Truth Undeniable

The Thorn on Thursdays | June 3

Happy Pride Month!

Although Vancouver Pride officially happens over the week leading up to the long weekend in August, June is known globally as Pride Month and there are many celebrations happening throughout BC from June to September. You can find a living list of BC Pride Celebrations on What's On Queer BC.

The original Gay Liberation Day organizers chose this month to pay homage to the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969 in New York City, which helped spark the modern gay rights movement. The first Gay Pride Parade was June 28, 1970. View some photos of this event on CNN

Stories

Local

Vancouver City Council votes down motion to make it easier to build non-profit housing

On May 24, the majority of Vancouver City Council voted down a motion from Councillor Christine Boyle titled “Reducing Barriers and Deepening Affordability for Non-Profit, Co-op and Social Housing in Every Neighbourhood”. The motion would have amended Vancouver’s zoning bylaws to allow up to 12-storey co-op and non-profit housing buildings in all neighbourhoods in Vancouver to bypass the usual rezoning hearings that are required to build outside of current zoning. The full text of the motion can be viewed here.

Only Christine Boyle (OneCity), Jean Swanson (COPE), and Mayor Kennedy Stewart voted in favour of the motion. NPA, former-NPA and Green councillors voted against the motion, with councillor Michael Wiebe not voting due to a declared conflict of interest.

The motion came on the heels of a previous motion from Christine Boyle that passed in April to allow up to six-storey co-op and non-profit buildings in those few parts of the city zoned R4 to bypass the usual rezoning hearings.

During the public hearings on the motion, speakers from Vancouver’s non-profit providers spoke in support of the motion, and how it would make it easier for non-profits to secure funding for new buildings and/or redevelopment projects, as this funding often has expiration dates that make it more difficult to access under the current approval process for projects that require rezoning.

Unfortunately, dozens of other speakers spoke against the motion, despite most of them claiming to support social housing. Many of these speakers spouted outright falsehoods about the motion. One argument is that it would lead to 12-storey buildings proliferating across the city, when in reality the number of otherwise unbuilt projects that this motion would allow would be quite small. Another even more baffling argument was that this motion would lead to an increase in developer profits.

The opposition speakers included many parents at a private school in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood who are opposed to a planned 12-story supportive housing project across the street from the school, despite the fact that this motion does not directly address the project in question.

Further reading:

Jean Swanson: Why I voted to allow nonprofits to build 12-story buildings

Translink is cutting bus stops

In response to reduced ridership as a result of the pandemic, Translink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority, has decided to cut the number of bus stops on several routes. This will result in a reduced level of transit service for many bus riders, who will have to walk up to five minutes further to board the bus. This will be a significant added burden for many bus riders, including the elderly and disabled, riders with large loads (groceries, packages ect.) and those on a tight schedule. The move is also an attack on students and low income people, who represent a large portion of bus riders.

Tranlink is attempting to use Orwellian language to deny the reality that it is cutting bus stops, instead claiming that it’s aim is “to provide faster and more reliable service.”

Full Story: Just say it, we’re cutting your bus stops

Handy Dart Modernization Program : Putting up barriers

TransLink’s webpage for public engagement states that “demand for the service is expected to grow,” and is implementing a "Modernized System" to “manage growth.” This system, which will possibly be implemented in 2023, proposes to use a 4-step Registration Process wherein applicants will be subject to an interview by a staff member from a private healthcare company. This mandatory interview will replace the current process where transit users consult with their personal physician to fill out the form for HandyDART. The client's doctor, funded by the public healthcare system, will be excluded from the new system. It's not expected the staff members conducting consultations will have any previous experience with people who will be applying nor experience navigating the transit system with a disability.

Jean Swanson has a motion for next week's council meeting:

A. THAT Vancouver City Council requests the Mayor to urge TransLink to maintain HandyDART’s current, accessible application process; and to ensure that the proposed in person interview is not mandatory.

B. THAT Vancouver City Council requests the Mayor to urge TransLink to provide information about accessible transportation options to HandyDART users and to their public healthcare providers so everyone involved is aware of options to HandyDART including taxis, buses with ramps, the Skytrain and the SeaBus.

