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  E-News Issue #13
January 2011 
 Promoting and Protecting the Freedoms of Homeschoolers Greetings!

Happy New Year!

We are pleased to announce that the majority of members present at the November AGM chose to support the continuation of this important grass-roots, volunteer-run organization. The new Board of Directors is an enthusiastic and skilled group who is working hard to put this organization back on its feet so it can do its intended job of serving and representing home learning families in British Columbia.

Two of our current board members were elected at the AGM: Melanie Wilkins-Ho and Tanja Neely. As the rest of the Board has been appointed, we consider ourselves interim directors and plan to hold the next AGM prior to the end of this current membership period (August 31). The board is researching options for remote attendance at the AGM so that more members across BC can participate in the meeting and have input into the future directions of the BCHLA.

This next AGM will be particularly important as it has been recently discovered that previous changes to the Constitution and Bylaws were not filed with the BC Registrar of Companies. At this time, the BCHLA is currently operating under the 1999 Constitution and Bylaws that are on file at the Corporate Registry. To consolidate filing costs, the Board will soon review and compile these intended changes, ensuring that none are in direct conflict with other BCHLA bylaws, the BC Society Act or the BC School Act. We will present the results as a special resolution at the next AGM for members' consideration.

The Board has also made outreach a top priority for the next several months. In the past, the BCHLA was a vibrant network of home learning families across BC. Prior to the AGM, membership had fallen to 50 families in an organization that once had 500. Thanks to member initiative at the time of the AGM, BCHLA now has 150 members and it would be lovely to increase that number. Reviewing what has previously been effective in creating a strong organization, the Board has decided to:
    • improve our communication with members through newsletters and an online Yahoo group
    • revive the Representatives system (see more below)
    • provide an up-to-date list of local support groups across BC
As we do our part, we also encourage all BCHLA members to become advocates for the BCHLA. Please tell others in your various home learning communities about the importance of this provincially-based, parent-run organization in promoting and protecting Section 12 ("registration") of the School Act. Share this newsletter with them and encourage them to read the articles here and on the BCHLA website. And please let them know how fortunate we are in BC to have the freedoms and choices we do.

We're happy to join with you in maintaining our access to educational choice in BC.

All the best in 2011,

The BCHLA Board of Directors

Meet the BCHLA Board of Directors


 Melanie Wilkins-Ho, President (Burnaby)

Melanie W-H

My husband and I have three children ages 14, 11 and 3. Our older two attended a Montessori preschool, after which we chose the profoundly liberating path of home learning. Over the years we have been both registered and enrolled at different times, and are currently enrolled with a very flexible DL.

I am deeply committed to the preservation of s. 12/13 rights, not only out of a personal desire for educational freedom, but because I firmly believe that those rights flow from both international conventions and federal law. Before starting a family, I earned a law degree from UBC, and although I am not a practising lawyer, I look forward to using my legal training to help BCHLA regain clarity, inclusiveness and effectiveness as the grass-roots, parent-driven organization it was meant to be.

Rebecca McClure, Vice-President (Victoria)

Rebecca McClureIt is truly a privilege to serve on this exciting BCHLA Board as a co-advocate for home education freedoms. Since 1993, I have explored the systems and politics surrounding home learning in our province. Until my "retirement" in 2009, I worked in both public and independent schools (including DL) as an educator, counsellor and administrator, and I have volunteered my organizational, technical, and writing skills to support local home learning groups and other non-profit societies for many years.

I believe, however, that the most relevant experience I bring to the Board is that I am the parent of a 10-year-old Section 12 registered "never-been-to-schooler", as protecting access to educational choice is a matter close to my heart.

Giles Grierson, Secretary-Treasurer (Vancouver)


GilesHalfway through Grade 1, we pulled our son out of school and have never looked back. With three children now aged 7 - 14, we can't imagine a life without home learning. We are enrolled with a very flexible DL program, but value the fact that - if it wasn't working for us - we could exercise our s. 12/13 rights and have the freedom to do it our way. 

Having been involved in a number of non-profits, activist groups, and member-driven organizations as a collective member, board member and staff since 1992, I'm happy and excited about the opportunity to put time and energy into an organization supporting the right to homeschool for everyone in British Columbia.

Alison Acheson, Newsletter Editor (Ladner)

alison achesonThis is our second year of HL with Emmett, 11, and now Ole, 14 . My oldest, Cleve, 18, works in the film industry after completing grade 12 via DL. We work through Self-Design, but next year, with the FSAs a requirement, it may be time to move to registration.

