Category Archives: A Better World is Needed

Disaster Tourism at the English Bay Oil Spill

By Emily Griffiths

In the wake of the oil spill a few days ago, I set out this morning with my partner to see the aftermath first hand. I really didn’t want to go, because I don’t enjoy feeling depressed or enraged, but denial isn’t a healthy choice, either.

We arrive at English Bay around noon. It’s almost as if nothing has happened. It’s like any Saturday, folks are just out here, doing their thing; people jog, walk, or cycle along the seawall, a mass of tankers blocks the horizon. We know something’s up, though, as a helicopter hovers by and the Coast Guard passes back and forth in their little boat. A bizarrely D.I.Y. handwritten sign reads “Oil Spill. Area Toxic. Do Not Touch Rocks or Sand. Do Not Go Barefoot” in blue Sharpie. A row of more formalized signs lines the shoreline, providing an official “Water Safety Notice” from The City of Vancouver.

Oil Spill 1.1

A lone Park Ranger in a neon orange windbreaker strolls back and forth across the sand, pausing intermittently to speak to folks wandering by. People are jumping for the chance to share their opinions and concerns regarding the spill, and are happy there’s someone official-looking to engage with. I overhear the Ranger thanking two women for “taking an interest in our beaches.”

There’s not a whole hell of a lot to see here, so we make our way along the seawall towards Stanley Park. En route, we come across a man lining up oil covered rocks on the side of the path. He’s wearing white latex gloves smeared dirty brown with oil. He’s repositioned one of the official signs as part of his display. His name is Jakub Markiewicz and until we ran into him, I was feeling completely powerless in the face of this ugly event. Just by standing here behind a collection of oily rocks, Jakub is asserting himself and his opinions. When I approach him, he is already talking to a group of passerby’s.

Oil Spill 2

Jakub is telling them that even though this is a relatively small spill, the effects will linger in the environment for a long, long time. It is impossible for us to totally “clean up.”

The older woman listening asserts that, since the tankers are so far out, we shouldn’t have to worry about oil washing up on our beaches. She’s clearly one of the Not-In-My-Back-Yard types; folks who remain unconcerned with catastrophe, so long as it doesn’t affect them personally. Who cares about the sea-life and smaller coastal communities?

I can’t help but feel that this spill was inevitable. I’ve been watching the tankers encroach over the past few years, growing in number each season. They assert a sense of foreboding onto the otherwise picturesque landscape. Each tanker can hold up to 300 million liters, hinting at a possibility much worse than a 3,000 liter leak. It’s evident that even 3,000 liters is causing its fair share of destruction.

Further down the seawall, a couple has parked their bikes and decided to create an impromptu art project. Using scraps of cardboard to protect their hands, they gather oil-covered rocks and spell out “STOP HARPER” in the sand.Oil Spill 3

We eventually catch up with the clean-up crews over at Third Beach. When I think of oil spill response and clean up, I think of special technologies separating out oil from water. I expect a large-scale, highly specialized and professional operation. This is not what we find. Instead, there are two white pick-up trucks with HAZ-MAT RESPONSE stenciled on the side and a smattering of volunteers dressed in full body yellow plastic suits with red lifejackets laying specialty paper towels along the rocks. I know these dedicated folks mean well, but how do they confront the futility of wiping off individual rocks with paper towels as multiple tankers float ominously in the background?

Oil Spill 4

A neon orange Park Ranger and a burly police officer supervise the rock scrubbing from a series of nearby park benches. The Ranger asks the cop, “Are you guys here because of protesters?” The cop responds, “We’re just here to make sure these guys can do their job.”

Sure, Friend. Who’s going to stop them?

Oil Spill 5

I get the feeling that this whole “clean-up” thing is little more than a token effort. The Rangers, the police, the yellow-clad cleanup crew, the helicopters, and the Coast Guard boats are only here to make us think that the city/the province/the country is doing something to rectify what’s happened. No doubt the media discussion will soon shift from the poor reaction time to the “success” of the clean-up.

