“They were protesting in peace and being removed in violence”

Hong Kong's "Umbrella Revolution" underway, Sept. 29, 2014, in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. (Kelvin Chui photo)

Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” underway, Sept. 29, 2014, in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. (Kelvin Chui photo)

I spent the past 24 hours talking to former Vancouverites at Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests for a piece that ran in The Globe and Mail. They had many thoughtful and insightful things to say, but with limited room in the paper, their accounts, unfortunately, had to be edited down. So, here are the full-length versions:

It was the first time Maggie Lee ever recalls the MTR skipping a station. (Maggie Lee photo)

It was the first time Maggie Lee ever recalls the MTR skipping a station. (Maggie Lee photo)

Maggie Lee, 31, was born in Hong Kong but moved to Canada as a child. She attended the University of B.C., majoring in food science, and in 2006 returned to her place of birth, where she now works as a scientist. Ms. Lee said that while she supported the Occupy Central movement, she initially did not feel compelled to action – until she saw that Joshua Wong, the baby-faced 17-year-old leader of a student movement, had been arrested.

In the beginning, we didn’t know what to do. These kids were being grabbed off the street by policemen. They’re only kids, in high school or in university. [My friends and I were] on the fence at that point because we don’t really feel like we belong here in Hong Kong – because we grew up abroad – but we feel for them because we know that this is not right. They were protesting in peace and being removed in violence. We were feeling for them. All of a sudden, we learned tear gas had been released. That was the breaking point when most Hong Kong people took to the streets. I think a lot of the people just couldn’t stand it anymore. When they heard that, they couldn’t take it anymore. They realized the government had gone too far. A lot of people started walking the streets with cling wrap and lab goggles and disposable raincoats. They didn’t know how to protect themselves against tear gas.

We didn’t have any protective clothing on; we just ran home, put on some comfortable clothing, grabbed a backpack, took some bottles of water and whatever we could find – supplies for the people who were there. That’s what we all did; we didn’t know what else we could do. We grabbed everything and ran there. We knew something had to be done and we had to show our distaste for the government. This is not what we want in Hong Kong.

We stayed until very late at night. It was like a war zone. There was a lot of tear gas, people running around trying to dodge the police. They (the protesters) didn’t even do anything in the first place; they were just standing there with their umbrellas. Sometimes we heard people screaming at the police, and that was ill advised. We actually tried to calm people down when they were screaming. We want this to be peaceful. We want them to know that we’re standing together against something we don’t believe in – and that’s it. That’s the only message we wanted to bring across.

Sometimes when we participate in these things, we get fingers pointed at us. They say, “You guys have a ticket out already; why are you so still so worried about this place? It’s not your war to fight.” But the people who participated in the protest with me, we don’t think that way. We think that as long as we’re here, we’re responsible. It’s our duty to protect this place. We know that our freedom is being taken away, bit by bit.

(Jackie Chan photo)

(Jackie Chan photo)

Jackie Chan, 36, was born in Hong Kong and lived in Vancouver from the late 1980s until the early 2000s. A Simon Fraser University graduate, Mr. Chan has since moved back to Hong Kong, where he works in sales and marketing. After seeing news footage of riot police firing tear gas at protesters, he ventured out around midnight, wanting both to support the student protesters and see if what he saw on television reflected the reality of the situation.

From what I saw [in Mong Kok], police were calm. They didn’t use any violence at all. Unfortunately, some of the crowd was taking advantage of it. I think they were being quite aggressive, trying to intimidate police in a couple of cases. There was one incident – I didn’t see the whole thing develop, but I saw part of it – where three or four police officers were trying to direct traffic and people would keep storming in. The police were asking the crowd to move away, so the cars and motorbikes could pass, and people were jumping on the opportunity and just storming them, saying “Why don’t you just shoot me” and making crazy statements like that. There were probably 100 people surrounding the three or four police officers.

I was quite impressed by a couple of things, though. There were a couple of students making announcements, managing the crowds quite well. On the other side of the road, there was a parked police car and a couple of guys had climbed up and were sitting on top of it. People saw it and were yelling at them: “Get off the police car!” The student organizers told them to get down, and they did. Which was good. We didn’t want any trouble. They managed the crowds quite well. There were also water and supply stations managed, again, by the kids, which I thought were quite well organized.

