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2017-2018 Alumni Applications are out! — September 20, 2017

2017-2018 Alumni Applications are out!

If you are interested in joining our 2017-2018 Alumni team, please fill out the application below and send it to kbeaudry@bcheritagefairs.ca

BCHFS ALUMNI COUNCIL – Application Package 2017-2018

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Michel Natal — August 17, 2017

Michel Natal

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This photo is of Michel Natal, given to me by my grandfather. As you can see on the top of the picture, he has pointed out where each little town is located.

Michel Natal is a particularly interesting topic, simply because it’s quite unknown. At age nine, I prided myself on the fact that I had a Heritage Fair topic that was different than anyone else’s, and now I’ve decided to remember what I learned (and to research some more) in order to write this blog post.

Michel Natal was a coal mining town that was located near Nelson in British Columbia. To be exact, it was three small towns, but they were so close to each other that it was really only one town.

Though Michel Natal is what it is mostly called, the three towns were Michel, Middletown, and Natal, with Middletown obviously being located in the middle of the other two. Michel was not even a kilometre away from Natal, hence why they were commonly referred to as simply, Michel Natal.

In 1899, when Crow’s Nest Coal Company opened a mine, they established the small town of Michel. Michel had a small population to start off, and consisted of a small hospital and a few houses.

With the success of the mines (there were now three mines around Michel), the population became larger and larger, and in 1907, they established the town of Natal. Until 1910, this town was referred to as “Newtown” or “New Michel”. When Natal was founded, workers from the mines were finally given the chance to own their own property instead of staying in the homes provided for them from the company.

Natal was much more lively than Michel; it had three of the four hotels, an opera house, a cinema, and basketball courts.

Later, the small community of Middletown was established, right in the middle of Michel and Natal. Between Michel and Middletown were different mine buildings. Separating Middletown from Natal was a ball field, the school, and a few churches.

Michel Natal was a popular destination for many immigrants, and this particular town had a lot of Italian immigrants. It was there that my great-grandfather came, there where my grandfather grew up.

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This photo given to me by my grandfather. This is my Nono and Nona (my grandfather’s parents), in front of their store (I believe it was located in Natal). Nona ran the store and Nono worked in the mines.

Seeing as it was a coal-mining town, the air was terrible (much like some of us are experiencing from the current forest fires).

As the years went on, the mine suffered from a few different disasters; in 1904, 1916, 1938, and the final straw, in 1967. These disasters were caused by multiple explosions and cost a few lives. Even without the disasters, there was usually a death per year due to the mines. The men went into the mines, not sure if they were ever going to come out again.

In the 1950s, the demand for coal had significantly decreased, so there wasn’t much need for the town of Michel Natal. Plus, tourism had gone up in BC, and unfortunately, Michel Natal was not an appealing sight, with all the houses and outhouses stained from coal dust. In 1964, the government decided it was a disaster for tourism, and had all the residents relocated to the nearby town of Sparwood, but many of them were uneager to leave. It makes sense why they would be so unwilling, as the government paid them terribly for their property; only a little of what they would have sold for. That is why so many people stayed in their homes, but were eventually forced out.

In 1967, a blast killed fifteen miners and injured ten (the largest amount of deaths in the mine). Prior to that, the most that had been killed in a disaster had been thirteen miners, in 1916.

After that tragedy, the government decided that keeping Michel Natal wasn’t worth it. They dealt first with the relocation and the protesting from some of the residents, but by 1978, they tore down every single building, except the Michel Hotel.

The Michel Hotel remained abandoned on the side of the highway, like some kind of marking to show what once was there. In 2010, they tore down the building. Now, the only thing standing is a sign; the only proof that there ever was something in this area.

Photo taken by my parents. This is the sign for Michel Natal (about ten years ago – featuring my brother and myself).

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It seems like just another ghost town story, and for the longest time, that’s all it was to me. Until I came to realize that the people who lived there, they’re still alive today. My grandfather grew up there; all his childhood memories are from there.

