Author: Brian Charlton

Affordable Housing is Possible

  Two representatives of the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU) recently made a presentation to the Labour Council about a project BCGEU has undertaken called “Building an Affordable B.C.” which examines causes of the housing crisis in BC and proposes some concrete ways that we can make housing affordable.  It makes sense that a union would undertake a campaign such as this. Our members don’t become non-members once they leave the job site. The stresses and insecurities they face affect them as workers and as members. Those stresses have a chilling effect on their willingness to speak out or to take action if they are one payment away from losing their home or they can’t make next month’s rent. Also, the collective bargaining process can be distorted if wage increases become the end all and be all and other important issues are relegated to the back burner. In a country as rich as Canada, everyone should have decent housing.  As a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Canada has agreed that everyone should have ‘adequate housing’ and we should be continuing to strive to improve that housing, yet everywhere you look, even in our local paper, it is clear that a significant number of Canadians do not have adequate housing.  In fact some don’t have a roof over their heads at all.  An increasing...

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Makuk – A New Exchange is Needed

“For the dead are not powerless” Chief Seattle There are so many wrongs to be undone, so much history that has to be relearned, that the whole idea of true reconciliation with our indigenous Brothers and Sisters seems like it will never be done in our lifetime.  No matter how high we rank as a country on global ‘happiness’ polls,  unless we do what needs to done, all those self- satisfied pats on the back will be a lie. I have just finished a book that helped me learn some truths about our shared history here in BC.  It is called ‘Makuk- A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations’ by John Lutz , who teaches history at the University of Victoria.  Some who attended the 2014 Pacific Northwest Labour History Association conference in Cumberland may remember the excellent presentation he and Wedlidi Speck gave on ‘Aboriginal Coalminers on Vancouver Island.’ One of the premises of the book is: “The myth of the “lazy Indian’, derived from peculiar views about labour that were prevalent in European culture of the time, was invoked to transfer lands from Aboriginal Peoples to colonial states and then to colonialists.”  Lutz shows how in order for that myth to be invoked,  the role of indigenous labour, both within the traditional subsistence and prestige economies,  and within the capitalism of the settlers, was ‘disappeared’ from the history...

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Makuk- Anew Exchange is Needed

“For the dead are not powerless” Chief Seattle There are so many wrongs to be undone, so much history that has to be relearned, that the whole idea of true reconciliation with our indigenous Brothers and Sisters seems like it will never be done in our lifetime.  No matter how high we rank as a country on global ‘happiness’ polls,  unless we do what needs to done, all those self- satisfied pats on the back will be a lie. I have just finished a book that helped me learn some truths about our shared history here in BC.  It is called ‘Makuk- A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations’ by John Lutz , who teaches history at the University of Victoria.  Some who attended the 2014 Pacific Northwest Labour History Association conference in Cumberland may remember the excellent presentation he and Wedlidi Speck gave on ‘Aboriginal Coalminers on Vancouver Island.’ One of the premises of the book is: “The myth of the “lazy Indian’, derived from peculiar views about labour that were prevalent in European culture of the time, was invoked to transfer lands from Aboriginal Peoples to colonial states and then to colonialists.”  Lutz shows how in order for that myth to be invoked,  the role of indigenous labour, both within the traditional subsistence and prestige economies,  and within the capitalism of the settlers, was ‘disappeared’ from the history...

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In the Pocket of ‘Big Labour’

  One of the myths perpetuated by corporate media is that the NDP, or any progressive social democratic political party for that matter, is in the pocket of Big Labour. This is not surprising considering that the corporate media is owned by corporations who, as a matter of record, are opposed to unions. What is surprising is when some potential allies of the labour movement start advancing this misconception. Soon after Horgan’s NDP government announced that they were proceeding with the Site ‘C’ hydro project, the social media was awash in angry speculation and one of the targets was unions. Variations of ‘NDP caves to Big Unions’, as an explanation for the Government’s decision, started popping up in conversations and on social media. First and foremost, Horgan’s Government knew there would be a very strong negative reaction to the decision, both within the Party membership and with the general public. They simply would not take all that heat for the sake of the Building Trades Council, which were the unions pushing for Site ‘C’. Many other unions in BC were opposed to construction of the Site ‘C’ dam. So it does not wash that the NDP decided to proceed because of the lobbying of some Building Trades unions. Add to that, that many of the workers at Site ‘C’ are actually members of a company union called the Christian...

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Remembering Ginger 100 Years On

Every new grave brings a thousand brothers, And every new grave brings a thousand sisters To the union in that union burying ground.’ Woody Guthrie ‘Union Burying Ground’   On July 27th, 1918 Albert ‘Ginger’ Goodwin was shot and killed on the slopes of Alone Mountain by a special deputy of the Dominion Police. The deputy was essentially ‘acquitted’ of manslaughter. ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. But Ginger was not forgotten and this year people will gather on the weekend of June 23rd in Cumberland BC to commemorate Ginger’s life and his death. The Cumberland Museum and Archives , along with the Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council and the BC labour movement, will make this 100th year anniversary one to remember. There will be theatre productions, labour choruses, workshops, BBQs and art, plus the traditional events associated with Miners Memorial such as ‘Songs of the Workers’, a graveside service and a pancake breakfast. Ginger was an immigrant from the coalfields of Yorkshire who ended up working in the Cumberland mines just prior to the Big Strike of 1912-14. The strike was about the potentially lethal gas levels in the mines, and the intimidation by the company of members of the Gas Committee who monitored those levels.  The mine owners, with the support of the BC Government of Richard McBride, used strikebreakers, militias, and the...

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Upcoming Events

Jul
17
Tue
all-day CYMC Presents Chicago
CYMC Presents Chicago
Jul 17 – Jul 21 all-day
Tickets at http://www.sidwilliamstheatre.com/events/chicago-high-school-edition/ Ladies and Gentlemen. You are about to see a story of murder,greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery. All the things we hold near and dear to our hearts. So begins Chicago,[...]
Jul
18
Wed
6:30 pm LIFT BizOnDeck workshop series (...
LIFT BizOnDeck workshop series (...
Jul 18 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
#WeAreYQQ Meetup: Comox Valley Entrepreneurs & Creatives Wednesday, September 20 at 6:30 PM 2x monthly collaborative workshop for entrepreneurs working on growing or developing businesses, business ideas, or projects. Part of the LIFT Comox Valley[...]
Jul
21
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Jul 21 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Each Saturday features a delicious recipe from the North Island Chefs Association – and of course all of the wonderful local producers of vegetables, meats, baking, preserves, fish and more! See you at the Native[...]

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