The Stollery Manœuver
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
How one Alberta healthcare foundation is using its money and muscle to sell gender ideology to kids.
By Eva Kurilova
Funded by charitable organizations with an interest in child healthcare, SOGI 1 2 3 is seeking to push gender identity ideology into Alberta’s schools.
SOGI 1 2 3 is the sole project of the ARC Foundation, a registered charity in British Columbia, that first launched in BC during the 2016/2017 school year and is now in every school district. It then launched during the 2017/2018 school year in Alberta, where it is currently in six school districts in and around Edmonton and poised to expand.
Couched in the language of anti-bullying, SOGI 1 2 3 pushes ideological, unscientific, and harmful ideas on K through 12 students. Its primary claim is spelled out on the For Parents section of the main SOGI Education website:
SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity. Since we all have a sexual orientation and gender identity, it includes all of us.
This goes in tandem with the vision of the ARC Foundation:
A world where children and youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities live authentic lives.
They seek to accomplish this through the SOGI 1 2 3 program, where the "1 2 3" refers to three steps for creating the right kind of educational environment.
The first step is to make policies that "hold everyone accountable and protect students and teachers calling for justice." The SOGI 1 2 3 Guidelines for Best Practices give a good example of what these policies should look like.
For example, the second guideline calls for referring to all individuals by their "chosen name and pronouns," including neopronouns like "ze," and "zir." Children must be affirmed in their gender identity, and self-identification is the "sole measure" needed to refer to a child by a different name and pronouns. Parental permission or consultation is not required and may sometimes be actively avoided. The guidelines specifically state:
[It is important to] protect a student’s personal information and privacy, including, where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.
Other concerning guidelines include minimizing sex-segregated activities, basing participation in extracurricular activities on gender identity, and ensuring access to washrooms and changing rooms based on gender identity. When implemented, these kinds of policies erode private spaces and sex-segregated activities and opportunities for girls. They allow any boy who says he is a girl access to girls' sports, washrooms, and changing rooms.
The second step of the SOGI program is about creating "inclusive environments" filled with "symbols, language, and opportunities" to welcome diverse students. For example, the SOGI-Inclusive Classroom checklist on the SOGI Education website instructs teachers to:
Ensure SOGI-inclusive books and novels available in your school or classroom library. Use textbooks, magazines, novels, films, and images that include examples of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
Make sure the posters and visual representations on classroom walls reflect diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
The third and final step involves providing ready-to-use lesson plans for every grade level. For example, a Physical and Health Education lesson plan for grade 8 and 9 students instructs educators to use the Gender Unicorn or Genderbread Person to explore the "spectrums" of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. There is nothing scientific about these ideas, but they are taught to students as settled concepts.
SOGI 1 2 3 in Alberta is implemented through collaboration with the Alberta Teachers' Association and funded by donations from the Stollery Charitable Foundation, the Edmonton Community Foundation, and the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. Each of these donors was procured by the ARC Foundation.
The ARC Foundation was established in 2008 by former mining CEO Robert Quartermain, entrepreneur Mark Prior, and founding President of Canadian Men’s Health Foundation Wayne Hartrick, each of whom currently sits on the board of directors. While it aims to impose this program into schools, the foundation is not an educational organization, a fact that is specifically stated on their website:
ARC Foundation is now using its unique skills and position to explicitly lead and grow SOGI 1 2 3 in scope, impact, and geographical reach, still humbly not as educators, but as enablers.
The main source of funding for SOGI 1 2 3 in Alberta is the Stollery Charitable Foundation, a private family foundation that funds charities in Edmonton and Kamloops. It provided seed funding of $50,000 for the 2017/2018 school year and donated $60,000 for the project's continued growth in the 2018/19 school year. More recently, in the spring of 2021, the foundation made another, much larger donation of $224,600 to the ARC Foundation.
