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Archive for the ‘Winnipeg Issues’ Category

Robert-Falcon Ouellette is in the process of introducing the Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act in the House of Commons. Not everyone likes this idea of having a day each year to “dredge up” or “dwell” on something that’s, you know, like, over and done with.

I’d guess that most people feel that way, actually.

And there is a wide variety of ways for naysayers to tell us why the Residential Schools Outrage doesn’t need to keep being brought up:

  • “It was a different time, and I wasn’t around for it, and we need to move on, already, jeez…”
  • “My family is from India/Russia/Paraguay/Equestria so I don’t see why it has anything to do with us or any other New Canadians”
  • “It was the churches who did it, not the government. Blame the churchies for it. (and Praise Sagan/Hitchens/The Flying Spaghetti Monster, while we’re at it)”
  • “Those aboriginals already get free money all the friggin time, man, so it’s not like they need some new form of handout and/or pat on the back”

But one of the newer ones I’ve seen, which I think is a much more clever way for someone to delude themselves, is this one:

“This was years ago, it’s in the past, and the First Peoples have not only survived, but thrived. And that’s what I choose to celebrate.”

(more…)

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I’ve made a decision.

No more frozen pipes.

No more potholes.

No more windrows blocking off driveways.

No more mosquitoes.

No more cold weather.

No more bad days.

No more itchy knees.

No more two drops of milk left in the carton someone stuffed back into the fridge.

And no more “business as usual” at city hall or at the Pita Pit. You know I want extra pineapples on my pita. Deal with it.

So vote Regan for Mayor.

Because I’m the only candidate who honestly doesn’t want to be mayor. Like, at all.

The idea of having to be in charge of Winnipeg fills me with such a terrible sense of dread. So much dread.

More dread than I’ll have checking my bank balance after Spring Break.

So again, vote Regan.

Not a criminal. Not a crony. Just a little creepy.

Yes. That’s my slogan.

Vote Regan.

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It’s good.

Yeah.

But it feels strange. We spent years fighting to keep Kelvin Community Centre open, and then the community spent a few more years after that trying to keep the land from being sold.

It was long and hard, and it always seemed like it was just a matter of time before the land was sold and the chance for a new Kelvin was dead.

Things look better now. Hopefully this will work out.

The fight to save Kelvin taught me and gave me a chance to try and help out my community, but it wore me out.

But I’m happy.

It’s good.

If the people of Elmwood hadn’t fought in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, we wouldn’t have this today.

Congratulations, Elmwood. You deserve it.

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Clara has just finished her Olympic career with a great performance in London, finishing fifth. She and Cindy Klassen, another Winnipegger, are tied for the most Olympic medals by any Canadian, at six each. Clara is also the only Canadian to have won medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and the only Olympian in the world to have won multiple medals in both the summer and winter games.

So that makes Clara one of the most successful Olympic Athletes EVER.

And it’s time Winnipeg finally recognized one of its most famous daughters.

Luckily for us, there is a perfect opportunity to do that right now. With style.

Elmwood resident Nelson Sanderson had an idea back in the spring to rename Disraeli Freeway to Olympian Freeway. It’s a good idea, considering that both Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen have roots in the River East communities that are served by the newly-rebuilt link from downtown.

Now it’s been around twenty years since I liked the use of the word “freeway” to describe Disraeli; when I was a kid I imagined from the south end of it (having never gone over) that it was like one of those huge California highways that led to all sorts of interesting places. (I had the same expectation of Concordia Avenue from the off-ramp on Lagimodière, so you can guess that my teenage years were filled with bitter disappointment.

I’d prefer calling our new link Olympian Way.

And of course, Olympian Way connects to Henderson Hwy, and it’s only a few blocks from there to the new community facility that’s planned for where Kelvin Community Centre once stood. (Oh yeah… I’m a gonna beat that dead horse a little more. Whack! Whack!)

That facility will be administered by Bronx Park Community Centre, but some Elmwood residents aren’t big on the idea of sticking the Bronx Park Bruin up on the wall. And obviously Bronx Park and the City of Winnipeg aren’t about to call it “Kelvin Community Centre”.

As other residents have suggested, Kelvin should be renamed Clara Hughes Centre.

Clara Hughes Centre will include one ice rink, a “skills park”, a basketball court, a playground, athletic fields in the back (one baseball and two soccer), and a modest community building with two change rooms, a lounge area, a canteen, washrooms, and a meeting room.

