Saturday, 31 October 2015

Top 10 Reflections on the Character Canada Conference

Character Canada Confernece, Oct. 23 - 24, 2015

By Vijay Manuel, Principal at Abbotsford Traditional Middle School, Character Abbotsford Director, Chair of the Conference Planning Committee

I've spent some time reflecting on Canada's first national conference on character which took place in Abbotsford, BC, Canada on October 23 - 24, 2015.  There were nearly 300 delegates representing 3 provinces and over 10 different cities.

Here are my Top 10 Reflections on the Character Canada Conference.

  1. From seed to flowering plant. What a journey over the past four-plus years to get to this point!
  2. So many leaders; not one, but many!  It has taken an army of people to take this vision from a picture in the minds of a few to what we are seeing today.  Many local, provincial, national and international connections have shared their passions, skills & influence directly to give this vision the traction is has now achieved. Amazing!  Thank you.
  3. It's critical that we do something to intentionally build character wherever we carry influence. This will yield fantastic results over time! But what if we do nothing at all?
  4. Character truly unites us. Whether you voted red, blue, orange or green in the last Canadian election, we all want to live in respectful, responsible & caring communities; essentially safe places to dream and try!
  5. In the words of Dr. Avis Glaze, We have a moral imperative to do this work.
  6. What must take place for this work to be successful?  Each one of us, once we've heard the vision, must grab hold and make it our own. We must lead with character within our spheres of influence to inspire those around around us to do the same.
  7. It's all about being intentional. The culture of our homes, work places, communities and ultimately our country won't be strong and filled with integrity by chance.
  8. It's not about being perfect.  We all make mistakes. Perhaps our response to the mistakes we make is the biggest indicator of the depth of our character.
  9. We have truly meaningful 'character' connections across Canada. A luncheon took place following the conference with representatives from Toronto, Calgary, Abbotsford and Langley.  A plan was created and put into action that will build on these connections for years to come.
  10. This is only the beginning.  The Character Abbotsford Board of Directors have given their approval for a second conference to take place on October 21, 2016.  Mark your calendars!
Visit to view more pictures, sign up to our partner list and for more information on the movement in Abbotsford visit

Friday, 26 September 2014

How Does It Work in Schools?

Common Language of Character
Step one is to establish what good character will look like in your school community. In order for this list of values to have a meaningful impact on your school culture for years to come consider the following:
1. Involve staff, students, parents and community connections in the process of identifying your values
2. Ensure that the process is an open one; anyone should be welcome to participate
3. Strategically invite key student leaders from the various groups within your school population

Character Council
Establish a student led group that will lead the charge to model the values daily and to intentionally promote them in your building. This mandate could be given to an existing leadership group or to a new 'Character Council' group of students. Their job will be to live out the values in your classrooms, hallways, sports teams, shops and arts rooms. They will also need to find ways to broadcast your shared values to the student population both physically and through social media campaigns.

Professional Development
Provide the necessary funding for your staff to visit other schools on a similar path and to invite character speakers into your staff pro-d sessions. You will know that you are well on your way when your common language of character is seen in the hallways, on your website, outlined in class outlines & planners and spoken about in teachable moments throughout the day!
Some resources to help in your journey:
1. Character Abbotsford | EmailWebTwitter
2. Character Education Partnership | EmailWebTwitter

New Staff and Students
Part of your long-term strategy will need to include a way to orient new staff to your school. The question is, "What does it mean to be a [insert your mascot here]?" Additionally, how will you welcome new students to your school? What will they be told about the values in the building and, again, what it means to be a [insert your mascot here]?
Some ideas (all student led, of course):
1. Offer a camp to introduce students from your feeder schools to your character values
2. Invite students who will be moving up into your school system to a orientation day
3. Put on a character week for your student body filled with activities and events that promote your values

Questions or comments? Email Us

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Strat Planning Session

Members of the Character Abbotsford Council met today to discuss ways to engage our champions.

The group was able to develop a structure around a Champions Kit which will be given to all of our current 90 champions as well as any new additions.

Please consider joining our growing number of community champions at

Thursday, 18 September 2014

We are thrilled to share the new name, logo and look of the character movement in our community!

