May 31, 2012

Ancient repository under threat -- Vancouver's history may be erased by stubborn bulldozer ...

This is a letter I just wrote to the premier of my province as well as to other government officials with regards to c̓əsnaʔəm, the historical site at the Marpole Midden. (Their FB page has some terrific coverage of their activism too.) Whether or not you are a citizen of Canada, feel free to write to the premier et al and encourage them to assist in creating a resolution to this standoff for the Musqueam Band of Vancouver. As I argue below, if this were the western so-called Cradle of Civilization, rather than the history of the aboriginal people who's family have occupied this land for some 4000 years, this act would be a complete outrage. I mean, remember Bin Laden and the Buddhist statues?! I do. How is this so different?

Dear Premier and MLAs,

As a longtime resident of Vancouver and a lifelong resident of the lower mainland I am writing to express my full support for the Musqueam Band with regards to the heritage site at the Marpole Midden.

It is imperative that we show the Musqueam our understanding of their values, especially that of their ancestry. That he remains of three individuals were unearthed earlier this year should be reason alone to seek a positive outcome for the Musqueam. If it is sacred to them, at the very least we should show our respect of this belief, regardless of our own, or our lack of belief.

I also understand this land had been a "disposal" site, which to me suggests there exists an amazing history to the property -- a repository if you will of invaluable artifacts that will tell us stories of an early civilization in existence long before your family or mine arrived. If this were Ancient Mesopotamia, we would be outraged at the indiscriminate digging that is being attempted on the site. What is the difference here? I believe it is this: you and I were not educated in school about anything but the superiority of Christianity, European culture and colonial righteousness. Whether or notyour ancestral burial grounds or the remnants of your ancestors lives is of value to you should not come into play in this situation: a group of people with long ties to this land do, and this must be taken into serious consideration.

I understand that there may exist complications with stopping this development -- perhaps the presale of this development has begun, perhaps the "owners" are obstinate. No matter. Conflicts such as these are worked through all the time and can be sorted through here. This land was earmarked nearly a century ago, and should be developed with pride and in support of a better education for our children: Hamish, Georgia, Korinne and Adam. Many of us believe you have no choice but to step up and work this issue through to a fair and acceptable outcome. Find a way to allow for the exchange of land so that the Musqueam may develop a visitor's interpretive centre and park as they've proposed. If you must, imagine yourself at a ribbon cutting for both sites and the terrific press a positive outcome could have on both situations. Imagine the legacy you will leave in your wake.

My understanding of true history is one that includes the stories of more than the "dominant" culture that came to this land. We owe it both to the Musqueam children and to our own to together create a more balanced story of this land so that together we may have a cohesive and balanced future.

Do the right thing. Work with the Musqueam and the developers to create an improved Vancouver that reflects an irreplaceable story of its past.


Karen - Vancouver, BC

Feel free to write these people (or tweet them) yourself:  

Premier Clark
Twitter @christyclarkbc
3615 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

Hon. Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Twitter: @MaryPolak
102 – 20611 Fraser Highway
Langley, BC
V3A 4G4

Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
102 – 2121 Ethel Street
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 2Z6

Moira Stilwell, Vancouver-Langara
Facebook: ;
365 – 5740 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 3A6

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of Canada.

May 27, 2012

Trifecta Non-Starter: Across the Rails

Note: So weird. I must have written this as a trifecta, and then not had time to figure out whether or not I could publish it. IDK. The thing just appeared in here this morning when I logged in and started to review the story thus far. Weird. Anyway, I've hit publish, so I guess I'll leave it. But I've removed it from the Trifecta set. Because it didn't even have the word, which in Week 23 was confidence.

Across the Rails -- Upon Arrival

The children, upon seeing the ramshackle hut, looked at each other. So tired were they, so thirsty and hungry and sick to death of Oreo cookies and apple juice, the shack looked like a resort. Although they'd never been there before, it was exactly as Terry had expected it to be. One door, window to the right with lime green curtains obliterating the view to the insides. Door painted red, rest of the house a dirty shade of grey.

Terry knew this house had once been white, had seen the picture and committed the little house's visage to memory. But grey was not charcoal and, as soon as she located the key to the lock, it would be theirs for the duration. At least that was her hope.

Even in her pre-teen state, she knew better than to think that anything in her life would be a given. Experience had taught her that if she hoped that something would work in her favour, the opposite would usually prove true.

She thought bad thoughts, just to avert the possibility. Other squatters, her aunt not wanting her, rats eating their way through the provisions, a poisoned well. If she thought these ideas now, none of them would prove true.

The house looked deserted, something about it was desolate enough to make her think her aunt and her aunt's friend had not been there for a while. Still, there was no mail piled high, no papers on the stoop. Of course the area was off the beaten track, she thought, it was possible that the mail was delivered only to a "rural route" box nearby. And if her aunt was anything like her own folks, she would not have the time, patience, trust nor money for a newspaper subscription. And the free ones were usually only delivered in the towns -- rural folks were not ones to use the flyers to augment their meager furnishings with dreams of Martha Stewart or her ilk.

