ing on re­serves and for Inuit liv­ing in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 — Jan. 19) To­day: An easy day at work, for sure. Workre­lated travel will please you. All your deal­ings with fe­male cus­tomers or fe­male co-work­ers will be par­tic­u­larly up­beat. You might do some­thing that earns you a raise or some praise. It’s a good day.


You can be pro­duc­tive at work to­day. Whether you’re work­ing in a paid job or just work­ing for your­self at some task, you might be sur­prised at how much you’ll get done. You don’t like waste and you do like re­sults for your ef­forts. That’s why you’ll keep slog­ging away to­day.

This week: Tread care­fully. You feel in­tense about many sit­u­a­tions, as you well know. Fur­ther­more, your am­bi­tion is aroused and you’re very keen to get things done. This is why you won’t be happy when you have a clash with some­one in author­ity. You’re very pur­pose­ful now and some­thing or some­one stands in your way.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 — Feb. 18) To­day: This is a lovely day for sports events, ro­man­tic en­coun­ters, va­ca­tions, par­ties and play­ful times with chil­dren. Ev­ery­one is in a good mood be­cause they feel par­tic­u­larly big-hearted to each other.

Sun­day: Dis­cus­sions about the care and ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren will be prof­itable to­day. Sim­i­larly, se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions, in­clud­ing long-range plans about sports, will also go well and no doubt cre­ate mean­ing- hits this planet pro­vok­ing up­sets with oth­ers, which means you will have to pull out stops to dis­play grace un­der pres­sure. Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22) To­day: This is a fab­u­lous day to schmooze with oth­ers, es­pe­cially in group sit­u­a­tions. You will en­joy classes, ca­sual meet­ings or large con­fer­ences. You will es­pe­cially en­joy help­ing fam­i­lies and women friends.

Sun­day: Some­one older or more ex­pe­ri­enced might have ex­cel­lent ad­vice for you to­day. In fact, what­ever they say might re­ally en­er­gize you in some way; you might even want to com­pete with their re­sults. Peo­ple in a group might want to fol­low your lead.

This week: The sun, Mer­cury and the New Moon are in your sign this week. (It’s all about you, dahling.) This heavy Leo em­pha­sis at­tracts peo­ple and favourable cir­cum­stances to you. How­ever, your diplo­matic skills will be tested mid-week. Virgo (Aug. 23 — Sept. 22)

To­day: You will eas­ily make a great im­pres­sion on im­por­tant peo­ple to­day or any author­ity fig­ure — bosses, par­ents, teach­ers and VIPs. They will think you are the cat’s meow.

Sun­day: For some rea­son, some per­sonal de­tails of your pri­vate life might be rather pub­lic to­day — per­haps fi­nan­cial mat­ters. Quite likely, oth­ers will see how se­ri­ous you are about your work and how hard you do work. (Surely this will stand you in good stead.)

This week: You’re still work­ing be­hind the scenes. Re­la­tions with oth­ers, es­pe­cially artis­tic friends, are re­ward­ing. But be­ware! Watch out for an up­set­ting ex­pe­ri­ence mid-week. Some­one might tell you off or vice versa or the friend­ship could end. This could be a dis­pute about money or some­thing you own. Libra (Sept. 23 — Oct. 22)

To­day: This is a fab­u­lous day to travel some­where. You will be in­trigued to see dif­fer­ent places, es­pe­cially if you can learn some­thing new. Peo­ple from dif­fer­ent background­s and other cul­tures will fas­ci­nate you. Seek out dis­cus­sions about phi­los­o­phy, re­li­gion and pro­found sub­jects be­cause you’ll en­joy them.

Sun­day: This is a won­der­ful day to tackle a se­ri­ous sub­ject or study some­thing be­cause you have the men­tal en­ergy plus the fo­cus that you’ll need. An older teacher or gu­ru­like fig­ure might help you. Quite pos­si­bly, you will be per­ceived as the teacher to some­one else. Who knows?