I can’t think of a reason why this doesn’t make sense. Can you?

 

Note: The facility design images are adapted from the Open House boards created by Scatliff Miller Murray.

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I sometimes think of my washroom as a think tank, not just due to the sheer amount of genius ideas that come to me during my various bathroom tasks, but because at certain inopportune moments my powder room gives off the same stench you’d find in news releases from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

My latest idea, however, doesn’t smell anything like what you’d get if you mixed Burger King and Indian food into a blender and added a couple drops of Sambuca. In fact, my latest idea smells just like an Order of Canada.

Introducing: The Canadian Museum and Waterpark for Human Rights and Splashtastic Excitement (CM/WHR/SE)

That’s right… a somber reflection of man’s inhumanity to man combined with much-too-young girls in bikini tops and gently used and removed band-aids swirling around the grayish warm waters of a hot tub.

Now I haven’t had enough time to fully flesh things out, given that I only have so much hot water for my weekly shower and I use half of it to steep my peppermint tea, but I think that what I have come up with so far will make Winnipeg a world class city that could rival Spokane, Washington.

Selected Attractions:

  • Kuryong Drop: a North Korean-themed slide. Six people stand at the top of the slide wearing blindfolds and every thirty seconds one of those six is shoved into the launch tube. The rider then freefalls for approximately five meters. Upon splashing down into the pool at the bottom, that lucky and possibly still blindfolded person has a one in ten chance of being abducted and sent on a lifelong trip to North Korea to teach members of the inner circle about such curious Western artifacts as Chili Cheese Fries, Daniel Tosh, and Sad Keanu.
  • The NGO Circle Jerk: a waterslide that contains only one loop, but through the use of cutting edge technology the rider is continually pushed through that same loop for around twenty minutes, making absolutely no progress and eventually realizing that they are going nowhere. At that point a trap door opens and they are dropped into a hot tub and given two shots of Johnnie Walker Black Label to help them through their newfound existential crisis.
  • The CM/WHR/SE Fundraising Wave Pool: because cost overruns tend to multiply like Parisian bunnies downing Viagra on V-E Day, there is a need for an attraction that will increase the tithe received from each visitor. The waves will be pretty intense, varying from Tsunami to Much Bigger Tsunami, and you will notice a difference in the experience based on your individual contribution. Donations are classified in multiple levels much like you’d find on a layer cake, pyramid scheme, or naked Abu Ghraib prisoner dogpile: Gold level members ($500+) are given an inflatable raft and a crew of six, while Silver donors ($100-499) get two pool noodles. All other contributors will have their drowned corpses fished out with a pool skimmer at closing time, and any personal effects found on their person or in their lockers will be auctioned off to pay for additional urinal troughs in the men’s washrooms.
  • The Jewish Quarter: there was some controversy about whether or not the original CMHR was intended more as a holocaust memorial rather than a universal human rights edutainment centre. This controversy sometimes brought up good points, but often descended quite quickly into arguments like “I’m not racist, but have you noticed the Jews control everything?” and “Hitler wasn’t all bad… what about the Volkswagen and TV dinners?” The current plan for the CM/WHR/SE does include an area highlighting antisemitism; it’ll be a tastefully decorated lounge area with a couple of whirlpools and a big screen TV playing an endless loop of Family Guy episodes, along with an explanation that most of what Mort Goldman says is still crossing the line even if some of your friends are Jewish. But maybe I just don’t have a sense of humour…
  • First Nations Area for Parents and Papooses:  because the CM/WHR/SE is well-aware that it would seem hypocritical to talk about human rights without at least paying token lip service to the issues affecting Aboriginal peoples in Canada, a special area will be created in an unheated and poorly lit part of the building. The water used in these slides and pools should be boiled before drinking or touching to your skin in any way, and please keep in mind that while people disappear from the middle of these slides all the time, none of those missing people matter because… how can I put this… they’re not white.

    Makeshift home of someone who is... again... not white.

So that’s what I’ve got so far. If you believe that we can make this vision a reality, please make a donation to The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Be sure to e-mail the Friends and let them know that you are supporting the amended Splashtastic Dignity Plan with this donation. If you would be more comfortable sending me money, it’s as easy as e-mailing me and asking for my mailing address; please specify in your message whether you are planning to send me cash, a cheque, or an explosive device.

