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By Briony Penn, March 2014

International courts and BC teachers try to make up for government and corporate abuse of human and environmental rights.

The extraordinarily rich forests of Vancouver Island have been fought over since James Douglas had 14 Vancouver Island chiefs sign a blank piece of paper. The frustration in losing virtually every battle by four generations of First Nations and concerned citizens has bred some sophisticated new approaches to the old task of protecting Indigenous rights and nature. These reach out internationally and to corporate shareholders. As a result, 2014 is off to a difficult start for Island Timberlands, the corporation most in the news these days for questionable logging practices.

By Judith Lavoie, March 2014

Studies call into question BC Liberals’ plans to expand bear hunting.

The magic of watching black bears overturning rocks and scooping up crabs on a Tofino beach, the once-in-a-lifetime excitement of seeing a Spirit Bear near Klemtu or witnessing the awe-inspiring power of grizzlies feeding on salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest are vignettes of BC that both tourists and residents carry close to their hearts.

So it is not surprising that a study by the Center for Responsible Travel at Stanford University in Washington concludes that live bears are worth more in cold, hard cash than dead bears. Not surprising, that is, to anyone except BC’s provincial government.

By Rob Wipond, March 2014

Read deeper and BC Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin’s ruling in support of teachers against the provincial government is about much more than just our schools.

It seems appropriate that the late-January BC Supreme Court ruling won by the BC Teachers Federation has received attention in our news media. But there’s an undercurrent that permeates Justice Susan Griffin’s Reasons for Judgment that hasn’t been discussed nearly as much as it should be: Her very worrying evaluation of the state of our democracy.

By Gene Miller, March 2014

Good design helps make good citizens.

Did you know that in the City of Victoria, six of every ten dwellings are rental units and a rumoured seven of every ten people—especially in and around the city core—are renters? Look over there, 10 o’clock. For God’s sake, don’t look right at them! Yes, yes, right there: renters!

Humanity’s wiring diagram may have its mysteries, but there is no missing that property ownership (“a piece of the rock,” we say) is a desired status and an elevated form of tenure. It confers gravitas, true citizenship that reduces renters to a ghost-class—folks “just passing through.” 

Actually, my interest in this has nothing to do with class issues; and jokes aside, I want to be careful not to convey the false idea that renting means a diminished engagement in community life.

By Amy Reiswig, March 2014

Grant Hayter-Menzies’ biographies of women give readers a glimpse into fascinating lives.

Authentic cultural creation—to paraphrase Albert Camus—is a gift to the future. And so is cultural preservation. In Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton (McGill Queens, October 2013) Victoria biographer and historian Grant Hayter-Menzies pulls back the curtain on an exceptional artist practising, preserving and promoting an exceptional and threatened art. As a result, we are reminded that individual commitment remains the key to our cultural wealth.

By Chris Creighton-Kelly, March 2014

The art of moving words around—out loud.

It’s a cool night in Berkeley over 40 years ago, but I still remember it vividly. Walking on the University of California campus, the smell of a eucalyptus grove, the gentle, but insistent breeze, the anticipation of hearing them. 

“Them” being The Last Poets, a quartet of African American poets, ready to raise more than a little hell, ready for a revolution in the USA. We were in the Greek Theatre, up in the cheap seats, on the grass. They hit the stage, conga drums ready and started to…well what? Perform their poems. 

It turned out, that fresh Pacific evening, that all those half alive/half dead high school years of Keat’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”:


...a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

By Aaren Madden, March 2014

Painter Lindy Michie works her particular magic with addition, subtraction and intuition.

A soft violet sky shimmers over lush green trees, while verdant hills tumble over the canvas in Lindy Michie’s acrylic on canvas painting titled “Cerne Abbas.” In the middle ground, a ploughed field is represented in playful yet minimal wriggling lines. The economy of form, combined with a saturation of colour, work to heighten each other, resulting in both a particular landscape and archetypal representations of hill, tree and field. 

By Monica Prendergast, March 2014

Touring productions enrich and enliven the local theatre scene this month.

Our local theatre artists give us substantial seasons to enjoy all year round. I am grateful for this, but I must admit that I also look forward to what the touring circuit brings to Victoria. Travelling productions are generally supported by the Canada Council and other arts granting agencies because the shows are already acknowledged in their hometowns as worthy of national attention. March brings no fewer than five productions to Victoria, all of which promise to enrich our theatre-going experience.

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, March 2014

Gone: our freedom to live anonomously.

A few mornings ago I was rushing myself out the door while trying to decide if I needed a warmer jacket. “How cold is it outside?” I called out to my guy while rifling through the hall closet. He, being a hobby meteorologist, relishes any weather-related question. Out of the blue he’ll share that the roads are icy in New Brunswick or record heat is shrivelling Cairo or the temperature in downtown Victoria is three degrees warmer than at the airport. 

Focus Readers, February 2014

Who will pay for heritage?

I am compelled to write to bring some clarity to the issues raised in this article. There are several errors in fact including the notion that the National Historic site designation of the Binning House gives it protection. Unfortunately, this designation carries no protection; it is a ceremonial commemoration only.

This article is a good example of “cherry-picking” – the selection of examples that fit the thesis with no mention of those who do not. There is no mention of Langley Heritage Society that currently manages 8 buildings and assisted in the restoration of 7 more in conjunction with the Greater Vancouver Regional District. It is the most successful non-profit society operating heritage sites in BC, perhaps in all of Canada.