This week: Your pop­u­lar­ity is strong now. En­joy schmooz­ing and hav­ing a good time with oth­ers. Fair Venus is high in your chart paving the way for suc­cess­ful re­la­tions with author­ity fig­ures. (You win on all counts.) How­ever, your re­la­tion­ship with an author­ity fig­ure will be shaky this week. Un­ex­pected news might catch you off guard.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 -Nov. 21) To­day: Oth­ers will be gen­er­ous to you to­day so keep your pock­ets open. This is a great day to dis­cuss how to share some­thing or how to di­vide an in­her­i­tance or deal with in­sur­ance dis­putes. When the dust set­tles, you’ll be laugh­ing all the way to the bank.

Sun­day: This is an ex­cel­lent day to tackle red-tape de­tails about debt, taxes, in­sur­ance mat­ters, in­her­i­tances, wills, es­tates — all that stuff. (So easy to put it off, isn’t it?) But to­day you feel up for it! Roll up your sleeves and be­gin be­cause you will love clear­ing this away.

This week: The Sun con­tin­ues to throw you in the lime­light, which is why oth­ers notice you now. Dis­cus­sions with author­ity fig­ures are use­ful and friendly. Travel for plea­sure still ap­peals. How­ever, there is an ac­ci­dent-prone influence mid-week, so be care­ful.

Sagit­tar­ius (Nov. 22 — Dec. 21) To­day: Re­la­tions with part­ners and close friends are es­pe­cially up­beat and friendly to­day. It’s easy for ev­ery­one to be kind and sup­port­ive. Ac­tiv­i­ties with clubs and groups will be spon­ta­neously up­beat and wel­com­ing.

Sun­day: Dis­cus­sions with part­ners and close friends (and pos­si­bly with groups) will be quite se­ri­ous. Peo­ple are con­cerned with long-range plans and fu­ture re­sults. You don’t want pie-in-the-sky pro­jec­tions; they want prac­ti­cal facts and solid re­sults.

This week: You still want to get outta Dodge be­cause you need a change of scenery! Any es­cape will thrill you. But hey, if you can’t travel phys­i­cally, you might travel through books and film. Do what you can to ex­pand your hori­zons and your ex­pe­ri­ence of life. This week sur­prises with debt, shared prop­erty, taxes, in­sur­ance mat­ters and in­her­i­tances might oc­cur. ful re­sults for ev­ery­one con­cerned. Peo­ple want to know what to ex­pect.

This week: The Sun, Mer­cury and the New Moon all op­pose your sign, which means your fo­cus is to­tally on part­ner­ships and close friend­ships. Nat­u­rally, the New Moon on Fri­day is a fab­u­lous op­por­tu­nity for you (the best all year) to think about how to im­prove your re­la­tion­ships. Pisces (Feb. 19 -March 20)

To­day: This is a won­der­ful day for real-es­tate op­por­tu­ni­ties. (Truly!) It’s also a great day to en­ter­tain at home and en­joy good times with fam­ily mem­bers. Peo­ple feel gen­er­ous to­ward each other and ev­ery­one seems happy to share each other’s com­pany.

Sun­day: Make plans for house re­pairs or even for prac­ti­cal out­comes re­gard­ing a fam­ily mem­ber. Peo­ple are in a rel­a­tively se­ri­ous frame of mind, ready to sit down and dis­cuss these things.

This week: You’re work­ing to get bet­ter or­ga­nized, which is good. In fact, the New Moon on Fri­day is the best time all year to make a big To Do list about how you can bet­ter or­ga­nize your life, es­pe­cially your work. This list might also in­clude what you can do to im­prove your health.

Ac­tress Vi­ola Davis (1965) shares your birthday to­day. You have a strong de­sire to get to the bot­tom of things and re­veal the truth. In fact, some of you are whistle­blow­ers. You have in­sight into hu­man na­ture and you’re not afraid to tackle huge projects and put them in per­spec­tive.

Writer/for­mer US Marine An­thony Swof­ford (1970) shares your birthday to­day. You have a nat­u­ral sense of the­atre and are quick to grasp the big pic­ture. You live a busy life. You be­lieve in the ex­cel­lence of your craft; you also value tradition and time-hon­oured ways of do­ing things.

Christina Ryan/calgary Her­ald

Astro­physi­cist Rob Car­di­nal is reach­ing out to First Na­tions el­ders who can pass onto kids some of the tra­di­tional sto­ries about the night sky.

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