If you would like to write or sign up to speak in support of this motion please click here.

Provincial

Mass Arrests and Violation of Press Freedom at Fairy Creek

The following is a statement issued by socialist groups in Vancouver on the ongoing struggle against old-growth logging on Vancouver Island: 

Since May 18, the RCMP have arrested at least 151 protesters (land defenders) trying to stop logging company Teal Jones from logging one of the most significant remaining old-growth forests in North America near Fairy Creek in Vancouver Island’s Walbran Valley. Back in August 2020, protesters set up blockades on the logging roads leading to the logging sites. On April 1, the BC Supreme Court granted an injunction to allow police to remove protesters.

The leaders of the Pacheedaht First Nation signed a ‘Benefits Agreement’ with Teal Jones, but the logging is opposed by some Nation members; and among those arrested are members of the Pacheedaht Nation, whose unceded territories include Fairy Creek and the Walbran Valley, and members of the neighbouring Ditidaht Nation.

Since April 1, more and more protesters have been arriving at the site, and numbers have increased since arrests began. Some protesters have chained themselves to their makeshift barricades, some to metal gates along access roads, some to stumps of previously logged old-growth trees, and some have suspended themselves high up among the up to 2,000 year old trees. The media report that a large group of senior citizens even tried to chain themselves around a group of RCMP officers.

On Friday, May 28, hundreds of protesters marched to BC Premier John Horgan's constituency office to demand an end to the arrests. Horgan's BC NDP government was elected in 2017 on a promise to reduce old-growth logging permits. And yet old-growth logging permits have doubled since 2017. Demonstrations against the NDP’s policy occurred in several cities over the weekend and hundreds rallied on Monday, May 31 outside the office of BC Minister of Environment George Hayman.

As human activity driven by profits for the capitalist ruling class hurtles our planet ever closer to runaway climate catastrophe, ecosystem collapse and mass species extinction – catastrophes that threaten the long-term survival of human life -- the logging of what remains of old-growth forests on this planet is unconscionable. Every measure possible must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to prevent biodiversity loss and mass species extinction.

The RCMP have enforced 'exclusion zones' where both protesters and media have arbitrarily been denied entry. When journalists have been allowed entry, they've been corralled in 'media zones' that are too far from the action to get footage of any arrests. This is a gross violation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press.

Media reports are that logging trucks and workers from logging company Teal Jones, which was granted a permit to log some of the old-growth forest in the area, have been allowed into the 'exclusion zones', and have been logging old-growth, even as media have been kept out.

The Canadian Association of Journalists and a coalition of seven media outlets have launched a court application to have the injunction changed to guarantee media access.

On Tuesday, May 31, in response to the recent protests, BC Premier John Horgan announced a ‘new’ forestry plan for BC. This inadequate plan merely reiterates the existing plan, while delaying action for a couple of years. It includes:

  • No respite for Fairy Creek old-growth logging.

  • No new old-growth deferrals, but the promise of more consultation.

  • New old-growth plans in 2023.

We reject the recent announcement on old-growth logging by the BC government. We stand in solidarity with the protesters, indigenous land defenders and arrested persons at Fairy Creek, as well as those members of the media who have been denied access to cover the arrests at Fairy Creek. We call on the government of BC Premier John Horgan to order the RCMP to stop arresting protesters, to respect the constitutional rights of the media, and to immediately release all persons arrested at the Fairy Creek blockades. We call on the BC government to immediately halt any logging that threatens the integrity of old growth forests in BC, and to work with other levels of government to fully compensate the Pacheedaht Nation for their share of logging revenues foregone.

Signees:
Democratic Socialists of Vancouver
Vancouver Ecosocialists

Socialist Action


Action you can take for Fairy Creek

If you are heart broken or enraged by the now-viral images being circulated online of up to 2,000-year-old trees being hauled away for the profit of the private companies like the Teal Jones Group, there are many ways that you can voice your frustrations and help prevent further demolition of these historical, cultural, and ecologically significant sites. 

A Go Fund Me Campaign has been set up to support Indigenous land defenders in whatever ways are needed to support their frontline work.

