by Chris Creighton-Kelly, November 2012
Do the arts in Victoria need a kick in the butt?
I am sitting across from them—a woman and a man. We are eating lunch and we have now reached a point past the small talk. We are, after all, trying to cut a deal.
I tell them that I would like to write for Focus magazine. They tell me that they would like that too. We talk briefly about details such as deadlines, contracts, money, copyright. But then, they—editor Leslie Campbell and publisher David Broadland—launch into a spirited explanation of why they create and publish Focus month after month: For the critical issues, for their writers to speak, for the arts in the CRD, for a kind of “disappearing” local, investigative reporting. And for the intelligence and curiosity of their readers.
By Craig Spence, November 2012
Deep roots in Victoria and a love of life have blessed both Joyce Clearihue and this city.
If Joyce Clearihue were going to have a family motto tacked to the door of her summer home on Patricia Bay, it would say: “The head rules the heart.” And right under the main statement would be a subtext proclaiming: “No regrets.”
At 85, Joyce is “easing up” a bit. She has decided she can relax, and spend more time meditating in her “favourite place in the whole world”—the beach in front of her “Summertrees” property. But you get the feeling it isn’t so much a case of the sun setting on her golden years, as her giving it leave to glow on a horizon of her choosing. The sense of realism, determination and purpose that have always been central to her personality still rule.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, November 2012
A department of peace could help reframe our approach to conflict.
For almost a century the red poppy has been the prevailing international symbol for remembering the war dead and their ultimate sacrifice. It’s a very effective badge, a bright stain of blood that will be pinned onto the lapels of a few million Canadians every year at this time. Some will take time to ponder the little flower’s burden; others will wear it out of unparsed habit or the primordial desire to stay in step with the crowd. Mine compels me to try visualizing the 117,000 Canadian soldiers who’ve been killed in all battles to date (according to the Royal Canadian Legion’s website). The image both boggles and numbs my mind.
By Alan Cassels, October 2012
The Cochrane Collaboration’s examination of flu vaccines in healthy adults, a body of literature spanning 25 studies and involving 59,566 people, finds an annual flu shot reduced overall clinical influenza by about six percent.
How many diseases are important enough to have their own season? Not many, but we do have one, and it strikes every year: the flu.
Arriving in the fall and exiting in the spring, flu season strikes with the predictability of clockwork. For some the flu might be a mild inconvenience, perhaps embraced as a way to stay home and get a few days couchside wrapped in the unpleasantness of high fever, aches, sniffles, and daytime reality TV. Yet for others, usually the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, the flu can be deadly. It can lead to hospitalizations, pneumonia, and sometimes death.
By Rob Wipond, October 2012
At the same time as their associations channel public resources into private political lobbying, they claim immunity from BC’s laws governing public access to their records.
They’re the two most prominent and influential policing organizations in British Columbia, appearing frequently in public promoting their strong positions on criminal justice reform, use of tasers, drug laws, or expanding police powers. But little else is widely known about the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and its smaller sister, the BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police (BCAMCP).
By Leslie Campbell, October 2012
Victoria City Hall wants to limit your access to information.
How ironic was it that during “Right to Know Week” (Sept 24-28) we learned how our own right to know—and thereby keep readers informed—was being severely curtailed?
In August, the City applied to the BC Office of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) under Section 43 to put restrictions on Focus publisher/writer David Broadland and myself (as well as Ross Crockford of JohnsonStreetBridge.org). Section 43 appears to be a little-used clause reserved for extreme cases of abuse of the provisions under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. As far as we can tell, it has never before been used against journalists. And until adjudicated by the OIPC, our Freedom of Information requests with the City of Victoria have been “frozen.”
By Leslie Campbell, October 2012
Longtime Focus journalist is a finalist for 3 Jack Webster Awards.