Many of us out here today are outraged by the spill and are looking for a place to direct our energy. A wrong has been committed and we feel the need to do something about it. But what can we do in the face of oil spills, impending pipelines, the Harper Government and the global oil-based economy? Perhaps we can do what the Indigenous Land Defenders are doing, which is frontline direct action. But this comes at a risk of being arrested and charged with terrorism, under the new definition. This is a risk, but without risk, there is no reward. For many of us, it’s much easier to allow our energy to be coopted into volunteer clean-up labour.

Oil Spill 6.2

Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Coworking gratis? A Verona da settembre!Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.

You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the consulting workers’ co-op that is spawning this co-op. Incipe, in-CHEE-pay, is Latin for “Begin!” And you can register for the [free] meeting here. And if you want to be involved and informed, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.

We will be starting forming the community of people eager to take part in a new way of doing co-working, as equal owners of the whole enterprise instead of clients of for-profit corporate co-working spaces, which are how most of the world’s co-working spaces are run.

But considering the fact that people who work, study, think, research, and volunteer from home are often disempowered and vulnerable, they need support.

So they gravitate to co-working spaces because of possibilities of serendipity and synergy and connecting with people to envision greatness with, over coffee. Because trying to do that in a Starbucks has a slim chance of much success.

But one of the key principles of co-working is to build community. And why do we have communities? To support each other.

And, it turns out, co-ops are all about building community and supporting each other in democratic workplaces within an intentional progressive economic climate.

So there’s a natural fit to building a co-working space that is a co-op. And it’s also natural to convene the space for people who understand this, to get to know one another and start building the community so that we can all assess our collective needs, desires, dreams, visions and capacity for mutual aid and support.

From this, we will do the heavy lifting to find our co-working space.

So, consider how precarious work has become for so many people!

It has been a rough couple generations for working people, with a notable increase in precariousness of work.

Downsizing, contracting out, layoffs, people in the middle of their working lives being flung through the windows of corporate towers only to have a difficult time finding work because employers may prefer to hire much younger people.

And while many people choose the freelance, contractor, entrepreneur consultant lifestyle, many people who’ve been canned are forced into fending for themselves, trying to leverage their skills, training and experience into something useful. They are one form of the precariat: the precarious proletariat.

Others in the precariat class include young people who typically can’t get work in their fields they have trained in, or find corporate or organizational structures grotesquely tyrannical and impediments to optimizing their work-life-activism elements of existence. They end up being precariats too. Our Incipe consulting co-op itself formed out of this very dynamic!

So our goals in creating a co-working co-op space include these:

  1. Helping people work outside their homes.
  2. Helping people have meaningful ownership.
  3. Helping people feel some community in their labouring.
  4. Helping people connect with others who can build synergy with each other.

But one of the most important goals in this whole project is to recognize that workers are disempowered, disconnected and devalued. And to fix that, we need to build support networks for people. And one of the ways to do that is to build a co-working space that is co-operatively owned, just like MEC or your credit union or Modo or other small and massive co-ops around the world.

So, scroll back up to see the links to getting more information about our co-working space in development. Get involved, because we need you and your originality!

And whether you need a 24/7 space or a desk away from home for a few hours each week that costs about as much as the coffee you need to buy to camp out on Starbucks’ wifi, this ownership model is for you.

Remember, co-working is about empowerment. And so are co-ops!

What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

And I don’t mean we need to become Denmark, but we need to have the dialogue about why they can do what they do and we choose not to.

When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.

We need to explore the political sociology of Denmark to understand how they embraced the tax commitment to provide these public goods.

We can be Denmark, but we choose not to.

We need to respin the messages from the tax-hating corporations and make the economy serve human beings better!

 

Is It Time YOU Write With Politics, Re-Spun?

penswordHello!

It’s time. Time to consider writing with us. We’re expanding our crew and you may be the kind of person we’re looking for.

