Letters June 29: A year to eschew Canada Day; the need for affordable housing

Just not the year to celebrate Canada

I was in one of Victoria’s dollar stores when I heard a young girl ask her mom if she could buy a Canada Day hat. When the mother said no, the girl asked, why not?

The young mom explained that they were not celebrating Canada Day this year. The little girl was dismayed and once again asked why not?

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“You know, because of the children at the residential schools.” Her voice became quiet as she said this, as her eyes darted nervously around her.

My look and smile did not easily translate through my mask wearing. I looked again at the mom and said loudly, “Good for you!” The mom looked surprised, and thanked me for my encouragement.

This is reconciliation in action — one stand at a time. I have never felt more proud of a stranger in my life.

Jane McIntosh
Saanichton

Recognize mistakes, but do not vilify

I understand the rationale behind cancelling the Canada Day celebrations. It hardly seems fitting to celebrate anything in the wake of the tragic discovery in Kamloops.

I also recognize my privilege as a white Canadian and I acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that has occurred with First Nations due to Canada’s colonial policies.

My immigrant ancestors from Ireland and Scotland helped forge a nation and benefited from a society that progressed into a wealthy, First World nation, partly due to these colonial practices.

The socioeconomic impacts of these historical events led to a structural inequality among other problems that still exists today.

Having said all that, I am uncomfortable with vilifying Canada, which seems to be occurring in our political discourse, at the expense of a more nuanced or balanced look at our history.

Many mistakes were made, and countless injustices occurred, but we have, as a nation, also created a lot of good in the world while we continue to evolve and make amends for our colonial past.

I always think about our veterans who fought and died in the Second World War and saved us all from a life of tyranny under a truly evil regime.

Those veterans (many of them First Nations) and others since have proudly served while wearing a shoulder patch identifying them as Canadian, and we should be proud of them and the nation they represent at the same time as we recognize our mistakes.

Steve Brydon
Victoria

Council resisted calls for Indigenous focus

Re: “City council made responsible decision,” letter, June 25.

Ben Isitt’s letter, stating that local First Nations opted out of Canada Day celebrations this year to honour Kamloops victims, doesn’t sit well with me.

Most of the years we have been in Victoria, the past 15 years, the City of Victoria all but ignored the local First Nations in Canada Day celebrations. Look it up.

Our emails to the city, starting in 2014, encouraged the city to have Canada Day celebrations start with Indigenous ceremonies and parade, not just the hiring of singers at “some point” in a program.

For a bunch of councillors to pat each other on the back, while they literally have done next to nothing at all to honour these nations properly, it’s no wonder the local First Nations opt out.

Reconciliation can only begin with direct involvement from the First Nations, not token appropriation from an arms-distanced civic government that just doesn’t get it.

A perfect example of the city just not getting it is the Canada Day Indigenous flag, which was designed not from local Lekwungen Nation, but Alert Bay. There’s a whole education piece on respecting the traditional territories, and this is not it.

Derek Sanderson
Victoria

Give this generation a chance to own a home

Re: “Elk Lake Drive project is just too big,” letter, June 26.

I am also a Saanich resident, and I do not think that you need to be a “seasoned Realtor” to ascertain the dire need for more housing in our community.

Saanich is on pace to reach its projected 2038 population targets by 2024. I’m afraid that in the context of a housing crisis, additional traffic on an already poorly designed stretch of road is no reason in my mind to sewer a project.

Could it be possible to build some traffic calming measures on Elk Lake Drive, instead of just taking it as a “drag strip,” to ensure that the road is safer for all users? The many cyclists and families that I have observed going to and from the park could benefit as well.

I am not a “dreamer” looking for my “break in real estate”; I am a local worker and Saanich volunteer, a taxpayer and contributor to the economy, looking to begin my family in our fair town.

The dreamers are those who think that their children can stay in the community they grew up in and love while also opposing thoughtfully designed projects like this one.

And even if it is not “affordable,” a profusion of housing options will go a long way towards giving aspiring homeowners options to buy somewhere beautiful and ease the pressure of a crushingly low vacancy rate and punishing entry-level housing competition.

My generation needs the wealth-building ladder of home ownership available to us too.

Rob Kroeker
Saanich

Wilson-Raybould should take a break

Re: “Trudeau resists call to fire Bennett,” June 26.

I’m not at all a fan of the Trudeau government. Nor of Crowin-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett. However, the recent rage over a single-word response to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould has everything to do with political grandstanding and nothing at all to do with racism. In this case, clearly, racism is in the eye of the beholder.

Does the exiled former attorney general/veterans/justice minister have such thin skin that a mere single-word text from a political rival propels her (and others) into auto-reflex mode to push her near-at-hand ‘Racism’ button?

Did she demonstrate a wafer-thin partisan epidermis in House/cabinet to and fro’s? Or when directing Justice Department lawyers to negotiate (rather than to litigate) in non-criminal cases involving Indigenous cases against the federal government? Or when she felt entitled to demand better office digs than was the norm for independent members?