It’s one thing to move out of your childhood home, but it’s another thing to stand on the side of the highway and remember what once was. To close your eyes and picture everything as if it was still there.

My grandfather still remembers where everything was. He can picture the whole town. Standing on the side of the road, he can point out exactly where he lived as a kid and where their family store was located. It’s somewhat heartbreaking.

I am glad I had the opportunity to learn about this little town. It may be forgotten to most, but it lives on in the pictures, the books that the inhabitants made, and the newspaper articles.

Sources:

http://www.ghosttownpix.com/bc/michelnatal.html

http://coalminersmemorial.tripod.com/#

Author: Julia

 

Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today? — August 2, 2017

Should Nazi war criminals still be prosecuted today?

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By: Gita

Affirmative

Through research, I came to find the INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL OF NUREMBERG, the documents outlining the rulings of the Nuremberg Trials held to prosecute war criminals after WWII.  If the evidence had been available during this time, all war criminals would have been prosecuted during these trials.  However, this was often not the case.  Thus, today we must continue to seek the justice extended by these trials, as the elapsed time is no legal defence for the atrocities committed.  We owe it to all the victims of war crimes to prosecute those responsible for the tremendous suffering they caused.  Moreover, it is imperative to continue to prosecute war criminals to send a universal message to potential perpetrators that crime will never be tolerated or excused, and that with their actions will come severe repercussions.  Exceptions are few and far between, and no get-out-of-jail-free card will be offered simply as a result of old age.  Otherwise, individuals may continue to follow such policies, believing themselves safe from all retribution.  Finally, by continuing to prosecute war criminals, we are bringing these events back into the spectrum of the public eye, reasserting how the appalling crimes of WWII were not the product of extraordinarily cruel individuals, but rather sometimes the ordinary actions of ordinary people.  These war criminals may now be approaching 90 years old, but unlike the 11 million victims who were also confined to a cell for their last breaths, the trials of these war criminals are justified.

 

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“I want to say that it disturbs me deeply that I was part of such a criminal organization. I am ashamed that I saw injustice and never did anything about it, and I apologize for my actions. I am very, very sorry.”  Reinhold Hanning, convicted war criminal of WWII.  Those condemned as war criminals, such as Hanning, were very young and of low rank during WWII, and often had no choice in committing war crimes.  Either resist and be killed, or perform these acts under duress.  Major figures responsible for the atrocities were sentenced in the Nuremberg Trials, thus justice today is nearly obsolete.  To this degree, shouldn’t the townspeople who lived near the Holocaust camps and knew of their existence also be convicted for committing the same crimes of inaction?  Little good will come from attempting to prosecute these individuals, almost equally entitled victims, after the great efforts they sought to move on and start anew.  Now with new identities and unknowing grandchildren, great lengths must be taken today to prove that one is guilty of war crimes, as much hard evidence from WWII has been destroyed, and it is thus often very difficult to prove these war criminals either guilty or innocent.  But these people are no longer of threat to our society; today there are higher priorities, greater perpetrator threats that our tax money should be spent on.  So why dwell and rally for sympathy when Remembrance Day exists?  One thing we have learned is that atrocities are driven by fanatical hatred, not common sense.  “I just want him to hear from me […] what the consequences were of what he did at a young age, and let him reflect on it.” – Irene Weiss, victim of WWII war crime testifying at Hanning’s trial.  It is time, at long last, to remember, lest we forget, and move on.

 

 

Where do you stand?

SOURCES:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/16/world/gallery/nazis-war-criminals/index.html

 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/most-wanted-nazi-hunters-name-6145794

 

A Canadian Connection to 9/11 — July 22, 2017

A Canadian Connection to 9/11

“This is not a 9/11 story. It’s a 9/12 story.” – David Hein, co-songwriter

Ask anyone on the street, and they’ll definitely know what 9/11 was. But see if they know anything about the town of Gander and the surprisingly large role the people in that town had in the immediate aftermath, and you’ll be lucky to find even one person who has heard of this story. However, through the recent Broadway hit Come from Away, hopefully more recognition will be given to the unsung (Canadian) heroes of an event that changed the world forever. Welcome to the Rock!“It was the worst day we have ever seen…” ­– Sen. John Kerry

What Was 9/11?