Together we can fill up this money pit with lukewarm and heavily chlorinated pool water and score one for human rights and banana hammocks.

I urge you to send me money today.

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I haven’t bought the domain name, or created the website, or figured out how to do it without looking like a complete douche, but I’ve been thinking about a new Drive To 45 campaign to bring Winnipeg back to its glory days as the Murder Capital of Canada.

Now, to be fair, Thunder Bay has more murders per capita, but that’s like comparing player stats between the Winnipeg Jets and their affiliated St. John’s IceCaps; it makes rational sense, but doesn’t take into account that only the big leagues matter. Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver… these are the cities that count, and when people die there, it matters just a little more.

So what can you, gentle reader, do to ensure that we make it to 45 murders before the end of 2011?

Here’s a handy list:

  1. Ensure that poverty and alienation continues for the fastest-growing sector of our population. We can’t rest on the laurels of what previous generations did with their culture-killing residential schools, family-killing smallpox blankets and the legacy of unacceptable living conditions on reserves; we need to continue our work by making racist jokes, ignoring treaties and land claims, and continuing our First-Past-the-Post electoral system that will ensure that aboriginal peoples have no influence within our legislatures. But let’s make sure we continue to neglect youth of all backgrounds as well, since together they are the murderers of the future.
  2. Guarantee that marijuana and ecstasy (MDMA) continue to be lumped in with crack cocaine and methamphetamine as the most dangerous items on Planet Earth. Better that than be reclassified as controlled substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medication. The dirty fact that cigarettes, booze and prescription pain meds are more dangerous than these two illegal drugs shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way. It’s important that organized crime maintains their source of income, especially now that Winnipeg is entering a new and timely round of gang violence. If we can keep this going, we should soon have a Winnipeg-based spin-off of Sons of Anarchy starring Alan Thicke and Michael Cera as the leaders of an outlaw motorcycle gang in River Heights.
  3. Keep prostitution illegal, with a strong emphasis on punishing the sex worker. They obviously have various other options to consider instead of selling their bodies, such as homelessness, starvation, and self-immolation. Surely regulation to ensure that prostitutes are safe and over eighteen isn’t even worth considering, especially since there’s no double standard in allowing the advertising of escorts who are unofficially doing the same types of thing for more money and less risk. But even if we keep kids and addicts working the streets, it’s possible that some of the hundreds of missing women and children who were targeted for being sex workers may not turn up dead in time for New Year’s Eve; but do keep in mind that rolling them over to future years can only help maintain our reputation.
  4. Maintain Winnipeg’s status as being ten years out of date. It’s not enough to have a transportation plan from the turn of the century; we need to make sure that our gains in crime promotion are not reversed by what works everywhere else. Stay the course, Winnipeg… let’s keep our collective heads up our collective policy holes.
  5. Do everything Stephen Harper says. And I’m not just talking about his crime bill that makes about as much sense as the premise of TV’s Terra Nova (let’s go back in time so we can go extinct along with the dinosaurs since preventing climate change back in the 19th century and/or hiring an art tutor for young Adolf Hitler make for boring television). I’m also talking about his choice of wardrobe (suit or blue sweater vest, PM’s choice!) and his love of telling every Canadian that they are second-rate (all of us), defeatist (Atlantic Canada), migrants who live in ghettos and aren’t integrated with society (Liberals in Western Canada) or otherwise unacceptable in his eyes. Perhaps all of Canada should take a time out; I guess Harper’s majority is Canada doing just that, since I don’t recognize many musty old Canadian values being thrown around in cabinet anymore.

If we all work together by doing nothing, allowing our political leaders to continue down the path of misguided and misinformed decision-making, we stand an excellent chance of meeting our goal for 2011 and beyond.

Disclaimer for people who don’t “get me”, including my wife and my therapist: I’m not condoning murder, nor am I attempting to mock or belittle the suffering of the family and friends of victims. I am, however, mocking and/or belittling the following: Manitoba’s NDP, all Conservative parties everywhere, Michael Cera, sweater vests, Dexys Midnight Runners, Charleston Chew, the Cast of Til’ Death, Light Sour Cream, comb-overs, paranormal romances involving vampires and/or werewolves, George Lucas, George Will, Boy George, Curious George, and meeting her parents before the fifth date.