The organizers want China to revoke its decision [to limit 2017 elections to Beijing-vetted candidates]. I don’t think that will happen. The Chinese government has already made its decision and it’s not going to say, “Okay, let’s change it.” I think people have to realize we are part of China – this is fact – and there are some things that we cannot change. It’s like China is your dad; you can’t change who your dad is. But I think Hong Kong can better define “one country, two systems,” because there are a lot of grey areas. We have to be careful and not give in on those. For example: Do lawyers have to be patriotic? I don’t think so. Can we still have demonstrations at this level without [persecution]? We need to treasure [those freedoms]. I don’t want to lose them, otherwise we become just another city in China.

Volunteers setting up a water station. (Kelvin Chui photo.)

Volunteers setting up a water station. (Kelvin Chui photo.)

Kelvin Chui, 37, is a former Vancouverite and Simon Fraser University graduate who now operates a trading company in Hong Kong and a shoe factory elsewhere in China. After learning about the escalation of the Occupy Central movement, he decided to show his support by joining protesters at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty.

It was impossible to get into the office because there were so many people and people just kept arriving. I gave up on that and went to Admiralty Centre and sat there for about 30 minutes, with what I thought was 400, 500 people. After that the organizers told us they were planning to march to Connaught Road Central [a major thoroughfare in Central] to support people there, so I followed. When I followed, I found out there were not 500 people, but more than 1,000. I don’t know where they came from. We went toward Central and arrived at Cotton Tree Drive, where the organizers told us to stay for a while. That’s where we were met with a lot of police [but] I don’t think they knew what to do to stop us from crossing the street. They were not that aggressive at that moment – no weapons, no pepper spray. They were not riot police. We stayed there for another 30 minutes and then marched to Connaught Road Central to join the main force.

I felt the urgency. It’s really difficult to just sit at home, watching and knowing all this. I’m pretty sure there weren’t enough people to make the movement successful, at that moment, I hope my presence will make some difference. The main reason [I got involved] was because I just couldn’t stand it, watching these students doing all this for us, for adults, for everybody else. They were there for a few days already; they must be tired. It’s difficult to see that.

At the beginning, I didn’t expect a big difference, but after we saw how police reacted to these protests – the unreasonable violence that they used – that will make a difference. Because so many people who were staying at home, watching the news, got involved after they saw tear gas being shot. That crossed the line. The awareness has been aroused. That is the major difference.

As evictions loom, even a landmark court ruling can’t bring certainty on Gitxsan land

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Hazelton, a sleepy, northwestern B.C. town where a dispute involving the Gitxsan First Nation, province and federal government is playing out. It was a challenging story to write, with a lot of important background and a wealth of varying, meaningful opinions. It was tough to compile everything into a cohesive story, giving appropriate space to each element and still fit the word count. Much was ultimately cut; the story could have been twice as long if I had been given the space.

The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs have set an Aug. 4 deadline for an eviction notice sent to sports fishermen, loggers and CN Rail in an escalation of protest over a territorial overlap claim. To the Gitxsan First Nation, this is not a just a story about jobs or land, but the history and future of its people. This will be a story to watch in coming weeks.

A totem pole in the village of Kitwanga, B.C., part of the Gitxsan Nation. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

A totem pole in the village of Kitwanga, B.C., part of the Gitxsan Nation. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

The signs outside Norman Stephens’ Hazelton, B.C., hardware store make clear his stance on pipelines: On one, the letters LNG are crossed out with a red X; on another, two salmon – one dead – face each other, illustrating the potential risks involved.

“Face the future,” the latter reads. “Don’t frack with our salmon!”

Mr. Stephens, a hereditary chief of the Gitxsan First Nation, is adamant there is no place in the sleepy, northwestern B.C. community for such projects. And after a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that underscored aboriginal title and rights, he is confident the Gitxsan will have final say on the matter.

A faction of the Gitxsan – one not including Mr. Stephens – is relying on the Supreme Court ruling to back eviction notices issued to Canadian National Railway, forestry companies and some fishing lodges that also operate on land the Gitxsan claim. The eviction deadline is Monday.