The attacks of September 11, 2001, or 9/11, was a series of coordinated terrorist attacks by the extremist group al-Qaeda on various locations in the United States. 4 flights were hijacked, and diverted towards major buildings: two planes flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, one crashed into the Pentagon, a major intelligence location for the U.S. government, and the final flight planned to crash into the U.S. Capitol buildings, but the hijackers were overcome by passengers on the plane and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died, most of which were innocent businessmen and businesswomen, civilians, and firefighters. Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that all international flights were to be stopped, meaning that they would have to land in another country.

 

“Crossroads of the world”

Where is Gander?

Gander is a small town in northeastern Newfoundland, home to roughly 10,000 residents. It is home to Gander International Airport, an important refuelling stop for longer transatlantic flights.

 

 

“…but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Sen. John Kerry

So, what does Gander have to do with anything?

Since American airspace was effectively closed, international flights bound for America had to land somewhere else.

Enter Gander.

The convenient location of the airspace, combined with the fact that it was already used to large, commercial jets landing to refuel made it the suitable choice for several diverted flights to land. However, this was no pit stop. A total of 42 flights (38 of them civilian), and more than 6,600 passengers and air crew members landed in Gander, combining to be more than 2/3rds of Gander’s population at the time! Passengers had to stay in the area for nearly a week, before being allowed to continue to their destination. Residents of Gander showed their extreme generosity, volunteering to house and feed the passengers and crew. More can be seen in the two videos below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_Ey5ph4wW8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGEe01oTT9I

“Emotionally transcendent” – Jay Irwin

How did this story become a musical?

A Torontonian lawyer and theatre producer was inspired after learning about the story of Gander, and approached various people to try to turn it into a piece for theatre. After several rejections, the songwriter couple of Irene Sankoff and David Hein agreed to become a part of the team. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the two interviewed several residents of what occurred through their eyes, and several characters in the musical are real locals of Gander. In an interview with the two, here’s what they had to say about their experience:

What went into telling that story? You went to Gander, right? DH: Yes. We started researching it several years ago and found out there was going to be a commemoration ceremony happening, that all these people were going to be travelling back to Gander to reunite on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. So we applied for a Canada Council grant, went out there and ended up staying for quite a while. The people of Gander wouldn’t let us stay in hotels—they’d say, “Don’t be spendin’ money, stay with us, here are the keys, just remember to feed the cat.”

Were you thinking “musical” at the time? DH: We had originally been thinking of doing it as a documentary play like The Laramie Project[which is about the murder of a gay university student in Wyoming]. But then they had a benefit concert at the hockey arena, with this Newfoundland band, and everybody got up on the floor and started dancing. That’s when Irene realized it should be a musical. We weren’t trying to make a Broadway show, though. We were trying to be true to the story. What we really wanted was for the people we’d interviewed, when they sat in the audience, to be proud of what they were seeing and to say that we got it right.

(Source: http://torontolife.com/culture/stage/qa-irene-sankoff-david-hein-creators-toronto-born-broadway-hit-come-away/)

After they wrote a shorter version of Come from Away, the project was met with great success, and Sankoff and Hein wrote a full production, and the rest is history – so much so, that on March 15, 2017, on Broadway…

 

Justin Trudeau attended a show? And Ivanka Trump?

Yup. They did. And he loved it. The Broadway show was immensely popular, and is still playing to standing-room-only audiences. The show was nominated for seven Tony awards, winning Best Direction of a Musical, and also won several Drama Desk Awards among a boat-load (or, shall we say, plane-load) of awards.

OK, I’m sold. Can I listen to it now?

Sure, but don’t blame me if you get hooked on it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAa3ncDQxYI

 

Author: Lucas

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_from_Away

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks#Events

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gander,_Newfoundland_and_Labrador

http://variety.com/2017/legit/news/come-from-away-musical-broadway-sleeper-hit-1202455511/

http://torontolife.com/culture/stage/qa-irene-sankoff-david-hein-creators-toronto-born-broadway-hit-come-away/

Bill Reid — July 15, 2017

Bill Reid

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Bill Reid carving Skidegate Pole 1976. Photo: Martine Reid.