No, no, and no! Her recent thin-skin condition seems one of sheer political opportunism, and, the ‘racism’ tag, a convenient soothing balm for such an ubiquitous epidermal condition.

Perhaps, afflicted with such a rampant ailment, Wilson-Raybould should rest, and heal, instead of running in the next election?

Gordon Zawaski
Parksville

Why does beer have to be served cold?

Bike lanes, urban deer, cruise ships, dandelions in lawns: All pretty serious stuff, but in my opinion just piffle when compared to the tragic fact that it seems an impossibility to be served a room temperature ale or beer in any of the dozens of pubs and restaurants in British Columbia.

The great beers and ales of the world were perfected many years before the invention of refrigeration. Brewers honed their art by tasting what was in the vats at “room temperature.” This temperature probably varied considerably according to the geographical location where it was being prepared but my guess is most were in the temperature zones of Europe and Asia. Nowadays, it seems impossible to order any alcoholic beverage, other than a red wine, in a pub or restaurant that isn’t gum-numbing icy cold, no matter what the seasonal outdoor temperature may be.

I fail to understand why someone would enter a pub on a freezing winter day and sit down to sip an ice-cold lager. I have often asked the server if it was possible to be served a beer at room temp. The answer has always been “no.”

A few great adventurers such as Captain James Cook mandated that his ship Endeavour be loaded with unrefrigerated beer, which aided measurably to the good health and mental outlook of his crew.

This suggests to me that most modern drinkers really can’t stand the taste of beer and find that if it is cold enough, they can force it past their benumbed taste buds and only drink it because it has proven to be a great way to gather with one’s peers.

Should I be wrong about not being able to find a room-temp beer in a commercial outlet (other than a liquor store), maybe someone could let me know.

David Smith
Victoria

Make music without wood from old forests

Musical instruments being a mass-produced commodity, there are millions of pianos and guitars in existence today that could be loaned forever by people who are not using them to people from beginners to performers who need one to advance their skills.

It is not necessary to clearcut ancient forests to achieve this.

Bill Appledorf
Victoria

Not rule of law, but rule of justice

Re: “Protesters trap selves in chains and dirt, police teams extract them,” June 26.

Old-growth forest protector Axe and renowned retiring Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella appear to have a common view on the “rule of law.”

This is the phrase often used to justify the RCMP removing protestors protecting Fairy Creek old-growth trees, forced by a court injunction.

Axe says it’s not right to cut down old-growth trees and it doesn’t matter if his protest isn’t legal.

Justice Abella, in a career-end interview with a national newspaper (unrelated to Fairy Creek) states “I realized what an empty phrase it was. Because it was also the rule of law that brought us segregation and apartheid.” She says a judge should support a “rule of justice.”

The court injunction to remove protesters at Fairy Creek is not a rule of justice. The government has only deferred some logging. All old-growth logging must stop.

Steve New
Victoria

Citizenship oath reflects Indigenous rights

Canada is not perfect. As a nation we do many things right. There are some wrongs to be made right.

That is particularly true when it comes to how our forebears established systems that were and are discriminatory to the aboriginal people of this land, who were here thousands of years before the Europeans arrived.

The history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is the history of Canada. This Canada Day we can each take a moment to learn about the history of Indigenous people, to recognize past mistakes and progress towards reconciliation.

One small action is to recite the revised Oath of Citizenship that came into affect June 22, after Bill C-8 received royal assent June 21.

The change is in accordance with the call to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Henceforth new Canadians and those participating in citizenship affirmation events will declare: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Gerald W. Pash
Former citizenship judge
Victoria

Indigenous languages in written form

Placing so-called Indigenous names on street names and other locations is a misguided attempt at reconciliation.

I say so-called because language, which is the primary means of communication between humans and other living creatures, is fundamentally spoken, not written.

When I am looking for a location, I want a street name that I and others will understand. Indigenous languages were all spoken, not written.

For someone to artificially pretend to reflect that language in written form, a form not recognized by anyone but themselves, is absurd.

I can understand the psychological importance of self-respect that Indigenous people get when they learn their own language again, but English is the language of the land, and now has replaced French as the international language of communication.

It is important to learn English well to communicate in this day and age. To impose other artificial figures on street names is a waste of time and money.

The Indigenous people were the earliest known groups living on this land, but the evolution through time has created Canada, from migrating peoples from other lands to form this society, and the dominant language is English, except for Quebec, which speaks French.

Language is a means of communication, and that is why it is important to learn the language of the day — English.

Spoken native languages have importance to those cultures, for their self-respect, but has no relevance to the average Canadian citizen going about their life. The so-called written form of Indigenous languages has no meaning or validity to anyone.

William Tate
Victoria

Pronunciation key just a Google away

With all this talk about how to pronounce words in the Indigenous script, I was able to go to Google and find the pronunciation key.

The diacritical marks are important because it changes how the letter is pronounced, some in ways that can’t be captured in plain Latin letters. So, I don’t have a problem with how it’s written.

Perhaps when published, a pronunciation can be included, in the manner of how dictionaries show how to pronounce words in brackets after the word?

That’s for the people that don’t have computers and can’t Google it.

April J. Gibson
Duncan

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