“After the Tsilhqot’in decision, the ball is in our court,” Mr. Stephens said. “We have full control over it.”

But while many hailed the Tsilhqot’in court ruling as a game-changer, the future of the Gitxsan territory is anything but clear. Division within the group, stemming from long-standing differences of opinion among some hereditary chiefs, has created uncertainty. The community is now at a crossroads for its future, needing to balance economic goals and environmental concerns while reconciling outward conflicts with governments and within the group itself.

The main issue has nothing to do with liquefied natural gas or pipelines. It’s a touchy territorial overlap claim: The Gitxsan First Nation say that in negotiating treaty agreements with the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum bands, which belong to the Tsimshian First Nation, the B.C. government illegally gave away pieces of Gitxsan land.

The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, a group that represents most but not all of the chiefs, broke off pipeline discussions with the government on June 21 for the same reason. The eviction notice is an escalation of protest to force the government’s hand in resolving the issue, said Gitxsan Treaty Society negotiator Gwaans, whose English name is Beverley Clifton Percival.

But while most of the nation’s hereditary chiefs supported the June decision to end LNG talks, only eight signed last month’s eviction notice – most of whom are directly affected by the overlap issue. Those who oppose the action say sports fishermen and loggers are being caught in the crossfire.

Among non-native locals, the eviction notice sparked mixed responses: anger, uncertainty, confusion, indifference. Martin Knutson, who owns Skeena Meadows Wildlife Preseve with his wife, said it is creating uncertainty in a community that is already economically depressed.

“Uncertainty is what drives away business. What is needed is certainty as to how our provincial and federal governments are going to deal with this and what the rules are going to be going forward. Industry runs away from uncertainty.”

Shannon McPhail, executive director at the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, said in the past week she has received e-mails, phone calls and visits from more than 100 people trying to figure out what is happening and why.

“It’s a very confusing and unfortunate situation,” said Ms. McPhail from her office in Hazelton. “I believe it has made enemies out of allies – but it has started a very important conversation that we have to have as a region.”

Continue reading at The Globe and Mail.

RECIPE: One-pot pasta

photo 1 (1)

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups uncooked fusilli (for 2-3 people)
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced 
  • 4 -5 cloves minced garlic 
  • 4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 small bunch basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt, pepper
  • 2.5 cups water*
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water until they’re soft – about 20 minutes – and then slice them. (You can omit these, or use fresh mushrooms, but the meaty texture of the reconstituted mushrooms is pretty great in this dish.) Don’t discard the water.

2. Put the first nine things into pot: fusilli, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chopped/reconstituted mushrooms, red pepper flakes, basil, couple swirls of olive oil, salt, pepper. (The original recipe calls for linguine, but I think fusilli works better as it holds more of the sauce and flavours. Easier to eat with the other ingredients, too.)

3. Add about three or 3.5 cups of liquid for 2 cups fusilli. The original recipe calls for water, but I used about 2 cups of the mushroom broth left over from soaking the dried shiitakes, a cup of crushed tomatoes and about half a cup more plain water. I think the crushed tomatoes give it a better texture.

4. Bring to a boil over high heat and carefully stir everything without breaking the tomatoes or pasta. When it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down just a little bit and keep watching and stirring. The thing to note here is that the pasta will be done in 10-12 minutes, and you’re trying to time it so that most of the water is gone by the time the pasta’s done. If 8-9 mins has passed and it looks like you’ve still got a ton of liquid in there, pour a little out. This would also be the time to cook anything else (such as meatballs) you want to add to the final dish.

…and that’s it. I lined a bowl with spinach and served the pasta over it. (Wilted spinach = secret vegetables.) Top with parmesan and more fresh basil. (I added crumbled bacon and meatballs.)

photo 2

 

Getty opens up (some of) its stock photo vault for free

From engadget:

Whether it’s @HistoryinPics or just an Imgur-hosted picture posted to Reddit, professional photos are being used everywhere on the internet — and usually without payment or credit to the original owner. Getty Images licenses out stock photos (including coverage of sports, news and fashion events) for use by the media (cough), businesses and artists, and now it’s hoping to get some control back, by letting anyone use them for free. Free that is, as long as they’re posted with Getty’s new embed feature which, like the ones we’ve gotten used to onFlickr, YouTube and other internet sites, produces the appropriate HTML to pop the picture in a blog or social media post.