Born on January 12, 1920 in Victoria, BC, Bill Reid was a renowned Haida artist. With Haida and German/Scottish roots, he started out studying classic European jewelry making at Ryerson Institute of Technology in Toronto. When his father, William Ronald Reid, Sr. died, he went with his mother, Sophie Gladstone Reid, to the Haida village where she was born. There he met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, a Haida artist. Gladstone was making gold carved bracelets with tools that he inherited from Charles Edenshaw (Gladstone’s uncle) who is also a well-known Haida artist. Bill Reid said that moment “changed the way he saw the world.”

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Wolf pendant, 1976

Bill had Haida art in his blood. Charles Gladstone then became Bill’s art and culture mentor. After that, Bill Reid dedicated himself to becoming a master carver, and to reclaim his Haida heritage. Perfecting the craft of Haida imagery and learning the stories and traditions of the Haida people, Bill Reid began to redefine the fine art gallery walls around the world.

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Raven brooch, 1962

 

Much like Bill Reid’s own personal journey to rediscover his heritage and place importance on his Haida culture, language and art, the fine art world soon sought out the masterfully crafted sculptures and beautiful paintings that he created. From Paris to New York, Bill Reid was commissioned to create and represent Haida art. Bill Reid’s dream to bring his culturally significant art from Haida Gwaii into mainstream art became reality.

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The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe at Vancouver International Airport

With his professional experience as a CBC reporter, he was instrumental in the re-envisioning of First Nations artistic products. Bringing trinkets from the basements of dusty museums to the fine art galleries of the world, Bill Reid redefined the art world to include art from Canada’s First Nations history.

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The Raven and the First Men, Museum of Anthropology, UBC

To this day, Bill Reid’s Jade Canoe greets every international traveller arriving to the Vancouver International Airport. He has imprinted Haida culture and art into the minds of people around the world as well as the walls of fine art galleries. In this way, we can see the impact he had on redefining and contributing Haida art to the world. His impact is far reaching. From the Canadian 20 dollar bill and fine jewelry to paintings and sculptures, Bill Reid’s Haida art can be seen all over the world.

-Abrielle

 

 

Why Does History Matter? — June 20, 2017

Why Does History Matter?

This is based off a speech I presented at a Pro-D Workshop, with ideas from <https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/archives/why-study-history-(1998)&gt;.

M6467 Public Lectures Michael Wood plasma_tcm44-81344

We learn about history in schools and countless books are written about it. But historians can’t save lives like doctors, create more effective technology like engineers, or fill our pleasure time like singers and actors. While people can be attracted to history purely because of the information, most people live in the present and prepare for the future. Where does the past fit into this?

The past teaches us about people; it is a pattern of humanity’s actions and reactions. History offers us explanations and evidence for how people behave as a society. How can we understand war as a peaceful country, technological advancements, and the function of family in a community without history? We draw on the past to understand change, its factors, and how we respond to it. Only with this information are we able to deal with its effects and move forward.

In trying to reconstruct the past, we stumble across art, music, and stories of people who once lived. These sources of information can paint for us a different society and people. It also offers us new perspectives on religion, ethics, and politics.

History also gives people an identity; the feeling of being part of a larger story. Without memories, a person would lose their very identity, likewise, without history, we would lose their place in the world. The history of a country or race can bring people together. This information is very powerful in bringing about a sense of loyalty to one’s country and people, but can also lead to nationalism and racial prejudice.

Also, many courageous and intelligent men and women of history are examples for people today. These historical figures, often romanticized, give us an ideal to look up to. Sacagawea, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi; the list goes on of people who have shaken the world

So why does history matter? History is a powerful tool is bringing people together and analyzing our past and its patterns can help us make our decision for a better future. The past influences the present, and the present influences the future, so history also helps us understand the factors that lead to our world today, and how we can manipulate that to create a brighter future.