The Stollery Charitable Foundation was created by Bob and Shirley Stollery in 1994. A civil engineer, Bob Stollery graduated from the University of Alberta before becoming president, chairman, and CEO of PCL Construction. He passed away in 2007, and Shirley became the new president of the Stollery Charitable Foundation. After Shirley passed away in 2011, the foundation continued to be privately run by the Stollery's adult children and their spouses.
The foundation and the Stollery family are best known for the Stollery Children's Hospital, a full-service children's hospital located in Edmonton that was established in 2001. Bob and Shirley Stollery provided significant funding for its construction and, by bed count, it is today the largest children's hospital west of Toronto. The Stollery family continues to be involved in fundraising for the hospital, which is carried out through the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation.
It is not widely known that the Stollery Children's Hospital is home to the Stollery Children’s Transgender Clinic. In fact, no mention of this clinic is made on the hospital's website. However, the clinic was involved in a study published in Pediatrics on November 1, 2021 about children referred to gender clinics across Canada for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. The clinic has been in operation for several years now, as it was mentioned in the March 2017 edition of Alberta Street News by an Edmonton mother trying to access transition services for her underage son:
There is a transgender clinic at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and when she reaches puberty, she can take hormone blockers.
"She is not there yet,’ said Laura, “Not until six months after puberty.”
The Stollery Charitable Foundation also funds a transition service hub in Edmonton known as The Centre, which, according to their website, provides "quality and timely care to the transgender, non-binary and gender diverse persons in northern Alberta." Just some of the transition-related services offered at The Centre include psychological and psychiatric care, hormonal transition, electrolysis (removal of body hair), and "voice and mannerism coaching."
Of significant note is that, in July of 2019, the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation announced a $5 million gift to the Mental Health Foundation in support of youth mental health in Alberta. The funds are being distributed over five years to develop "integrated youth hubs in Alberta" where youth can access various mental health services. According to the Edmonton Journal:
The hubs will be developed in communities across the province, including in rural locations, and will emphasize treatment for historically vulnerable youth populations, including LGBTQ, homeless and Indigenous youth.
The Mental Health Foundation is an Edmonton non-profit involved in creating addiction and mental health services in Alberta. Two current members of the Mental Health Foundation Board of Trustees have previously served on the board of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
The Stollery Charitable Foundation also has close ties to the Edmonton Community Foundation, which donated $38,000 towards SOGI 1 2 3 in Alberta for the 2018/19 school year. Bob Stollery provided a $5 million endowment to the Edmonton Community Foundation and served as president for many years after. Today, the foundation primarily funds charities in the Edmonton area across many sectors, including health and youth mental health.
Finally, the ARC Foundation was the recipient of a grant from the now-dissolved Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, receiving a $50,000 donation for SOGI 1 2 3.
It should come as no surprise that two prominent members of the Stollery family are heavily involved with the ARC Foundation as well. The first is Scott Graham, who was appointed to the ARC Foundation Board of Directors in October 2020 and became Chair of the Board in June 2021. Scott is the son-in-law of Bob and Shirley Stollery. He has worked as the executive director of The Stollery Charitable Foundation and the Director of Community Grants for the Edmonton Charitable Foundation, and he continues to work at both foundations in various capacities today.
Scott's husband and long-time partner, Douglas R. Stollery, also serves as an ARC Foundation Board Advisor. The son of Bob and Shirly Stollery, Douglas is the current president of The Stollery Charitable Foundation and the former director of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is also counsel to the law firm of Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP, retired General Counsel and Secretary of PCL Constructors Inc., retired Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and a named member of the Order of Canada.
Scott Graham Douglas R. Stollery
With the massive increase in youth identifying as transgender over the last several years, it is reasonable to assume that programs like SOGI 1 2 3 will only continue to fuel the trend. Many children who claim a transgender identity are put on pharmaceuticals like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, with some also going on to surgical interventions to further "affirm" their gender.
Why are so many of the same people and organizations involved in youth transgender healthcare in Alberta also funding a school program that could potentially encourage children and youth to seek these medical interventions? Parents and the general public need to be aware of what is going on and where it might be leading.