At launch, it’s specifically designed to tie in with sites like WordPress and Tumblr, and on Twitter, links produce a card with the image and information. The pictures won’t be watermarked, but it also links back to Gettyimages.com and includes attribution for the photographer. It seems like a win-win for everyone, and an admission by Getty that simply trying to paywall access to high quality pics won’t keep them from being posted everywhere anyway. Meanwhile, everyone from casual tweeters to those starting great websites for the next ten years just getting their start can access high quality photos without worrying about scary legal letters or getting their account shut down.

According to CNET, Getty has opened up 35-million images for free use. When you randomly go through images and look for the embed button, though, there seems to be — at least for the moment — more misses than hits. Also, while I don’t mind that clicking on the image directs you to Getty’s site, I’m not crazy about the giant Getty tag under the image. But free is free.

Embed from Getty Images

(That’s was a result in a Getty stock image search for “unimpressed.”)

A covenant under fire: Inside Trinity Western’s struggle between faith and equality

Image

Matthew Wigmore, an openly gay student at Trinity Western University, is shown outside his dormitory in Langley, B.C., on Feb. 21, 2014. (RAFAL GERSZAK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

ANDREA WOO – LANGLEY, B.C. 

A month after Matthew Wigmore came out to friends at his evangelical Christian university, he stood before his philosophy of sex and gender class to give a presentation on homosexuality and reparative therapy.

Mr. Wigmore, 19, felt vulnerable. Much of the presentation – which denounced the so-called treatment for homosexuality – was based on uncomfortable personal experiences.

However, the second-year theatre student felt bolstered by a supportive social circle at Trinity Western University, including friend and project partner Dillon James, who is also openly gay.

After a discussion that followed the October presentation, Mr. Wigmore asked if there were any dissenting viewpoints. A hand slowly went up.

“I personally read the King James Version [of the Bible],” the classmate said. “It’s hard for me to see how homosexuality is the right choice. How do you expect to get into heaven?”

A hush fell over the classroom. Before Mr. Wigmore could reply, another classmate interjected: “Well, you’re a woman and you’re speaking right now. Technically, [The Book of] Leviticus doesn’t allow that.”

Added Mr. James: “And you’re wearing a fur coat – something the Old Testament law wouldn’t approve of either.”

The conversation quickly ended, Mr. Wigmore recounts in an interview.

Trinity Western University is embroiled in controversy over a law school it hopes to open at its Langley campus. Critics point to a clause in a community covenant that requires all students, administrators and faculty to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” and call it discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation. They question how a law school at such a university could possibly educate students on discrimination and equality rights.

The Law Society of B.C. is seeking opinions on whether the law school should go ahead, and Monday is the deadline for submissions. After reviewing reports, statutes and public input, the law society’s board of directors will then give its final word – likely at its April 11 meeting. Law societies in Nova Scotia and Ontario are also running public consultations.

Prominent lawyers, law professors, students and LGBTQ groups across Canada have decried the program as inherently discriminatory. Some firms said they would be unlikely to take TWU law school graduates, potentially limiting their mobility. Prominent Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby called the decision by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to approve the school “cowardly nonsense.”

At Dalhousie University, law professors unanimously approved a motion urging the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society not to approve the school’s law degrees. “TWU seems to have isolated just one segment of the population for second-class status,” said Archibald Kaiser, the Dalhousie law professor who put forward the motion. “I don’t see how it could possibly be acceptable to demean some members of its student body or to exclude some people from its faculty.”

The university views the criticism as unfair. President Bob Kuhn says it is based on reckless assumptions and calls it an attack on religious freedom in Canada. Robynne Healey, a history professor, co-director of the Gender Studies Institute and chair of the university senate, says she does not recognize the university depicted in the media.

