Some wonderful things happened with the B.C. budget this February, except for the big Site C debt bomb that did not get defused, instead receiving an additional $2 billion.
Full commentary by Rita Wong at: https://www.straight.com/news/1045821/rita-wong-connecting-dots-between-bc-budget-and-solidarity-economy
Rita Wong supports the work of Fight C, the Peace Valley Solidarity Initiative, and Poets for the Peace to see justice in our times. A poet-scholar who has written several books of poetry, she has also coedited, with Dorothy Christian, an anthology entitled Downstream: Reimagining Water. She lives, works, and strives for water justice on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, where she has pledged to #ProtectTheInlet.
Peace River Solidarity in Vancouver
First Nations and Farmers Working Together to Save the Peace
March 21, 2018—Imagine the outcry in Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland if the B.C. government decided to flood the Fraser Valley to produce cheap hydro for Washington and Oregon.
Now imagine flooding Indigenous territory, equivalent to the distance between Maple Ridge and Hope, protected under the Treaty 8 agreement of 1899, and doing so without the consent of those who have lived there for thousands of years.
Imagine flooding some of the most fertile agricultural land in B.C., when proven sustainable alternatives for hydro production are available.
That is the danger facing the Peace River Valley.
On Monday, March 26, between 7:00 and 9:00 pm, First Nations speakers will join with representatives of the Peace Valley Environment Association to share stories of what is happening up north. The event, open to everyone by donation, takes place at the Native Education College, 237 East 5th Avenue in Vancouver.
The evening’s message is “We all have a stake in the Peace River,” and the evening will be one of sharing, learning, solidarity and support. Music, storytelling and more will give attendees a full picture of what’s at stake for British Columbians and Canadians if the Peace River is flooded once again.
Presenters include Connie Greyeyes-Dick, a member of the Treaty 8 First Nations from Bigstone Cree Nation; a grassroots activist from Fort St. John; and a spokesperson from Amnesty International, as well as Ken and Arlene Boon, farmers and members of the Peace Valley Environment Association, a group that has worked tirelessly to protect B.C. from the destructive Site C dam.
The event is a fundraiser to support three Indigenous groups fighting legal battles to save the Peace — the West Moberly First Nation, the Prophet River First Nation and the Blueberry River First Nation — as well as the Peace Valley Landowners Association. To donate online, go to http: www.stakeinthepeace.co
Information: Rita Wong — 604.653.4006
Dario Fo, the great Italian playwrite, director and actor, died a on October 13, 2016. He was 90 years old. Fo was an agitator. He was someone who fought and was sympathetic to others who fought for the working class and the poor. Dario Fo worked with his partner, the Italian actress Franca Rama.
Even though I have had limited opportunity to see Fo’s work, although I was on the Board of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, GCTC when Fo’s play Open Couple (titled for the GCTC production Open Marriage (Wide Open) was presented in the 1986/87 season I have always admired the personality of these two people who devoted the full force of their creativity to fighting for the liberation of working people.
So when I heard about Fo’s death ( Franca Rama died in 2013 ) I started thinking about who Canada and in particular, Vancouver’s Dario Fo &Franca Rama would be.
Here they are right in my back yard. Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling, founders and on going Executive and Artistic Directors respectively of the Vancouver Moving Theatre, home of Vancouver’s Heart of the City Festival
In the West Coast Canadian context, I can’t help but think of Terry and Savannah when I read about Dario Fo and Franca Rama. Both couples have built their relationship and their theatre practice over the last 30 years working in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver with ideas born there and in similar communities and with people who live and work there. Together they use theatre, music and all forms of art to tell stories of the people and communities who make up the downtown east side (DTES).
The DTES really is the heart of Vancouver–its historical centre.
The DTES forms part of the traditional territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations. European settlement of the area began in the mid-19th century, and most early buildings were destroyed in the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886. Residents rebuilt their town at the edge of Burrard Inlet, between Cambie and Carrall Streets, a townsite that now forms Gastown and part of the DTES. At the turn of the century, the DTES was the heart of the city, containing city hall, the courthouse, banks, the main shopping district, and the Carnegie Library. Travellers connecting between Pacific steamships and the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway used its hundreds of hotels and rooming houses. Large Japanese and Chinese communities settled in Japantown within the DTES, and in nearby Chinatown. So, too was it a centre for Vancouver’s Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian Communities — citizens who were very involved in supporting the thousands of unemployed who fought the injustices brought on by the depression and its itinerant poverty and racism.
In 1942, the neighbourhood lost its entire ethnic Japanese population, estimated at 8,000 to 10,000, due to the Japanese-Canadian internment. Most did not return to the once-thriving Japantown community after the war.
The stories of the historic communities of the DTES as well as more contemporary issues including poverty, gentrification, community, neighbourhoods and reconciliation are the focus of the the community-engaged art of Terry and Savannah and the Vancouver Moving Theatre (VMT)! They definitely work in the spirit of Dario Fo & Franca Rana not to mention the many artists and activists from the communities with whom the VMT works everyday.
Here, as in a thesis I finished in 2003 for a Master’s in Communications at Simon Fraser University, I am going to define “Carnival” as a mediation space where the everyday concerns of ordinary people, especially resistance to authority, can be expressed in a myriad of ways.
I guess we could say Canadians were displaying a little bit of that resistance when we booted Harper out of Office in 2015. Unfortunately results have been topsy turvy!
Junior Trudeau, Canada’s replacement PM, describes himself as a feminist and a friend of Canada’s Indigenous people and expresses his great concern for the environmental future of our country. But actions are stronger than words. More dams, more neoliberal trade agreements, more fracking and probably more oil pipelines. Not to mention the denial of entry to Canada that activists from Europe, Africa, Palestine and other places have faced.
Among the scores of people denied entry to Canada during last summer’s International Social Forum held in Montreal was Aminata Traoré, Mali’s Minister of Culture. Just the other day the Council of Canadians announced that José Bové, the french activist farmer and member of European Parliament was denied entry to Canada ostensibly for being arrested when he protested against both Macdonalds and the use of GMO’s in France in the late 1990’s. But in reality it was clear that his denial of entry was due to his opposition to yet another trade agreement. That decision was overturned as a public brouhaha! And that is what the carnival is all about.
The focus in this space will be the carnival of resistance. I’ll be seeking out resistance stories from all over the world — the more creative the better! Stay tuned!