 

-Veronica

Ottawa — June 1, 2017

Ottawa

Ottawa is a beautiful city rich with history, heritage, and culture, all of which I was fortunate enough to experience and discover a month ago. In Ottawa I participated in a youth program called Encounters with Canada, which is a government-sponsored weeklong program open to Canadian high school students. Each week has a theme that focuses on different real-world occupations and opportunities, and participants sign up for a theme week based on their interests. The program presents the participants with the opportunity to learn about their chosen topic in a fun, interactive way, while also experiencing the city of Ottawa.

Encounters with Canada changed me and changed my life, and to date, possibly might have been the best week of my life. For a year I had been looking forward to this trip, then all of a sudden, it was happening. I remember that I was full of nervous and excited energy before departing the Vancouver International Airport. It was my first trip alone and I was going to a city on the other side of the country without my family and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that it would be an incredible experience. It definitely was.

The theme week that I chose was Science and Ecology and the activities we did as a part of our week were quite fun and interesting. We spent a day at the St Lawrence River Institute catching fish and invertebrates, and then learning how to tag the fish and looking at the invertebrates under microscopes. We also tested water samples for acidity and temperature among other things and discovered some Ontario trees. The next day we travelled to Montebello, Quebec, for a wildlife safari at Parc Omega. I’ve never seen most of those animals in real life before and it was really cool to be so close to them. Speakers were also brought into the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre where we were staying and we learned about conservation, the environment, and wildlife.

One of the best things of the whole experience was meeting new people from all over the country and becoming friends with many of them. After one week I now have friends in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, more places in British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. One thing I love to do is make friends with people who live in other places. Some of our lifestyles are so different and I found it very interesting to learn about them, it gives me a new outlook on my own life. For example, I always considered my school to be small at around six hundred students, and it is for the North Shore, but when I met people who lived in towns of two hundred it really gave me a new perspective on what small actually can be. The biggest difference I found to be was that of my North Vancouver coastal life compared to that of my friends in the prairies, many of whom live on ranches on the outskirts of small towns. A month later I am still discovering new things about my country from friends in other provinces, and even different regions of British Columbia.

Encounters with Canada is a bilingual program and this enables students to be exposed to both of the country’s official languages. It provides an opportunity to learn and improve one’s French or English communication skills. In my case it helped to improve my French, which I am proud to say because I love the French language and I want to become fluent in it. I made some new friends from Quebec and New Brunswick and spoke with them a bit in French, and now we keep in contact by texting in French.

One of the biggest sponsors of the program is Historica Canada, so on the last day we did activities involving Canadian Heritage Minutes, watching existing ones and coming up with ideas for new ones. We visited museums, monuments, and other important buildings. The first day we toured the Parliament Building and learned about its history and the history of our government. Another historical aspect of Encounters was Wednesday’s Peace Module, when we listened to Canadian veteran Major Wayne McCulloch speak about his peacekeeping career and then after we went to Beechwood Cemetery for a candle-lighting ceremony. Being there amongst many of the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting for Canada in World War made me feel something I can’t explain, a sense of sadness and regret, but also thankfulness and patriotism. It is a deeper feeling, a more meaningful awareness that can’t come from learning about the wars from a textbook.

Travelling to different places and meeting people from other regions of Canada is a great way to learn about the country. Ottawa has so much historical and current importance to the development of our country. I certainly learned more about Canada, especially in regards to politics and culture, by visiting and touring the city in person. I am very thankful that I had an opportunity to participate in such a valuable program like Encounters with Canada because it helped me gain appreciation for our large and wonderfully diverse country and its heritage. The best advice that I can give to someone who would like to learn more about our country, or really any country, is to get out and meet new people and see new places. The experience is life changing and eye opening, and one that you will remember forever. It also helped me feel more connected to my fellow Canadians and to my country for having had this incredible experience

 

 

By Siobhan

Vaisakhi — May 13, 2017

Vaisakhi

VaisakhiParade

This past April 22 400,000 people from many places attended the annual 2017 Vaisakhi Day Parade. Vaisakhi is a celebration of the birth of Khalsa. This event is open to everyone, and is a day where people come together as a community. The parade features cultural floats, community performers, live music and free food.

