Time is no excuse for our past sins

The prevailing attitudes of an era do not exonerate past wrongdoings. As a Canadian child, I was taught to celebrate the Fathers of Confederation, in particular John A. McDonald, our first prime minister. As a Catholic child, I was taught to celebrate the missionaries who helped to build and educate this country, who opened the first hospitals and schools. Later on, as a student in the UofA Women’s Studies department, I was taught to celebrate the champions of women’s rights, people like Canada’s Famous Five — Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Read More …

Holocaust Memorial Day is not just for the Jews

In a recent Facebook post of an acquaintance I was accused of antisemitism and racism for expressing my disapproval of the way in which the Holocaust — and with it Holocaust Memorial Day — has been claimed by the Jewish community to the exclusion of the other victims. I also voiced my displeasure at the way the state of Israel uses the Holocaust to justify aggression against their neighbours, in particular the Palestinians. I was particularly vilified for stating that I am as equally offended by such Holocaust exploiters as Read More …

The right words might get you laid

Words matter. When I was fifteen I worked as a cashier at a gas station. Now, this was at a time when a station employee, usually male, would rush out to fill your tank, wash your windows, and check the oil in your car. You then handed him twenty bucks and he ran inside to the cashier, then ran back out with your change. Yes, you read that right. Your change. I know, I know, I’m dating myself. And we think it’s getting serious. Anyhow, the common term for the Read More …

In Memorium: Armand Edouard Demers 1927–2013

Today marks the first anniversary of my father’s death. As a tribute to him, I am posting the eulogy I wrote for his funeral (with a few words tweaked). What is so wonderful about today is that what I wrote then — about not having any unfinished business — has held true, and for that I am eternally grateful, for it means today I am not burdened by the anniversary of his death. I can think of my father with a smile, and while, yes, there is a touch of Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Pedro Pablo Oliva

On a recent trip to Cuba I discovered this artist, one of the country’s finest, at the Museo Nacional Bellas Artes in Havana where his triptych of huge ceramic teacups greets the visitor and four of his original oil paintings hang. Upon discovering the ceramics I was immediately smitten, and then upon entering the second floor gallery I discovered the paintings, which were the best in the whole museum. The imagination and style expressed in ¡Y qué mala Magdalena…! (who resembled a psychotic Alice in Wonderland) and Saturno enseñando a Read More …

Why writers and artists should reconsider their patronage of Starbucks and Caffè Artigiano

Starbucks and Caffè Artigiano: ubiquitous in Vancouver and two favourites among the many writers and artists I know. Yet that love and support is not reciprocated. Historically, cafés have been the place where writers, artists, and revolutionary thinkers have gathered, where ideas have been born and nurtured, fuelled by passion and caffeine in equal measure. The café’s role as a creative cauldron is so pervasive that it is set in the popular imagination. Considering this symbiotic relationship, then, why is it that neither Starbucks nor Caffè Artigiano support local artists? Read More …

Dear Vancouver media: Thanks for nothing.

Dear Vancouver Media: Vancouver, as you know, is in mourning. For our reputation, for those who suffered injury, for the loss of joy at having gone so far in the Stanley Cup. But in the outrage over the hooligans who turned a party into a riot, there hasn’t been any talk about the real instigators of this mess and who is benefitting: YOU. In the weeks leading up to the final Stanley Cup games, there was constant mention in your newspapers, websites, and evening news programs of the Riot of Read More …

Finding Inspiration: Steven Kennard

Steven Kennard is a sculptor and wood turner based in Canning, Nova Scotia. His passion is boxes with intricate detailing that becomes all the more astounding when you consider some of his pieces are only a few inches high. He’s also worked collaboratively with other artists, most notably metal artist Elizabeth Goluch. There is something inherently mysterious about boxes, suggestive of hidden treasure, secrets, and all that is forbidden. A locked box is particularly intriguing: what is so valuable it needs to be secured, or so private it needs to Read More …

Writers Under Attack Again

  The above video was posted on YouTube in the hope of stopping an educational exemption in the proposed new copyright bill. Whether or not the exemption is fair-dealing or the video fear-mongering (as some have suggested) isn’t, to me, the real issue; to me, this proposed exemption is just one more example of the myriad ways in which people seem to think that writers should work for free. Consider Ariana Huffington’s insistence that her contributors are happy for the byline — then making a $315M sale to AOL on Read More …

Backyard Tourist: Vancouver Maritime Museum

The first thing that strikes me about the Vancouver Maritime Museum is that it serves as an example to those who might wish to use our vast open waters for the purpose of smuggling: you’re more likely to be overlooked if you hide in plain sight. I’ve lived in this town for over fifteen years now and not once had I thought to venture into the pyramid-shaped building in Hadden Park, which, until this very moment, I erroneously thought was a part of neighbouring Vanier Park. See what I mean? Read More …