Author: Michael Loevinsohn

Emerging into Lyme

Emerging into Lyme Lyme disease is now the most common vector-borne disease in Canada and the USA. Caused by the bacterium Borellia burgdorferi and transmitted by the bite of an Ixodes tick, Lyme disease is increasing rapidly in both countries but especially in Canada. Until recently, there was just one location in central and eastern Canada, near Lake Erie, where the tick was known to persist year round.  By 2020, it’s estimated that 80% of Canadians in this part of the country will be living in such areas. Lyme is an emerging disease. Borrelia’s northward march has been provoked not by a genetic mutation but by our actions – as has generally been true with emerging diseases – global warming in this case. Lyme’s been able to make the trek because the tick and the animals it feeds on are all moving north. The tick’s larvae and nymphs feed on birds or small mammals. The white-footed mouse is their most abundant and reliable host and the Borrelia they leave it with do the mouse no apparent harm.  The mouse has been moving north at about 10 km/yr over the last four decades.  Adult ticks feed on larger mammals, notably the white-tailed deer, which has become more numerous in southern Canada and has spread well into the boreal forest. The march north is made possible by the character of these...

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Inclusive liberation

Inclusive Liberation May 5 is Bevrijdingsdag – Liberation Day – in the Netherlands. The festivities are concentrated here in Wageningen because this is where the Canadian General Charles Foulkes took the German army’s surrender in 1945. Veterans from the Resistance and Allied forces, well into their 90s, ride in vintage jeeps while a couple of Dakotas lumber by overhead – all of these fewer each year. The city is crowded but most come for the music and street theatre for the kids. It seems to have less and less to do with what happened here more than 70 years ago. It’s not just the passage of time and the passing of those who lived through the Occupation.  Few stories seem to have been passed down of what life was like during those five years of unfreedom. Many of my Dutch friends say they have heard nothing from parents and grandparents despite repeated importuning. A good friend told me that his mother harboured a deep layer of bitterness, which sometimes erupted in anger. He was sure it dated from the Occupation but till her death she refused to share it. This contrasts with my own experience. My parents were refugees from Germany, escaping just before war broke out. They met in England and made their way separately and circuitously to Canada.  The rise of Nazism, the war and its consequences...

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Colonialism: over there or underfoot

It’s not a word the Dutch have much trouble with. “Yes, of course we had colonies and got rich from them.” Most would likely be able to say this without a shudder. Many live in fine houses, some more than a century old, built with salaries, pensions or dividends derived from the colonies. The largest and most lucrative was what is now Indonesia. The colonial history Dutch schoolchildren learn centres on the Golden Age when Amsterdam was the financial capital of the world and on the exploits of the VOC, the United Dutch East Indies Company, which for almost two centuries was the country’s military-commercial complex. Historians have uncovered some dark corners of the story but that hasn’t much altered the hue of what the kids take away. Towards the end, some of the darkness came home. In the late 1940’s the Dutch fought rearguard actions against Indonesian independence, the Politionele Acties. They’ve been called the Netherlands’ Vietnam. Veterans returned disgusted by what they saw and the lies they had been told. Opposition built at home and abroad. The Dutch soon pulled out. Some 12,500 Moluccans went with them, soldiers who had fought for the Dutch, and their families. The government promised to negotiate for a homeland in the Moluccan Islands, in the meantime housing them in former Nazi concentration camps. The promises lapsed. In the 1970s, frustrated, 2nd...

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Upcoming Events

Nov
17
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Nov 17 @ 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[...]
Nov
24
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Nov 24 @ 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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