There are also non-financial ways to take action. 

You can call the office of Premier John Horgan and let him know exactly what you think of the NDP Government’s selling of BC’s most diverse ecosystems:

(250) 387-1715 

You can also send him an email at: premier@gov.bc.ca 

If you have multiple email accounts, we recommend sending multiple emails, just to make sure the point gets through. 

You can also send an email to the Teal Jones Group, which is responsible for the logging of Fairy Creek. Their contact information may be hard to find online, as they have removed their “Contact us” page from their website. However, they can be reached at the following email address: sboates@tealjones.com or by calling these numbers: 

604-581-4104  /  604-587-8700

If you’re in the mood to really frustrate them, you can send them a letter or parcel with the following mailing address:

17897 Triggs Road, Surrey, BC V4N 4M8

It is highly recommended that we send emails and make calls to complain about the senseless destruction of our beautiful old growth forests. You can also call your local MLA or pay a visit to their office. 

If you want to stay up to date on what is going on at the Fairy Creek Blockade, you can follow @rainforestflyingsquad or @fairycreekblockade on instagram. Posts are updated daily with the latest information on how to get involved, help out from a distance, and be a strong ally to the forest.

Ricochet has had and will continue to have journalists on the ground at Fairy Creek and have been publishing articles about the situation on a regular basis. Their Twitter @ricochet_en provides additional video updates not available on their website.

Tent City Action - a new generation of fightback in Maple Ridge

On Tuesday, June 1,  Maple Ridge Resistance, a group supported by Red Braid Alliance, held a march and set up a mock tent city to protest the government's abandonment of their community and mandated deaths by over-policing, lack of permanent and RTA-protected housing, evictions, and the drug war. Roughly 40 members of the street community and their supporters set up tents in Memorial Peace Park, determined to spend one night together to exercise safety in unity.

But that didn't happen. Ridge Meadows RCMP and bylaw officers served the group with bylaw infraction notices, all while a group of white vigilante poor-bashers, who Maple Ridge Resistance calls "Ridgelantes," cheered on and heckled the action. When Maple Ridge Resistance moved to one of Maple Ridge's officially designated night-by-night camping parks instead, nearly 30 RCMP officers, which included back-up from RCMP detachments in other jurisdictions, raided the community, confiscating tents and personal belongings and arresting four people for obstruction of a peace officer. A homeless youth who is HIV positive and had hundreds of dollars of her life-saving medication confiscated was laughed at and told she can go see her doctor if she wants her medication by bylaw officers. Bylaw director Michelle Orsetti told protestors on the spot that all belongings were going straight to the garbage. Bylaw officers destroyed an estimated $2,000 worth of personal belongings and tents, including medication and priceless sentimental objects belonging to homeless people.  

But the blatant state repression will not smother the flames of fight back in Maple Ridge! The street community is determined to keep organizing against the fascist forces of anti-Indigenous, anti-poor, anti-drug user vigilante violence and cops and bylaw officers. As street activist Tammy said after being released from jail, "They're trying to banish the homeless from this community." But as the group chanted while it marched through the streets, "Ridgelantes don't you know, we are here and we won't go!" 

To support Maple Ridge Resistance reach out to Red Braid Alliance. 

National

Photo: Site of the former Kamloops Residential School Source: Shutterstock

Bodies of 215 children found outside former Residential School in Kamloops  - Truth Undeniable

A survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, using ground-penetrating radar, has uncovered the remains of 215 children buried at the site, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced Thursday, May 27 2021.

The discovery, while extremely distressing, did not surprise many families of residential school survivors across Canada.

The residential school system was set up and funded by the Candian Government's Department of Indian affairs and administered by churches to indoctrinate them into colonial settler and Christian ways and eradicate indigenous culture. Children were forcibly removed from their families for extended periods of time and forbidden to practice their culture or indeed speak their own language. Former students of the schools, the last of which closed in 1996, tell stories of horrific physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. Many children went missing, and the remaining were left with no idea where their classmates had gone, nor was it talked about.