Many of us might attend the parade for the experience and that’s totally fine but I believe that when you go to the celebration you should be educated about what Vaisakhi means and what it did for Sikhs.

Vaisakhi is the festival that celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 13 each year, however both the Vancouver and Surrey event takes place on different days. On April 13 1699 Guru (god) Gobind Singh asked Sikhs (any human who faithfully believes in one Immortal being) from all over India to come to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At the gathering Guru Gobind Singh asked Sikhs to support their faith and preserve the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh then lifted his sword and asked that anyone prepared to give his life for his faith to come forward. After his command there was big silence, but Guru Gobind Singh didn’t stop repeating his demand. Then one brave Sikh step out of the crowd and followed the Guru into a tent. Then shortly after, the Guru came out of the tent alone with his sword covered with blood, and asked for another volunteer. Another brave soul came forward again followed the Guru into the tent. Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent alone with his sword again covered in blood. This was repeated until five Sikhs had stepped forward to offer their heads to the Guru and Sikh religion. Finally, the Guru came out of the tent with the five men dressed in royal blue. Guru Gobind Singh called these five Sikhs the Panj Pyare; this means the Five Beloved Ones. The Guru and his wife baptized the Panj Pyare. Then the Guru knelt before the Panj Pyare and asked them to baptize him as well. The Panj Pyare were the first members of Khalsa, and the new Sikh community. Then the Guru gave all members of Khalsa five symbols of purity and courage. These were the five K’s. Guru Gobind Singh gave all Khalsa men the surname Singh, which means lion; this was to represent their bravery. All women of Khalsa were given the surname Kaur which means princess; this was to emphasize dignity. Guru Gobind Singh gave all Sikhs the opportunity to live their lives with courage, sacrifice, and equality. These Sikhs were to live their lives to the service of others. This is how Khalsa came to be.

The act of giving out free food is called seva, seva the act of selfless service. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru to promoted seva in gurdwaras (temples). Langar is a term used in the Sikh religion for the open kitchen where food is served in a gurdwara to all the visitors, without distinction of faith, religion or background, for free. Langar was an idea Guru Nanak adopted, and it upholds the principle of equality between everyone regardless of colour, age, caste, religion, age, gender or social status. Langer is not only served in gurdwaras but can be serviced anywhere. At the Vaisakhi parade local business and other residents open up their own kitchens to people in attendance. They make langar and do seva. They idea langer was ultimately an act that make everyone equal, if you were wealth you ate langer, if you were struggling to make ends meet you ate langer. Everyone was served the same food.

I personally think that in our day and age some people abuse the power of having langer. Some go the Vaisakhi parade just to eat but don’t realize what it means. But then again Guru Nanak wanted to open up kitchens to everyone regardless of their intentions. When you to Vaisakhi parade I encourage you to eat the food but be thankful of the langar being serviced and the seva being done.

Ultimately Vaisakhi is a day where people celebrate the birth of Khalsa.

I encourage everyone to go the next Vaisakhi parade because it is a great experience. I also encourage everyone to do there own seva. It doesn’t have to be at the parade or at a gurdwara; it can be anywhere.

-Anisha

My Visit to Vimy Ridge for the 100th Anniversary — May 8, 2017

My Visit to Vimy Ridge for the 100th Anniversary

For those that do not know me, I have just returned from France. I lived there for three months, went to school, and experienced their culture. Of course, since I lived right near the memorial, it was an obligation to go. This blog post will concentrate more so on my travels around Vimy Ridge as well as what I learned there.

The ceremony of April 9th; the 100th anniversary, was a popular topic around Canada, and unfortunately, I did not get to go (I was travelling somewhere else that weekend). Instead, I went the weekend before.

The day started off with a visit to Arras. Arras was a bigger city that had been taken over by the Germans, and it was there where the British Army launched their attack.