Each year, the Jack Webster Foundation sends out notification by email to the three finalists in each of the 12 categories of Jack Webster Awards. When I saw the first one announcing Rob Wipond was a finalist in the Community Reporting category for two pieces he wrote on the RCMP’s and VicPD’s Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) programs, I wasn’t surprised. The stories, written earlier this year, garnered tremendous attention on our website from all over the planet. And after Rob, Christopher Parsons and Kevin McArthur took the research done for the story and presented it as a brief to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, she launched an investigation into the way the program is operating here in Victoria. It was great that the Websters had noticed.
By Aaren Madden, October 2012
Even after losing his job measuring marine contaminants, Peter Ross is more concerned about the country’s future than his own.
Peter Ross is Canada’s only marine mammal toxicologist. At the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, he studies the levels of toxic chemicals found in a wide range of creatures, including sea otters, seals and whales. This determines effects on their health, the health of their food sources, the oceans, and aboriginal food sources. “This is knowledge that informs policies, regulations, and practices that enable us to protect the ocean and its resources for today’s users and for future generations,” he explains.
By Gene Miller, October 2012
Influenced by the adolescent fantasies of Ayn Rand, the extreme right wing rejects any form of collectivism as evil socialism.
My friend Denton (remember his Blue Bridge “rocket launcher” on the back cover of Focus, months ago?) handled the Blessed Event so right-mindedly that I thought it would be worth memorializing.
Receiving his first post-65 government pension cheque, he took it upon himself to find some local social-serving non-profit organization with whom he could volunteer. He was explicit about this: a national culture able to do such a good job of looking after its citizens by providing a reasonable pension deserved his continuing services as a show of appreciation and as a way of keeping the account in balance. What a nice view of the human community! What an unerring expression of the relationship between the individual and the collective!
By Amy Reiswig, October 2012
In the Nuu-chah-nulth world view, life’s major purpose is the development of harmonious relationships between and among all lifeforms.
To make. Seemingly such a simple verb, it encompasses everything from the smallest humble action to the greatest work of genius. It is also the most literal meaning, I am told, of Umeek, the Nuu-chah-nulth name of hereditary chief, UVic associate adjunct professor and author E. Richard Atleo. “It is one of those words always lost in translation,” he explains by phone from Winnipeg, adding, “In our culture it is a chief’s name, so it means ‘chief’s work,’ which is to provide for his community.”
By John Luna, October 2012
An upcoming exhibition displays the resourcefulness and innovation of Vancouver Island-area potters of the 1970s and early ’80s.
When she directed the Cartwright Street Gallery in Vancouver, Diane Carr used to find herself thinking that if she could take a box of Wayne Ngan tea bowls around to the heads of local corporations, extracting a promise from each to use the bowl every day for a month, the money would flow in. “I think ceramics are very contemplative,” she says. The day-to-day encounters with a humble tea bowl are part of a continuum that includes the artist’s movements, the behaviours of clay and fire, and the domestic impressions that form a rhythm over time; a texture carried in the hands, a contour brought to the lips. As Carr confirms, “you have to use more than just your visual sense.”
By Aaren Madden, October 2012
Starting a conversation on eroticism in contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw art.
Cultural anthropologist Wilson Duff wrote in a 1976 essay, “sexual symbolism is so important in the arts of the world and elsewhere that I feel that its virtual absence on the surface of Northwest Coast art permits us to suspect that we might find it in metaphorical forms below the surface.”
In what may be a first-of-its kind exhibit, seven contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw artists have embraced the task of exploring eroticism in Northwest Coast art tradition. For the October show at Alcheringa Gallery—called Lusa’nala (The way we came into this world)—they have created thoughtful, sometimes playful, two and three-dimensional artworks on the theme.
By Briony Penn, October 2012
The restorative powers of nature help immigrants as well as grandparents and their grandchildren.
There’s a different type of grandparent on the island these days—they play games, but it’s unlikely golf or bridge, and instead of Alaskan cruises with their peers, it will be a ferry ride to Galiano for an overnight camp.
These are the grandparents-raising-grandchildren and they are heading for the newly-established Galiano Restorative Learning Centre. According to Ken Millard, the driving force behind the Centre, providing a place to relax and play on beaches, lakes and in forests, prepare home-grown food, and sleep out under the stars with other families is one of the main goals of the new Centre as a project of the Galiano Conservancy Association.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, October 2012
Both mother and daughter survived the trip.