How would you know? Here are the four steps.

  1. Read the About Politics, Re-Spun page. If you understand that, you’ve passed #1!
  2. Read George Monbiot’s essay called Career Advice, written more than a decade ago. It’s what motivated me to start Politics, Re-Spun in the first place!
  3. Read Jasmin Mujanović’s entire piece about how to be a significant voice in the world. His clip about how he started with Politics, Re-Spun is right here, below. Read it, follow the link and read the whole thing!
  4. If you have made it this far, you’ve passed the initial informal screen. Congratulations! You likely have at least an acorn of an idea of how you could fit with us: niches, voice, agenda, ideology, individuality, insight, integrity. Scroll down below Jasmin’s excerpt and read about how to light that match.
  5. [Optional] Feel free to pass this onto anyone you deem worthy.

When I began seriously blogging, I did so with a terrific little outfit called Politics, Re-Spun. I was so eager for the opportunity to have someone (anyone) read my writing that I produced the equivalent of free verse prose. As it turns out, there is something to be said for editorial constraints after all.

Nevertheless, the blog was a launching pad and as my focus increasingly sharpened on the Balkans, so did the attention I received, in turn. Suffice it to say, from there I moved on to more region-specific blogs which, in time, eventually led to some general interest publications.

Asymmetric warfare: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ACADEMICS – Jasmin Mujanović.

Politics, Re-Spun is Expanding Its Writing Crew!

Hello!

12 years old now and just having passed 1,000 posts, Politics, Re-Spun is looking to expand its writing crew of editorialists.

Would you fit?

  1. Do you know what spin is?
  2. Do you know how to re-spin messaging by exploring the source, context, agenda, audience, etc.; then re-framing the issue to achieve a better policy goal?
  3. Are you interested in social, political, economic and environmental justice?
  4. Do you have a unique and compelling writing voice?
  5. Do you enjoy ranting, while staying grounded in facts?
  6. Do you have a vision for a better community, city, region, country, world?
  7. And, optionally:
    1. Since all art is political, what kind of artistic insight/talent/experience might you possess?
    2. Might you understand intersectionality?
    3. Are you maybe a member of a politically, economically or socially marginalized demographic/community whose voices are often ignored by elites and the media?
    4. Have you maybe enjoyed being published in the past, anywhere?

So whether or not you already have your own blog/outlet, if you can answer most or all of these questions, and you can relate to the work on the website, and you’d like an informed, intentional audience of thousands of people to see your work every month, you would probably fit in!

How to apply:

  1. Email me [see below].
  2. Commit to writing 50-800 word pieces at least 6-12 times each year. Yes! That’s the word range.
  3. Send us your name, email, whatever social media details you’d like to share, 2 samples of 200-800 word pieces you’ve written/published, and a 75 word bio [covering your writing, political/artistic and whatever interesting personal curiosities].

Thanks for pondering possibilities,

Stephen Elliott-Buckley
Stephen@politicsrespun.org

How Selfish Are Old People?

https://i1.wp.com/lasindias.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Sharing-generation.jpg?resize=352%2C223It’s not so cut and arid. It’s not like old people didn’t create EarthShip.

But this graphic, that’s not the only study that shows how younger people aren’t so yuppie, so individualist, so consumerist, so selfish.

If you don’t have enough under-40s in your life, work on it.

The fall of the Communist regimes of eastern Europe, with the consequent loss of influence of the parties of Marxist inspiration, gave even more relevance to anti-consumerism–and therefore to “consumerism”–in alternative discourse in a wide variety of forms and topical associations: from catastrophism and radical ecologism to the discourse of movements against climate change and a good part of the “sharing economy.”

via A brief history of contemporary “consumerism” and anti-consumerism.

Entitlements? What About Understanding UNentitlements?

... Gifts > 1512Blvd Footwear > Adorable Snowman Winter Flip Flops
Punishing irony.