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Near Arras is the much smaller city of Farbus, and it was there where I attended a ceremony honouring Canadians. They were thrilled that I was going to be in attendance, and in a sense, I was made the guest of honour.

There were a few French people who had volunteered to dress up as soldiers and nurses, and they stood in line as the mayor introduced me to the crowd. I even got a poster from the event (signed by the mayor) to thank me on behalf of all Canadians for freeing them and their town.

The band played O Canada, and I (draped in my Canadian flag) sang (or, I tried to sing).

It’s hard to describe the emotions that go through you, but I don’t think I have ever been more proud to be Canadian than I was on that day. To see these people, from a whole other continent, taking their time to honour us was incredible. There were Canadian flags everywhere. Walking around town, they were on every house. I loved wearing our flag that day.

They had tents set up full of different artifacts, and the people who had dressed up as soldiers were actually professionals on these said artifacts. There were a variety of different guns laid out. I clearly remember a sort of binocular tool as well. You looked at the approaching soldier and based off how much of his body you could see (and I believe the angle had something to do with it as well) you could tell how far away he was (which helped with choosing which gun to shoot and how to aim it).

They then offered a walking tour of their town to demonstrate which parts came into play throughout the war. This tour started off in the forest. 100 years since the war, and the ground is incredibly uneven due to the trenches. At the Vimy Ridge memorial, the trenches are maintained to show the history, but in this little town, no effort has been made and they’re still there. There were even small concrete structures that sheltered canons. The Germans used the security of the forest to shoot on Arras, the bigger city.

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Much of the land is now farmland and farmers find objects daily. Depending on what they find, they may have to call people to come verify that the mines are not still active. Though it’s becoming rarer, farmers still find skeletons as they work their fields.

Next, we headed down to another tented area. This new tented area was to teach more so about medicine throughout the war. Further back (on the lines), there were better equipped, hospital type tents, but what they taught us about was the front line medicine (more of an infirmary). It was a tent with very few items as the infirmary moved with the line; when the soldiers advanced, so did they, and when they retreated, so did the infirmary.

Therefore, they did not have the top quality medicine. They did their best with the wounded. All patients had pieces of cloth covering their eyes, not because their eyes were ruined, but because the flies would come eat their eyes (since they were ill, they weren’t moving around). Nurses filled out little pieces of paper so that when the doctor came, he would know immediately what had to be done, and was therefore able to save time. Every soldier had a sort of metal plaque bearing their information, and originally, when a soldier died, they would break that plaque in two. The first half would be placed under the soldier’s tongue and the second half was sent to the family. However, they quickly discovered that the plaques rusted in the soldiers’ mouths and became unidentifiable. The new solution was to write the information on a piece of paper and put that paper in a bottle. The bottle was tucked into the soldier’s arm, and this way they would be able to identify the soldier without disturbing the body too much.

Another utility in the war were the dogs. Dogs typically had two owners; one on the front line, and one further back. Also, if one of the owners died, then the dog still had someone. The dogs were one way of sending messages (and they estimate that about two million messages were sent from the front line to the back and vice versa daily). All the soldiers on the front line always wanted to ensure they were sending words to their family while they could.

Dogs could also be used to send medicine or get other necessities, but some soldiers used them at night. One man recounted his grandfather’s story. The man had a dog, and at night, he would rely on the dog to get around. The dog could sense whenever an enemy was coming, and would immediately crouch down, followed by the man. This way, when the enemy arrived, shining their flashlight ahead, they would see no one. As soon as they were gone, the dog would get up and carry on. That man and his dog were never caught.

They also said how the Germans were particularly looking for dogs during the war. They even had advertisements amongst the French people; they were offering to buy dogs, they would pick up dogs if they found them, etc. In short, dogs were incredibly useful.

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Next, we headed to the real Canadian memorial. This was the last stop of the day, and it was incredibly moving. The memorial is even more beautiful in person, for those who have not gone. The names are all carved into it. When I remember that day, I also remember all the trees. They planted one tree for every Canadian soldier that died. There were so many trees. And of course, you couldn’t go anywhere near the trees as there is the risk of active land mines still being in the area.