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I am truly saddened by the ignorance on display in Winnipeg this past weekend.

As part of the Winnipeg SlutWalk, a large group of women, men, and children — many of whom decided to make up some signs or get some from those people who printed my business cards — went out and marched from the Burton Cummings Theatre to the Legislature.

I’m not upset about that part.

How can so many people respond to this walk with what can objectively be classified as complete and utter ignorance? Not only was there a small group of nearby men shouting out mostly incomprehensible hatred as the people walked by (I believe the word “whores” was part of it, but I’m not 100% on that), but the most ignorant website commenters in Winnipeg history (and that’s quite an achievement in itself) decided to descend on news coverage with inexcusable statements like these (I’ve bolded some of the worst):

  1. “Rape is not always Just the fault of the man.”
  2. “If you walk like a duck, talk like a duck and look like a duck, you are probably a duck. Ladies, please dress like ladies and you won’t have this type of problem. If you wish to be treated as tramps the answer is simple. Look like a tramp, walk like a tramp and talk like a tramp. Sorry I have no respect for this type of female”
  3. “If you dress conservatively, and do not put yourself in a vulnerable position, your chance of being victimized are drastically reduced.”
  4. “Slutwalk is a joke. A total joke.”
  5. “Its doesn’t protest violence. It states I want to be self centered and have no regard for reality. Well I want to walk down any street with $100 bills hanging out of my pocket. but I know better.”
  6. “You want respect and some protection from attack, then show respect, act respectful, dress respectful. Which is more inviting for attack; a 200 lb 5’5″ woman dressed in jeans and sweatshirt or a 130 lb 5’5′ woman dressed in a scantly clad outfit baring much of her body.”
  7. “There’s been no real controversial issue about women’s rights to take a stand on recently and this one remark has provided more of a weak excuse to rally for women’s rights than a bonafide platform.”
  8. “Perhaps women can begin taking responsibility for their violent acts rather than blaming the nearest man all the time, that would go a long way to giving this movement credibility…of course the cops would have no one to arrest then.”
  9. “This makes me ashamed to be a woman. No wonder men don’t respect us. I wear clothing that clearly makes me look like sex object, and I expect men to not treat me like a sex object? Get a life.”
  10. “If you go to a party, get smashed, have no plan on how to get home, fall over any guy that buys you a drink, and hike your skirt up to your waist every 5 minutes… well, you still aren’t to blame if you get raped!”
  11. “In related news, sexual aggression was reportedly up 10% overnight in nearby bars and homes.”
  12. “Bottom line is: you run a risk of attracting the wrong men if you choose to have your boobs and butt hanging out of your clothing.”
  13. “I cannot believe that people are fighting for the right to dress like sluts, it’s really pathetic. Just think about it people.”
  14. “This walk was no different than the Zombie walk. A lot of incoherrent people wandering aimlessly and mindlessly with no thought given to the utter futility and silliness of their bizzare behaviour.”
  15. “These are just angry people who know damn well that their personal choice to dress this way places them also ironically by choice in harms way!”
  16. “Seriously, it’s common knowledge, dress conservatively, rapes go way down in numbers. Most of the time, woman bring these things on themselves. But that would be taking responsibility. Some would still happen, but the numbers would be drastically lower.”
  17. “If I dress myself in wieners and honey and walk through the bush, is it the bears fault or mine when I get eaten?”
  18. “Is it just me or aren’t the very women who participate in walks/demonstrations such as this, the very ones who are the least likely to attract unwanted male attention in the first place?”
  19. “The next time some naive young girl gets raped because of being dressed like a $lut, we should put some of the blame where it actually belongs. On these promoters of slutdressing who have convinced her that she has the right to dress any way she pleases no matter what.”
  20. “This is HYPOCRITE FEMINISM at its worst. The most abusive creature on the planet is the violent woman who knows the cops will blame the nearest man for her actions.”
  21. “Now i’m not about to go and rape anyone, but does anyone reading this think a guy does not choose who he rapes? He has to give it some thought. So if there is a woman dressed up or “slutty” vs. a homely looking person all covered up. My guess is he looks at the skanky one. I may be way off base but you don’t see too many ugly rape victims.”
  22. “More like Douche bag walk…LOL”
  23. “Wow! Some of these ladies sure have some ENTITLEMENT ISSUES!!”
  24. “I’m almost thinking this is for a weight watcher’s convention after looking through the pics….”
  25. “After looking at the picture of the three organizers , I can honestly say ….. they should  have NO WORRIES AT ALL about getting attacked…. I mean seriously…Look at them!!!”
  26. “These ugly chicks are just looking for attention. nobody would want them so they join the slutwalk cause there so nasty. look at them, eww. get out of here. the slutwalk has to be the funniest thing iv heard in years!”
  27. “Yar!Not a looker in the bunch!”
  28. “Oh yeah, one more note.  I have to agree that a great number of those that participated in the protest really had no reason to worry about getting raped … there is not enough alcohol or drugs in all of Manitoba for that to happen to some of them loud mouth yard-apes.”
  29. “Just another example showing how out of control these fembos are getting.”
  30. “Definitely there are people who don’t understand that flaunting is just as bad as the person who violates another person through unwanted physical contact.”
  31. “Useless Trashwalk, Time for your next positive STI test ladies”
  32. “The pupose of these events is for these people to advertise their promiscuity. It does serve a purpose, which is to clarify to men who do respect women of character that these are not the types you want to associate with. It tells clear thinking men that these are not women capable of meaningful lasting relationships. It serves to enhance the stature of honorable women.The end result is that men and women who can respect each other will connect. The women in these events will be relegated to interacting with men who are users and more likely to be rapists. Everyone gets what they deserve.”
  33. “Make me a sandwich”

