On Vigils For Vancouver’s Favourite Bird and Making Cultus Lake Great Again

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Important: Clearly, Vancouver is unprepared for the inevitable death of Canuck the crow. This might be a weird choice to lead with but it’s fascinating and I think it actually has a lot to do with collective anxieties elsewhere. Because we are dealing with interconnected crises on multiple fronts – housing, opioids, climate, inequality, xenophobia – we celebrate our improbable heroes. In a rapidly changing city we cling to our totems. In a town that has gone from sleepy fishing village to playground of the elites, we appreciate the unsung heroes. Our Dude Chilling Parks, our McBarges, our Kingsgate Malls, Duck Lady and Opera Man.

We look for meaning in otters. We find pathos in figures like Gino Odjick or Big Country. We covet our precious spaces like a surfer protects his point break or a skater guards his secret spot. We let rats found in chowder devour us because the weight of daily existence is just too heavy. We know that The Big One is coming; that the housing bubble could burst at any moment; that we should all make more money; and that we might have run out of time to fix our climate…but for a brief moment we are all united in a far greater worry. Where is he? Where is Canuck?

On the flip side, we also tend to elevate things to the realm of the symbolic by means of either romanticization or moralization, such as in the DTES, when in fact it’s just an ever-shrinking community dealing with the ravages of mental health, poisoned drugs, and decades of austerity. And by doing so we ignore the material conditions that underpin the entire system locally, nationally, and globally. It’s a convenient foil for people who refuse to deal with the root causes: People need to stop piling on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Thanks for this, Grant:

Our DTES needs Vancouverites to care for it by frequenting it. By being there. By walking its streets. By supporting its citizens and businesses, not by fear mongering or creating division

And yet, probably as a result of this fear mongering by the likes of George Affleck, Michael Geller and Bob Kronbauer, this happens: Mayor to ask park board for control of Oppenheimer Park. Weird flex, but ok.

A crushing personal portrait of the overdose epidemic: More than 10,000 people have died from drug overdoses in Canada in recent years. But my dad was more than a number.

Because his death is entrenched in stigma that perpetuates the idea that someone who uses drugs is less worthy of life, and therefore less worthy of remembering, I have to stand up for him and explain that he was more than his drug use.

B.C. drug-user group says the province must allow “heroin buyers clubs” to reduce overdose deaths. When you read this article, it sounds like every single person with any sort of power is just totally handcuffed; Terry Lake, Kennedy Stewart, Patricia Day, Bonnie Henry. It’s clear that this grassroots approach, these peer support networks, are the only thing that’s going to work. No top down bureaucracy, no red tape while people die, just like-minded folks who, you know, just want to stop dying.

This just in: the suburbs are still terrible! Chilliwack council votes to deny rainbow crosswalk request. Kai Nagata with some perspective:

It’s on: BREAKING: Federal Court to hear six challenges to Trudeau’s approval of Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Related: Trans Mountain not prepared to respond fast enough if oil tank boils over in Burnaby: regulator. Wes Regan:

Bonus: Unhappy trails, packed parks, crowded campgrounds: Lower Mainland parks are being overrun. What’s the problem?

By midday, Cultus Lake is buzzing. The choppy water teems with boats and jet skis. The packed beach smells like grilling meat and garbage. The happy screams of kids at the waterpark drown out the whine of dirt bikes on a nearby mountainside.

This is fucking beautiful.

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