Character Abbotsford is a grassroots movement focused on aligning the behaviour of the people within the community of Abbotsford under a common set of values.
We aim to strike the core of individuals to think about how they contribute to society and to inspire their behaviour in order to do the right thing. each and every person. each and every time. And not because they are dictated to, but rather, because they feel it in that place where sense of civic pride lives strongest... in their hearts.
Follow: @characterabby

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Youth Engaged in Service

Youth Engaged in Service – YES
Date: July 11, 2013
For Immediate Release

(ABBOTSFORD The Abbotsford Youth Commission is pleased to announce their new year-long project YES! YES aka Youth Engaged in Service was the brainchild of AYC Executive Director, Bev Olfert, who was looking for another way to weave the Abbotsford City of Character values of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Empathy, Courage and Service into their programming.
The AYC has been working on teaching the youth about all six of the values but has decided to focus on the value of Service for the coming year. Research has shown that youth who give back to their community feel more connected to their community and as a result engage in less negative behaviours and responses.  Therefore, the YES project will focus on teaching youth about volunteerism and will provide youth with the opportunity to participate in service projects that they design and ultimately carry out. Benefits expected by this program will be that youth in our community will connect with the concept of Service in such a way that it becomes a part of who they are and a part of their culture and experience as they grow into adulthood.
The project started this week and the youth have already done their first YES service project. On Tuesday afternoon, nine youth left the air conditioned comfort of our youth centre and hopped the city bus and headed over to the Food Bank to volunteer. They unloaded the food truck in record time and the staff there had to scramble to find other work for them to do. The youth were exhausted and dripping with sweat when they got back to the youth centre, but they were also happy to have been able to help! “This project has already been life-changing for our youth”, said Olfert. “One of our regular youth who generally has a pessimistic outlook and often acts out negatively at school and in our centre asked to join the YES group. Though thestaff were nervous, I encouraged them to give him a chance. He was the ‘star pupil’ at the planning meeting and you can see the difference in him already. He feels good about himself. He is seeing himself in a new light; a person who helps others.”
The YES group is already on to their next service project which is to raise funds for the Cyrus Centre. The youth chose the Cyrus Centre because they all knew youth who had been helped by this organization in the past. YES will be hosting multiple lemonade, ice cream and BBQ sales in and around the area of ARC in the coming weeks. Be sure to buy some of their treats, as 100% of sales will benefit the Cyrus Centre. We are grateful to Thrifty Foods for providing the food supplies for the sales. The youth are hoping to double the donation from Thrifty Foods and pass those funds along to the Cyrus Centre.
This project is getting off the ground due to the generous financial support of the Rotary Club of Abbotsford. The AYC is currently seeking additional funders for this project so please contact us if you are interested in being a part of this exciting venture.
For more information about the Abbotsford Youth Commission,
Bev Olfert
Executive Director
Abbotsford Youth Commission

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Giving Back to the Community (AYC)

The Abbotsford Youth Commission’s Youth Drop-In center located at MRC showed their support for the Abbotsford City of Character in February by giving back to their community. The Youth Focus program is a group of youth who demonstrate leadership qualities in the youth center and who are striving to learn and develop their leadership skills. The youth each selected an organization, within walking distance of the MRC, which they believe demonstrates one or more of the City of Character values. They each hand painted a rock with the City of Character word of their choice and wrote a small speech explaining why they believe the organization demonstrates the characteristic. Together they selected the following eleven community organizations:

MRC front desk staff
MRC lifeguards
Christine Lamb Center
Upper Fraser Valley Developmental Preschool
Howe Middle School
Mouat Secondary School
Abbotsford Fire Department
Abbotsford Police Department
Victim Services
Abbotsford Youth Commission

When the youth presented the ‘service rock’ to the preschool, the teacher was nearly moved to tears.
She thanked the youth profusely for taking the time to recognize their organization. At the Abbotsford
Police Department, our youth representative even asked for more members of the police force to
come listen to her speech because she felt that passionately about their commitment to demonstrating
courage in our community. All of the youth involved in this project came back from hand delivering
their rocks with a sense of pride and accomplishment; they felt proud of themselves for taking the time
to serve their community, even in the smallest way.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Applying Character in Difficult Times

Jenn Schotts | @abbynews |
The month of March marks the 2 year anniversary of my daughter's complete release from a six month stay at BC Children's Hospital and recovery from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. To say that this disease has had a tremendous impact on the lives of our family, would be an understatement. This impact, however, is not always as negative as one may think.

As a member of the City of Character executive, I often think about our core 6 values, and the role that they play in my everyday life.

Courage: of my brave, and brilliant 7 year old daughter and her sweet brothers.

Empathy: of the fellow parents in the oncology ward at BCCH who always took the time to ask how Sydney was doing during treatment while their own families suffered through such tough times.

Service: from the outstanding team of doctors and nurses, and entire team at BCCH who never seem to tire of offering the most incredible customer service you could even imagine.

Respect: for our healthcare system, our bodies own ability to heal, and the ways that cancer treatment has changed and is still changing in recent years.

Integrity: of my close friends and family who kept their word and were always there for us

Responsibility: that a parent has to their child(ren) to maintain a positive outlook a happy disposition to make challenging times easier for them.

I am a proud member of the Abbotsford City of Character council and am thrilled to do my best to carry out the six City of Character values as so many have done for me.

~ Jenn Schotts | @abbynews |