"What do you think, Petey?" she asked finally.

"Do you think they're home?" he replied. "I want some water."

"Wait here with Frannie," Terry said, her voice low despite their being the only people to be seen. "I'm going around back."

Peter sat down with his back against a knotty old tree, as weary as if he'd already lived a hundred years, rather than his meager six. Francis dropped beside him, and put her exhausted head on his thigh. His hand automatically smoothed down her hair, the gesture of an older sibling who never enjoyed the luxury of being cranky and selfish.

As Jean left to find a way into the house, she let her eyes linger for a moment longer on her brother and sister than she should have. How much she longed to be a younger child, to have someone smooth her hair, for any touch that would lessen the responsibility she felt. She ached to be back at their place by the lake, reading books with her neighbour.

She shook herself a bit, to pull back into her reality. She knew she needed to get the younger kids into the house and give them something better to eat before nightfall. She glanced around, noticing dandelions everywhere. They'd have greens, anyway.

The key was exactly where her mom said it would be, beneath the stairs, between a piece of wood that made the platform and a leg that didn't quite rise to meet it. It felt cool and hard and sharp in her hand and as she squeezed it the pain she felt brought her some relief from her unending stress.

She turned the key and slipped into the back door of the shack. It smelled musty, as if it had been closed up and not given a chance to dry out from the wet of the spring. She could fix that tomorrow, she thought as she opened the front door and beckoned the others to enter.

May 23, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Putting action to words

Last year we sold our car, so it was only fitting that we reclaim the little house that the car never had a chance to live in because we had too much stored stuff. Here is the second half of yesterday's misadventures, halfway toward replanting trees:

More photos to be had over at Wordless Wednesday. Go link up!

May 13, 2012

Trifecta: Trifextra, Weekend Sixteen

Breakfast in Bed

Lying here trapped in my bed, awaiting my grub. The hours tick by. I hear negotiations and imagine the mess as my stomach growls. But as “mother”, today’s duty is to wait. Hungry.

From the Trifecta Writing Challenge: This weekend's Trifextra is the first of its kind. This weekend we only need 32 words from you, because we're giving you the 33rd. Your challenge is to write anything you want, in whichever form you please, so long as your response is exactly 33 words and includes the word "mother."

May 5, 2012

Trifecta: Trifextra, Weekend Fifteen -- Along the Rails

Despite the fact that I want to be at the mall at 7 am tomorrow -- A Lego store has finally opened in Vancouver and I want the special premium that comes with purchase to the first customers -- I have persevered past the midnight hour to get my Trifextra in beforehand. All things come at a cost, right?

The Trifextra Challenge for this weekend is to write three truths and a lie in 33 to 333 words.

I'm so glad that Terry has decided to appear again this weekend. Who knew I had a fictional story lying in wait? And as promised, I've compiled a list of the parts of this story to date. It appears at the bottom of this page.

Along the Rails -- Foraging for Food

The shelves were crammed with big-box stock, but the store was different than ones she knew. This was hodgepodge: cereals piled high against toiletries, soup alongside dog food.

She wrinkled her nose.

“Shop the edges,” her dad said on weekly trips. “Fresh foods are priced cheap to attract the suckers. Like flies to honey, most believe the lies on the packaging.”

Here the greens were wilted, cucumbers and apples wrinkled, onions softer than her sister’s chubby arms.

Red basket in hand, she dubiously plucked products from shelves, each coated in grime.

She didn’t even look at prices; for the first time ever, money didn’t matter.

As the basket filled, her arms ached. She swallowed hard the hopelessness she’d been fighting since the raid, ducking around a corner when a woman started down her aisle.

As she approached the till, the nine year old consulted a paper pulled from her pocket.

“‘Cheryl”, she whispered to the sloe-eyed checkout woman.

“I’m Cheryl,” she repeated, louder now, “My grandmother, Ma Eaton, has an account.”

Terry mustered a tiny, sweet smile, exactly as her mom demonstrated. The woman’s face brightened.
“You’re Caro’s granddaughter? How’s that poor thing?”

Terry steeled herself to deliver her last line. “Grama said to put this on her account.” She pushed that smile out again; carefully, not too much. Showing too much teeth, her mom said, was worse than no smile at all.

“No problem, hon. I’m meaning to look in on her. Tell her Babs will come soon, ‘kay?”

Walking back was brutal. No one way of carrying full bags was easier than another.

Terry was glad for her bangs as tears flowed. Exhaustion, worry and sadness engulfed her as her body recognised opportunity.

Finally she arrived at her destination. She climbed onto a rotting porch and silently put one bag beneath an overturned crate.

She stepped off the porch, lifted the remaining sacks, and slipped around the house and down a path half-hidden in the bramble-filled backyard.


Links to the other pieces of Along the Rails, in the order in which they were written:

Along the Rails (Trifecta: Week Sixteen)
Meet Terry (Trifecta: Week Seventeen)
The Arrival (Trifextra: Weekend Fourteen)
Foraging for Food (Trifextra: Weekend Fifteen)

May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

More photos to be had over at Wordless Wednesday. Go link up!