I did several years of HL myself in the 70s. I know what the situation was like then, and feel gratitude for those who have won the right to these choices. Choice cannot be taken for granted. I never completed grade 9, and hold an MFA in creative writing. I've published a number of books, mostly for young people.

Melissa Hodges, Support Group Coordinator (Burnaby)

Melissa HMy husband, Norm, and I have four children ages 17, 14, 12 and 9.  We have been home learning since our eldest was kindergarten age.  I prefer the freedom of Section 12 registration but currently we have some children registered and some enrolled in a flexible DL.

I am active in our local  home learning community as a support group contact and list owner of our local Yahoo group.  I enjoy supporting people in exploring all their educational options so they can choose the one that works best for their family.  I look forward to supporting home learning families throughout the province as a BCHLA board member.

Tanja Neely (Abbotsford)


Tanja NeelyMy husband and I have been married for 19 years and we live in Abbotsford. We have two children one 16 and one 13. My daughter has been home learning since she was in grade three and my son since he was in grade one. We have been an enrolled and a registered home learning family. Right now we are an enrolled family as my children need some special ed help. We as a family will be home learning until both children graduate from grade 12. 

 Sherri-Lee Pressman, Social Media Minder (Langley)


Sherri-Lee PressmanI have two kids ages 10 and 6. We have always learned at home and I feel priviledged to be in BC where we have some of the best laws in Canada in support of homeschooling. I love how we can structure our home learning to look however we want it to. 

I am strongly committed to Sec 12/13 registration for my family and have always embraced that option until this year, when financial matters have forced me to enroll in a very flexible DL. I have struggled with the experience but have learned an awful lot about myself and my kids. I will return to registering as soon as I can, but I really appreciate that I have had the option to enroll this year. 

I look forward to serving the homeschooling community in BC on the board of BCHLA in any way that I can.


Editor's Corner

Hello! And welcome to the first newsletter with your new board and editor!


It's been a number of weeks now of changing the guard. As the new board, we are aware of the hours of hard work that has gone into making the BCHLA possible and we thank past volunteers for all they have done. We all know this group is necessary for the health and stability of Section 12. And the health and stability of Section 12 affects all of us who have young learners at home.


Here's where your new board gets caught up in discussion, though, and I think it worthwhile to share this with you...and we look forward to your feedback on this: Why do people want to join BCHLA? What will cause them to renew membership? Why is this important? 


There has been overlap with what is provided by the BCHLA and other organizations, including all the wonderful local groups. My own group is the South Delta Home Learners, and for me, they have been my number one resource--for curriculum and ideas, community and fellowship.  


The consensus we have come to, as a board, is that this group has possibly been too many things, and been spread too thin. We've had to look at what exactly the BCHLA is about: the BCHLA is the watchdog of Section 12. That's fairly straightforward. It might even seem rather small. But then I think of home-learning families in the province just next door; they don't have section 12. Or I think of others, elsewhere in the world. And I know that we are extraordinarily fortunate.


As a fiction writer, I'm dependent on copyright law for a chunk of my annual income. Canada has come a long way with copyright, and every fall I receive a cheque from Access Copyright. But right now, the Canadian government is seriously considering allowing all educators to photocopy any material they wish for distribution; in one sweep, this act will negate all efforts of Access Copyright and the Writers' Union. That cheque will disappear not to mention young people's awareness and respect for "copyright". This has made me think: laws can change. We need to be vigilant. 


As for the "Why is this important?" question, we do need to have healthy membership numbers for the BCHLA. The number of registered homelearners in the province is decreasing, while the number of DL enrollments is increasing. Overall, the number of young people learning at home is also increasing, so that is positive. But regardless of whether a family is registered or enrolled, there does need to be recognition of the significance of all of our options. The membership numbers make this point.The recent rallying to keep this group intact and strong has demonstrated the recognition of what the BCHLA does. It allows us to sleep at night.        sleeping beagle


The board would love to hear from you on these questions: Why join the BCHLA? What are the reasons to renew membership? We are designing a quick anonymous survey for the next newsletter that will help us understand why the BCHLA is important to you.


Your editor wishing you the best in the New Year - 

Alison Acheson

Your BCHLA Membership

In recent years, there has been some confusion about who can be a BCHLA member. We wish to clarify that the BCHLA is the provincial organization that represents all home learning families who want to protect and preserve their right to registration under Section 12 of the School Act, even if they aren't taking advantage of it at present.

