By Aaren Madden, March 2013
With a keen eye, accumulated experience and masterful intuition, Marion Evamy paints vibrant imagery out of “the mess.”
Though her work is consistently vivid, vital and bold in form and colour, Marion Evamy paints in a wide range of styles and subject matter. The common thread connecting her work is process: “Make a mess, then find the imagery in the mess. That’s the easy explanation of it,” laughs the artist.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, March 2013
If you wait long enough, your pink bathroom fixtures will be back in vogue.
How do you know that you’ve waited too long to strip your bathroom of the pink and grey colour scheme that was so popular here in the late 1980s? By flipping through the pages of a current décor magazine and discovering that the hot new colours for 2013 are…purple and grey as well as “fifty shades of pink.”
By Rob Wipond, February 2013
A new book provides a shocking analysis of environmental destruction and human rights abuses committed by Canadian mining companies abroad—and how we help them do it.
Chandu Claver was born in the small town of Tabuk in the mountainous Cordillera region of the Philippines, near a large copper mine at various times partially owned by Canadian interests. This is where he became a surgeon, got married, and wanted to raise his family.
He never planned on being a refugee in Victoria.
By David Broadland, February 2013
Have 200 tonnes of steel and 4600 cubic metres of concrete been concealed in the deal with PCL?
On December 31, a closed meeting of Victoria City councillors voted six to two to approve a contract between the City and PCL Constructors Westcoast to build a new Johnson Street Bridge. A week later, a press release issued by the City quoted Mayor Dean Fortin: “This is an important milestone in the life of this project. This fixed-price contract meets the design, project budget and timelines, and allows us to move forward with confidence on a project that will vastly improve cycling, walking and driving options to and from the downtown for generations.” Even councillor Geoff Young, previously a constant critic of the project, admitted on CBC Radio to voting for signing the contract, saying he had “grumpily” become a supporter of the project.
By Briony Penn, February 2013
Climate policy experts are speaking out against various schemes to export more carbon from BC’s coastal ports.
Truck driver John Snyder retired to bucolic Fanny Bay to live the life, only to wake up one morning three years ago to find a notice on his doorstep—an invitation to an information session on the Raven Coal Mine, proposed five kilometres upstream of his home.
After attending the meeting, Snyder launched into his new career as a citizen researcher on the impacts of coal mining on his community. With others, he set up the group CoalWatch. As he says, “It started with concerns about how the mine might contaminate our wells, and took off from there.”
By Leslie Campbell, February 2013
Is the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel shirking its responsibility to include tanker safety in their analysis?
Shortly after the Victoria visit of the Joint Review Panel into Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, Beverley Mitchell, a retired Sister of St Ann, called me. This was not the first time I’d heard from Bev. She had contacted me shortly after reading my Editor’s Letter in Focus’ May edition, describing my experience at the Comox hearings into the pipeline. During that earlier conversation, I encouraged her to write about her own thoughts on the matter.
By Sylvia Olsen, February 2013
Idle No More is a healthy sign, a rejection of victimhood.
Thirty-nine years ago I moved to Tsartlip First Nation on Vancouver Island. The reserve was my home for 35 years. I was an 18-year-old “white” girl then. Now I’m a non-indigenous mother, auntie and grandmother to some of the next generation of indigenous Canadians.
From my perspective, Idle No More is a movement, make no mistake. My Facebook feed indicates that the news is vastly understating the numbers of gatherings and attendees. But then why wouldn’t there be thousands of frustrated young indigenous people in our country? They are educated. They have been learning their history and it’s not a great story.
By Gene Miller, February 2013
Why don’t more multi-family buildings in Victoria pass the sniff test?
In a recent weekend fever dream, I was trapped in a maze of walled rooms filled with a vast selection of coffee beans in sacks and hundreds of different grass outfits that hung in thin air; and the only way to advance toward an exit was to grind a pound of coffee and to wear a straw clothing outfit in just the right combination. If I got the coffee/straw suit combination right, walls would reluctantly part just enough for me to squeeze through to the next room, where I faced the same task again. Plus, every room featured its own distracting adventure or sub-dream.
By Chris Creighton-Kelly
Musings on the practical difficulties of mixing art and politics.
I write these words from one of my favorite places. Collioure—a delightful, Catalan village in the south of France just a few kilometers from the Spanish border, where the Pyrenees slope gently into the silver-blue of the Mediterranean.
It is a place for resting, loving, writing, eating and drinking well, strolling in the sunlight, sitting calmly. For experiencing the extraordinary sense of simply being alive, in this place, in this moment, in this spirit. In short, a place to appreciate the good things in life, to appreciate the good thing that is my life.
By Amy Reiswig, February 2013
Susan Musgrave’s new novel illustrates our potential for endurance.
I started reading Susan Musgrave’s new novel Given on the day newspapers announced the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The book’s opening epigraph of “We lose our children not once, but over and over again” (Neil Gordon, The Company We Keep) was, on that day, particular indication that I was in for a heart-squeeze of a read.