OK, I’m fine admitting it. I focus on entitlements a lot. I’m often trying to encourage people to examine our unexamined entitlements: race, age, economic class, gender, sexuality, etc.

But one way to understand entitlements is to understand how unentitlements work.

I’m guilty of overlooking this. Until today.

Read this, below, then read the rest of it. See if you don’t weep.

And ask yourself if BC Liberal MLAs can read this and understand what they don’t know about unentitlements.

This same boy, earlier in the year when the weather was just getting cold, was wearing flip flops to school. I asked him if he had another pair of shoes, and he said no. I took him to the clothes room at our school to pick out another pair. Yes, we have a clothes room. He chose a pair and he looked proud. When he ran off to go join his friends at the playground he called back to me: “I’ll bring back the shoes at the end of the day.” You see, he thought I’d given him the shoes for his time at school only. He felt so unentitled to shoes that he thought he had to give them back. That lack of self-worth is devastating. It prevents you from opening your mind to learning. It makes focusing on adding, or writing persuasive paragraphs, or learning about the water cycle, nearly impossible.

In My Class, Child Poverty Is No Numbers Game | The Tyee.

Kirk LaPointe’s Credibility Problem: the NPA

Don’t vote for the NPA. Any of them.

LaPointe is the NPA’s mayoral candidate. The NPA stands for the Non-Partisan Association. If you actually believe the NPA has no partisan ideology, please don’t vote. For almost a decade I’ve been writing about how the brand notion of the NPA is fundamentally a lie. No one is non-partisan in the sense of not being ideological. The NPA is a right wing, neoliberal, corporate-loving, public service-hating party aligned with the likes of Reagan, Thatcher, Mulroney, Harper, Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark and everyone else who worships Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of the market as God.

Ideology is good. It reflects our values and principles about how we want to live, how we want to enrich our communities and what kind of world we want to leave to our children. Ideology is good. We should embrace ours and learn more about what we believe. It is not a weakness or a crutch or something to be ashamed of. Yet the NPA hopes you will see some nobility in them pretending to be objective and free of ideological influence. That’s just a lie.

Read these little snippets of NPA wisdom and let’s re-spin them below. Keep your barf bag handy.

NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe handed out flyers at Broadway and Cambie, and made affordability the focus of his media briefing.

“Gregor Robertson can say he’s sorry, but it’s too late. He’s failed to keep Vancouver affordable because he has been distracted by other issues – many outside his jurisdiction,” said LaPointe in a statement.

“We will put Vancouver families ahead of developers who are selling to overseas buyers. We will create childcare spaces and reduce the financial pressures on Vancouverites,” he added.

Mayoral candidates in final dash for votes in tight race | Vancouver Observer.