Each family membership is entitled to one vote at the AGM. If you recently received a membership confirmation with only one parent listed (an oversight that has now been remedied), don't worry. If you listed both parents on the membership form, they are both entered into our database.

If you have sent in your membership form and payment, but haven't yet received a confirmation message, please email us and we'll happily look into it.


We now have a very convenient way for you to renew your membership each year. Simply go to the membership page on the BCHLA website, click on the online form, submit it, and choose your method of sending in your fees (PayPal or cheque by mail). That's it! 

If you know people who would like to join the BCHLA or renew their membership but haven't gotten around to it yet, please let them know how easy it is and give them the above link. Thanks!


Become a BCHLA Representative in Your Community! 

For many years, there was a vibrant network of representatives who would liaise within their home learning communities on behalf of the BCHLA. The volunteer representatives would share information provided by the BCHLA about the status of home education in BC with their local support groups--but it didn't stop there! Representatives would also bring back information and concerns from their communities to the BCHLA. 

Lego People

This fearless and dedicated group of people made a huge difference in terms of ensuring that most home learning families in BC understood the importance of having access to Section 12 and of having a united, grass-roots, province-wide voice with which to speak to the government as needed.

The current BCHLA board is making it a priority to revive this very effective and vital network. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering as a representative for the BCHLA within your local home learning community or support group, please contact Rebecca McClure for more details.

BC Support Group Listings - Update


Melissa Hodges is valiantly updating the woefully out-of-date support group listings on the BCHLA website. She's been emailing and calling contacts across the province and has been having some great conversations.


As a result, she's made the following observations.


  1. The nature of home learning support has changed. More and more community groups are moving to informal and unstructured support networks, relying on Yahoo to provide a non-hierarchical hub to connect and organize. 
  1. Many home learners are relying on DL programs to provide community-based support. In some communities, the only support contact that exists is the DL coordinator at the local school district office. More and more families are using DL and many are doing so without knowing that the registration option exists.
  1. There are many more support groups out there than we know about. Some of these may be private groups, but some are simply groups that have started up in a community and are not yet listed anywhere.

If your community has a group, we would love to list it on the BCHLA site. Every year, there are more and more new home learning parents who either need help finding their feet or assistance with sorting out how to get connected in their community.




The support group listings on the website have not yet been changed (that's the next step). In the meantime, we'd so appreciate any help you can offer in terms of bringing all the information up-to-date.


Update Your Support Group Information Here


We've updated the form so that you can choose which information you'd like to share on the website and which information is only for BCHLA purposes. BCHLA respects your privacy and won't publish any information you provide that you don't want to be made public. The contact information for the group needn't have anyone's name, home phone number, or personal email address listed on our website. A website, Yahoo group, ning site, or Facebook group can be provided as well as a contact email for the group, if one exists.


Note: Many support groups provide a Google email address that reflects the name of the group and can be passed along as volunteers "graduate". This helps keep your group's information current wherever it might be listed and helps protect the privacy of your contact person.


Thanks so much for helping all home learning families in BC feel more connected and supported within their communities. 


A Brief History of the BCHLA

pocket watchesIn November 2010, the BCHLA faced the threat of dissolution without the knowledge of the majority of the stakeholders in BC: home learning families. Quite by accident, past-members of the BCHLA discovered the resolution to dissolve the society a few days prior to the AGM and quickly launched a campaign to save the BCHLA. 

What became apparent during those five hectic days before the AGM is that many home learning families in BC were not aware that the BCHLA even existed or why it is important.

Why does the BCHLA exist?

BCHLA's beginnings go back to 1987 when the Sullivan Royal Commission on Education toured the province, garnering public input in regard to upcoming revisions to the School Act (1989). Many home educating families across BC presented personal briefs publicly to the Commission. Vicki Livingstone, on the advice of a lawyer representing a homeschooling family charged with truancy by the Kelowna school district, brought together interested individuals to create a united provincial organization of home educating families. In 1988, Vicki presented a Submission to the Royal Commission on behalf of the fledgling Canadian Home Educators' Association of BC (CHEA). 

The name of the organization was changed to BC Home Learners' Association (BCHLA) at the Annual General Meeting of Oct. 6, 1999, to eliminate confusion with several other groups sharing the CHEA acronym, to make clear that this is a Provincial Organization, and to re-focus the emphasis on Learners rather than Educators.