Deaths in residential schools were common. Research by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) revealed that at least 3,201 students had died, mostly from disease, although chair Justice Murray Sinclair suggested the true number might exceed 6,000. 

The 215 bodies of children discovered in Kamloops are undocumented deaths, and many believe their discovery is only the first of many similar unmarked mass graves near  the 130 residential school properties across the country.  

A powerful tribute was created on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery by artist Tamara Bell whose mother attended a residential school. Bell, with the assistance of her community network, placed 215  pairs of shoes on the gallery steps to help people visualize the scope of 215 children's lives lost. Since then people have contributed candles, toys, flowers and messages. Images of the installation have been shared widely on social media, and other tributes, marches, vigils and memorials have taken place across the country. Flags have been lowered to half mast and conversations about the awful legacy of residentials schools are being had in homes in every province.

There is a Gathering for Memorial, Thursday June 3rd, 2:15 pm  at Holland Park, Surrey.

International

Take Action

Many hands make light work: Request for help on The Thorn

The Thorn newsletter, published every two weeks, provides a socialist (People before Profits) perspective on issues and events that affect the Lower Mainland. We are looking for interested writers and admins to contribute to The Thorn in any capacity possible. We employ a collaborative approach in which new ideas are welcome. No previous journalism experience is necessary. The more people we have to contribute to The Thorn, the less work any of us will need to undertake in order to continue to produce a quality product. For more information visit our website.  or contact@thethorn.ca 

Recently, one of our dear comrades and contributors to The Thorn took a break from contributing due to burnout. Indeed, all of us who currently contribute to, and edit, The Thorn currently struggle with capacity. But you can help. Contributions could include: one article every two weeks; links to news items and information (for others to possibly write about); alternate media such as photo reels, podcasts, and video; help with editing. This is a great opportunity to add your voice and thoughts to a vital and important platform. 

Upcoming Events

Socialist Fundamentals 2021 - a Socialist Action-Canada International Education Conference

Saturday, June 5, 2021 1PM EDT (10am PDT)

a Socialist Action-Canada International Education Conference

Saturday, June 5, 2021 (Eastern Time is indicated)

1 p.m. Is there a Parliamentary Path to Socialism?

with John Clarke, Tom Baker, and Florencia Schade.

reading: State and Revolution - Lenin

4 p.m. The Revolutionary Potential of the Working Class

with Gary Porter, Julius Arscott, Yasin Kaya, and Sandra Griffith-Bonaparte.

reading: Wage, Labour and Capital - Marx

Is the working class disappearing? What are the implications of automation, and artificial intelligence? How can unions lead?

7 p.m. The Leninist Party and the Left

with Barry Weisleder - SA Canada, Jeff Mackler - SA USA, and Jaime Gonzales – Socialist Unity League (LUS) Mexico

reading: What is to be Done? - Lenin

Socialist Unity Assembly

June 6 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Join members of socialist and climate action groups from across the Lower Mainland. Everyone is welcome.

DSOV Reading Group: People’s Republic of Wal-Mart

Thursday, June 10, 7pm
meet.jit.si/DSOV

Reading: People’s Republic of Wal-Mart PDF

Please be aware that the DSOV reading group abides by the organization’s statement of principles.https://www.democraticsocialistsyvr.ca/statement-of-principles

Please Review the DSA’s Guidelines for Respectful Discussions https://www.dsausa.org/organize/respectful_discussion/

DSoV Digital Summer Social
June 18. 7:00 - late.

Everyone is welcome to join us. Learn more about the socialist movement in Vancouver. Meet some of the activists. Discuss issues. Or play games. 

Zoom link on our Linktree. https://linktr.ee/democraticsocialistsyvr

Media Roundup

Vancouver’s RV Residents Prepare for a Crackdown -- Christopher Cheung | The Tyee

Canada’s Housing Market is Out of Control -- Dan Darrah | Jacobin

The ‘Big Reset’ Plans Deep Austerity for Newfoundland and Labrador -- Paris Marx | Passage

Columbian students set up humanitarian camp to resist police crackdown -- J. Fernanda Sánchez Jaramillo | GlobalVoices

Province slashes funding for independent home-based learning -- Glenda Luymes | The Province.