  1. Affordability” is code for reducing municipal taxes, usually more for businesses than for real human beings, cutting city services and increasing user fees. People who talk about affordability like this refer to taxes as a burden as opposed to an investment into making our community and world a better place. They are to be shunned and not elected. Leave them in their solitary, greed-filled isolation with the other social pariahs.
  2. Robertson is “distracted by other issues–many outside his jurisdiction.” This is code for how the NPA supports more fossil fuel development, more pipelines and more tankers trying not to play pinball in our waters. Cities are not in charge of those developments, so the NPA talks about how Vancouver should stay out of those discussions because we’re all sitting at the kids’ table while the grown ups deal with that. But municipalities have a legitimate right to reflect the will of people. Burnaby is taking on Kinder Morgan in their jurisdiction because they can, and they should. Climate change is a scourge on humanity and it reflects the worst of our species that we aren’t rapidly trying to avert our man-made disaster. But hiding behind rhetoric of issues beyond our jurisdiction is how the NPA allows its corporate friends to have faith in the loyalty of their NPA lapdogs. Vision certainly hasn’t stopped increased tanker traffic in our waters, partly because it is actually outside the city’s regulatory jurisdiction, but opposing this foolish increase in fossil fuel development is better than trying to duck it completely, as the NPA is doing.
  3. The NPA will “put Vancouver families ahead of developers who are selling to overseas buyers.” This plays to the latent and sometimes overt racism and xenophobia in Vancouver. “We” are sick of “those people” from “away” using “our” housing market as a speculation zone. “We” wish “they” would go away and not make our homes so unaffordable. But wait, “we” make a fortune from selling “our” homes to “them,” so we’re basically hypocrites. The NPA has no policies or legal suggestions to ensure that only the anointed “we” get access to “our” homes so “they” can’t come here. Instead, closet bigots and racists will vote for them because they think it will keep “them” away from “our” city. Don’t give in to the rhetoric of racism and division.
  4. We will create childcare space“? Their platform says they will “utilize underused space in schools for childcare opportunities; [and] provide at least five more instruction days for students by reducing the number of District Closure days.” These are actually great ideas, talked about by many for years. But how will they do that? Their platform elaborates, which is where we find their problems [emphasis is mine]: “The education of students must be at the centre of Vancouver School Board decisions, and there should be no room for ideology. The NPA is committed to providing the best education possible to Vancouver students. By examining alternative sources of revenue, such as renting out excess space in schools to local partners and examining grants, sponsorships or partnerships compatible with Vancouver’s educational values, an NPA School Board will work with the community to deliver the education our students deserve.” So much for trusting them on that. Firstly, ironically, school district funding is beyond the city’s jurisdiction which means to reduce district closure days they would need to get more provincial K-12 money. Short of that they’d have to privatize with Chevron in the classroom and other corporate partnerships. The NPA also thinks we are stunningly stupid because they said there should be no room for ideology in school board decisions. The mere existence of public education is based on one kind of ideology. Neoliberals want to stop the poor from getting educated. That’s why they cut funding in the first place. The NPA [sic] wants to look at alternate sources of revenue [fundraising, corporate sponsorship, advertising to captive impressionable audiences in classrooms], renting out space [but to whom?], and looking at partnerships [again with whom?] with those compatible with our educational values. Values is another word for ideology. The NPA’s ideology is about free market privatization and abandoning ideological principles like equity so that the poor get equal access to high quality education, just like the rich. The rich want to keep poor kids stupid. It makes it easier to rule the world that way. And the last thing we should do is partner with any corporation or group that actually aligns with the NPA non-ideological [sic] ideology.
  5. Finally, the NPA wants to “reduce the financial pressures on Vancouverites.” Like above, this means cutting taxes because they are a “burden,” a “pressure” to be avoided. But again, when we do that, we have to cut services and increase user fees, which are a regressive tax on the poor. That means more expensive rinks and pools, fewer library days, less park maintenance and improvement, dirtier streets, more dangerous roadways, weaker water infrastructure, less reliable sewage systems, worse resilience when flash floods take out infrastructure [do you remember Father’s Day this summer and North Vancouver a couple weeks ago?], inferior mitigation of effects of climate change, and so on and so on.

So once again, this year, the NPA has a credibility problem. If you vote for any of them, you are being duped. Caveat emptor. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Work, Dignity and Living Wages?

Fast food workers plan surprise strike

  1. A strong union.
  2. Corporations that understand the social contract.
  3. Corporations that know a tad smaller profit here contributes to more dignity throughout society.
  4. Corporations that recognize the value of unions.
  5. The living wage in Vancouver this year is $20.10, almost double the minimum wage.
  6. The “precariat” are precarious proletariats. We have too many of them; but fewer in Denmark!
  7. Let’s follow their lead!

What Danish fast food workers have that their American counterparts do not is a powerful union, and fast food franchise owners who are willing to make a little less of a profit, though they still do make a profit. Denmark is also a much smaller country, with a higher cost of living and a huge social safety net. And yes, a fast food burger is a little more expensive in Denmark than here in America.

Martin Drescher, the general manager of HMSHost Denmark, the airport restaurants operator, told the Times: “We have to acknowledge it’s more expensive to operate. But we can still make money out of it — and McDonald’s does, too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in Denmark.”