From comments on the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun websites.

It seems like a convenient excuse for people to say “I don’t like the word ‘slut’, so I can’t support this movement.” The name SlutWalk brings attention from the media and the public by its very controversy, and it also weakens the power of a word used to oppress and belittle women.

The word “slut” is offensive because it is wielded as a weapon against women; only by taking control of the narrative can that word lose its power. We’ve seen this before with other words; the best example is “queer”. “Slut” is probably closer to the word “fag” in that there’s less chance of it ever gaining respectability, but it is possible to take away its power to harm. And it is never acceptable to use the word to attack or demean anyone, and it is up to each individual woman to decide whether or not she feels comfortable using the word to self-identify for any purpose.

Not only was each woman (and man) at the SlutWalk an individual deserving of respect, but every one was attractive in their own way, and I’m sure a large number of the women there would have been held up as attractive in any other context by the very men who felt the urge to insult their appearance. They did this, of course,  as a way of trying to take power away from these women. Since sexual violence itself is about the same thing, taking power away from someone else, it is shocking and unacceptable to see so many disparaging comments on the physical appearance of those involved.

I believe the victim blaming that overwhelms the comment feeds is not just the refuge of would-be rapists waiting for their opportunity, though sadly I know that there are far too many men in that camp; I believe a far more prevalent group is made up of people who want so much to believe that the victim is to blame, because to them it’s the only way they can feel that their loved ones can stay safe.

The thinking seems to be: if these women asked for it, if these small children or elderly ladies or mentally-disadvantaged people did something to bring on the violence, then my wife/daughter/mother/friend will be able to make different choices and avoid being attacked.

Not only is this untrue, but the very notion is dangerous, not only for awareness of the true nature of sexual violence, but also to the victims, many of whom already face their own concerns that they somehow brought the attack upon themselves. They don’t deserve to feel that way. They don’t deserve to be victimized a second time by callousness and ignorance.

It doesn’t matter how much faith you have in the idea that the victim could have somehow avoided the attack; that idea has been shown to be wrong again and again. I have known many survivors of sexual violence and sexual abuse; for every one of them there was no way for them to avoid what happened. The attack was not their fault in any way. Because of those survivors in my life, I do not have the option of living in ignorance on this issue. And considering that somewhere between 25-33% of women have been victims of sexual abuse (and perhaps as many as 15% of men), I doubt any of us can continue to be ignorant when so many around us are being affected.

All of us know people, be they women, children, or men, who are survivors of sexual violence. There’s no getting away from this, and we’ll never make any progress against sexual violence unless we fight against victim-blaming and stereotypes. Judging from the comment threads on the Free Press and Sun, we have a long way to go.

I took part in SlutWalk Winnipeg. And there I saw survivors regaining their voice.

It was important to them.

For that reason alone it should be important to all of us.

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