Centred around a trio of women, one living and two dead, who met in prison after being convicted of killing their children, Musgrave’s book would be a punch in the gut no matter what was in the news. But the book’s dealing with so much love, loss and grief means it’s open, and benefits from being open, to the importation of each reader’s own emotional experience—threads we pull through the fiction like guide ropes in a dark forest.
By Aaren Madden, February 2013
Even while they amuse, Carollyne Yardley’s paintings ask the larger questions.
Consider the squirrel. Its ubiquity is, for most of us, inversely proportional to the amount of thought we devote to these creatures that share our urban and rural spaces. Unless, say, they are raiding your birdfeeder or digging up your daffodil bulbs, they live out constant but seldom-noticed dramas of survival under our noses every day.
By Lisa Szeker-Madden, February 2013
Nancy Argenta sings Henry Purcell at this year’s Pacific Baroque Festival.
This year’s Pacific Baroque Festival continues its tradition of presenting inventive and engaging programs by exploring the music of Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He was considered the greatest English composer of his age. And, as the centuries wore on without a successor, he simply became the greatest English composer, unequalled until the coming of Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, February 2013
Life is richest and happiest when shared, complexity and messiness not withstanding.
When the moving truck—or in this case, the decommissioned handyDART—rolled out of our driveway yesterday with two daughters and all their worldly possessions on board, emotions went off in my head like fireworks.
First: The Girls. There they go again, the eldest with plenty of independence under her belt and the youngest who first left home last summer. I’m lucky they’re only going across town to where a cozy apartment awaits, but still. I miss them already and I know their empty bedrooms will start shouting at me as soon as I head back indoors.
By Rob Wipond, January 2013
The Privacy Commissioner has ruled on licence plate tracking, but our police and government seem unwilling to obey the law. Who will hold them to account?
Upon its release in November, the BC Privacy Commissioner’s report on the Victoria Police Department’s use of automatic licence plate recognition surveillance (ALPR) looked like an inspiring example of democratic checks and balances working to perfection. Unfortunately, it rapidly became a siren call for how wantonly our governments and police are ever more often tossing aside any pretences to following democratic principles or rule of law.
By David Broadland, January 2013
Saanich councillor Vic Derman worries the six-year effort to envision an environmentally and fiscally sound sewage treatment plan is, so far, a failure.
For a moment the board room on the sixth floor of the CRD’s Fisgard Street headquarters erupted in pandemonium. Shouted insults, derisive laughter and expressions of disbelief filled the room. As two people stalked out of the December 12 meeting in apparent disgust, chairperson Denise Blackwell pounded her gavel and called for order.
By Leslie Campbell, January 2013
The annual cost to taxpayers of an average City worker is $91,000.
Because Victoria City council has resolved to limit tax increases for each of the next three years to 3.25 percent, City staff have been busy trying to figure out how to keep that resolution. But they themselves may be the elephant in the room. At a presentation to media on December 13, Brenda Warner, director of finance for the City of Victoria, compared the challenge to turning a huge ship around. She expressed confidence in being able to make enough adjustments for 2013, but admitted it would be more difficult in the following two years.
By David Broadland, January 2013
Will a couple of letters from high-powered lawyers awaken City of Victoria councillors to their duty to protect the public interest?
On December 19, 2011, senior engineers from MMM Group—the company providing the City of Victoria with project management on the Johnson Street Bridge project—met with City engineers in Victoria. A document obtained by Focus through an FOI shows that at that meeting MMM Group engineers expressed “concerns regarding the City’s approach to FOI requests.” City engineers present asked MMM to “send a letter to the City” addressing MMM’s concerns.
By Briony Penn, January 2013
Pension-owned companies may be liquidating our forests, but some communities are fighting back.
John Woolley, a retired public school teacher, recently blockaded a logging road with family and fellow islanders on Cortes Island to protect the 2,700-acre forest from an unlikely adversary—his own pension funds. Woolley is the latest kind of Vancouver Island activist: a pensioner appalled at the way his pension is being invested in the liquidation of private forest lands on Vancouver Island by companies in the portfolio of BC Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC). Says Woolley, “We are killing our own local economy and we are doing it to ourselves.”
By Gene Miller, January 2013
Close to 3000 new Downtown residences are under construction or in the development pipeline. Only 22,000 to go.
With the headline “Alligators Guard Pot in Stripper’s Home,” the Huffington Post recently created an informational dilemma: file under pets, home security, agriculture, careers, or real estate?
By Simon Nattrass, January 2013
A First Nations group denies access to its sovereign territory.
After hours of searching through a labyrinth of logging roads, local activist Julie Anne Gilchrist and several others arrived at the Wedzin Kwa (or Morice River) crossing at 4 am under the light of a full moon. The bridge was watched over by a sign declaring “No Access Without Consent. Stop and Honk,” placed there by activists from the Unist’ot’en Action Camp to ward off surveyors for the Pacific Trail pipeline. That’s the pipeline planned to deliver natural gas from northern BC and Alberta to a proposed liquid natural gas terminal at Kitimat for shipment overseas—key infrastructure in BC’s drive to become one of the biggest exporters of LNG in the world.