He also said: “The company doesn’t get as much profit, but the profit is shared a little differently. We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”

Can you imagine?

Burger King and McDonald’s Pay Fast Food Workers $20 an Hour in Denmark | Alternet.

Against Collective Forgetting

Workers must do our part to Stop Harper!

Happy Labour Day! 🙂

In Stephen Harper’s Canada, we keep enumerating the things we’re losing: meaningful legislative debate, evidence-based policy, public science, a free and open society, among other things. But what happens if we go too long with a slow erosion of the features that make our society vibrant? What happens if we let the right wing continue to teach us that we shouldn’t expect anything meaningful from government?

What happens if young Canadians grow up without a sense of what used to be the Canadian birthright: Medicare, the CPP, and a free and robust education system, for instance?

Many Americans suffer from this syndrome of unknown unknowns. They may have heard about Canada’s amazing healthcare system, but they don’t really know what they’re missing.

Many Americans have been convinced that some faceless Orwellian bureaucrats from Health Canada constantly interfere with my doctor’s ability to decide if I need liquid nitrogen on my warts, some kind of invasive prostate exam, or cancer treatment.

Ironically, it’s Americans who suffer from faceless Orwellian bureaucrats who work for for-profit health insurance companies, companies that actually do interfere with those decisions. Canadian clinicians make decisions based on health considerations. Period.

But many Americans have been misinformed, which is part of the reason why Michael Moore’s 2007 movie, Sicko, was such a revelation for so many. People simply didn’t know what they didn’t know: healthcare is a human right and can be provided sustainably, without profit-mongering.

But let’s not be so self-righteous as to think that we’ve got it all together. In BC for example, 13 years of Liberal governments have decimated funding for public education, inspiring wealthy parents to seek private school options. That’s stealth privatization.

Now we have a whole generation of students who, compared to previous generations and to most of the rest of Canada, have been educated in a public system starved of investment. They don’t know that it used to be so much better. They have what urban theorist Jane Jacobs called mass amnesia.

LABOUR’S UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS

I continually write about how unions need to more effectively and meaningfully embrace a mindset of social unionism. But one of labour’s unknown unknowns is that too many of our millions of members, and many of our staff, don’t understand our own history: they don’t know that for eight generations unions have played a central role in creating a society with more justice for all. So it is incumbent on us to provide education about why paying union dues is an investment in a better society, not a deduction to be resented.

That need to provide education goes along with labour’s need to more effectively engage our members and help mobilize them to protect union rights in Canada.

HOW THE BROADBENT INSTITUTE HELPS US FILL THE GAP

We’ve also been unaware that we’re missing a particular kind of organization that can support all this work: The emergence of the Broadbent Institute makes that clear.

Despite its namesake, the institute is a non-partisan organization that seeks progressive change because “a majority of Canadians favour progressive policies — and they are looking for new tools to build the Canada we want.”

One of the Broadbent Institute’s key functions is to provide space and convene people so they can develop more effective progressive action — an activity that happens too little in our busy labour organizations, and another necessity we often don’t know we need.

I’ve watched the institute since its inception in 2011, when it first opened its doors in Ottawa. In June of 2014, it launched an event in BC.

The Vancouver inaugural event brought together close to 300 people from progressive groups, unions, political parties and more to connect with each other and to hear from Ana Maria Archila, an inspiring, Colombian-born New York leader of the Center for Popular Democracy, who used community organizing to mobilize immigrant voters in New York.

Archila spoke about how to de-silo our issues and engage with other progressive groups to build movements. I took away three core lessons:

1. We need to meet people where they live, play and gather. We cannot expect them to come to where we are. They don’t. That’s why they haven’t come to us in the past. The key to effective organizing is listening to people’s stories and truths and building from a place of empathy and understanding.

2. Coalition-building means working with people and groups we haven’t worked with in the past, which demands that we get out of our comfort zone.

