30 August 2018

Federal Court Quashes Trans Mountain Expansion

Today I woke up to exciting news on an issue that all Greens, especially myself, have been concerned about for quite some time; the Federal Court of Appeals has quashed the government's approval to build the Trans Mountain expansion!

I have seen first hand the damage an oil spill can do to our beaches, water, wildlife and ecosystems. I was on the frontlines after the highly toxic oil spill in English Bay in 2015 and I have been speaking out about the dangers ever since. I am relieved not only because the courts have recognized the irresponsible manner with which approval was rammed through, but also because it “recognized that the federal government did not adequately, or meaningfully, consult with Indigenous people.”

It was fitting that today's First Nations response to the Trans Mountain Federal Appeals Court decision was held in a Vancouver park. We all would be severely impacted by an oil spill on the West Coast. Such an occurrence would be devastating, not only for Stanley Park, English Bay, Burrard Inlet and the western beaches, but for our entire coast. Today was a very good day for all Canadians. My sincere thanks to the First Nations for taking this heroic action and proving their case in court.

The Green Party of Vancouver campaign launch party is just over a week away and it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate such a momentous decision but also learn what more can be done. Our campaign team has been working hard to get all 10 of your Green candidates elected in October but they need your help. The first step is showing up. We are kindly asking all our supporters to RSVP for our Launch Party on September 7th as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly. We have been building momentum and successes rapidly and we want to make sure the green movement continues to build.

I look forward to seeing you September 7th. Until then, thank you for your support.

with Green Park Board Commissioner Michael Wiebe and Squamish Nation Councillor Khelsilem

02 August 2018

What's in a name?

The Park Board resolutions concerning the 'colonial audit' have inspired a lot of discussion, as has my notice of motion on the recognition of traditional place names within the jurisdiction of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. None more so than the concept of re-naming some parks. This editorial from the Prince George Citizen is an interesting view. But as Khelsilem, a member of the Squamish nation, has tweeted:

"We don’t need to rename Stanley Park. We need to rename areas that had actual place names. 
Do you know what the traditional and historical name for Stanely Park is? 
The answer is nothing. Because there was none! It was a forest."

There are no current plans at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to re-name Stanley Park. Despite this I am sharing the editorial for information. 

Stanley Park name change overdue

/ Prince George Citizen,
July 25, 2018

Three summers ago, Prince George city council voted to changed the name of Fort George Park to Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park.

Now Vancouver is looking at doing the same with Stanley Park.

The Vancouver park board has approved a "colonial audit" dating back to 1888 to chronicle the forced removal of First Nations communities from Stanley Park and other public spaces.

The board will also apologize to three area First Nations for seizing traditional territory, demolishing burial grounds for roads and community amenities.

The completion of that audit, along with the apology, could lead to the renaming of the iconic Stanley Park, named after Lord Frederick Stanley, a former Governor General of Canada.

"Stanley Park was the home to many First Nations peoples and over the course of time they were evicted, removed from the park," park board chair Stuart Mackinnon said. "What we call our western beaches - Kitsilano, Jericho, Locarno and Spanish Banks - were also home to First Nations people, a gathering place and a place for food collection. They were all removed from there as well."

Unfortunately, this commendable work will just fuel another tiresome round of complaining from historically-illiterate, culturally-entitled white people who will ask with wide-eyed ignorance when Canada's Indigenous peoples will "move forward," stop living in the past and stop messing with history.

To move forward, however, we need to be honest about our past.

That whitewashed version of history taught in schools up until recently was a racist fantasy of white settlers arriving to bring civilization to an empty wilderness populated by only a handful of destitute savages.

More than land was stolen from Canada's proud and diverse First Nations. So was their way of life, their children, their culture and their language.

Canada's first prime minister, John. A MacDonald, was one of the architects of the attempted eradication of the identity of Aboriginal people, an effort that meets the definition of genocide as laid out by the United Nations.

That honesty is uncomfortably painful, because it shatters the childish illusion that Canada was founded peacefully, not through conflict as the republic to the south was.

What's also uncomfortably painful is making meaningful amends, rather than just offering shallow apologies that allow the status quo to remain unchallenged and unchanged.

Acknowledging Canada's Indigenous peoples through geographical names is already well-established, starting with the name of the country itself.

More recently, name changes have been adopted from Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park to Haida Gwaii.

There's no need to fret about the disappearance of Canada's colonial history. There's still British Columbia and Prince George and Prince Rupert and Vancouver and the Fraser River and Mount Robson and on and on and on.

As for poor Lord Stanley, whose name might longer grace Vancouver's amazing park, he will hardly be forgotten.

His name already graces the best trophy in professional sports, which Brett Connolly will bring to Prince George Aug. 20 after winning it as a member of the Washington Capitals in June.

Visiting a renamed Stanley Park will help all Canadians see that special place in a whole new light, one that celebrates Indigenous peoples, their history and their vital role in Canada's present and future.

That's one step moving forward.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout.
Link to original article here.

01 August 2018

Recognition of Traditional Place Names within the Jurisdiction of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

At the 23 July 2018 meeting the Park Board I put forward the following Notice of Motion. This will be brought forward for debate at the next meeting on 23 September 2018.


Recognition of Traditional Place Names within the Jurisdiction of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

MOVER: Commissioner Mackinnon

1.    The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation approved eleven Reconciliation Strategies in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action; one of those strategies calls for the acknowledgement that “Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights; that preservation, revitalization and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities;

2.    The Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people have inhabited this land known as Vancouver since time immemorial;

3.    That lands the Park Board maintains jurisdiction over remain unceded, and that Park Board occupation of this territory and commitment to UNDRIP demand that local Indigenous rights be respected and acknowledged;

4.    Names form an integral part of culture and heritage;

5.    The traditional names of places are known to the Indigenous peoples of Vancouver;


A.   THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation work with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on identifying the traditional names of places within the jurisdiction of the Park Board;

B.   THAT the use of traditional names be recognized by the Park Board;

C.   THAT staff work with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on ways to acknowledge those names at parks, beaches, and other public spaces within the jurisdiction of the Park Board, in a way deemed most appropriate by the Nations.