By the time this issue of Focus is out I’ll be counting down the last two weeks of our eldest daughter’s year-long adventure in Southeast Asia (The emphasis is mine: Who knew that time could be such a trickster, crawling through the endless hours of a loved one’s absence while flying through life’s usual rigours at the same time?)
By Katherine Palmer Gordon, September 2012
While fleets of log-laden ships depart our shores in growing numbers, scores of mills have closed resulting in massive job losses in BC. With so few mills left to send logs to, logging companies claim exports are the only way to stay in business. With the removal of the requirement that forest companies holding tenure on Crown forestland must mill that timber locally, there’s little or no impetus for them to invest in much-needed infrastructure that would provide an alternative to log exports. What will it take for BC to stop exporting so much home-grown opportunity to Asia?
"Advocates of raw-log exports in British Columbia claim log exports create employment. The truth of the matter,” the United Steelworkers Union declared bluntly in a May 2012 publicity campaign linking massive BC job losses to record volumes of log exports, “is that raw-log exports kill BC jobs.”
By Rob Wipond, September 2012
Safety pronouncements for the waterway relate strictly to fecal coliform—but what about industrial chemicals?
My sense of place spins like I’m in a celebratory party version of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Wow, I’m splashing in a Bermuda bay amidst California beach boys and Hawaiian dancing girls! No, my mind reminds me as I flutter about in warm ocean waters below a fervent August sun: This is downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and I just dove into the Gorge inlet.
It shouldn’t be so unexpected and disorienting. The Gorge’s shallow waters can take two months to turn over during dry summers, and so hover above a balmy 20 degrees celsius. But decades of unregulated pollution from industrial, sewage, boating, and urban sources transformed the once-popular swimming area into a liquid dump peppered with designated contaminated sites concentrated with lead, mercury, hydrocarbons, PCBs and more.
By Katherine Palmer Gordon, September 2012
The BC treaty process turns 20 this month. Will it make it to 21?
Sometimes it seems that for every step forward in the BC treaty process, we take two steps back,” says Chief Treaty Commissioner Sophie Pierre, the frustration loud and clear in her voice.
At its inception 20 years ago, there was optimism that the treaty process would be complete by now. It’s not even remotely close. Only two treaties have been completed, the Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth agreements.
By Leslie Campbell, September 2012
The news is both heartening—and surprising.
Watching a video produced by Enbridge the other day, my first reaction was: This is not a fair fight. Enbridge has a lot of money to throw at deceptive marketing and PR. And they also seem to have a pretty powerful member on their team: Our resource-extraction-obsessed prime minister, with his determination to limit environmental assessment periods and dig up and export Canada’s resources—quickly.
But in recent days there’s been news on a variety of fronts that makes me realize that, despite its significant resources, Enbridge may well lose this fight.
By Aaren Madden, September 2012
Tara Ehrcke on why education in general, and class size in particular, needs to become an election issue next spring.
It’s September, and another school year is about to begin. Usually this season puts people in mind of fresh starts and the exciting potential represented by all those sharpened pencils and crisp sheets of loose-leaf. For teachers in BC, though, it will mean a return to the same issues they have faced for years and fought for in tumultuous contract negotiations and job action through most of the last school year. The implementation of Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act, in June forced a temporary settlement, effective until June 2013, at which time the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation may or may not be a different government’s problem.
By Gene Miller, September 2012
SNC-Lavalin’s “zero tolerance” for unethical behaviour apparently doesn’t include a billion-dollar overstatement of the benefits of a proposed LRT for Victoria.
1. Lucky Sevens
The prospect of criminal prosecution is keeping the news alive that England’s Barclays Bank, with the likely cooperation of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS, Canada’s Royal Bank and others, has for years been manipulating the London interbank offer rate (Libor) so as to sweep a few additional hundred million crumbs into its lap.