3. Organizations like unions, with staffing, resources and money, need to better support progressive organizations that are too grassroots to possess these capacities. This is one way we can share and build power.

In talking to people at the Vancouver event, I saw how varied their perspectives are about the roles that the Broadbent Institute can play: It produces research to advance progressive solutions. It has a powerful news and analysis portal, PressProgress.ca, to challenge conservative ideas. And while providing space and convening people, it provides training and focus so we can improve our activist processes and our ability to be intentional in our work.

Ultimately, we didn’t know we needed the Broadbent Institute until it showed up to fill a gap in our work.

This piece first appeared in the Labour Day issue of Our Times labour magazine.

BC’s Deep Deep Racism, Shhhh!

Shhh, this is uncomfortable. It might make you ashamed.

Hopefully it will anger you to action?

First Nations burial grounds in BC have less protection than settler cemeteries.

Along with desecration at a Musqueam burial site, someone is building their home on top of another burial ground on Grace Islet off Saltspring Island. On stilts [see the horrible details below]. And the person building this home was once fined $150,000 for putting fake safety labels on retail products. Sigh. Morality much? Ever?

The minister responsible said in the legislature that Grace Islet’s “owner” “and the archaeology branch had done everything they needed to do to proceed” with the home construction. Except live moral lives, that is.

What kind of universe are we living in?

What kind of sick racist society allows people to build a home on someone’s burial ground?

Ours.

If this makes you ashamed as a British Columbian, you have a good soul. Here’s what you can do to force our elected “honourable” leaders to stop this blatant racism.

Educate yourself on this shameful situation. This is a good start. And you can follow developments in the Twitter.

Sign this petition. Then…

Email/phone the following people and tell them the following things:

  1. BC’s laws are racist and inadequate. You won’t tolerate this.
  2. Tell them to pass Private Members’ Bill M 208 to help First Nations protect their burial sites.
  3. Tell them that dignity matters to you and it should to them.

Here’s who you contact:

  1. The minister responsible: Minister of Forests Steve Thompson: FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca, 250-387-6240
  2. The premier: Premier@gov.bc.ca, 250-387-1715
  3. The opposition leader: john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca, 250-387-3655
  4. M 208’s MLA, Maurine Karagianis: maurine.karagianis.mla@leg.bc.ca, 250-387-3655
  5. Your MLA: see the listings here.

Then share this article with the 3 people in your life who appreciate human dignity the most. You have good taste in friends. They will support you in this campaign because they’ve got your back.

Finally…

Here’s some of the disturbing background about this stilt house on a burial ground.

Provincial archeologists in the 1970s marked Grace Islet as part of an ancient First Nations village. It later became privately owned and subdivided into a residential lot. The 0.75-hectare piece of land was bought in 1990 by Alberta businessman Barry Slawsky, who is now building a luxury home on the site.

The development has been intermittently stalled by a series of archeological assessments and permit requirements since the remains were found.

The owner has fulfilled all legal requirements and adjusted his plans. He is building the house on stilts so as not to disturb any burial spots, and has begun to clear the land.

Jacks said Slawsky has not responded to requests to sell the property or meet with First Nations. Some band leaders even enlisted a local rabbi to appeal to Slawsky on a religious values level.

“Can you imagine if us chiefs went to Ross Bay Cemetery (where several historical figures are buried) and said we’re going to build a longhouse over it?” Jacks asked.

The Tseycum chief is among a growing group of people — including several First Nations, politicians, archeologists and residents — opposed to building over the burial grounds. They want the land to be protected, but the province has said it has no plans to purchase the land.

In British Columbia, burial sites dated before 1846 fall under the Heritage Conservation Act and any alterations are managed by the archeology branch. Burial sites established after that time, including Ross Bay Cemetery (1873) and Pioneer Square (1856) in Victoria, fall under stricter cemetery legislation.

– from First Nations chief says province’s burial ground policies are racist.