This submission, available for viewing on the BCHLA website, was influential in the creation of Part 2, Division 4, Sections 12 through 14 of the School Act. As a result, home learning families in BC enjoy some of the best home education laws across North America and, indeed, the world. We have the freedom and right to choose to educate our children at home and provide our own educational program, without reference to the BC curriculum and without a duty to report to a school authority...

To Continue Reading, follow this link: A Brief History of the BCHLA


BC Home Learning Statistics

Check out the trends since Section 12 was added to the School Act.

                     89/90    96/97     97/98    02/03      04/05      08/09     09/10

DL public          0           n/a        8362     8305      10,432    13,616     n/a

DL Ind.            0           0            0           448        1546       4061      n/a

DL Total                                                8753      11,978    17,677    22,481

Registered       1695     4925      4813     3689        3068       2722      2463

Important Dates:

1989  BC School Act was updated to include Sections 12 through 14

1996  Highest number of registered home schooling students to date

1997  Public School DL pilot program began (EBUS had been running since          1993 but did not separate their enrollment data)

2002  Independent School DL pilot program began

2004  Independent School enrollment caps removed

2009  Lowest number of registered home schooling students since 1989

Home Education in BC: A Historical Perspective 

- Rebecca McClure        


Choice regarding our children's education is a topic that is dear to the hearts of parents everywhere. In British Columbia, we are particularly fortunate in the variety of options available to us that support our children's learning. One of these opportunities, homeschooling, has been around for a long time, although it was not considered a statutory right until the revision of the School Act in 1989.

Correspondence school (pencil and paper work) has existed for almost 100 years (created at the request of a lighthouse keeper). Another home-based option, distributed electronic learning, arrived on the scene in the early 1990s and grew into a booming edu-business for school districts and independent schools. 


At one point in the not-so-distant past, every home learning family in BC had a sense of the history behind these home learning options. But as kids have grown up and veteran homeschooling families have moved on to other things, detailed information about the origins of our choices has been forgotten or misplaced. Without that background information, today's home learning parents have lost the ability to make a fully informed choice and may default to the learn-at-home option that seems easiest or most popular, or that provides the most financial benefits.


This article is my attempt to fill in any gaps there may be in our collective understanding and knowledge of home education in British Columbia so that parents can engage in an informed decision-making process.



To read more of this article, please go to the Home Learning Victoria site.


In This Issue
Meet the Board
Editor's Corner
About Membership
Become a BCHLA Rep!
Support Groups Update
BCHLA History
Home Learning Stats
History of BC Home Ed
Membership Payment
Contact Information
Quick Links

Newsletter Archives

BC Education Options

Constitution and Bylaws

BCHLA History of Legal Support
 More About the BCHLA

BC School Act

Membership Payment
If you have sent in your membership form but haven't yet paid your $25 membership fee, it's easy to do! 
Please click the button below to pay your fees online using our PayPal option.
Safe, secure, and convenient. Help us to continue the work of promoting and protecting the freedoms of home educators in BC.


 Membership Information
Membership runs from:

September 1 to
August 31

Annual dues  $25


Follow the membership links on our website to join or renew using our *new* online form.


Pay one of two ways!

Make cheques payable to:

PO Box 88733 RPO Newton
Surrey, BC
V3W 0X1

Or pay online via PayPal!



Once we receive your form and payment, we'll email you a membership confirmation.




Moving? Changing your email address?

To update  your membership information, please email us.

Note: There is one vote per family membership.

We're on Facebook!  


"Like" the BCHLA. It's one more way to share about the BCHLA and its role in promoting and maintaining educational choice and freedom in BC.

Find us on Facebook
BCHLA Yahoo Group

The BCHLA now has a members-only Yahoo Group that members can access to have ongoing conversations with the Board and other BCHLA members.It will be each individual's choice to join the group and only members in good standing will be admitted.
You will receive your invitation to join after you've submitted both your membership application and your fees. 
Please keep an eye open for your invite so you can be part of the ongoing conversation.

Looking for a province-wide email list inclusive of all home learners?
HS-BC is a list that brings all BC home learning families together, regardless of other affiliations, to network, lend support, and share information. It is run independently of the BCHLA.
Please feel free to join.

'Til Next Events

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. - Oscar Wilde

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Contact Information

PO Box 88733 RPO Newton, Surrey, BC  V3W 0X1

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