I made sure to take out my Canadian flag to take a picture on the memorial, and even strangers walking by took pictures of me. I believe that more people at that memorial are Canadian than they are French; most people you walk by are speaking in English.

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We also visited a beautiful Commonwealth cemetery and took pictures of the sheep that they have in the area. They use the sheep to “mow” the lawn, since lawnmowers couldn’t put up with all the hills from the trenches.

 

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That memorial was strangely comforting for me. Canada “owns” a few kilometers of land where the memorial stands, so after being in France for so many months, so far away from home, I was happy to be at the memorial. It brought me that much closer to home; after all, I technically made a day trip to Canada.

Sources: my memory (all pictures taken by me)

Author: Julia

The Great Bear Rainforest — May 2, 2017

The Great Bear Rainforest

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For almost two decades, environmentalist and First Nations have gone through conflicts after conflicts with the government in order to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, spanning 21 million acres. It’s home to many ancient cedar trees, grizzly bears, cougar, salmon, wolves, and the rare white kermode, or more commonly known as the ‘spirit’ bear. In February 2016, an agreement was reached to protect 85% of the rainforest from industrial logging. But what lead to this agreement and why is the rainforest so important?

For centuries, First Nations have lived on the lands of the Great Bear Rainforest. Today, the region still remains home to First Nations people whose histories, identities and spirituality are linked to the lands and waters of the rainforest. They continue to protect and assert their rights and title throughout the Great Bear Rainforest. After all, it is unceded territory of the Coastal First Nations.

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During the mid-1990s, the rainforest was highly threatened by industrial logging and mining. Habitat for bears, eagles, and salmon was being destroyed in the unceded traditional territories of many First Nations, as their leadership and governments had no say over decisions impacting their communities and their territories. Environmentalist and First Nations combined forces and did everything they could to stop the logging operations. The environmental protests had reached their fullest as activists tried to block timber operations in remote logging camps, board ships carrying Canadian pulp overseas, hang from banners draped over corporate headquarters, and bought ad space in publications, such as The New York Times. By 1999, logging companies and environmental activists had agreed to a ceasefire in the Great Bear Rainforest, which meant no more international markets campaigns in exchange for a logging standstill in 100 of the intact rainforest valleys.

Despite the anti-logging protests of environmental activists, it was never as simple as ‘pack up and leave’ for timber companies in the Great Bear Rainforest. Loggers have been in the region for more than 100 years. By the 1990s, most of the timber harvesting rights in the Great Bear Rainforest were held by three major logging companies: International Forest Products, MacMillan Bloedel and Western Forest Products. TimberWest (logging company) had a license to log in the southernmost 2% of the Great Bear Rainforest, located on and around northern Vancouver Island. In 2000, when the CFCI (Coast Forest Conservation Initiative) partnered up with three environmental groups to design land use solutions for the Great Bear Rainforest, TimberWest stayed out of the mix.

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After many hard years of negotiation, landmark conservation announcements were secured in 2006 and 2009. Stakeholders rejoiced in a new plan of ecosystem-based management that would not only preserve 70% of the rainforest natural variation, but strengthen and enhance the livelihoods of First Nations communities as well. On February 1, 2016, Premier Christy Clark announced an agreement that had been reached between the province of British Columbia, First Nations, environmentalists and the forestry industry to protect 85% of the 6.4 million hectare Great Bear Rainforest from industrial logging. Reaching the goal to protect the rainforest.  Today, only 15% of the Great Bear Rainforest remains open to commercial logging, but the timber industry now has assurances that as long as they abide by the rules, no one will come after them with torches and pitchforks.

When First Nations, government officials and stakeholders celebrated victory on the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement this week, they celebrated not only the protection of an enormous amount of old-growth forest in one of North America’s greatest natural treasures, but also the resolution of conflict between parties that 20 years ago, that refused to look each other in the eye.

-Matthew