“As a scholar, as a historian, I study people from the past and am pretty conscious of the things that make up their group identity,” she said. “I wonder if the people I study would recognize themselves in the way I write about them, because sometimes I don’t recognize myself in the way Trinity is being represented.”

Continue reading at The Globe and Mail

RECIPE: Seafood chowder

seafood chowder

So I think I spent like $60 and four hours trying to replicate a magical seafood chowder I had for $6 at Bar Crudo in San Francisco. (Short tangent: I don’t even like chowder, but good lawd. This soup was amazing. In my fruitless attempt to Google the recipe, I came across a number of posts from other people raving about it too. If you are ever in the area, you must try it. Doesn’t hurt that it’s part of Bar Crudo’s happy hour menu, which also includes $1 oysters and mussels.) I didn’t quite land it, but was still pretty happy with it. Shoot for the moon, right?

The recipe is below, but I should note that with all of these experimental dishes, I eyeball and most measurements and adjust to taste.

Ingredients

– seafood of your choice. (I used lobster, mussels, smoked and fresh cod, shrimp)
– applewood smoked bacon (This is clutch! Maybe the most pronounced flavour in Bar Crudo’s.)
– 1 medium yellow onion
– 2 tbs flour
– 2 cups fish stock
– potatoes, cubed (Eyeball it!)
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– between 1 and 1.5 cups milk (depending on how much seafood you add)
– 1/2 cup cream
– salt and pepper
– juice from 1 lime
– chopped fresh parsley
– bread (to serve it with)

Directions

1. Prepare whatever seafood you’re using. (i.e. scrub, de-beard and steam the mussels, remove from shell; de-shell and de-vein shrimp, cut fish into bite-sized pieces.) Set aside.

2. In a large pot, saute chopped up bacon until it looks about half done. Add chopped up onion and saute until bacon is done and onions soft.

3. Sift in flour, stir, then add the fish broth. (If you can’t find fish broth, use a mixture of vegetable broth and whatever liquids you have leftover from, say, steaming the mussels.) Be sure to scrape up any fond — that’s the brown bits of goodness stuck on the bottom of the pan — you may have from cooking the bacon.

4. When that’s boiling, add the potatoes and cover until they’re almost done.

5. Add cayenne, nutmeg, milk and cream. Simmer until this is hot and bubbling.

6. Add all seafood except for fish and cook for a few minutes. Add fish just before everything is done.

7. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. (I like to add a little lime juice to each bowl after serving.)

8. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with bread.

A little story about something sweet that happens just off Cambie every day

Rosemary Blomeyer, left, walks to her favourite breakfast restaurant with new friend Jean Collette. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Rosemary Blomeyer, left, walks to her favourite breakfast restaurant with new friend Jean Collette. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Every Every morning around 8 a.m., Rosemary Blomeyer emerges from her basement suite in a Mount Pleasant home, tapping her umbrella along the driveway and sidewalk as she navigates her way to the residential street corner.

There, Ms. Blomeyer, a visually impaired German immigrant in her 80s, listens for the footsteps of passersby, flagging them down when they are near. Sometimes, this takes just a minute or two; other times, much longer.

At 8:20 a.m. on a frosty December day, a woman on her way to work hurries by Ms. Blomeyer, her brisk pace typical during the frenetic, morning rush. But then, she stops and turns around.

“I am blind,” Ms. Blomeyer tells her. “Could you please walk me to Cambie [Street] and 13th [Avenue]?”

The would-be passerby, a woman named Jean Collette, obliges. Ms. Blomeyer takes her arm and the two walk, slowly and carefully along the icy sidewalks, to the White Spot restaurant where Ms. Blomeyer has breakfast every morning.

This act of kindness has happened at least twice a day – once on the way to the restaurant and once back home – every day since Ms. Blomeyer’s deteriorating eyesight completely gave out more than a year ago. That’s roughly 60 strangers per month, though there are many repeat volunteers.

It is a charming occurrence in a city where residents recently listed social isolation as their most pressing concern, over poverty, homelessness or any other social ill. An oft-referenced survey conducted by the community-based Vancouver Foundation released last year found residents feel it is difficult to make new friends in Metro Vancouver and are worried about the growing sense of disconnection.

Continue reading here.